Book Review : Daisy Jones & The Six

Book Reviews, Travel

To put it plainly, I was blown away by this book. Inspired by the formation and rise of Fleetwood Mac, with a real 70’s retro rock flavour, this is the type of book where you mourn finishing it, and absolutely have to pick up another book by that same author (Taylor Jenkins Reid in this case). It had me conducting in-depth research into each Fleetwood Mac member, reading old news stories on them and their tours, and listening to all of their music again with a new appreciation.

What I love about a Taylor Jenkins Reid novel is that there is always a twist or three, and you never know when she will reveal them to you, you just know that they are coming. No spoilers here, but the twists in this storyline are wonderfully delivered and altogether will have you reading this book in every square inch of space in your day.

What I also enjoyed about this book is that it is written as an interview script, giving you the perspective of each band member. It means you get multiple viewpoints, which all match and clash at the same time to really drive home how the eventual fall-out of the band came to be (this is not a spoiler, given that we know that Fleetwood Mac split).

An incredible book I won’t forget. It’s a must-read if you haven’t already.

Second Hand September

Shopping, Style, Sustainable, Uncategorized

Do you buy second hand?

According to Oxfam, around 13 million items of clothing get sent to landfill every week.

Let that sink in. 13. Million. Items.

I am no saint when it comes to my wardrobe, but I have been making a conscious effort in the last few years. If I don’t love it, or it’s short-term fashion, I won’t invest.

This article is going to be an aid-memoir for me, and maybe you too, during Second-Hand September so that I/you know where to go when I/you feel the pull of Fast Fashion…

Some second-hand shops to use

  • Charity shops
  • Vestiaire
  • Depop
  • eBay
  • Vinted
  • Instagram online shops – Second Stories Vintage, Jesse & Iris Vintage, Virtual Vintage Fair, Found & Curated Vintage, a Virtual Vintage Market, Retold Vintage, Darling and Vintage, the Pansy Garden, Peony Vintage, Sisters Love Vintage…

Some of the best items I’ve bought second-hand

  • Michael Kors tote bag
  • Somerset by Alice Temperley dresses x2
  • Mulberry purse
  • Sweaty Betty ski jacket
  • Buberry coat
  • Vintage gold jewellery (for my business, but still)

Wardrobe-rental shops

  • By Rotation
  • Hurr Clothing
  • On Loan
  • Rotaro

Some circular/upcycling/deadstock small clothing businesses to support

  • Made by SJP
  • With Love Evie
  • Grandpa’s Shirts
  • Agnes Ldn
  • Molby the Label
  • Leila Ray Vintage
  • Tula & Tye
  • Joanna Sands
  • Studio Minti
  • Megan Crosby
  • Grey Milk
  • Benjamin Fox
  • Sign of the Times
  • Public Footpath
  • Wild Folk Studio
  • Lola Alba Vintage

Some better larger fashion brands to support

  • Pink City Prints
  • Kitri Studio
  • Dilli Grey
  • Molby the Label
  • Joanna Sands
  • Selkie
  • Aspiga
  • Rae Feather

Mindsets and a mental checklist

  • Does it spark joy, Marie Kondo style?
  • Will I love it in a year’s time?
  • Do I want to invest in this at the expense of something else?
  • Who made it?
  • What is is made of?
  • Do I want to support the company selling it/the manufacturer?
  • Is it quality, or will it shrink/stretch and be unwearable after 1 wash?

Environmental and social facts and figures

If the above lists weren’t helpful enough, here are some shocking facts and figures that should put you off from clicking ‘Place Order’ from a fast-fashion retailer…

  • The fashion industry emits 10% of the entire planet’s carbon emissions (that is far, far more than any airline, for example)
  • The fashion industry is the second largest consumer of the world’s water supplies
  • One garbage truck full of clothing is dumped every second
  • Many clothes that are dumped contain polyester – this is a plastic and does not break down like cotton fibres. Washing polyester produces microplastics, which filter into our water systems and, eventually, our oceans.
  • Microplastic and plastic pollution from the fashion industry forms roughly a 1/3 of ocean plastic pollution
  • Cotton farming uses any incredibly high amount of water – both to grow the plant and to wash it and turn it into textile.
  • The environmental impact of cotton farming is clear to see in the Aral Sea disaster; https://matadornetwork.com/read/aral-sea-ecological-disaster/
  • The fashion industry could supply 110 million people, who are currently without, with water every year
  • Garment workers are often not protected by regulations, meaning there is no minimum wage protection, nor employment protection. When the pandemic first hit, millions of garment workers lost their jobs across the globe without any pay or compensation.

Facts from:

We Forum

Common Objective

Remake

Workers Rights Union

Book Review : Spinning Silver

Book Reviews, Uncategorized

I didn’t know what to expect from Spinning Silver. The story is based on the children’s fairy tale, Rumpelstiltskin, part of the Brothers Grimm writings. The original folk tale is not very long, and so I was intrigued to see how Naomi Novik would fill out the plot into a 400-odd page book.

Novik’s imagination starts the book off in the small and humble village of Lithvas, sitting on the outskirts of a larger city, Visnia, and very close to a wintery road that is covered in snow no matter the season. It is said that the road brings brutal, mystical (if not magical) people, known as the Staryk, who search and plunder for gold.

The main protagonist is Miryem, the daughter of the village’s money-lender. Miryem’s father has too kind a heart and a dislike for confrontation, meaning his family live in poverty as he never calls in the villagers’ debts. Miryem begins to take over her father’s business, learning how to trade, and bringing wealth to her family. Their village resents this.

One day Miryem is visited by the king of the Staryk, who has heard of Miryem’s abilities to create gold out of goods and silver (through her business and trading). And so the story really begins (no spoilers here though).

Alongside Miryem’s story is that of two other women. One, Wanda, the daughter of the village’s drunk who goes to work for Miryem, and Irina, the daughter of the Duke of Visnia.

What I loved the most about this book are the three heroines. Each of their characters are strong and brave. There are no damsels in distress here. I also loved the way the book weaves between each of the women’s storylines, slowly building the overall picture. What I struggled with at times were the complexities of the plots and the depth of detail. However, overall I really enjoyed this book and Novik’s style of writing, and will be moving on to her other book, Uprooted, soon.

UK City Break: 3 days in York and beyond

Drink, Food, Shopping, Travel, Uncategorized

As a lover of history, York has always been on my list of UK places I’ve wanted to visit. When the pandemic meant that international holidays were out and UK staycations were in, I decided to jump on the opportunity to get up to York.

Some quick facts about York:

  • Population: around 210,000
  • Founded in: 71 AD by the Romans. After their fall, Anglo-Saxons lived there before being conquered by the Vikings who renamed it “Jorvik”, and so York got its name.
  • Top touristy spots: York Minster, The Shambles, Yorkshire Museum, Betty’s Tearooms, Jorvik Viking Museum, York Railway Museum, York City Walls
  • Excellent food/drink spots (there are so many but these are a few): Pairings Wine Bar, Partisan, Sapori, Brew & Brownie, Wheldrakes, Mannion & Co, The Dark Horse Espresso Bar, The Larder Club, Shambles Market
  • Great day trips: Whitby, Robin Hood’s Bay, Malton (food capital of Yorkshire), Harrogate, Yorkshire Moors, Yorkshire Dales, Haworth (birthplace of the Bronte sisters)
  • Tips:
    • Book everything that needs tickets in advance!
    • Check opening times – (e.g. the Bronte Parsonage Museum in Haworth is not open 7 days a week)
    • Get the Ringo app – easiest way to pay for parking
    • Get up early to experience York before the tourists – we arrived for 8am and got to have the Shambles, the Minster, and the City Walls all to ourselves!

Day 0.5: York

Coming from London, the drive to York took us about 5 hours (stops included), and could not have been easier . Just get yourself onto the M1 and drive.

Given how iconic it is to the city, we booked York Minster tickets for the afternoon. It is a beautiful building, and you can see the Doomstone there.

We then pulled up a chair at Sapori, which is a wine bar on the Shambles, and enjoyed wine and nibbles whilst watching the world go by.

Tip: If you get a lovely sunset, definitely go to York Minster. It is simply stunning.

Day 1: Day Trip to Malton, Robin Hood’s Bay & Whitby

I love a road trip. For me, there is nothing worse than coming away from a trip you’ve looked forward to for months, only to discover you missed half the good stuff!

Malton

Yorkshire is filled with gorgeous villages, towns and coastline. So if you don’t drive up, have a look at public transport or hire a car for the day and get out of the city.

We went for a loop from York to Malton to RHB to Whitby and back to York. We also chose the route that took us over the Yorkshire Dales (beautiful).

Malton – the food capital of Yorkshire, with a pretty centre. Lots of boutiques and antique shops, and some incredible food options. We ate at Lutt & Turner (incredible, highly recommend).

Robin Hood’s Bay

Robin Hood’s Bay – a picture-perfect coastal town. Gorgeous side-streets and idyllic houses, plus a long open beach and a coastal path.

Grab a drink from The Bay Hotel and listen to live performers, or go fossil hunting on RHB beach.

Whitby – a larger coastal town, Whitby is famous for its fish & chips and seaside activities and arcades. It is also overlooked by the eerily beautiful Whitby Abbey, an impressive ruin and English Heritage site.

Save your appetite for fish & chips (if only to fuel your Adventure Golf and arcade shenanigans on the pier), and then drive up to Whitby Abbey for views of Whitby and out to sea.

Day 2: York

Day 2 was a day focused on York’s food and history scenes. We got up early doors to see York without the hustle and bustle and tourists, grabbing a coffee and snack from Brew & Brownie to fuel us. It’s well worth it if you want some empty photos and prefer the quiet.

York City Walls

We grabbed an incredible breakfast at Partisan (book ahead, you won’t regret it), before walking the city walls and along the river, and just generally wandering and doing a bit of shopping.

Next food-stop was Betty’s Tea Room. Every time we had walked past Bettys, the queue was round the corner, so you definitely, definitely, definitely want to book this one in advance! Bettys is famous for afternoon tea, and has become an unconditional requirement of a trip to York.

The Shambles

Because we hadn’t booked ahead, we weren’t able to get tickets to Jorvik or the Yorkshire Museum on the day, but, keen to learn some of York’s history, we were able to buy tickets to the York Dungeons on the day. Fun and scary at the same time, it’s a lighter way to absorb the history of York.

We rounded off our foodie day with an evening at Pairings. We had intended to only be there for one quick glass, but ended up staying for 4 hours! If you love wine and charcuterie, then do not miss this one.

Day 3: Harrogate & Haworth

Valley Gardens, Harrogate

We planned our route home to go via Harrogate and Haworth.

Harrogate also has a Betty’s Tea Room, excellent shopping, and the gorgeous Valley Gardens.

Haworth

Haworth is just lovely. A long cobbled high street with views across the valley and a fabulous mix of shops, Haworth shouldn’t be missed. If you are also a a literature-lover, then definitely visit the Bronte Parsonage Museum, and walk up to the Bronte Waterfall.

4 days in Hay-on-Wye

Drink, Food, Shopping, Travel, Uncategorized

I was recently spoilt with a very special trip to Hay-on-Wye, a town that sits on the Welsh border, just west of Hereford. It reminded me a lot of a Cotswold town, with pretty stone buildings and narrow streets.

We spent 4 days there, arriving via Cardiff and driving through the Brecon Beacons (which were incredibly beautiful), but you can also drive via the Cotswolds so if you had longer, I think the perfect trip would be a few days in both areas.

Hay-on-Wye is known as “the town of books” and if/when you go, you will see why. Every other shop is a bookshop, or sells books (new and second-hand). It’s magical. There is also a plethora of homeware and antiques shops, and the food and drink scene is excellent too.

Day 1: Cardiff and Hay-on-Wye

If you’ve not explored Cardiff before, then I would highly recommend driving through this way on your way to Hay. Cardiff is a fantastic city, with excellent shopping, history, and things to do. It also has oodles of old arcades which are filled with independent eateries and shops.

I recommend these food places especially:

  1. Wallys Deli in the Royal Arcade
  2. Coffee Barker in the Castle Arcade
  3. New York Deli in the High Street Arcade
  4. Madame Fromage, also in the Castle Arcade

Cardiff is also not that far, taking around 2.5 hours from Hampshire, so you could just about make it a day trip.

If you have longer, I would also explore the Cardiff Central Market, and Cardiff Castle (free entry to the grounds only). The Cardiff Bay area is also excellent, and an easy train ride from Cardiff Central.

Our drive from Cardiff to our accommodation, Cynefin Retreats, took us around 1.5 hours, with wonderful scenery to admire along the way.

Day 2: The Brecon Beacons & Pen Y Fan

Pen Y Fan is the highest point in the Brecon Beacons, and much of the surrounding area is owned by the National Trust. The car park for the trek is back towards Cardiff, and it fills up very quickly, so definitely get there early. The walk is circular and well sign-posted, but the best tip is to start from the car park (the one with the toilets, not the other one), and go straight up anti-clockwise, rather than clockwise (the clockwise route is a much, much steeper climb!).

The loop took us about 2.5 hours (including stops for photos, naturally), so all-in from Hay, it’ll take around 6 hours, leaving you the afternoon to explore Hay some more (or recover!).

Day 3: Hay-on-Wye

You really are spoilt for choice in this wonderful town. For the vintage and book lovers, you can get lost for hours in the high street shops and arcades. My favourite was the Hay Antique Market on Market Street, which I spent a lot of time in (much to my non-vintage loving fiancé’s delight!).

Even if antiques are not your thing, there are a lot of other shops to dip in and out of (like Goosey Gander), as well as lots of food spots.

Our favourites were The Old Electric Shop, Eves, and The Granary but we felt like we barely scratched the surface of Hay’s food scene!

As it was our final night, for dinner we booked Chapters, which is a small and intimidate restaurant serving only local and seasonal foods, most of which is grown by the owners.

Chapters is inside an old chapel on Lion Street and serves a tasting menu of about 7 courses. It’s a fab way to taste local and fresh food, and I would definitely recommend it.

Day 4: Hay-on-Wye and Home

I always find that the places I love the most are the ones that leave you wanting more, where you feel as though you have only just begun to get to know them as you have to leave. Hay is definitely one of those places, and I have no doubt that we will return soon.

Unmissable upcoming markets

Drink, Food, Shopping, Style, Travel

We visited Alresford last weekend, and had the luck of stumbling upon their bi-annual brocante and antiques market, hosted by ACVR events. Although we (and they) were nearly blown away in these uncustomary gale-force winds we’ve been having, there were some beautiful pieces and/or bargains (the joy of an antiques market is that the two are never mutually exclusive) for sale there.

I love having a mooch around a market, particularly when having a lazy weekend, so I thought I would make a list of some of the upcoming ones over the next few months.

Winchester

On the first Sunday of every month is the Antiques Market (it’s brilliant. You could spend a lot of time there).

On the second and fourth Sunday of every month is the Hampshire Farmer’s Market.

On the third Sunday of every month is the Art & Design Market.

I am biased, but Winchester is one of my favourite places. We are spoilt with inescapable history on every corner, independent shops and fantastic food options.

Southsea

Love Southsea Market hosts a fantastic market every two or so weeks. Stalls include street food, flowers, clothes and fashion, homewares and accessories, and jewellery.

You need to book tickets at the moment, due to Covid : About — Love Southsea Markets

Separately, there is also a farmers market on the third Sunday of every month.

Southsea is a lovely coastal town, east of Portsmouth (a little like Brighton & Hove twin together, so does Portsmouth & Southsea). It is full of cool eateries, coffee spots, and independent shops (and very lovely 4-storey townhouses looking out to sea).

Alresford/Alton/Petersfield

Alresford – Every Thursday, Alresford hosts their weekly market of local foods, ceramics and homewares. There’s lots to also explore around Alresford, including shops and walks, so it’s definitely worth a day-trip.

Alresford’s bi-annual vintage and brocante market that we stumbled upon last weekend is separately hosted by ACVR events. The next is on the 26 September. If you want to catch it sooner, head to Ringwood, Romsey or Bishops Waltham, or otherwise have a look here: Calendar of Events – Speciality Markets & Events (acvrevents.co.uk)

Alton – The pretty little market town of Alton hosts a weekly market on a Tuesday. The farmers’ market is also on, on 12 June, 17 July and 14 August, and the Hampshire farmers market on the second Saturday of each month. Alton is also a stone’s throw away from Chawton House, Jane Austen’s family home.

Petersfield – On every Wednesday and Saturday, the Petersfield market has a variety of stalls and is on between 8:30 and 3pm. The Hampshire farmer’s market is on there on the first Sunday of every month.

Ringwood

The Hampshire farmer’s market is held on the last Saturday of each month. There is also a weekly market every Wednesday selling local produce, crafts, clothes and plants.

On 3 July, 4 September, 6 November, and 4 December the ACVR vintage and antiques market we had the pleasure of visiting in Alresford today, will be at Ringwood.

Ringwood is another lovely Hampshire market town, close to beaches and the New Forest, with excellent eateries and independent shops.

Romsey

Romsey’s market is hosted every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday morning in The Cornmarket. Romsey has hosted a market for over 400 years, so although I have not visited this one, I imagine it would be a nice one to stroll through. Romsey is another town with some nice independent shops and cafes.

The Hampshire farmers market is also on, on the first Sunday of every month.

The ACVR brocante market is also here on 25 July, 17 October, and 28 November.

Bishops Waltham

The ACVR brocante market is also here on 18 July and 10 October. Bishops Waltham’s markets are sadly on hold at the moment, but is usually on Fridays.

I have not been to Bishops Waltham in a long time, but it’s on my list now that things are opening up. I have, however, heard that there is a Josie’s there and therefore I am convinced it will be a nice day trip. Bishops Waltham is nestled on the edge of the South Downs, en route to other towns and villages worth a visit, such as Wickham.

Day Trip/Weekend Break : Lyme Regis, Dorset

Drink, Food, Travel, Uncategorized

We recently did a day trip to Lyme Regis in Dorset, and really loved it! It is a something-for-everyone small seaside town two hours from Winchester.

It had real Cornwall-y vibes, and the drive itself is super pretty given that it crosses the New Forest, and the rolling hills of the Wiltshire and Dorset countryside (depending on your route).

Things To Do

Beach

Obviously there’s the sea! The beach has a sandy side and a shingle side, so it’s a win-win really. There were lots of cafes and stalls along the front for refreshments, and some watersports and equipment-for-hire places too.

Mini Golf & The Town Mill

There’s a great outdoor mini golf course set up the hillside that overlooks the harbour and sea.

The Town Mill is a converted mill turned art gallery and space for local artisans. There’s a pretty courtyard and a cafe selling locally sourced food.

High Street

The high street, is very small and there are not a lot of shops, but it’s definitely worth a mooch. There are some lovely (and fancy) homeware shops, and lots of vintage and antique stores too. We didn’t get to try it, but there was a queue out the door and down the street for Mulberry Manor bakery, so I can’t vouch for it, but it’s probably worth a try.

Walks & Heritage

The Jurassic Coast has many walking options, and also a lot of National Trust and English Heritage sites nearby.

Lewesdon Hill (National Trust) is the highest point in Dorset, providing views across Devon, Somerset and out to sea.

The East Devon and Dorset hills (both AONBs) and the Blackdown Hills are also in close proximity.

Food & Drink

Town Mill Bakery – situated down Coombe Street, and named after the Town Mill itself, Town Mill Bakery offers great breakfast and brunch options.

The Oyster & Fish House – if you love seafood, this place should not be missed. Lovely views over the sea, friendly staff, and excellent seafood and cocktails.

Swim – a good brunch and lunch spot, selling burgers, salad, as well as steak, fish and vegetarian options. It has a great cocktail menu too, with views over the beach.

Dottie Kitchen – another good lunch spot selling wraps, smoothies, salads and sandwiches.

Kiosk – right on the seafront, selling excellent ice cream and fair-trade coffee.

Book Review : The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

Book Reviews, Uncategorized

[If you haven’t read this book, there are some spoilers in this post!]

The Midnight Library – Waterstones

The Midnight Library has been such a joyful and warming read for me. If you are looking for a beautifully written story full of reassurances and hope then you should add this to your list.

For those who have not read The Midnight Library, the book is about a young woman, Nora, who is struggling and unhappy with her life. Her career, her finances, her relationships (in terms of friends, family and partners) are all not progressing as she had hoped and, ultimately, her life is lacking in love and fulfilment. Sadly, she decides that suicide is her only option left and so she enters The Midnight Library, a sort of halfway-house/’room’ filled with all of the possibilities that her life could have been, or evolved to be, together with The Book of Regrets (fairly self-explanatory). The story explores some of the main choices that Nora regrets throughout her life, taking Nora to those lives that she would be living had she chosen differently. Ultimately, Nora learns that her current life is actually the one that will make her most happy, with the resounding messages behind the book being that you have all the tools in place at any time to live the life you want, and that the grass is not always greener.

We live in an increasingly fast-paced, immediate, and accessible world. It is difficult not to compare your own life to the idyllic little Instagram squares of nomadic travellers island-hopping around Australasia, or the perfectly dressed women brunching on a Tuesday in Mayfair. On the other hand, we live in a world filled with so many opportunities and options that we are also overwhelmed with choice, and it can be hard to make decisions without thinking ‘what if’. This is why the book resonated so much with me. It is a gentle reminder that you and your life are enough, and what is important is having things in it that you love. It is also a message of perseverance and bravery, of not giving up when things feel too much and to embrace opportunities and challenges as they come rather than dwelling on regrets.

What also made me love the book so much is that it touches on so many complex topics in such a direct but gentle way that I think everyone can learn from. The catalyst of the story is suicide. In some of her lives, Nora’s brother struggles with alcoholism, and, in one life, Nora’s best friend dies suddenly and tragically. Some lives include deep family rifts, others leave Nora feeling like a failure. Nora suffers imposter syndrome in some of her lives, and depression and anxiety in others. Many of these topics are difficult to do justice to, given their complexity, and some can find them difficult to fully understand unless they struggle too. And yet, the way in which Haig delivers each of these topics is both educating and eye-opening for his reader.

The Midnight Library is an important book that leaves you feeling happy and lifted, all whilst discussing some very difficult issues. It reassures you that you are not alone in the struggles you face, and to embrace life no matter how scary it can be at times. It is well worth a read.

City Breaks : Bordeaux

Drink, Food, Travel

This week I was meant to be spending a long weekend in Bordeaux. We went two years ago, over this exact weekend, and loved it so much that we immediately booked to go again in March 2020. Of course Covid had other plans for us, so we optimistically booked to go again in March 2021… and here we are. Locked down and planning to go in March 2022 instead…! Obviously there are eleven alternative months in the year we could go, but there are several benefits to going in March.

Firstly, the weather (an excellent starting point for any holiday planning). Being in southern France, Bordeaux’s sunny skies and low-to-mid 20 degree temperatures towards the end of March were a much needed vitamin D boost after the long grey winter. We hired a soft-top Fiat 500 to get around, and it was warm enough to have the top down the whole trip. Pure bliss.

Secondly, March is a relatively quiet time to visit the wine regions of France. I do not count myself as a wine connoisseur, so if you are, then you are probably sitting there reading this and thinking that March is actually the worst time to go. The reason is, March is right before the Spring season begins. From late-April onwards, Bordeaux is jam-packed with festivals and fairs, starting with the annual Spring Fair (Printemps des Vins de Blaye) which showcases the new wines produced by the vineyards in and around Bordeaux (not to be confused with the larger festival in June – Fête Le Vin). However, for us, going out of season meant prices were (generally) lower and, in some cases, we had the place to ourselves.

If you are after a busier and vibrant city-break, June and September are both meant to be excellent months to visit the region. Either way though, Bordeaux has so much to see and do, excellent food, coffee, shopping, bars and restaurants, and is a city brimming with beauty and history (it is a UNESCO World Heritage site) that you would be hard pressed to not have a good time, no matter what time of year you went.

Day 1:

Accommodation: Château Grattequina

Activities: Day trip to Saint Emilion

Saint Emilion

It goes without saying that when visiting the Bordeaux region, you visit St. Emilion. An easy and picturesque 45-minute drive from central Bordeaux, passing vineyard after vineyard, this beautiful and ancient town is full of romantic cobbled streets and, most importantly on a trip such as this, wine. St Emilion is one of the five key wine areas of the Bordeaux region (see map below for a breakdown of the five), and should not be missed. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

St. Emilion wineries create some of the most prestigious Bordeaux wines, so the town is on the expensive side, but it is well worth the trip. As well as a plethora of wine shops and cellars, there is also lots of history to be seen in St. Emilion, given that the town was first founded by the Romans and then later renamed after an 8th century monk, Émilion.

There are plenty of brasseries and tabacs to grab lunch and/or snacks, or, if you are after fine dining, then Michelin-starred Logis de la Cadene would be one to look into.

Having blindly purchased several bottles of red “because we met each other in 2011 so it must have been a good vintage”, we pootled back, soft-top down and hair flying everywhere, to our accommodation for the evening; Château Grattequina.

Staying in a chateaux was something we wanted to do because Bordeaux is home to so many. However, they are not the cheapest, so we only stayed one night at ours. We picked Chateaux Grattequina because it was on the outskirts of Bordeaux, situated right on the river, and had only just opened having been completely refurbished. It was also small, with only 9 guest rooms, with a simple but beautiful exterior. Parts of the grounds were still being tended to when we stayed, but the hotel staff could not have been friendlier, and the décor was lovely. The only point to be noted is that there is no alternative place nearby to eat, unless you want to drive into the city. So make sure you take this into consideration, or have a look at the Hotel’s menu before deciding what you want to do.

Day 2:

Accommodation: Airbnb in central Bordeaux

Activities: La Cité du Vin and north Bordeaux sight-seeing

After checking out of Chateaux Grattequina, we took the short drive into central Bordeaux. Our Airbnb was on a side street, off one of the main “Rues” of the city – perfect location for touristing, terrible location for driving. All I will say is, if you plan to drive into central Bordeaux, only hire a small car!

Our Airbnb was in one of the city’s many old stone buildings meaning temperatures indoors were a nice escape from the heat, and you couldn’t hear the hustle and bustle of the busy city.

As this was our first day, and first time, in the city we thought it only apt to make our first destination the wine museum – La Cite de Vin.

The museum is situated to the north of the center, on the river, and you can either walk along the promenade (but this is about 45 minutes) or take the tram. Book your tickets ahead, as this museum is always busy. This is a good starter for wine-novices like us, as it explains the basics of wine and also gives you a nice history overview of Bordeaux and its wines. There is also a room of wines from every country in the world, and the top floor gives you panoramic views of Bordeaux and a glass of wine.

Opposite the museum is Les Halles de Bacalan, where you can pick up fresh produce and/or enjoy a glass of wine in the sunshine. After suitably imbibing, and deciding absolutely every red wine we tried had notes of chocolate and cherry, we wandered back to the centre along the promenade on the river. Bordeaux has made huge investments to the city, and this area certainly showed this. The tram line stops all the way along it, and shops and restaurants have established themselves along the riverfront for the perfect setting for sundowners and al fresco dining.

Day 3:

Accommodation: AirBnb in central Bordeaux

Activities: More sight-seeing, Le Marché des Capucins (south Bordeaux) and a bit of shopping on Rue Saint-Catherine

As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, you will be hard-pressed not to find an eye-catching, historic building in Bordeaux. Places you should certainly put on your list are:

Porte Cailhau – dating to 1494, this beautiful gate was built in celebration of Charles VIII’s victory over war with Italy, and was the main entrance into medieval Bordeaux.
  1. Porte Cailhau Bordeaux
  2. The Basilica of Saint Michel (which boasts an excellent flea market every Sunday, full of odds and sods and gorgeous vintage art, furniture and décor items)
  3. Place de la Bourse and the Miroir d’Eau
  4. La Grosse Cloche
  5. Bordeaux Cathedral
  6. Esplanade des Quinconces
  7. Place de la Victoire

Other nice places are the Grand Theatre and the Jardin Public, but you really can just meander around the city’s cobbled streets and happen upon a historic monument.

We ended up walking to Le Marche des Capucins via an indirect route in order to sight-see most of the above landmarks and to work up an appetite…

Le Marche des Capucins is a big bustling food hall offering a cornucopia of every cuisine you could ask for, as well as fresh and dry foods. We timed our visit there for lunchtime, but I think I’d have found room for something even if I’d eaten a 10-course meal.

We ended our impromptu walking tour of the city on the Rue Sainte-Catherine. This is one of Bordeaux’s main shopping streets in Bordeaux, and runs right down the middle of the city. The side streets leading off of it are also worth a nose around for independent boutiques and wine shops.

Day 4:

Accommodation: AirBnb in central Bordeaux

Activities: Wine-tasting tour of the Medoc region

One of the activities we didn’t pre-book, but knew we wanted to do, was a wine-tasting tour of the region. The reason we didn’t pre-book was because if you google “wine-tasting tours of Bordeaux”, there are so many results and as we knew nothing about wine, and had no set itinerary, we wanted the flexibility. Now, this might be something, if you go in the busier months, that you might want to consider booking ahead as I can imagine these tours are in high demand.

We found ours through Bordeaux’s tourist website (Bordeaux Tourism), and it was excellent. We opted for the Afternoon in Medoc tour, which included guided tours and wine tasting at two Chateaux in the Medoc region, plus some nibbles. Our guide was very knowledgeable and friendly, and there were only 6 of us. I think this is the tour we did: An afternoon wine tour in Medoc, but don’t quote me on that.

Day 5:

Activities: Downtown Bordeaux

On our last day we booked lunch at Garopapilles, in downtown Bordeaux. This is the northern part of the city-centre, and is a quieter area with high-end boutiques. Garopapilles is a Michelin-starred restaurant, and we opted for the lunchtime tasting menu. We wished we had discovered it earlier, as it was very easy-going and relaxed, and also sells some amazing wines. It’s one we will definitely be booking for our next trip.

Sustainable Spring Midi & Maxi Dress Wishlist

Style, Sustainable, Uncategorized

“Sustainable” is a real buzzword at the moment. Unfortunately though, the green-washing trend can make it difficult to figure out whether a brand truly cares about its production line and environmental impact.

Here are some of the independent brands that I have been following, all with an inspiring and transparent story.

Pink City Prints

The Retro Blush Savannah dress from Pink City Prints

To put it plainly, I am completely obsessed with Pink City Prints. Their clothes are all handmade, and their prints inspired by Jaipur, the Pink City. The cotton used is GOTS certified and every piece is made using the long-standing and historical techniques of the trade.

You can read more about it here: Pink City Prints

I’m personally lusting after their Retro Blush Savanna Dress for its pretty sleeves and delicate print.

MolbyTheLabel

Started and run by Karina Molby, MolbyTheLabel is making real waves in the slow-fashion market. The story behind the brand, together with its gingham prints and bright, happy colourways make it a movement that you want to be a part of, and the perfect addition to any wardrobe. Even better, Molby uses its deadstock fabrics to create matching accessories to its designs to prevent waste.

The demand for Molby dresses has grown so much that Karina has employed five other seamstresses to help her, with every design selling out in a matter of minutes on the weekly re-opening of her site.

I have recently invested in the Tilda Dress, and can’t wait to wear it to a boozy brunch (please, Boris!) or picnic. I also have my eye on the Patty Dress and the Cath Dress.

Johanna Sands

Johanna Sands’ Rosa Dress in Pink Corduroy

Inspired by her summers in Italy and the French Alps, Johanna Sands’ pieces are simply stunning. Their classic styles are all designed by Johanna and hand-made by herself and her mother.

Each item is made from sustainable and high-quality fabrics with the idea that they are forever pieces.

The Rosa dress (pictured), comes in several fabrics/colours, and I love the Roma dress too, for its beautiful bow.

You can read all about Johanna Sands here.

Kitri Studio

Kitri Studio was founded by Haeni, a professional ballet dancer, and launched in 2017 on the premise of providing fun, colourful statement pieces at affordable prices. Based in London, Kitri Studio produces small collections, only replenishing stock on the most popular pieces. The brand has pledged to only use recycled fabrics, or more sustainable fabrics, by the end of 2021. A refreshingly open brand that acknowledges the need to do better in the fashion world, Kitri’s collection has something for everyone. I love the Norah Dress from the recent Jessie Bush collaboration.

Daydress London

The Zita Dress by Daydress

Daydress are due to be releasing their Spring edit shortly, and I have no doubt it will be every bit as beautiful as their previous collections.

Their hand-block printed cotton dresses, whose patterns are influenced by eighteenth century Indian and French prints, are all personally designed by Daydress’ founder, Gabby, and produced in a small workshop in Jaipur. Daydress also works alongside the charity, WomenWeave, and other hand-weaving foundations to empower and protect women in the textile industry. Every dress is hand-cut to ensure that the way that the pattern sits on the dress is perfect, and this also prevents deadstock fabric and waste. A wonderful, ethical brand that is definitely worth checking out.

Love & Squalor

Another brand firmly bringing gingham back into the fashion fold is Love & Squalor. Their pieces are based around vintage work wear and designed to stand the test of time. They try to use every scrap of material to prevent any waste, and the fabrics they use are made from natural fibres. I love their Phoebe Dress dress for an easy, timeless wardrobe staple.

Also have a look at…

  1. FaithRowanLeeves
  2. April Meets October
  3. Kemi Telford
  4. Rixo
  5. Justine Tabak
  6. Damselfly London