Sunday, 31 March 2013

Do one thing

You know those motivational quotes that people keen posting on Facebook? Well, not on mine anymore, because I deleted them all. But you know the ones... 
Scare yourself? Every day? Uh, nah.
I don't like being scared. I don't like scary films, scary stories, rides, places etc...
You know what I do like?
I've taken it upon myself to revise that statement slightly...
You. Are. Welcome.


Friday, 29 March 2013

Kitsch Clutter: Alessi heart spoons

How cute are these heart spoons by Alessi? Uh, I think the answer you are looking for is SO CUTE!
Wouldn't they work perfectly with my heart bowls? One for cream, one for jam, one for butter and one for my tea cup...

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Out and about: Light Show at the Hayward

So I went and saw some arty type stuff and wrote about it. Turns out I'm more cultured than you think...

Read about it on Florence Finds!

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Too soon?

Today there was sunshine. It was still virtually arctic out there, but the sun appeared for a while. So, as a true Brit, that means there is only one thing I can do...

...think about stripping off.

Is it too soon to be planning my swim wear? I don't think so. Firstly, you know how I like to plan my outfits and secondly, I have two weddings abroad this year (in Perugia and Vegas) and so that requires me to get in to swimwear in front of large groups of people (arrrrrgh). I think this requires some advance planning. Don't you?

For Vegas I have my standard party swimwear (neon, sequins, tassells, bling) but for Italy I was thinking something a bit more, erm, stylish.

How about this little number from ASOS?

Image 4 of ASOS Plunge Backless Suit

I could style it up with some wedges, a floppy sun hat, and some fifties-style sunnies and then pose around the pool with some high-brow literature and a negroni. 

What do you think?

Of course I'll sign up for a course of lipo before then...

Monday, 11 March 2013

Obsession: Collective Nouns

I'm a geek about a lot of things. Ok, I'm a geek about most things. But this is next obsession is not just beyond geeky, it's

I love, love, LOVE collective nouns. I don't know why, maybe it's because of my obsession with themes and collections? Maybe it's because they are so clever in their description? Maybe it's because they evoke such great visuals in my imagination?

Whatever the reason, I just love thinking about them, discovering new ones, and speculating on what as-yet-unknown ones may be (a dither of lawyers anyone?!?), so when I discovered this website I felt a little faint with excitement.

A website dedicated to collective nouns? Oh good lord.

A website dedicated to collective nouns and corresponding pictures? WOW!

A website dedicated to collective nouns and corresponding pictures that you can purchase and put on your wall as nerdy artwork? I nearly died...

A website dedicated to collective nouns, corresponding pictures that you can purchase and put on your wall as nerdy artwork, created by the graphic designers from Harry Potter?!?!?!?! *THUD*

That was me fainting.

Screw Flora and the Flamingo.

A Zeal of Zebras is my new favourite book.
Possibly my fave?

(I don't really mean that, I spoke too quickly. I will love them both equally)

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Ten years

This weekend marks the ten year anniversary of Mr G and Yours Truly getting reacquainted.


 Having known each other at school and not really liked each other (for various reasons, we shan't discuss here) we lost touch after sixth form. It wasn't a big deal. We survived. We were fine.

It was 2003, I was working on my internship at Visteon, I'd recently just turned 21 and not long before that had become single. My dad had some spare tickets for the rugby and I asked the boys if they wanted them, and that was that. Plans were set, arrangements were made.

Until the night before, when Caroline and I were out and about in Chelmo town with our martini and lemonades, Apple Sourz and WKD Blues being Garage girls and a bit rowdy and we bumped in to the boys. Tom mentioned that he couldn't now make it, but had replaced himself with the now Mr G. Well he was always Mr G, but he wasn't my Mr G! I wasn't happy, but there we go. I couldn't replace him at that late stage... and then he staggered past, held up by two Watsons, barely able to use his legs. I was not impressed!

Tom gave me Nick's number, told me where he lived so I could go and collect him for the taxi and wished me luck. It wasn't me that needed luck... if Nicholas G wasn't ready and waiting, and SOBER when I went to collect him, he was going to encounter The Wrath for the first time.

The next morning I got up, collected Neil and Danny, we went to purchase some snacks for the journey and then went to collect Mr G.


He staggered out of his parents' front door red of eye and wild of hair and to his credit put in literally all the effort in the two and a half hour drive to Twickenham. Bless him. He must have been dying. But he worked his little hungover socks off being polite and engaging and thankful for the tickets with my parents up front, while I watched from the back, scowling!

Who remembers what happened at the actual rugby? Not me! I know it was England v Italy. I know I spent almost my entire month's salary in the Bollinger tent in West Car Park. I know we bumped in to Nick's rugby team in there and they initiated a game of "smash the plastic cups on Nick's head". I know it was FREEZING!

I asked numerous stupid questions ("why is it called a Try, when they've actually achieved it? Shouldn't it be called a Done?")

Later that night we headed back to Essex and everyone lamed-out and went home but I had a bit of a tantrum and wanted to stay out. So Nicholas stayed out with me and we drank GnTs and played on the fruit machine in a bar that has since changed its name at least 15 times.

That night I dreamt Mr G and I got married.

Imagine if Tom had kept his ticket?

Hash Tag Lucky Escape!

Me and Mrs G approx ten years ago. Look how happy we were...

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Kitsch clutter: Duck foot lamp

I really, really want to buy this Porta Romana lamp.

This stripey (!!), black and white (!!), duck foot (??) lamp.

But for two reasons I shan't:

1) I re-watched the first episode of Lemon La Vida Loca the other day and not only did I spot my Bubble Dog on Keith Lemon's coffee table, but I found myself saying "oh, that's brilliant, I love it!" about his hideous Cribs-parody decor. (Help. Me.)

2) I don't have £818

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Out and about: A cute and quirky weekend on the Emerald Isle

In writing about my trip to Wales, I realised I forgot to post about my trip to Ireland before Christmas. So, here we go...

My cousin Jo is at Trinity College in Dublin and as I’ve wanted to visit the city for years, it was a great opportunity to spend some time with her, and the family, do a tiny bit of sightseeing, get in the festive mood and sample a bit of Irish Craic, so a last week that’s exactly what we did!

Molly Malone

How we got there

The cute London Southend Airport on a teeny Aer Arran plane: London Southend is literally 25 minutes from my front door, driving, and probably even less on the train which incidentally pulls up literally opposite the terminal. My mother miscalculated our travel time, and so we spent 2.5 hours in an airport (not the waiting lounge, the whole airport) that is probably smaller than the square footage of my three bedroom semi. We’re talking one check in desk, one café, one shop, one bar and two gates. It was teeny tiny! This meant zero queueing and none of the usual airport expenditure on the way out and on the way home we de-planed, collected luggage, cleared customs, picked up the car and walked through the front door of my house in the time it takes to just walk to the passport gates at Stansted.
Definitely one for the future!
Where we stayed
We stayed at the Trinity Capital Hotel, directly opposite Trinity College where Jo lives on the campus. We originally booked it, on recommendation, for logistical ease but it turned out to be a great choice.
The styling is quirky and it felt like a cross between an early 20th century safari lodge, a Lewis Carroll book and, erm, well, an imaginarium… The lobby and reception areas are littered with (faux) animal skins, gigantic chaise longes and super-sized arms chairs in sumptuous jewel-coloured velvets. The deep purple walls are adorned with beautiful maps, old and new, every pillar and alcove glitters with tiny mosaic tiles and gilded frames. Matching black and white baby grand pianos sit in the middle of the lounge, huge mirrors invite you to walk down corridors that don’t exist, gargoyles of what looked like the cast of The Life of Pi perched on the roof outside my window and life-sized camel statues wait patiently for the summer to return so they have some company in the courtyard.

Black and white pianos
It was one quirky hotel and I LOVED it! Such a great choice and I’ll definitely be going back. For a twin room it was approximately €150 per night, it’s walking distance to all the main areas of the city and, if you catch the bus from the airport to the city centre, it’s a stone’s throw case drag from the bus stop!
We paid €12 per person per day for the breakfast buffet and I feel that it was worth the money for the selection and convenience.
We drank quite a few pre-drinks and nightcaps in the hotel as well, as the lounge sofas were just so squashy and inviting. The cocktail list isn’t extensive but the cocktails were reasonable for a city centre hotel bar and were tasty! It’s also worth noting that my aunt, upon check in, was upgraded to a suite. Apparently the check in system picked her at random that day, so that’s one to hope for, next time we visit!

Jo in the giant chairs! Little bit Alice in Wonderland, right?

Another suggested hotel was La Stampa but that was in a slightly higher price bracket and was much further from the college campus so we discounted it.
Where we ate
KC Peaches: We arrived on Thursday and had some late lunch (Irish stew, of course) at a cute café called KC Peaches opposite the college with Jo’s student card. It was basic in format but with hot and cold dishes, salads and other side orders available at reasonable prices in a warm, cosy and bustly atmosphere, it was a great choice.
Elephant and Castle: That night we took a wander to Temple Bar (where else?) and ate a scrummy dinner, washed down with some Kir Royales at Elephant and Castle followed by more cocktails in the giant sofas back at the hotel, as we needed an early night.

Bewley's: On Friday night, after our trip to Belfast, we kept it simple with pizza and prosecco at Bewley's Grafton Street Cafe - a restaurant dating back to the 1930s, apparently it's famous for its bizarre Christmas window displays.
The Pig's Ear: On our last night, after our trip to the theatre, it was recommended that we try this restaurant and we weren't disappointed. Tasty dishes, served in inventive ways, in a cosy setting by friendly staff. It felt like we were eating at an old friend's house. The best bit, however was when I ordered a pot of tea at the end of the meal. I thought I'd seen all the quirky ways to serve after-dinner hot drinks, but apparently not!

Tea at The Pig's Ear!
Where we drank
Cafe en Seine: in addition to the hotel bar, we also explored some other drinking establishments. Before heading out to dinner on our first night we sneaked in to this beautiful establishment for a pre-dinner drink. The decor made me feel not only like I'd been transported to Paris, but also back in time by a century or so! Not so much Midnight in Paris, but Midnight in Dublin!

Festive taxidermy at 37 Dawson Street
37 Dawson Street: By far my favourite establishment of the trip was 37 Dawson Street. In the same style as the hotel, it was full of quirky artefacts with bemusing drawings and crazy taxidermy adorning the walls, mismatched furniture upholstered in a patchwork of clashing colours and a neon sign proclaiming that "All is not what it seems". It seems that there is now a cocktail list available but when we visited, they were operating on the basis of "tell us what you like and we'll make you something you love". They were however more than happy to make us some classics as well.

Seats at 37 Dawson Street

What we did

Sightseeing: as well as being given the student life tour by Jo, and wandering some of the main touristy areas ourselves, we also spent an interesting morning on a walking tour of the city with Historical Walking Tours of Dublin. I'm ashamed to say I know little to no Irish history so this tour, was an amazing introduction to the stories that the City has to tell, by a person who loves to tell them. It also inspired me to do a little early-Sunday-morning exploring before catching our flights home, whilst everyone else was shopping. Shock horror! You know a city's captured my heart when I decline shopping for walking in the rain.

Oscar Wilde reclining in the rain

Discovered the history of Guinness: Of course no first-timer in Dublin can get away without a visit to the Guinness Storehouse, and I was no exception. We visited in the afternoon after our walking tour and managed to avoid any queues. The tickets were €16.50 but can be bought at a discount if purchased in advance. The tickets not only buy your entry to the storehouse but also a drink in the top floor bar area. The tour starts on the ground floor where, beneath your feet you can see a replica of the 9000 year lease Arthur Guinness signed on the property (clever man!) and above your head you see seven floors laid out around a glass atrium in the shape of a giant Guinness glass. The tour takes you through the history and science of brewing, the creation of the secret recipe and the growth of the brand we all know and love, punctuated with samples of the Black Stuff itself here and there. My favourite part of the tour was the floor that tracks the history of the Guinness advertising campaigns which is full of memorabilia. I'm such a marketing geek! On the top floor we used our tickets to claim our free drinks and spent some time gazing out over the city skyline from the panoramic windows (with key buildings and sights cleverly annotated on the glass) as the sun set. Of course I then spent a significant amount of time in the gift shop buying all sorts of Guinness-branded goods for Mr G's stocking!

Baby Guinness all round!

Baby Guinness

A trip to Belfast: seeing as everyone else in the party had been to Dublin before, we decided to take a trip up to Northern Ireland to visit the Titanic, Belfast. We caught the train from Dublin Connolly (having booked reasonably priced tickets in advance online) and 2.5 hours later we were in a cab to the recently opened exhibition. I'd highly recommend paying it a visit.

En route from Dublin to Belfast

Titanic, Belfast

Intriguing theatre: Jo's flatmate was performing in a play called Tender Napalm at the Project Arts Centre so Jo bought some tickets for us to all head over to see it. I've mentioned before that I'm not a big theatre lover,  much preferring a musical or the ballet. This play was odd. It took us on a crazy journey inside the minds of two damaged souls as they tried to explain... well, who knows what they were trying to explain? When we left the theatre we were all a bit stunned by it. But upon talking about it, we were all so intrigued by it. Each of us had seen entirely different slants on the story, the characters and the outcome. All of us had really been taken on entirely different journeys and felt different character portrayals. Immediately afterwards, had you asked me my thoughts, I would have told you I disliked it. Immensely. However, over the next half an hour, as we discussed it over a drink I realised how much I actually liked it. I then spent the next week or so thinking about it. Even now, three months on, I still look back and ponder the story and the characters. It's one that perhaps I'll go and see again. I'd love you to see it sometime so we can discuss it...

Go see it!
When I'm going back?


I'm looking forward to spending some more time learning about Dublin and its history and returning one day soon. I'm also looking forward to one day taking the literary walking tour about the authors and literature written in and inspired by Dublin.

Jo may also have mentioned once or twice a Leprechaun museum that sounds like a must-see as well...

Until then, I'll have to suffice with correspondence with Jo!

Green post box!

Monday, 4 March 2013

Obsession: Flora and the Flamingo

I'm sorry.

I thought I was done with the flamingos. I thought I'd found them all. I thought I'd made my peace with it.

I hadn't.

I'm buying this.

I'm buying this, because:

1) It's cute and pink. I love cute pink things. Unless they cry/poo/vom.
2) She's called Flora. I wish I was called Flora.
3) Flora and the flamingo are dancing. I like to dance.
4) Flora is wearing a yellow swimming hat. I want a yellow swimming hat.
5) Flora is besties with a flamingo. Imagine being besties with a flamingo. 

 I bet Flora knows Alice too....

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Mission complete

On January 1st 2012 I wrote some New Year resolutions, one of which detailed my plans to visit more of my home country. Having been to all the continents, visited nearly all of my top ten "must see" countries and worked my way through a number of the Wonders of the World, I'd never been to Northern Ireland, Ireland or Wales.

I managed two trips to the Emerald Isle in 2012. A trip to Galway for a wedding, and a weekend in Dublin to visit my cousin during which we jumped on a train to Belafst to see the Titanic exhibition. So that covered off Ireland and Scotland (a few years ago for my birthday and for my hen do back in 2009) but Wales was still pending.

Last weekend I finally made it to the home of the red dragon. Mission complete. Hurrah!

Mr G's Grandma, great aunt and uncle and some of his cousins live in Saundersfoot, which is very close to the little seaside town of Tenby so we booked a cute little beach-front apartment for me, the Mister and his two sisters, left work at lunchtime on Friday and headed off for a weekend of watching them re-live their childhood memories.

We started our seaside weekend with fish n chips on the Friday night with Grandma and then wine, onesies and a film back in our apartment before falling asleep listening to the waves crashing against the beach outside our windows.

Posh fish n chips
Having arrived in darkness, I was thrilled to wake up on Saturday morning to glorious beach vistas from my pillow. We ate breakfast with a view and then Mr G and The Griffettes showed me around town pointing out the places they'd spent their family visits crabbing, rock climbing, swimming and sand dune-rolling as children, before spending some time catching up with the family.

Woke up to sunshine and sea views from my pillow

Beach views

Breakfast with a view

We then whiled away the afternoon enjoying calorific hot chocolates to warm our chilly hands after wandering amongst Mini Egg-coloured, cliff-top homes, caught some of the rugby in a local pub and then ended the day with a snuggly family dinner at a lovely little restaurant called The Mulberry.

Mini Egg houses

Cliff top homes

low-cal afternoon refreshments

We rounded off the weekend with a bit of Sunday morning rock climbing, some more beach walking and lots of sea air to refresh our City souls before heading home.

Griffs climbing cliffs

Sea air
I can't believe it took Mr G ten years (Ten years? For real?) to take me there to visit his family. Now I've discovered it, I'll be back there every five minutes!

Friday, 1 March 2013

Obsession: Lulu Guinness Flamingo Friends

You all know how much I love Lulu Guinness and you all know how much I'm adoring long-legged pink-feathered birds right now.

Well this just combines the two in to a whole new level of flamingo-accessory obsession!

Flamingos feature discreetly in her new Miami-themed Spring collection and it has just made me love her crazy pieces even more.

I need this kissing flamingo pouch as a matter of urgency.