Moving house – preparing to leave Brixton

Sorry I have been very quiet on the blog front, I was travelling in April and visited Myanmar and Italy. Since I have been back in May and June, life has rather taken over. How do other people manage to fit in blogging, working and seeing your friends and family? Is it down to better discipline and watching a bit less Love Island?

My mother died at Christmas and we are finally sorting out her house. My brother and I have been sorting through all her possessions, which is heartbreaking on one hand, but bringing back lots of very happy memories of my Mum and Dad (who died when I was 25).

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Spending a lot of time sorting out crockery

We are hoping to sell it over the summer but in the meantime I have decided to sell my beloved Brixton Hill flat where I have lived for eight years.

It has many happy memories, parties, endless hours lying in the back garden. It also really reminds me of my Mum who used to come up and help with the garden, often bringing plants.

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The flat went on the market on Saturday and apparently 18 people came round to see it, I wait to see tomorrow whether I get any offers! I have loved living here and I am sure someone else will as well.

So on Saturday we got up very early to hide all our possessions away and leave the house spotless before leaving the estate agents to it.

I had bribed my boyfriend to help out with the promise of breakfast. So we strolled down the road to the very lovely Stir Coffee to sit outside and enjoy the sunshine. It is on the corner of Arodene Road, with outside seating, and we had two beautiful coffees and bagels with smoked salmon and cream cheese. One of the benefits of living off Brixton Hill is all the great coffee shops, Stir Coffee, F Mondays and a brilliant pizza place, Pizza Brixton. We are truly spoiled!

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They sell delicious coffee and smoked salmon and cream cheese bagels.

So things I have learned so far in the process of selling my flat.

  • Estate agents are very charming and it is difficult to work out who to work with.
  • I went with a local recommendation and the person who seemed to have the best plan for marketing the flat.
  • You need to remove all your clutter to make the estate agent photos work, but the photographer used a bit of creative finesse to dress the space.
  • You need to be patient, I am desperate to know how the viewings went and whether there will be any offers ( I will let you know).
  • You spend a lot of money on flowers, but I love buying them so that is a good excuse.
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Buying flowers help you sell houses.

I will let you know how I get on tomorrow, next task is working out where we should move to. Anyone recommend their part of London? We are looking at South Tottenham at the moment, do you live there? Do you like it?

Walking in the New Forest

When I was small I spent a lot of time in the New Forest. The New Forest ponies would rest their faces on the gate and you could go down and pet them.

I still love the New Forest and a couple of weekends ago we headed out of London for a forest escape.

We headed out for a walk and made some friends along the way.

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Views across the New Forest

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Does anyone know what this beautiful lichen is called?

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We stumbled across this beautiful house, all very Hansel and Gretel. I would love to wake up and look across the beautiful New Forest.

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When we arrived back at the pub we found this beautiful blossom.

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So if you have a chance to go and explore the New Forest this Spring I would highly recommend it.

A weekend in the Yorkshire Dales, exploring Ilkley.

Last weekend I was up in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales. We headed North from Kings Cross train station up to Leeds and then on to Ilkely, a pretty market town.

We were visiting a very good friend, but to give everyone some space we booked a very cosy and comfortable Ilkley Airbnb apartment, smack bang in the middle of town. Great for a couple or two friends planning a holiday in Ilkley.

We spent a lot of time catching up and on the Friday night we went out for a delicious curry at the Aagrah curry in Ilkley . Great service and delicious food, but we ordered far too much. It was very popular with families and groups of friends out for a night out.  I particularly liked the elephant out the front of the restaurant.

We woke up bright and early on Saturday and headed down to the park, followed by some cheeky bacon butties. Ilkley is a very pretty town. We took a stroll down the Grove, taking a look beautiful Bettys cafe window. A lovely place where you can stock up on baked goods, I liked the look of their famous Yorkshire Rascals.

I had a peak inside and saw the magnificent macaroon towers and beautiful loose chocolate counter. It is a beautiful shop and very hard to walk out without buying something.

Check out this spectacular Easter egg, not sure what I would do about that if someone gave that to me.

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We popped into the many charity shops, where I picked up some great paperbacks. I spotted that lots of the shops have some really beautiful tiling in the doorways. The below is a particularly beautiful example.

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We also popped into the Grove Bookshop with another beautiful window display. I wanted to buy most of the books. The ground floor of the shop is a general bookshop which caters for all tastes. We also carry a wide range of Yorkshire books, from life in Bradford’s textile mills to the stunning photographic landscapes of the Dales. Their travel section was pretty impressive as well.

Apparently Alan Bennett frequently pops in to sign copies of his popular books.

 

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On Sunday we climbed up the Cow and Calf Rocks on Ilkley Moor, they are a large rock formation consisting of an outcrop and boulder,  one is large, with the smaller one sitting close to it, like a cow and calf.The rocks are a great place to climb and the moor offers spectacular views of Ilkley and beyond.

It was a cold and windy day but look at that beautiful view.

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I did some shameless posing up on top of the Cow and Calf, with the Yorkshire Dales spread out behind me. It was very cold.dsc01183

There is a cafe up the top and we grabbed a coffee under the heaters and headed back into Ilkley. Where we went to Outside the Box cafe. A great community cafe with lots of toys for my friend’s children to play with. A nice spot and doing some great work.

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We had a quick wander before we had to make the long journey back down South.

 

 

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Valentines Day – how to get it right.

Valentines Day certainly divides opinion in my office, half my colleagues deliberately don’t observe it. The other half are far keener. I spotted some Valentines Day research today that showed over half of UK adults (52%) don’t plan to buy a gift for their loved one this Valentine’s Day. Almost half (48%) are not even planning to buy a card.

To me that seems a bit sad.

I am a romantic (I blame the books I read as a child). Looking back my most memorable Valentines Day when I was at school, I got four cards, one from my Mum, one from the old lady over the road and two from actual boys. I think my Mum and the old lady across the road were worried I wouldn’t get one! Plus my best friend’s little brother sent me a rose from the boy’s school. One of the boys who sent me a rose is still a good friend. I am having dinner with him and his lovely wife later on this week. The other ended up being my first serious boyfriend. That Valentines day has never been surpassed, although I have had some nice days.

Tomorrow I plan to bake some Valentines Day biscuits, which is on trend according to the research as people are most likely to select small personal gifts such as handmade items (21%). I gave my boyfriend some rather nice Paul Smith orange socks. I may get dinner out at the new pizza place down the road or dinner cooked for me at home. [He is currently in the kitchen making something complicated with aubergines.]

I have been reading a lot about Valentines day today and the wisest thing I read is that rather making a grand Valentine’s Day gesture if you must. But a real grown-up romance is built from 1,000 daily acts of kindness. So I am hoping for a card tomorrow and a cup of coffee in bed.

Hello Spring, exploring Laura Bluebell’s garden

I love Spring and I am eagerly awaiting its arrival. I also love flowering bulbs and planted lots this Autumn. The hard work planting all your Spring Bulbs in the Autumn is always worthwhile when you start to see the fruits of your labour.

We are finally emerging from the grim winter weather. On Saturday we even had some sun. In my little spot in South London it has been raining relentlessly and I have not ventured outside for quite a while. One morning last week I grabbed my camera and headed outside.

This week I popped out to have a quick look around and it was great to see all the bulbs peeking up through the ground or from the Spring bulbs I had planted in containers.

I was delighted to see the Primulas has survived the winter and offer a bit of yellow cheer. Although they look a bit soggy.

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Not only the garden is full of spring flowering bulbs. Inside the house I am filling them with signs of Spring. I love hyacinth flowering bulbs and tulips at this time of year. Plus I try to buy Daffodils whenever I get the chance.

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But the garden looks like it needs a little bit of tidying up. A project for when the weather is a little better.dsc01103

Lunch at Cafe Murano and (window) shopping before pay day

A quick blog post to get back in the swing of blogging after a long hiatus. My Mum died just before Christmas and so I hit pause whilst I dealt with the funeral and everything else that was involved.

My friends and family have been lovely and are taking great care of me. Today my lovely friend Ali took me to Cafe Murano in Covent Garden for lunch. We had a great time.

We sat at the bar and I kicked off the meal with a Negroni. Daytime drinking is a bold move for January but I am not stinting myself at the moment.

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The menu is amazing and we started off by sharing the Mozzarella with Prosciutto di San Daniele  (which was delicious) and grilled squid. We then moved on to Swiss Chard ravioli, a great choice, we chose the smaller portions so we had some space for pudding. We finally finished off the meal with vanilla panacotta and  Yorkshire rhubarb.

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After eating far too much we went for a stroll around London to work off some of the food. Even though the weather is freezing we saw some lovely places. I always love the flowers outside beautiful Liberty London.

We popped into the the temple of temptation, John Lewis on Oxford street, and did some window shopping. It was window shopping as I am avoiding clothes shopping until pay day. We are also trying to declutter the house and so I can’t bring anything else home until we get rid of all the clutter. A post to follow on that soon.

I love clothes and this Garden Posy Casual shirt caught my eye, love the pattern.

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This long sleeved dress from Selected Femme Gaila Printed Dress in dark sapphire would be a great addition to the wardrobe.

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So thank you lovely Ali for a great day. When times are a little tricky having good friends is a real blessing.

 

Happy New Year and Laura Bluebell’s 2016 highlights

This year has been an interesting one, some great moments and some terrible ones.

Dwelling on the positives I went on some fantastic trips.

I went to Copenhagen with my lovely friend Ali. Ventured to Antwerp and Sicily with Joss. Plus we both explored beautiful Northern Ireland with my cousins. copenhagen

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A rather wild hen do in Sicily.

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So what will 2017 bring? It will definitely involve travelling. It may involve a move but I am sure it will mean some more gardening.

I also plan to have to perfect my watercolours since I received such a beautiful set from my brother.

We will see what 2017 brings. I look forward to sharing my adventures with you all.

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Watercolour and calligraphy class with Shoshy Cadoodle – Etsy Local in Crouch End

Today I went to a watercolour and modern calligraphy class at the Etsy Local fair taught by the lovely Shoshy Cadoodle, here is her website if you want to learn more.

It took place in Hornsey Town Hall in Crouch End alongside the Etsy Local fair. It was quite strange having people stand and watch you try calligraphy and paint but Shoshy was a great teacher.

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We learned how modern calligraphy takes some elements from traditional calligraphy and we were encouraged to try our unique style. The main rule was to make a light stroke on the way up and a heavier stroke on the way down.

We practised some of our skills and how mark making works. Here is Shoshy showing us how to make the calligraphy marks.

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Then we had a go and tried making the marks.

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I forgot how to spell, but managed to join up some letters.

Then we moved on to learning how to watercolour. First how to blend the colours together, painting a circle, letting it dry and painting another circle.

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We then drew a circle and illustrated the outside, here is my effort. Just need to add the calligraphy to finish it off. If you want to try you need a Tonbow Fudenosuke Brush Pen. I am going to be decorating some of my Christmas cards. Watch out friends and family.

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It was a fun class but it was quite odd having people peering over your shoulder as you painted.

I will be practising and getting myself some watercolours. Shoshy recommended Kuretake Gansai Tambi Japanese Watercolour Paints or Windsor & Newton Cotman Paints.

 

 

 

Meeting the makers at Renegade Craft Fair

As you saw in my previous film I had a lovely time at Renegade Craft Fair. I wanted to share details of some of the lovely people I met and things I bought. It has taken a while to write up, but I have wanted to write about it after being surrounded by all the beautiful things I bought.

First up is Suzie Lee Knitwear where I bought the pink scarf I have been wearing continuously all week. Suzie makes some really lovely things and you can catch her at the Crafty Fox Market in Brixton on Sunday 4th December.

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I bought her lovely scarf, which I am modelling here….

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Here are some of the stalls I really liked:

The lovely Anna Wiscombe who I met at the Craft Central pop up shop on Clerkenwell Green earlier this year. If you want to see her great pieces, she is back there from 5th December until 11th December 2016.

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Here are her lovely bird brooches. I plan to swing by Craft Central and pick up one of these very cute wooden mistletoe ornaments.

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One of the highlights of my visit to Renegade Craft Fair was meeting Dot & Cross and I bought a fantastic wooden candle holder which holds a single tealight and some beautiful handmade candles made in Cumbria. The candle holder gives me a lot of pleasure, it is such a beautifully made piece.

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I also loved Limehouse Ceramics and bought two of Elizabeth’s beautiful blue coasters and a green vase which looks great with holly. She is now selling these fantastic teacup necklaces which I really want, aren’t they great.


Another maker I spied was Miss Knit Nat who had a great stall.

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Another great thing that day was the coffee we got from Spitalfieds Market from Mr Coffee. All in all a really great day.

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Breakfast at Wild Caper- exploring Brixton Village

After a stormy night in South London on Saturday night, so loud I was woken up in the middle of the night by the high winds.

In the morning I went out to explore the windswept garden.

Afterwards we went out searching for a really nice breakfast that our greasy spoon couldn’t supply.

We walked down the road to Brixton Village and along to Rosie’s Cafe, which is a long standing favourite, only to discover that it has shut down. We went further into the market and chose to have brunch at Wild Caper.

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We kicked off with some delicious cappucinos and moved on to the Wild Caper vegetarian breakfasts and delicious juices, I had one with strawberry, kiwi and apple and J’s was made with apple and ginger.

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Look at our delicious breakfast.

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Afterwards we went for a bit of an explore and made the most of final Autumn days.

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Wrapping up warm in my new Jigsaw ”Shona’ hat made in a Scottish mill and my lovely cosy coat.

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