Found: Hannah Carding Prints

We went to visit friends in Bristol this weekend and my friend Caroline (who has excellent taste in art,) had just bought three prints which I was really taken with. The colours were so vibrant in real life and a little quirky.

It turned out they were by a friend of hers, Hannah Carding, and available on Etsy.

Fun fact of the day: The collective noun for a group of ladybirds is a ‘loveliness’.

How’s that for a lovely start to the week?

Love,
Rebecca
xo

PS I like the tea towels too…

Girl About Town: Grimm Tales


Philip Pullman’s Grimm Tales: An immersive fairytale

Last year I went to see The Drowned Man and I found a new love for “interactive”, “immersive” theatre, so I’ve been on the look out for other similar experiences since. When the email about Philip Pullman’s Grimm Tales popped in to my inbox I snapped up some tickets.

Adapted and directed by Philip Pullman, he of His Dark Materials genius, coupled with my love of fairy tales in their original (i.e. not Disney-fied) form, my interest was piqued.

The teaser asks: “do you dare experience these infamous fairy tales, no longer bound to their pages but trailing your footsteps, breathing softly down your neck and unravelling in wonder before your eyes”… yes I did dare. But I did take my mum with me in case I got scared.

It wasn’t as creepy or as scary as I had hoped, but I suppose they are stories intended for children. They chose some of the lesser-known tales from the Brothers Grimm, which I think were some of the less grim tales (you see what I did there?), but I understand we can’t have the characters chopping off their toes to fit in to shoes or eyes being pecked by birds, that would be a very, erm, different experience, and not one I’d be reviewing here!

I did love the way that the small cast of actors brought some life and edge to characters we generally only see through Disney-tinted glassed these days. I think what impressed me the most, however, were the gorgeously freaky sets. Walls covered in aging maps, annotated with snippets of information about well known fairy tale locations (Grandma’s house, the wishing well…) and a red string trail pinned between them. Rooms filled with spinning wheels piled on top of each other, some of them still spinning. A bar area crammed with crates of shiny, juicy, enticing red apples. Corridors and staircases lined with pictures that dare you to look twice, and often you’d wish you didn’t…

It’s been extended to April, so you can grab tickets here

Victoria x

PS! Find Victoria over on her blog Sugar Plum Slipper or on twitter @VictoriaHale.

Found: Dot & Fox Print shop

Today it’s just a brief post to share a fab find I made over the weekend, Dot & Fox Print Shop. Set up by Joanna Brown, the shop is named after her son Beau Fox, (born shortly before Bea) and Dot, the daughter she sadly lost in pregnancy. The prints in the shop were taken as she walked in her local area following that loss, then the shop set up while she was on bed rest awaiting Beau. Although I follow Joanna on Instagram I didn’t know about her shop and so when I stumbled across it at the weekend I had to share it with you all. I’m always looking for prints for our house and am currently obsessed with photographic art so these are right up my street.


BOOM Neon pink A3 print

I can just imagine this huge neon print in our bedroom, and I LOVE this A1 giant print inside what looks like a botanic gardens glasshouse.


Urban Jungle A1 print

These two are particularly beautiful, almost like still life oil paintings, there’s so much texture…


Don’t tell the others but you are my favourite‘ and ‘Oh so quiet‘ Ltd edition prints.

I hope you like them readers – Joanna also donates 5% to Tommys charity for every print sold if you are interested. It’s always a bonus to support a good cause whilst shopping ;) Do click over to the Dot & Fox Print Shop and have a look around – these are just my favourites.

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Reviewed: Modern Country

I’m a massive fan of interiors inspiration books and so I was happy to receive Modern Country for review recently. Normally I wouldn’t classify my style as ‘country’ at all, but if you feel the same definitely don’t let this put you off exploring this gorgeous collection of stunning homes.


I was really pleasantly surprised to find a collection of homes that ranged from eclectic to modern to rustic, salvage and industrial takes on relaxed country style.



It’s a perfect gift for those interiors lovers you may know and the publishers have arranged a special offer for you all…

Reader Offer:
To order Modern Country at the discounted price of £24.00 including p&p* (RRP: £30.00), telephone 01903 828503 or email mailorders@lbsltd.co.uk and quote the offer code APG217.
*UK ONLY – Please add £2.50 if ordering from overseas.

It’s definitely worth a look! Have a great weekend readers!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Modern Country is published by Jacqui Small www.jacquismallpub.com (@JacquiSmallPub)

The Honourable Woman


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Have you seen it?

The other day my friend asked me if I was watching The Honourable Woman. She sold it as ‘similar to Homeland’ and told me to check it out on iPlayer (episodes 1-7 are available for just over a week now so get there quick!) and so Pete and I sat down to watch it one afternoon while he was on paternity leave.


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Oh. My. Goodness. I was hooked before the first episode was even half through! Similar to Homeland in the sense of having spies, terrorism and secret loyalties at its heart it is also helped along by a stellar female cast taking powerful roles with a wardrobe to match, (hello Maggie,) and lots of clever political dialogue. Its also incredibly timely as it centres around the age old conflict between the Palestinians and Israelis.

I’m probably very late to the party on this one, but if you haven’t heard of it or watched it, it’s totally worth binge watching before it’s gone! Have you seen it? Did you love it?

Oh and no spoilers please! I’m only 2 episodes in ;)

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Florence’s Book club

Welcome to another book club – it’s been a while since we have shared some good reads and I’ll be reading with particular interest today, particularly in the comments as I’m going away soon and could do with some holiday reading. :) Thank you to Alexa and Victoria for providing the reviews this month and do let me know if you have any great reads we should be sharing soon – just send an email to me with a short review.

Longbourn by Jo Baker

My name is Victoria and I am a Pride and Prejudice addict. I’ve read the book countless times. I own the 90s BBC series on VHS, DVD and have it saved on my Sky+ for emergency Jane Austen watching. The recent Keira Knightley version continues to grow on me after a number of re-watches and I’ve also dabbled with the “sequels”, but remain largely disappointed. (As an aside, thoughts on Death at Pemberley this Christmas?)

So it’ll be no surprise that, while searching for some literary escapism on the shelves of my local bookstore, I was hooked by a quote on the back cover of Longbourn by Jo Baker:

“If Elizabeth Bennet had the washing of her own petticoats,’ Sarah thought, ‘she would be more careful not to tramp through muddy fields.’”

This isn’t a sequel where we follow the characters in to the next step of their lives, although there is a little glimpse of life post Lizzie-Darcy nuptials. Nor is it a re-telling of the original from a different perspective, though we do see a lot of behind-the-scenes action around the key events of the original tale. It’s actually a parallel story about the servants at Longbourn, in particular Sarah the housemaid, and their lives, loves, worries, woes and the secrets they hide.

P&P fans should, however, read with caution. The author takes some liberties with one or two of our favourite characters with a shocking-ish plot twist or two (I guessed, not sure if I liked), we see very little of Darcy and Bingley and far too much of the dastardly Wickham and, be warned, as you follow Sarah’s story your love for Miss Lizzie may start to wane just a little.

My main criticism would be that there was a little bit too much back-story devoted to life outside of Longbourn for one particular character where I lost interest slightly but overall, for P&P fans I’d recommend this as a good light read.

- Victoria

Dominion – CJ Sansom

What if Churchill hadn’t become Prime Minister in 1940? Set in 1952, Dominion works on that idea and gives an alternative history of what could have happened if Britain had surrendered to Nazi Germany in 1940 and instead become, in essence, a Nazi satellite state. Within a few chapters of the book, Britain is a place where press, radio, speech and the streets are controlled by the state and subject to violent police and sometimes Gestapo rule and where there is an ever increasing move towards anti-Semitism.

The story focuses on David Fitzgerald, a disillusioned civil servant who becomes a spy for the resistance and is tasked with helping an old university friend escape a mental hospital with a secret that could change the balance of power all the while keeping his actions secret from his wife.

Interwoven with actual events and real people, it’s an incredibly thought provoking book about one of the many alternatives to what could have happened if Britain hadn’t continued the war effort. It’s part spy thriller, part love story, but also part what could have happened. Maybe it’s coming from a Jewish family, or some of the current rhetoric from certain political parties but it really made me think about undercurrents of thought that sit in society and can easily come to be accepted and mainstream beliefs.

The Fault in Our Stars – John Green

I’d recommend you start this book with a lot of tissues close by. And also probably some chocolate to hand. The Fault in our Stars tells the story of Hazel, a 16 year old cancer patient who attends a support group (somewhat unwillingly) and meets August Waters, a 17 year old amputee and ex basketball player.

It’s billed as a young adult book but I don’t think anyone would struggle to relate to the characters or the experiences through the book which although ultimately are a story about death, actually are more about life and living and taking chances. John Green writes beautifully and has a way of making you feel for all the characters from Hazel’s parents to Hazel and Augustus themselves, without making you feel pity. And don’t worry; some bits will make you laugh as well as cry.

- Alexa

Have you read anything good lately readers?

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Girl about Town: Chocolate walking tour of London

Easter weekend is on the way. I am excited for three reasons:

1) Two free days off work! Oh how I need the sleep.

2) Family time! In my house, Easter is like Christmas we gather, we play games, we (even in adulthood) hunt out eggs and we dine en masse.

3) Gluttony! If you’ve been abstaining from treats and indulgences for Lent, Sunday is the day it all comes to an end (just to clarify, I have abstained from nothing this year, I’ve been a glutton throughout Lent. My bad).

In light of this list, Rebecca thought I should tell you about something that combined all three, in particular a chocolate walking tour of London, that I did with my family over a chilled weekend the end of last summer. I booked it through Great British Tours with a 50% voucher from one of those well known discount sites (either the pink or the green, I don’t recall) which made it very reasonable indeed. During the tour we visited some of my favourite chocolateries (where we had tastings and were entitled to a discount on most purchases), wandered through Soho at a leisurely pace soaking up the atmosphere and we found a couple of hidden gems that I’ll definitely be re-visiting.

The meeting point was the Algerian Coffee Store on Old Compton Street where our guide greeted us with a large cup of chocolate coated coffee beans and a gigantic grin – imagine if your job was to wander the streets of London eating free chocolate? I’d grin a lot too!

First stop was Hotel Chocolat where we bought chilli hot chocolate powder and tested out their new line of chocolate themed toiletries…

…then on to Paul A. Young where the team introduced us to unusual recipes such as limoncello and cucumber, pink guava and lychee, goats cheese, rosemary and lemon and Marmite truffles and where we also sampled their delicious Aztec hot chocolate…

… a quick pit stop at Freggo to refresh the palate with some Malbec and berries sorbet (new fave thing ever!)…

…a browse around the sweet counter (and a quick dash to the loo) at Fortnum and Mason…

… a brief history lesson about the birth of the truffle at Prestat and sampled some boozy treats…

…all ending up at Charbonnel et Walker where I stuffed my face with my favourite violet and rose crèmes (apparently also the Queen’s!).

All in all a fun filled day!

Great British Tours do some other interesting walking tours including a cupcake and macaroon tour which I have my eye on for my next free weekend…

Victoria x

PS! Find Victoria over on her blog Sugar Plum Slipper or on twitter @VictoriaHale.

Trash T.V.

Time for a bit of guilty pleasures talk over here. Why not eh?

So, I watch pretty much no TV. I always have some American Drama on the go, Greys Anatomy being my preference, but that weekly slot is almost the only thing I bother with. Except my guilty pleasure. In addition to my ‘quality drama’ – hey it’s all relative here people, I also like a bit of trash tv on the side.

Historically it was Gossip girl, which I was borderline obsessed with, and currently it’s Nashville. It needs to be full of gorgeous glamorous types, a hot male lead or two doesn’t go amiss and a salacious storyline. Most importantly, I don’t need amazing writing, it’s all about the fluff. I just stick it on record and dip in and out when I get home on those days when I all I can do is collapse on the sofa and mourn the absence of a wine glass in hand. ;)

So today, I want to hear what your guilty pleasure is and what I should be watching?

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Decorate with Flowers: Reviewed

At this time of year as spring blooms come into stores I’m always looking to brighten up the house with fresh flowers. Add to that the instantaneous transforming effect they have on any space means I’m using them more than ever at the moment to improve some of our work-in-progress rooms. As a result I was delighted to be asked to review and share with you the new book by Holly Becker and Leslie Shewring, Decorate with Flowers.


Now, I am an absolute sucker for a coffee table book and this one is so pretty it is definitely deserving of the title. The photography is beautiful, the colours and the flowers are super pretty and the best thing about it is that the ideas are accessible.

There’s no stuffy flower arranging tutorial here, just loads of simple ideas for displaying fresh flowers in your home and inspiration for using many items you might already have as containers. It’s a fresh look at flowers.

Holly and Leslie have used the homes of some famous bloggers (like that of Victoria Smith of SFGirlbyBay shown above,) and some of the photography is studio shot, along with some simple DIY’s the help you make the most of your blooms.

I loved the book – every thing from the design and photography to the friendly accessible tone and easy to implement ideas. It’s definitely worth treating yourself to and would make a gorgeous Mothers Day gift too.

DISCOUNT:
To order Decorate with Flowers at the discounted price of £16.00 including p&p* (RRP: £20.00), telephone 01903 828503 or email mailorders@lbsltd.co.uk and quote the offer code APG109.

I hope you like it readers!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

*UK ONLY – Please add £2.50 if ordering from overseas.

Decorate with Flowers by Holly Becker & Leslie Shewring, published by Jacqui Small @JacquiSmallPub

Girl About Town: The Drowned Man

The Drowned Man: A Hollywood Fable – A Punchdrunk production

There’s not a lot I can say about The Drowned Man: A Hollywood Fable without ruining it, other than, it’s not really a play, it’s more of an experience, an emotional journey. One designed to take you out of your comfort zone and make you think – even if you’re not thinking about the play itself, even if you don’t like the story, I guarantee you’ll be thinking about the dance talent, the amazing sets and the curious artefacts you’ll find along the way, for a long time afterwards. Let me also qualify this post by saying that this is not a review, I’m not a theatre critic, I just like to be entertained. And entertained I was. In fact I still am. Since seeing the play I’ve lost hours on the internet Googling reviews, reading online discussions and stalking the cast members on Twitter to see what others made of their experience.

I booked tickets upon recommendation that it would be “weird, thought provoking, like nothing you’ve ever seen before and right up my street”. I was glad I took up the suggestion and I reiterate the advice to you!

It’s a promenade performance, by the brilliant Punchdrunk, set in a disused four storey building next to Paddington station. Upon arrival you check your bags (so you don’t pilfer things from the amazingly intricate, lovingly accessorised sets), you are issued with a mask (to clearly mark out the audience from the actors), and given a slip of paper with two paragraphs which loosely detail the two parallel story lines of love, adultery, paranoia, betrayal, social struggle and murder.

You are welcomed to “Temple Studios” by a glamorous employee with a brief introduction and then you are encouraged to leave your companions behind, open your mind and follow your own path…

And for three hours that’s what I did.

I lost my family within minutes as I got my bearings in a dark “street” lined with “shops”. I found a few characters and became engrossed in their stories, following them in earnest as they tore through the “desert”, “forest” and on to “movie sets” up and down stair wells, through dimly lit corridors and feeling uncomfortably voyeuristic as I peered through key holes and “bedroom windows”. I got hot and sweaty running up and down staircases (one covered in fresh, bloody hand prints), I shivered as I watched a narrated movie scene play out on a snowy mountain and I ruined my suede boots on a sand dune and had to step through a puddle of water around a bathtub in the middle of a “chapel” in a “trailer park”.

I put those words in quotes as I was well aware I was walking on a set, amongst scenery, but the eerie lighting, disconcerting music and smells, mist and different underfoot textures made the sets feel spookily real. Although I knew I was perfectly safe and was watching a show, my over-active imagination went hell-for-leather and I had a few freak out moments as an audience member was “kidnapped” by a cast member and taken in to a locked room, and I was left virtually alone in a dark corridor next to a shrine to an “ageing actress” and was then taken by surprise by an elegantly dressed lady, appearing at my shoulder literally out of nowhere.

I know, I know. It sounds like I’m talking gobbledegook!

Well I am. And that’s all I’ve done since leaving that building, talking non-stop about how amazing it was to people who haven’t seen it, who clearly think I must be going crazy.

I managed to follow only one of the stories, albeit twice over, thus from two viewpoints, and at the climax I realised that not only was there the parallel narrative detailed on the slip of paper at the beginning, but a number of other subplots and about 10 additional members of the cast that I’d completely missed! I also had a small tantrum (in my head) at the beginning where I got all stroppy that I had absolutely. No. Idea. what was going on. But on speaking to other people, I clearly wasn’t alone at that stage.

I was also worried that I wouldn’t know when it was over, that I’d end up wandering the deserted floors until the small hours, but after a very definitive ending we filtered through in to an on-set bar to be reunited with our companions where we flitted between stunned, reflective silences and garbled chatter where we all spoke over each other in our excitement to relay the things we’d seen, done, felt, touched and experienced. Each and every one of us had seen a different story. Different details, characters, rooms and props. We’d all had utterly unique experiences within the same building in those three hours. Our discussions continued via text and email long in to the night.

I can’t describe it to you without ruining it for you, but I whole heartedly suggest, nay, urge you to read a few professional reviews, check out this synopsis and watch this trailer.

Even if you don’t like it, I guarantee you you won’t regret it. You can book tickets here.

And if you’ve seen it already please, please, message or call me so I can talk to someone about it.

It seems I lied in my first line. There IS a lot I can say about this play, in fact I can’t stop saying things about this play…

Victoria x

PS! Find Victoria over on her blog Sugar Plum Slipper or on twitter @VictoriaHale.