I recently escaped the rain of Blighty when James and I jumped on a plane to sunny Split in Croatia for a week of ridiculous relaxation! And ice cream. So much ice cream.
Split became our destination of choice after some unsophisticated research which saw us work out that it was the cheapest, hottest place one can fly to from Bristol in August. I think our return flight was £30! DEAL. Thank you for existing, EasyJet. Anyway, it turned out to be a top decision as it’s an absolutely beautiful part of the world and has left me desperate to go back and explore more of Croatia. Or CroYAYtia as they clearly should call it.
It was around 40 degrees the entire time we were there which blissfully meant it was a real struggle to do anything that didn’t involve lying by the sea. As a couple who usually have itchy feet to explore everything and anything whilst on holiday (we once went on a six hour round trip to see a giant fork whilst holidaying in Switzerland, I kid you not) it was rather nice to be forced to relax! It also proved the perfect opportunity to road test my new Karl Lagerfeld prescription sunglasses from Specsavers*. Although I’ve been wearing them at home, it was only when I was sunbathing and reading at the same time that I truly realised what an idiot I am for not having had prescription sunglasses before! Plus they look pretty chic too, right?
Isn’t it beautiful? I’m really keen to go back so if anyone has any top Croatia tips or places to visit I would love to hear from you! Just leave a comment below.
Ah, hot air balloons! How we love you. We never take this unique part of our city for granted but it was a special reminder recently when we went to meet with the fabulous Charlotte from Betty magazine (OMG, we know) when, as we sat outside in the glorious sunshine on the top deck of a boat, cocktail in hand, three should suddenly float over our heads – much to Charlotte’s surprise and delight! “This is Bristol” we said, “isn’t it the best?”
The Bristol Balloon Fiesta, then, is the highlight of any local balloon enthusiasts diary and we always try and go to, or at least sit and watch from a distance, as many mass ascents as possible over the four days the Fiesta runs for. This year was no different and between us we watched them all! GO TEAM. It’s fair to say that whether you are down at the Fiesta itself, or perched up on a hill, or even just sitting looking out of your window with a cup of tea, there’s no better sight!
On Thursday evening we ventured down to the Fiesta site at Ashton Court for the first balloon launch and the night glow. We always like to dress for the occasion and this year was no different as once again we broke out the balloon print dresses. Victoria wore a handmade dress (Mumma V is a talented lady!) which was made using a Christine Haynes pattern and yellow heart sunglasses from Primark (fancier but similar version here). I (Jo) wore a Rosalita McGee balloon print dress and a hot air balloon bag which are both from Modcloth and teamed them with brown heart sunglasses from Topshop. Will we ever get bored of heart sunglasses? Probably not!
As much fun as it is to visit the Fiesta for the night glow, we particularly love going down to Ashton Court for the morning ascents (even if it does mean getting up at silly-AM) as there really is something truly magical about watching so many balloons go up when the rest of the city is still sleeping. We’ll be blogging about our time at the Saturday morning ascent later in the week (as well as some very special outfits from Emily and Fin) but if you can’t wait until then (or you just love balloons as much as we do) then have a watch of our Bristol Balloon Fiesta vlog to get a sneaky look at what we got up to as well as the rest of our time at the Fiesta.
Love is certainly in the air this year, with lots of wonderful weddings to attend before my own in September! Last weekend, the OH and I packed our darling Clementine off to the local cattery, donned our Sunday best and drove to Hampshire to watch some of our oldest friends (and Fantasy Football professionals) tie the knot. After the decade they have spent together, it really was quite the occasion. It was also a blooming lovely way to catch up with several old friends who had traveled from far and wide to be there, and who we both miss immensely. I thought I would share some of the photographs that I took on the day to celebrate the very happy occasion. Congratulations Jen and Sean, it was a beautiful wedding and I feel privileged to have shared the day with you!
The wedding was held at the historic Clock Barn in Whitchurch, surrounded by glorious countryside as far as the eye can see. I took advantage of the green space under the thatched clock tower during mingling time to take a couple of outfit photos. I must admit I was slightly more self conscious than usual, after being spotted by several confused wedding guests. I think they were rather curious as to why I was taking so many photographs of my shoes, but then again, they are fabulous shoes! However fabulous, they didn’t last long once the Cèilidh band started and I danced the night away!
It was an emotional wedding, even the cake was in tiers…
Once upon a time we took a trip to the land of Oxford to visit the magical world of the Story Museum. We had so much fun exploring this delightfully quirky wonderland that we couldn’t help but dedicate a whole post to our adventures. Shall we continue?
Since opening in 2009, the museum has been steadily working to create an international centre that’s dedicated to celebrating all forms of storytelling. Thanks to a willing army of volunteers (who are all very helpful and friendly), teachers, artists, and authors they have been transforming what they have called a ‘dilapidated building’ (but what is now more sort of charmingly ‘shabby chic’) into the most incredibly fun place to spend an afternoon. We honestly had so much fun there, it really does make you feel like a big kid!
Just when you thought we couldn’t get any more ridiculous! You can imagine how happy we were when we stumbled across ‘The Changing Room’ where you are encouraged to throw on all sorts of ludicrous fancy dress and then sit on a giant talking throne! We spent a fairly unreasonable amount of time here.
Much merriment was also had as we wandered around the ‘Draw me a story’ exhibition which features six fabulous illustrators. It was wonderful to see their original artwork, prints and sketchbooks as well as seeing so many children getting involved with the workshops and chatting to the the artist in residence!
On the top floor of the Story Museum you are treated to the extreme reading room in which you can sit and read (books are provided) in all manor of ridiculous spots including a garden shed, a cage or, if you’re like us, one or two boats! You are then invited to pop on a dressing gown and enter the ‘Time for bed’ room in which you will find a 15ft bed, complete with patchwork quilt. This quite magical space is all lit up with fairy-lights and is, quite possibly, the comfiest room in the land!
We’ve said it before (here and here) and we will definitely say it again; we really love hanging out at The Watershed. Want to know what we also love? Hanging out with a bunch of jolly old eccentrics of course! Last week, those came in the form of a family of cuddly Moomins, blooming lovely children’s author/huge Moomin fan/epic tie wearer Philip Ardagh, and our BFF Ellie who, along with lots of other Moomin enthusiasts, gathered to watch a special one-off screening of the beautiful ‘Moominland Tales: The Life Of Tove Jansson’. As you might expect, it was Moomin marvellous!
In 1945 Tove Jansson wrote The Moomins and the Great Flood, the first book featuring Moomintroll, Moominmamma (and her rather fetching handbag) and the rest of the Moomin family, including She and Hem icon Little My. Last month, a mere 70 years later, Moomins on the Riviera was released, continuing the story of the much loved family and very much in the spirit of their revered author. Indeed, dedicated Moomin fans should not fret, as during a Q&A session Phillip expanded on how the film captures the charm and wit of Tove’s books perfectly. We will definitely be grabbing some popcorn and checking it out, as we have fallen in love with the Moomins all over again.
Many thanks to The Watershed for inviting us along. We definitely recommend keeping an eye on their What’s On page for future events!
“I only want to live in peace and plant potatoes and dream!”
As you may know, we love spending time in Bath…..not just to keep ourselves clean you understand, but also to eat, be entertained and get pampered! Although it’s only a short train ride back home to Bristol, we just couldn’t refuse when we were offered the chance to stay in the tub a little longer and have a snazzy sleepover at the incredible 1 Hot Bath Street. There wasn’t a rubber duck in sight!
1 Hot Bath Street is one of the insanely gorgeous properties owned by Bath Boutique Stays. There is certainly nothing wishy-washy about this accommodation, it’s a Georgian dream! It sleeps up to twelve people in four bedrooms over three floors, but you may not be surprised to hear that we just couldn’t bear to leave each others sides and ended up bunking in together! After all, it wouldn’t be a real sleepover if we were on different floors, would it? It definitely didn’t have anything to do with the idea of being alone in a massive townhouse, no sirree. We needn’t have worried though as we slept soundly and felt very secure indeed! We were also pleasantly surprised not to be disrupted by any late might revelers, which was impressive as the property is right in the centre of Bath. Top marks!
We had so much fun exploring all the rooms and admiring all of the detail that has gone in to creating such a fab space. We would have gladly taken a lot of the furniture home with us! They really have done an excellent job of creating a modern contemporary space whilst being faithful to this beautiful 200 year old townhouse and we really appreciated the local touches they have incorporated too. Our bedroom (which we chose because we liked its lamp so much) overlooked one of our favourite Bath hotspots, Thermae Bath Spa. Sadly we didn’t have time to pop along this time, but what an excellent excuse to stay again! I (Victoria) will be dropping lots of subtle hints to my exceptionally beautiful, intelligent and generous bridesmaids over the next few weeks as I’ve recently discovered the Roman Goddess Gold Hen Spa Package and HELLO, it sounds incredible. Vintage tea party! Cocktail making! Makeovers! Spa! It sounds like my perfect hen do. Hint hint.
I think possibly our favourite room in the house was the kitchen, which has a beautiful breakfast bar area and everything you could wish for having a big celebration with family or friends, including cake stands, picnic baskets and even champers. They really have thought of everything. Naturally we had to have some champagne whilst we were there, as you really shouldn’t have Bath without bubbles!
Now for something slightly different. We love going to the cinema, even though we often dip into our overdrafts to pay for a She and Hem worthy amount of popcorn. We feel so privileged to live so close to Watershed, a venue and event space in the centre of Bristol which always provides such an excellent, diverse and interesting programme. One event we definitely couldn’t miss (mainly because my (Victoria) OH would most certainly leave me if we did) was the showing of iconic anime film Akira, with added Neo Tokyo Party.
First, the film. Shown in the original Japanese with English subtitles, this was a particularly immersive way to first experience the influential, thrilling and visually dazzling world of Neo Tokyo. To those of you who have seen it, the film needs no introduction and I doubt I can do it justice. To those who have yet to experience Tetsuo and Kaneda’s technicolour adventure, please allow me to Samurais it for you; loud, brilliant.
The party? 80’s computer games! Japanese food! Graffiti wall! It was all very exciting. As I am off to Japan for my honeymoon later this year, I was eager to pick up some tips about how to join a gang of delinquent cyberpunk bikers. Be sure to read my Japan review in October to see how I got on with that. Unfortunately we were unable to wear our favourite Kiyoko and Takashi manga cosplay outfits as we had both came straight from work. Also, it would have caused a huge Japandemonium! But please don’t be koi, and for goodness sake let us know if that is something you would like to see.
I hope you enjoyed the post. I really bento-ver backwards thinking of all the puns.
When perusing the fantastic lineup for this year’s Bath Literature Festival I was very excited to see that our very own Queen of Shops, Mary Portas, would be attending to speak about her new memoir, Shop Girl. I really love Mary Portas (and her sassy bob) so naturally when I was invited by the Bath Literature Festival to attend a couple of their events this was right at the top of my wishlist! Thankfully, despite being completely sold out and with a waiting list, they managed to squeeze myself and Kelly into the packed Banqueting Room at the beautiful Guildhall.
I can now, with some authority, confirm that the official cut off point for being fashionably late is a measly three minutes as it was at 11.03 at which Mary graced the stage to begin an enthralling 60 minute discussion with the wonderful Viv Groskop. Mary spoke about what inspired her to write her memoirs (we can thank Kirsty Young) and discussed some of the more difficult chapters of her life and how they helped to shape the person she has become today. The importance of the high street, her belief that M&S needs a woman at the top and Ed Milliband’s inability to close a gate properly were all covered, along with the opportunity to address recent stories about her family in the papers. It was an incredibly inspiring and at times moving discussion during which Mary spoke with great humour, intelligence and eloquence. She really is fantastic!
There was a book signing straight after the talk and, high on Mary Portas vibes, Kelly and I decided to join the masses and queue for a signature! We had both already bought the book after falling in love with the cover (that’s a totally acceptable way to judge a book, OK) so it was nice to be able to get them signed. Mary was just as lovely in person and even complimented our outfits and hair, much to our relief! We obviously couldn’t help but get a cheeky photo too!
A couple of weeks ago we took a short walk through the centre of Bristol to visit the Mercure Holland House Spa to try out their facilities, and catch up on all things Christmas! After initially navigating ourselves to the wrong Mercure Hotel, we put our heads together and managed to arrive just in time to cut loose, don our swimming caps and goggles and head for our treatments.
We both had a tranquility scalp massage followed by a cleansing and purifying back treatment and were so impressed with our wonderful masseuses. As we were both a little apprehensive about what the treatments would involve (prudes or what?), it was lovely to just be able to take ten and relax, rather than try to make half naked small talk.
One of our favourite things about the spa was how you are given free reign of the facilities, with the staff just letting you get on with your reclining, paddling and, errr, even more reclining. After our treatments, we felt free to spend an hour or so just lazing around in the relaxation room, sipping on endless tea and coffee. We only left because it was getting a little latte… ahem! We also *may* have snuck in a couple of our favourite Pear Cafe brownies to indulge on as we relaxed. What do you mean that isn’t what you are supposed to pack for a spa day?! You’re all doing it wrong.
To finish our day we popped to the hotel restaurant for a late (post brownie) lunch of smoked salmon sandwishes and a yummy shot of soup before taking another well deserved rest which was followed by a dip in the pool. You could say the day went swimmingly!
Do you know of any great spas in the South West? If so, pop them into the comments box below as we’d love to pay them a visit! Make sure you give the Mercure Holland House Spa a whirl(pool) first.
Having grown up in a town that lies between Bristol and Bath, I can assure you that neither city was quite the shopping destination that they can now both claim to be. For myself and my friends it was either Topshop, Pilot and Claire’s in Bath or, errr, Topshop, Pilot and Claire’s in Bristol. Cheers, then. It was for that reason that we used to very often board the train to Swindon to visit their Designer Outlet where we would spend many a happy afternoon picking out our new knickers Kickers for school (showing my age terribly here) or buying the biggest, warmest GAP hoodie we could find.
It was a nice nostalgia filled surprise then, when an email landed in our inbox inviting us to come check out what’s new at the McArthurGlen owned centre. I probably hadn’t been back to the outlet since maybe 2004 and was instantly very curious to revisit this shopping haunt of my past. As it turns out, we’ve both been doing a lot of growing up!
The first thing I did on arrival was to appologise to Victoria for having never told her about the place. As she got massively overexcited at seeing a Cadbury factory shop and I lost my composure at the sight of a Ted Baker outlet, we both realised that despite having a lot of great shops on our doorstep, there’s always time for a good discount. We spent an embarrassing amount of time looking around all of the many (over 90!) stores on offer, only pausing for breath for a cheeky Wagamamas (soy happy). We left with so many bags we could barely carry them all!
We weren’t being completely self-indulgent though as we had in-fact been set the challenge of buying Christmas presents for three of our nearest and dearest for under £250…..as well something for ourselves for under £100. OK, that’s pretty darn indulgent but let’s go with it. So, without further ado, here are my results! Mum, if you’re reading this, STOP READING THIS.
I began with my other half who, as you might have already guessed, is a big kid. I knew the moment Victoria took me into the Hornby shop (more on that from her in part 2) that I wasn’t going to leave without some sort of train set for the railroad-tycoon-sorta-chap I married. It’s also, really, a present for my nephew (an actual child) as I know the two of them will be playing with it for years to come. I plumped for a Christmas themed set as a) it will look so cute around the bottom of our Christmas tree and b) I will only have to deal with tripping over train tracks once a year. SMART. On the hunt for another gift, I spotted the Cold Brew Bottle in Whittard and knew it would make the perfect addition to all of his tea and coffee related paraphernalia. I rounded things off with some chocolate from Lindt……..I am hopeful that I might get a few sneaky squares!
Next up for a bit of Christmas spoiling was my lovely Mum (WHO SHOULD NO LONGER BE READING THIS BY THE WAY). I knew before I arrived that I would be heading to Radley for her main gift as she is obsessed with that little dog and it’s not the sort of thing I would usually be able to afford for her! I spent quite a lot of time umming and ahhing over the range of bags and was so pleasantly surprised at the very heavy discounting on offer! I ended up paying under £50, which is a pretty good deal for a Radley! I had already picked her up some Lindt and decided a Christmasy Yankee Candle would finish things off nicely. Luckily for Mum (WHO HAD BETTER NOT BE READING THIS) I then spotted her beloved Origins GinZing eyecream in The Cosmetics Company Store for at least a fiver cheaper than it would be on the high street and threw that in for her too. What a nice daughter I am.
Finally it was the turn of my teenage cousin who also ended up with some goodies from The Cosmetics Company Store! The trio of Bobbi Brown goodies above set me back a cool £30 which is pretty insane value and I’ll admit I am very tempted to keep that lipstick for myself! I picked up the bow bag from M&S because I considered it to be well trendy and added a salted caramel Yankee Candle because everyone knows that it’s the absolute best.
It was then on to buying stuff for me! Hooray! I knew that I wanted to buy some sort of sparkly Christmas outfit and having narrowed down my options to about 34 different dresses I finally took the plunge in French Connection and bought the beauty you see above, along with a lovely gold bag to go with it. I had a little bit of money left over which went on another salted caramel candle for yours truly! It’s the best, remember? I buy myself the greatest presents!
What do you think of my choices? Will it be a very merry Christmas?
I will definitely be seeing you again soon Swindon Designer Outlet. Thanks for a great day! To see what Christmas goodies Victoria purchased, check out Part 2.