Rookery Hall and Other Adventures.

It was silly o’clock on Monday morning when we set off to catch a plane to Manchester and begin our adventure. The plan was to stay in Rookery Hall Hotel and Spa for 2 nights and spend Monday exploring Cheshire and the surrounding area. On Tuesday we would go to the Emma Bridgewater Collectors day before flying home on Wednesday evening. In order to give us as much time as possible we decided to get the first flight out on Monday morning.

It was only a short flight from Belfast to Manchester Airport and on arrival we picked up our hire car ‘FiFi’ the Fiat 500. A quick 20minute car journey later and we arrived at Rookery Hall. We arrived well before check-in time so we left our luggage and decided to go for lunch in the nearby town of Nantwich. While we were there we took a little look around the shops too (thank you to one of my Instagram followers for the local knowledge!!).

Nantwich is a really picturesque market town and was best explored on foot so we parked up FiFi the Fiat and went exploring.

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After a quick walk through the town my tummy started growling, I’d had breakfast at 5am and that seemed like a lifetime ago so we decided to go for an early lunch. A quick search on the Tripadvisor app and we found a cute sandwich shop called ‘Bloom’ which was only on the next street. Bloom was a lovely little cafe where we re-fueled with sourdough sandwiches and oodles of tea finished off with big slice of homemade ginger cake for good measure.

*For those who are into their motor cycles,  this one parked in front of the cafe drew quite a lot of attention from men walking past.

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Tummies suitably satisfied, off we went to explore the rest of the historic and beautiful town of Nantwich. Between the 14th century black and white timber buildings were  lots of beautiful interiors shops filled to the brim with stunning furniture, textiles and accessories…if only I lived closer.

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Around mid-afternoon the temperature had creeped up into the low 30’s so we decided to venture back to the hotel to check-in and use the swimming pool and spa to cool down. Phew!

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Sitting outside on the terrace overlooking the gardens in 30 degree heat, you could have easily convinced me that I was in France.

After a quick cool down in the swimming pool and spa we dragged ourselves away from the to check and check the rest of the hotel.

Our room was in the original house which has 12 rooms named after the months. We were staying in ‘May’. It was right above that middle window in the picture above and enjoyed beautiful views of the garden and Cheshire countryside.

Like a complete blogging novice I forgot to take photos of the room but I assure you it was lovely.

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On Monday evening we booked a table in the 2 AA rosette restaurant at the hotel for dinner. As the weather was beautiful, we went down early and spent an hour out on the terrace and sampled a few Gins on the extensive list.

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Forest gin which is made in nearby Macclesfield in small batch was a particular highlight, paired with mango and rosemary garnish and a Fever Tree slimline tonic it was perfect for a sunny July evening. On the whole, all of the bar staff at the hotel were very knowledgeable and were able to recommend and suggest the different gins for our particular tastes and were able to pair each with a tonic and garnish to compliment each.

The next day we were up and away super early to make the 45 minute drive to the Emma Bridgewater Factory in Stoke-en-Trent. You can read about the Collectors Day here!  Tuesday evening consisted of some more Gin tasting following by a light dinner out on the terrace.

On Wednesday morning we had a hearty cooked breakfast to keep us going before our long journey home. On our way back to Manchester Airport we made a detour to Cheshire Oaks Outlet Village (which is a bit like Kildare Shopping Outlet for any Irish readers!). We spent a couple of hours noodling around the shops. I didn’t buy much as we were travelling on hand luggage only but I did get a very cute dress out of Jack Wills. Cheshire Oaks is a pretty large outlet so by the time we had walked around it was nearly lunchtime so we had a quick bite of lunch in Yo! Sushi before making our way back to Manchester Airport. We dropped off FiFi the Fiat 500 before hopping aboard our flight home.

All good things must come to an end…until our next adventure 😉

Much Love,

Judy xo

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Emma Bridgewater Collectors Day July 2016

Rewinding back to the beginning of 2016 I put my name in the hat for the July Collectors Day at Emma Bridgewater. I have done this for the last few years but never have been successful but you’ve got to be in it to win it, right?!

Being a massive fan this is what you would consider the ‘Holy Grail’, a day at the factory in Stoke, various activities, sneak peaks as well as a chance to buy special limited edition pieces. I often looked longingly at other collectors special pieces on Instagram and really wanted to have some of my own 😦 *cue worlds smallest violin*.

So imagine the sheer joy when an email confirming that I had got tickets pinged into my inbox on a rainy April afternoon, I was actually going, yaaaayy! You can imagine the excitement as the days got closer, I literally skipped out of work last week in anticipation of Tuesday the 19th!

We arrived on the Tuesday morning after a leisurely drive from Rookery Hall in Cheshire where we were staying (I will cover this  in another post. Spoiler alert: It was amazing) to be greeted by lovely smiling faces who ushered ‘FiFi’ our little red Fiat 500 hire car into its parking space.

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Waiting for the day to start, we helped ourselves to tea and toast set out in the Cafe.  Mr S and I also enjoyed a little bit of sun and background music provided by a brass band.

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We started the day off with a tour of the factory which is a must if you decide to visit. Our tour guide was really friendly and explained every part of the pottery making process. It made me appreciate the time, effort and many hands that touch each piece before it becomes the finished product.

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Can you spot one of the new Christmas patterns?

I even got to try my hand at throwing a plate. Not to brag or anything *ahem* but it was good enough to go into production! So if you receive a 6.5 plate in the next while it could of been made by me!

Don’t worry I think this man’s job is safe 😀

On a bit of a high after becoming a master potter, we decided to go do one of the activities. As part of the Collectors Day, everyone got to paint 2 little fluted bowls in the Decorating Studio.

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The real star of the show was Mr S though. He found his painting zen and created two beauties which received oodles of praise from onlookers.

If you were keeping score it would be 1-1 right now.

The likelihood of me starting a pottery business was getting more realistic by the minute (I joke obviously).

Next on the agenda was some ice cream before we went and picked our special pieces!

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Everyone was split into groups to go view and buy their special pieces. So the dealio with special items is that there is a limited number and are only for collectors and not the general public. Group 4 was up and it was time.

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As I was group 4, a lot was already sold, if you want to see what I purchased you can spot them on my Instagram!

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After buying some special pieces we had worked up a bit of an appetite. Lunch was served (on EB of course…) Our tummies were ready for it, breakfast seemed a long time ago. We were presented a beautiful veggie quiche, salad and warm potato salad. Pudding was a delicious chocolate brownie with clotted cream..yum!

We chatted to our fellow guests at the table, had some hearty laughs, then it was time to finish the rest of our day.IMG_5372

After consulting our itinerary,  we decided to do some tea towel printing.

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Some of the other collectors beautiful attempts.

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Needless to say this didn’t win any prizes for beauty, as for Simon’s…well…he tried!

Laughing at our lack of skill, we went to the seconds shop for a browse while we waited for our “masterpieces” to dry.

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Restricted to hand luggage, I felt like weeping. If only we lived a little closer…

Last stop of the day, the garden!

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Bags in hand and smiles on our faces, we bid fair well to the factory and made our way back to our little Fiat which at this point had reached 1 million degrees (how lucky we were to have such amazing weather!?).

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Until next time EB…

Much Love,

Judy xo

The NYC Diaries: What I Wore and What I Bought.

After shopping and packing for end of the world snow and cold conditions, as the days edged closer to our holiday the trusty iPhone weather app greeted us with news that it was to be 20 plus degrees Celsius for more or less most of our time in NYC. Meaning panic stations as I raided my wardrobe for more versatile and lighter clothing to layer!

For travelling I always wear a chunky cardigan and pashmina as it gets super chilly on long haul flights and you need layers. I always take my LK Bennett tote bag, it fits loads, is light and also the pop of pink is so cheery!

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On reflection I should haven taken more outfit photos, but we were having so much fun I completely forgot.

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This was our first day and it was super warm. I was thankful I packed this Topshop Chambray shirt. The Khaki jeans were from New Look and the sneaks are New Balance 373s which have done some walking around cities in their time.

My bag, which I have had a lot of enquiries about is from M&S. It was super light and compact and easy throw into my suitcase at the end of the holiday.

Also. Dimples.

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This photo was taken on our Mad Men Cocktail Tour which I will talk about in my next post. This is my famous ‘Joan’ dress, which I wear religiously to most fancy occasions. As I have got older I see the importance of timeless, classic pieces that I can grab time and time again and that never look dated. Mr S is wearing a Remus Uomo Navy suit and Ted Baker tie.

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Even though I bought a new camel wool coat for going on holidays, I opted for my trusty Mac. I think I bought it in a Topshop sale when I was at University, almost 9 years ago. It hasn’t let me down yet!

So…on to what I bought! Just an FYI, I didn’t go crazy in the shops, sometimes we buy for the sake of buying which isn’t a great habit to get into. So I opted for some pieces which I hope will compliment my capsule wardrobe.

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You can’t go to America and not come home with at least one item from J Crew. I got this red and white summer weight Breton, hanging at the end of a rail all sad and lonely on its own and when I went to pay for it..there was 70% off, which was more than lucky.

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I know, another Breton. I just can’t get enough of ‘& Other Stories’, it is one of my favourite shops in the world and it was so nice to have a walk through an ACTUAL store. I will be teaming this little beauty with white/blue jeans in the sunnier days and hopefully if I can track some down, pink satin converse. I couldn’t find any in NYC, so the search continues. (If anyone can help me out with finding said converse I will be eternally grateful).

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I posted a little shot of this for those who follow me on Instagram. My dear friend Miss McC bought one of these on her travels last year and I was itching to get my hands on one too. It reads, “Go girl, seek happy nights to happy days..” which for those who don’t know it is a quote from Romeo and Juliet. Its amazingly pigmented so only a little will do. This is also from ‘& Other Stories’.

‘Finally’ I hear you all cry, when will we find out what was in the Tiffany bag. Well, it’s not diamonds this time, but something I have wanted for so very long. It’s a Tiffany Infinity ring in sterling silver. It caught my eye a few years ago and I finally had the chance to go to somewhere special to purchase it. I love when jewellery has a special sentiment or occasion behind it, it makes it a lot more precious.

I know you saw me with loads of Kate Spade bags on Snap Chat, but they were gifts and not for me, *cries*. Although, to cheer us up, here are some snaps of the Kate Spade pop-up home and clothes shops in SOHO.

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Also, can we just take a minute to appreciate how beautiful the Tutu in Reppetto’s window was?

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There’s a small part of me that still believes I will one day be a ballerina.

Much love,

Judy xo

Paris is Always A Good Idea: My Top 5.

Audrey was on point when she said that Paris was always a good idea. My husband and I were there at the beginning of the year, and I thought I’d share my top 5 places to visit and some advice, especially if you are on a tight number of days and want to see as much as the city as possible. Before I give you my top 5, I will just run down a few bits of advice!

  • Buy a ticket for the underground- this is by far the best way to get around, buy a ticket for all zones, like London it’s divided up into zones and lines. It’s quite simple to use when you get the hang of it!
  • Shoes- make sure you wear comfy shoes!! I wore my New Balance everywhere, unless you are going for a posh dinner, you are allowed heels, but watch out for those cobbles.
  • Uber- the BEST thing ever, feels like you have your own private chauffeur. Brilliant if you are going for a swanky dinner and want to arrive in style. Download the app, before you go, you honestly won’t regret it.

Now for my top 5 favourites in Paris.
Ladurée- Brunch Parisien. 

  
 You can’t bypass Ladurée in Paris!! We dined in Rue Royal, which was just divine, you get ALOT of food. The surroundings were beautiful and the staff were just the right amount of attentive. It costs around €70 from memory but totally worth it for the experience.
Le Tour Eiffel

  

Well of course! You can’t go to Paris and not go here! Night time is spectacular, it is all lit up beautifully and glitters oh lala! So pretty. I would advise to get the lift up and walk down. No I’m not crazy…you have the most spectacular views and it doesn’t take all the long to walk down from the first platform.

There is an ice rink and restaurant on the first platform, which we didn’t avail of, but great for a romantic little evening 😊


Le Café des Chat.

  

Yes, we did a lot of cafe hopping in Paris… But this place was SO good. If you love kitties and traditional French home cooking this is your spot. Tucked away on Rue Michel des Comte, near the Pompidou Centre, it is great for a quick lunch or brunch. Booking is advisable as it is booked up months in advance. There are a few rules however: Do not feed le chat and also do not disturb them when they are sleeping 😺
Le Sacré-Cœur de Montmartre.

  

This is by far the best place to get a fantastic view.

This attraction is not suitable for those who are scared of heights or small winding staircases. I have to say I found it a bit confined for my liking on the way up, but oh my word it was worth it! Montmartre was one of my favourite areas along with St Germain. This attraction is fairly reasonably priced, I think it was €10 for the both of us.

Galeries Lafayette.

 
You can’t go all the way to Paris and not do a bit of shopping! This is the prettiest and probably the most diverse shopping mall I’ve been to, there’s the ridiculously expensive and the more affordable pieces. This store is mostly women’s fashion, there is a men’s and home store in the same area. Keep an eye out for them too. 
I hope you enjoyed my favourites from my time in Paris. This was so difficult to write as I loved everything!

Much love,

Judy xo

Day Tripping: Kildare Shopping Village.

Good Evening Frenchies!

I am just home and unwinding after a fabulous day shopping at Kildare Village which is an Outlet Village in Ireland! It’s in the same group as Bicester which you guys near London would probably know quite well. 

 

Some little snaps of the Village from our trip today!
As you can imagine we didn’t drive all that way and come home empty handed (it’s about 3 hours from where I live in Northern Ireland) so we made the most of our visit! 
Some of the shops are;

  • Mulberry
  • Furla
  • Kate Spade
  • Ted Baker
  • Anya Hindmarch 
  • Tommy Hilfiger
  • Ralph Lauren

And it goes on…!!!

Okay, so on to my purchases of the day 😊 My target purchase was a Mulberry Pashmina but unfortunately they didn’t have the one I wanted, but what I did get is quite exciting!!

(L-R) Coach, Mulberry and Kate Spade
My first purchase of the day was from Kate Spade, I really fancied a small bag, one that would be lovely day or night that could work in most seasons. But I was also wooed by the accessories so I got a little something..!
The pink enamel bow earrings are so cute, they can work with almost every outfit! The bag is pink and camel with a strap. its perfect size for your phone, keys and your lipstick!

Second purchase of the day was from Coach,  first of all I thought it was so cute and practical, but also, a bargain!!

 

I can just tell this little wristlet bag is going to be timeless, really looking forward to taking it out on its first dinner date!
The piece I know you are all waiting for is what was in the Mulberry bag 😊 Sorry to disappoint, it wasn’t a Bayswater or Alexa…but something I’ve had my eye on for some time and finally got it today!! Hurray!

 

Oui! it is the leather bow bracelet in pink 💘 i have to say that I am in LOVE with this.
I hope you all enjoyed my Kildare haul, my sis and I will definitely be going back before Christmas, as they are opening 36 new stores in November. As if we need any excuse to go shopping.

Let me know what you think of my purchases today!

Much Love, 

Judy xo

The joy of TKMAXX and its little treasures.

We all love a TKmaxx bargain, and I am no different.

I believe it was William Morris who said, ‘Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful’.

I have tried to stick to this concept and tried not to get swept away by the pretty but useless. 

The best things I have bought out of tkmaxx by far are these…

  

 

If you aren’t familiar with laguiole, its French handmade cutlery. Above are my steak knives and below my cheese set. I truly believe they both encompass William Morris’ quote.

Also they are mentioned in the tongue in cheek book ‘How to be French wherever you are’, which made me a little giddy inside as I thought, oh yay I’m so French…anyhow I digress.

So, imagine my joy when I came across this tonight…

 

Oui! It is a 4 place setting laguiole cutlery set, for £29.99, obviously I was having it.

Do you own any of this Fabulous French cutlery? Or do you have anything that you believe to be practical and beautiful?

Much love,

Judy xo