Five Things – July Wish List

So, I am absolutely skint at the moment. However, that doesn’t stop me from window shopping and writing a monthly wish list. Should anyone want to treat me, please feel free…

1. La Redoute ‘Afaw Berber Style Rug’.

The instagram rug of dreams. Look at any Nordic styled home on insta and you’ll find this gorgeous piece of carpet heaven.

£99-£269 (currently with £35 off £100 spend | £60 off £150 | £100 off £250 with code SAVE).

2. Rocket St George ‘Antique brown mirror with shallow shelf – portrait’

I have been looking for the perfect bathroom mirror since our remodel. I am blaming the fact that I need my first ever filling on the current lack of bathroom mirror! Get on my wall.

£120

3. Jupiduu slide – white (The Modern Nursery)

Okay, massive extravagant purchase – but this is just a wish list, right? George is obsessed with slides at the moment, so this would cement my position as favourite parent (jokes).

£215.

4. Pretty Little Knots Co – Macrame wall hangingI love macrame (much to my husbands distain) and I particularly love this hanging, made by the fabulous Samantha at Manchester based Pretty Little Knots. She takes custom orders and runs classes too!

From £15.

5. Cox & Cox ‘Raw Steel Firepit’To be honest, I don’t have the best track record with firepits. When we first moved into our house, we bought one from Homebase and didn’t shut our back door. Our house stunk of smoke for weeks after that. This is aesthetically incredible and I would happily smoke out our neighbours with this beauty!

£375 (Cox & Cox are currently offering 20% off – use MOBJUNB at checkout).

So that concludes this month’s five things. August is my birthday, so you never know… *must buy lottery ticket this weekend*.

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Recipe // Delicious Chocolate Brownies

I desperately wanted to make an Easter cake. I spent 3,000 hours and my life savings on George’s birthday cake, so therefore I now qualify as a master baker. I spent hours browsing and salivating until I came across a recipe for chocolate mini egg brownies, that I already had most of the ingredients for.

Unfortunately, the addition of the mini eggs was a disaster (even though I froze them beforehand). They simply burnt, lost their colour and went rock hard.

However, the brownies were delicious – moist and chocolatey, without being too sweet and sickly.

Ingredients:

150g light brown sugar

225g caster sugar

225g unsalted butter

150g dark chocolate, chopped (I used Lindt 70%)

3 eggs

125g plain flour

75g cocoa powder (I used Green & Blacks)

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas 6 and line a 20 x 30cm tin with baking parchment.

2. Put the sugars and butter into a large saucepan and heat on medium until the butter has melted. Simmer the mixture for five minutes to allow the sugar to begin to melt, stirring all the time. Remove from the heat.

3. Add the chopped dark chocolate to the warm sugar and butter mixture and stir it in until it is completely melted. Leave to cool to room temperature.

4. When the mixture is cool enough to touch comfortably, beat in the eggs. Add the flour and cocoa powder before stirring briefly to combine. You don’t want to overbeat the mixture or your brownies will become too ‘cakey’.

5. Scrape the mixture into the prepared tin. Bake for 20–25 minutes or until the top is shiny and slightly cracked.

Nursery Styling

Planning and styling our nursery was/is definitely an ongoing process. We didn’t find out the sex beforehand but knew we wanted something neutral anyway.

The obvious place to start was Pinterest but searches of ‘white and grey nurseries’ only brought up images of huge American bedrooms, something which our tiny little box room would never replicate.

We knew that we only had room for two pieces of furniture, so opted for the Silver Cross Nostalgia cot-bed and wardrobe – £1050 as we could buy a Cot Top changer from John Lewis – £49 and save space.

We knew this would be a perfect set up as the baby would be sleeping in our room for the first six months potentially, so changing over the cot was fine. I purchased changing organisers from Ikea – £7.50 and they clipped onto the changer perfectly.

As for decoration, we purchased a picture shelf from Ikea and two prints from the amazing Manchester Based Rory and the Bean. We wanted a scandi feel to the nursery, to compliment the rest of our house. Then we waited until baby arrived before adding anything else…

So at 11.14pm on February 18th, after a vile induction, painful labour, sepsis, pre-eclampsia and emergency Caesarian, our beautiful son George Roy entered the world and landed straight into the NICU. A week later he was home with us and the adventure could begin.

The first thing I wanted to buy now he was here, was something personalised. Through the magic of Instagram, I found This Paper Book and their beautiful personalised pennant flags – starting from £14.

That, paired with some of the most beautiful wooden treats from the magical Styled by Naomi really started the ball rolling. It was no longer just ‘the nursery’, but it was becoming ‘George’s Room’ and I hadn’t ever imagined how important a process that would be for me. If you don’t already follow Naomi on Instagram, you definitely should. She’s hilarious and her fertility journey is inspiring and courageous.

Scandiborn and The Modern Nursery became the two major go-tos as far as furniture and large accessories over the year but Instagram introduced be to a whole world of small, independent makers (and a maxed-out credit card). Prints from Lovely Ink (as well as her beautiful Christmas, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day collections) and Little M Paper Goods. Wooden toys from Sarah & Bendrix Kids will be great for George when he’s a little older, but until then, they look fab on display. Also Scottish based Ciao Bambino and The Milk Collective have a great selection on modern and stylish toys, to compliment any nursery.

I know that accessories will change and adapt as George grows and he personality and interests develop. But up until now, this has been an opportunity to flex our interior muscles in the first real purposeful room in our house. It’s a work in progress but one I can finally get some joy out of. A little sanctuary and safe haven for our baby and a celebration of the tiny human that we have managed to keep alive for the last 13 Months.

What are the favourite parts of your baby’s nursery?

Eating Our Way Through Prague

Prague is easily one of the prettiest cities in Europe – with its beautiful cobbled streets and fairytale-like gothic architecture. However, its quickly becoming one of the hippest food capitals in the continent. Many people know that Prague is already famous for its cheap beer, attracting many a stag or hen do. Czech cuisine is meat-based, and there were plenty of places offering ‘traditional’ dishes. However, don’t fret travelling vegetarians – there are a number of vegetarian and vegan restaurants, as well as a large number of Asian eateries. We found that many restaurants were promoting ‘raw food’ dishes on their menus too, to cater for all. I didn’t think we’d find somewhere to rival Budapest for its great restaurants at ridiculously cheap prices, but we were wrong!

Before visiting, I always do my research – especially as a fussy vegetarian. I want to know the best places to sample the local cuisine. Here we’re our favourite places to eat. Please comment with your thoughts and additions.

Cafe Louvre

Arguably, the best thing about Prague for me was that magical feeling of being transported back in time. You feel part of a forgotten era. Cafe Louvre was the perfect example of this. A Parisian style cafe and billiard hall, dating back to 1902, quintessentially epitomises Prague cafe culture. In its hay-day, it attracted visitors such as Franz Kafka and Albert Einstein. However in 1948, it was closed when the communists came to power and wasn’t fully revived until 1992.

Cafe Louvre is open daily, offering a wide variety of dishes and beverages. I had the decedent Cafe Louvre hot chocolate and delicious apple strudel, while my husband had the club sandwich and a latte. Both were amazing and I would have happily eaten it all over again. The bill came in at just under CZK300 (£10).


Cafe Louvre, Národní 22, Prague 1
Lokál

If you’re looking for good, cheap beer and exceptionally fresh Czech cuisine, look no further than Lokál. We visited the Dlouhááá branch several times during our stay, as it was literally metres from our air bnb appartment. Lokál opitomises old Czech culture from the 1960’s and 1970’s, with its simple interior. It’s extremely popular, and although extremely big, fills up fast. It’s also a great spot for people watching. Both the drinks and food menus are extensive – even offering a range of non-alcoholic ciders – and the service is excellent. A really cool spot in the centre of Prague’s old town.

We feasted on the highly recommend Lokál speciality of fried cheese, with homemade tarter sauce and the Goulash of beef cheeks, with bread dumplings. The latter I’m assured was incredible. All washed down with a large Pilsner Urquell and homemade lemon soda, came to just over CZK300 (£10). An unbelievable price for homemade top-notch Czech cuisine, sourced from local suppliers. A must.


Lokál, Dlouhá 33, Prague 1.
Sisters Bistro

Just under our apartment, was the incredible, yet tiny Sisters Bistro, founded by a famous Czech food journalist. We gourged on their amazing chlebíčky (open-sandwiches) daily, and were always convince to buy more than we had intended initially. The light, healthy sandwiches were in high-demand and just too pretty to pass. We enjoyed the vegetarian beetroot and goats cheese, as well as the egg and ham.

Sisters Bistro, Dlouhá 39, Prague 1
Naše Maso

Alongside Sisters Bistro, lies Naše Maso “Our meat”. Both are located in the new Gastro Pasáž, a hip mini-shopping complex for foodies. Currently, only a few units are occupied, but they’re extremely popular and trendy places to visit. Naše Maso is an exceptional butchers and fast food eaterie, that serves beer on tap. The takeout burgers, steaks and particularly the meat loaf is very popular, with queues forming outside the shop throughout the day. As a veggie, I can’t vouch for the food, but I did find myself fascinated by the art of the butchery on display throughout several of the units. Quite an odd observation from a vegetarian, but the window displays were unintentionally captivating works of art. My husband, on the other hand, dived straight into the meatloaf at the first opportunity. It’s basic simple food, taken to a different level, without the hefty price tag. His words, not mine. Would highly recommend a visit – if not for the food – for a glance through the windows.


Naše Maso, Dlouhá 39, 11000 Prague

Grand Cafe Orient

Housed in the beautiful homage to the cubist movement, The House of the Black Madonna, is another of Prague’s ‘step back in time’ masterpieces. The Grand Cafe Orient originally closed in the 1920’s when cubism fell out of fashion and was renovated in 2005, retaining its original brass lanterns and buffet-bar. A truly magical experience for anyone looking for a light-bite or coffee. We visited the Grand Cafe Orient twice as it was so close to where we were staying. If you can, try to grab a booth by the window, as it provides a great vantage point both inside and out, helping you to reflect on what life was really like in 1911. I ordered the cheese panini and lemonade, followed by another delicious apple strudel. One thing I felt let the cafe down was the sour faced waiters, who were probably the only ones we encountered during our stay.

The Lake District – A photo diary

Our first encounter with the Lake District was a memorable one. We were so unbelievably lucky with the weather! Read about what we got up to here, otherwise, enjoy our photo diary. Photos by @foreacharoad.
Stunning skies over Crosby Ravensworth:


Ullswater:

Gowbarrow:


Aira Force:



The beautiful night sky:


What is your favourite destination in the Lakes?

A taste of the Lake District

This year was all about exploring our own country, as well as our adventures abroad. Luckily, we have had several weddings in opposite ends of the country, which has inspired us to make little mini-getaways. This time, after a lovely wedding in Newcastle, we hired a car from the airport and drove 90 minutes across the country to the stunning little village of Crosby Ravensworth, which is in the heart of the Eden Valley and approximately 4 miles from the M6. We booked ‘One Chapel Terrace‘ on Airbnb, which sleeps six for a minimum of two nights. It was a beautiful little cottage, with a hot tub, perfect for soaking aching muscles after a long ramble uphill. 


We ate at The Butchers Arms, a community owned pub in Crosby Ravensworth, and the only place to eat within 11km. It was a stones throw from the cottage and has just been taken over by new owners. The menu was small, but catered for all, with daily specials on the board. The fish and chips were one of the best I’ve ever had from a pub/restaurant. 

The next morning, we drove 26 miles to Aira Force and Ullswater in the Lake District. As soon as you catch a glimpse of  the lake driving through Pooley Bridge, you realise why people rave about the scenary and the tranquility of the region. I am a sucker for bodies of water with breathtakingly beautiful mountainous backdrops, so this ticked all he boxes. We were also blessed with glorious sunshine, although this resulted in half-term holiday makers flocking to the numerous National Trust carparks like the world was going to end. It didn’t help that the sunshine had not been forecast, so everyone was desperate to soak up every ounce of golden ray on offer. 

Aira Force is a 65ft waterfall, accessed by a fairly leisurely stroll through glades and woodland. We continued the walk up, following the stream. Being half-term, many families littered its banks, enjoying the sun. 


Ullswater lake itself, offers an array of different watersports and tiny secluded bays and beaches, to enjoy a paddle or a snooze. We (obviously) went for the latter, after scoffing a huge slice of cake from the National Trust tea room.


Albeit a tiny taste of what the Lakes have to offer, I can definitely see why so many people describe it as the most picturesque region in the UK. I was slightly concerned that I would be left disappointed after our trip to Snowdonia – however this boasted a different kind of WOW factor to that of North Wales. Ullswater was buzzing. Whether it was the half-term or general touristy feel, you felt it embraced the crowds and encouraged them to flock, enjoy and experience the scenary that we are so lucky to have in England. It is celebrated. 

A weekend in The Cotswolds

When you live and work in London (and have done your whole life), it’s important to plan an escape now and again. Where better, than The Cotswolds? This rural area covers six counties, notably Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire, and is an absolute beauty of an escape from the city.

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Two of the best hotels: 

Barnsley House, Barnsely

Do you want the ultimate fairy-tale experience: four-poster beds, roll-top baths, secret gardens and delicious culinary treats, fit for royalty? Then look no further than Barnsley House. A ridiculously stylish grade II listed manor-house, within 11 acres of grounds, which were designed by critically acclaimed gardener Rosemary Verey. After losing yourself in the magnificent gardens, reward yourself with a treatment at the hotel’s gorgeous spa or a meal at The Potager restaurant, which serves fresh and seasonal produce from the hotel’s kitchen garden. The hotel operates a no-young-children policy during breakfast and dinner, but The Village Pub (situated opposite the hotel and part of the Barnsley House family) does welcome children of all ages.

The Making of a Garden

Barnsley House truly is the perfect hideaway – with magnificent, modern rooms, boasting outrageous luxury and comfort. I’m not ashamed to say that took a photo of the pillow labels and bought some when I got home. Judging by the company’s website – I’m not the only one. Now, given the high level of luxury, rooms do not come cheap – starting at £200. If you can afford it, The Rosemary Verey suite is pure heaven and the bed is like something from a Disney film.

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Breakfast is included and can be ordered to your room at no extra charge – something which we took full advantage of. We made the most of our eggs florentine in the beautiful conservatory of the Rosemary Verey suite, in our dressing gowns.

I loved our stay at Barnsley House and I’ve been back several times, just to walk through the grounds and have a drink. It is Cotswold luxury at its best and in and in a perfect location, close to Cirencester and beautiful Bibury.

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The Wheatsheaf Inn, Northleach

Now the Wheatsheaf is the epitome of Cotswold cool. Without a doubt, ‘Room 1’ boasts the best bath tub that I have ever had the luxury to soak in. We honestly could have spent the whole weekend just in the room, wrapped in a dressing gown, sinking into the ridiculous comfort of the bed!

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The restaurant uses seasonal and local produce, cooking rustic food and presenting it beautifully. The menu changes daily throughout the week and the restaurant also offers private dining. It is well-worth booking, even if you are a guest at the hotel – something which is recommended when booking.

The hotel has 14 rooms, which have either a power shower or bath – some have both. Every booking includes a complimentary continental breakfast, however a cooked breakfast comes at an additional cost. This is something that, for the amount charged per night, should be included. Saying that, the staff are extremely accommodating, and as there are no such facilities in your room, will happily bring tea and coffee to you as requested.

Even when we haven’t stayed at The Wheatsheaf, we will always make sure we pop in for a drink, as it is one of the coziest drinking spots in the Cotswolds. During the summer months, the beautiful garden has a buzzing atmosphere. The reviews don’t lie – with accolades from Mr & Mrs Smith, Tatler and Open Table to name a few -alongside a glowing review from Jay Rayner in the Observer, you must book a stay ASAP and experience the delight that is, “Doing Britain Proud.” Rooms from £100+

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We have spent plenty of weekends in The Cotswolds and it’s a special place for us. Although we have been lucky to stay in some remarkable hotels, we have also spent many-a-night at the Travelodge in Burford. It’s literally 2 hours door-to-door and we can always get a good deal. The location is excellent, it’s opposite The Cotswold Gateway (lovely food and friendly bar) and in walking distance of beautiful Burford, which is littered with shops, restaurants and village pubs. It is also a ten minute drive from Cirencester and half-way between Cheltenham and Oxford. Worth a look if you’re looking for a base to explore the area without breaking the bank.

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Photos by @foreacharoad

The Rough Guide to the Cotswolds: Includes Oxford and Stratford-upon-Avon