Sunday, 30 August 2015

Social Media Sunday ~ August

Today I am sharing some of my favourites from Social Media during the summer month of August. My Instagram feed is filled with hearts and twitter with stars. As usual my 'likes' are filled with flowers, and some fun favourites with a gorgeous hue of summer.

  • Gorgeous blooms from the personal shopping lounge at Selfridges as shot by my lovely friend Elaine.
  • Complete Kitchen-Aid envy with this beautiful baking shot from Tracey @ Tink72x
  • Bike envy with this fun turquoise bike Captured by Lucy. I met Lucy last month on a photography workshop and her instagram feed is a joy.
  • Perfect beach shot, capturing the absolute aesthetic of summer.. this time from my fabulous friend Lee.
  • Beautiful blooms from Claridges hotel, as seen when visited earlier his month. Gorgeous hues of blue.
  • Another perfect summer shot, this time from writer Ali Harris with this glorious beach hut image. Have loved following her summer adventures in Canada in recent weeks.
  • More beautiful blue rhododendrons, this time from Sally at Gettingstuffdoneinheels, another favourite instagram feed.

  • The recent art installation at Covent Garden has been captured perfectly by Tracey Burfield. Her images are fabulous from London and afar.
  • Social Media Sunday wouldn't be complete without a picture of Mr Gandy, here captured painting whilst helping at a kids charity event with M&S.
  • Tall ships gliding along the Thames, backlight by the O2 captured by Find Steph ....delightful.
  • Eye Candy galore on this months favourites; Martin Kemp captured in the summer sunshine by band mate Steve Norman.. perfect.
  • My favourite New York photographer has done it again Dantvusa sunset over one world trade centre is stunning.
  • Had much fun following David Beckham this month and his adventures at Guy Ritchie's wedding....David Beckham & Henry Cavill together,... mmm now there's a thought.. and a visit to a firehouse!... oh my!!
  • and finally this fun image of Johnny Wilkinson at the recent Touch Tour event with O2 at Saracens home ground... kicking off the countdown to the Rugby World cup.
I hope you have had fun with my social media summer loves... here's some from previous months... thank-you all that have featured for brightening my month with your gorgeous images and witty little posts... I've loved them.

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Book Love ~ August

Before August leaves us under a deluge of rain and cloud I am going to share the 7 reads that have entertained me on my travels during the summer!
The Little Flower shop by the Sea - Ali McNamara - as previously blogged my favourite of the year so far!.. Poppy inherits her beloved Grandma's florist shop in the village of St Felix in Cornwall, a place she never thought she would return to after spending her childhood summers there. Poppy finds the magic of the village sprinkling its healing powers on her and the friends that she makes. A glorious summer read which capitulated me back to many a summer spent on the Cornish beaches and lanes of St Ives.
The Cake Shop in the Garden by Carole Matthews - I was lucky enough to meet Carole at the start of the summer and we talked about her canal boat holidays which are one of the key features in The Cake Shop in the Garden. Fay Merryweather runs a cake shop in her garden which backs onto the canal waterways  just outside Milton Keynes. Along with running the cafe, Fay also cares for her cantankerous mother who took to her bed many years ago and and hasn't ventured out of it since. With a high maintenance 'perfect' sister living in New York, and bit of a dull boyfriend, Fays life is far from exciting or glamorous. One day a canal boat moors at the end of the her garden and a younger hunk of a guy pitches up an offers help with some odd jobs. Lija (Fays assistant) and Stan (Fays 93 yr old regular customer) both encourage Fay to employ Danny and soon a Fay starts to realise that life cannot stand still. As with all CM's books nothing is as it seems and suddenly Fays life is thrown upside down and she has to make some big choices. I loved this book, I laughed lots especially at Lija and adored Stan. Another great read from Carole... looking forward to the Christmas book!
Life or Something Like it - Annie Lyons ~ Cat lives for her job as PR at her best friend Jesse's company (Jesse is also Cats long term secret crush)  Cats sister-in-law has to fly home to Australia for the summer and Cat finds herself looking after the children, Ellie and Charlie after she is put on gardening leave after a client makes a huge PR faux pas. Children aren't Cats strength, her mobile phone is her baby! Cat also finds herself coming up against Finn, the uncle of Ellie's best friend, even finding themselves sharing a holiday cottage on the Suffolk coast whilst she battles to keep her job and look after the children. I really enjoyed this book and related to Cat lots!... Finn is simply gorgeous, its a lovely family fun filled book, with a very hot hero.
When I met you - Jemma Forte ~ Marianne is 31 and still living at home she has grown up believing that her father fled to Australia when she was a young and has been relatively content (aside from her passion for playing the violin - something her family do not encourage) growing up with her mum, stepdad, sister & half-brother. Imagine her surprise when I dad, Ray turns up one evening with a host of secrets. This book was a surprising read, one I really enjoyed, I loved seeing the relationship blossom with Ray and Marianne making me laugh and cry. This is a heartfelt family drama in a book and it will have you rooting for Marianne until the last page.. well done JF.
Fairytale Beginnings - Holly Martin - Millie Rose is a historian for Castle Heritage, she is also a huge romantic in particular the Disney Happy ever after and the perfect Prince Charming. Millie finds herself at Clover Castle the epitome of Walt Disney castle and home to Cameron. Millie finds herself falling in love with the castle, the magic of the village and possibly the lord himself!
The Lie - C.L.Taylor - a contrasting read to the rest of my summer reads, but one that I devoured in hours.The Lie tells two stories, in alternating chapters - the present day, and the past events of five years ago. The present day follows Jane, a homebody who has a love for animals, her caring partner and his young daughter. But Jane doesn't actually exist, the life she has built for herself is all a lie. Her name isn't even JaneFive years ago, Jane (then known as Emma) and her three best friends set off on what should have been a trip of a lifetime to a yoga and meditation retreat in the mountains of Nepal, but the trip quickly turns into a nightmare of lies, deceit and disturbing secrets... I would love to tell you more about this book but do not want to give anything away... a fabulous psychological thriller which will keep you guessing until the end.. it had me hooked!.
Summer at Shell Cottage - Lucy Diamond - Lucy Diamond really does
write a great family drama. The Tarrant family have been holidaying in Shell cottage on the north Devon coast since Olivia and Alec discovered the cottage by chance on their honeymoon  and later becoming its owners when Alec's novels hit the bestsellers list. This summer would be different though, Alec has died and Olivia finds herself widowed and a little lost. Freya is struggling to juggle the demands of being a GP, motherhood and loosing her beloved father. Robert is keeping secrets from his wife Harriet and teenage step-daughter and shouldering the loss of his father. An even bigger secret is revealed when Olivia arrives at Shell Cottage and soon the Tarrant's idyllic family life is falling apart.... Shell Cottage proves to be a healing, heartfelt, summer for all the family. I loved this book and was the perfect read to finish my summer with. All of the Tarrant family have secrets which unravel over the summer and Lucy Diamond writes a great family saga. .. loved it, thanks Lucy.

As you can see I managed 6 reads this month, here are a some book posts from recent months. What have you all been reading this month?
Thank-you ladies for keeping me entertained this month on my commute and travels…. It's been a joy.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Birthday Tea at The Ham Yard Hotel

Autumn last year The Ham Yard Hotel in the midst of Soho started getting a name for itself as the "it" hotel of the season. It's fair to say the that this hotel was soon added to my "London Loves List".
Nestled in a courtyard, this hotel alongside, bars and outdoor dining create the Ham yard village. It's hard to believe that you are a stone's throw away from Piccadilly Circus and the heart of Mayfair as the courtyard space creates a complete urban village feel.
The courtyard consists of a tree filled garden, with a stunning bronze sculpture as its centrepiece. The hotel itself blends itself into the surrounding features in a cacophony of glass and steel, inside the hotel you are greeted with a rainbow of colours, textures and styles. The Ham Yard features many unique experiences including a very funky bar, a fabulous 50's retro bowling alley, theatre/cinema along with a spa, roof terrace and gym.
I had afternoon tea booked and was escorted through the bar and restaurant into the drawing room space and was seated alongside the conservatory. The space is beautifully lit from the natural skylights of the conservatory and was a gorgeous space to just relax and unwind.
The Ham Yard's tea package is really good value and allows you the option to add signature plates to the menu as you wish. I opted for the standard tea (menu changes weekly) which is a selection of afternoon savouries, cakes & scones with clotted cream & jam. All were presented on a beautiful glass cake stand which complemented the tea set perfectly.
Service and food were great, attentive when required but discreet enough to truly relax and enjoy both the environment and food.
As with Claridges I was surprised with a birthday plate complete with cute cupcake, candle and strawberries, the lovely diners surrounding me all stopped and sung happy birthday which was equally as embarrassing as it was lovely.
Alongside where I was sitting I watched the team set up the room for a private afternoon tea party, the room looked stunning when finished, The tea table looked stunning along with a beautiful fruit/flower decorated naked cake, perfect for the baby shower which was later hosted in the room.

There was so many areas of The Ham Yard that I loved, however think my absolute favourite area was the beautiful library lounge… 

I could easily have lost myself in this space for a couple of hours. Kit Kemp has done an amazing job on the interior of this hotel which sits under the Firmdale Hotels umbrella and hope to visit again later this year. The New York equivalent has been added to my "New York Musts List" It has firmly been added to me London Loves list and one that I look forward to re-visiting.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Summer in the City ~ Parks & Palaces

After a huge birthday breakfast it was time to walk off the calories with a stroll through the open spaces and parks of the city. Part 2 of my day included a visit to Kensington Palace, something that I had on my "London to Do List" for a long time and had never got round to. 
I do like visiting our historical palaces and looked forward to visiting the former home of Queen Victoria, Princess Diana and currently Kate & William. To make the most of the sunshine I chose to walk through Grosvenor square across, Park Lane and through Hyde park.
Ambling along Brook street my iphone went into instagram overdrive with all the glorious window boxes. (how beautiful are these)
Grosvenor Square was a hive of activity and I spent ages people watching along with lusting after the glorious hollyhocks that were the signature planting in the beds surrounding the water feature within the park. It was lovely to see them full of bees and insects…
Leaving the lovely Grosvenor Square I headed across Park Lane into the 350 acres of Hyde Park. Hyde Park was acquired by Henry VIII from the monks of Westminster Abbey in 1536 and was a private hunting ground until James I came to the throne and permitted access. Hyde Park may not be as pretty as some of the  other parks in London but it has some gorgeous features, including a glorious lake, lido, and eateries. Early morning you can often catch the army's cavalry contouring through the park, exercising the military horses or practising manoeuvres.
Ambling through the park, you could definitely tell summer was here…. Some of the visitors to the park were very pleasing on the eye!
One of the nicest parts of the park is on and around the Serpentine Lake, perfect place to escape from the hullabaloo of the city and enjoy nature and have some fun. Whether its boating, peddling or swimming the Serpentine has lots to off. I took advantage of a seat at the Serpentine Bar & Kitchen and enjoyed watching the birds and boats on the water.
After a brief stop I continued my walk through the park passing the exit for the Royal Albert Hall, Princess Diana memorial and admiring a beautiful flower bed of glorious purple and pink bedding plants and dahlias, into Kensington Gardens and the grounds of the palace.
Flanked by 2 huge wrought iron gilded gates (made ever more iconic during the mourning period of Princess Diana) Kensington Palace sits within the park alongside its glorious garden and orangery. Kensington Palace currently houses a fashion exhibition which features dresses worn by the Queen, Princess Margaret and Princess Diana during the decades. This sits alongside a very interesting installation from the mourning period of Queen Victoria.


One of my favourite features was a fun and funky wall, decorated with a specially commissioned wallpaper from Cole & Sons which accompanied an exhibition in 2012 when the refurbishment of the palace was completed.
Outside the palace alongside the garden  sits the Orangery, a greenhouse structure built in the style of an elaborate palace that was commissioned by Queen Anne in 1704, its beautiful setting lends itself perfectly for a spot of tea, lunch or slice of cake. Still recovering from breakfast and with tea booked later in the day, I didn't partake in refreshments, but have it on my list to return to.
The gardens of Kensington Palace and the Orangery are just beautiful, a cacophony of colour and planting in a very structured manner. With viewing gaps within the tunnel of foliage it is one of the best features of the palace and offers such varied views at each point.
After a lovely lunchtime and afternoon in the park, it was time for me to jump on a bus and head to Piccadilly for me to enjoy Afternoon Tea as another Birthday treat. 

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Birthday Treats ~ Breakfast at Claridges

This year for my birthday I decided to do something a little different and embarked on a day of treats in London.
My day started at the gorgeous hotel of Claridges for a birthday breakfast....having been for afternoon  tea and  christmas dinner, I knew that breakfast would be as lovely.
Fortunately my breakfast was a perfect summer's day and showcased the hotel in all its glorious splendour.
Sweeping through the legendary revolving doors into the gorgeous art deco lobby, a vision of glorious blue blooms from the hotel florists McQueen's showcased the areas beautifully.
I was led into the foyer and reading room where I was seated in a comfortable armchair for my breakfast. 
The breakfast menu is vast, and offers a huge array of choices from healthy through to indulgent... I opted for the english, consisting of  Burford brown eggs; fried, poached or scrambled, sweet cured bacon, Middlewhite sausage, grilled tomato, field mushroom,showcasing british produce at its finest.

My breakfast was absolutely delicious, accompanied with a gorgeous pot of coffee and freshly squeezed pink grapefruit juice. Much to my embarrassment & delight after eating my breakfast I was presented with a birthday pastry complete with candle and birthday message.
I couldn't fault food, service or ambience during my visit to Claridges and had an amazing start to my birthday. As I was leaving I was handed a little green Claridges bag filled with treats - jams and a mug for my birthday, a lovely surprise and a gorgeous souvenir of my time in this stunning hotel. Claridges really is one of the best hotels in London and a perfect place to kick-start a day, especially if its your birthday.Thank-you Claridges & team for a lovely time, food, service and surroundings were perfect.

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

A summer in the city...

Hello August!....
wow how can we be in the 8th month of 2015, where is this year going.
As you can see the blog has had an August make-over, this month opting for multi shades of blue to hopefully compliment the summer skies and seas.

The planner is full of birthday dates as August is month filled with family and friends birthdays so it will be a month of catching up with loved ones.
The summer staple wardrobe of white linen trousers and birkenstocks (blue, white & silver being my favourites for this month) are out along with some new birthday bits; Kate Spade world map pashmina, and KS navy watch and Michael Kors phone case. ;-)
Commuting will be impacted by tube strikes so the kindle is loaded and the sneakers ready for a long walk. I still have to share my day of treats for my birthday which I will hopefully do in the next week, along with some fun in the sun with Taylor, who seems to find a friend every-time I leave him in a car park!
David Gandy on the desk is urging me to have fun in the sun in the city and I hope to do that!
Here's to a glorious August...


Monday, 3 August 2015

Goodbye July.... Hello August!

So August is here along with the school holidays and summer!... July had a mixture of amazing hot gorgeous days and also moments of rain.
July is always a very busy work month, so down time was sporadic, however what I did have I certainly made the most of. July also saw me commuting between 2 houses as I cat-watched for my friends whilst they holidayed around the mediterranean. This saw me making the most of my friends garden, and breakfast and reading were a joy on the pagoda, overlooking the pond.
An early birthday present from my friend Ali of her new book was a lovely treat, one I devoured in the garden... here's my thoughts

- Kits discovered a new place to sleep this month by the KitchenAid - somewhere that they normally aren't allowed.!
- Calendar corner looked very fruity this month!
- Loved the orange & pink styling this month, coordinated fabulously with my Kate Spade desk accessories.
- Had a fabulous day Food Styling with Emily & Catherine... had some amazing props to play with and I learnt lots. Here's more from that day.
- My desk, - a regular Sunday feature in July... hopefully this weekend is my last for a few weeks!
- Coffee in the garden; a lovely treat whilst house-sitting for my friends.
- An evening with Bette Midler was one of my July highlights... she was fabulous. A real bucket-list moment for me.
- More fun with the planner... having lots of fun on instagram with this; planner even has its own feed; @tcaketess
- Curry - days off in the week when working weekends gave me time to cook from scratch... this very delicious chicken dopiaza curry a favourite of the month.
- July saw a deludge of Christmas press shows across the city.. Selfridges included.. welcome to #destinationchristmas.
- Cocktails on the roof at work to celebrate the half year and hard work with the team.Loving the passionfruit in the kilner jar,
- Crafting; the scrapbook creative fairy came out to play and I finally kick-started my December Daily from 2014... more to come.
- Saw the gorgeously super talented Rugby hero Jonny Wilkinson in July at Saracens ground for the Rugby World Cup O2 touch tour.... more to come.
- July also saw the Wimbledon tournament take over the Tv and London for the 1st week of the month and although there was some great tennis to watch, I was equally as enthralled David Beckham and Bradley Cooper watching in the grandstand.


- July culminated in Birthday's for the twin & I!....gorgeous flowers & gifts from loved ones.
- Birthday was a day of treats which I will share in August; Day featured Claridges, Kensington Palace and The HamYard Hotel... deliciously decadent day of treats.
July was a month of work, fun, food and a little crafting!... looking forward to sharing more in august.... pop back later this week when the blog gets its august makeover.

    Thursday, 30 July 2015

    A handtied bouquet of Cornish Life....

    Today sees my friend Ali McNamara release her 6th novel The Little Flower shop by the Sea. Having received a
     pre-release copy as a birthday treat from Ali and having read it I can safely say that she has written another fantastic story with some fabulous characters.
    The Little Flower Shop follows Poppy, who has recently inherited her grandmothers beloved flower shop in the village of Felix in Cornwall. Poppy and her brother Will spent many weeks each summer at their grandmothers, exploring the beaches & cliffs of this village. Some of their most special time's being spent exploring the secrets of Trecarlan Castle and listening to the wild stories from its mad owner Stan.
    Grandmother Rose's bequeath of The Daisy Chain is accepted reluctantly by Poppy as she finds herself in Cornwall – somewhere she never thought she would return to. On Poppy's first day she meets Jake the local flower grower and owner of Miley (a very cute mischievous capuchin monkey) and a friendship starts to blossom. With a run-down flower shop to revamp, Poppy soon finds herself surround by a village community and friends of her grandmothers willing to help. For a girl who is more comfortable in her own company, opening up to strangers and accepting help doesn't come naturally to Poppy but soon she finds the magic of Felix and the Flower shop seeping under the tough exterior and into heart.
    As with all of Ali's books the supporting cast of characters are as pivotal and strong to the storyline as the main character, and also have a way of capturing your heart My favourites in this book include Miley (the monkey), Basil (the basset, Jake (the hottie!!!) and Ant & Dec in the bakery!....
    I absolutely loved his book and think it's my favourite read this year so far…. Loved it x
    Thanks Ali for allowing me to visit Felix before other guests and tourists arrive…. It has been a joy and made my commute this week much more delightful. It evoked so many wonderful memories of childhood holidays along the coast of Cornwall; especially the cove of St Ives….. a magical blossom of a read.
    A few weeks ago Ali and I caught up in London for a late lunch and to celebrate the new book. Our dining experience couldn't have been more appropriate; a slice of Cornish village life on the rooftop of Selfridges. Vintage Salt as previously shared is this year's rooftop dining experience for Selfridges and Des McDonald.

    Going for the whole Cornish feel we opted for fish & chips which were huge and delicious. (the batter was amazing ) with chips and peas. Accompanied by raspberry lemonade... it was one of the hottest days of June when we visited so neither us could cope with alcohol & sunshine on a gorgeous afternoon.
    Followed by 2 fabulous desserts it was a lovely leisurely lunch, gossiping and catching up on lots of book news.

    As you can see we had much fun. Even taking a chance to have a giggle in the the drift bar beach huts.

    Unfortunately I can't be at Ali's launch event today... hope that she has a fabulous day and I'm positive that the book will be a huge success.

    Monday, 27 July 2015

    Book Love ~ July

    This month I am sharing 4 reads that have entertained me on my travels during the month; 3 new releases and one that has been languishing in my "to read" pile. July's reads have made me laugh lots and all have a lovely summer feel, complimenting both the weather and feel of the month


    Dream a Little Dream – Giovanna Fletcher
    When Sarah starts dreaming of a handsome stranger who shares a fleeting
    resemblance to a guy she met in her past, it brightens what has become a little bit of a boring happyish life and not one that she planned. Dumped by her long term boyfriend when he meets his perfect one, she then has to spend time with him as they both share the same friends, this along with never quite fulfilling her mums life expectations means that "dream Brett" creates a huge pleasant distraction. This distraction is much welcome until he appears in real life at the end of her desk as the new guy in the office…. Thrown together within a work capacity Sarah & Real Brett's dreams may just become a reality.
    Thoroughly enjoyed Giovanna's 3rd book; the main 2 characters are lovely and the supporting cast of friends are fun too… which creates plenty of opportunities for sequels of this story.(hopefully)..As previously blogged I was lucky enough to go to the launch party of this book, and met Giovanna who was delightful…
    Molly is a newly divorced mum of 3 boys who finds herself inheriting her beloved aunts dilapidated bed & breakfast Harrington hall on the Devon coast. The three hundred year old house needs some tender loving care and restoration, not unlike Molly, the only bright hues on the horizon are the stunning rose gardens that her aunt tendered so lovingly. Along with inheriting the hall; Molly also inherits her eccentric uncle and his pet parrot; spurred on by her best friend Lola; who self-confessed puts the high in maintenance, Molly uproots herself & boys from her London life and moves to Devon. Molly now finds herself with saving the hall, managing her devious brother and father, adopting all the waifs and strays within her aunts life along with her dotty uncle and a verbally abusive parrot and dealing with her sneaky ex-husband and insipid new wife.
    It's some time since I read a Gil McNeil novel and forgot how much she has the capacity to make you laugh about the most mundane things in life. Loved the characters of Lola (best friend) and Betty (parrot) who between them naughty behaviours and language is laugh out loud. Overall a fun read that made me chuckle on several occasions; even during the serious points.
    ·         The Great Village Show – Alexandra Brown;
    The Great Village show sees a welcome return to the village of Tindledale.
    (Great Christmas Knit Off). Meg is the acting head teacher of the village school; she is incredibly passionate about her school and pupils, this comes under threat when the local school board announce that the school may close due to pupil numbers and costs. Meg is determined to put up a fight and hopes that The Great Village Show will show all what a fabulous community and village  that Tindledale is. As the preparations step up a pace Meg meets two newcomers to the village; The Cavendish family – Jessie, Sebastian and their triplets – all is not what appears in this perfect little family and Meg soon becomes a friend and confident to Jessie's life and the dashing but very grumpy Michelin starred chef Dan Wright.  I absolutely loved this book and being back in Tindledale; it was a joy to catch-up with Sybs, Ben, Hettie  along with the new characters; Dan is quite delicious and does a fabulous job of winding Meg up at every moment. Alexandra does a fabulous job of describing the most perfect village to live in; and makes me hanker a move to rural life on every occasion. This is a perfect summer read… well-done AB
    This is the second book in Jenny Oliver's Cherry Pie Island and features Holly and her vintage ice-cream van that she has inherited from …. The Grand Reopening of Dandelion Café hints at a back story of Holly and in this book we see how that story has got Holly in the predicament that she is.
    Holly has since a teenager had a huge girl crush on her friends brother Wilf, Wilf however is a womanising super rich entrepreneur. One impromptu night later and suddenly Holly and Wilf find themselves linked for life with an unexpected addition. With Wilf's mothers wedding pending in the south of France and her desire for an ice-cream van to feature in the reception, they find themselves on a road trip across the channel. Enjoyed this book although probably not as much as the first, parts of it felt a little hurried, but characters were funny and leading man absolutely gorgeous (always a big tick in my book bubble)… looking forward to reading the next instalment starring Wilf's sister.

    As you can see I have only managed 4 reads this month as life has been busy. It was lovely that one of them was an actual book and not on my kindle / iphone .... which led to lots of looks and conversations with commuters on the tube & train when I pulled a book out of my bag! I love the feel of books and determined to feature at least one 'actual' book in my monthly "to read pile" alongside the virtual. I already have 6 books queued to read in August, so hoping for some lovely weather so that I can go and curl up under a tree in the park and read.
    Thankyou ladies for keeping me entertained this month on my commute and travels…. It's been a joy.

    Sunday, 26 July 2015

    Social Media Sunday ~ July

    Its been some time since I posted a Social Media Sunday post, but with my instagram feed overflowing with hearts and twitter starred with favourites I thought I would share with you what I have 'liked' this month
    With Orange and Pink featuring heavily within my blog styling; this subconsciously influenced my social media this month.
    Instagram Loves ...
    1. Mammothent - delicious image of Birch Coffee Bar in New York; showcasing the perfect place for iced-coffee in the west village of NYC.
    2. Johnnyonkers is becoming one of my favourite photographers within New York. This sunrise image looking onto the Empire State Building is stunning.
    3. Vassiliki's  delightful image of the library loung in this years must visit hotel;The Hamyard is lovely. Flowers & books... big tick on my instagram likes.
    4. Jimmy's Farm stunning Suffolk sunset - who needs anywhere else when the Uk can offer glimpses of Summer like this. beautiful.
    5. Oliver Cheshire usurped the gorgeous David Gandy from the token "scrumptious" shot this month... here he is playing with fire & cooking up a storm in Majorca.
    6. SignesJohansen instagram image of the golden hour across the London skyline sums up most of July in London... gorgeous.
    7. Paula FitzHerbert's  beautiful image of the stunning lobby of Claridges captures everything that this hotel is renowned for - classic elegance in opulent surroundings.
    8. ClaridgesHotel showcasing a cacophony of beautiful blooms for a summer wedding in the drawing room of their stunning hotel from @chris.amoroso in hues of pink.
    9. Sally's picture postcard image of her mum-in-law's garden is pure chocolate box picturesque. Fallen back in love with Hollyhock's this year. have complete garden envy!
    10. Nevie Pie's edible work of art on her floral cake is just delicious... one of my favourite cake artists.
    11. Becmillie's handtied boquet completely sums up my month ... roses & tulips; just perfect.
    12. Kerrie from Kerriehessillustration 's image is styled delightfully with roses and ballet pumps...love all her illustrations and images. 
    13. This month I discovered a whole new instagram world of planner addicts!... and this simply styled Kate Spade collection of treats are shared by the very tempting shop of RachelGeorge 
    14. and finally the fabulous Bette Midler shared this image of her and Adele backstage after her recent gig in London (more of that here!)... how amazing does Bette look for 69.
    This month saw me getting back into Twitter, however Instagram is still my current favourite.... 2 skylines that I loved for different this month;
    Everything NYC stunning image of a glorious sunrise across the NY skyline and a great book to read on my commute - perfect for planning another trip!.
    London Air Ambulance tweeted this poignant image of London waking up to the 10th anniversary of the 7/7 bombing attacks in London.
      Two video's shared on twitter have also featured within my favourites this month, Looking at the number of times both tweets have been favourited it seems I am not alone in liking these!!...
      Video 1... the gorgeous David Gandy sharing his holiday favourites!
      and Video 2... the equally gorgeous Daniel Craig in the newly released Spectre movie trailer...
      I can't tell you how excited I am on seeing this trailer.... looking forward to the November release!...
      I hope you have had fun with my social media summer loves... here's some from previous months... thank-you all that have featured for brightening my month with your gorgeous images and witty little posts... I've loved them.

      Tuesday, 21 July 2015

      An evening with the Divine Miss M....

      Most of us within our heads or on a piece of paper have a bucket list of things to do / see / achieve within our lifetime, one of my bucket list moments was fulfilled on Sunday night when I saw the divine Miss M in concert. I am of course referring to the fabulously entertaining Miss Bette Midler. I have been a huge fan of hers for many years, and thrilled to have finally seen her live in all her ballsy glory.
      It's been 35 years since Miss M last appeared on stage in the UK, and that was a week's residency at the London Palladium, therefore tickets were in high demand when released early this year for a UK tour.
      With an O2 filled to the rafters with an age range of twenties to nineties from gays to grannies and every camp in-between it really was a divinely fabulous audience to be within.
      The show started with a bright pink whirlwind filling a huge video screen, culminating in Bette arriving on stage on a huge throne – a reminder to us all on what a huge force of nature this pocket rocket whirlwind is. Sashaying across the stage in a tiny pink mini dress Bette demonstrated what a remarkable women she is at the grand age of 69. With an opening line of "We're here to lift your spirits like a boob job for your soul" she did not disappoint. ( I had serious leg envy throughout)
      Bette is not shy of talking her opinion and thoughts, with frank honesty and it is this that sets her apart from some of her contemporaries, she is ballsy, bawdy and incredibly funny, on introducing her backing girls "The Staggering Harlettes" she commanders them to "wave to the wankers in the luxury seats" pointing to the corporate boxes to much laughter from the audience.
      This was the last night of the Divine Intervention tour in the UK and Bette was going home in style, veering from schmaltz to smut in seconds without breaking stride.
      Bette resurrected many favourites during her 2 hour set, including the fabulous Winifred from Hocus Pocus, complete with huge wig and buck teeth and a great rendition of "I put a spell on you" along with her alter ego Sophie Tucker which made an appearance  during "A Bird in the Hand" whilst dressed as a cabaret corseted burlesque feathered bird. Her other alter ego Delores Delago the wheelchair bound mermaid also made an appearance in video form along with a little dig at Lady Gaga who in recent years has performed a similar character. It wasn’t just Lady Gaga that Bette shared her views on Miley and the Kardashians were also a key talking point…. Bette lamenting that Boobs were no longer in fashion and it was now all about bums now!... this led into much discussion of social media & sex tapes with Bette sharing some of her supposed steamy conquests… including Boris Johnson, Jamie Oliver and Jeremy Clarkson (0-60 in 0.5 seconds) much fun and banter!
      Bette is brassy, bawdy and never less than brilliant, when introducing one of her most famous songs The Rose she deadpans; "I know you're all going to want to sing along to this one…. Please don't. There's only room for one diva in this room!... which is met with rapturous applause from the crowd.
      The divine Miss M's set culminates with three show belters; The Rose, From a Distance and Stay with Me, followed by an encore of her spine tingling Wind Beneath my Wings, and then Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy. Bette then treated us to a further 2 encores before finally leaving the stage after a heartfelt thankyou to the audience, "I don't know why it's taken me so long to get here" she tells a crowd, who have for 15 minutes been on their feet giving her a standing ovation.
      Over the 2 hours BM showcased why she can flip between Broadway and Hollywood so effortlessly …. Something that I don't believe that she has got the credit that she rightfully deserves; Miss Midler is not for the faint hearted but she is also one that shouldn’t be missed,… they don't make them like that anymore a living showbiz legend. It really was a slice of Broadway/ Las Vegas under the dome of the O2… perfect entertainment for a Sunday Night….
      here is a video of part of The Rose and Wind beneath my wings
      Thank you Miss M… a huge tick off my life's list.
      Bette is a fan if social media and shared some images before arriving on stage and a gorgeous instagram of her and Adele.... 

      Sunday, 12 July 2015

      Food styling fun....

      Last Saturday I joined 10 other ladies for a day of fun, photography and  food styling with Emily Quinton and Catherine Frawley, both photographers and instagrammers that I have admired for some time. I met Emily last year when I attended a styling workshop with her.
      The day was held in Emily's new Makelight studio in West Dulwich which is a glorious space filled with the most amazing light, perfect for a day taking photo's...
      The day started with coffee and an introduction to the day, as well as exploring the studio before the fun began!
      Each attendee had a lovely place setting at the work table to use during the day and then take home to play with.
      Along with a glorious space to utilise during the day Emily & Catherine provided some amazing props to use to style the foods provided. I fell completely in love with the suitcase of vintage cooking and baking props along with glorious cakes, marshmallows and macarons  from Reshmi at  Anges de Sucre

      Catherine started by showing how an old door could showcase macarons complimented with jasmine. by building up the look. Taking shots at each stage it allowed us to see what works and what doesn't to make a great shot, viewing each shot on the PC to see in detail the staging and cut off parts of the photograph.
      Catherine's 2nd demonstration was with a box of doughnuts a lace napkin, a bread board and vintage cheese plate. 1. loaf tin, baking parchment. 2. add a vintage cheese plate. 3. cutlery and additional doughnuts. 4. doughnuts on the board. 5. final styling complete with a scattering on sprinkles. I loved this image styling, and to see it come to life was gorgeous, a simple box of doughnuts to a fabulous display good enough to eat.
      After Doughnuts it was time to play with Marshmallows in a vintage baking tin, muslin clothe and a scattering of flower heads..... simple effective styling complimenting the sweet treats perfectly.  Along with a host of sweet treats C&E also showed us how to style simpler everyday things from the vegetable rack & salad bowl.  Tomatoes and the Broad beans being my favourites.
      After lunch it was time for us to play with our camera's and i-phones.  I loved the old vintage French feel that the macarons and bake-ware and silverware created against the wooden background and fabric. So much fun with sugar.
      Emily has a glorious old wooden cabinet in the corner which provided the perfect backdrop for a spot of afternoon tea and biscuit styling.... Jammie Dodgers looking yummy. The tea flask and retro cup complimented the cabinet and styling perfectly along with a strategically placed peony... one of Emily;s signature style floral props. 

      Growing with confidence it was time to play with something a little grander, and Anges de Sucre's 3 tier extravaganza was perfect. This chocolate dripped, popcorn,macaron, marshmallow confection was a dream to shoot. With milk bottles, paper straws, and doughnuts accompanying the styling I had so much fun playing with this candy creation.
      My final style for the day was with my favourite Eat Cake for Breakfast journal and Reshmi's mini macaron & popcorn creations in glorious pastels.... complete with macarons,milk bottles & straw accompaniments the only thing left to do at the end was sample the mini confections.
      Emily and Catherine hosted a fabulous day and I met some lovely ladies along with learning lots.
      Here is a cute little video that Emily shot of the day.... 

      If you are a fan of gorgeous pictures, then I urge you to follow Emily and Catherine on instagram for a daily dose of flower and food loveliness. More images on instagram of the day on #makelightworkshops
      Thankyou Ladies, I had a fabulous day and I am learning to love my camera lots and have fun with photos.

      Sunday, 30 August 2015

      Social Media Sunday ~ August

      Today I am sharing some of my favourites from Social Media during the summer month of August. My Instagram feed is filled with hearts and twitter with stars. As usual my 'likes' are filled with flowers, and some fun favourites with a gorgeous hue of summer.

      • Gorgeous blooms from the personal shopping lounge at Selfridges as shot by my lovely friend Elaine.
      • Complete Kitchen-Aid envy with this beautiful baking shot from Tracey @ Tink72x
      • Bike envy with this fun turquoise bike Captured by Lucy. I met Lucy last month on a photography workshop and her instagram feed is a joy.
      • Perfect beach shot, capturing the absolute aesthetic of summer.. this time from my fabulous friend Lee.
      • Beautiful blooms from Claridges hotel, as seen when visited earlier his month. Gorgeous hues of blue.
      • Another perfect summer shot, this time from writer Ali Harris with this glorious beach hut image. Have loved following her summer adventures in Canada in recent weeks.
      • More beautiful blue rhododendrons, this time from Sally at Gettingstuffdoneinheels, another favourite instagram feed.

      • The recent art installation at Covent Garden has been captured perfectly by Tracey Burfield. Her images are fabulous from London and afar.
      • Social Media Sunday wouldn't be complete without a picture of Mr Gandy, here captured painting whilst helping at a kids charity event with M&S.
      • Tall ships gliding along the Thames, backlight by the O2 captured by Find Steph ....delightful.
      • Eye Candy galore on this months favourites; Martin Kemp captured in the summer sunshine by band mate Steve Norman.. perfect.
      • My favourite New York photographer has done it again Dantvusa sunset over one world trade centre is stunning.
      • Had much fun following David Beckham this month and his adventures at Guy Ritchie's wedding....David Beckham & Henry Cavill together,... mmm now there's a thought.. and a visit to a firehouse!... oh my!!
      • and finally this fun image of Johnny Wilkinson at the recent Touch Tour event with O2 at Saracens home ground... kicking off the countdown to the Rugby World cup.
      I hope you have had fun with my social media summer loves... here's some from previous months... thank-you all that have featured for brightening my month with your gorgeous images and witty little posts... I've loved them.

      Saturday, 29 August 2015

      Book Love ~ August

      Before August leaves us under a deluge of rain and cloud I am going to share the 7 reads that have entertained me on my travels during the summer!
      The Little Flower shop by the Sea - Ali McNamara - as previously blogged my favourite of the year so far!.. Poppy inherits her beloved Grandma's florist shop in the village of St Felix in Cornwall, a place she never thought she would return to after spending her childhood summers there. Poppy finds the magic of the village sprinkling its healing powers on her and the friends that she makes. A glorious summer read which capitulated me back to many a summer spent on the Cornish beaches and lanes of St Ives.
      The Cake Shop in the Garden by Carole Matthews - I was lucky enough to meet Carole at the start of the summer and we talked about her canal boat holidays which are one of the key features in The Cake Shop in the Garden. Fay Merryweather runs a cake shop in her garden which backs onto the canal waterways  just outside Milton Keynes. Along with running the cafe, Fay also cares for her cantankerous mother who took to her bed many years ago and and hasn't ventured out of it since. With a high maintenance 'perfect' sister living in New York, and bit of a dull boyfriend, Fays life is far from exciting or glamorous. One day a canal boat moors at the end of the her garden and a younger hunk of a guy pitches up an offers help with some odd jobs. Lija (Fays assistant) and Stan (Fays 93 yr old regular customer) both encourage Fay to employ Danny and soon a Fay starts to realise that life cannot stand still. As with all CM's books nothing is as it seems and suddenly Fays life is thrown upside down and she has to make some big choices. I loved this book, I laughed lots especially at Lija and adored Stan. Another great read from Carole... looking forward to the Christmas book!
      Life or Something Like it - Annie Lyons ~ Cat lives for her job as PR at her best friend Jesse's company (Jesse is also Cats long term secret crush)  Cats sister-in-law has to fly home to Australia for the summer and Cat finds herself looking after the children, Ellie and Charlie after she is put on gardening leave after a client makes a huge PR faux pas. Children aren't Cats strength, her mobile phone is her baby! Cat also finds herself coming up against Finn, the uncle of Ellie's best friend, even finding themselves sharing a holiday cottage on the Suffolk coast whilst she battles to keep her job and look after the children. I really enjoyed this book and related to Cat lots!... Finn is simply gorgeous, its a lovely family fun filled book, with a very hot hero.
      When I met you - Jemma Forte ~ Marianne is 31 and still living at home she has grown up believing that her father fled to Australia when she was a young and has been relatively content (aside from her passion for playing the violin - something her family do not encourage) growing up with her mum, stepdad, sister & half-brother. Imagine her surprise when I dad, Ray turns up one evening with a host of secrets. This book was a surprising read, one I really enjoyed, I loved seeing the relationship blossom with Ray and Marianne making me laugh and cry. This is a heartfelt family drama in a book and it will have you rooting for Marianne until the last page.. well done JF.
      Fairytale Beginnings - Holly Martin - Millie Rose is a historian for Castle Heritage, she is also a huge romantic in particular the Disney Happy ever after and the perfect Prince Charming. Millie finds herself at Clover Castle the epitome of Walt Disney castle and home to Cameron. Millie finds herself falling in love with the castle, the magic of the village and possibly the lord himself!
      The Lie - C.L.Taylor - a contrasting read to the rest of my summer reads, but one that I devoured in hours.The Lie tells two stories, in alternating chapters - the present day, and the past events of five years ago. The present day follows Jane, a homebody who has a love for animals, her caring partner and his young daughter. But Jane doesn't actually exist, the life she has built for herself is all a lie. Her name isn't even JaneFive years ago, Jane (then known as Emma) and her three best friends set off on what should have been a trip of a lifetime to a yoga and meditation retreat in the mountains of Nepal, but the trip quickly turns into a nightmare of lies, deceit and disturbing secrets... I would love to tell you more about this book but do not want to give anything away... a fabulous psychological thriller which will keep you guessing until the end.. it had me hooked!.
      Summer at Shell Cottage - Lucy Diamond - Lucy Diamond really does
      write a great family drama. The Tarrant family have been holidaying in Shell cottage on the north Devon coast since Olivia and Alec discovered the cottage by chance on their honeymoon  and later becoming its owners when Alec's novels hit the bestsellers list. This summer would be different though, Alec has died and Olivia finds herself widowed and a little lost. Freya is struggling to juggle the demands of being a GP, motherhood and loosing her beloved father. Robert is keeping secrets from his wife Harriet and teenage step-daughter and shouldering the loss of his father. An even bigger secret is revealed when Olivia arrives at Shell Cottage and soon the Tarrant's idyllic family life is falling apart.... Shell Cottage proves to be a healing, heartfelt, summer for all the family. I loved this book and was the perfect read to finish my summer with. All of the Tarrant family have secrets which unravel over the summer and Lucy Diamond writes a great family saga. .. loved it, thanks Lucy.

      As you can see I managed 6 reads this month, here are a some book posts from recent months. What have you all been reading this month?
      Thank-you ladies for keeping me entertained this month on my commute and travels…. It's been a joy.

      Wednesday, 19 August 2015

      Birthday Tea at The Ham Yard Hotel

      Autumn last year The Ham Yard Hotel in the midst of Soho started getting a name for itself as the "it" hotel of the season. It's fair to say the that this hotel was soon added to my "London Loves List".
      Nestled in a courtyard, this hotel alongside, bars and outdoor dining create the Ham yard village. It's hard to believe that you are a stone's throw away from Piccadilly Circus and the heart of Mayfair as the courtyard space creates a complete urban village feel.
      The courtyard consists of a tree filled garden, with a stunning bronze sculpture as its centrepiece. The hotel itself blends itself into the surrounding features in a cacophony of glass and steel, inside the hotel you are greeted with a rainbow of colours, textures and styles. The Ham Yard features many unique experiences including a very funky bar, a fabulous 50's retro bowling alley, theatre/cinema along with a spa, roof terrace and gym.
      I had afternoon tea booked and was escorted through the bar and restaurant into the drawing room space and was seated alongside the conservatory. The space is beautifully lit from the natural skylights of the conservatory and was a gorgeous space to just relax and unwind.
      The Ham Yard's tea package is really good value and allows you the option to add signature plates to the menu as you wish. I opted for the standard tea (menu changes weekly) which is a selection of afternoon savouries, cakes & scones with clotted cream & jam. All were presented on a beautiful glass cake stand which complemented the tea set perfectly.
      Service and food were great, attentive when required but discreet enough to truly relax and enjoy both the environment and food.
      As with Claridges I was surprised with a birthday plate complete with cute cupcake, candle and strawberries, the lovely diners surrounding me all stopped and sung happy birthday which was equally as embarrassing as it was lovely.
      Alongside where I was sitting I watched the team set up the room for a private afternoon tea party, the room looked stunning when finished, The tea table looked stunning along with a beautiful fruit/flower decorated naked cake, perfect for the baby shower which was later hosted in the room.

      There was so many areas of The Ham Yard that I loved, however think my absolute favourite area was the beautiful library lounge… 

      I could easily have lost myself in this space for a couple of hours. Kit Kemp has done an amazing job on the interior of this hotel which sits under the Firmdale Hotels umbrella and hope to visit again later this year. The New York equivalent has been added to my "New York Musts List" It has firmly been added to me London Loves list and one that I look forward to re-visiting.

      Tuesday, 18 August 2015

      Summer in the City ~ Parks & Palaces

      After a huge birthday breakfast it was time to walk off the calories with a stroll through the open spaces and parks of the city. Part 2 of my day included a visit to Kensington Palace, something that I had on my "London to Do List" for a long time and had never got round to. 
      I do like visiting our historical palaces and looked forward to visiting the former home of Queen Victoria, Princess Diana and currently Kate & William. To make the most of the sunshine I chose to walk through Grosvenor square across, Park Lane and through Hyde park.
      Ambling along Brook street my iphone went into instagram overdrive with all the glorious window boxes. (how beautiful are these)
      Grosvenor Square was a hive of activity and I spent ages people watching along with lusting after the glorious hollyhocks that were the signature planting in the beds surrounding the water feature within the park. It was lovely to see them full of bees and insects…
      Leaving the lovely Grosvenor Square I headed across Park Lane into the 350 acres of Hyde Park. Hyde Park was acquired by Henry VIII from the monks of Westminster Abbey in 1536 and was a private hunting ground until James I came to the throne and permitted access. Hyde Park may not be as pretty as some of the  other parks in London but it has some gorgeous features, including a glorious lake, lido, and eateries. Early morning you can often catch the army's cavalry contouring through the park, exercising the military horses or practising manoeuvres.
      Ambling through the park, you could definitely tell summer was here…. Some of the visitors to the park were very pleasing on the eye!
      One of the nicest parts of the park is on and around the Serpentine Lake, perfect place to escape from the hullabaloo of the city and enjoy nature and have some fun. Whether its boating, peddling or swimming the Serpentine has lots to off. I took advantage of a seat at the Serpentine Bar & Kitchen and enjoyed watching the birds and boats on the water.
      After a brief stop I continued my walk through the park passing the exit for the Royal Albert Hall, Princess Diana memorial and admiring a beautiful flower bed of glorious purple and pink bedding plants and dahlias, into Kensington Gardens and the grounds of the palace.
      Flanked by 2 huge wrought iron gilded gates (made ever more iconic during the mourning period of Princess Diana) Kensington Palace sits within the park alongside its glorious garden and orangery. Kensington Palace currently houses a fashion exhibition which features dresses worn by the Queen, Princess Margaret and Princess Diana during the decades. This sits alongside a very interesting installation from the mourning period of Queen Victoria.


      One of my favourite features was a fun and funky wall, decorated with a specially commissioned wallpaper from Cole & Sons which accompanied an exhibition in 2012 when the refurbishment of the palace was completed.
      Outside the palace alongside the garden  sits the Orangery, a greenhouse structure built in the style of an elaborate palace that was commissioned by Queen Anne in 1704, its beautiful setting lends itself perfectly for a spot of tea, lunch or slice of cake. Still recovering from breakfast and with tea booked later in the day, I didn't partake in refreshments, but have it on my list to return to.
      The gardens of Kensington Palace and the Orangery are just beautiful, a cacophony of colour and planting in a very structured manner. With viewing gaps within the tunnel of foliage it is one of the best features of the palace and offers such varied views at each point.
      After a lovely lunchtime and afternoon in the park, it was time for me to jump on a bus and head to Piccadilly for me to enjoy Afternoon Tea as another Birthday treat. 

      Saturday, 15 August 2015

      Birthday Treats ~ Breakfast at Claridges

      This year for my birthday I decided to do something a little different and embarked on a day of treats in London.
      My day started at the gorgeous hotel of Claridges for a birthday breakfast....having been for afternoon  tea and  christmas dinner, I knew that breakfast would be as lovely.
      Fortunately my breakfast was a perfect summer's day and showcased the hotel in all its glorious splendour.
      Sweeping through the legendary revolving doors into the gorgeous art deco lobby, a vision of glorious blue blooms from the hotel florists McQueen's showcased the areas beautifully.
      I was led into the foyer and reading room where I was seated in a comfortable armchair for my breakfast. 
      The breakfast menu is vast, and offers a huge array of choices from healthy through to indulgent... I opted for the english, consisting of  Burford brown eggs; fried, poached or scrambled, sweet cured bacon, Middlewhite sausage, grilled tomato, field mushroom,showcasing british produce at its finest.

      My breakfast was absolutely delicious, accompanied with a gorgeous pot of coffee and freshly squeezed pink grapefruit juice. Much to my embarrassment & delight after eating my breakfast I was presented with a birthday pastry complete with candle and birthday message.
      I couldn't fault food, service or ambience during my visit to Claridges and had an amazing start to my birthday. As I was leaving I was handed a little green Claridges bag filled with treats - jams and a mug for my birthday, a lovely surprise and a gorgeous souvenir of my time in this stunning hotel. Claridges really is one of the best hotels in London and a perfect place to kick-start a day, especially if its your birthday.Thank-you Claridges & team for a lovely time, food, service and surroundings were perfect.

      Tuesday, 4 August 2015

      A summer in the city...

      Hello August!....
      wow how can we be in the 8th month of 2015, where is this year going.
      As you can see the blog has had an August make-over, this month opting for multi shades of blue to hopefully compliment the summer skies and seas.

      The planner is full of birthday dates as August is month filled with family and friends birthdays so it will be a month of catching up with loved ones.
      The summer staple wardrobe of white linen trousers and birkenstocks (blue, white & silver being my favourites for this month) are out along with some new birthday bits; Kate Spade world map pashmina, and KS navy watch and Michael Kors phone case. ;-)
      Commuting will be impacted by tube strikes so the kindle is loaded and the sneakers ready for a long walk. I still have to share my day of treats for my birthday which I will hopefully do in the next week, along with some fun in the sun with Taylor, who seems to find a friend every-time I leave him in a car park!
      David Gandy on the desk is urging me to have fun in the sun in the city and I hope to do that!
      Here's to a glorious August...


      Monday, 3 August 2015

      Goodbye July.... Hello August!

      So August is here along with the school holidays and summer!... July had a mixture of amazing hot gorgeous days and also moments of rain.
      July is always a very busy work month, so down time was sporadic, however what I did have I certainly made the most of. July also saw me commuting between 2 houses as I cat-watched for my friends whilst they holidayed around the mediterranean. This saw me making the most of my friends garden, and breakfast and reading were a joy on the pagoda, overlooking the pond.
      An early birthday present from my friend Ali of her new book was a lovely treat, one I devoured in the garden... here's my thoughts

      - Kits discovered a new place to sleep this month by the KitchenAid - somewhere that they normally aren't allowed.!
      - Calendar corner looked very fruity this month!
      - Loved the orange & pink styling this month, coordinated fabulously with my Kate Spade desk accessories.
      - Had a fabulous day Food Styling with Emily & Catherine... had some amazing props to play with and I learnt lots. Here's more from that day.
      - My desk, - a regular Sunday feature in July... hopefully this weekend is my last for a few weeks!
      - Coffee in the garden; a lovely treat whilst house-sitting for my friends.
      - An evening with Bette Midler was one of my July highlights... she was fabulous. A real bucket-list moment for me.
      - More fun with the planner... having lots of fun on instagram with this; planner even has its own feed; @tcaketess
      - Curry - days off in the week when working weekends gave me time to cook from scratch... this very delicious chicken dopiaza curry a favourite of the month.
      - July saw a deludge of Christmas press shows across the city.. Selfridges included.. welcome to #destinationchristmas.
      - Cocktails on the roof at work to celebrate the half year and hard work with the team.Loving the passionfruit in the kilner jar,
      - Crafting; the scrapbook creative fairy came out to play and I finally kick-started my December Daily from 2014... more to come.
      - Saw the gorgeously super talented Rugby hero Jonny Wilkinson in July at Saracens ground for the Rugby World Cup O2 touch tour.... more to come.
      - July also saw the Wimbledon tournament take over the Tv and London for the 1st week of the month and although there was some great tennis to watch, I was equally as enthralled David Beckham and Bradley Cooper watching in the grandstand.


      - July culminated in Birthday's for the twin & I!....gorgeous flowers & gifts from loved ones.
      - Birthday was a day of treats which I will share in August; Day featured Claridges, Kensington Palace and The HamYard Hotel... deliciously decadent day of treats.
      July was a month of work, fun, food and a little crafting!... looking forward to sharing more in august.... pop back later this week when the blog gets its august makeover.

        Thursday, 30 July 2015

        A handtied bouquet of Cornish Life....

        Today sees my friend Ali McNamara release her 6th novel The Little Flower shop by the Sea. Having received a
         pre-release copy as a birthday treat from Ali and having read it I can safely say that she has written another fantastic story with some fabulous characters.
        The Little Flower Shop follows Poppy, who has recently inherited her grandmothers beloved flower shop in the village of Felix in Cornwall. Poppy and her brother Will spent many weeks each summer at their grandmothers, exploring the beaches & cliffs of this village. Some of their most special time's being spent exploring the secrets of Trecarlan Castle and listening to the wild stories from its mad owner Stan.
        Grandmother Rose's bequeath of The Daisy Chain is accepted reluctantly by Poppy as she finds herself in Cornwall – somewhere she never thought she would return to. On Poppy's first day she meets Jake the local flower grower and owner of Miley (a very cute mischievous capuchin monkey) and a friendship starts to blossom. With a run-down flower shop to revamp, Poppy soon finds herself surround by a village community and friends of her grandmothers willing to help. For a girl who is more comfortable in her own company, opening up to strangers and accepting help doesn't come naturally to Poppy but soon she finds the magic of Felix and the Flower shop seeping under the tough exterior and into heart.
        As with all of Ali's books the supporting cast of characters are as pivotal and strong to the storyline as the main character, and also have a way of capturing your heart My favourites in this book include Miley (the monkey), Basil (the basset, Jake (the hottie!!!) and Ant & Dec in the bakery!....
        I absolutely loved his book and think it's my favourite read this year so far…. Loved it x
        Thanks Ali for allowing me to visit Felix before other guests and tourists arrive…. It has been a joy and made my commute this week much more delightful. It evoked so many wonderful memories of childhood holidays along the coast of Cornwall; especially the cove of St Ives….. a magical blossom of a read.
        A few weeks ago Ali and I caught up in London for a late lunch and to celebrate the new book. Our dining experience couldn't have been more appropriate; a slice of Cornish village life on the rooftop of Selfridges. Vintage Salt as previously shared is this year's rooftop dining experience for Selfridges and Des McDonald.

        Going for the whole Cornish feel we opted for fish & chips which were huge and delicious. (the batter was amazing ) with chips and peas. Accompanied by raspberry lemonade... it was one of the hottest days of June when we visited so neither us could cope with alcohol & sunshine on a gorgeous afternoon.
        Followed by 2 fabulous desserts it was a lovely leisurely lunch, gossiping and catching up on lots of book news.

        As you can see we had much fun. Even taking a chance to have a giggle in the the drift bar beach huts.

        Unfortunately I can't be at Ali's launch event today... hope that she has a fabulous day and I'm positive that the book will be a huge success.

        Monday, 27 July 2015

        Book Love ~ July

        This month I am sharing 4 reads that have entertained me on my travels during the month; 3 new releases and one that has been languishing in my "to read" pile. July's reads have made me laugh lots and all have a lovely summer feel, complimenting both the weather and feel of the month


        Dream a Little Dream – Giovanna Fletcher
        When Sarah starts dreaming of a handsome stranger who shares a fleeting
        resemblance to a guy she met in her past, it brightens what has become a little bit of a boring happyish life and not one that she planned. Dumped by her long term boyfriend when he meets his perfect one, she then has to spend time with him as they both share the same friends, this along with never quite fulfilling her mums life expectations means that "dream Brett" creates a huge pleasant distraction. This distraction is much welcome until he appears in real life at the end of her desk as the new guy in the office…. Thrown together within a work capacity Sarah & Real Brett's dreams may just become a reality.
        Thoroughly enjoyed Giovanna's 3rd book; the main 2 characters are lovely and the supporting cast of friends are fun too… which creates plenty of opportunities for sequels of this story.(hopefully)..As previously blogged I was lucky enough to go to the launch party of this book, and met Giovanna who was delightful…
        Molly is a newly divorced mum of 3 boys who finds herself inheriting her beloved aunts dilapidated bed & breakfast Harrington hall on the Devon coast. The three hundred year old house needs some tender loving care and restoration, not unlike Molly, the only bright hues on the horizon are the stunning rose gardens that her aunt tendered so lovingly. Along with inheriting the hall; Molly also inherits her eccentric uncle and his pet parrot; spurred on by her best friend Lola; who self-confessed puts the high in maintenance, Molly uproots herself & boys from her London life and moves to Devon. Molly now finds herself with saving the hall, managing her devious brother and father, adopting all the waifs and strays within her aunts life along with her dotty uncle and a verbally abusive parrot and dealing with her sneaky ex-husband and insipid new wife.
        It's some time since I read a Gil McNeil novel and forgot how much she has the capacity to make you laugh about the most mundane things in life. Loved the characters of Lola (best friend) and Betty (parrot) who between them naughty behaviours and language is laugh out loud. Overall a fun read that made me chuckle on several occasions; even during the serious points.
        ·         The Great Village Show – Alexandra Brown;
        The Great Village show sees a welcome return to the village of Tindledale.
        (Great Christmas Knit Off). Meg is the acting head teacher of the village school; she is incredibly passionate about her school and pupils, this comes under threat when the local school board announce that the school may close due to pupil numbers and costs. Meg is determined to put up a fight and hopes that The Great Village Show will show all what a fabulous community and village  that Tindledale is. As the preparations step up a pace Meg meets two newcomers to the village; The Cavendish family – Jessie, Sebastian and their triplets – all is not what appears in this perfect little family and Meg soon becomes a friend and confident to Jessie's life and the dashing but very grumpy Michelin starred chef Dan Wright.  I absolutely loved this book and being back in Tindledale; it was a joy to catch-up with Sybs, Ben, Hettie  along with the new characters; Dan is quite delicious and does a fabulous job of winding Meg up at every moment. Alexandra does a fabulous job of describing the most perfect village to live in; and makes me hanker a move to rural life on every occasion. This is a perfect summer read… well-done AB
        This is the second book in Jenny Oliver's Cherry Pie Island and features Holly and her vintage ice-cream van that she has inherited from …. The Grand Reopening of Dandelion Café hints at a back story of Holly and in this book we see how that story has got Holly in the predicament that she is.
        Holly has since a teenager had a huge girl crush on her friends brother Wilf, Wilf however is a womanising super rich entrepreneur. One impromptu night later and suddenly Holly and Wilf find themselves linked for life with an unexpected addition. With Wilf's mothers wedding pending in the south of France and her desire for an ice-cream van to feature in the reception, they find themselves on a road trip across the channel. Enjoyed this book although probably not as much as the first, parts of it felt a little hurried, but characters were funny and leading man absolutely gorgeous (always a big tick in my book bubble)… looking forward to reading the next instalment starring Wilf's sister.

        As you can see I have only managed 4 reads this month as life has been busy. It was lovely that one of them was an actual book and not on my kindle / iphone .... which led to lots of looks and conversations with commuters on the tube & train when I pulled a book out of my bag! I love the feel of books and determined to feature at least one 'actual' book in my monthly "to read pile" alongside the virtual. I already have 6 books queued to read in August, so hoping for some lovely weather so that I can go and curl up under a tree in the park and read.
        Thankyou ladies for keeping me entertained this month on my commute and travels…. It's been a joy.

        Sunday, 26 July 2015

        Social Media Sunday ~ July

        Its been some time since I posted a Social Media Sunday post, but with my instagram feed overflowing with hearts and twitter starred with favourites I thought I would share with you what I have 'liked' this month
        With Orange and Pink featuring heavily within my blog styling; this subconsciously influenced my social media this month.
        Instagram Loves ...
        1. Mammothent - delicious image of Birch Coffee Bar in New York; showcasing the perfect place for iced-coffee in the west village of NYC.
        2. Johnnyonkers is becoming one of my favourite photographers within New York. This sunrise image looking onto the Empire State Building is stunning.
        3. Vassiliki's  delightful image of the library loung in this years must visit hotel;The Hamyard is lovely. Flowers & books... big tick on my instagram likes.
        4. Jimmy's Farm stunning Suffolk sunset - who needs anywhere else when the Uk can offer glimpses of Summer like this. beautiful.
        5. Oliver Cheshire usurped the gorgeous David Gandy from the token "scrumptious" shot this month... here he is playing with fire & cooking up a storm in Majorca.
        6. SignesJohansen instagram image of the golden hour across the London skyline sums up most of July in London... gorgeous.
        7. Paula FitzHerbert's  beautiful image of the stunning lobby of Claridges captures everything that this hotel is renowned for - classic elegance in opulent surroundings.
        8. ClaridgesHotel showcasing a cacophony of beautiful blooms for a summer wedding in the drawing room of their stunning hotel from @chris.amoroso in hues of pink.
        9. Sally's picture postcard image of her mum-in-law's garden is pure chocolate box picturesque. Fallen back in love with Hollyhock's this year. have complete garden envy!
        10. Nevie Pie's edible work of art on her floral cake is just delicious... one of my favourite cake artists.
        11. Becmillie's handtied boquet completely sums up my month ... roses & tulips; just perfect.
        12. Kerrie from Kerriehessillustration 's image is styled delightfully with roses and ballet pumps...love all her illustrations and images. 
        13. This month I discovered a whole new instagram world of planner addicts!... and this simply styled Kate Spade collection of treats are shared by the very tempting shop of RachelGeorge 
        14. and finally the fabulous Bette Midler shared this image of her and Adele backstage after her recent gig in London (more of that here!)... how amazing does Bette look for 69.
        This month saw me getting back into Twitter, however Instagram is still my current favourite.... 2 skylines that I loved for different this month;
        Everything NYC stunning image of a glorious sunrise across the NY skyline and a great book to read on my commute - perfect for planning another trip!.
        London Air Ambulance tweeted this poignant image of London waking up to the 10th anniversary of the 7/7 bombing attacks in London.
          Two video's shared on twitter have also featured within my favourites this month, Looking at the number of times both tweets have been favourited it seems I am not alone in liking these!!...
          Video 1... the gorgeous David Gandy sharing his holiday favourites!
          and Video 2... the equally gorgeous Daniel Craig in the newly released Spectre movie trailer...
          I can't tell you how excited I am on seeing this trailer.... looking forward to the November release!...
          I hope you have had fun with my social media summer loves... here's some from previous months... thank-you all that have featured for brightening my month with your gorgeous images and witty little posts... I've loved them.

          Tuesday, 21 July 2015

          An evening with the Divine Miss M....

          Most of us within our heads or on a piece of paper have a bucket list of things to do / see / achieve within our lifetime, one of my bucket list moments was fulfilled on Sunday night when I saw the divine Miss M in concert. I am of course referring to the fabulously entertaining Miss Bette Midler. I have been a huge fan of hers for many years, and thrilled to have finally seen her live in all her ballsy glory.
          It's been 35 years since Miss M last appeared on stage in the UK, and that was a week's residency at the London Palladium, therefore tickets were in high demand when released early this year for a UK tour.
          With an O2 filled to the rafters with an age range of twenties to nineties from gays to grannies and every camp in-between it really was a divinely fabulous audience to be within.
          The show started with a bright pink whirlwind filling a huge video screen, culminating in Bette arriving on stage on a huge throne – a reminder to us all on what a huge force of nature this pocket rocket whirlwind is. Sashaying across the stage in a tiny pink mini dress Bette demonstrated what a remarkable women she is at the grand age of 69. With an opening line of "We're here to lift your spirits like a boob job for your soul" she did not disappoint. ( I had serious leg envy throughout)
          Bette is not shy of talking her opinion and thoughts, with frank honesty and it is this that sets her apart from some of her contemporaries, she is ballsy, bawdy and incredibly funny, on introducing her backing girls "The Staggering Harlettes" she commanders them to "wave to the wankers in the luxury seats" pointing to the corporate boxes to much laughter from the audience.
          This was the last night of the Divine Intervention tour in the UK and Bette was going home in style, veering from schmaltz to smut in seconds without breaking stride.
          Bette resurrected many favourites during her 2 hour set, including the fabulous Winifred from Hocus Pocus, complete with huge wig and buck teeth and a great rendition of "I put a spell on you" along with her alter ego Sophie Tucker which made an appearance  during "A Bird in the Hand" whilst dressed as a cabaret corseted burlesque feathered bird. Her other alter ego Delores Delago the wheelchair bound mermaid also made an appearance in video form along with a little dig at Lady Gaga who in recent years has performed a similar character. It wasn’t just Lady Gaga that Bette shared her views on Miley and the Kardashians were also a key talking point…. Bette lamenting that Boobs were no longer in fashion and it was now all about bums now!... this led into much discussion of social media & sex tapes with Bette sharing some of her supposed steamy conquests… including Boris Johnson, Jamie Oliver and Jeremy Clarkson (0-60 in 0.5 seconds) much fun and banter!
          Bette is brassy, bawdy and never less than brilliant, when introducing one of her most famous songs The Rose she deadpans; "I know you're all going to want to sing along to this one…. Please don't. There's only room for one diva in this room!... which is met with rapturous applause from the crowd.
          The divine Miss M's set culminates with three show belters; The Rose, From a Distance and Stay with Me, followed by an encore of her spine tingling Wind Beneath my Wings, and then Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy. Bette then treated us to a further 2 encores before finally leaving the stage after a heartfelt thankyou to the audience, "I don't know why it's taken me so long to get here" she tells a crowd, who have for 15 minutes been on their feet giving her a standing ovation.
          Over the 2 hours BM showcased why she can flip between Broadway and Hollywood so effortlessly …. Something that I don't believe that she has got the credit that she rightfully deserves; Miss Midler is not for the faint hearted but she is also one that shouldn’t be missed,… they don't make them like that anymore a living showbiz legend. It really was a slice of Broadway/ Las Vegas under the dome of the O2… perfect entertainment for a Sunday Night….
          here is a video of part of The Rose and Wind beneath my wings
          Thank you Miss M… a huge tick off my life's list.
          Bette is a fan if social media and shared some images before arriving on stage and a gorgeous instagram of her and Adele.... 

          Sunday, 12 July 2015

          Food styling fun....

          Last Saturday I joined 10 other ladies for a day of fun, photography and  food styling with Emily Quinton and Catherine Frawley, both photographers and instagrammers that I have admired for some time. I met Emily last year when I attended a styling workshop with her.
          The day was held in Emily's new Makelight studio in West Dulwich which is a glorious space filled with the most amazing light, perfect for a day taking photo's...
          The day started with coffee and an introduction to the day, as well as exploring the studio before the fun began!
          Each attendee had a lovely place setting at the work table to use during the day and then take home to play with.
          Along with a glorious space to utilise during the day Emily & Catherine provided some amazing props to use to style the foods provided. I fell completely in love with the suitcase of vintage cooking and baking props along with glorious cakes, marshmallows and macarons  from Reshmi at  Anges de Sucre

          Catherine started by showing how an old door could showcase macarons complimented with jasmine. by building up the look. Taking shots at each stage it allowed us to see what works and what doesn't to make a great shot, viewing each shot on the PC to see in detail the staging and cut off parts of the photograph.
          Catherine's 2nd demonstration was with a box of doughnuts a lace napkin, a bread board and vintage cheese plate. 1. loaf tin, baking parchment. 2. add a vintage cheese plate. 3. cutlery and additional doughnuts. 4. doughnuts on the board. 5. final styling complete with a scattering on sprinkles. I loved this image styling, and to see it come to life was gorgeous, a simple box of doughnuts to a fabulous display good enough to eat.
          After Doughnuts it was time to play with Marshmallows in a vintage baking tin, muslin clothe and a scattering of flower heads..... simple effective styling complimenting the sweet treats perfectly.  Along with a host of sweet treats C&E also showed us how to style simpler everyday things from the vegetable rack & salad bowl.  Tomatoes and the Broad beans being my favourites.
          After lunch it was time for us to play with our camera's and i-phones.  I loved the old vintage French feel that the macarons and bake-ware and silverware created against the wooden background and fabric. So much fun with sugar.
          Emily has a glorious old wooden cabinet in the corner which provided the perfect backdrop for a spot of afternoon tea and biscuit styling.... Jammie Dodgers looking yummy. The tea flask and retro cup complimented the cabinet and styling perfectly along with a strategically placed peony... one of Emily;s signature style floral props. 

          Growing with confidence it was time to play with something a little grander, and Anges de Sucre's 3 tier extravaganza was perfect. This chocolate dripped, popcorn,macaron, marshmallow confection was a dream to shoot. With milk bottles, paper straws, and doughnuts accompanying the styling I had so much fun playing with this candy creation.
          My final style for the day was with my favourite Eat Cake for Breakfast journal and Reshmi's mini macaron & popcorn creations in glorious pastels.... complete with macarons,milk bottles & straw accompaniments the only thing left to do at the end was sample the mini confections.
          Emily and Catherine hosted a fabulous day and I met some lovely ladies along with learning lots.
          Here is a cute little video that Emily shot of the day.... 

          If you are a fan of gorgeous pictures, then I urge you to follow Emily and Catherine on instagram for a daily dose of flower and food loveliness. More images on instagram of the day on #makelightworkshops
          Thankyou Ladies, I had a fabulous day and I am learning to love my camera lots and have fun with photos.