Sunday, 1 May 2016

Insta Love - April

Its Social Media Sunday on the blog today and time to share some Instagram favourites from April. Yellow hues are favoured on my blog styling for the month, and this features heavily within my insta likes as well for this month.  Sunrises, Sunsets and signs of Spring.
* Meanderongmacaron's lovely image of one of my favourite pubs in Marylebone (complete with bicycles) is delightful. Her feed is gorgeous and posts lovely images daily.
* Having shared some of my Washington adventures on the blog this month it was no suprise that this snap of the Washington monument captured my heart from Ben and Jerry's. Ice-cream and sunsets the perfect combo!.
* Love this picture of Minnie, my homemakery friend Kate's gorgeous terrier... she is just delightful and looks like she is having lots of fun in the woods.
* Dan Doherty executive chef at Duck & Waffle not only cooks the most amazing food, he also shares some fabulous sunrises 42 floors above the streets of the city of London. just gorgeous.
* This gorgeous sunset and blossom from the essex countryside is just glorious .. thanks Gem for sharing. Lovely to see some of  the lovelier Essex other than that on Towie, from one Essex girl to another.
* I have porch & plant pot envy from this post by Charlotte. What a welcoming site this is, and how lovely to come home to that everynight. #dreamhome. I love the images from the window that she shares.
* The Berkeley features twice in my insta loves for April; the first with this glorious shot of blossom and sunrise in St James Park and the 2nd stars Big Ben in a bed of daffodils, delightful. ( I will be sharing some of my own adventures at the Berkeley later this month)
* This lovely yellow doored house from cookiesncandies from a London lane is lovely. Marlene's feed is full of her travels and adventures across the globe.

Thankyou all for sharing such lovely images during April, they brightened some cold days and spread a warm glow of Spring hues.
With 3 instagram accounts now - @tcake31 for London life and things that I love, @tcaketess for planner, crafting & stationery happiness and my healthy eating journey on @tcakes_sw_adventure pop over and say hi... look forward to seeing what May brings on insta love.
I hope you have had fun with my social media Sunday loves ... here's some from previous months... 

Friday, 29 April 2016

Book Love - April

The book challenge continued in April, this month saw another 8 books read whilst on my commute in and out of London.
This months reads took on a darker edge with me discovering a new detective murder series which I have loved and a political thriller. Light relief was provided via the mishaps and fun across the worlds of journalism, house selling, coffee shops and chapters of fun in a toy store.
* Dead Wrong ~ Helen H Durrant - Dead wrong is the 1st book in the series of D.I Calladine & D.S Ruth Bayliss, set in the fictional town of Leesdon in the north of England. Calladine is a divorced 51 years old married to his job, Bayliss is mid 30's She uses her demanding workload as an excuse not to try too hard with the men she meets. 
Early one morning in a child's playground on the outskirts of the Hobfield housing estate a bag of severed fingers is found. This starts an investigation which feels like the killer is always one step ahead of the police in both the investigation and forensics. Juggling the investigation and his personal life Calladine continues to hunt the serial killer as more body parts appear across the estate. I was gripped with this book from the start which culminated in me reading 3 of the series within the month. Fans of Mark Billingham's Tom Thorne will love Tom Calladine as much.
Finding Home ~ Lauren Westwood - Amy Wood finds herself temping in an estate agents and living back at her parents, a far cry from her perfect job, boyfriend and life in London. Broken hearted and jobless she is now entrusted to help sell a crumbling mansion Rosemont Hall, riddled with dry rot and secrets. Can Amy save it from the developers, bull dozers and her greedy boss and can a crumbling mansion heal a broken heart? - this was a lovely debut novel, good characters, feel good fun and entertaining read. 
Prime Deception ~ Carys Jones John Quinn, an investigative journalist on England’s biggest-selling and most notorious tabloid newspaper, is about to write the story of his life – a kiss-and-tell with one of the country’s most powerful men at its heart. But the story dies when Lorna Thomas, the kiss in his kiss-and-tell, kills herself on a quiet country road. Unable to accept her twin’s suicide, Laurie Thomas follows in her sister’s footsteps to London and to the heart of government. And as she becomes more involved in Lorna’s world, she grows more convinced than ever that Lorna did not take her own life. - This is a great political thriller that has front page headlines written all over it, great twists and surprises, perfect for anyone that loves the intrigue of downing street.
Mishaps in Millrise ~ Tilly Tennant - Phoebe's life was a mess; her boyfriend was killed in an accident and she lost her job. When she wishes for a new start she meets Jack and his adorable little girl, 5 months on and life is looking up. She's still with Jack, has landed a dream job in a toy store and Jack's little girl adores her. Phoebe is convinced that her happiness cant last; with Jacks mum on a vendetta against Phoebe, His brother Archie causing trouble, the toy-store going into financial decline and the boss's son hitting on Phoebe, life suddenly becomes complicated for her. This was a fun read, Phoebe is a sweet character and the supporting cast are a great ensemble, a fun read.
Dead Silent ~ Helen H Durrant A body is found in a car crash, but the victim was already dead . . . Women are going missing and no-one has noticed; Police partners, D.I. Calladine and D.S. Ruth Bayliss race against time to catch a vicious serial killer.  Calladine's personal life has got a little more complicated and this along with female university students going missing adds to his stress levels. This was a thrilling read and as enjoyable as the 1st book, great characters and plot if not a little disturbing.
The Last Word ~ A.L.Michael Tabby Riley’s online life was a roaring success. Her blog had hundreds of followers, and legions of young fans ardently awaited her every Tweet. Her real life was a bit more of a disappointment. Living in a shared flat in North London, scratching a living writing magazine articles on ‘How To Please Your Man in Bed’ wasn't where she thought she’d be at twenty-six – especially when there was a serious lack of action in her own bedroom.Although that might all be about to change when she’s offered a position at online newspaper The Type as a real journalist – and gains a sexy new editor, Harry Shulman, to work with. Harry’s confident, smooth talking, and completely aware that he drives Tabby mad. Which is fine, because Tabby’s dated an editor before, and it’s never happening again. Ever. But as her reputation at the paper grows, Tabby has to wonder: is it time to get out from behind the screen and live her life in the real world? - Tabby is a dream character, funny, a little bit of a clutz and lacking confidence in her real life the complete opposite of Harry; who is just is delicious, confident and a little naughty!. I really enjoyed this book and have already downloaded another of her books.
Catch a Falling Star ~ Emily Harvale   - Catch a falling star is the 2nd book in the Hideaway series and features Laurel. She’s young, free and single; she owns The Coffee Hideaway, lives in the prettiest village in East Sussex and is surrounded by friends… she may also be a suffering from some unrequited love with her friend Ned; Jamie McDay is miserable. Hollywood has become a gilded cage. The paparazzi are snapping at his heels, and since he dumped his co-star girlfriend in a spectacularly stupid public display, he’s been dropped from the Vampire series that made him a heart-throb, movie star. Visiting his friend, Gabriel Hardwick will cheer him up. Hideaway Down may be a bit ‘twee’ but local stunner, Ivy Gilroy could definitely put a permanent smile on Jamie’s face. That’s if he can persuade her to dump her boyfriend, Ned. This was a welcome return to Hideaway and its villagers, Laurel finds herself the attention of a movie star and his attempts to befriend her. Its a fun light hearted read and a perfect pick you up for a miserable commute.
Dead List ~ Helen H Durrant - the 3rd book in the Calladine series and this one features a killer that seems to have a 'kill' list. With no apparent connections to the victims or methodology of death, the only thing linking the deaths are 'tarot' cards left with the bodies. Calladine is perplexed and with 2 small girls missing and a new and upcoming DI from a neighbouring station stepping on his toes he has a host of things to deal with at both home and at the station. A great read, book 4 is on my To read list for May!.
Thank you authors for 8 fantastic reads, I've loved the thrills, fun & mystery from this months reads... I am now 28 books in of my 75 book reading challenge; here's the previous 20 from 2016.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

DC for the Day ... Monuments & Memorials.

My next part of my Washington adventure was to explore the monuments, parks and memorials within the national parks.
 I started at the Washington memorial, which was built as a tribute to America's first president, it wasn't completed until the 21st president was in office. Plans to build the monument were put in place before Washington was commander-in-chief of the American Army, he scrapped the plans as federal government funds were tight and didn't want to use public money for the project. After Washington died the plans were resurrected to build the monument in his honour. 100 years after the original plan President Grant authorized federal funds to start the build, the construction was built across 2 phases and was halted for 2 decades (this explains the variances of quarry stone as they couldn’t be matched) The monument stands 555 feet tall and contains 50 flights of stairs. 
The monument has survived an earthquake, hostage situation and is seen as a pivotal part of the Washington landscape.
 Two memorials flank either end of the Lincoln memorial reflective pool, the one that sits between the Washington and Lincoln is the National WW11 memorial. 
This is a beautiful tribute and I spent a long time walking around reading the dedications and plaques around the pool area. It honours the 16 million that served in the armed forces of the US and the 400,000 that lost their life fighting within the conflict. 
The memorial sits on 17th street between Independence and Constitution Avenues. It contains 56 columns, symbolizing unity among the 48 states, 7 territories and the district of Columbia.
The Freedom wall is littered with 4,048 gold stars, each star paying tribute to 100 lives lost. Either side of the  pool are 2 large structures which highlight the victories on the Atlantic and Pacific seas. This is a stunning memorial, one of my favourite points are the 24 bronze relief panels depicting life home and away during the years of conflict. As with all WW2 memorials, it was difficult not to become emotional as thoughts led to me grandparents and the stories that they told from their experiences during this time. This is a fitting tribute to a war that spanned years, countries and religions.
Continuing down the park alongside the reflecting pool, its hard not to walk this space without thinking of all the political and military movies and TV shows that have been filmed around this area. Favourites include; Forrest Gump, The American President,  A Few Good Men, St Elmo's Fire, White House Down, State of Play, The West Wing, and Scandal.
The Lincoln memorial is colossal, an icon sitting facing the Washington memorial President Lincoln was the 16th president of the US. At the time that the memorial was dedicated the US was in the middle of Civil war between the North and South, the dedication ceremony unified a number of people and it is this that has resonated with many ever since; There are few that don't associate this memorial with the legendary civil rights speech of Dr Martin Luther King Jr.
I was lucky when visiting all the sites that the areas were relatively tourist free, a party of collage kids were having much fun with selfies on the steps!
Either side of the Lincoln memorial sit 2 gardens and memorial sites dedicated to the Korean and Vietnam wars, both are beautiful in there own way and are lovely tributes to those fallen.
The Vietnam memorial wall has 72 panels on 2 walls which detail 58,307 names lost within the conflict. The 3 serviceman statue is a bronze tribute representing European, Hispanic and African American soldiers.
The Korean memorial commemorates the sacrifices of the 5.8 million Americans who served in the U.S. armed services during the three-year period of the Korean War. The war was one of the most hard fought in our history. During its relatively short duration from June 25, 1950 to July 27, 1953, 36,574 Americans died in hostile actions in the Korean War theatre. Of these, 8,200 are listed as missing in action or lost or buried at sea. In addition 103,284 were wounded during the conflict. As with the WW11 memorial they are humbling and an opportunity for quite reflection to honour the lives lost.
Its hard to come to Washington and avoid any military or political sights, the whole of the centre of Dc is steeped in political and military history and non more so than Arlington cemetery. This was my next stop after Lincoln Memorial and a brisk walk across the Potomac river to one of the most recognised and iconic cemeteries in the world.
The space is peaceful, incredibly humbling and steeped with history; from the Tomb of the Unknown soldier, to the graveside of J.F.Kennedy the cemetery is full of white headstones lined up in military precision.
After a good couple hours of quiet contemplation along the Mall and within the cemetery it was time to jump on a bus and head to Georgetown for a cupcake and coffee and some sightseeing in this area.... pop back later this week when I share more adventures from my day in DC.


Monday, 18 April 2016

DC for the Day .... Avenues & Houses

Of all the fabulous things that I did on my NY trip at the end of 2015, my day trip (yes day trip!) to Washington was one of my favourites. It was also one of the most planned days I had as I wanted to maximise the most of my time in the city. Catching the early train helped as I arrived into the DC at 9.30. I stopped at Shake Shack in the station for a Shack breakfast (blog post to follow) and a refuel of sumpton coffee!
I had a long list of things I wanted to do including;
·    Pennsylvania Avenue & The White House, Smithsonian & Constitution avenue, Arlington memorial and Georgetown. – My Scandal moments would include some of these: The White House, Lincoln Memorial, Potomac River, travel on the Subway and drink red wine.!
There are a number of avenues leading off from Union station and I headed down the one that would take me towards the FBI building. One of the big things that I noticed about Washington from my previous visit was the heightened security measures in and around all of the city. One of the parks that I walked past was a memorial garden for police officers that have lost their lives on duty or active service.... lots to gun crime and some only months into their service. 
On my previous visit I went inside the FBI building on a guided tour which was fascinating, now you can't get near the building for concrete planters and bollards. It was still great to walk around and see some of the legal buildings around this area. The old post office tower was also a great way to see the city from a height, this has now closed and is being converted to a Trump hotel! (he is definitely moving into the district one way or another!)
Continuing down Pennsylvania avenue I came across the most famous house on this street…. The White House ( again somewhere that you can no longer visit) but still can view from afar. It’s a gorgeous Georgian building and I am completely fascinated by it, those walls of that building house so many secrets!. The last time I was there Marine One landed on the lawn and President Clinton ran out from the White House and boarded it to fly somewhere. No Marine One landing on the lawn this time, but there were lots of FBI agents around as the national tree lighting event was taking place later that evening.
As I stood facing the White House and thought of the presidents past and present, fact and fiction; Kennedy, Clinton, Obama, Bartlett & Grant (West Wing & Scandal!) I wondered who would be the next President to grace the Oval office... would it  be another Clinton or a Trump?!! with campaigning now in full presidential glory I am following avidly until the big night in November.
My next stop was back across the avenue into the Smithsonian Museum of American History – I could have easily lost half a day here and had planned to if the weather had been wet/cold. My one stop within here was to see Julia Childs kitchen – Julia Childs is one of America's most famous chefs and bought cooking to life on the screens of US networks. Her love of cooking started when she met her husband Paul and thought she should learn to cook whilst stationed in Paris. She enrolled in the Cordon Bleau school  and went on to publish her own Mastering the Art of French Cookery. On returning to the US, her husband built her kitchen to accommodate her 6ft 2" frame and it is this that now resides in the Smithsonian from her home in Massachusetts. The kitchen was delightful and I had complete book envy within the bookshelves.
Leaving the Smithsonian I headed across the gardens to the Washington memorial to start the iconic walk down towards the Lincoln memorial. Its hard to walk this space without thinking of all the famous movie moments that have been filmed here…… pop back tomorrow when I relive my Forest Gump moment and honour some heroes.


Sunday, 17 April 2016

DC for the Day.... Amtrak adventures

Time to share some more of my New York adventures from late last year, the rate that I am going I will still be blogging about it Christmas 2016 instead of Christmas 2015!.. when I started planning my trip last year I wanted to do things that I hadn't done before as well as some old favourites.
One of the things that I started to research was the option of travelling to Washington for the day and exploring some of the capital city. I visited Washington 18 years ago and looked forward to a return visit (especially with my current Scandal obsession!) I knew that I would have to plan my day well, but was confident to see some of the capitals landmarks.
After the idea took root, it was quite easy to plan the rest; the Amtrak train line from Penn Station was the route to take and I booked a return journey for $65. As an early riser I booked a 6am train arriving in DC at 9.30am.
Penn station was a short taxi ride from my hotel and like all mainline stations was still a hive of activity even at that early hour. I stopped at Zaro's; one of New York's famous bakeries for coffee, and breakfast muffin for the journey.
With multiple stops on route the train was busy, but with a reserved seat, and leg room and seats bigger than flying I was pleasantly surprised on the amenities on offer on the train; including complimentary wifi (which didn't dip for the entire journey) and power.
Leaving New York whilst still dark, one of the treats of the journey was tracking the images shot out of the window and watching the sunrise as we approached Philadelphia.
The sunrise was stunning. I loved watching the towns and cities begin to wake up as we sped along the tracks.


I arrived in DC at 9.30 into a stunning classical station, built in 1907 it is a beautiful building filled with arches and light.
The day was glorious and with beautiful blue skies as a backdrop to some of the worlds most iconic buildings; I set off to explore this political famous city.
Pop back tomorrow for more adventures.... featuring lincoln, landmarks, cupcakes and presidents!


Sunday, 10 April 2016

Don't Rain on my Parade....

This week, previews of Funny Girl started at The Savoy Theatre beginning its West End run after a successful staging at The Menier Chocolate Factory in South London.

It is here that I saw this fabulous musical at the end of last year, which sold out its run within hours.
Funny Girl is the biographical story of film star and comedian  Fanny Bryce and her tumultuous relationship with entrepreneur Nicky Arnstein. The film of the story was made world famous by Barbara Streisand and Omar Sharif and the characters have been owned by these since. It is hard to imagine that anyone else can step into Streisand's shoes and own this role as well as her, but there may after 50 years be a successor!... Sheridan Smith has taken this role and made it her own.
Those not familiar with the plot, Brice rises from the chorus line of the Broadway musical and vaudeville line after being discovered. Briefly she meets Arnstein after her debut performance and their paths cross as Fanny's success grows and their romance flourishes. Fanny and Arnstein marry after he wins a fortune in a poker tournament. They move into a mansion, and Fanny takes a lead role at the Follies, returning to Ziegfeld who made her a star. Arnstein's various business interests fail and he refuses to take any of his wife's monies, involving himself in a bonds scam which leads to him being jailed for embezzlement.
Sheridan is supported with a fabulous cast and Arnstein is played by Darius Campbell. This musical is fabulous, Sheridan Smith is a Star; if you have a ticket to see this then you are in for an evening of sheer entertainment. With songs as legendary as the stars; People, Don't rain on my parade and Funny Girl it is a treat for every musical fan.
 I am booked to see this again at The Savoy and I can't wait.

Monday, 4 April 2016

Fitness & Well-being...

I don't blog lots about work but today the home of Mr Selfridge expanded its retail space by an additional 37,000 sq ft. The Body Studio opened today embracing fitness, well-being, lingerie, lounge-wear and hosiery all under one roof and what an impressive roof it is. Flooded with natural light from skylights and courtyard windows, the body studio is stunning.
With fitness and healthy eating part of my new lifestyle, this space is the perfect motivation to keep me focused on my SW journey.
The activewear space is full of fabulous fit wear, tech and equipment perfect for any activity. I love the boxing bags hanging from the steel beams, creating theatre and great visuals.
Its hard to visualise as I walk around this space that 15 months ago this was my old office and desk area. The Body Studio also houses the biggest collection of lingerie along with the most gorgeous fitting room spaces.
Aside from the gorgeous apparel, Body Studio also houses a Daniel Galvin studio, perfect for every hair. Adjacent to the hair salon is the cutest healthy cafe that you will see. The Hemsley sisters in partnership with Selfridges have opened a bistro cafe with a menu straight out of their healthy lifestyle cook books.
Yesterday I was lucky to sample lunch and also get to talk to the girls who were present. Both are trilled to be part of this new space and the opening of their first cafe. All this and the launch of their new TV series in a couple of weeks. All ingredients are sourced from amazing suppliers who absolutely compliment the sisters ethos of eating and lifestyle.
Lunch yesterday was a Bacon and Spinach quiche with almond flour, dressed side salad of rocket, coriander & cucumber and home-made tomato sauce. The flavours were amazing and the quiche just melted in the mouth. Accompanied by the most perfect little pot of mint tea.
 Dessert was a flour-less, beetroot & chocolate cupcake with yoghurt frosting. Dense chocolate flavour, the cupcake was moist and delicious.
The cafe is bijou, and tables can't be booked, but don't panic the queuing system is great and allows you to browse the store whilst waiting for your table They message your phone when the table is available.(so much better than waiting about in a Q!)
I know that this visit wont be last to Hemsley + Hemsley and look forward to trying the breakfast menu over the next few weeks.
Thanks to Jasmine & Melissa for stopping to chat, good luck with the new venture and a big well done to all the team involved in the Body Studio... it really is a gorgeous space.

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Hello April.....

Its lovely to see April arrive with some sunshine, March blew away amongst a spring storm and heavy showers. I definitely feel like I am beginning to awake from my winter hibernation and I am looking forward to a brighter April. As you can see the blog has had a makeover and we embracing spring with some yellow and gold hues, saying goodbye to the March greens.
* April has started beautifully and I captured this sunrise on my walk to the station through the park.
* I have set myself some goals for April on my SW journey, one of which is to move more!.. my walk to the station is 2km so I am aiming to walk 4k 3 times a week.
 * I have a couple of lovely things planned for April; Dinner at Koffmans at The Berkeley followed by a very guilty pleasure evening at the Albert Hall with Michael Bolton - a birthday treat for a special friend *
I am enjoying all the gorgeous daffodils around by me and in the window boxes in London. They make everywhere seem so much more colourful and that spring is here.
I cant believe that we are a quarter of our way through 2016 and looking back over the 1st 3 months, even though it feels like I have been hibernating, I've still managed to do quite a few things!
I hope that everyone has a lovely weekend and look forward to catching up with blogs and seeing what everyone has planned for April.

Friday, 1 April 2016

Goodbye March...

Farewell March.... wow a quarter of the way through 2016, where did that go? March was a mixed bag for me.
My month was busy with work, having a little fun and catching up with loved ones.
With Mothers day falling early in the month and Easter falling late it gave me plenty of opportunity to spend time with family and friends.

  • March saw the nights begin to get lighter which lent for some spectacular sunsets captured as I left work and on the train. 
  • March also say me say Hello to Adele and Goodbye to James Martin when I sent 2 evenings in both their company at their stage tours in the Uk.
  • Easter and Mothers day were filled with flowers and treats.
  • In between the spring storms and cold mornings, London did shine with some beautiful sunshine which showcased it off gorgeously. From my trip to the Sky Garden, walks through Manchester square to work and of course the home of Mr Selfridge himself.

March also saw me starting to move more, stepping up my walking and changing my route to work to for a longer walk and enjoy the outdoors when the weather was good.
March saw another 8 books ticked off my 75 reads from my 2016 list. I also binge watched The Night Manager on Tv which was just fabulous and I got a little excited also when I saw the new Bridget Jones trailer.... overall a good month and I hoping for even more fun in April.


Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Book Love - March

So my book challenge continued in March, with 8 books read.... that tells you how well my commutes have been, when I can  read 8 books travelling into and out of London.
This months reads have been a welcome relief from the city taking me to the countrysides of the Cotswold's, Suffolk, Roxborough, Swell Valley and Dartmouth along with the coast of Cornwall.
* Rules for a Successful Book Club - Victoria Connelly  - this is Victoria's 2nd book in the book club series and here we pick up on the story of Polly Nightingale. Polly's husband walked out of the house 3 years ago; leaving behind his wife and 3 year old son. Polly finds herself spending time with neighbour Jago; a guitar playing biker, 13 years her junior who her son finds himself delightful. With life looking on the up, Polly's life takes a turn when she starts to believe she is being watched. can the past come back to haunt her?  I loved catching up with the Nightingale family in the lovely countryside of Suffolk having read book 1 in january.... now looking forward to book 3!
* The Woman who Upped and left - Fiona Gibson - this fun read features Audrey a divorced mum to an 18 year old teenage son Morgan... juggling jobs and picking up dirty pants is as thrilling as life gets for Audrey, unless you count romantic trysts in motorway service hotels with her salesman boyfriend. When she is offered an opportunity to escape for a week to a gorgeous hotel for a cordon bleau cooking course she grabs it with both hands and runs away. Life catches up with her and it becomes even more complicated, with laugh out loud moments and a great supporting cast this is a fun read, perefct to escape with on a rainy afternoon.
* Rumour has it - Jill Mansell - Tilly quits her job in London after being dumped by her boyfriend Gavin for a 'girl friday' job in the village of Roxborough working for Max and his daughter Lou. She is quickly ensconsed into the charm & gossip of village life. Tilly also meets Jack best friend of Max a widower and the man who has broken hearts all across the village. I loved this book, Jill is definitely one of my all time favourites. The village of Roxborough was so much fun and this book covers so many topics, a great read with a very delicious leading man!
* Riders - Jilly Cooper - sometimes you have to re-visit a classic!... picked this back up after reading Tilly's & Lucy's books which both feature horses and stables. It's over 25 years since I last read Riders and 25 years later Rupert Campbell- Black still has the swoon stakes in the equestrian world. I was always a Jake fan and it was great to re-visit the world of show-jumping. Even though this book was written 30 years ago it still holds its own in today's world. A fantastic retreat into the Cotswold countryside and the bitter rivalry in the show-jumping ring..
* Summer at Tiffany's - Karen Swan - SaT is the sequel to Karen Swans Christmas at Tiffany's and we join Cassie and Henry 18 months on, when life seems ideal. However although Cassie wears Henry's ring on her finger she is reluctant to set a date.Henry is still an explorer and finds himself skippering an expedition across the Pacific, Cassie decamps to Cornwall to spend time with friends and family. Here she finds herself in the company of a blast from her past which makes her question where her future lies. She is also finds herself presented with one of Henry's infamous lists. Life suddenly becomes a little more serious and she has some big decisions to make. I loved catching up with Cassie and Henry and the family & friends from the Tiffany books. I do hope that Karen writes another. (Fitz was as equally hooked on this book along with me - he took much delight in page turning on the ipad!)
* The Show - Tilly Bagshawe - this is the 2nd book in the Swell series and we join Gabe and Laura Baxter on their farm nestled in the chocolate box valleys of Swell valley. Prior to marrying Gabe Laura worked in the Tv world and with them struggling financially she pitches an idea to film a 'on the farm' reality series. With a protest group led by the vicar, an exiled PM turned TV financier  and a sexy driven american female Tv presenter to deal with Laura and Gabe's idyllic country life soon starts to show a few cracks. A great return to the village of Swell and I am looking forward to the 3rd book later this year.
* The Day we Disappeared - Lucy Robinson - a thrilling read by Lucy Robinson and in typical Lucy style, not everything is as it seems. We meet Annie who is holding a really big secret and we also meet Kate who has run away from her life in Ireland to a stable yard in the depths of Devon. Both girls are friends having met many years ago whilst travelling around Thailand. Kate starts a job as a trainee within the stable yard and trying desperately to hide that she has no stable experience from the owner and famous equestrian rider Mark. Annie finds her life changing when she meets Stephen who offers her the perfect job. Plagued with bouts of anxiety, depression and post traumatic stress Annie finally feels her life has turned a corner. We follow both girls lives and as their lives become more complicated so it reveals that not all is as it seems.... a great read full of twists and surprises all the way through.
* The Undomesticated Goddess - Sophie Kinsella - its been some time since I read a Sophie Kinsella book and this has been languishing in my "to read" pile. Its a fun read that finds us meeting Samantha a high powered lawyer who thrives on pressure. One day when it seems that Samantha is about to receive the job that she has dreamed and worked for she finds that she has made a colossal mistake, resulting in her walking out of a job and jumping on a train. She finds herself in the middle of nowhere and mistakenly caught up in the interviews for a housekeeper in the countryside. With an IQ of 158 Samantha can deal with all calamities in the courthouse but has no idea how to turn on the oven. Hiding out in the kitchen Samantha finds herself falling in love with both the countryside and its inhabitants and her life in London seems a long way away. However life has a funny way of catching up with you. A delightful read and a welcome change for Sophie Kinsella away from her shopaholic series.
Thank you ladies for 8 fantastic reads, I've loved visiting the countryside of England in this months reads... I am now 20 books in of my 75 book reading challenge; here's the previous 12 from 2016.

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Easter fun

So Easter has passed, clocks have gone forward and we should now be looking forward to glorious spring sunshine and lighter evenings. I am hoping that as we say goodbye to March that we leave the stormy weather behind as Good Friday was the only lovely day from the long Easter weekend.
Easter was a time for some down time, spending time with family, reading, catching up on TV and enjoying just being. It also saw the 7th anniversary of the passing of my beloved Gramps.




Easter started on Thursday with a themed breakfast at work for the team...
Bacon Rolls, Cocolate Eggs and Hot Cross buns and Cream Egg cupcakes.
Easter saw me fall off SW plan from a great height!
Team seemed to enjoy it and set up for a great mood in the office.

Good Friday was spent in the glorious sunshine with a visit to the stunning Sky Garden at Fenchurch Street (previously blogged) and across London Bridge to Borough Market.
Borough was a feast on the senses, both visually and on the taste buds of Easter treats. Breadahead's hot cross buns were fabulous and Chez Michelle's spring florals were beautiful.
Easter weekend was spent catching up with family, spending Saturday with my brother & family. Niece and nephew taking a break from exam revision (oh I remember the pain well!)

Sunday was spent dodging the storm and taking mum to the cemetery, where it managed to stay dry for us to change the flowers.
A chilled sunday afternoon was spent catching up on some TV and binge watching The Night Manager (much better on the hips for me than Easter Eggs and Hot Cross Buns!!)...
I hope that you all had a lovely Easter and that the Easter bunny bought lots of chocolate and that you spent time with those you love... x

Bridget's Back

I love film trailers, and they are absolutely one of my favourite parts of visiting the cinema, therefore when this his the big screen this week I couldn't contain that inner squeal of excitement!
 Bridget is back!!!... and looking as hapless, ditzy and single as ever!
With 6 months to wait until the movie is released the trailer tempts us all with scenes of classic Bridget. With a new beau on the scene in the guise of the delicious Patrick Dempsey, it seems not all has gone well with the dashing Mark Darcy.
Lovely to see the fabulous Jim Broadbent back as Bridget's dad and the bacon buttie scene in the bandstand looks heartfelt.
It looks like Bridget has also expanded her fashion and I am already coveting several of the looks ( excluding the baby bump!)  Loving the Navy blue zarita DVF dress, Shrimps blue fur coat, and of course she is sporting a gorgeous Mulberry bayswater handbag in many scenes (mmm don't have to worry about adding that to me wish list!)

It does look like Bridget is back in style and with a baby!...

Monday, 28 March 2016

Sunday Night Thrills...

its been sometime since the media both social and print has been gripped by a TV series on a Sunday Night... Homeland was probably the last drama that got everybody talking at 9pm instead of thinking of retiring for the evening.
A few weeks ago I called out my TV treats of recent weeks, which included The Night Manager, this concluded last night and deserves a post of its own!
This 6 part drama adapted from John Le Carre's  book (the genius who bought us "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy") has kept me glued to my sofa over the last few weeks.
Mr Le Carre even made a little guest cameo himself as a guest in a restaurant.
The Night Manager is beautifully styled and shot in some gorgeous locations including Majorcca, Cairo, Istanbul and London. Cast include Tom Hiddleston, Olivia Coleman, Hugh Lawrie, Tom Hollander to name but a few.
Wardrobes both female and male have been lusted after with Tom H showcasing his gorgeousness both in & out of clothes. Signature tailored blue shirts and Navy suits will see sales rise on the back of this show along with diaphanous floaty dresses, gorgeous underwear and nightwear as outerwear favoured by the leading lady & love interest Jed.
The Night Manager finds Johnathon Pine (the night manager) seeking retribution for the death of a female in his hotel. He crosses paths with Richard Roper (Laurie) who is linked to the man who killed his girl. With nothing to loose he finds himself doing a deal with a splinter off grid group of the secret service and going undercover within Ropers businesses.
Much has been written about this drama and I do hope that another is commissioned, alternatively Tom Hiddleston needs to be at the front of the Q for the next Bond along with Olivia Coleman for M.
A great pairing that just worked so fabulously on set. Hugh Laurie was dastardly evil as Roper (although couldn't quite get the HL from blackadder from my mind). 
Bravo BBC for commissioning such a great thriller and Hats off to Mr Le Carre for writing such a fabulous thriller... loved it from start to finish. Sunday nights wont be the same.

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Insta Love - Easter

Having shared my March instagram favourites last weekend I wanted to share my instagram favourites from Easter this week. Green hues are favoured on my blog styling for the month, and this features heavily within my insta likes for March, however Easter is filled with pastels, yellows, pinks, florals and sweet treats.
Favourites from Easter are:
*  Easter Egg cookies beautifully decorated and styled by Peggy Porschen are just delicious.
* Dip Dyed blown eggs in gorgeous pastel hues simply styled by one of Nigella's favourites Mud Australia.
* A regular feature in my insta loves posts is the super talented Valerie Mckeehan - usually I am showcasing her chalkboard features but today its mini eggs and florals!
* Dan Doherty executive chef at one of my London favourites Duck & Waffle signature Easter dish this year was a delicious salted caramel hot cross ice-cream bun!! of my!!
* Yellow Spring florals in glorious display in The Berkeley - perfect for Easter.
* Claridges beautiful art deco Easter egg styled with daffodils from Mcqueen flowers - the most decadent of Easter treats.
* The most perfect Easter table setting from The Pottery Barn - #dreamhouse
followed by the perfect Easter cake from Delicious magazine.... do love mini eggs on a cake 
* My final Easter image is from across the pond of the Empire State building in stunning springs hues and blossoms from Noel at nyclovesnyc.

I hope that you have all had a lovely Easter, thank-you for posting such lovely images.
I hope that I can maintain this post as it is one of my favourites with the changes that Instagram are making to its social media platform from next week. Instagram will no longer be "Insta" and will be a little more fixed with only popular posts showing in your feed. I have switched  'notifications on' and hope not to miss my favourites.... 

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Insta Love - April

Its Social Media Sunday on the blog today and time to share some Instagram favourites from April. Yellow hues are favoured on my blog styling for the month, and this features heavily within my insta likes as well for this month.  Sunrises, Sunsets and signs of Spring.
* Meanderongmacaron's lovely image of one of my favourite pubs in Marylebone (complete with bicycles) is delightful. Her feed is gorgeous and posts lovely images daily.
* Having shared some of my Washington adventures on the blog this month it was no suprise that this snap of the Washington monument captured my heart from Ben and Jerry's. Ice-cream and sunsets the perfect combo!.
* Love this picture of Minnie, my homemakery friend Kate's gorgeous terrier... she is just delightful and looks like she is having lots of fun in the woods.
* Dan Doherty executive chef at Duck & Waffle not only cooks the most amazing food, he also shares some fabulous sunrises 42 floors above the streets of the city of London. just gorgeous.
* This gorgeous sunset and blossom from the essex countryside is just glorious .. thanks Gem for sharing. Lovely to see some of  the lovelier Essex other than that on Towie, from one Essex girl to another.
* I have porch & plant pot envy from this post by Charlotte. What a welcoming site this is, and how lovely to come home to that everynight. #dreamhome. I love the images from the window that she shares.
* The Berkeley features twice in my insta loves for April; the first with this glorious shot of blossom and sunrise in St James Park and the 2nd stars Big Ben in a bed of daffodils, delightful. ( I will be sharing some of my own adventures at the Berkeley later this month)
* This lovely yellow doored house from cookiesncandies from a London lane is lovely. Marlene's feed is full of her travels and adventures across the globe.

Thankyou all for sharing such lovely images during April, they brightened some cold days and spread a warm glow of Spring hues.
With 3 instagram accounts now - @tcake31 for London life and things that I love, @tcaketess for planner, crafting & stationery happiness and my healthy eating journey on @tcakes_sw_adventure pop over and say hi... look forward to seeing what May brings on insta love.
I hope you have had fun with my social media Sunday loves ... here's some from previous months... 

Friday, 29 April 2016

Book Love - April

The book challenge continued in April, this month saw another 8 books read whilst on my commute in and out of London.
This months reads took on a darker edge with me discovering a new detective murder series which I have loved and a political thriller. Light relief was provided via the mishaps and fun across the worlds of journalism, house selling, coffee shops and chapters of fun in a toy store.
* Dead Wrong ~ Helen H Durrant - Dead wrong is the 1st book in the series of D.I Calladine & D.S Ruth Bayliss, set in the fictional town of Leesdon in the north of England. Calladine is a divorced 51 years old married to his job, Bayliss is mid 30's She uses her demanding workload as an excuse not to try too hard with the men she meets. 
Early one morning in a child's playground on the outskirts of the Hobfield housing estate a bag of severed fingers is found. This starts an investigation which feels like the killer is always one step ahead of the police in both the investigation and forensics. Juggling the investigation and his personal life Calladine continues to hunt the serial killer as more body parts appear across the estate. I was gripped with this book from the start which culminated in me reading 3 of the series within the month. Fans of Mark Billingham's Tom Thorne will love Tom Calladine as much.
Finding Home ~ Lauren Westwood - Amy Wood finds herself temping in an estate agents and living back at her parents, a far cry from her perfect job, boyfriend and life in London. Broken hearted and jobless she is now entrusted to help sell a crumbling mansion Rosemont Hall, riddled with dry rot and secrets. Can Amy save it from the developers, bull dozers and her greedy boss and can a crumbling mansion heal a broken heart? - this was a lovely debut novel, good characters, feel good fun and entertaining read. 
Prime Deception ~ Carys Jones John Quinn, an investigative journalist on England’s biggest-selling and most notorious tabloid newspaper, is about to write the story of his life – a kiss-and-tell with one of the country’s most powerful men at its heart. But the story dies when Lorna Thomas, the kiss in his kiss-and-tell, kills herself on a quiet country road. Unable to accept her twin’s suicide, Laurie Thomas follows in her sister’s footsteps to London and to the heart of government. And as she becomes more involved in Lorna’s world, she grows more convinced than ever that Lorna did not take her own life. - This is a great political thriller that has front page headlines written all over it, great twists and surprises, perfect for anyone that loves the intrigue of downing street.
Mishaps in Millrise ~ Tilly Tennant - Phoebe's life was a mess; her boyfriend was killed in an accident and she lost her job. When she wishes for a new start she meets Jack and his adorable little girl, 5 months on and life is looking up. She's still with Jack, has landed a dream job in a toy store and Jack's little girl adores her. Phoebe is convinced that her happiness cant last; with Jacks mum on a vendetta against Phoebe, His brother Archie causing trouble, the toy-store going into financial decline and the boss's son hitting on Phoebe, life suddenly becomes complicated for her. This was a fun read, Phoebe is a sweet character and the supporting cast are a great ensemble, a fun read.
Dead Silent ~ Helen H Durrant A body is found in a car crash, but the victim was already dead . . . Women are going missing and no-one has noticed; Police partners, D.I. Calladine and D.S. Ruth Bayliss race against time to catch a vicious serial killer.  Calladine's personal life has got a little more complicated and this along with female university students going missing adds to his stress levels. This was a thrilling read and as enjoyable as the 1st book, great characters and plot if not a little disturbing.
The Last Word ~ A.L.Michael Tabby Riley’s online life was a roaring success. Her blog had hundreds of followers, and legions of young fans ardently awaited her every Tweet. Her real life was a bit more of a disappointment. Living in a shared flat in North London, scratching a living writing magazine articles on ‘How To Please Your Man in Bed’ wasn't where she thought she’d be at twenty-six – especially when there was a serious lack of action in her own bedroom.Although that might all be about to change when she’s offered a position at online newspaper The Type as a real journalist – and gains a sexy new editor, Harry Shulman, to work with. Harry’s confident, smooth talking, and completely aware that he drives Tabby mad. Which is fine, because Tabby’s dated an editor before, and it’s never happening again. Ever. But as her reputation at the paper grows, Tabby has to wonder: is it time to get out from behind the screen and live her life in the real world? - Tabby is a dream character, funny, a little bit of a clutz and lacking confidence in her real life the complete opposite of Harry; who is just is delicious, confident and a little naughty!. I really enjoyed this book and have already downloaded another of her books.
Catch a Falling Star ~ Emily Harvale   - Catch a falling star is the 2nd book in the Hideaway series and features Laurel. She’s young, free and single; she owns The Coffee Hideaway, lives in the prettiest village in East Sussex and is surrounded by friends… she may also be a suffering from some unrequited love with her friend Ned; Jamie McDay is miserable. Hollywood has become a gilded cage. The paparazzi are snapping at his heels, and since he dumped his co-star girlfriend in a spectacularly stupid public display, he’s been dropped from the Vampire series that made him a heart-throb, movie star. Visiting his friend, Gabriel Hardwick will cheer him up. Hideaway Down may be a bit ‘twee’ but local stunner, Ivy Gilroy could definitely put a permanent smile on Jamie’s face. That’s if he can persuade her to dump her boyfriend, Ned. This was a welcome return to Hideaway and its villagers, Laurel finds herself the attention of a movie star and his attempts to befriend her. Its a fun light hearted read and a perfect pick you up for a miserable commute.
Dead List ~ Helen H Durrant - the 3rd book in the Calladine series and this one features a killer that seems to have a 'kill' list. With no apparent connections to the victims or methodology of death, the only thing linking the deaths are 'tarot' cards left with the bodies. Calladine is perplexed and with 2 small girls missing and a new and upcoming DI from a neighbouring station stepping on his toes he has a host of things to deal with at both home and at the station. A great read, book 4 is on my To read list for May!.
Thank you authors for 8 fantastic reads, I've loved the thrills, fun & mystery from this months reads... I am now 28 books in of my 75 book reading challenge; here's the previous 20 from 2016.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

DC for the Day ... Monuments & Memorials.

My next part of my Washington adventure was to explore the monuments, parks and memorials within the national parks.
 I started at the Washington memorial, which was built as a tribute to America's first president, it wasn't completed until the 21st president was in office. Plans to build the monument were put in place before Washington was commander-in-chief of the American Army, he scrapped the plans as federal government funds were tight and didn't want to use public money for the project. After Washington died the plans were resurrected to build the monument in his honour. 100 years after the original plan President Grant authorized federal funds to start the build, the construction was built across 2 phases and was halted for 2 decades (this explains the variances of quarry stone as they couldn’t be matched) The monument stands 555 feet tall and contains 50 flights of stairs. 
The monument has survived an earthquake, hostage situation and is seen as a pivotal part of the Washington landscape.
 Two memorials flank either end of the Lincoln memorial reflective pool, the one that sits between the Washington and Lincoln is the National WW11 memorial. 
This is a beautiful tribute and I spent a long time walking around reading the dedications and plaques around the pool area. It honours the 16 million that served in the armed forces of the US and the 400,000 that lost their life fighting within the conflict. 
The memorial sits on 17th street between Independence and Constitution Avenues. It contains 56 columns, symbolizing unity among the 48 states, 7 territories and the district of Columbia.
The Freedom wall is littered with 4,048 gold stars, each star paying tribute to 100 lives lost. Either side of the  pool are 2 large structures which highlight the victories on the Atlantic and Pacific seas. This is a stunning memorial, one of my favourite points are the 24 bronze relief panels depicting life home and away during the years of conflict. As with all WW2 memorials, it was difficult not to become emotional as thoughts led to me grandparents and the stories that they told from their experiences during this time. This is a fitting tribute to a war that spanned years, countries and religions.
Continuing down the park alongside the reflecting pool, its hard not to walk this space without thinking of all the political and military movies and TV shows that have been filmed around this area. Favourites include; Forrest Gump, The American President,  A Few Good Men, St Elmo's Fire, White House Down, State of Play, The West Wing, and Scandal.
The Lincoln memorial is colossal, an icon sitting facing the Washington memorial President Lincoln was the 16th president of the US. At the time that the memorial was dedicated the US was in the middle of Civil war between the North and South, the dedication ceremony unified a number of people and it is this that has resonated with many ever since; There are few that don't associate this memorial with the legendary civil rights speech of Dr Martin Luther King Jr.
I was lucky when visiting all the sites that the areas were relatively tourist free, a party of collage kids were having much fun with selfies on the steps!
Either side of the Lincoln memorial sit 2 gardens and memorial sites dedicated to the Korean and Vietnam wars, both are beautiful in there own way and are lovely tributes to those fallen.
The Vietnam memorial wall has 72 panels on 2 walls which detail 58,307 names lost within the conflict. The 3 serviceman statue is a bronze tribute representing European, Hispanic and African American soldiers.
The Korean memorial commemorates the sacrifices of the 5.8 million Americans who served in the U.S. armed services during the three-year period of the Korean War. The war was one of the most hard fought in our history. During its relatively short duration from June 25, 1950 to July 27, 1953, 36,574 Americans died in hostile actions in the Korean War theatre. Of these, 8,200 are listed as missing in action or lost or buried at sea. In addition 103,284 were wounded during the conflict. As with the WW11 memorial they are humbling and an opportunity for quite reflection to honour the lives lost.
Its hard to come to Washington and avoid any military or political sights, the whole of the centre of Dc is steeped in political and military history and non more so than Arlington cemetery. This was my next stop after Lincoln Memorial and a brisk walk across the Potomac river to one of the most recognised and iconic cemeteries in the world.
The space is peaceful, incredibly humbling and steeped with history; from the Tomb of the Unknown soldier, to the graveside of J.F.Kennedy the cemetery is full of white headstones lined up in military precision.
After a good couple hours of quiet contemplation along the Mall and within the cemetery it was time to jump on a bus and head to Georgetown for a cupcake and coffee and some sightseeing in this area.... pop back later this week when I share more adventures from my day in DC.


Monday, 18 April 2016

DC for the Day .... Avenues & Houses

Of all the fabulous things that I did on my NY trip at the end of 2015, my day trip (yes day trip!) to Washington was one of my favourites. It was also one of the most planned days I had as I wanted to maximise the most of my time in the city. Catching the early train helped as I arrived into the DC at 9.30. I stopped at Shake Shack in the station for a Shack breakfast (blog post to follow) and a refuel of sumpton coffee!
I had a long list of things I wanted to do including;
·    Pennsylvania Avenue & The White House, Smithsonian & Constitution avenue, Arlington memorial and Georgetown. – My Scandal moments would include some of these: The White House, Lincoln Memorial, Potomac River, travel on the Subway and drink red wine.!
There are a number of avenues leading off from Union station and I headed down the one that would take me towards the FBI building. One of the big things that I noticed about Washington from my previous visit was the heightened security measures in and around all of the city. One of the parks that I walked past was a memorial garden for police officers that have lost their lives on duty or active service.... lots to gun crime and some only months into their service. 
On my previous visit I went inside the FBI building on a guided tour which was fascinating, now you can't get near the building for concrete planters and bollards. It was still great to walk around and see some of the legal buildings around this area. The old post office tower was also a great way to see the city from a height, this has now closed and is being converted to a Trump hotel! (he is definitely moving into the district one way or another!)
Continuing down Pennsylvania avenue I came across the most famous house on this street…. The White House ( again somewhere that you can no longer visit) but still can view from afar. It’s a gorgeous Georgian building and I am completely fascinated by it, those walls of that building house so many secrets!. The last time I was there Marine One landed on the lawn and President Clinton ran out from the White House and boarded it to fly somewhere. No Marine One landing on the lawn this time, but there were lots of FBI agents around as the national tree lighting event was taking place later that evening.
As I stood facing the White House and thought of the presidents past and present, fact and fiction; Kennedy, Clinton, Obama, Bartlett & Grant (West Wing & Scandal!) I wondered who would be the next President to grace the Oval office... would it  be another Clinton or a Trump?!! with campaigning now in full presidential glory I am following avidly until the big night in November.
My next stop was back across the avenue into the Smithsonian Museum of American History – I could have easily lost half a day here and had planned to if the weather had been wet/cold. My one stop within here was to see Julia Childs kitchen – Julia Childs is one of America's most famous chefs and bought cooking to life on the screens of US networks. Her love of cooking started when she met her husband Paul and thought she should learn to cook whilst stationed in Paris. She enrolled in the Cordon Bleau school  and went on to publish her own Mastering the Art of French Cookery. On returning to the US, her husband built her kitchen to accommodate her 6ft 2" frame and it is this that now resides in the Smithsonian from her home in Massachusetts. The kitchen was delightful and I had complete book envy within the bookshelves.
Leaving the Smithsonian I headed across the gardens to the Washington memorial to start the iconic walk down towards the Lincoln memorial. Its hard to walk this space without thinking of all the famous movie moments that have been filmed here…… pop back tomorrow when I relive my Forest Gump moment and honour some heroes.


Sunday, 17 April 2016

DC for the Day.... Amtrak adventures

Time to share some more of my New York adventures from late last year, the rate that I am going I will still be blogging about it Christmas 2016 instead of Christmas 2015!.. when I started planning my trip last year I wanted to do things that I hadn't done before as well as some old favourites.
One of the things that I started to research was the option of travelling to Washington for the day and exploring some of the capital city. I visited Washington 18 years ago and looked forward to a return visit (especially with my current Scandal obsession!) I knew that I would have to plan my day well, but was confident to see some of the capitals landmarks.
After the idea took root, it was quite easy to plan the rest; the Amtrak train line from Penn Station was the route to take and I booked a return journey for $65. As an early riser I booked a 6am train arriving in DC at 9.30am.
Penn station was a short taxi ride from my hotel and like all mainline stations was still a hive of activity even at that early hour. I stopped at Zaro's; one of New York's famous bakeries for coffee, and breakfast muffin for the journey.
With multiple stops on route the train was busy, but with a reserved seat, and leg room and seats bigger than flying I was pleasantly surprised on the amenities on offer on the train; including complimentary wifi (which didn't dip for the entire journey) and power.
Leaving New York whilst still dark, one of the treats of the journey was tracking the images shot out of the window and watching the sunrise as we approached Philadelphia.
The sunrise was stunning. I loved watching the towns and cities begin to wake up as we sped along the tracks.


I arrived in DC at 9.30 into a stunning classical station, built in 1907 it is a beautiful building filled with arches and light.
The day was glorious and with beautiful blue skies as a backdrop to some of the worlds most iconic buildings; I set off to explore this political famous city.
Pop back tomorrow for more adventures.... featuring lincoln, landmarks, cupcakes and presidents!


Sunday, 10 April 2016

Don't Rain on my Parade....

This week, previews of Funny Girl started at The Savoy Theatre beginning its West End run after a successful staging at The Menier Chocolate Factory in South London.

It is here that I saw this fabulous musical at the end of last year, which sold out its run within hours.
Funny Girl is the biographical story of film star and comedian  Fanny Bryce and her tumultuous relationship with entrepreneur Nicky Arnstein. The film of the story was made world famous by Barbara Streisand and Omar Sharif and the characters have been owned by these since. It is hard to imagine that anyone else can step into Streisand's shoes and own this role as well as her, but there may after 50 years be a successor!... Sheridan Smith has taken this role and made it her own.
Those not familiar with the plot, Brice rises from the chorus line of the Broadway musical and vaudeville line after being discovered. Briefly she meets Arnstein after her debut performance and their paths cross as Fanny's success grows and their romance flourishes. Fanny and Arnstein marry after he wins a fortune in a poker tournament. They move into a mansion, and Fanny takes a lead role at the Follies, returning to Ziegfeld who made her a star. Arnstein's various business interests fail and he refuses to take any of his wife's monies, involving himself in a bonds scam which leads to him being jailed for embezzlement.
Sheridan is supported with a fabulous cast and Arnstein is played by Darius Campbell. This musical is fabulous, Sheridan Smith is a Star; if you have a ticket to see this then you are in for an evening of sheer entertainment. With songs as legendary as the stars; People, Don't rain on my parade and Funny Girl it is a treat for every musical fan.
 I am booked to see this again at The Savoy and I can't wait.

Monday, 4 April 2016

Fitness & Well-being...

I don't blog lots about work but today the home of Mr Selfridge expanded its retail space by an additional 37,000 sq ft. The Body Studio opened today embracing fitness, well-being, lingerie, lounge-wear and hosiery all under one roof and what an impressive roof it is. Flooded with natural light from skylights and courtyard windows, the body studio is stunning.
With fitness and healthy eating part of my new lifestyle, this space is the perfect motivation to keep me focused on my SW journey.
The activewear space is full of fabulous fit wear, tech and equipment perfect for any activity. I love the boxing bags hanging from the steel beams, creating theatre and great visuals.
Its hard to visualise as I walk around this space that 15 months ago this was my old office and desk area. The Body Studio also houses the biggest collection of lingerie along with the most gorgeous fitting room spaces.
Aside from the gorgeous apparel, Body Studio also houses a Daniel Galvin studio, perfect for every hair. Adjacent to the hair salon is the cutest healthy cafe that you will see. The Hemsley sisters in partnership with Selfridges have opened a bistro cafe with a menu straight out of their healthy lifestyle cook books.
Yesterday I was lucky to sample lunch and also get to talk to the girls who were present. Both are trilled to be part of this new space and the opening of their first cafe. All this and the launch of their new TV series in a couple of weeks. All ingredients are sourced from amazing suppliers who absolutely compliment the sisters ethos of eating and lifestyle.
Lunch yesterday was a Bacon and Spinach quiche with almond flour, dressed side salad of rocket, coriander & cucumber and home-made tomato sauce. The flavours were amazing and the quiche just melted in the mouth. Accompanied by the most perfect little pot of mint tea.
 Dessert was a flour-less, beetroot & chocolate cupcake with yoghurt frosting. Dense chocolate flavour, the cupcake was moist and delicious.
The cafe is bijou, and tables can't be booked, but don't panic the queuing system is great and allows you to browse the store whilst waiting for your table They message your phone when the table is available.(so much better than waiting about in a Q!)
I know that this visit wont be last to Hemsley + Hemsley and look forward to trying the breakfast menu over the next few weeks.
Thanks to Jasmine & Melissa for stopping to chat, good luck with the new venture and a big well done to all the team involved in the Body Studio... it really is a gorgeous space.

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Hello April.....

Its lovely to see April arrive with some sunshine, March blew away amongst a spring storm and heavy showers. I definitely feel like I am beginning to awake from my winter hibernation and I am looking forward to a brighter April. As you can see the blog has had a makeover and we embracing spring with some yellow and gold hues, saying goodbye to the March greens.
* April has started beautifully and I captured this sunrise on my walk to the station through the park.
* I have set myself some goals for April on my SW journey, one of which is to move more!.. my walk to the station is 2km so I am aiming to walk 4k 3 times a week.
 * I have a couple of lovely things planned for April; Dinner at Koffmans at The Berkeley followed by a very guilty pleasure evening at the Albert Hall with Michael Bolton - a birthday treat for a special friend *
I am enjoying all the gorgeous daffodils around by me and in the window boxes in London. They make everywhere seem so much more colourful and that spring is here.
I cant believe that we are a quarter of our way through 2016 and looking back over the 1st 3 months, even though it feels like I have been hibernating, I've still managed to do quite a few things!
I hope that everyone has a lovely weekend and look forward to catching up with blogs and seeing what everyone has planned for April.

Friday, 1 April 2016

Goodbye March...

Farewell March.... wow a quarter of the way through 2016, where did that go? March was a mixed bag for me.
My month was busy with work, having a little fun and catching up with loved ones.
With Mothers day falling early in the month and Easter falling late it gave me plenty of opportunity to spend time with family and friends.

  • March saw the nights begin to get lighter which lent for some spectacular sunsets captured as I left work and on the train. 
  • March also say me say Hello to Adele and Goodbye to James Martin when I sent 2 evenings in both their company at their stage tours in the Uk.
  • Easter and Mothers day were filled with flowers and treats.
  • In between the spring storms and cold mornings, London did shine with some beautiful sunshine which showcased it off gorgeously. From my trip to the Sky Garden, walks through Manchester square to work and of course the home of Mr Selfridge himself.

March also saw me starting to move more, stepping up my walking and changing my route to work to for a longer walk and enjoy the outdoors when the weather was good.
March saw another 8 books ticked off my 75 reads from my 2016 list. I also binge watched The Night Manager on Tv which was just fabulous and I got a little excited also when I saw the new Bridget Jones trailer.... overall a good month and I hoping for even more fun in April.


Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Book Love - March

So my book challenge continued in March, with 8 books read.... that tells you how well my commutes have been, when I can  read 8 books travelling into and out of London.
This months reads have been a welcome relief from the city taking me to the countrysides of the Cotswold's, Suffolk, Roxborough, Swell Valley and Dartmouth along with the coast of Cornwall.
* Rules for a Successful Book Club - Victoria Connelly  - this is Victoria's 2nd book in the book club series and here we pick up on the story of Polly Nightingale. Polly's husband walked out of the house 3 years ago; leaving behind his wife and 3 year old son. Polly finds herself spending time with neighbour Jago; a guitar playing biker, 13 years her junior who her son finds himself delightful. With life looking on the up, Polly's life takes a turn when she starts to believe she is being watched. can the past come back to haunt her?  I loved catching up with the Nightingale family in the lovely countryside of Suffolk having read book 1 in january.... now looking forward to book 3!
* The Woman who Upped and left - Fiona Gibson - this fun read features Audrey a divorced mum to an 18 year old teenage son Morgan... juggling jobs and picking up dirty pants is as thrilling as life gets for Audrey, unless you count romantic trysts in motorway service hotels with her salesman boyfriend. When she is offered an opportunity to escape for a week to a gorgeous hotel for a cordon bleau cooking course she grabs it with both hands and runs away. Life catches up with her and it becomes even more complicated, with laugh out loud moments and a great supporting cast this is a fun read, perefct to escape with on a rainy afternoon.
* Rumour has it - Jill Mansell - Tilly quits her job in London after being dumped by her boyfriend Gavin for a 'girl friday' job in the village of Roxborough working for Max and his daughter Lou. She is quickly ensconsed into the charm & gossip of village life. Tilly also meets Jack best friend of Max a widower and the man who has broken hearts all across the village. I loved this book, Jill is definitely one of my all time favourites. The village of Roxborough was so much fun and this book covers so many topics, a great read with a very delicious leading man!
* Riders - Jilly Cooper - sometimes you have to re-visit a classic!... picked this back up after reading Tilly's & Lucy's books which both feature horses and stables. It's over 25 years since I last read Riders and 25 years later Rupert Campbell- Black still has the swoon stakes in the equestrian world. I was always a Jake fan and it was great to re-visit the world of show-jumping. Even though this book was written 30 years ago it still holds its own in today's world. A fantastic retreat into the Cotswold countryside and the bitter rivalry in the show-jumping ring..
* Summer at Tiffany's - Karen Swan - SaT is the sequel to Karen Swans Christmas at Tiffany's and we join Cassie and Henry 18 months on, when life seems ideal. However although Cassie wears Henry's ring on her finger she is reluctant to set a date.Henry is still an explorer and finds himself skippering an expedition across the Pacific, Cassie decamps to Cornwall to spend time with friends and family. Here she finds herself in the company of a blast from her past which makes her question where her future lies. She is also finds herself presented with one of Henry's infamous lists. Life suddenly becomes a little more serious and she has some big decisions to make. I loved catching up with Cassie and Henry and the family & friends from the Tiffany books. I do hope that Karen writes another. (Fitz was as equally hooked on this book along with me - he took much delight in page turning on the ipad!)
* The Show - Tilly Bagshawe - this is the 2nd book in the Swell series and we join Gabe and Laura Baxter on their farm nestled in the chocolate box valleys of Swell valley. Prior to marrying Gabe Laura worked in the Tv world and with them struggling financially she pitches an idea to film a 'on the farm' reality series. With a protest group led by the vicar, an exiled PM turned TV financier  and a sexy driven american female Tv presenter to deal with Laura and Gabe's idyllic country life soon starts to show a few cracks. A great return to the village of Swell and I am looking forward to the 3rd book later this year.
* The Day we Disappeared - Lucy Robinson - a thrilling read by Lucy Robinson and in typical Lucy style, not everything is as it seems. We meet Annie who is holding a really big secret and we also meet Kate who has run away from her life in Ireland to a stable yard in the depths of Devon. Both girls are friends having met many years ago whilst travelling around Thailand. Kate starts a job as a trainee within the stable yard and trying desperately to hide that she has no stable experience from the owner and famous equestrian rider Mark. Annie finds her life changing when she meets Stephen who offers her the perfect job. Plagued with bouts of anxiety, depression and post traumatic stress Annie finally feels her life has turned a corner. We follow both girls lives and as their lives become more complicated so it reveals that not all is as it seems.... a great read full of twists and surprises all the way through.
* The Undomesticated Goddess - Sophie Kinsella - its been some time since I read a Sophie Kinsella book and this has been languishing in my "to read" pile. Its a fun read that finds us meeting Samantha a high powered lawyer who thrives on pressure. One day when it seems that Samantha is about to receive the job that she has dreamed and worked for she finds that she has made a colossal mistake, resulting in her walking out of a job and jumping on a train. She finds herself in the middle of nowhere and mistakenly caught up in the interviews for a housekeeper in the countryside. With an IQ of 158 Samantha can deal with all calamities in the courthouse but has no idea how to turn on the oven. Hiding out in the kitchen Samantha finds herself falling in love with both the countryside and its inhabitants and her life in London seems a long way away. However life has a funny way of catching up with you. A delightful read and a welcome change for Sophie Kinsella away from her shopaholic series.
Thank you ladies for 8 fantastic reads, I've loved visiting the countryside of England in this months reads... I am now 20 books in of my 75 book reading challenge; here's the previous 12 from 2016.

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Easter fun

So Easter has passed, clocks have gone forward and we should now be looking forward to glorious spring sunshine and lighter evenings. I am hoping that as we say goodbye to March that we leave the stormy weather behind as Good Friday was the only lovely day from the long Easter weekend.
Easter was a time for some down time, spending time with family, reading, catching up on TV and enjoying just being. It also saw the 7th anniversary of the passing of my beloved Gramps.




Easter started on Thursday with a themed breakfast at work for the team...
Bacon Rolls, Cocolate Eggs and Hot Cross buns and Cream Egg cupcakes.
Easter saw me fall off SW plan from a great height!
Team seemed to enjoy it and set up for a great mood in the office.

Good Friday was spent in the glorious sunshine with a visit to the stunning Sky Garden at Fenchurch Street (previously blogged) and across London Bridge to Borough Market.
Borough was a feast on the senses, both visually and on the taste buds of Easter treats. Breadahead's hot cross buns were fabulous and Chez Michelle's spring florals were beautiful.
Easter weekend was spent catching up with family, spending Saturday with my brother & family. Niece and nephew taking a break from exam revision (oh I remember the pain well!)

Sunday was spent dodging the storm and taking mum to the cemetery, where it managed to stay dry for us to change the flowers.
A chilled sunday afternoon was spent catching up on some TV and binge watching The Night Manager (much better on the hips for me than Easter Eggs and Hot Cross Buns!!)...
I hope that you all had a lovely Easter and that the Easter bunny bought lots of chocolate and that you spent time with those you love... x

Bridget's Back

I love film trailers, and they are absolutely one of my favourite parts of visiting the cinema, therefore when this his the big screen this week I couldn't contain that inner squeal of excitement!
 Bridget is back!!!... and looking as hapless, ditzy and single as ever!
With 6 months to wait until the movie is released the trailer tempts us all with scenes of classic Bridget. With a new beau on the scene in the guise of the delicious Patrick Dempsey, it seems not all has gone well with the dashing Mark Darcy.
Lovely to see the fabulous Jim Broadbent back as Bridget's dad and the bacon buttie scene in the bandstand looks heartfelt.
It looks like Bridget has also expanded her fashion and I am already coveting several of the looks ( excluding the baby bump!)  Loving the Navy blue zarita DVF dress, Shrimps blue fur coat, and of course she is sporting a gorgeous Mulberry bayswater handbag in many scenes (mmm don't have to worry about adding that to me wish list!)

It does look like Bridget is back in style and with a baby!...

Monday, 28 March 2016

Sunday Night Thrills...

its been sometime since the media both social and print has been gripped by a TV series on a Sunday Night... Homeland was probably the last drama that got everybody talking at 9pm instead of thinking of retiring for the evening.
A few weeks ago I called out my TV treats of recent weeks, which included The Night Manager, this concluded last night and deserves a post of its own!
This 6 part drama adapted from John Le Carre's  book (the genius who bought us "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy") has kept me glued to my sofa over the last few weeks.
Mr Le Carre even made a little guest cameo himself as a guest in a restaurant.
The Night Manager is beautifully styled and shot in some gorgeous locations including Majorcca, Cairo, Istanbul and London. Cast include Tom Hiddleston, Olivia Coleman, Hugh Lawrie, Tom Hollander to name but a few.
Wardrobes both female and male have been lusted after with Tom H showcasing his gorgeousness both in & out of clothes. Signature tailored blue shirts and Navy suits will see sales rise on the back of this show along with diaphanous floaty dresses, gorgeous underwear and nightwear as outerwear favoured by the leading lady & love interest Jed.
The Night Manager finds Johnathon Pine (the night manager) seeking retribution for the death of a female in his hotel. He crosses paths with Richard Roper (Laurie) who is linked to the man who killed his girl. With nothing to loose he finds himself doing a deal with a splinter off grid group of the secret service and going undercover within Ropers businesses.
Much has been written about this drama and I do hope that another is commissioned, alternatively Tom Hiddleston needs to be at the front of the Q for the next Bond along with Olivia Coleman for M.
A great pairing that just worked so fabulously on set. Hugh Laurie was dastardly evil as Roper (although couldn't quite get the HL from blackadder from my mind). 
Bravo BBC for commissioning such a great thriller and Hats off to Mr Le Carre for writing such a fabulous thriller... loved it from start to finish. Sunday nights wont be the same.

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Insta Love - Easter

Having shared my March instagram favourites last weekend I wanted to share my instagram favourites from Easter this week. Green hues are favoured on my blog styling for the month, and this features heavily within my insta likes for March, however Easter is filled with pastels, yellows, pinks, florals and sweet treats.
Favourites from Easter are:
*  Easter Egg cookies beautifully decorated and styled by Peggy Porschen are just delicious.
* Dip Dyed blown eggs in gorgeous pastel hues simply styled by one of Nigella's favourites Mud Australia.
* A regular feature in my insta loves posts is the super talented Valerie Mckeehan - usually I am showcasing her chalkboard features but today its mini eggs and florals!
* Dan Doherty executive chef at one of my London favourites Duck & Waffle signature Easter dish this year was a delicious salted caramel hot cross ice-cream bun!! of my!!
* Yellow Spring florals in glorious display in The Berkeley - perfect for Easter.
* Claridges beautiful art deco Easter egg styled with daffodils from Mcqueen flowers - the most decadent of Easter treats.
* The most perfect Easter table setting from The Pottery Barn - #dreamhouse
followed by the perfect Easter cake from Delicious magazine.... do love mini eggs on a cake 
* My final Easter image is from across the pond of the Empire State building in stunning springs hues and blossoms from Noel at nyclovesnyc.

I hope that you have all had a lovely Easter, thank-you for posting such lovely images.
I hope that I can maintain this post as it is one of my favourites with the changes that Instagram are making to its social media platform from next week. Instagram will no longer be "Insta" and will be a little more fixed with only popular posts showing in your feed. I have switched  'notifications on' and hope not to miss my favourites....