Thursday, 27 February 2014

Things I love Thursday

This week has been flying by and the mornings are looking decidedly brighter as I leave for work in the morning (at a horrid 6.50am, which is not fun in winter). I think spring is definitely on its way and, if that doesn't cheer you up, here are a few things to put an actual spring in your step on this last Thursday of February.

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Isn't this dress gorgeous? Combine it with a big pair of sunglasses, a straw hat and some cute wedge sandals - summer here I come!


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This is true far too often.



The fantastic news that the amazing Ripper Street has been saved! The news that the BBC had decided to axe this wonderfully-written and often thought-provoking  depiction of life in the grim East End of Victorian London was met with a lot of outrage, and the online outcry seems to have worked! Apparently, a new series will be funded by Amazon Prime and the new episodes will air through them before being shown on the BBC. (Thank you to Madame Guillotine for the news!)




Oh I do love Wes Anderson's films! Gorgeously shot, wonderfully (often) bizarre characters, fantastic soundtracks - they're perfect to while away a few hours with a cup of tea and something sweet. I adored his most recent film, Moonrise Kingdom, and I've wanted to watch The Grand Budapest Hotel since the trailer was first released. Will you be making a trip to the cinema for this?


Also...

♥ Rosie's 20 ways to find calm when life is busy. Sometimes we all need a little help to not let things get on top of us...I do like the suggestion of making a good list. (Sometimes I write things on my list that I've already done, just so that I can cross it off straightaway!)

♥ This recipe for Lemon and Poppyseed Cupcakes.

♥ Holiday planning... I'd love to get away for a bit of break in the sun this year and I'm enjoying daydreaming about the various options. Lots of culture, sun (but not too hot!) and somewhere where eating gluten free won't be a nightmare...hmm. Any suggestions would be gratefully received!

Enjoy the countdown to the weekend folks!


Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Jeeves and Wooster in Perfect Nonsense - review

Ohhh Saturday night was heaps of fun! It seems like ages ago already (sob!) but it's always wonderful to have lovely memories to look back on. 

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After dinner and coffee and a hair-raising rickshaw ride through London with my Matron of Honour and one of my bridesmaids (another story for another time!) we arrived at the Duke of York's Theatre, and settled into our fabulous seats in the third row of the stalls. 

The premise of the show is that Bertie Wooster is presenting a show in the West End about the recent events surrounding his dispatch to Totleigh Towers by his Aunt Dahlia in order to steal an antique silver cow creamer. Knowing it's Bertie Wooster who's involved, things are not straightforward and he gets into all manner of hilarious scrapes as he tries to please his Aunt, as well as remedy all the other troubles he gets into en route. Who's going to help him get through this unscathed? It has to be Jeeves.

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Stephen Mangan is a hilariously goofy Bertie Wooster, stumbling from scrape to scrape with an enormous grin and a fabulously infectious laugh. I particularly loved the beginning of the second act, when the curtain rises to Bertie lying in the path playing happily with a rubber duck.

The wonderful Matthew Macfadyen is the fabulously stiff upper-lipped Jeeves, who saves the day and doesn't break a sweat while tying Bertie's bow tie and ensuring he's always immaculately dressed at the same time. He also plays a number of other characters as, being a three-man show, Matthew Macfadyen and Mark Hadfield (who plays Sepping the butler) have to fill out the remaining characters. 

The other characters, with names like Stiffy Byng and Gussie Fink-Nottle, are characterised by ludicrous wigs, glasses and, in one case, an ever-increasing fascist mac. Fantastic props, a clever set design, absolutely delicious language (the mac-wearer is described at one point as having "the sort of eye that can open an oyster at 60 paces") and filled with lashings of slapstick comedy. At one point, Macfadyen has to play two characters at the same time with uproarious results. 

The cast bounced their way through the entire play, with so much energy, and the time flew by. I would love to go again and if you get the chance to watch it, you really must go! 

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Things I Love Thursday

I can't believe it's Thursday again already! Four day weeks really are the way forward - blink and Friday's almost here. 

So, without further ado, here are a few things that have made me smile this week....

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♥ 
My favourite flower - paeonies never fail to make me smile.

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 How fantastic is this headband?! St Patrick's day isn't too far away and this would be absolutely perfect. I discovered Janine Basil's site this week and I've already got a wee list of favourites...the shamrocks are a clear winner but I also love these stars and, for a little 1950s chic, this spotty bow headband. A little pay day treat perhaps?

The news that an adaptation of Jamaica Inn will be shown on the BBC at Easter. I love Daphne Du Maurier's books and Jamaica Inn has been a favourite since I first discovered it as a teenager. I really hope the adaptation will live up to my expectations.

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I love going to the theatre but unfortunately don't get the chance to go as often as I'd like to. This Saturday though I'm going to watch Jeeves and Wooster at the Duke of York's Theatre! It looks absolutely hilarious and has a fantastic cast, so I'm very excited. I'll put up a review as soon as I can afterwards...

I hope you're all having a lovely week!

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Long Weekend

It was so lovely to have a four day weekend! Don't get me wrong, I love my job but everyone needs a break now and again!

We went out for dinner on Thursday evening with some friends - a few drinks and some delicious Japanese food to usher in the long weekend. The mister and I got home after midnight so we decided to swap Valentine's cards and our little gifts before bed, because we were heading to Norfolk early the next day. We're not huge Valentine's fans - years of hating it as a singleton and not wanting to sit in a restaurant elbow to elbow with 800 other couples eating an overpriced Valentine's menu - but we do like to recognise it in our own way and usually cook something tasty at home. This year, we decided to visit the mister's mum in Norfolk and escape London for a few days.

I absolutely love Norfolk and enjoy being able to completely shut off from London and its distractions, in a beautiful little village in the countryside. This was particularly true this weekend - the wind was howling and it was pouring with rain, so we cosied up in the warmth eating and looking at old photographs and discussing wedding plans.

We were back in London on Sunday and the sun shone all day, it was so beautiful! I decided it was a good morning to clean All The Things, while the mister wisely retreated for a walk with his camera. We then headed to Richmond for a walk along the river, as documented in my Silent Sunday snaps. The highlight of the day was making friends with a black velvet pug called Pip. I went to give him a scratch behind the ears and he snorted happily up at me - it was love at first sight. One day I'll have a pug of my own! :)

David Lynch, Untitled (Lodz), 2000 - source
I enjoyed a last, glorious lie-in on Monday morning, made even sweeter by the fact that I'd forgotten to switch my work alarm off and I was then able to turn it off when it rang out at 5.30am - not this morning, alarm! 

I pootled off for a hair cut, bonding with my hairdresser over Zooey Deschanel and the quest for a perfect fringe, before meeting up with the mister in Soho for a burger at Honest Burgers. They do fantastic burgers and it's wonderful to be able to have a gluten free bun and their delicious rosemary-salted chips. We then popped to the Photographers' Gallery to see their exhibitions focusing on the work of David Lynch, William Burroughs and Andy Warhol. I loved the Lynch photography - brooding black and white images, accompanied by one of Lynch's sound installations - it was almost as if we'd stepped right into one of his films. The Burroughs and Warhol exhibitions were slightly underwhelming though - Warhol in particular, just seemed hastily put-together and lacking in much originality. I definitely enjoyed the visit though and a trip to the Photographers' Gallery is always eye-opening as they display work I'd never usually encounter.

Now I just need to hold onto the thought of this wee break as I return to work this morning...spontaneous breaks with very little planned in advance can often be the best breaks!

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Things I Love Thursday

This week has been all kinds of stressful...frantic at work, a trip to A & E with the mister on Monday evening after he slipped and cut his head (he's ok now, with a rather fetching bandage!) and a full day's seminar on tax! It's definitely time to focus on a few things that have made me smile this week instead...



♥ Relaxing long weekends - I shouldn't really moan because I actually have Friday (and next Monday!) off work! I don't have much planned at the moment and I could not be more excited about that!


 The ever wonderful Gemma Correll



♥ These mugs!

♥ The beautiful stationery in this post by the Domestic Sluts. I particularly loved the wooden calligraphy pen and the travel inspired letter sets. Nothing beats receiving a proper handwritten letter in the post...I think it's time for me to dig out my pens and paper.

♥ Bookmarking tasty treats for some future baking sessions...I particularly like the look of these Jam Thumbprint Biscuits and Chocolate Truffles, this Nutella Pudding and (as a non-bakey treat) this honey and orange sweet tea.


♥ Starting to dip my toe into the magical (and also slightly scary) world of wedding planning. Fun fact - my mister and I got engaged at New Year, and we're just beginning to discuss the type of day we'd like. I didn't really have any fixed ideas before getting engaged so it's all very new to me and, my gosh, there's a lot to think about if that's the way you want to play it. I'm quite organised so I want to make sure that I cover everything in enough time so that the day itself, and the days leading up to it, will be as relaxed as possible. So in the spirit of starting to get organised, I've started a little pinterest board, if you'd like to take a look? 


What has made you smile this week?

Monday, 10 February 2014

Book Review: 'The Goddess and the Thief' by Essie Fox

Uprooted from her home in India, Alice is raised by her aunt, a spiritualist medium in Windsor, When the mysterious Mr Tilsbury enters their lives, Alice is drawn into a plot to steal the priceless Koh-i-Noor diamond, claimed by the British Empire at the end of the Anglo-Sikh wars.

Said to be both blessed and cursed, the sacred Indian stone exerts its power over all who encounter it: a handsome deposed maharajah determined to claim his rightful throne, a man hell-bent on discovering the secrets of eternity, and a widowed queen who hopes the jewel can draw her husband's spirit back. In the midst of all this madness, Alice must discover a way to regain control of her life and fate...

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Do you believe in other worlds, of lives ever after, of heavens on earth? My ayah did, and from her lips there dripped such honeyed promises. There was one tale she used to tell, and I heard it so often that, even now, I recall her every word by heart...

After the death of her mother, Alice Willoughby is brought up in Lahore, India by her ayah until her father decides that she must return to England, where she is left in the care of her aunt Mercy. Unfortunately, Alice is not fated to enjoy a peaceful upbringing as she becomes a victim of the scheming of her aunt and the mysterious Mr Tilsbury, a man who claims to have known her father during his time in India.

Primarily told from Alice's viewpoint, the story is also interspersed with dreams, letters and memories of past events, lending a beautiful poignancy to the unfolding narrative. Although fictitious, the novel features various historical figures, it refers to real historical events and is infused with Indian mythology, the majority of which were completely new to me. It  was fascinating - I never felt like any of these moments were signposted (*real life event fanfare*) but instead they were seamlessly woven throughout the story.

If you've already read and enjoyed Essie Fox's previous two novels (The Somnambulist and Elijah's Mermaid) you will love this. But even if you haven't read any of her works before, I truly recommend this. She has the power to conjure up Victorian London so beautifully, so evocatively, that you remain in her world long after putting the books down. Dark, gritty, fabulously well-researched, every detail of London life is captured in her words. I couldn't put this down but, at the same time, really tried to so that I wouldn't finish this too soon!

Highly, highly recommended.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Silent Sunday: a Crisp Winter's Day in Norfolk




A beautifully crisp winter's day in Norfolk between Christmas and New Year. 
You can find a few more photos here.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Hampstead Heath

The sun was shining on London last Sunday. It was one of those crisp, bright winter days where the promise of spring is just around the corner. (I'm trying to hold onto the thought of it right now, as I peer out of my window at the soggy streets below. Although, there are very few things cosier than snuggling up in bed listening to the sound of the wind and the rain lashing against your window.)

But I digress.

Last Sunday was gorgeous!

The mister and I decided to get the train to Hampstead and go for a walk across the Heath. We've been meaning to do this for ages but somehow TFL has always suggested really long over-complicated routes that are usually full of some kind of maintenance work at the weekend...but we then discovered it's super easy to get there on the overground, so on we hopped and soon after we arrived in Hampstead.

My gosh, it was worth it. One of my favourite things about London is that you can be in the middle of a bustling street full of shops one moment and then, the next moment, be in the midst of a beautiful green open space. Hampstead is just like that, but the Heath is slightly more wild and countryside-y (new word!) than somewhere like Hyde Park, which is a little more polished.

Hamsptead Heath is absolutely huge and so we only explored a small section of it, but we headed to the centre from where you can see wonderful views of London, tramping through long grass and muddy patches. I even occasionally managed to take my eyes off all the cute hounds running around (seriously, when I can have one?!) and snap a few photos. My mister's wonderful Granddad passed away last year and left me his camera, so this year I'm determined to bring it along with me more often so that I can practice and (hopefully!) start taking better pictures. You can see the full set of photos here, but I've included a few in this post because I'm quite proud of how they came out!

The one of the Parakeet is slightly bittersweet though because, after taking my photos, I trampled through the undergrowth quite loudly, causing them all to fly away just as the mister (who's an amazing photographer, even if I do say so myself) had lined them all up in the viewfinder of his camera, ready to take the shot. Quelle horreur :)






After spending a few hours exploring the Heath, we wandered over to Hampstead Village and spent a wee while rummaging around Daunt Books, where I picked up Essie Fox's new book The Goddess and the Thief. I've been wanting to read this since it was published in December and I don't want to put it down already, although I'm forcing myself to because I don't want to finish it too quickly. If you're in the mood for something a little gothic and Victorian, do pick up one of Essie Fox's wonderful books! I might pop a review up here when I've finished this one.

We then cosied up in a café with our new books and lots of tea before getting the train home. Bliss :) Here's to more Sundays just like that one!

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Bags of Opportunity.

I really need a new work bag. My current bag is looking well-loved but, alas, not in a good way...it's holding together but starting to fray a little at the edges and I'm really conscious of it looking slightly tatty. 

I've started looking for a new one and have bookmarked a few. I've been watching the new series of the Bletchley Circle over the last few weeks and I think that's subconsciously drawing me to every satchel within a 100 mile radius of my laptop.

It's got to be smart, large enough to fit A4-sized paperwork and go well with a suit. It would also be great if it didn't make me look about 15 years old, playing at being a grown-up. (Hmm maybe I should stay away from the satchels then?!) 

These are my favourites so far:


I absolutely adore Ollie & Nic's bags and this one is no exception! Well made, with gorgeous details (it has a leopard print lining!) but quite pricey at £70. They usually do good sales though and this would be worth waiting for.


This one is even pricier than the Ollie & Nic satchel but is definitely a more traditional work bag. It's lovely but unfortunately, my salary just won't stretch to £79 for a bag right now. Le sigh! Most of the reviews are very good...apart from the one saying that the buckle fell off after three months!


The most reasonably-priced of the three but I think I'll have to go and look at it in an actual shop to see if it looks too casual. There are only two reviews on the website at the moment - one saying it looked dirty, cheap and horrible, and the other saying it's fab and perfect for work. Very unhelpful!

The search continues... Please feel free to point me in the direction of anything you've seen that would suit!

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Inside Llewyn Davis

Have you seen Inside Llewyn Davis yet? If not, go and see it immediately. If so, hooray isn't it wonderful?! Pull up a chair, let's talk about how fantastic it is!

Set during the 1960s Greenwich Village folk music scene, Inside Llewyn Davis follows the eponymous hero from shadowy folk clubs to the couches of various friends and acquaintances as he struggles to make a name for himself as a solo artist without sacrificing his own credibility.

There is a cloud of restless discontentment surrounding Llewyn as he makes his way through life, well the brief glimpse into his life that we're given. His closest relationships appear to be with a folk singing husband and wife duo, Jim (an uncomplicated, affable Justin Timberlake) and Jean (Carey Mulligan as you've never seen her before), although even that is complicated by the fact that Jean believes that he has got her pregnant and is (hilariously, swearily) mad about it.

Llewyn makes his way from New York to Chicago and back again, hitching a ride with a mean old jazz musician (the ever-wonderful John Goodman) and his virtually silent driver.

Beautifully shot, with a stunning soundtrack, I had been looking forward to this film for months and it truly didn't disappoint. It combines hilarious laugh out loud moments with scenes of heartbreaking poignancy. Folk music peaked in popularity during the early to mid 1960s but will Llewyn's music merely be confined to a box of un-sold records, stored under a table?

Honestly honestly, go and watch it!

Also, if you don't want a cat after watching this movie...well, I don't know what to say to you.






Hello.

I've spent most of my spare time this weekend exploring a new blog and it's been absolute bliss. Am I alone in finding the discovery of a new blog a wonderfully exciting moment? Cup of tea in one hand, while scrolling back through all the posts...bookmarking places to visit, recipes to try, books to read and inspiring outfit choices. It's GREAT!

It also made me want to start a new blog myself... I lived abroad for four years after university and discovered Livejournal while I was out there. My blog recorded all the highs and lows of this experience (and the trials of moving back home again) and I love looking back on it now, as well as still enjoying the friendships made on Livejournal during this period. I've started a few other blogs since moving back but never really stuck with them. I think that's because I tried to focus on one particular topic and got bored after a while, always thinking "oh I should blog about that..." but never quite feeling like it.

So the moral of the story? It's time to write about whatever I feel like, whenever I feel like it - no pressure! I have a very busy job and I miss writing and being creative outside of it, so 2014's the year to bring this back.

Hello again internets, it's me, Cat :)