Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The CN Tower


Every city has its iconic monument, building or structure.

The Eiffel Tower.

The London Eye.

The Empire State Building.

In Toronto there are many beautiful buildings, but none are more iconic and recognisable than the CN Tower. So when we visited a few months ago, of course  we had to visit. After buying our tickets and a wait of about thirty minutes we were soon speeding up the tower, whizzing upwards as we looked out of the glass elevator at the city skyline.

Once there we were treated to gorgeous views of the city, the islands, Lake Ontario and beyond. At a height of 346/351 metres (or even higher if you venture up to the Skypod) you can see a long, long way!

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Amedeo, Rome

 

We spent so much of our time in Italy on the go. As it was our first trip we were so keen to see and experience as much as we possibly could, and we walked for miles, hopped on and off coaches and trains, climbed a bazillion steps (seriously, my thighs lost a couple of inches in a matter of a week!), and general dashed around from morning to  night, having a ball.

We stayed in a sweet little hotel close to Termini, and on one evening we weren't sure where to go for dinner, so we popped around the corner to Amedeo, a little restaurant just off Via Cavour. As it was spur of the moment we had no idea what the food would be like, but man, was I glad we visited - everything was delicious!

As soon as we were sat down, menus appeared and we were soon sipping on fruity, mellow glasses of Anagni, a lovely red.


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Diner, Islington


It is a truth universally acknowledged that I love me a trip to The Diner. In a city jampacked with food options, it's my frequent go-to for tasty comfort food and fun cocktails - from burgers to nachos to margaritas there are always a bunch of good things on offer. So when I was invited along to see the newly refurbished Islington location, along with some of my faves (oh hey, Erica, Jas, Charley & Charlie), you know I was all in, right?


I've always liked the Islington branch of The Diner - it's such a great location and a frequent brunch spot for me and my girls. The new refurb looks amazing - I love the bar in the middle of the restaurant, it really opens up the space, as well as giving you somewhere to wait if you're early for your table. The outside of the room is covered with booths, perfect for that Americana vibe we all love at The Diner!


Friday, April 14, 2017

Book Review: The Hate U Give


One of my favourite things about the close of the year is the excitement of the year to come - the shows to await, the albums to look for, and best of all (for a bookworm like me), the books to get excited about. I love poring over the lists and noting down the titles of books I'm looking forward to, and pre-ordering them (or if I'm lucky and know the PR, requesting a proof).

In the 2017 lists, a book the really stood out for me was The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas.  The buzz around this book was deafening, and so many writers, bloggers and thinkers I admire were flagging it up as a book to watch. So I pre-ordered my copy and awaited delivery.

Set in contemporary America, The Hate U Give follows the story of Starr, a girl growing up in the poor neighbourhood of Garden Heights where her family have lived for generations, and who attends Williamson, a private school in the suburbs. As the book unfolds it becomes apparent that Starr struggles with belonging in either setting. At home she feels distant from peers as her school life and much of her social life takes place away from Garden Heights. Meanwhile at school she has friends with home lives incredibly different to her own, and as the narrative unfolds we see Starr struggling with her status as an outlier at school - her background and ethnicity both singles her out and gives her an allure of cool bestowed upon her by her fellow students due to her perceived otherness.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Happy Monday #....20 (I think?)

Last year, when I was away from teaching for a while I got really into posting my Happy Mondays each week (inspired by the lovely round ups of good bloggy friends like Katy, Jasmin, Charlie and Charley, amongst others). Then came January and the whizz and whirl of a new term, and realistically I knew the series would have to fall off the radar.

But today finds me on a chilled Monday (it's been a day of reading, lesson planning, laundry, trash TV and housework) and with plenty to be happy about, so I thought I'd revive the format. Something I'm intending to do from time to time, cause heck, this is my space and I shall use it as I see fit. :)

(While I have you, thank you for all the kind responses after this post. I feel so lucky to have such kind people around me!)

1. Cooking



How lovely it is to have time to cook up some new recipes. The recent sunny weather has me dreaming up quick dinners, big salads, and refreshing cocktails. Pictured above, a quick lunch of mushroom risotto topped with Santini tomatoes (so tangy and fresh).

Thursday, April 06, 2017

I Love Your Blog: Vicky Dalton-Banks


While I love being a lifestyle blogger, I like to read blogs of a million different types. From books to food to fashion to travel there are so many awesome people writing great things, taking amazing pictures and creating compelling, interesting content. What a delight it is to be a small cog within this realm!

One of my favourite foodie bloggers, as well as a great traveller and truly a 'must click' for restaurant recommendations here in town is the lovely Vicky Dalton-Banks. I've been reading her blog for about two years now and I adore it, and I've been lucky to become friends with the lady herself through a series of food events and the wonder that is Pizza Club. I was delighted when Vicky agreed to be part of I Love Your Blog, and hope you enjoy her interview below.

Pretty lady! All pictures from Vicky's awesome blog :)

How long have you been blogging?

I've been blogging for 2 and a half years and probably love doing it more than ever!

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Fattie Fattie Fattie Oi Oi Oi


A few moments ago I was having a scroll through instagram, embracing a little downtime after doing a metric tonne of laundry and ironing a bundle of things too. As I sat down for a little break in the early evening sunshine, my notifications popped up. As I clicked through, I spotted that a comment had been left on the picture above. The picture's over a month old, which is why I think I even noticed - most of my recent notifications have been on the slew of pretty Italian scenes I've been sharing. Man, Italy is gorgeous. 

Before I continue with the tale, a little aside on the image above.

I happen to love the picture, not because I look good, or it's especially clever, or even a great insta-shot. I look a bit mad, to be fair - I'd been up since 4.45am to get on the Eurostar, my hair is clearly having a moment, I'm grinning like a loon and the Arc de Triomphe shot I was aiming for has just been obscured by a van. However, I also look happy...because I was. And because I am.

So back to the comment. The comment left, coincidentally, by someone who had followed and then promptly found a selfie to leave his oh-so-special and important tuppence worth of opinion on. The comment? Fattie Fattie Fattie Oi Oi Oi.

I mean. What critique. What wit. What a way to get straight to the point and present me with some brand new information. Because obviously, being the size and weight I am, this fact had never been brought to my attention. I mean, when you're larger than the average/ fat/ obese/ plump/ voluptuous (pick your flavour - I've been called them all and I am them all) heaven knows this is never pointed out to you! The culture and time we live in never objectifies people, let alone women.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Beautiful Burano



At the start of each month I love checking in on the #travellinkup and seeing if the theme is one that works for me, my blog, and my travels. And this month, the theme could not be a better match! This month it's all about inspiration, and after a ten-day trip to beautiful Italy, I am certainly feeling extremely inspired.

Amongst our many adventures, one of my favourite places to visit was the gorgeous island of Burano. This technicolour dream of a place was a delightful place to explore, enjoy some lunch, and stroll around in the sunshine looking at the lovely houses.


I did consider having a play and an edit with the photos, but in all truth the place was so stunning I just uploading these as is - the pretty houses and beautiful streets and canals more than speak for themselves, don't you think?

Saturday, April 01, 2017

How To Be A Grown Up


You know how some writers just chime with you?

How when you read their poetry, or prose, or journalism, and you feel you could be kindred spirits, so close to the nerve their writing goes? The writers who you feel 'get' you, who tick all those lovely empathy boxes?

For me, one of that select bunch is Daisy Buchanan. And for many others too, as evinced by her thousands of twitter followers, agony-aunt-for-Grazia gig, and her widely enjoyed and discussed writings for many other publications (seriously, I could list but we would be here a while...my faves are her witty, outspoken, wonderful writings for The PoolI have such a soft spot for that site!).  Imagine my delight then when a couple of months ago I spotted some tweets discussing an upcoming book by the divine Ms B, which I clearly had to get a copy of to review.

A little tweeting and a quick request later, my very own hot pink proof of How To Be A Grown Up (Headline, releases on April 6th) arrived, and I devoured the thing over my winter break. This is a simply marvellous book, full of humour and intelligence, but more than that, full of kindness. Daisy writes about everything, from friendship to career, love to money, the bedroom to the boardroom and fills each chapter with wisdom, as well as funny stories and interesting anecdotes aplenty. Like sitting down with a trusted friend and catching up over a drink or two, this book is not only entertaining, you come away from it feeling enriched, like you've got some extra hints and tips to take away.

The book seems to be pitched for twenty-somethings (it certainly seems to be the case on Amazon etc) but even being in my mid-thirties there was plenty I could reflect on and learn from, as well as plenty of cringey moments I could enjoy with a little distance from my teens and early adulthood! I would have loved to have read this when I was a little younger, but could still relish it in my current season of life.

This book straddles two very different genres with skill - it's both a funny, entertaining read and a book chock-full of actionable, useful advice - combining the two is no mean feat! Throughout Buchanan's talent for a story and her ear for a well-crafted line shine through, and this is a wee gem of a read. When it releases I'll definitely be gifting a few copies to some of my best girls. Well worth your time - I'll be looking out for this bright pink cover on my commutes to work later this year!




Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book to review from the publisher. All opinions, thoughts and ponderings are my own.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Sky Suites at the Aria Hotel, Las Vegas


When I travel, I have been lucky enough to stay in a diverse range of hotels, homes, hostels and accommodations. From gorgeous suites to shared dorms, plush rooms to campsites, quaint B & Bs to mid-range hotels, there truly is a time and an occasion for everything!

In Las Vegas, however, I love a bit of luxury. In a city devoted to decadence, it's the perfect place to splurge on a suite and really enjoy the high life.

To quote Donna Meagle:


When Matthew and I went on our honeymoon in 2015, we stayed in two Vegas hotels, the MGM and the Aria. Both were nice hotels, but the Aria just blew us away with the quality of the rooms, the levels of service and the fantastic location, so when we added a Vegas leg onto our autumn trip last year, it had to be the Aria.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Plates

I had to illustrate a post called Plates with a picture of some of my own pretty plates, right? These beauties are from West Elm, John Lewis, Monsoon, Laura Ashley, Marks & Spencer and one from my parents' wedding crockery. I love me some pretty plates!

Do you ever feel like sometimes you're trying to keep dozens of plates in the air? Like there's so much to do, and not quite enough time to do it?

Lately I've been feeling this, in a big way. I'm lucky enough to have a busy life (and lucky enough to have coffee and patience enough to whizz through said busy life), but this latest season is calling upon my inner acrobat a little. I've neglected my blog a fair amount, but one of the joys of having been in the blogosphere for over a decade means I'm well aware of the ups and downs of writing. With being back into full-time work (and what's more, full time work which I thoroughly enjoy), it's been the right thing to designate the blog to the backburner to simmer a while, whilst other more pressing tasks, activities and projects, from settling in with a new class, to helping backstage with the Year 3 play, to actually seeing my husband, have taken precedence.

So back to the plates. I like to think of each area of my life as a separate little plate, and one which I have to spin and keep in motion or it will falter and fall. Some plates are big and important - my job, my marriage, my home, my friendships. Some are smaller, but are shiny and beautiful and catch the light as they spin - these plates add so much to my life and are good for my health, my wellbeing and my soul. They include writing, blogging, exercising, cooking, walking, snuggling up with three very silly cats, reading and volunteering. Then there are the smaller plates, the ones which you can almost forget...until they threaten to fall.

We all have these plates. Yours might look very similar, or very, very different. But they will be there. This past few months, with a pretty big life change (from work at home writer and homemaker to full-time teaching is a big shift!), I've been working hard to keep the plates aloft, and I think I've managed it, for the most part.

All this to say, it's nearly Easter break, and I intend to do a good week of writing during the time off which is on the horizon. Brace yourself....blog posts are coming. I have holidays to recount, books to review, recipes to write up and so much to share.

But first, the end of term. And a jaunt to Italy. I'll see you soon, lovelies.

Monday, March 06, 2017

Happy Monday #20


I'm back! And ready for the first Happy Monday of 2017. Inspired by the lovely Katy and Jasmin, these erstwhile roundups focus on the good things, big and small, that make it all worthwhile.

  1. Time with friends

Whether it’s brunch with Kaz, pizza and a movie with Shona, a baby shower for a dear JLL sister, silliness and fun with bloggy friends, dinner giggles, or catching up with Jenna after a two-and-a-half year break, I’m always grateful for time with the people who make up my tribe.

2. Lighter mornings

Isn’t it great to wake up and head off to work and it’s not pitch dark?

3. Dancing

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

The Bear and the Nightingale


I have a soft spot for fairy tales. I think in the mystical, the fantastical, the other-worldly, stories can inhabit a special, revealing place, and I love getting swept up by a narrative that takes me to a different space.

The Bear and the Nightingale (Del Rey, out now in hardback; paperback releasing in October 2017), is a Russian fairytale, all about the sinister and unknown things which may lie around us, in the deep and unknown woods. The story, in its snowy, rural setting, is written in a lyrical and beautiful style, with vivid descriptions and exquisite pacing.

This is one of those books which hooked me from the blurb:

"In a village at the edge of the wilderness of northern Russia, where the winds blow cold and the snow falls many months of the year, an elderly servant tells stories of sorcery, folklore and the Winter King to the children of the family, tales of old magic frowned upon by the church.

But for the young, wild Vasya these are far more than just stories. She alone can see the house spirits that guard her home, and sense the growing forces of dark magic in the woods... "


I mean. For someone who loves a bit of Gaiman, Pullman and Morgenstern...that's my kind of intro!

The story follows Vasya, our headstrong, wild girl, the youngest child in the Vladmirovich family. Growing up without her mother, who died shortly after Vasya's birth, she is the baby of the family, who is doted upon by her older siblings. Vasya has inherited her mother's gift of the second sight and spends her time in congress with the spirits and guardians of the land around her. She befriends many of the spirits and tries to aid them as the rest of her village start to move away from them and from the ancient magic. Concerned that Vasya will never marry without changing her ways and becoming a dignified and proper young lady, her father remarries. From here, things begin to unravel, and the forces of the old magic and the modernising ways are thrown into conflict.

This is an evocative, unputdownable book, full of elegant prose and beautiful moments. I found myself gripped as the story unfolded and missed my tube stop on more than one occasion as I was so gripped by the world if snow, folklore, old gods and hearth-spirits. Recommended.






Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book to review from the publisher. All opinions, thoughts and ponderings are my own.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Exploring the Highline, New York

 They say a picture tells a thousand words.

In that case, brace yourselves for 2,400 words.

The High Line is one of the places in New York that Matthew and I knew we had to go when we visited the city. A truly unique park in the heart of Manhattan, we had such fun walking the length of the trail. The mixture of greenery, the urban areas it traversed, and the hints at the railroad which preceded it made the whole experience one to treasure. I could waffle on at length, but in this post I think I'll let the pictures do the talking...





Sunday, February 26, 2017

Super-simple Sweet Potato Hummus


Last Saturday I had a unique problem. Not an actual problem, you understand, but very much a food-blogger-hungry-girl problem.

As I cruised through Instagram stories (do please follow mine if you're a fan of cats, food, books, travel and lashings of silliness), it appeared a large chunk of my acquaintance were all out at brunch. This felt especially mean as I'd chained myself to the house for the morning and early afternoon to write and plan and clean, so could not be out at brunch myself. I jest of course, but as I had a five minute break and a play on insta, the hunger was real. What to do?

And then the lovely Charlie and Katy posted a beautiful dish of hummus, and I knew exactly what I had to make - my super-simple sweet potato hummus. I love it and it's unbelievably easy to throw together. I always keep a tin of chickpeas and a jar of tahini to hand just in case I feel like making hummus, and this sweet potato blend is delish. I didn't have any cumin in the house, but this still tasted lovely.

Thank you for the inspo, ladies!


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

I Love Your Blog: Jaye Rockett


I love when I get the chance to do this series. There are so many great bloggers out there, people sharing great ideas, great words, great images, and I love having the chance and the platform to share some of them here with you.

I actually cannot recall the first time I met Jaye, but I am oh-so-glad I did. Stylish, funny, and utterly addicted to stationery (qwe bonded hard over a mutual love of Kikki K, Paperchase, and Erin Condren, among others!), she's such a creative and kind member of the blogosphere, and I'm delighted that she agreed to take part in 'I Love Your Blog'.


.......

 1.      How long have you been blogging?

I’ve been blogging now for almost five years, but my blog has taken quite a few forms during that time. I originally started it as something to keep me occupied when I moved to London for Uni and knew nobody, and it’s kind of evolved into something of a digital diary!

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

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Pizza Club at Firebrand Pizza


One of the true delights of blogging has been the many wonderful people I've met. Inspiring people, clever people, funny people; amazing writers, photographers and wits; dear friends and kind souls. I'm always amazed at how fortunate I've been in the people I am lucky enough to call my blog-friends and the many joys they bring to my life.

Three such wonders are my Pizza Club buddies, Emma, Connie and Vicky. From a series of throwaway tweets in the middle of 2016, Pizza Club was spawned, and now every month or two we get together to eat pizza, try new flavours, and catch up on the goings on in our lives. On this occasion we were kindly invited by Firebrand Pizza, a sweet little pizzeria a hop, skip and jump from Marylebone station.

Friday, February 17, 2017

The Life Goddess, Fitzrovia

I love finding little spots in town that are great for lunch. In this busy, bustling city, it's so great to find somewhere where you can pull up a chair and enjoy a delicious meal on a lunchbreak or of an evening. Imagine my delight, then, when I met up with the lovely Charlie and we headed to The Life Goddess in Fitzrovia for lunch a little while ago.

This little gem is a true delight, nestled away in the heart of the city. Part deli, part restaurant, it was the ideal place for a catch up over great, fresh food.


I settled upon the slow roasted pork belly with rosemary potatoes and salad...

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Brunch at Boondocks

Whatever your personal feelings about Valentines, February 14th is all about the love.

How fitting, then, that my blogging calendar has me writing about something I truly love today (I love many things, but today's topic is definitely one of them!).

Brunch.

I love brunch. The options, the chat, the cocktails, the coffee. There's something so delicious and inviting about spending time over a meal with friends, family, loved ones, and a long brunch is a charming way to catch up and check in.


I've passed Boondocks, on City Road, a fair few times since it opened. With a fair few friends living and working in Old Street, Hoxton and Shoreditch, it's a part of town I see often. I also love a bit of southern-US comfort food, so it was very much on my radar to try. Imagine my delight, then, when the lovely Katy said she'd been invited along to sample their new brunch menu. And that she had a plus one. I love it when the universe conspires to bring me, breakfast food, and dear friends together.



Sunday, February 12, 2017

Exploring the Royal Museums, Greenwich


Last month, I was lucky enough to spend a day out having adventures with the lovely Emma. We brunched at Big Easy then we spent an enjoyable afternoon exploring some of the wonderful museums over in Greenwich.

Our first stop was the National Maritime Museum. I've been here several times on school trips, but on this occasion it was lovely to explore without having to pause every few moments to do a headcount (I'm such a triple-checker when I run school excursions!). The museum is light and inviting and full to bursting with the most fascinating pieces which chart the naval and sailing history of our island nation. 


Saturday, February 04, 2017

Big Easy, Canary Wharf


A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to get to hang out with the lovely Emma and do some exploring here in town. Once we settled on a date, we quickly formulated a plan - brunch at the Big Easy in Canary Wharf followed by exploring and culture at the museums in Greenwich.


As the picture demonstrates, I was super excited to try Big Easy - I've been meaning to do so for ages but this was actually my first visit. I love me some southern-US food so was excited to head on down and try. The Canary Wharf location is lovely, easy to get to, with bags of space and great light, so all in all it's a blogger's dream!

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

January by the numbers, and my goals for February

Happy end of January, all. Hasn't this month felt long? Even though I like January, this has felt like a long old month. Maybe it's the weather, maybe it's the dark, maybe it's the political maelstrom, I just know it's been a long month and I'm quite looking forward to a new page on the calendar.

As this year I've made my new year's resolutions monthly targets, I figured I'd check in each month with an update on how they've gone, as well as given a few vital stats for the month just past. There are lots of plans and changes afoot in 2017, and I think it'll be fun to keep a record.

So, January by the numbers...

Blog events attended: A rather lacklustre 2. I have, however, had some lovely get-togethers with bloggy friends.

Brunching up a storm with Emma was a highlight!

Books read: A better 6 (The Dry, Relativity, Homegoing, How To Be A Grown Up, The Bear And The Nightingale, The One).

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Casa Brindisa, South Kensington


A photo posted by Claire Roper (@cmclaire) on

On Christmas Eve I had the unexpected treat of having Matthew around. As he usually works over the Christmas and New Year's period  he's ordinarily in the office, but as Christmas Eve fell on a Saturday we got to spend the whole day together. It's my favourite day of the year, so it was lovely to get to share it with him.

As I was so excited I decided to plan a few treats for the day - I dearly love a treat. I booked us both tickets to Carols by Candlelight at the Royal Albert Hall and planned for a walk and some cocktails too. We also decided that we'd pop out for lunch before the concert at 2.30pm - as I'd be cooking for most of Christmas morning I was excited to let someone else take up the pots and pans the night before! We had a look at the available restaurants near the Royal Albert Hall and decided on Casa Brindisa, a small chain I'd heard of but which I'd never visited. We both thought tapas sounded great (it's a real family favourite) and it was close enough to the venue that we could get there in good time and enjoy the meal.

We were seated promptly at a comfortable table and soon furnished with Estrella and water.  The restaurant was nicely busy but by no means jam-packed - the days around Christmas lend a real calm to London venues as many people decamp for the festivities. As is traditional for tapas, we selected a few items and shared the wealth. We ordered the dados de manchego, the pan de coca, the croquetas de jamon y pollo, the patatas bravas y aioli, the pimentos de padron and the ensalada de pato.

The dados de manchego were just as expected - sharp yet creamy, served with a little honey to cut the tang. The pan de coca was gorgeously tomatoey and tasty, with a slightly chargrilled flavour. I adored the croquetas - it took all my self-control not to order another round; they were simply delicious.

The patatas bravas didn't arrive, alas - our waitress didn't use a pad (I'm not sure if that's policy or preference) so the request for these never made its way to the kitchen. We did try to flag this but to no avail. The pimentos (a Matthew favourite) were just right, and the portion was generous too. I loved the ensalada de pato, with a lovely dressing, gorgeous little cubes of beetroot, and slivers of tender, moist duck.

If you're in South Ken and looking for a pleasant spot for some tapas, I'd advise you to seek out Casa Brindisa - the perfect little spot for a pre- or post- museum or Royal Albert Hall feast. I'll certainly be returning; I'm determined to try the patatas bravas now!

Casa Brindisa Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

An Ode To January

I love the January chill.

I love the January lull.

After the November darkening, as the nights draw in, and the fun and brightness of the Christmas season, I love this little portion of the year. For some the darker feel can get oppressive, and there have certainly been years where I've felt the weight of it all. Years and years of Januarys have improved this though, and thanks to a few tricks and changes (including but not limited to extending my sleep schedule by a half-hour, spending a little time with a SAD-lamp, taking vitamin D, increasing my veggie intake and walking for a decent amount several times a week) I'm able to embrace this navy-blue month in all its glory.

Yes, to me, January is a deep, dark navy blue. the colour of night skies and school uniforms. When I was younger I didn't really see the beauty in Januarys. It was so easy to get distracted and swept away by the bright pinks and oranges of summer, the twinkling fairy lights of December, or the burnt oranges and nut browns of October. With age I've acquired a fondness for January though, and always try to remember to stop and think about all the reasons I adore it so.

January is a great month for reading, watching and listening. In the brighter summer months I always feel like I should be out and about, but in murky and damp January no-one judges you for curling up. It's a time for weekend afternoons curled up cosy with a cup of tea and a ood book or two. Or going to the movies and sitting in the warm, in the dark, letting the magicians of Hollywood sweep you away. Or losing a string of evenings to a boxset or a Netflix binge.

January is for planning. I know it's a fairly arbitrary way of looking at the world, but so help me I love watching the calendar tick over to a new year. January is a great time to set goals, build towards dreams, and plan. Matthew and I are looking forward to holiday planning, and I've got a pleasant little list of things I'd like to achieve with my work, my writing, and other areas.

January is for wholesome, hearty food. I love breaking out the slow cooker and making stews  and soups and chillis. It's the perfect time to make bread - a toasty home on a cold day with fresh bread baking is the very epitome of homey bliss. I love adding new flavours and ingredients to our roster and cooking lovely meals.

January is for catching up. Everyone heads off on the four winds for Christmas, but in January town feels busy once more. I'm loving seeing my diary fill with brunches, lunches and (early) dinners.

January is for sleep. Never is it so easy to turn in as in these velvety dark nights! Getting up is a tad harder, of course, but earlier bedtimes have me well rested and reading to set off for another day; albeit a day which starts for me while the sky is still inky-black-blue overhead.

So that's my cosy, social, book-heavy January.​ What does this month mean to you?

Sunday, January 15, 2017

A Poppet Post





Oh helloes hoomans!

I were finking the other days, between grooming my booful fur and having a sits, that is has bin a whiles since I did write a letters on this ere blog and share some picatures of me and them itzens.

Clur did tell me was a new year. I did tell her that was a silly, because every year after all is THE YEAR OF THE POPPET CAT, but you know how hoomans is. I decided to hoomer her rather than arguing as argumenties can bump into my naps schedule and I are nots a fan of that! In ovver Clur noos, she has gone back to works a bit. I was a bits cross about that but I knew she did miss the childrens. So i said was okay.

I are genrous kitten

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

What's In My Bag? (Winter Edition)

I've always loved these kinds of posts, but have never got around to doing my own. My innate nosiness means I'm always intrigued to see which items people tote around for their average day in the city, or out and about, and I hope if like me you enjoy learning about this sort of thing that this satisfies the very human instinct to see what others are up to!

I'm often out in the city for hours on end, and when I am I like to make sure I'm prepared (those years of being a Brownie and a Girl Guide, and the offspring of military folk, come in very handy). There's nothing worse than being caught short and discovering that you're miles from home without water/a tissue/lip balm!

Please enjoy the early morning realness of these snaps. January is not the one for photo gorgeousness at 6am/9pm...

This is my current winter bag. It's a grey slouchy pleather (for want of a better description!) bag from Accessorise, which I picked up in the early autumn before our US and Canada trip. I wanted a roomy, useful bag, with zippered sections to keep things secure as we dashed between flights, buses, taxis and boats, but with roomy sections which were easy to get into when you just wanted to grab a bottle of water, a pair of sunglasses or a scarf. This bag turned out to be perfect for purpose and was really a trooper throughout our travels, and it's now my go-to bag for the winter in London. It's big enough to carry all the bits and bobs I need out in town (teachers always carry a *tonne* of stuff, I find) but small enough to carry without injuring oneself or taking people out on the tube.

In my bag I always tend to have:

Saturday, January 07, 2017

I Love your Blog: Silverspoon London


One of the coolest things about blogging is the community you get to be part of, a community filled with inspiring writers, talented photographers, creative folk by the bucketful and so many hilarious, clever people. I started I Love Your Blog  a few years ago as a way to celebrate some of my favourite bloggers and it's always fun when schedules work out and an interview can happen.

This time I've interviewed the lovely Angie from Silverspoon London. Angie's blog is a treasure trove of beautiful pictures, travel and food inspiration, and fabulous writing. I love her tips on places to dine here in London, and her travel posts are full of great stories, amazing locations and drool-worthy hotels! As well as being a wonderful blogger, Angie herself is an utter delight - intelligent and charming with a dry wit. I'm so pleased she agreed to be part of the series.

                                                      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Angie (R) with Lauren from The Lifestyle Diaries. All pics in this post kindly provided by Angie.

How long have you been blogging?

I started my blog in January 2014 so it’s now been three years and I’ve loved every minute of it.

What do you blog about?  Do you have a specific goal with your blog (i.e. reviewing products, promoting a business, building a brand, transitioning into a writing / media / digital career), or is it more a record of your life?

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

My 2017 resolutions



I have been everywhere on the new year's resolutions scale.

There have been years where I haven't set any.

There have been years where I've set a simple, single goal (pay off my credit cards in full, read X number of books, etc.).

And there have been years when I've gone a little cray-cray and written some big old list of things I want to achieve, only to run out of steam by January 7th/February/April when life throws an inevitable spanner into the works!

This year I'm going to do something a little different. I love the start of the year and the potential it holds for new adventures, fresh starts and new beginnings. Added in with some changes personal to me this January, there's a good opportunity for positive developments.

I'm going to try something a little different, basing my resolutions in forming habits and staggered changes. This year I really want to focus on myself and my wellness and wellbeing - less in an oh-my-gosh-must-lose-weight-RIGHT-NOW way, but more in a self-care, health-improving, fitness-building way. I don't feel at my prime at the moment, and I'd love to improve my fitness, eating and sleep habits gradually over the year.

Each month I'm going to introduce a new wellness habit and a new fitness habit. My hope is that for each habit the first month will create novelty, the second will be the 'work' month to get it to really stick, and by the third month it'll be a habit that's more ingrained and easier to just do. I've used this methodology with other habits I've wanted to cultivate so I'm excited to apply it to my health.

So without further ado, here are January's habits.

Wellness: No playing on my phone or iPad before bed. So simple, but this is such a naughty habit of mine, even though I know it's a bad idea. But now I've set up a station across the room for devices, and I'm hopeful that this habit will become an easy process. A least a half-hour/hour before rest I'll be logging off and plugging them in till morning.



Fitness: Five walks a week of 30 minutes or more. I love walking and find that walking time is often my best time for thinking up new ideas, processing information, and relieving stress. I'm keen to focus on this habit and make it a part of my days again.


I have chosen this path because I want my new year's resolutions to come from a place of self-love and kindness. I'm tired of looking after myself poorly (for someone who can be such a mother hen, I can sure be a total meanie to myself). I'm excited to see where this journey may lead, and I'll be keeping you posted as we move through 2017.

Do you have any resolutions this year?

Hi, I'm Claire...

Hi, I'm Claire...

About Me

I believe in 80s pop, 90s teen movies, and proper thank you notes. I just like smiling...smiling's my favourite.

I write here about London, food, books & travel, and a lot more besides. I'm never happier than when having adventures, cooking for friends, or lost in a good book.

If you'd like to work together, or if you'd just like to say hello, my email is: countrymouseclaire@gmail.com

Please note that on occasion affiliate links may be used in this blog. All items received for review or paid posts will always be disclosed.

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