Retro Row Your Boat

Laura Ashley | She and Hem | Retro DressesLaura Ashley | She and Hem | Retro DressesLaura Ashley | She and Hem | Retro DressesLaura Ashley | She and Hem | Retro Dresses

Ahoy there Hemsters! If you are a Laura Ashley fan, you may have spotted two very familiar faces this week on their wonderful blog. We took two of their gorgeous retro inspired dresses along to our recent city break to Oxford. Victoria picked the colouful 50’s style Sail Boat Print Fit Flare Dress and Straw Panama Hat, whilst Jo chose the gorgeous Beach Scene Halterneck Dress with the rather glam Floppy Straw Hat, all of which are from Laura Ashley’s current Sunset Collection.

We dressed down for this wee jaunt down the river to Oxford’s stunning Botanical Gardens, but we can’t wait to restyle these blue beauties again when we set sail on our summer holidays. Jo accessorized her halterneck dress with the Milan Clutch* from Boden, cute ASOS ballet flats and a mustard Primark belt. Victoria’s tan sandals are from New Look and the gorgeous straw bag is from Primark. Unfortunately, the straw bag is now unavailable, as it sold out faster than disposable BBQ’s in a heatwave.

Laura Ashley | She and Hem | Retro DressesLaura Ashley | She and Hem | Retro Dresses | Straw HatsLaura Ashley | She and Hem | Retro Dresses | Straw HatsLaura Ashley | She and Hem | Retro Dresses | Straw HatsLaura Ashley | She and Hem | Retro Dresses | Straw HatsLaura Ashley | She and Hem | Retro Dresses | Straw Hats

V&J

Hem and Away: The Story Museum

Hem and Away: The Story Museum

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?

Hem and Away: The Story MuseumHem and Away: The Story MuseumHem and Away: The Story MuseumHem and Away: The Story MuseumHem and Away: The Story Museum

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!

Hem and Away: The Story MuseumHem and Away: The Story MuseumHem and Away: The Story Museum

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.

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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!

Hem and Away: The Story MuseumHem and Away: The Story MuseumHem and Away: The Story MuseumHem and Away: The Story MuseumHem and Away: The Story MuseumHem and Away: The Story Museum

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!

The End

 Have you read our guide to Oxford

Hem and Away: Oxford

Hem and Away: Oxford #beagreatwesterner

We were recently invited by First Great Western to take part in their #BeAGreatWesterner campaign which aims to showcase the excellent places you can visit by hoping on one of their trains. We decided to take this opportunity to venture 90 minutes up the line to beautiful Oxford for a weekend city break as, despite meeting there at a festival, neither of us had ever spent any time in the city itself.

Hem and Away: Oxford #beagreatwesternerHem and Away: Oxford #beagreatwesternerHem and Away: Oxford #beagreatwesternerox22

Taking our love for hotel bars to the extreme, we checked into The Malmaison – a former prison which just so happens to also be a medieval castle! But of course! It certainly is a very impressive sight and we had a lot of fun exploring the hotel and its impressive grounds. With a central location and incredible cocktail bar, it was without doubt the nicest prison either of us has ever stayed in.

Hem and Away: Oxford #beagreatwesternerHem and Away: Oxford #beagreatwesternerHem and Away: Oxford #beagreatwesternerHem and Away: Oxford #beagreatwesternerHem and Away: Oxford #beagreatwesterner

Whenever we visit anywhere new we always spend an obscene amount of time scouring Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram for nice places to eat and drink. Thankfully Oxford didn’t disappoint! We can highly recommend The Modern Baker for their delicious green macha latte and their ridiculous array of yummy cakes! We also had a great time in Brew drinking coffee whilst listening to The National on their record player – the dream! For dinner we visited SoJo to sample their much raved about dim-sum (turns out it deserves all the raves) and the fab Turl Street Kitchen, whose menu changes every day depending on what’s in season. We thought their two courses for £14.50 deal was a bit of a Saturday night bargain and oh my god look at those puddings!

Hem and Away: Oxford #beagreatwesternerHem and Away: Oxford #beagreatwesternerHem and Away: Oxford #beagreatwesternerHem and Away: Oxford #beagreatwesternerHem and Away: Oxford #beagreatwesternerHem and Away: Oxford #beagreatwesternerHem and Away: Oxford #beagreatwesterner

We spent a lot of time just wandering around gawping at all of the pretty buildings as it really is an incredibly stunning city! We coincidentally managed to time our visit to coincide with the last day of exams so the atmosphere was one of great jubilation and we loved watching all the happy students covering each other with flour and silly-string! We also had a great time at the Story Museum which had been at the very top of our ‘to do’ list. We actually had so much fun there that we are going to dedicate a whole post to it! We also found time to visit the very Instagramable Modern Art gallery to see Lynn Hershman’s Origins of the Species (Part 2), as seen above, which is on until 9th August.

Hem and Away: Oxford #beagreatwesternerHem and Away: Oxford #beagreatwesternerHem and Away: Oxford #beagreatwesternerHem and Away: Oxford #beagreatwesternerHem and Away: Oxford #beagreatwesterner

See? Pretty beautiful! After spending a long time browsing the historic Covered Market as the rain poured down outside, we were relieved to see some sunshine and decided to make the most of it by paying a visit to the gorgeous Botanic Gardens followed by a mosey around Christ Church college. There’s just so much to look at! Did we miss any Oxford gems? If so, let us know, as we need an excuse to go back!

J&V