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

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Two For Joy

Although I have been married to Mr S for two years it feels a lot longer.  People always say, ‘when you get older time speeds up’ which is true, but why? Is it because we are busier? Are we not living in the moment as much? I honestly feel someone has flipped a switch and put things in hyper speed!

How things have changed! I’m not just talking hairstyles 🙂

To mark the special occasion we had a mini break away to Killinchy in County Down Northern Ireland. Having had wonderful recommendations from family it seemed like the perfect chance to break away from ‘normal life’ for a night.

We started our day off on Saturday with a coffee and lunch at The Pocket in Belfast, just perfectly perched in front of Queens University, such a gorgeous little spot. I had the three mint tea which was super nice and Mr S was impressed with the coffee.

A perfect mix between quirky and cute with unbelievable toasties to boot.

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Sufficiently fed and watered for our road trip to Co. Down, off we embarked on the rest of our adventure and arrived at The Mill at Balloo which is nestled in a gorgeous little village which is on the way to Strangford lough and somewhere near Killinchy.

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The Mill is a family run B&B and the couple who own it are some of the  friendliest hosts I have ever met. Paul the owner showed us to the ‘River Room’ and after a friendly conversation left us to enjoy the beautiful surroundings. So after taking some photos for this blog we sat by the river, soaked up the sun and relaxed.

For dinner that evening we went to ‘Upstairs at The Balloo‘ which is a bit of a special treat and one I was thoroughly looking forward to.

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We had three courses including an amuse-bouche which was all so yummy that not a morsel was left. Unfortunately I was too busy enjoying my food and a few glasses of champagne to remember to take snaps. You will just have to visit and try it for yourself 🙂

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It was such a lovely relaxed atmosphere, the waiting staff were were chatty and after dinner we talked by the fire and finished off our drinks before heading to our home for the night. The B&B is within walking distance of the restaurant and takes about 5 minutes, maybe a bit longer if you decide to wear heels!

The next day we ate our hearty cooked breakfast, bid farewell to the lovely surroundings and hosts and off we went on our travels.

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The first on the itinerary was Scrabo Tower.

As you can see from the clouds, the rain was coming in fast so we were no sooner down before the heavens opened and our day of outdoor pursuits quickly changed to indoor ones so we went for a quick walk around St Georges Market in Belfast and then off to Established in Cathedral Quarter in Belfast for second breakfast 🙂

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These my friends are rice pudding pancakes with blueberry and rhubarb compote, candied almonds and lemon mascarpone. Wow, that was a sentence and a half! Needless to say they were polished off in minutes and washed down with a delicious coffee. I have to admit Established do a pretty awesome brunch.

Pondering about what to do next, we googled to see what was on in The Mac. A few exhibitions were closing that day so we dodged the rain showers on the short walk from Established and into one of my favourite places in the city.

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I just love the exhibitions they present and it is so lovely to get a little slice of culture in Belfast.

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Having filled our hearts with happiness and memories to cherish we made the trip home to our furry son Hugo and enter back into reality.

Until our next adventure..

Much Love, Judy

Irish Blogger | NI Bloggers | Belfast Bloggers | Blogger Northern Ireland

NYC Diaries: What We Did.

This little post concludes the NYC Diaries, did I save the best for last? Well, I hope so!

If you are planning a trip to NYC, you need two books. One being the Cereal Travel Guide, the second the Monocle Travel Guide (Thanks Sarah Louise aka. The Small Town Girl for this recommendation!).

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I’ve just realised I haven’t mentioned our hotel in any of my diaries which is a bit of a faux pas. We stayed in the Waldorf Astoria on Park Avenue for all of our trip. Seeing as this will be our last trip to NY for a while we thought ‘hey! we might as well stay somewhere iconic.’ Location wise, its in Midtown which is fairly central. If you go to NYC, walking is how you will mostly get about but there is always a cab or Uber just around the corner.

So back to the hotel, its steeped in art deco glamour and it was BUZZING the whole time we were there, I have never seen a busier place in my life. Great for people watching with a coffee in my hand.

Madmen Cocktail Tour

One of the highlights of the week by far though  will probably say this about everything I talk about. Having been heartbroken when the Madmen TV series ended there was no better way to celebrate/commiserate than having a tipple in some of the spots Don Draper and co. visited in the show!

We met our tour guides (Josh and Cheiu) at the clock in grand central station and were introduced to the rest of the group all of whom,  were modern day ‘mad men’ working for an ad firm on Madison Av.

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We started off in the Oyster Bar in Grand Central,  Josh (from Side Walk Tours) set the scene from the TV series and we  got to know the rest of the group over a Tom Collins.

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Next stop was The Roosevelt, which was only a quick walk away. Another round of cocktails were ordered in very luxe surroundings. After I soaked up the atmosphere with and a Martini (dry, straight up, stirred, with an olive garnish of course) it was time to be off to our next and final destination.

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Our last stop of the night was The Monkey Bar, which I have to say had the best cocktails of the three, and the tastiest bar food. We chatted and laughed the night away with the group having lots of random discussions and we even got some recommendations of restaurants and places to go. A very enjoyable night all round. So off I (literally) Grand Jeté’d down Madison Ave and back to the Waldorf.

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9/11 Memorial and One World Observatory

After a lovely brunch at The Egg Shop in Soho, we decided to walk to the south of Manhattan to visit the 9/11 Memorial Plaza and see One World Trade Centre. The 9/11 memorial plaza is a beautiful and yet sobering tribute to the past but yet it remains a place of hope for the future.

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Afterwards we decided to go visit One World Observatory at top of One World Trade Centre. This was an amazing experience, with spectacular views of Manhattan from the highest point in the entire island. The building is an architectural feat and it was amazing to see how the city came together to make something good come from a dark and difficult time.

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Top of the Rock

Visiting the place where we got engaged 4 years ago, the Top of the Rock is a different experience to the WTC as you get to go outside look down on the city and take in all the sounds, sights and smells. It is really fantastic and holds a lot of sentiment for me. Every time I look at that ice rink I see Mr S down on one knee popping the question, please excuse me as I have a teary moment!

Museum of Modern Art

I do love a good dander around a gallery and staring at paintings it gives me so such inspiration (great mindfulness activity too) and there is nowhere better to do it than MoMA.

I just loved strolled around, taking in all the artwork, I’ve always wanted to see Monet’s Waterlilies with my own eyes, such a gorgeous painting. We also got to enjoy the sun in the sculpture garden, all round a fantastic day. If you are time poor in NYC you could do the MoMA in a few hours, museums like the Met take days to look at everything properly.

Les Misérable at the Imperial Theatre

As you know the choice on Broadway is just immense, so we settled for this classic before it finished its run in March.

If you don’t know the story, it’s set in the 19th Century France and is based on the Novel by Victor Hugo. Many people have nightmares when thinking about it, as it may bring you back to A Level English Literature, some may know it from the 2014 film staring Anne Hathaway, but I personally love the story.

Needless to say by the end of the performance there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. The set and effects were just fantastic, the singing was out of this world and it was possibly the best theatre experience I have ever had.

That concludes my NYC Diaries for now, I hope you have enjoyed reading about it and if you are planning a trip to NYC, that you’ve got some inspiration.

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

The NYC Diaries: Where We Ate.

Kicking off my NYC Diaries, I thought I would start with food.

Okay, you can’t go to NYC without eating insanely crazy food. Seeing as this will probably be our last trip to NYC for a while, we decided to make the most of what the city had to offer!

Egg Shop, 151 Elizabeth St.

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As you can probably guess, eggs are speciality at Egg Shop. Located in the trendy Nolita (North of Little Italy) district, it’s squeezed nicely onto Elizabeth St with some other yummy places.

We found this little gem in our Cereal NYC guide, and I was made it a must do for the trip!

The interior was super cute, duck egg blue, greens and white. It felt fresh and had a great atmosphere. It seated probably around 20 at a push so I advise if you are going at weekends expect to wait for a little bit for a table.

I ordered a ‘Benedict’ with avocado on the side, Simon ‘The Beast’, which thinking back was quite a hilarious name. Of course there had to be sides too. They were the most delicious hash browns I have ever tasted in my life and fried chicken (the people next to us got this and we just had to :D). If you want to look at these items in more detail you can look at the menu.

I think this may have been one of my favourite meals, as I kept thinking about it on the flight home (lol).

 

Black Seed Bagel, 170 Elizabeth Street.

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I did say there were a few yummy places around Elizabeth Street, didn’t I? We didn’t visit the two places on the same day I promise. Located on the other part of Elizabeth St, you could throw a stone from Egg Shop to here.

Let me begin by saying, I have never had a bagel this good, and I probably never will again. This makes me sad.

These are hand rolled and wood baked bagels  with endless fillings and opportunities. I opted for a #9 Deli which translates in the real world as a Turkey with lettuce, tomato, onion and mustard on a poppyseed bagel. If you fancy perusing the options you can view the menu here.

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This place is super tiny, perfect for a grab and go sort of lunch but if you want somewhere to sit for hours this isn’t your spot.

Carnegie’s Deli, 7th Avenue at 55th St.

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Probably wouldn’t be my first choice, but Simon really wanted to try a “New York Sized” Deli Sandwich and deep down, I did too. It’s one of those things you just gotta do. When in Rome and all that. In a super busy part of the city, a leap from Central Park houses Carnegies. Famous for its crazy huge sandwiches and cheesecake, we thought we would give it a whirl. After queuing for about 30 minutes, we were seated and opted for a Reuben and a slice of fresh strawberry cheesecake washed down with homemade lemonade.

Needless to say we shared both and hailed a cab straight back to the hotel were we nursed the most intense food coma I have ever had in my life. It was actually a ‘Man Vs Food‘ sort of portion, one which my body is not accustomed to. A must do if you are after the real deal in deli sandwiches!

Laduree, Soho.

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After a long day shopping in Soho, theres nothing like kicking back in the most chic tea salon the world has to offer. Forever my favourite place in the world, I couldn’t go past without having some Earl Grey tea and a Rose and Raspberry Religieuse.

Like most Laduree tea houses, they are quite big and we didn’t have to wait at all for a table. We were there around 4pm, it perhaps was a little quieter. I have nothing else to say as it speaks for itself, utter perfection in patisserie form.

Burger and Lobster, Flatiron District, 39 West 19th St.

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I actually cannot believe I almost forgot this place (hence why it’s last on my list) as it was fantastic! We ate here on our first night, I think that’s why I forgot, pesky jet lag! I couldn’t get a picture of the outside as they were filming a movie, which was very exciting!

Not exclusively in NYC, Burger and Lobster are all over the place, if you are curious where, you can see here. It has a very hipster vibe and it serves local beer too which is quite cool.

Basically how it works is there’s 3 things on the menu.  As above there is a Whole Lobster, Lobster Roll and Burger with bacon and cheese. I went for the lobster roll, Simon for the whole lobster. Each main comes with fries and a salad for $20.

As well as these slices of delight we ate in soooo many other places including Don Antonios Pizza (best in Manhattan), Quality Meats (best steak in NYC), Five Guys and countless coffee shops which I just cant possibly squeeze into this post or it would explode, but if anyone was any more information on these places please let me know.

I hope you enjoyed some of my eating highlights of NYC, have you been to any of these places and is there anywhere you just couldn’t leave off your NYC eats list?

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