Lovely bits and bobs

In the first of an occasional series, I am going to write about a random selection of things I am enjoying at present.

Firstly, my new pins from Macon et Lesquoy. I have been coveting these beautiful little things since I first read about them on Belgian waffle’s blog a couple of years ago. I got a teeny croissant and a tiny Réligieuse pastry. The first rule of Pâtisserie Club is that we wear our heart on our sleeve (well, lapel actually).

IMG_0021

Who wouldn’t want a tiny croissant as part of their daily wear?

Secondly, my new bags from Marks and Spencer are just LUSH.I do not need any new bags, I have more bags than I can shake a stick at. I just wanted them so much that I HAD TO HAVE THEM (this is a recurring theme with me, you’ll see).

IMG_0022

Bags as far as the eye can see

I got this one to brighten up a lot of my more monochromatic outfits, as well as hold everything I could possibly need (laptop, cardigan, snacks, water bottle, pac-a-mac – just the usual). It has a zipped pocket inside, two slip pockets and a magnetic snap closure too. I really love it. Even the lady who served me the other day in Accessorize, that bastion of embellishment, commented on how lovely it is.

The other one is more of a smaller day-time or night-time bag, it can also be used as a clutch if you stow away the strap. I love the sequins and the fact that it makes me feel like I’m just off on my holidays (I’m not).

 

Other things I am currently in to are:

Working my way through all the articles and features on the Standard Issue website. Sadly, the magazine is coming to an end, with no new copy being uploaded from April 30th. The podcast will be continuing though, which softens the blow a little.

Poring over the Maria Tash Instagram page. I got some additional ear piercings at Maria Tash in New York last year (I only had first lobes previously) and am now craving more and a visit to Maria Tash at Liberty in London. I just can’t decide what to go for, so the Instagram page is good for inspiration.

I know I’ve LITERALLY just written that I don’t need any more bags, but I am a bit obsessed with these personalised, leopard-print totes from Say What You See. I can see one in my future …

The Courtauld Gallery houses one of my favourite paintings, Renoir’s La Loge, but I’ve somehow not managed to pay a visit for a very long time. I’m thinking a London day trip to Maria Tash and The Courtauld could well be in order.

Finally, I have just started reading this book after forgetting I’d downloaded it to my Kindle last year. I love novels about dysfunctional families, so am looking forward to getting stuck in to this one.

Advertisements

On the town (daytime edition)

My natural disposition does not tend toward night-time gadding about. My ideal night out ends with me being tucked up in bed by 11pm, my three-cocktail maximum limit having being met but very rarely exceeded. Though a party animal by no means, I do always enjoy a celebratory occasion, particularly when I get a chance to try a new restaurant or bar as part of the festivities.

Such an opportunity arose last week when a friend invited a group of us to celebrate her birthday with lunch and a few drinks. Daytime carousing is perfect for a non night owl like me, so I was very excited and even bought a new top for the occasion (any excuse to buy a garment printed with multi-coloured tigers).

We started off in Birmingham’s Great Western Arcade, which is a beautiful arcade dating from 1876 and full of independent shops, bars, cafes and restaurants. The first port of call was the Miss Macaroon Macarons and Prosecco bar, a tiny little shop bursting with colour, prettiness and Macarons in lots of delicious flavours (rhubarb and custard, peanut butter, and salted caramel to name just a few)

IMG_5819

Miss Macaroon in the Great Western Arcade

For £8 you can get a glass of prosecco  and two macarons. I am always charmed by bubbles served in a coupe, even though I am far more likely to spill whilst gesticulating wildly. The macarons – delicious by the way – were served on flattened wine bottles (see pic at top of post) and the whole thing was very fun and fizzy. It was the perfect place to start a celebratory afternoon and we spent a good hour or so talking ten to the dozen and taking photos for various social media accounts.

After, ahem, TWO glasses of prosecco we were all feeling slightly squiffy and in need of more food. Our very late lunch was booked for 4pm, so we decided to squeeze in a coffee and a piece of cake at Druckers first. I love how birthdays make cake obligatory.

Bizarrely, we were still hungry enough to be looking forward to our lunch at restaurant 1847,  which offers a wholly vegetarian menu. Although I knew of it I had never been so I was really looking forward to trying it out. I was very impressed.

After the sugar bomb of cake, macarons and prosecco, it was really lovely to eat some delicious food that felt very wholesome and nourishing. The 1847 menu features nibbles, small plates and large plates, and it was really difficult to choose. I had chickpea flatbread with cavolo nero, mushroom, toasted quinoa, yoghurt and chilli. The whole dish was delicious and I really enjoyed the various textures. The toasted quinoa in particular was a revelation. The food was so delicious, in fact, that I forgot to take any photos until the plates had been cleared away.

IMG_5822

1847, the aftermath. Highly recommended.

Following that gorgeous lunch we decided to track down a few cocktails. After a couple of failed plans we decided on Ginger’s bar at Purnell’s bistro. This is my favourite place to  go for cocktails in Birmingham. It is always classy and calm inside, the decor is beautiful, you can hold a conversation and, most importantly, the staff and service there is second to none.

IMG_0019

Sumptuous is the word that comes to mind.

We were in time for the half-price happy hour menu and enjoyed some delicious drinks, none of which tasted at all alcoholic. Once I dismounted my bar stool, however, I could confirm the presence of alcohol.

Once again, I forgot to take photos of the drinks, but here is a photo from a previous visit to Ginger’s. We arrived about ten minutes before the end of happy hour then, so ordered double …

IMG_3635

They could almost be fruit smoothies, couldn’t they?

After two glasses of prosecco and two cocktails over a 6-hour period, it was time for me to call it a day. I wended my way home on the bus, feeling ever-so-slightly tipsy, and was happily tucked up in bed with a book at 9.30pm. Just call me Lemmy.

Outsider

I have extremely fond memories of summer holidays as a child. I would spend as much of the six week break as I possibly could enjoying the lovely weather by sitting indoors, often with the curtains partially drawn, reading books, watching films and compiling mix tapes.

I am not an outdoor person, I barely even use my own garden. Summer makes things even worse, as I have the naturally pale blue skin gifted by a Celtic ancestry. The hot summer sun gives me freckles, heat rash and sunburn if I don’t baste myself in Factor 50. Being outdoors also inevitably means barbecues, ice-lolly-plaguing wasps and topless men in the high street. Books indoors are far preferable.

Having said that, I do quite like a nice walk in Spring or Autumn, when it’s still quite cool and breezy out but with the kind of happy sunshine that makes you feel confident you’ll not need an umbrella (though this is always a bit of a gamble in England, obviously). I tend to stick to pavement walking though, as I am an urban warrior *side eye to camera*.

My lack of interest in the great outdoors has meant it’s taken me almost two years since I moved here to venture to Warley Woods, a large expanse of ‘outdoors’ that is approximately 60 seconds brisk walk from my front door. This morning I put on my trainers and set off for the woods, listening to my current audiobook obsession (more of that in another post).

IMG_0002

Leopard print and a colourful shoe. Essential for outdoorsing.

Well, Warley Woods is properly lovely. I spent a good hour tramping around, taking great lungfuls of fresh air and politely nodding at myriad dog walkers. It’s a mixture of wooded areas, a large meadow, a golf course, cafe, play areas and some other landscaped bits. I was really impressed by how clean it is; no litter or dog poo. Some of the paths are smudged with the ghosts of dog poos past, but this is inevitable.

IMG_0006

The outdoors as I like them – flat and easy to walk around.

Having ventured forth and conquered this new land, I am planning to pop to the woods for a quick constitutional as often as I can now. It felt really good to go for a wander and finally make the most of a beautiful area that is on my doorstep. I might even go in summer as the wooded areas should be well-shaded and I can maintain my goth’s suntan. I may even be tempted to venture further into this area:

IMG_0005

This feels very British

I love the idea of a clearly signposted wilderness. I did peek at it from the safety of the footpath, but it looked highly likely I would muddy my green trainers if I ventured into the wilderness. I will return in less attractive footwear so I can go full-on Bear Grylls.

Almost 40 and I am now an ‘outdoorsy person’. I’ll be going Glamping before you know it.

Standfirst

I begin writing this on a countdown. I intended to begin a blog far earlier in the year but, wouldn’t you know it, it’s already bloody April.

Assuming I don’t get hit by a bus, or similar, I will soon be forty years old. I find this quite thrilling, not least because my thirties were such hard work (more of that anon). Psychologically speaking the lure of a clean, new decade is one I’m finding most intoxicating.

Additionally, I am excited at the thought of being in my forties because I’ve been middle-aged since I was about 11. I luxuriate in being sensible; I never even used Sun-In at school. To that end, I will not be embarking upon any great feats such as running a marathon, doing a bungee jump, buying a Harley-Davidson or getting a tattoo (I am far too fickle in my tastes for the latter). For me, the challenge is to write stuff.

I have plans to write a book but I also want to write about all sorts of other stuff. That is where this blog comes into it. As it says in the side bar, I plan to write about the things I want to write about. This could include, but is not limited to, such topics as finding the perfect lipstick, dealing with widowhood, what makes a perfect breakfast, why New York City is the perfect place for a solo jaunt, interior design for the domestic slattern, Spotify playlist husbandry, and other such wisdom.

TBC …