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;
  • 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


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!


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 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.

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


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.

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.


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

A Historical Stroll Through Winchester

Travel, Uncategorized

START: The Great Hall and Winchester Castle

The original castle site dates back to the Roman times. After William the Conqueror successfully invaded England (in 1066), he built one of the first Norman castles here in 1067. The Great Hall was built later, in 1222, and is the only part of the original castle that is still standing. The castle was a royal residence until the 1500’s when Elizabeth I became Queen.

You can do tours of the Great Hall, and see King Arthur’s round table here, as Winchester is believed to be the site of Camelot. At the back of the Hall is Queen Eleanor’s garden, beautiful in the summer, and a lovely and tranquil spot.

2. The Westgate

One of the two remaining gateways in Winchester, the Westgate used to be a debtors’ prison and is now a museum.

There are often family-friendly activities going on, and it’s a really good place to learn about the history of Winchester.

3. Winchester Cathedral

It goes without saying that Winchester Cathedral is one of Winchester’s top history spots. The original minster, Old Minster, was founded around 645, and the brick paths around it are where the Old Minster stood. The current structure is Norman, dating to the late 1000’s.  It is the burial place of King Alfred the Great, King Cnut, William the Conqueror’s son, and  Jane Austen (to name but a few!).

If you are visiting Winchester at Christmas, the Christmas market stalls are all around the Cathedral, and it is a truly magical time of year here. There’s also ice-skating, and the carols are also lovely to go to. I recommend picking up a mulled wine and having a wander to see all the Christmas lights about the city.

There is an admission fee for visiting the Cathedral, but it is well worth it.

4. Cheyney Court & Priory Gate

One of Winchester’s most iconic spots, picture-perfect Cheyney Court is the perfect summary of Winchester history. It dates to the 16th century, as a court for the Bishop, covering the Soke of Winchester.

Adjoining it is the 14th century Pilgrim’s Hall, which, after the 1600’s was used as a stable block. Look back (and up) once you’ve walked under the Priory Gate, as there is a small Porter’s Lodge above, which was the home of the Cathedral’s organist.

5. Kingsgate

The second medieval gate in Winchester, the Kingsgate as it stands today is believed to date as far back as the 12th century. Above the archway, on the first floor, is St Swithun-upon-Kingsgate church, one of the few gateway churches remaining. The Kingsgate was one of the gates into the medieval city, and the church used by the lay people.

There’s the lovely Kingsgate Bookshop inside the archway, with a selection of books, maps and prints available to purchase. If you’ve watched the recent Les Mis. film, you can see this stretch of Winchester when Hugh Jackman is fleeing from Russell Crowe near the beginning.

6. Jane Austen’s House & Winchester College

Passing through the Kingsgate, you turn left along College Street. On the right hand side, passing P & G Wells (Winchester’s oldest bookshop) on your right, is the yellow house where Jane Austen lived in her final years. It is said that Jane Austen and John Keats were both frequent visitors at P & G Wells.

Just along from Jane Austen’s house is the beautiful Winchester College. This is one of the many buildings of the College, which offers guided tours that cover much of its history and grounds.

7. Wolvesey Castle

Wolvesey Castle is an English Heritage site with free entry. It’s situated behind the Bishop of Winchester’s current residence, and you could completely miss it if you didn’t know it was there. You have to walk down a path along the side of the Bishop’s residence, and then all of a sudden, you’re amongst its magnificent ruins.

This was the palace of the medieval bishops of Winchester and was classed as one of the most important Norman palaces in the UK. It was used until the 1680’s and was sadly left to fall into ruin.

8. St Giles’ Hill

If you’re after a stunning view over central Winchester and it’s water meadows, St Giles’ Hill is where you want to go. Historically, the area around St Giles’ Hill and The Soke was the wealthy area of the city. At the top of the hill is a park where the ladies and gentlemen of Winchester would promenade around St Giles’ Hill. Definitely worth a visit, although the walk up is steep!

9. Chesil Rectory

The Chesil Rectory is another iconic landmark of Winchester. It dates back to between 1425 and 1450, and is the oldest commercial property in the city. During the Reformation, Henry VIII took over the Rectory and gave it to his daughter, Mary. When Mary got married to King Philip of Spain, she gifted it to the city as part payment for her lavish wedding (which was held at Winchester Cathedral).

It was left to deteriorate, to the point when it was nearly demolished, before being rescued and restored in 1892. It is now an award-winning restaurant, and definitely a must-go on your list of places to eat.

10. END: The Guildhall, King Alfred’s Statue & Abbey Gardens

King Alfred is considered the first King of England. Before him, England was split into kingdoms with different rulers, with Winchester as the capital of Wessex (Alfred’s kingdom). King Alfred is credited with successfully integrating the kingdoms to ‘create’ England. He is also credited with achieving peace with the Danes, who the Anglo-Saxons had continuously been at war with. King Alfred is buried at Winchester Cathedral, and his statue at the bottom of Winchester’s high street is both an iconic and symbolic landmark to the city.

Just in front of King Alfred’s statue is the Guildhall, and behind this, Abbey Gardens. St Johns House overlooks this too, as does the Mayor’s house. The Guildhall was built in 1873, and was built upon the site where a nunnery had been situated since before 899AD (built and founded by King Alfred’s wife, Aelswith). The nunnery later become known as St Mary’s Abbey, and its garden are where this route ends.

There are many more historical spots around Winchester, not to mention all the quaint side streets, but this route covers a fair few of them.

Best Brunch Spots in Winchester


1. The Winchester Orangery & The Greenhouse

The Winchester Orangery

This gorgeous café sits in The Square with a front patio area that gives you some of the best brunch views of Winchester Cathedral. In the summer, the front windows fold away and they offer delicious cocktails, wines, beverages and platters in the evenings.

Brunch menu highlights include full English, waffles, toasties, and the usual light bites like Eggs Benedict. Their smoothies are also highly recommended, and they serve locally roasted River Coffee.

Vegan options available and dog-friendly.

The Greenhouse

The recently opened Greenhouse on Stockbridge Road is The Orangery’s sister café. Offering a similar menu to the Orangery but with different scenery, The Greenhouse is another excellent brunch option, particularly if you’re closer or can’t be bothered to navigate central Winchester!

2. Josie’s

Sitting at the top of town, opposite Winchester Discovery Centre, Josie’s has been a long-term favourite to Winchester residents.

You can’t book Josie’s, and the queue on a weekend can be rather long, so a handy tip is to download the WalkUp app and ‘join the queue’ through there.

Menu highlights include mouth-watering pancakes with additions like streaky bacon, maple syrup, fruit, or banoffee, loaded toasties and sandwiches, and (my personal favourite) fully loaded wraps ft. fillings such as streaky bacon, tater tots, halloumi, scrambled egg, sausages… There are also plenty of vegan options available.

You can also find Josie’s in Romsey, Bishops Waltham and Petersfield.

3. The Square by Coffee Lab

Almost opposite The Winchester Orangery you’ll find The Square. The Square offers indoor and outdoor seating so in the summer its a real favourite for many. The courtyard to the rear has recently been revamped, and is a lovely setting for a relaxed weekend brunch. In the winter, they offer outside heating so you can still enjoy the fresh air.

In conjunction with Coffee Lab, The Square does an excellent coffee, and its brunch menu contains the usual suspects like smashed avo on sourdough, and yogurt and granola bowls.

As well as excellent coffee and brunch options, The Square also sells freshly baked bread and pastries. There is also Coffee Lab on Little Minster Street, serving cakes, pastries and sandwiches if you’re after something on-the-go. Coffee Lab also offers a workspace area if you’re after a change in working scenery to one with delectable coffee and cake.

Vegan options are available at both The Square and Coffee Lab.

4. The Ivy

With its glamorous décor and beautiful cocktail menu, The Ivy is a fail-safe option. Its menu changes every season, which means there’s always something new to try, but fair warning, if you want breakfasty-brunch options as opposed to lunchy-brunch options, you’ll need to order before the clock strikes 11am.

The beauty of The Ivy too, is that you can book ahead. Much of Winchester’s brunch options are walk-ins, so if you want to be sure to get a table somewhere then book ahead at The Ivy.

There is both indoor and outdoors seating depending on what you are looking for, and plenty of vegan options available.

5. Forte Kitchen

Recently renovated, and with the newly opened Hatch downstairs, Forte Kitchen is set to be a firm Winchester favourite. Lockdown threw a spanner or two at Forte Kitchen, but their new menus look a thing of beauty and I know from pre-renovation-experience that you won’t be disappointed if you go.

Good coffee, a well varied menu, and set in a light and airy room with high ceilings, the atmosphere is wonderful too.

6. The Dispensary Kitchen

The Dispensary Kitchen

Nestled in a duck egg blue building behind the City Museum, the Dispensary Kitchen offers scenic views of the Cathedral and some excellent brunch options.

As well as cakes, pastries, and the classic avocado on toast, it also does an exceptional coffee and burger.

Dispensary Kitchen is also dog-friendly and has plenty of vegan options.

Book Review: Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell


As an avid historical fiction fan, Maggie O’Farrell’s, Hamnet, leap-frogged its way to the top of my never-ending reading list immediately on publication.

O’Farrell uses the gaps and unknowns of undocumented history to create an eloquent, emotional, and interesting novel. It is mainly told from the perspective of Shakespeare’s wife, Agnes (Anne) Hathaway, and is a story of their marriage and loss of their son, Hamnet. This in itself, highlights the two main reasons why I thoroughly enjoyed the book.  Firstly, the writer touches upon such delicate subjects with great sensitivity, and crafts the narrative in a highly emotive way. O’Farrell’s beautiful writing is utterly compelling, and you really experience the same emotions as the characters. Loss, grief, marriage, and parenthood are topics that most readers will be able to empathise with in some way. Given the times that we live in today, it is difficult to also not draw comparison between the plague sweeping across Britain in Hamnet, to the current pandemic sweeping across the world. Using storylines that are relatable and run adjacent to the everyday lives of many is important, as, given that historical novels are not everyone’s cup of tea, by touching on subjects that readers can identify with, and emotionally connect to, made for clever and connective writing.

Secondly, I thought that O’Farrell struck an excellent balance between writing fiction around fact. Given the certain ‘mystery’ around Shakespeare’s personal life, and in particular, his wife and children, O’Farrell had a lot of space in which she could have really run with artistic licence. However, in what I feel was quite the opposite way, O’Farrell instead composed a piece of literature that could easily be believable by cleverly interlinking documented events with creative prose. For example, O’Farrell explores the possibility that Agnes was a witch without ever expressly stating this is the case, and instead subtly references things such as her interest in herbs, against a backdrop of the criminality of Witchcraft during that era. This demonstrated a certain integrity to the author, and made me enjoy the story even more, especially as a self-confessed history-bod! Even if I was not interested in history, the position that O’Farrell takes in adding fictional flesh to the bare historical bones would have certainly created an interest in Shakespearean England, and this, to me, speaks volumes about the quality of Hamnet.