Summer Vibes ♥

Holidaying in Sweden is always a precarious venture when it comes to the weather – will the sun grace us with its presence or will chilly winds and pouring rain be the order of the day? This year it seems to be a mixed bag weather-wise. While the temperatures remain determined to stay around 19-22 degrees, there have been enough glimpses of sun to ensure that trips to the beach err on the side of pleasant rather than torturous. Having said that, the water in the lake near the house we have rented is far too cold for me to contemplate anything other than the very briefest of toe dips. The boys, however, have no qualms about braving the freezing water and staying in until their lips start to turn blue! The rest of us stay on land building sandcastles, reading books and admiring the beautiful scenery.

IMG_0449

IMG_3473

IMG_3467

The property we have rented is a big 1920s house with a terrace that overlooks the lake – perfect for enjoying a chilled glass of wine in the evenings – and a trampoline to entertain the cheeky monkeys. Fittingly, there is also a sauna to warm up in after a day spent on the beach!

IMG_0491 IMG_0490

 

Advertisements

Stockholm Fashion Week – Day 2

Day 2 of Stockholm Fashion Week and two of my favourite labels – Hunky Dory (their knitwear is to die for) and House of Dagmar – had their turn on the catwalk. There were also feminine yet edgy offerings from new kid on the block Valerie while Ann-Sofie Back opted for a more intimate invite-only presentation for her diffusion line BACK. H&M-owned Cheap Monday showed a punk-inspired shipwrecked look brimming with sailor stripes, big checks and threadbare knits. Not too sure about the ‘smudged mascara all over the face’ makeup though…

On a slightly unrelated note I have been bemoaning the out-of-touch seasonal cycle of fashion where, despite all the talk of fast fashion and in-season collections, it is still nigh on impossible to find a winter coat in the middle of January. The zip on my (three years old) Zara coat broke yesterday and, as it’s pretty darn freezing outside, I wanted to find a replacement ASAP. So off to town I went this morning only to find that all the decent coats were in the Sale, which would have been a good thing and saved me some money had there been ANY in my size. In the end I spent £80 on a parka style number from Zara’s ‘youth’ department. It’s OK and will see me through the next couple of months but I really resent spending money on a coat that I know I’ll want to replace come this autumn.

_1KL0197

Hunky Dory

_1KL9777

Hunky Dory

_1KL9879

Hunky Dory

_1KL2590

Valerie

_1KL2592

Valerie

_1KL2857

House of Dagmar

_1KL3187

House of Dagmar

_1KL3904-1

Cheap Monday

_1KL5343

BACK

 

 

 

 

 

Stockholm Fashion Week – Day 1

Stockholm Fashion Week kicked off in my old hometown yesterday and in between working and looking after two sick children I have been watching the live stream from the shows. Clean lines and a monochrome colour scheme dominated the catwalks and while some may deem the lack of colour and flamboyance boring, I think the muted palette makes the clothes infinitely more wearable. As most of you probably know by now, I love the Scandinavian design aesthetic both when it comes to fashion and interior. A peek into my wardrobe would reveal that, if my budget allowed it, most of these creations could hang there quite comfortably. And it was not ALL black, white and grey – there were flashes of yellow at Carine Wester and a pretty combo of pastel pink and leopard print at Ida Sjöstedt .

_1KL4725_0

Whyred

_1KL4932

Whyred

_1KL7095

Carin Wester

Carin Wester

Carin Wester

s10

Stylein

_1KL8143

Stylein

_1KL8559

Ida Sjöstedt

_1KL8278

Ida Sjöstedt

_1KL8653

Ida Sjöstedt

_1KL9276

Filippa K

_1KL9260

Filippa K

Interior Inspiration: A City Chic Apartment

City living has many benefits – I’m an urbanite at heart and the proximity to shops, restaurants, museums and other amenities is a major draw for me. Before we had children, my husband and I lived in Notting Hill in West London and I have to admit that I was reluctant to decamp to the suburbs when we first decided to by a house. However, the thought of living in central London with three young children is less than appealing – all that traffic, pollution and general noise and stress. But if we ever decided to up sticks and move to Sweden I would happily settle for an apartment in central Stockholm. The city is much smaller than London with plenty of greenery and water surrounding it. If I had also won the lottery, this four bedroom flat in the ultra posh area of  Östermalm would be top of my list of dream homes. It belongs to TV presenter and journalist Ebba von Sydow and is currently up for sale (view the details here). With big, airy rooms, lots of original features and a separate entrance with a lift that takes you straight to the front door, it is the ultimate in city chic luxury.

2538013

{I love the windows and wooden parquet floor}

2538027

{Oh, to have the space for a bookcase like this!}

2538037

{The rooms flow seamlessly into one another, creating an open and inviting living space}

2538075

{A white kitchen has been on my wishlist for a long time}

2537973

{More beautiful flooring and the white paneling adds a sense of calm}

2537953

{I. Want. That. Lamp}

2537941

{A traditional Swedish kakelugn in one of the bedrooms}

2541273

{And finally a balcony with views over one of Stockholm’s loveliest neighbourhoods}

 

 

Five on Friday

IMG_8348

{The boys went back to school last Tuesday. For one year they are at the same school, before it is time for Cameron to move on to secondary school.}

IMG_8357

{Clemmie didn’t start school until today so she and I went to Sweden for three nights last weekend to see my sister and her kids. We had loads of time at the airport before our flight so I treated her to an Anna from Frozen doll. Traveling with just one child was so easy and we had a great time.}

IMG_8500

{Today was a big day for Clemmie but she loved putting on her uniform and going into school. Some of you may remember that I was less than thrilled about her starting school so young but after several chats with the headteacher I felt reassured that the focus in this first year is very much on play.}

IMG_8506

{Some new beauty buys: A Rodial bee venom serum that I bought on the flight back from Stockholm and I also managed to get my hands on the much-hyped Multi-colour Les Beiges by Chanel. I feel a beauty post coming up soon!}

IMG_8507

{I am a self-confessed knitwear fanatic and these two jumpers from H&M and Hunky Dory are new purchases for the coming season along with a pair of boots, also from H&M. I love the zip detailing on all of them.}

Now that all three children are at school, I hope to have some more time for blogging. I have so many ideas but time has been very scarce over the summer holidays. Thank you to all of you who kept reading and commenting despite the rather patchy updating.

This weekend we’re going to Bristol to visit an old friend of mine. Last time we went it took us over four hours to get there so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the traffic will be light. Hope you have a fantastic weekend whatever you’re doing. X

A Holiday to Remember

Hello again! Over two weeks since my last post – the longest gap since I started blogging – but we have just come back from our two week summer holiday in Sweden. We went to an island called Gotland, just off the east coast, where I spent pretty much every summer from the age of 0 to 12.  It was just as beautiful as I remembered and there’s something magical about seeing your kids running along the same beach and jumping in the same waves you did as a child.

Apart from allowing the children to play on the iPads during the long car journeys and a bit of Instagramming for me, we had a fairly screen free holiday. I decided not to blog while we were away, partly because of the rather patchy wi-fi and also I needed a proper break from it. Over the past couple of months my heart has not really been it, and I was debating whether or not to give the blog up. Now that we’re back I feel more motivated to carry on and I think that when school starts up again I will hopefully have a bit of time to actually write some of those posts lurking in the back of my head.

But first, here is a quick summary of our holiday:

IMG_7931

{On board the boat from Harwich to Esbjerg in Denmark. Unfortunately this is the last summer the boat is running so next year we will have to figure another way of getting to Sweden.}

IMG_7940

{Crossing the famous bridge from Denmark over to Sweden. Luckily there were no dead bodies and the weather was glorious.}

IMG_7945

{After more than 48 hours of traveling by car and (two) boats we made it onto the Swedish island of Gotland and arrived at the cabin where we were staying.}

IMG_8026

{Much of our time was spent on the lovely sandy beaches that stretch for miles around the island.}

DSC_0477

{Jumping in the waves with my boys}

DSC_0491

{Clemmie didn’t like going in the sea but she was very happy playing on the beach.}

IMG_8182

{Casper is very proud of his sandcastle.}

IMG_8183

{We were really lucky with the weather and it was warm enough in the evenings to go on the beach and see beautiful sunsets like this one.}

IMG_8073

{We played mini golf three times and each time it ended with a tantrum but the kids still claimed to love it and wanted to play more!}

IMG_8139

{On one of the many water slides at Gotland’s big water park}

IMG_8141

{The highlight of Clemmie’s holiday was getting a cuddle from her all-time heroine Pippi Longstocking. The original house seen in the Pippi films is on Gotland and is now part of a bigger amusement park with lots of rides}

IMG_8266

{And if that wasn’t enough, we also spent a day at Tivoli in Copenhagen on our way back to the ferry. Not quite so lucky with the weather that day but at least there were no queues!}

So that’s it, a brief synopsis and rather a lot of pictures of our holiday. Hope you are all well and enjoying the last of the summer.

‘Til the next post. X

Midsummer Magic

One of the best things about being a dual nationality family is that you can celebrate both countries’ festivities and we never pass up the opportunity to throw a traditional Swedish Midsummer party. Warning: this post contains rather a lot of photos!

Midsummer pole

{The Midsummer pole}

Midsummer food

{The food}

Flower Garland me 3

{The flower garlands}

Clemmie flowers 3

Strawberry cake 1

{The traditional strawberry cake}

IMG_7303

{The friends}

IMG_7304

Tree climbing

{The fun}

And of course the singing, the schnapps and the dancing around the Midsummer pole (with the neighbours, who were also having a garden party, looking on in amusement)! A truly wonderful evening.

 

Too Cool for School

Clemmie in pink hat

{Ready for school?}

One of the interesting things about living in a different country to the one where you were born and spent your early years, is that it gives you a great platform for comparison. For instance, in my view, people in England are more tolerant and prepared to poke fun at themselves than their Swedish counterparts. On the other hand Sweden has cleaner air and more green spaces and things like public transport tend to run more efficiently. I could go on and on, but the purpose of this post is to talk about one difference between the two nations and that is how the education system works. In Sweden the school intake is determined by the calendar year a child was born in, from January onwards. As I was born in October I was one of the youngest in my year, not one of the oldest as I would have been here in the UK where the reception class intake includes all children who turn four before September 1 of that school year. However, the big difference is that I started school just before my seventh birthday, not just after my fourth birthday as my daughter is expected to do this coming September. I should point out that the system in Sweden has changed slightly since I lived there and children now start in Year 0 (equivalent to Reception) the year that they turn six (although it is not statutory schooling at this stage and parents do not have to apply for permission if they want to take their kids out of school for holidays etc)

In the last year I have had major reservations about my daughter starting school so young. With my boys it was never really an issue as they were born in late October and early November respectively and were almost five when they started in Reception. It seems almost absurd that my daughter and her cousin, who lives in Sweden and is only six months younger, will be three school years apart. As my sister’s daughter is born in January she will be six and a half when she starts school in 2017, the same year that Clemmie moves up to year 3 at the Junior School, having already completed three years at infant school!

Despite being a third child, Clemmie seems younger than her brothers did at the same age. Careful and shy until she gets to know people, she finds new situations like birthday parties incredibly daunting, preferring to sit close to me rather than joining in. On a more personal level, I really feel like I am making great headway in bringing her up to be bilingual and I know that as soon as she starts school, English will start to take over as she will be expected to ‘read’ books and do homework pretty much from the start.

I have looked into other options, such as enrolling her at the American school that I went to as their formal education starts later, but with two other school age children, logistically speaking it is just not possible. In Ireland, parents of children born between May-August can decide if they want their child to start school just after their fourth or fifth birthday. It seems that England is slowly moving in the same direction and after reading this article on the BBC News site I thought it was worth asking about the possibility of deferring Clemmie’s school place for another year. This afternoon I met with the head teacher at the local school and spoke to her about my concerns. She has promised to check the rules for deferment requests with the council and get back to me next week. I know it is only a very slim possibility but if there is any way that I can keep her in preschool and at home with me for a year longer I will definitely take it.

Part of me does wonder if I only feel like this because I know that, for us, living in another country with a different approach to early years education is not a far-flung fantasy but an option that we could easily have chosen. The majority of the people around me seem pretty happy to accept the status quo but whether that is because they are actually happy about it or because they have never been presented with any other viable alternatives is another question.

Five on Friday

Happy Friday! I know I say this every week but hasn’t the time just flown by? I had a midweek meeting up in town and somehow spending three days instead of four working at my desk, made the week seem much shorter. For starters, I hardly had time to take any pictures but here is a quick recap of what I managed to pull together for the weekly Friday post.

Cameron

Those of you who follow me on Instagram will have already seen this picture of my eldest son, taken on our trip to the woods last weekend, but I love it so much I wanted to share it again. I find it hard to believe that he will turn 11 this year but I’m also deeply proud of the kindhearted, sensitive yet fun loving young man he is turning into.

IMG_6424

This week’s clearout at my parents’ house unearthed this little gem which I wore to my high school prom at the age of 16 or 17. I remember I wanted to wear it with my Dr Martens (or DMs as we called them) but my mum persuaded me to go for more traditional black pumps (probably a good thing! Sometimes mum really does know best.). The dress then accompanied me to university where I wore it to quite a few college balls but after I graduated it was stowed away at my parents’ house and forgotten about .

I bought the dress from the now defunct Hyper Hyper, a huge retail space populated with stalls run by independent young designers, on Kensington High Street in London. At the time it was my favourite shopping haunt along with the slightly seedier Kensington Market across the road. I haven’t been to High Street Ken for ages – is it still the go-to place for teenagers who consider themselves a cut above the identikit chains?

This is definitely a piece that I want to hold onto for Clemmie although I have to admit that it has seen better days. Despite having a dry clean label pinned to it, it shows signs of having had a few drinks spilled over it and it’s slightly faded around the edges.

Mallorca-980x490

Fingers crossed, we are finally booking our summer holiday this weekend. The pictures are from our holiday in Mallorca two years ago. We had such a great time and the kids still talk about it but sadly we won’t be going back there this year. I can’t imagine not going to Sweden in the summer holidays and, with building work planned for later this year, our budget doesn’t stretch to two trips abroad.

miracles-now-gabrielle-bernstein-76

I’m not a huge fan of self help books but I was intrigued by this one when I read an interview with the author in Red Magazine. Gabrielle Bernstein promises to help time-starved readers clear stress and find peace using practical in-the-moment tools. Definitely sounds like something I could do with!

IMG_6503

It’s a good thing that I didn’t succumb to the temptation to put away all the winter clothes at the first sign of spring. In the last couple of days the temperature has plummeted by several degrees and today I actually wore gloves on the school run. But yesterday was the official start of spring so I decided to celebrate by ignoring the cold snap and buying some beautiful tulips (and turning the heating up!)

Hope you all have a fantastic weekend! X