Five on Friday

A week and a half into the summer holidays and we have settled into a routine of sorts. I do a couple of hours work in the morning, while the children play and watch TV. Then we have lunch and head out to the swimming pool at our local gym or just play in the garden – the paddling pool is still a huge success. The boys went to sports camp for two days at the start of the week and I had a meeting up in London for work but apart from that we haven’t strayed too far from home. Next week they are all going to camp on Tuesday and Wednesday before we go to Sweden for two weeks.

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{This has been the weather for most of the week – although rain is forecast for tomorrow.}

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{The paddling pool is very popular and the kids can now set it up and deflate it by themselves}

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{Cameron prefers to kick a football around the garden}

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{Today I gave the kids the option of going to the Aquarium up in London or to the cinema. They chose the latter and we went to see How to Train Your Dragon 2}

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{Followed by a late lunch at Pizza Express.}

Hope you all have a fantastic weekend! We’re going to put the roof box on the car and start packing for our holiday. X

A Family Outing to Osterley Park & House

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I know I’ve said it before, but we are lucky to have so many amazing places filled with history on our doorstep. Last Monday was a Bank Holiday so we grabbed our National Trust cards and drove down to Osterley Park and House, near Isleworth in Middlesex. A huge imposing Georgian mansion, dating back to the 1780s and surrounded by the most stunning gardens, it is one of the last surviving country estates in London. We had a quick coffee and snack in the stables tea room and then set off exploring the house and the colourful formal gardens.

It’s funny, both my husband and I can remember being dragged to visiting these places as children and while our own kids may not love all of it (the guided tour of the house springs to mind!) they do enjoy roaming the grounds, playing hide and seek and climbing trees. Hopefully, in years to come these outings will also give them some appreciation of this country’s history and culture that they in turn can share with their own children.

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{I love the sweeping staircase}

Osterley Garden 4

{A beautiful summer house}

Cameron jumping

{Jumping high}

Casper jumping

{And there goes the next one}

Clemmie flowers

{Every corner of the garden was bursting with colour}

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{I seem to have developed an affinity for taking pictures of flowers – unlike the children they stay in one place!}

Osterley Garden 3

{Gorgeous tulips}

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{I wish I could have brought this flower pot back to my garden}

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{A short rest before the next game of hide and seek}

A Slice of History on our Doorstep

It is very easy to take the things that are on your doorstep for granted. Although central London and all it has to offer in terms of history, culture and entertainment is only a short train ride away, there are still many places we haven’t taken the kids to see. Yesterday we decided to play tourists in our own city and visit the Tower of London as a family. I last went there as a 12-year-old on a school trip but the kids had never been and, amazingly, neither had my husband despite being born and bred in this country.

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I have lived in or around London for most of my adult life and I love this city from the bottom of my heart in all its grimy, often chaotic, but always beautiful, glory. In my eyes, what makes it so special is the way traditional and modern are juxtaposed in a way that somehow seems completely seamless. While London pushes the boundaries in edgy fashion and is at the forefront of the music scene, much of the city is still steeped in tradition, from the doormen at old school establishments like Claridges to the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace. These contrasts perhaps come through most clearly in the architecture: yesterday we saw the ancient and magnificent Tower of London standing only a stone’s throw away from the glass covered ultra-modern wonder that is the Shard.

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Brimming with history, much of it dark and disturbing, the Tower of London is a must-see for every tourist visiting the city. As we picked a beautiful, sunny day in the Easter holidays to visit, the place was fairly busy and the queues for the Crown Jewels and the Bloody Tower (where prisoners were held and tortured) were too long for us to contemplate standing in with the children. But I’m sure we will back again to see the bits that we missed, although to beat the crowds, next time we may choose a rainy day in November!

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The Weekend in Pictures

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{I went for a walk on Saturday morning and snapped these lovely daffodils}

Isn’t it amazing what a difference a bit of sunshine can make? We have had glorious weather this weekend and somehow everything seems so much easier when the sun is out, everyone is happier (including the normally grumpy drivers in London!) and even food seems to taste better when it is eaten outside, underneath bright blue skies. I wonder if it’s just because nice weather is such a rarity on these shores. I’d love to know – if you’re lucky enough to live in sunnier climes, does it still boost your mood or do you just get used to it?

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{The outdoor furniture could do with a good clean but it was blissful to sit outside with a cup of coffee and a magazine, listening to the birds chirping in the trees and the children arguing over the football (oh well you can’t have it all!)}

Blue accessories

{Lady in blue: Me up in town this morning wearing my blue pumps from New Look (bought five years ago), a white and blue scarf (bought in Sweden), knitted jacket by Odd Molly, jeans by Paige Denim and sunglasses from Oliver Peoples}

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{We try to go up to the Swedish Church in Marylebone twice a month so the children can go to Sunday school and practice their language skills. Afterwards, there is always coffee and plenty of cakes – during Lent they serve traditional Swedish semla (cakes flavoured with cardamom and filled with almond paste and cream) – sooo yummy!}

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{It looks like it will be the perfect week to fit in a few power walks and trips to the park. No doubt the rain will return at some point so I intend to make the most of it!}

Now the kids are all in bed, the washing up is done, my blog post is written and I think we have time to squeeze in a couple of episodes of House of Cards. We’ve almost watched all of the second series so have to find another one soon…

Hope you’ve all had a great weekend. X

LFW Street Style

Edgier than Milan, cooler than Paris and more daring than New York, London’s street style is arguably the most captivating of all the fashion cities. As always you can get as much, if not more, fashion inspiration hanging around outside the catwalk venue as on the front row. Here’s my pick of the best LFW fashionistas:

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London Fashion Week

Creative, fearless and innovative are just some of the buzzwords being touted by the media to describe this season’s London Fashion Week. Over 40 catwalk shows, as well as off-schedule shows, presentations and salons are crammed in to a whirlwind five days while an estimated 5,000 photographers are on hand to capture the trends and names set to shape this year’s fashions. With LFW, the BAFTA Film Awards and the Brit Awards all taking place this month, even the capital’s mayor Boris Johnson agrees that there is no better time to shine the spotlight on London’s creative talents.

As day four of the proceedings at Somerset House draws to a close, here is my pick of some of the best looks so far:

Vivienne Westwood Red Label

Vivienne Westwood Red Label

Sibling

Sibling

Burberry Prorsum

Burberry Prorsum

Erdem

Erdem

Jonathan Saunders

Jonathan Saunders

Matthew Williamson

Matthew Williamson

Temperley

Temperley London

Paul Smith

Paul Smith

Topshop Unique

Topshop Unique

Mary Katrantzou

Mary Katrantzou

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Week’s Favourites

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Happy Sunday everyone! I’m back with my weekly roundup – I do like these posts as they’re a great reminder of what we’ve been up to during the week, sometimes it just whizzes by so fast. Tomorrow is the start of half term and it couldn’t be more welcome – a week of no school run, homework or extracurricular activities.

1. We had promised Cameron a bike for his birthday back in November and last week we finally went and bought it. A very happy boy has been cycling to and from school this week.

2. Casper was very proud that his poem about Africa made it onto the display board at school. You can’t read it in the picture but I was impressed by the rhyming he used.

3. I finally got my hands on the new Porter magazine – and it didn’t disappoint.

4. Clemmie talking to her cousin in Sweden on her ‘phone’. Sometimes it’s very hard to have your family in a different country đŸ˜¦

5. My husband bought me some beautiful flowers for Valentine’s Day.

6. The kids enjoying a movie night. It was Clemmie’s turn to choose so they all watched Sofia the First – the boys would never admit it of course, but I think they quite liked it!

7. More cycling! It was a lovely sunny day today so we got the bikes out and cycled around the neighbourhood after lunch.

8. Signs of spring are popping up everywhere, like this pretty lilac blossoms. Please, please, please let this be the last of the rain and the cold!

London

And then there was today: an afternoon spent up in London with one of my oldest and best friends (who I hadn’t seen for almost a year as she lives abroad. But that’s the beauty of a really strong friendship, you can just pick up where you left off), walking along the Southbank, people watching and enjoying a glass of bubbly in the sunshine.

The perfect end to the weekend! X

This Week’s Favourites

I guess I’m not alone in feeling slightly down in the dumps tonight as two weeks of Christmas holiday and family time draw to a close. Tomorrow the kids go back at school and preschool and I’m back at work (luckily I work from home so no commuting in the rain). It does feel like we’ve had a proper break and, although I don’t relish the thought of having to drag the children out of bed at 7.15am, hopefully we all have a bit more energy than before the holidays.

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We kicked off this week with a trip to Hampton Court ice rink. The boys did really well, ice skating in the pouring rain and howling wind, and were rewarded with hot chocolate topped with whipped cream afterwards.

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Rain, rain and more rain meant that indoor activities were mostly on the agenda this week. Luckily there were lots of new Christmas toys and games to keep us busy like this ice cream play dough set:

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I didn’t manage to take any pictures at all on New Year’s Eve. We were invited to a party at a friend’s house but as Clemmie had a cold she and Daddy stayed at home while the boys and I went for a couple of hours. All the kids were tucked up in bed well before midnight and the hubby and I gave the televised Big Ben countdown a miss and watched a couple of episodes of Breaking Bad instead. Does it get any more rock n roll?

The highlight of my week was without a doubt our trip into town last night to see the English National Ballet performance of The Nutcracker. With the children safely deposited at the grandparents, we took the train up London just the two of us, for the first time in ages. The weather had brightened up so we went for a walk around Covent Garden, taking in all the festive decorations like the giant red baubles..

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..and the massive Rudolph complete with shiny red nose.

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We had dinner at Balthazar, which opened its London outpost a few months ago.

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Delicious food and a glass of bubbly to set the mood..

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..before we made our way to the Coliseum for the performance.

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I saw The Nutcracker a few times as a child but my husband had never seen it before. We both agreed that it was a great night out and I’m sure we will go to the ballet again in the not too far future.

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As we had some time before our train, we decided to walk across the bridge to Waterloo Station…

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..and I was reminded of how much I love this city and how lucky we are to have all that it offers right on our doorstep.

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Today has been spent taking down the Christmas decorations, hoovering up thousands of pine needles (those things get everywhere! I’m sure I’ll still be finding some under the sofa come June), and getting the boys’ bags ready for school. With the alarm set for 7am, I’m going to have a cup of tea and some chocolate (no need to rush into the January healthy eating regime!) in front of the TV before heading off to bed. Wish me luck for tomorrow morning! X

Behind the Scenes at Liberty of London

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I finally watched the TV programme about Liberty of London last night. It aired on Monday here in the UK but these days I hardly watch any TV in ‘real time’! I found it fascinating (and moving in parts, the scenes with the 70-year-old Shukla who has worked at Liberty for 40 years almost brought a tear to my eye) especially as I interviewed the MD, Ed Burstell, last year about his vision for Liberty and the need for retail theatre on the high street.

Beauty-Hall

Liberty has always been one of my favourite London stores. Founded in 1875, the magnificent Tudor building itself is such a treat to wander around, even it there weren’t delectable products on every shelf and rail. Easier to navigate than the vast retail emporiums that are Selfridges and Harrods, it may lack the uber-cool of Harvey Nichols but the atmosphere seems somehow warmer and more inviting. Its carefully edited beauty, lingerie and footwear (the Manolo Blahnik collaboration was pure genius) departments are arguably the best you’ll find anywhere in London and I love that  Liberty has held onto its history as a leading textile design house and has not been swayed to ditch the more traditional elements of the store, such as its haberdashery department.

The highlight of the first installment of the three-part series for me was without a doubt Grayson Perry proclaiming that Liberty is the store “for people who find John Lewis too beige”.

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