'Surprise Surprise'!




'Surprise Surprise' ... yes I do have red hair, come from Liverpool and I can't sing! I think you may need to be of a certain age however to appreciate that opening line.

Oh la la, I do love a surprise.  Sadly, most of the time I tend to me more of the surprise giver than the recipient.  

My husband's excuse is that unless he has 'a list', I never like anything that he buys ;-)  He has a point!

I was therefore delighted to be approached by BONMARCHE with the promise of a surprise gift. The timing actually couldn't have been better, as I received it the day I returned from our mini break at The Pig Hotel.  It was lovely to come home to a treat after being spoilt.

Packaged in a super cute black and white polka dot box, I was treated to a 'swiss dot' blouse from the new DAVID EMANUEL COLLECTION.  I must admit when I think of David Emanuel, like most, I either think of Princess Diana or his fabulous stint in 'The Jungle'.

I was pleasantly surprised and can honestly say I've worn this cute little top at least once a week since it arrived.  It's been easy to pop on over skinny jeans and styled with loafers for a stroll around the shops and equally dressed up with shorts and heels for evening drinks in the sunshine.  Perfectly chosen for me, as I love the pretty pistachio colour as well as the shape, and actually the size 10 is a perfect fit. I spotted a very similar top (albeit in white) in Oliver Bonas in London last week and it was nearly three times the price, in the same fabric.  In fact Bonmarche now have this little top available online in a few different colours for autumn retailing at £22.00.

I was also treated to some cute make-up, a David Emanuel collection of pretty lip gloss and nail polish duo, both of which I am wearing in my photos. Not forgetting macarons - Patisserie Valerie no less and no, they didn't last long enough for me to photograph them.

Bonmarche isn't a high street store I am familiar with, however I have 'googled' our postcode and we do have stores locally in both Weymouth and Poole. I would probably match the brand to a slightly older demographic and understand that the sizes in the David Emanuel collection range from a size 10-24.  

I really do believe that fashion should be for everybody, and if you love clothes then you can usually find something in most ranges, that can be worked into your own wardrobe.  As much as I personally love M&S, the majority of people I speak to find both the store and website difficult to navigate.  Comments such as 'lost their way' and 'catering to too many different styles' spring to mind. Perhaps then sometimes it is better to stick to what you know and with their re-brand earlier this year Bonmarche have gone about 'getting to know' their customer base and designing collections to suit.  

I had a nice quiet hour on my own, with time to make a latte and sit down to browse the site, as well as enjoy the macarons!  Having seen the choice I would probably compare some of the pieces along with Matalan and some of the supermarket clothing lines.  Not everything is to my taste but there are bits and bobs that I could 'trendy-fy', as well as a few cute basics that I would usually run into Matalan for; a cheap and cheerful polka dot dressing gown in 100% cotton, little slippers and some cute ditsy print pj's.  The must do better categories for me would be the accessories and shoes, none of which are to my taste.  

I am however all about cosy as we move into September and the coats would make up my top picks.  I can always style a funnel neck coat with a nod to the sixties and faux fur is everywhere for this season.  Plus two little coats in the sale for less than £35!   




       





This post is with thanks to Bonmarche and Kirsty!
xxx

Sneak Preview Of The Sisterhood Of The Travelling Jacket








It fascinates me, that as time and technology have moved on, so too have the methods that we use to establish and maintain relationships and friendships.

When I started blogging all those years ago, I could never have imagined I would have had the opportunities that my blog has presented to me, or that I would be able to make lovely new friends from across the globe.

I am certainly somebody who 'wears their heart on their sleeve', and like many of us, we have had our fair share of ups and downs over the years, many of which I have documented here.

Blogging to me has however, developed into so much more than just a tool to capture events and images.  As social media has taken off, I have joined the ranks of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, giving me even more immediate access to share glimpses of my own, and to share in other's day to day lives.

Fashion bloggers, and 'mums who love fashion, who blog' (!) in particular, have received their criticism.  Importantly what the media and 'chat rooms' can often miss is the strong friendships and support that social media can and often does provide.  For me, I have spent almost the past seven years working from home, as well as moving thousands of miles (on several occasions) away from family and established friends.  With the many advantages of home working comes also a sense of loneliness, and it is here where I very much believe social media comes into play.  It is often an almost immediate way to 'make contact' and share experiences.  For many women the friendships they have made via blogging, have also offered them a much needed lifeline or break from the every day.  

As magazines and the media in general use ever more technology to manipulate images, as well as promote the image of a perfect 'having it all' life, the blogging world has come into it's own. Yes, many of the blogs too, can be aspirational, but personally I follow a wide range of bloggers from around the world, with different lifestyles and backgrounds.  

Talented writer and photographer Marlene who blogs from CHOCOLATECOOKIESANDCANDIES has perfectly tapped into this, with her motto being 'real women with real issues'.  Women more often than not want to see and engage with other 'real women'.  With American Indie movie The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants in mind, Marlene and team have spent the summer travelling and capturing the lives of seven very different women, across three countries. Each has told 'her story' in 'her words', whilst styling the same Barbour jacket in her own individual fashion.

The project is due to launch on Marlene's blog on the 15th September, with each of the bloggers stories to follow throughout September and October.  You will be able to catch my story here on 25th September.  We hope that our stories will inspire you!

#sisterhoodoftravellingjacket #sisterhood #travellingjacket #survivor #inspiration
xxx

The Pig On The Beach



 


Take 'Walking Egyptian Onions', polished yet informal service, beautiful attention to detail, views out across Studland Bay and a kitchen garden to rival Le Manoir and you get THE PIG ON THE BEACH AT STUDLAND.

Following the success of the other hotels located in the New Forest and Bath, The Pig on the Beach opened it's doors in the early summer.  I made sure I was first in the queue to book dinner, as well as an evening stay, to celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary...

With a family background in hospitality, we have over the years, had the pleasure of staying at some of the leading hotels of the world and The Pig certainly didn't disappoint.   Nestled on the cliff top at Studland Bay the hotel boasts views across Sandbanks and to Bournemouth in the distance.

With the philosophy 'from garden to plate', rest assured that dinner will involve only the freshest of ingredients.  We thought we had done well growing a handful of heritage carrots and spring onions in pots this year, that was until we had a stroll through The Pig's impressive kitchen garden.


    
A little hesitant upon booking, as we were allocated a 'dining slot', a personal bugbear hailing back to days in London and having to rush through after work 'theatre' dining slots, we actually had ample time to enjoy a five course dinner, two bottles of champagne, wine matched to courses, by our knowledgeable sommelier and a fab, red dessert wine.  Admittedly, I didn't really remember too much after that!














Accommodation is divided between the main house, as well as two, two storey dovecots; The Bothy and The Lookout nestled in the gardens.  We also got chatting to a couple the next morning who raved about their stay in Harry's Hut, two converted shepherds huts, one housing bedroom, the other bathroom!   

We loved our Comfy Luxe room.  Overlooking the gardens and sea, the room was beautifully furnished, not forgetting the Nespresso machine and larder stocked with local goodies and pig shaped fondants.  Humongous bathrooms with free standing baths and walk in showers, as well as the obligatory hotel toiletries and hairdyer, which if you have short hair like me, you will be obsessed with finding when you stay away from home.   Each of the comfy luxe rooms had the added bonus of it's own private patio, bedecked with wooden furniture, screens and copious butterfly attracting plants and herbs.





Of course any opportunity to dress up and I am all over it!  The staff actually were dressed casually in their own jeans and trainers and branded shirts.  It's a cool but relaxed atmosphere, an 'anything goes', 'live and let live' which we loved. Sunglasses for us both were a necessity the 'morning after the night before', as I in particular, had to do a little bit of a hung over crawl to breakfast.



    

Breakfast was an event in itself and I am now driving the family mad at home by insisting on serving juice in vintage pitchers ;-)  If like me you love interiors the hotel is a dream.  Enough quirky touches and attention to detail to make your stay a special one. 

I've started to avoid reading Tripadvisor reviews over the past few years, so this review is based on our wonderful stay.  If I was to be completely pedantic, the only wait we had was for drinks when we first arrived late afternoon. Ordered at the bar outdoors, to be served outside on our patio.  I did however make up for the alcohol at dinner time! 

If you are looking for a pretty hotel, with great food and a relaxed atmosphere in West Dorset definately give The Pig a try.  I hate to mention the Christmas word, but it is September so there you go CHRISTMAS (!) but the hotel is on my radar, if not just for Christmas lunch then for a sneaky festive stay as well.  

The Pig On The Beach

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