Our honeymoon, the last few days....

It has been such fun writing up our honeymoon.  It's reminded me a little of after a long school trip, this little project, where the teachers make you write up everything.  Except this has been super fun, the pictures are all ready to go on devices various (rather than collected from Boots, never quite sure if the photos had worked or not), and this is all out there on the web rather than in a scraggly exercise book.  Man, school was fun.

After over two weeks of being in holiday mode, our last couple of days in Las Vegas were the perfect mix of chilled, exciting, and lovely.  We headed down to Fremont Street and the older part of town, and played plenty of cards.  We took a helicopter trip to the Grand Canyon which was spectacular.  We enjoyed our suite at the Aria, took the chance to enjoy some great food and cocktails, and discovered the wonder that is the The Big Bang Theory slot machine!  Here are some shots from a lovely last few days on honeymoon.

Warning, oh-so-many photos.  But life is busy and I wanted to wrap up the honeymoon posts by the end of this month.....so here we go!

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A wonderful visit to London Zoo with Avios

Those of you who know me well will know that I both adore London and animals of various shapes and sizes, so when the lovely folk at Talented Talkers asked me if I fancied taking a trip to London Zoo with Avios I leapt at the chance. Avios is encouraging people to do more and enjoy their visit to the city in new and exciting ways.  I chose the zoo - it is a real treasure within the city and does a lot of great work in conservation and animal protection.  Plus - animals!

I was very happy to plan a visit there and got very excited about seeing some of my favourite animals.  I had not been in a good long time so I was very pleased to be able to journey across to see some of the cutest inhabitants of Regents Park (including the little fellow above, who worked it for the camera like a pro!  I could have done a post on him alone!).

Last Thursday dawned grey and murky, but by midmorning the skies were blue and a gentle autumnal sun was beaming down on the city.  I walked through the park to the zoo entrance, where I met up with the lovely Charlotte of The World According to Charlotte Coster.  I'd been gifted two tickets so had put a request out on twitter to see if anyone else fancied a day at the zoo.  Charlotte was free so she joined me for the jaunt.  It's always fun to meet other bloggers in real life and as it always turns out, after chatting for a wee while it transpired that we had tonnes in common.  It was ever thus; I think several of the world's conflicts would be sussed if we all had to sit down with a cuppa before getting all hot-headed....

Tea solves all.

Below are some of the roughly eleventy million shots I took....there were whole swathes of the zoo we didn't even get to (reptile house, bug extravaganza) in our six hour visit - there are an awful lot of things to see!

Loved these elegant birds of prey - their wingspans were almost 8 feet!

The butterfly house was such fun - pretty butterflies everywhere, flitting around.

The children's farm is always worth a visit.  The llamas, alpacas and donkeys were very pleased to see us, including this fine fellow who was hamming it up for the camera.  Speaking of ham, we also saw two enormous piggies having a proper disagreement - their grunts were so loud!

Sleepy, sleepy fruitbats.  They were so funny - really cute but also kind of clumsy when they crawled or flew.  We thought it was cute that there was a little mouse in the bottom of their enclosure - clever fellow!  Why risk the tube or the bins when you can live in a warm place with fruit on tap?

The giraffes were very sweet - I know it's passé but I alays get blown away by how tall they are!  I learned on this visit that their tongues are half a metre long, and that they have black tongues so they don't get sunburnt.

You learn something new every day.

Loved this sign.

We went into the lemur enclosure, where they run around and you're in there too - SO fun!  A lemur tapped my shoe....amazing.  This action shot occur when a little shower started - run, little lemure, run for the shelter!

The meerkats were so sweet.  This little guy took a break from his very industrious digging to have a snapshot.

The penguins are such a favourite of mine.  Whenever Dad would go on detachment to the Falklands he'd come back with penguin stories and toys for us kids, and I just think they are the coolest creatures.  I hadn't been to the zoo since Penguin Beach had been dolled up, so I loved spending a good half hour oohing and aahing at these little fellows!

In this shot they were all grooming themselves, a little like cats!

So beautiful.

This sleepy owl was not feeling the middle of the day.

These monkeys were great, and absolutely fascinated by their neighbours in the next enclosure...

...who were playfighting/  Look at those wondrous, bushy tails!

Not the greatest shot, perhaps, but I loved spying this posse of sleepy otters!

You see a giant polar bear.....you go a little Strictly.

It was tiger naptime when we went over there - I always love how much big cats and domestic cats have in common.  This could have been one of our trio napping, were it not for the enormo paws.

Our last stop was the spider monkey enclosure.  Again, you can actually walk amongst the animals, who climb in the trees and along ropes centimetres from you.  This little guy was fascinated by my iPhone.

I really had a magical time at the zoo and would recommend it to anyone visiting London.  All of the animals were beautiful, and some of the exhibits, where you got to see the creatures close up, were stunning.  Well worth a visit - thank you to Avios & Talented Talkers for giving me the chance to go, and thank you to Charlotte for coming along too.

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Monday Funday, 28th September

It's time for the usual mishmash that is Monday Funday! This weekly collection is comprised of the things which have been distracting, delighting, or diverting me online.  Videos, articles, gifs, blogs, op-eds....you name it, I'll list it here.  If you'd like to link up, please add your link below for a little Monday laughter, learning, or fun.  

* Gosh, British music was awesome in the 90s. Such a tune!

* This round up of healthy lunch options is great....even if some days I just grab some hummus toast or a smoothie because *busy*, it's nice to be inspired!

* Bill Murray.  American Legend.

* I'm a big fan of both Mindy Kaling and The Mindy Project, so this piece was fun to read.  Danny and Mindy 4 eva!

* I'm kind of loving watching Community again on Netflix.  Troy and Abed in the morning!

* I was amazed to see I don't own Muriel's Wedding on DVD. I think I'll have to fix this! This piece on the 20th anniversary of the film being made is warm, witty, and just reminds me how much I love it!

* Since rewatching Josie and the Pussycats the other week, this song has been completely stuck in my head.  

* I'm clearly Chandler, but I enjoyed this quiz to see if you're Rachel, Phoebe, or Monica from Friends.

* After Andy Samberg's Emmy's hosting, I went on a bit of a Lonely Island video spree.  This has to be a favourite. Warning - language is strong, should you prefer to avoid.

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A numbers game...

Yesterday was a gorgeous, sunny autumn day here in London.  These days of September and October sunshine are always amongst some of my favourites of the year - the city is so beautiful in the sunshine, and without the scorching temperatures and busy crowds of high summer everyone is a little more chilled and a little less rushed, particularly at two on a Saturday afternoon, post-brunch, pre-evening.

As I walked from Angel to Old Street to Moorgate to Liverpool Street, cutting a swathe through the City, I had a good think about posts I wanted to get written this week.  I want to write all about Smart Women Week, visits to the zoo, the books I've been reading, the baking event I attended a couple of nights ago.....it struck me that I should also do a 'Wednesday Weigh In' post.

And then I realised.

I have no idea what I weigh right now.

This fact, when I realised it yesterday, made me feel almost dizzy.  I always know what I weigh.  Down to the decimal point.  To not have that number in big, bold, ten feet high letters in my mind was....odd.  A little scary.  And pretty darn intoxicating.  Since about the age of eleven, I have always know that number.  I've always felt the horror and shame and self-loathing of a bigger number; the pride and ego and fragile fear of the number shrinking.  I've spent twenty-three years of my life letting that number dictate an awful lot to me - how I should feel, how I should act, how I should be.

And right now....I have no idea what that number is.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying the healthkick is off, because this year I am all about getting fitter and healthier.  I've been walking, and eating salads, and swimming, and gymming, and sleeping, and trying to keep portions small.  But for the first time in a long time, I have no idea what I weigh.  That number, with all it signifies and makes me feel, is off the table.

I kind of like not obsessing over it.

So in October, I'm going to continue this trend and will next weigh myself on November 1st (because I'm nosey and I think by then I'll be dying to know if the good habits I'm trying to espouse are helping me to shrink, even if just a little).  No more daily weighs.  No more spreadsheets plotting what I need to lose.  Just hard work, good fun, and a set of scales hidden in the box room.

That number has been so key to my self-image for so long.  But I don't think it's the most important number about me.  So I thought I'd close with a completely different set of numbers, each of which probably tell you a little more about me than the one on the scale....or will at least offer a little amusement.


US states visited.


The number of homes I've lived in. 


Times I've read Pride and Prejudice.


Months since I've been to the dentist.  Must fix soon....


Days till Christmas.  SO flipping excited.


Fillings I have. 


Age at which I passed my driving test.


The amount of times I've sung the seminal 'Pass Out' by Tinchy Stryder at karaoke sessions.  Like him I've been to Southampton but I've never been to Scunthorpe, so I feel a kinship...

26.2 (miles)

Longest distance I've walked in a single period.


Number of bridesmaids I had last year at our wedding.  My friendships are one of the greatest treasures in my life.

I'm re-learning how to play the numbers game a little.
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Lovely gift ideas from Uncommon Goods

At this time of the year (3 months to Christmas, guys!) I am always looking for great gift ideas. With a slew of autumn and winter birthdays in our family, plus the Christmas season, I'm always on the lookout for interesting, fun gift ideas.  I was asked by Uncommon Goods if I'd like to select a couple of gifts from their range to review and after looking at their range and reading a little more about them I was delighted to say 'yes, please'.

I selected two items - a Venn diagram serving dish (the combination of geeky and culinary hit so many of my buttons!) and a home plate welcome mat.  The dish is so lovely I think I'll keep it for myself - it'll be great for entertaining; the home plate mat I have an inkling will be happily received by a baseball obsessive I happen to know...

Parcels are always very well received in our household.

The dish is great - really solid and expensive feeling, and I love the Venn diagram feel.  I think for a dip with crisps and crudités, or three kinds of veggies at a Sunday lunch it would be great!

Fry approves too!

The homeplate mat is fantastic - really thick and well made, and would be the perfect welcome to a baseball fanatic's home.  It's also fully cat approved (v important!).

Thank you to Uncommon Goods for providing two items for review - I was very impressed with the quality of the items, and the ease with which I could have them delivered to the UK from the US.  I think their goals, to provide great, interesting gifts alongside their mission to support and provide a platform for artists and designers, are worthwhile and a great reason to consider them when making a purchase.  I also love their blog - full of fun facts, interesting insights and glimpses of the goings on at the company.

Disclaimer: As mentioned, I was gifted these items for review.  All opinions are my own (with a little help from the kitty cats).
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I Love Your Blog: Little Miss Katy

If you pop to my blog fairly often, you will have seen that I've rejigged and restarted my 'I Love Your Blog' series.  It's such a great way to introduce some fabulous blogs and bloggers to my readers, and I love hearing the opinions and thoughts of others writing blogs!

After my last round up I reached out to the bloggers I mentioned to see if they'd like to do a wee email interview with me, and several said 'yes, please!'.  The first of these was the delightful Katy of Little Miss Katy.  Katy is a super blogger who writes about London, food, fashion and fun (amongst a brace of other topics).  Her blog is a favourite read of mine - she's funny and friendly with a great turn of phrase and a penchant for pop culture.  I very much enjoyed having a (virtual) sit down with her and chatting all things blog.  Thanks for taking part, Katy!

Picture by Katy

How long have you been blogging? 

I've been blogging since May 2014, so just under 18 months.

What do you blog about? Do you have a specific goal with your blog, or is it more a record of your life? 

It started off as just a place for me to sharpen my writing skills and keep me entertained at work. I'd started a long-distance creative writing course but found the assignments really dull and creative-less! So this was just somewhere for me to break out a bit, while still practising my craft. Nowadays it's definitely a project I'd love to turn into a full-time career!

What is your favourite thing about blogging? 

The community. I LOVE meeting new people and making new friends, so that's been a really special side-effect to the blogging. A lot of my close friends now are fellow bloggers and I'm constantly arranging to meet up with readers and tweeters and instagrammers for dinner and drinks. It's definitely my favourite bit!

Picture by Katy

What is your least favourite thing about blogging? 

The admin side of it! Emails, spreadsheets, lists... all necessary evils for my future goals, but definitely something I sometimes wish I could hand over to an assistant. 

Do you have any favourite posts on your blog – pieces you’re really proud of, which document something special, or which seemed to strike a chord with your readers? 

I love writing my Happy Mondays and I'm so proud of how much of a Thing they've become. I've had so many people tell me that reading those posts is the highlight of their Monday and that makes me so proud!

Whose blogs do you love?  I’m always looking for recommendations :) 

I adore Hannah Gale's blog. I'm also a massive fan of The Londoner (but only in small doses cos otherwise I get serious wanderlust pangs!), Forever Amber, Cider with Rosie, The Awkward Blog, Josie's Journal, Dalton Banks, Life Outside London and Rhyme & Ribbons! (I read A LOT of blogs haha!)

Do you enjoy interacting with your readers? 

As mentioned above: I LOVE it. I read every single comment and try and set aside a couple of hours a week to reply to them all. I'm much more active and engaged on Twitter and Instagram though, and I love meeting new readers in person too!

Picture by Katy

I love the pictures you have on your blog - do you have a favourite camera, or a favourite editing program? 

Ahh thank you so much! Until recently I was using a bulky Canon DSLR and 50mm lens to take all my photos, but I just sold that and treated myself to an Olympus PEN e-PL7. It is a DREAM and I am so so happy with it. It's tiny but SO powerful and has some incredible features that are perfect for bloggers or photographers on the move. I can't recommend it enough! For editing I just use the basic Windows editor to up the brightness, contrast, higlights and saturation. I also usually turn down the warmth slightly for a cooler finish.

What hopes and dreams do you have for ‘Little Miss Katy’ going forward? 

I'd love to keep growing my community, collaborate with brands and eventually be able to leave my boring office job to work on it full-time. I'm in the middle of a re-design at the moment and have some exciting new features planned for the Winter! So we'll see where it goes :)

What tips do you have for bloggers growing and nurturing their blogs? 

Lose the numbers focus. Overtime I've become much less interested in looking at my Google Analytics and Bloglovin numbers. Cos I realised that, all that time I've spent looking at the numbers and feeling bad about my work? I could totally have been having a GIF war on Twitter with one of my readers. Or learning a new editing skill. Or replying to comments! I've learned that nurturing the readers you DO have, and establising meaningful relationships is so much more fun and interesting than just trying to hit 1000 Bloglovin followers or whatever. Work on building a community, not a following!

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Monday Funday, 21st September

Yay, it's Monday Funday time!  This Monday is even more fun than usual, as it's a little anniversary....seven years ago today I kissed a boy.  He's now my husband.  Love you, Matthew - seven years of awesome!

With that soppiness over, it's time for the usual mishmash that is Monday Funday! This weekly collection is comprised of the things which have been distracting, delighting, or diverting me online.  Videos, articles, gifs, blogs, op-eds....you name it, I'll list it here.  If you'd like to link up, please add your link below for a little Monday laughter, learning, or fun.

* Cats of all sizes make me purr, so am loving following Big Cat Rescue on Instagram.

* Graphs of when TV shows go off the boil (or should that be jump the shark?) are fun!

* I love When Harry Met Sally, but hadn't really looked at it from a feminist point of view...I found this piece interesting, even if I didn't concur entirely!

* This was an interesting read: which 1980s movies would you like to see remade?

* These sweet and funny illustrations are just darling!

* Tumblr is a treasure trove of wonder.  Behold, the Cat Scan.

* Team Tituss: 

* If like me you're obsessed with Christmas, you'll know it's less than 100 days till the BIG day.  So I'm pinning plenty of Christmas prep funs, like this list of ornaments to make with the kids! 

* Discuss.

*Gosh I love Alan Cumming!

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Pinterest: Autumn Inspiration

I love a good Pinterest session, and as we move into the most pleasant of seasons I love to pin ideas, recipes and decor tips for a cosy, welcoming autumnal home!  My autumn board is full of red, gold and brown loveliness - the best of which I thought I'd share.

Picture by Emily Rose

Emily Rose of Simply Vintage Girl has come up with this beautiful idea - the Thankful Tree.  The branches and colours are gorgeously autumnal, and bedecked with small notes of thankfulness.  What a lovely idea!

Picture by forever-october
Laura at Bright Bold Beautiful put together this lovely run-down of some of the most beautiful tumblr posts on autumn (or fall, if you live in the US!).

Picture by Susan
Susan at Between Naps on the Porch has a great selection of different ways to decorate for autumn.  I love the yellows and oranges and rustic charms on display!

Picture by Shannon

Shannon at AKADesign has written this super post on a fall table - her flair for decor and design is awe-inspiring; every little detail is perfect!

Picture by Cherished Bliss
 I adore a cute printable to display, and think the above from Cherished Bliss would be lovely to have on a wall or a mantel.  Click here to download your own from their site.

Picture by Lovefoodies

I love a little pumpkin at this time of year.  I don't actually like the ubitiquous Pumpkin Spice Lattes which are all over instagram this time of year (too sickly for me), but I do enjoy a yummy pumpkin soup or pumpkin pie.  These cookies from Lovefoodies also sound great - I will have to pop to Whole Foods for some pumpkin to make some.

Picture by Dawn
On Creative Cain Cabin there is inspiration aplenty - bright sunflowers; ripe apples; rich, deep colours. Dawn has such an eye and creates displays and tablescapes that are quite stunning!  I'm trying to fathom out how to translate them from her countryside idyll to a London Victorian terrace house.

Man, I am feeling all autumnal now!  What are your favourite ways to enjoy this season?

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5 fun ways to celebrate London Fashion Week*

*even if you're not going to any shows!

Twice a year for a week, the fashionistas of London get very excited about Fashion Week - it's always a fun time! Beautiful people (and their Ubers) whizzing around town, bevvies of models on the tube (I never feel shorter than I do at this time of year), and pop ups popping up everywhere.  I swear, we are beats away for public loos, tube stations and bus stops getting in on the fun.  Actually, a fashion show in a tube station would be fierce....you read it here first, friends!

Now, many of my bloggy friends are fashion focused, so they are all tres busy attending shows and parties.  I, however, write about fashion on more of an ad hoc basis, being a lifestyle blogger (a little of this, a little of that!), so am a little out of the loop this turnaround.  As I spend more time writing on fashion and on writing this blog in general, I'm hopeful that future fashion weeks will be even more fun.  I'm a great fan of what fashion can do (to paraphrase a movie we'll discuss later, "Fashion is art you live your life in") and think it's a fascinating arena to explore and write about.  As I get a little older my confidence is growing and I'm more willing to take risks in what I wear and how I wear it; it's a fun season!

For this fashion week, however, I've put together this list of 5 fun ways to celebrate London Fashion Week - even if you're not going to any shows!

1. Indulge in a little pampering

Lots of salons and shops are offering special treatments for the duration of LFW.  I opted for the super fun  Four London popup, where they are doing blow-dries over breakfast (other time slots are available!) at the always fabulous Sketch.  I went for a blowdry and braid yesterday morning and loved it - I got many compliments throughout the day and no fewer than three shop assistants asking me how I'd done my hairband braid (I sheepishly had to own I'd had it done for me ;)).

2. Pop into a pop-up

Many brands and stores launch pop-ups at this point in the year.  I'm excited to head down to Dawn O'Porter's BOB pop-up on Carnaby Street, which opens today and runs till mid October!

3. Drink up

Many bars, hotels and restaurants will do menus and cocktails with a twist to entice the stylish set.  I'm looking forward to heading over to The Riding House Café for one of their fashion week cocktails....The Basic Bitch, The Nobody, the Only Show Her Back and the Reverse Beyonce all sound delicious and delightfully fashionable!

4. People watch

Seriously, there are fashion editors, fashion bloggers, models and celebs all over Soho.  Plonk thyself down in a comfy spot and enjoy the show!  Wandering around Liberty yesterday I saw a healthy chunk of fashion's who's-who in the scarves and umbrellas department (sudden London showers will have that impact - got to look after those blow-dries!).

5. Curl up with a book, a movie, or a magazine

After a day of working the catwalk, the event cycle, or the pavement, you'll be tired!  Why not add a little fashion fabulosity to your down time?  All the major magazines have their September issues on the stands and it's a feast of prettiness.  I adore a good fashion book too, and would highly recommend 100 Dresses, by Harold Koda; Isabella Blow, by Martina Rink; or Stylist: The Interpreters of Fashion by Sarah Mower; all are interesting reads with stunning photography. Inspiring. If, however, you're far too tired for something so cerebral, why not curl up with a fashion-heavy film like The September Issue, Sex and the City or Confessions of a Shopaholic?  I know I'll be enjoying a viewing of The Devil Wears Prada (the big daddy of recent-ish fashion films) in the not too distant.

Vive la Streep!

Whatever you decide to do, enjoy this fun week in town, and don't forget to do so fabulously!

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Our honeymoon, days 14 & 15

After an amazing visit to Hawaii, day 14 was our last full day in the islands.  We were so sorry to be leaving!  We'd long ago selected Hawaii as a honeymoon destination as it's the sort of place that's so far from the UK, you'll only visit once.  After our adventures on the Big Island and our idyllic time in Kauai - that's no longer true.  If and when we can save enough we hope to return, perhaps for a big anniversary in a decade or two, should the fates be kind.

We started the day with these amazing lemon-pineapple-soufflé pancakes, a Koa Kea speciality. So yummy.  After that it was time to catch a taxi across to Lihu'e, where we were scheduled to take a light aircraft flight around the island.  We flew with Wings Over Kauai and they were fantastic!

Being so high up was an amazing way to see the island, where so many films (including the Jurassic Park series) have been filmed and there is such a wealth of beauty to enjoy!

The water was so, so blue.

After a beautiful tour of the island (including a glimpse of our resort from the air in the top picture in this post!) we headed back to the Koa Kea for a chilled evening - we had a very early flight scheduled the next day.  The hotel was really exceptional and was just perfect for a honeymoon, with some of the finest staff I've ever encountered in the field.  For me the best of a very good bunch were Nick, who brought perfect blueberry toast from room service for a late night snack; Imelda, our wonderful, friendly turn-down lady; Whitney, the super helpful conceirge who assisted us with table bookings and logisitcs aplenty; and Erin, who made the pool bar a lovely place to sit and unwind (as well as making us some brilliant cocktails!).

Our last Hawaiian sunset.

Next day we were up bright and early to take a taxi back to Lihu'e.  We had to take a quick 20 minute flight back to Honolulu before our long flight back to Vegas.....and the plane was over an hour late!  Quite usual for the islands, we were assured, but a bit worrying if you like to be early for flights and have a quick turnaround!  Despite the worry, we made it to Honolulu, dashed through the terminal, and made it to our Vegas flight just in time.  Phew!

A lovely, smooth flight took us east across the Pacific, and in a few short hours had us back to desert views out the window.

We had had a great stay at the MGM Grand on our first Vegas leg, but for the return we stayed in a Sky Suite at the Aria.  The Aria is a newer hotel and is very plush and well-finished - we loved our one-bedroom corner suite on the 32-floor with floor to ceiling windows.  Best views of the Strip!

The hotel sent a limo to take us from the airport to the Aria.  As it was our first limo ride together I felt a selfie was in order!

We could see Copperfield from our room again - a little further away this time!

Space age room controls!

You could see for miles from our bedroom.

Once we were settled and unpacked - check in taking next to no time as the Sky Suites have their own entry and check in - we headed down to the casino floor to take in the lay of the land and grab a quick pizza and beer supper.

The Aria has art dotted throughout it's corridors and atria - I liked that this one bore signage which cautioned that the horse was not for sitting on...

Exploring done, we turned in for the night, and enjoyed a nightcap taking in the glittering lights of Las Vegas.  It was fun to be back!

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