a week in marrakech

A few weeks ago, Tom and I headed off to Marrakech for a sunshine break. Sadly, although we did get to see a smidgeon of sun, the temperatures in the whole of North Africa took a substantial dive the exact week we’d chosen. It also rained. A lot. So, there was nothing else for it, but to turn our planned fly-and-flop into a city break. Although I made sure that ‘city break’ involved lots of reading and napping time, obviously. Let’s not get crazy.
We stayed at the ClubHotel RIU Tikida Palmeraie, just 15 minutes from the main square – Jemaa el-Fna – and it was the perfect choice. The pool went on for weeks (just a shame it was too chilly to even dip a toe in), the food was go-back-for-thirds good, and the staff were some of the friendliest I’ve ever met. And I’ve been to Thailand. For the days when it was warm enough to sit out on a lounger (albeit swathed in numerous layers), I devoured a pile of books. Including The Miniaturist, which was just as mesmerising as I’d heard. And when it was too cold, I found a cosy little nook that I’d curl up in with a giant bag of Cheetos from the gift shop. Holiday happiness, right there.
But when we weren’t slothing, we headed out into the great unknown. I love an excursion, especially when the lovely people at Thomson do all the legwork for you, so all you need to do it show up on time for the bus. On one of our trips we took a walking tour around the old fortified city and had a chance to dive into the souks, which has been on my wishlist for years. If you’ve been there yourself, you’ll know what I mean when I say it’s an experience. It’s an assault on the senses. It literally thrums with activity… there’s incessant drumming, you’re offered the weird and the wonderful from every direction, you can smell sweet and sour spices in the air, and it’s more than just a maze of stalls. It’s a tangled web of tiny alleys and passageways that go on forever, all looking exactly the same. Do not attempt to navigate them yourselves because you will get lost… I don’t care how good a sense of direction you have. There’s no 80′s David Bowie to help you, either.
The souks were another level of crazy, and I can’t say that I’d visit them again in all honesty, but the eye candy for interior design fanatics like me almost made it worth it. Perforated gold lanterns that would look stunning above a kitchen island, a rainbow of ceramics that would make a cultured addition to a coffee table, throw blankets at prices that make you want to buy two more suitcases for the journey home. If, like me, the thought of haggling for your chosen item cranks your anxiety levels up a notch, then head to the nearby Berber Cultural Centre. It has all the goodies you’ve eyed up in the souks, but the (incredibly reasonable) prices are set in stone, and the shop keepers leave you to browse in peace.
On our walk through the city, I was aiming my iPhone at everything. Intricate tiles (oh, the tiles), tranquil white-washed courtyards, and the local wildlife, including this very contented feline…
Archways, fabrics, dress materials. Interior inspiration was everywhere. If it wasn’t for the fact that Tom reminded me that I already have a zillion cushions at home, you can betcha I would have smuggled home many many new companions for them.
Let’s talk about the food. Because it was magnificent. We ate our body weight in cous cous soaked in all manner of delicious spices, tender lamb stews, sweet orange slices sprinkled with cinnamon (trust me, try that one at home) and, yes, random buffet food combinations like pizza with a side of roast beef. One night we had a tasting menu at a riad. Not only was the restaurant out of this world – twinkly lights, sumptuous courtyard, all the Moroccan trimmings – the food was so god-darn-good, Tom and I still have lengthy conversations about it.
Tom – That chicken pie, though…
Me – That salad platter, though…
Tom – That tagine though…
Me – Those pancakes, though…
You get the picture. Also, the mint tea. Not the same as the bog standard peppermint stuff from Twinings. It’s meticulously prepared and served in a shot glass. Oh, and forget your sugar embargo and make sure you add a lump or two, I promise you it’s worth it.
So, the verdict on our Marrakech holiday. It was the perfect blend of loafing and exploring, with food that I’m still dreaming about, and that gratifying feeling of seeing somewhere completely removed from your everyday routine. Like a great book, it does stay with you for a long time… but whether I’d go again, well, the jury’s out. Although, that chicken pie could well be enough to convince me.

sixty soho gets a makeover

Ten years ago, my commute to work was a hop and a skip along Fifth Avenue. As far as commutes go, there are worse ways to travel to work. Okay, so I left out the part about the smushed-in-someone’s-armpit PATH train from Jersey City, but details, details. The beauty about working opposite the Chrysler Building (again, there are worse places to call your office…) was that I was in prime hotel territory. I love me a hotel. We’re not talking your local Premier Inn, we’re talking the fancy schmancy kind that have marble floors and sweeping staircases and a jaunty concierge. And one hell of a watering hole. Preferably of the roof-top variety. So, when I heard that NYC’s 60 Thompson had been refurbed and re-branded as SIXTY SoHo, my ears pricked up faster than you can say ‘J.Crew half-price sale’. This is going to be good, I thought to myself. And I wasn’t wrong. Industrial chic, sophisticated tones, and layer upon layer of textures.
The dark window frames and patterned floor create plenty of drama…
In most NY hotel rooms there isn’t room to swing a cat. In here you could swing 128 of the beggers…
Stocked and loaded.
1,800 square feet of split-level gorgeousness… ladies and gents, the SIXTY Loft…
The Sessanta bar. I mean, seriously.
Just add a G&T and good friends.
I’ll take a week in the SIXTY Loft, thanking you kindly.
Good, right?

the march edit

1st March. Finally. I don’t know about you guys, but my year officially starts right here. Jan and Feb don’t even deserve a mention, as far as I’m concerned. But we made it… the evenings are getting lighter, and very soon that special day will arrive when temperatures reach a whopping 15 degrees, and the world and his wife agree it’s definitely BBQ weather. Bring it on. To celebrate, I thought I’d bring you a round up of all the things I have my eye on this month – something that I’m going to make a monthly feature. Enjoy. It’s good to be back.
Maje cardigan // Yes, the price tag made me wince. But it’s Maje. Ergo, it’s fine. And coats are going to be redundant soon, with any luck, so it’s just plain practical.
Burberry BB cream // This stuff is getting rave reviews everywhere. Apparently one application of this wonder product and it turns you into a glowy Rosie H-W doppelganger. I’m in.
Kilim cushion // Turns out I like my cushions like I like my cardies. Who knew? While the shops are serving up zig-zags and geometrics like they’re some kind of new trend (*cough* 2012), I’m drooling over all things kilim.
Neom candle // This smells incredible. I have it burning away right now, and I can vouch for the fact it does exactly what its name promises.
French Connection T-shirt // Hurrah! We can start talking about T-shirts like they’re not some kind of mystical creature again. This one plus some denim cut-offs and you’re sorted. Might want to wait for the 15-degreer, though.
Salted caramel truffles // Packaging wins me over. I’m that fickle. I’m sure the truffles taste great, too.
Copper pendant // This pic doesn’t do this pendant justice… when the light shines through it, it’s kitchen island perfection. And one day it will be mine.
The Miniaturist // I’m off on holiday in 2 weeks to Marrakech and I intend on ploughing through as many books as possible. I’ve heard good things about this one – has anyone read it? – so it’s already packed and ready to hit the sunlounger.
Tell me, what’s on your lust list this month?

our wedding & a new start

It’s been over 18 months since I last posted on a regular basis… so, why start up again now? Well, two reasons, really. For one thing, it’s mine and Tom’s 2nd wedding anniversary today, and I’ve been meaning to post our photos (taken by the beyond talented Jodie Chapman) for, well, a very long time. When I was working on the redesign of the blog these past few months, I figured this would a good time to kick things off again. So, go grab a glass of bubbly, because you can be sure that for the majority of today I’ll have one in my hand.
The other reason? Well, since scoring a day job as a blog writer back in January last year, the motivation I used to have to come home and write till the wee hours was no longer there. Finally I didn’t have an events job I hated with every fibre of my being, and I didn’t need the creative outlet that {what you fancy} had always been for me. I came home from work and relaxed… but still kept reading my favourite blogs. Then, lately, that fire’s come back. I miss my blog. I miss hearing from you guys (well, whoever’s willing to come back at this point!). I miss being part of the community of which I currently feel like a bit of an outsider. I don’t know how many times a week I’ll be posting and it may not be as regular as it once was. But I feel like I’ve things to say and share, and I very much hope you’ll pop by from time to time to see what’s going on. And, as always, I’ll be on Twitter, Instagram and (most frequently) Pinterest, too, if you want to say hi.
Ok… formalities over, let’s get down to business. Let’s journey back to 21st September 2012. Our wedding took place at Shenley Cricket Club in Hertfordshire, chosen mainly because it was pretty much a blank canvas, so I could go to town with decorations – while most brides dream of the perfect dress, I was pinning pictures of flowers in mismatched containers, streamers and festoon lighting. It also meant we could have the ceremony outside, something that’s a bit of a rarity in this country. As our guests journeyed in from around the country – and the world, for that matter – the rain held off, and I thanked our lucky stars we’d not plumped for the wash-out that was July and August.
I got ready at my brother’s house near the venue. Looking back, it was one of my favourite parts of the day. Jo Adams – MUA extraordinaire – worked her magic on my bridesmaids and me, while we listened to Taylor Swift and shovelled down plates of scrambled eggs and smoked salmon. While the kitchen was a hive of activity, there was mostly a feeling of calmness. That everything was how it should be. Apart from one terrifying moment when Tom texted me with this humdinger: “Is now a good time to talk?
Sorry, what now?? This is NOT something you want to hear on your wedding day. With shaking hands I called him… turns out he was asking what I wanted him to do with the presents for the wedding party. That’s right.
Anywho. Hair and makeup was easy. I’d asked Jo for hair like Elizabeth Olsen (this meant a bit of help from clip-in extensions, since my hair’s not what you call ‘abundant’) and makeup like Kate Bosworth. These were my inspiration pics, along with the resulting look.
I love people who follow briefs to the tee. While we’re on the subject, here’s the hair inspiration my bridesmaids (my two best friends and sister-in-law) sent me and the final looks.
Like I said, Jo’s a genius. If you want to feel like a million bucks on your wedding day, she’s your girl.
I designed my wedding dress myself. I’d fallen in love with a Temperley empire-line frock, but had swiftly fallen out of love with it once I’d clocked the price. My mum found a one-shoulder number on sale in a local wedding shop for the bargain price of £100, and while it wasn’t anywhere near what I was looking for, we both knew that with the right seamstress and a bit of imagination we’d get there. It took several metres of fabric from Goldhawk Road in W12 and a few panicked last-minute alterations, but I was over the moon with the result. A one-of-a-kind dress that was exactly what I’d envisaged, down to the last detail. It also probably came to about £350 in total. Gotta love a bargain.
My shoes were Kate Spade (‘Isadora’ sandals – no longer available, but there’s always eBay…) and my earrings were Stella & Dot (available here). I had two wedding necklaces – for the ceremony I wore an antique gold locket (my ‘something borrowed’) my mum had worn at her wedding. Inside was a photo of my beloved dad. For the reception I switched it for a bespoke statement necklace, designed by Doloris Petunia. My finishing touches came to way more than the cost of my dress, but I figured I could always wear the accessories again, so it was definitely worth the extra money.
When we arrived at the venue, all I felt was excitement and happiness. Not a single nerve (and I hate anything that means I have to stand in front of a crowd). My brother walked me down the aisle, with my girls in front of me. My processional song was ‘Dream’ by Priscilla Ahn.
We reached the end of the aisle and I saw this face…
I was coming home. That’s the only way I can describe it.
Two of our close friends performed the readings – ‘Love’ by Roy Croft, and the lyrics from the song ‘All I Want is You’ by Barry Louis Polisar. One a conventional choice, the other… not so much. Both of them said exactly what we wanted to say.
That was followed by vows we’d written ourselves – the tears nearly came, but adrenaline was on my side – and then the crowd-pleaser…
We signed the register, posed for the snap happy…
… and walked back up the aisle to the tune of ‘Wouldn’t It Be Nice’ by The Beach Boys, the happiest-sounding song ever made. And then I kissed my handsome new husband again…
Because, well, how could I not.
With the drinks and canapés doing the rounds, and my cousin playing Rat Pack tunes on her saxophone, we drifted off on our own with Jodie to get our pose on…
… before heading back to the crowds to get a few group shots. One of my favourite pics is this one of the mums looking beautiful in their finery (mine in mint, Tom’s in pink)…
Let’s just have a close-up, cos they look so lovely…
I don’t think their smiles could’ve got any bigger, quite frankly. Speaking of smiles, the second mine slipped when I was wishing more than anything that my dad was here to see me on my big day, I felt someone take my hand in theirs…
That’s why she’s my best friend.
(And on a side note, from behind can you even tell she was 8.5 months pregnant at that point? Thought not.)
We headed into the marquee at the perfect time – 2 minutes later the heavens opened.
We took our seats as man and wife…
[The glitter letters were created by Erin Hung of BerinMade, who I’d also worked with to design our confetti-inspired invitations.]
Then it was time for my absolute favourite part of weddings. The speeches. And when it’s your own, it’s even better. Every speech was heartfelt, funny, moving, and perfectly delivered.
The best men’s speech had everyone in stitches…
… apart from Tom, who clearly thought if he covered his eyes, the stories would stop. They didn’t.
After a BBQ-style wedding breakfast was the cutting of the cake, made expertly by my sister-in-law’s sister (who’d be on GBBO if I had my way).
wedding cake
And on to the first dance (‘18th Floor Balcony’ by Blue October). We hadn’t practised our moves, and it probably showed… but regardless, I’ll never forget it.
Yup, we were pretty damn happy at that exact moment.
Others – including Tom’s parents – joined us on the dancefloor, while the whole marquee glowed under the lanterns.
And a single candle flickered for all our loved ones who couldn’t be there to join in the fun.
Finally, it was time to let loose on the dancefloor. But that’s a whole other story.
Happy anniversary, TB. Thank you for making me the luckiest.

pinterest’s pin it forward uk

So, I’m back for a one-off post… because guess who got in touch with me? Pinterest. Only my favourite ever website. The website that showed me that there’s a whole community, nay, movement, that loves pinning and stalking dreamy pictures as much as I do. It’s my virtual happy place. A glass of red, a whole evening free of any kind of admin or decent telly, and a spot of Pinterest, and you won’t find me more content. If you’re not sure what it’s all about, in a nutshell it’s an online pinboard and tool for collecting, organising and sharing beautiful ideas and images from all over the web. An online scrapbook, really.

Pin It Forward UK 2013



Pinterest has changed me in so many ways, and I’m not even being dramatic. I now have a passion for tinkering around the kitchen… cooking, if you will. Whereas, pre-Pinterest recipe ideas, I felt adventurous if I added herbs to a spag bol. I’m bolder with my fashion choices… I’ve actually got items in my wardrobe that aren’t a shade of black, which would have been unheard of a few years ago. My home has never looked prettier – it used to be all cottage-shabby-”chic”, but now I’ve embraced a classic modern look, geometric prints, and a metallic infusion. Put plainly, I have an obsession with gold. I’ve discovered beauty blogs that have completely changed my skincare regime for the better, I’ve found daily inspirational quotes that I now live by, and which have shifted my outlook on life, and – this has been a biggie – because of Pinterest, my readership has risen massively. As in, a huge proportion of my traffic comes from the site… hopefully, because people trust my taste and style, and believe it’ll translate on my blog.

Or something.

One of my favourite boards out the 28 I lovingly tend to, is the one entitled Made Me Smile. Basically it’s a collection of things that make my heart squeeze and sing… the things that make me happy. They don’t really fit in anywhere else, so they get a board of their own. Why not go take a look? If you like every single one of the pins, then you never know… we could be sisters from another mister. It’s possible.




And if you haven’t signed up to Pinterest already, you’re truly missing out, my friends. It’s a whole new world out there. With Facebook filled with kids-supposedly-doing-the-funniest-things and people moaning about the weather, I can’t think of a better place to escape to for peace, quiet and a plethora of beautiful things.

While we’re at it, take a peak at the shamazeballs boards of Jenny and Beth – all in the name of pinning the love forward.

I’ll be back soon… thanks for sticking with me, lots of love xx