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20.10.2014- Day Tripping: Arundel Castle

Monday, 20 October 2014

I know that summer seems like a long distant memory now, but back in July I spent a lovely few days away from work, catching up with friends exploring some holiday-at-home favourites. When the weather co-operates, there are some amazing stay at home destinations to explore, particularly if you're looking to escape the hustle and bustle of a big city like London and aren't jetting off on holiday. Finding ourselves at a bit of a loose end, my lovely friend Kate and I jumped on the train down to Sussex, heading for one of my favourite places (and something of a spiritual home!)- Arundel Castle:


I think I've mentioned a few times that my grandparents used to live in Arundel- so any visit back to a place which holds such lovely childhood memories (including horses turning up in the back garden!) is always a welcome one. Truth be told, I hadn't realised how much I'd missed making regular trips down, and it's been lovely to rediscover such a gorgeous, tranquil corner of the world with a better appreciation of it as a (sort of!) adult. Shamefully, up until last year I'd only ever explored a tiny section of the castle, so getting to know it and the beautiful gardens properly has been fantastic.

The original castle motte dates back to the 11th century, and was built during the reign of William the Conqueror, sustaining an important defensive position on the banks of the River Arun. Exploring the oldest parts of the castle, particularly the keep, you get a real sense of how vast the surrounding area is, and how strategically important the castle would have been to protect the south coast from invasion. From the date of the original construction until today, the castle has been the hereditary seat of the Dukes of Norfolk, passing successively through the generations in the face of executions, civil war and sieges. Although on occasion badly damaged, the castle has been carefully restored, and the sense of living history which welcomes you as you explore is second to none- needless to say that my not-so-secret inner Game of Thrones fan was in her element! 

As well as the sense of history which permeates the castle, the gardens are also beautiful- and perhaps my favourite part of Arundel to explore. The space has changed hugely since I was little (or perhaps I've just got bigger!), and it's amazing to see how perfectly and painstakingly maintained each area is- standouts for me include the Cut Flower garden and the Organic Kitchen garden. The whole area is the perfect tranquil escape, particularly as the gardens sit in the shadow of Arundel Cathedral (where my parents got married!), and is just around the corner from where my grandparents lived when my grandad used to work for the Norfolk estate. It goes without saying that Arundel has a hugely special place in my heart, and I'm so so glad that I've been able to rediscover and appreciate it now as an adult- and I'm sure that another return visit won't be too far away. 

Have you visited anywhere special recently?

(Image credit: Sarah Farrell, please do not reproduce without permission.)

13.10.2014- What I Wore Today #205

Monday, 13 October 2014

Now that there's a distinct autumnal chill in the air, my day to day wardrobe is tending to consist of ultra practical pieces which are easy to layer up against the weather. Whilst it's quite sad to admit that I've already been wearing my winter coat (which makes for a rather interesting, if somewhat sweaty picture when I'm power walking to the train station of a morning!), in terms of practicality it's been a must- particularly for pretending it's a portable duvet when I've seriously struggled with my alarm clock! However, on the odd occasion where the sun has been peaking through the clouds before I head for the front door, I've been reaching for a seriously versatile wardrobe staple- the duster jacket: 

outfit5thoctober
Jacket- c/o Warehouse 
Blouse- Zara 
Jeans- Noisy May (via ASOS) 
Bag- Warehouse 
Shoes- Adidas c/o JD Sports 

When the lovely people from Warehouse dropped me a line to introduce their autumn collection, this jacket proved to be a real standout. Not only is it the perfect bridge between the smart and casual pieces in my wardrobe, but it's also a lovely, ultra wearable alternative to some of my heavier coats, so is proving ideal for the changeable days which we seem to be having at the moment. I'm finding that the slouchier fit makes it ideal for the weekends as well as my work wardrobe, and here I paired it with some Saturday staples in the shape of my Noisy May jeans, a basic blouse from Zara and my much worn Adidas kicks. Speaking of Warehouse, you might remember this backpack from my transitional treasures post last month, and, after spotting that it had been reduced in the sale, I couldn't resist adding it to my collection- further proof that these pages are more of a 'list of things to buy' diary than anything else! 

Are you a fan of Warehouse's latest collection? 

(Image credit: Hannah Hobson, please do not reproduce without permission.)

10.10.2014- Bookmark: The New York Times- 36 Hours, 125 Weekends in Europe

Friday, 10 October 2014

I don't know whether it's just that time of the year, but as winter descends I'm always filled with a serious sense of wanderlust and get really eager to book a holiday. Apart from my amazing trip to Morocco back in February, I haven't been able to get away anywhere else (first world problems, I know!), and the closest I've come to visiting anywhere exotic has been watching Simon Reeve's back catalogue on the TV. My last 'proper' holiday was back in 2012, so I'm determined that next year is going to be as travel orientated as possible, particularly as I'm drawing up a serious bucket list of dream destinations. With a serious case of itchy feet, I took the plunge and ordered a super special travel guide to help me plan away:

The New York Times- 36 Hours, 125 Weekends in Europe by Barbara Ireland

You might remember this book from a holiday style post which I put together back at the start of the summer, and not long after I featured it, it was safely ensconced within my excited (if somewhat Vitamin D deficient) palms. Jam packed with hundreds (if not thousands) of recommendations of the best places to visit in Europe, if you've got itchy feet but limited time then this is a definite must buy. The mini break was a phenomena which I hadn't fully bought into until I experienced it for myself, and if you're looking for the best tool to help you organise your time effectively, then this is perfect. Barbara Ireland's recommendations offer the perfect balance of must-visit tourist favourites and off the beaten track discoveries, and the guidebook is also ultra easy to navigate thanks to the handy maps and geographical sub divisions. So far my shortlist consists of Dubrovnik, Copenhagen, Barcelona and Dublin...but I'm sure there will be plenty of additions to come! 

Are you a guide book fan? Where have you visited recently? 

(Image credit: Sarah Farrell, please do not reproduce without permission.)

08.10.2014- What I Wore Today #204

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

With these blustery winds and squally showers, summer seems like a long distant memory, doesn't it?! Whilst recently I've been living in some old warm (and weatherproof!) favourites, I'm still determined that my winter wardrobe is going to be as bright as possible. Easier said than done, perhaps, but time will tell! Anyway, trying to cling on to summer with every fibre of my being, here's a little look at an outfit which I put together when the days were distinctly brighter:

outfit15thsept
outfit15thsept2
Kimono- Ganni (via ASOS) 
Blouse- Zara 
Jeans- c/o Laura Ashley 
Bag- Cambridge Satchel Co c/o MyBag.com 
Sunglasses- Vintage 
Shoes- Birkenstock

After my first foray into kimono territory towards the end of last month, it seems that I've become a little bit addicted to them! This design from Ganni had been on my wishlist for an absolute age, so when it popped back up in stock over at ASOS, I took the plunge and treated myself to it ahead of my trip to Cambridge. Not only is is the perfect late summer piece, but it's also something which I think will prove a real investment, particularly if I get to go away on holiday next year (fingers crossed!) Here I paired it with some black basics, but I can imagine it looking great with lots of other pieces in my wardrobe too, so it's definitely a purchased well made! Finishing touches came in the shape of my vintage sunglasses, Birkenstocks (which I am seriously missing wearing!!) and my gorgeous Cambridge satchel. 

Have you picked up any new favourites recently?

(Image credit: Elodie Russo, please do not reproduce without permission.)

06.10.2014- Label Love: Kate Spade

Monday, 6 October 2014

Back in the day (well, three or four years ago), my idea of a weekend well spent was traipsing down Oxford Street, making a pilgrimage to the shopping church of the flagship Topshop store whilst competing for pavement space with the world and his proverbial wife. Perhaps it's a sign of the times, or maybe I'm just getting old, but now I can think of nothing I'd hate more. Whereas in the past my Saturdays were all about spending my hard earned pennies (or indeed my student loan!) on fast fashion, now I'm far more focused and much less frivolous in my spending, and the beauty of working in central London means that the weekends are now generally reserved for quality relaxing time at home, or in the garden if the weather allows. Alongside this more mature approach to spending, I've found that my tastes have evolved hugely too, and looking back at some of my old outfit posts, it's really interesting to look at how many pieces I've long since said goodbye to in favour of some more grown up purchases. Don't get me wrong, I'll still happily browse in Topshop if I've got a spare ten minutes, but over the last year or so I've noticed my shops of choice change a fair bit- so let me introduce you to one of my new favourites:

ks
Madison Avenue Collection Morgana Dress, Sleeveless Scallop Top, Octavia Coat, Madison Avenue Collection Rasa Top, Hello Shanghai Bag, Seriously Darling iPhone Case, Slater Sneakers, Skinny Mini Bow Studs, Madison Avenue Collection Scenic Route Ring, Solid Gold Idiom Bangle, all Kate Spade.

Kate Spade started life in the USA in 2007, and over the last few years has steadily established a presence in London, with stores in Covent Garden and Sloane Square. They are set to launch their UK e-commerce site soon, alongside some brand spanking new, British based social channels too. I'm a huge fan of their blog and Pinterest pages, so can't wait to see what the rest of the UK online launch will look like. Now that I'm working in Covent Garden, I'm also using my lunch breaks to make regular visits to the shop, usually just to pick up some inspiration (and if you follow me on Instagram, you'll know that I'm a serious fan of their hydrangea displays!) The store is not only beautifully merchandised, but the decor and overall design makes it a really lovely space to be in- a very welcome relief from the mania of Oxford Circus, that's for sure!

With their new collection at the forefront of my mind, I couldn't resist sharing some of my current favorites with you. This gorgeous black and white dress is a true classic, with the bow detail adding the perfect finishing touch. It's definitely one of the most elegant styles I've seen in the shops in a long time. Regular readers will know that I'm a big fan of the blouse, and this scalloped detail design is ultra-versatile; great for teaming with tailored trousers or with jeans for a more relaxed look. With temperatures now well and truly on the nippy side, I'm sure I'm not the only one contemplating coats, and this cobalt blue piece is perfect for adding a pop of colour to any winter wardrobe. 

Back to blouses, and the bow detail on this white basic from the Madison Avenue collection makes it truly timeless- a definite investment purchase. Kate Spade's characterful accessories never fail to put a smile on my face, and this Shanghai inspired bag is a really fun piece. I'm also a huge fan of their tech accessories, and usually make a bee-line for the iPad and iPhone cases the moment I set foot in store- this Seriously Darling cover is not only seriously darling, but also seriously stylish, don't you think? These amazing embellished skater style shoes are also a real favourite at the moment- a lovely, sparkly alternative to my usual winter boots. Jewellery wise, I'm already saving up my pennies for some staple earrings, and this bow detail pair are the perfect, understated everyday essential. If statement pieces are more your thing, then look no further than the rings and bangles- these two beauties are just a small selection of my current favourites!

Are you a fan of Kate Spade? And have your shopping tastes evolved as you've grown up?

(Image credit: Kate Spade.)
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