A Day Out At A National Trust Park With Joules

Morden Hall Park

At Christmas time, Mr P and I bought a National Trust family membership instead of buying presents for each other. Well, actually, we said we’d do this, but we haven’t got around to actually buying it yet. We will, though! And I’m fully aware this makes me sound like an actual middle-aged person but there is something so NICE about National Trust properties. Beautiful scenery, impressive buildings, amazing history, and often fun activities for kids too. I get a strange sense of calm when I visit one.

Last week, Mr P and I took a cheeky couple of hours out of our day (I really should have been working…) to visit Morden Hall Park. Free to get in, it has a fab little cafe, a garden centre, an artist’s studio/gallery, a rose garden, a stable yard, a beautiful white bridge and loads more interesting little nooks and crannies.

Morden Hall Park - National Trust

Morden Hall Park - National Trust

Morden Hall Park - National Trust

We started off having lunch (soup and a sandwich) in the Potting Shed cafe and then wandered around, enjoying the sunshine.

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I was wearing my Joules National Trust collection Windermere coat – part of a country-inspired range and PERFECT for a chilly spring day out in the park – waterproof, cosy and covers the bum so you can sit on cold logs or rocks, in comfort. The lining of the coat – as well as other items like the silk scarf, wellies and brolly – has a gorgeous floral design. Joanna, the designer behind the print, explains, “I was really inspired by the incredible English heritage behind the National Trust. History and nature are rich and vibrant aspects of the National Trust and the work they do, so I used this to influence my design. I began by referencing old botanical encyclopaedias I found in the British Library, where botanists would paint intricate detailed studies of plants and flowers. This subject inspired me when I studied Fashion Design at University, and I was eager to take this forward into the National Trust print.” Isn’t it gorgeous?…

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Kick-ass Mother’s Day Presents

bouquet-of-rosesFlowers and chocolates are the standard Mother’s Day presents, but if you ask me, we should be showered in these things all year round (and actually, we should treat ourselves to them, regularly too). So if you’re a bloke, what the heck should you buy your mum/wife/girlfriend on Mother’s Day then? And more importantly, what should you be hinting for?

Obviously I can’t speak for them all but here’s what I’d like on Mother’s Day…

The Necklace

 

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You can’t go wrong with simple jewellery and this sterling silver necklace, £70 from The White Company is gorgeous. In fact it would look great with…

The Sweatshirt

Mother sweatshirt

This Mother sweatshirt, £45, is sold over on ace site Selfish Mother. All profits from sales of Mother designs go to Women for Women International – an amazing charity that helps women in eight war-torn regions rebuild their lives through training programmes. Order before midday on Fri 13th March for delivery in time for Mother’s Day.

The jacket

Yellow Joules jacket

Yellow Joules jacket

I’m a huge fan of a practical jacket. One that’s waterproof and has a hood, so that you can pull it on and get outside for walks in the woods or even just on the nursery/school run on a drizzly day. The Blighty jacket, £99, from Joules is completely awesome because it ticks those boxes and it’s bright yellow too, adding a splash of colour to my outfit. Joules made my spring complete when they sent me this jacket and Mother’s Day goodies like the floral top I’m wearing above, an amazing green coin purse, and this fab Rose Tomato scented candle….

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My H&M Home Obsession

Are you as obsessed with H&M Home products as I am? If not, you will be in just a few minutes time.

Seriously – it’s amazing. I first discovered it a couple of years ago when one of my favourite people Eleonore tweeted about buying some towels from there. I had no idea H&M even had a home department, but before I knew what was happening, I too had bought some towels and also some cushions. Thus started my love affair with H&M Home.

Apart from being ridiculously stylish, it’s also totally affordable. Is it weird that despite spending a lot of time at home – a lot of time, since I work there – I actually don’t like to spend loads of money on home buys? I just think what’s the point in buying really expensive things when you’ll probably want to redecorate after a few years, or you might go off the things you bought? I like to keep things cheap and cheerful, which is exactly what H&M is.

You can shop online, but I prefer to browse in store. Whenever I’m on Oxford Street or Kensington High Street, I can feel a magnet pulling me towards H&M where they have large home sections.

At the moment, there are loads of vintage-inspired goodies and also a nice selection of retro geometric buys too. Here are some of the gorgeous things that I have my eye on…

H&M home buys

1. Duvet cover set, £19.99 2. Tea light holders, £3.99 3. Mirror, £12.99 4. Mini vases 3-pack, £7.99 5. Scented candle, £12.99 6. Cushion cover, £7.99 7. 3-pack of candles, £3.99 8. Small wire basket, £7.99 9. Tea towel, £2.99

Happy shopping!

A Haircut & Some 'Me Time' At Ena Salon, London

Regular readers will know I love me some ‘me time’. Anything vaguely pampering is good with me, whether it’s a spa visit, getting my nails done or a hair cut.

However.

I also have a bit of a trust issue when it comes to hairdressers. Let’s just say it stems from a time when I was 18, and after a couple of hours in a hairdresser’s chair, I emerged with the worst haircut ever (it was so bad, my friends called me Alan for a whole year – I actually looked like a man). But being a typical 18-year-old, I was too scared to tell the hairdresser I hated it, so I thanked them very much, left, and cried the whole way home.

So it’s fair to say that since then, I get a little bit nervous when visiting a new hairdresser. I get flashbacks to Alan, and worry he might make a reappearance.

Thankfully, my recent visit to Ena Salon in Covent Garden, London was a success. PHEW.

Ena Salon is in a beautiful Georgian townhouse which is unusual for a hair salon, and means you climb up stairs to room where they wash your hair (and where they do colour) and it also means there are gorgeous original fireplaces, panelling and stained glass windows. Apparently, when they moved into the building, it had been an office, and they found all of the beautiful features hidden behind plain walls, which they stripped down.

ena-salon-london

ena-salon-reception

My haircut was in the safe hands of Gianni, a lovely Turkish hairdresser who really knows her stuff. She filled me with confidence, as she chatted about what kind of cut I was looking for, and she made some great suggestions, showing me how she would even up areas of my hair that had been thinned out before.

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ena-salon-interiors

I think when it comes to having your hair cut, quality of haircut aside, some of the most important things are the small details. At Ena, the room where they wash your hair has a gorgeous design painted on the ceiling – makes sense when every client in that room will be staring at it! Later, my tea was brought to me in a cute glass teapot and was accompanied by a homemade cake (one of the salon staff makes them for the customers – such a nice touch.)…

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Hormones, Anxiety And Things That Make Me Happy

tulips-in-vase

I’ve been thinking a lot about happiness recently. I mean, we all think about happiness all the time, don’t we? But I’ve been thinking about it a lot more in the last month or so. Trying to work out what are the things that make me happy – and unhappy.

Let’s deal with the unhappy bit first – to put it bluntly, my hormones make me unhappy. I’ve always been a bit of a slave to my hormones, from those FUN teenage years where you hate everyone and everything, slam doors, flush your best mate’s necklace down the loo in a fit of rage (just me?) to my twenties when I discovered I had endometriosis. Poor Mr P had to put up with a lot of mood swings back then – thank goodness he didn’t run for the hills.

But lately, thanks to my hormones, I’ve had a few days each month where I feel really low – there was one day last month when I actually felt depressed, and that’s not a word I use lightly. There was this imaginary grey weight on me, and none of the usual ‘cheer me up’ tactics like lunch out with Mr P or shopping in The White Company made any difference. It actually really scared me. Thankfully, it only lasted one day, and I knew it was caused by hormones.

This has been coupled with something that I have only just realised I’ve suffered from for a long time – anxiety. I didn’t really know what this was before, but I’ve worked out that when I’m walking down a street and feel paranoid, thinking people are looking at me, or when I’m on Oxford Street in central London and I have this awful fear that someone is going to attack me, or steal my bag, or when I just have a gnawing feeling in the pit of my stomach but have nothing to feel worried about – that’s anxiety. Again – thankfully I only suffer from it when my hormones are doing their monthly loop the loop. Or when I’m hungover and tired, but that’s normal, right?

So – anyway! This isn’t meant to be a ‘poor me’ blog post, it’s actually a post about the things that make me happy. Because in the last few weeks, I’ve been focusing on what those things are, and making sure they are in my life more. Simple!

1. Fresh flowers.

If you follow me on Instagram, you might have noticed the sudden appearance of flowers in my photos. I’ve realised how much I enjoy having them in the house, especially since I work from home. Tulips, daffs, hyacinths, roses – I’m not fussy. There was one week recently when I had all of the above and it was like a bloody florists in my kitchen.

daffodils

2. Scented candles.

I’ve been burning my White Company White Geranium candle or Diptyque Baies while I work (hello, working from home cliché!) and the relaxing scent helps to chill me out and concentrate on work rather than how crappy I might be feeling.

Diptyque-Baies-candle

3. The gym.

I’ve actually turned into one of those people who exercises for its health benefits, not because I want to be slimmer. For real. I mean, obviously I’d like to be slimmer. My size 16 ass should really be a size 14, but genuinely, I notice such a difference in my mood when I go to the gym two or three times a week. It’s like a miracle cure. I heart endorphins.

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4. Chocolate.

Hmmmm maybe this is the reason for my size 16 ass? But I’m definitely an emotional eater, and having a steady supply of chocolate and cakes makes me happy.

5. Trying to be vaguely healthy.

On the flip side of that, I’m a MUCH happier person when I’m making sensible food choices – salads, smoothies, sushi, Vita Coco drinks rather than crisps, chips and pizza. I spent six months of last year being super healthy and I loved it. Just need to get back into it, don’t I?

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6. Taking time off.

I think I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m a ‘workaholic’ (so 80s of me). I love working so so much and I would happily sit at my laptop working and blogging until 10pm every night. But I’ve started putting the laptop away on a few evenings a week, and watching telly with Mr P (The Good Wife and Better Call Saul on Netflix, since you asked). I even went out for the day with my family last weekend and – wait for it – left my phone at home, deliberately. I’m fed up of checking my phone constantly when I’m out and about so it was almost a relief to not have it with me. Switching off and having time away from email, texts and social media is really good for me.

Speaking of which, it’s 7.15pm and I’m going to switch my laptop off…