The London trip!!

Sorry for my unusually long absence – I normally try to keep blogging while I’m back in the UK but this year my trip is shorter and I’ve been busier! I arrived last Monday morning and then Tuesday my sister and I took my Mum out to Manchester for an early Mother’s Day shopping trip and lunch. It was fabulous fun and we had lunch at a great restaurant, The Alchemist, in Spinningfields. Lots of sharing plates and prosecco!

The Alchemist

The shopping continued though we were quite restrained! We did end up back in Selfridges for a little more prosecco before heading back home. My poor Dad was at home waiting for his supper 🙂 Apparently I led everyone astray…

Earnest Sewn jeans, TopShop bomber jacket, Gucci Soho, Golden GooseBag – Gucci Soho // Sneakers – Golden Goose // Jeans – Earnest Sewn // Top – Zara (old) // Jacket – TopShop // Scarf – Asos

Wednesday was spent pottering at home with my nephews – they grow up so fast and it was lovely to spend time with them – though they are always a tad cautious to start with – Auntie Jo is a bit mad apparently…

On Thursday it was time to head to Laaandaan town. Having lived there for about 8 years in the 90s it’s hard to explain the feeling of ‘heading home’, but at the same time feeling like a tourist! My heart was pounding with excitement when I got off the train at Euston. On Thursday night I headed out south of the river and met up with some old work friends from my graduate training days at PwC. We haven’t seen each other for years and it was so lovely to catch up. I walked across the Millennium Bridge from St. Paul’s to get there and it was simply breathtaking!

St. Paul's Cathedral The Shard, Tower Bridge

On Friday morning I popped by to see Liz, while detoxing with a run through Green Park.

Buckingham Palace

Saturday was the MAIN event! Our annual blogger meet up. I’ve made the most amazing friends from blogging and these are truly some of the most important women in my life. I always plan on taking a tonne of photos but once the prosecco starts flowing we always end up forgetting. The afternoon flies by! I can’t even begin to count the number of topics we covered – none of them fashion related! 😉 Thanks SO much to the following girls for making it such a special day!

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I’ll be back on the other side of the Atlantic tomorrow ready to place my US vote on Super Tuesday, once I’ve hugged my Husband and kids tightly!

 

Great Boo’s Up.

Last Friday began with a train journey to London town.  I love the journey through the English countryside.  It always makes me think of the hymn Jerusalem that we sang at school – I used to love belting it out in morning assembly.

I stayed at the Holiday Inn in Mayfair.  What a fabulous location!  Right across the street from Green Park tube and The Ritz.  One criticism though – stop charging for in room wi-fi – £28 for 2 days – a bloody rip off if you ask me!  My heart was beating out of my chest with excitement as I came out of the tube.  Arriving in London always feels like coming home, yet still so foreign, especially staying in Mayfair.  Let’s be honest I never had the money or the inclination to head there in 90’s!

I headed straight out to meet Sue and the girls from AllWornOutBlog.com.  A little wander up the road through Berkeley Square, past Rolls Royce dealerships and haute couture boutiques, and I was at Selfridges.  After chasing Sue around the menswear and shoe salon we eventually met up – talk about amateur tourists!  We then met the lovely Eve, Gina, Belinda and Ann in Aubaine – a fabulous little eatery where we talked, giggled and drank copious amounts of wine.  Security turfed us out at 9pm – how much fun was that skipping through an empty Selfridges!?

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Double Trouble

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We went to the pub too. 

Saturday started early, with the inevitable hangover – but there’s another story behind my recovery for a later date…

I wandered North to meet the girls at the Mayfair Pizza Co – another great spot where the staff were amazing!!  They tolerated us from 12 to 12 and kindly put us in our own little room.  After 8 magnums of prosecco between us I think the other diners were quite relieved.

We talked and talked and then the beautiful Marlene (www.chocolatecookiesandcandies.com) somehow had the patience to photograph us all while we nitpicked at our images – too fat, too orange, crooked smile, wonky eyes – you can read how she put us right here.

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Marlene

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Michelle

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Donna

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Sue

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Avril

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Fiona

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Kat

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Frances

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Natalie

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 Helen

Here’s one of my outtakes that Sue took – I had a fit of the giggles!

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And here is my fabulous souvenir from Marlene.

Joanna London

An amazing weekend with amazing friends, brought together by our love of clothes and writing.  I have found an eclectic, smart, driven, funny, loyal, kind group of women who I hold dear and cherish every day.  I wish I got to see them all more often.

There were no comedy breasts you’ll be pleased to hear.

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Sequins and snow.

This is what I woke up to this morning…

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Not quite what I was expecting.  I thought we’d had the worst of the weather yesterday with the ice storm.  It was quite literally raining ice, and we spent the day curled up on the sofa watching the NBC team in t-shirts in Sochi.

Sarah Palin

 

As we have now had no school since Tuesday, and we are off Friday and Monday anyway for President’s day, to say I am climbing the walls is somewhat of an understatement.  I have tried to focus my attention on my trip, but that of course just gives me greater anxiety wondering if I will have to swim from Bury to London on the 28th.  Not to mention I have suede shoes on my packing list – I might just have to pack the Hunters and be done with it.

My iPad has been getting quite a work out while we watch the Barbie movie for the 20th time, and I have found myself engrossed in Pinterest on more than one occasion.  I’m currently obsessing over this look:

sequin skirt 3 sequin skirt 2 Sequin skirt 1

 

I ABSOLUTELY NEED A SEQUIN SKIRT.

It must be over the knee, but not too short, sequin covered but not too glitzy, grey or blush so it can easily be dressed down with a grey sweater, and lined so it can be worn with tights without fear of ripping them.  I don’t feel like I have found the perfect one yet but here are some that have caught my eye.

I love the red trim on this IRO skirt and it looks nice and comfy with stretch…It’s a great price on TheOutnet.com for some IRO in your closet.

IRO skirt

This Zara skirt is pretty close to what I want – it will look great with a grey cashmere sweater and wool tights.  My concern is the length…it might be titchy on me, and though I will be the first to say I love my legs, there’s legs and then there’s the chance of showing your tight gusset – not a good look.

Zara skirt

This Express Aztec skirt reminds me of the AllSaints skirt from a couple of years ago, but for a way more palatable price – just $36 this weekend!

Express Aztec

Express also have this gorgeous knee length skirt…I am tempted.

Espress knee length

I love the blush colors in this River Island skirt too – and the black trim would help it pair with black cashmere and black tights.

River Island

I saw this skirt in Target a few weeks ago – it’s a bit longer than I am looking for but the color is perfect as is the price.

Target

Finally this one is gorgeous – I’m just hoping her legs are crazy long and that it won’t be quite as short on me!

Revolve

So sequins and knitwear – what do you think – can I get away with it?

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Starting to panic about packing!

In less than 3 weeks I’ll be heading to the UK for what has now become my annual meet up with my blogging friends.  To make the most of the CHILD FREE trip across the Atlantic I’ll be staying with my Mum and Dad for a few days too, and hanging out with my brother and sister.  To say I am excited is an understatement. (Caveat for when reading in years to come :  Poppy and Hugh I will miss you LOTS but Mommy just needs some girl time sometimes! xx).

I have of course already started to panic about packing.  An extensive wardrobe really only makes things more challenging.  I have – don’t laugh – started a spreadsheet that itemizes bottoms, tops, sweaters, shoes and accessories.  It is quite a long spreadsheet and needs some – shall we say – fine tuning?

The advantage of making a spreadsheet is that it can identify gaps in your travel wardrobe.  Now as you all know far too well there are few ‘gaps’ in my closet, but one is a practical, warm, trendy coat.  I have lots of wool coats but they are quite heavy for wearing when walking around London, plus they are harder to roll up and pack , and also less comfortable for layering.  Just play along with me please…

Given my above reasoning I realized that what I really ‘need’ is a parka.  Not a wax, storm proof parka, but a lighter weight, lined parka that will be cosy, plus has room to layer over a leather or denim jacket.  I narrowed my choices down to the following:

The Asos Cocoon Parka:

Cocoon parka

The Asos parka with detachable lining:

Asos Parka

It was a tough decision – there are pros and cons to each.  The idea of a detachable lining makes the second a great option, as does the ability to cinch the waist, whereas the cocoon version has less going on.  I polled my fellow bloggers and they were no bloody help as opinions were equally divided.  In the end I closed my eyes and picked one, and now the cocoon parka is on it’s way to me!  I hope it will work well to layer over my AllSaints leather jacket.

Today I am back to black again, with a touch of leopard and red:

AllSaints jacket

Sneakers – red converse // Jeans – Zara coated skinnies // Shirt – Men’s Gap white shirt // Sweater – Uniqlo cashmere men’s crew neck // Jacket – AllSaints Monument jacket // Hat – J.Crew (old – similar here)

Friday was red and black too for a trip to the mall:

red leather jacket and GGs

 

Sneakers – Golden Goose sparkle slides (similar here) // Leggings – H&M // Dress – ASOS swing dress // Jacket – Zara (old – similar here) // Scarf – H&M (similar here)

Finally yesterday with a glimmer of sun I bared the legs – albeit just the knees:

Asos dress

 

Boots – Stuart Weitzman Nude nubuck 5050s // Dress – ASOS

I’ve been pinning some packing tips but if you have any suggestions or tips please share – after all these years I am still crap at selecting a capsule wardrobe for traveling.  I’m always terrified of leaving something behind that I end up really wanting to wear.  OK, ‘terrified’ may be stretching it…

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My favorite AllSaints employee.

This post is dedicated to Charlie – my favorite man in Atlanta after immediate family:)  Charlie is the Manager at the AllSaints concession in Bloomingdale’s and he is currently making me green with envy.  Follow him on Instagram and you can see his exploits as he tours my home turf and visits AllSaints HQ and the various AllSaints stores in London.

Just for Charlie today I put on my Phinius dress – what I would like to call vintage AllSaints – it was the first item I bought off Charlie – probably almost 5 years ago now, and still one of my favorite AllSaints items.  It’s one of those dresses that is so easy to wear and when I slipped it on this morning I made a vow to wear it more often – especially as my Newburys work so well with it.

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Dress – AllSaints Phinius dress (old) // Boots – Rag & Bone Newbury boots

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Circle of friends.

Number of trains (including tubes) : 12

Number of buses : 1

Miles walked : countless

Glasses of white wine drunk : too many

Curries eaten : 1

Kebabs eaten : 1

What an amazing weekend.  Not sure where to start – how about the beginning?  I traveled down to London on Friday, and if you follow me on Twitter or Instagram you will have seen me documenting my journey South.  The train is a fab way to see England again.

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After a quick tube ride to Liverpool St I wandered to my hotel in the FREEZING cold snow.  I stayed at the Crowne Plaza in Shoreditch – and yes I used to work for IHG so could be accused of being bias – but I have to say if you need a hotel in central London for a couple of nights it was perfect.  A great location for the City and the Central Line – not to mention being close to the great bars and restaurants of Spitalfields and Shoreditch.  I’ll definitely stay there again.

Friday night was perfect.  I met up with an old, good friend and we re-connected.  It has been 2 years since I saw her – too long in my book.  We had a few beers at the famous Golden Heart pub – where we use to drink in the late 90s, then headed to Brick Lane for a curry.

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Trousers – Zara sequin velvet trousers (sale bargains) // Sneakers – Converse one star // Top – Zara // Leather jacket – Zara // Scarf – H&M old

I was a bit worried about a sore head Saturday morning but I actually felt great – I think I was so excited to meet up with all my virtual blogging friends that a hangover didn’t even take hold.  I headed off to Bond St. nervous but oh so excited.  In fact I was so excited I think I said it aloud a few times to the bemusement of fellow travelers.  People don’t really talk to each other in London do they?  I forgot about that.  I was so excited to be on Oxford St again – it was brilliant.  Marlene, Sue and Avril and I recognized each other instantly.  All we could say was how ‘weird’ but fabulous it was to see each other in the flesh.  We then met up with Kat, Beth, Natalie, Fiona and Helen at the restaurant.  Everyone was pretty much just as we imagined each other.  We talked and talked, and drank and drank from 12 – 10pm – not bad hey?  I could have kept going as I had no children to get home to and only head back to the hotel.  Instead, quite sensibly I headed back to the hotel to Skype MM, with a kebab in hand – classy:)  It was amazing to meet everyone – I feel like I have a fantastic group of friends who are so supportive – thanks girls.  The photo is taken early in the day before chat degenerated:)

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Sunday was a lovely family day spent with my Brother-in-law and family.  He’d made a roast dinner for us and it was great to kick my shoes off and relax.  We headed to the park to blow away the cobwebs and had great fun playing football with my nephew and niece.  A great family day to end a great weekend.  I’m very happy to be back at Mum and Dad’s now and enjoy the rest of the week before heading home to my wee ones who I miss more than anything right now.

 

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14 years!

Another from the archives.

First published September 19th 2012:

MM and I have been married 14 years today!  I remember it all vividly.  The location was The Devonshire Arms, Bolton Abbey, West Yorkshire.  Neither of us are from anywhere near there – we just wanted a beautiful location and I was obsessed about having a venue that didn’t look like a conference room – I didn’t want “any metal legged chairs”!  We were living in London at the time and we had our hen and stag nights the week of the wedding.  Madness in hindsight.

My hen night was at Kensington Place – a great restaurant in Notting Hill – on the Wednesday night.  I then traveled North back home with my Mum and sister on the Thursday, whilst the boys congregated in London for the stag night.  They traveled up to Skipton on the Friday morning – with Martin, one of the best men, having to side step out of the ticket line to throw up, before getting on the train.  I still feel awful for anyone who was in that line that day!

Friday night was spent at the Devonshire Arms.  I promised myself not to drink – that promise lasted 2 minutes – and a party ensued as all our guests arrived – some we hadn’t seen for a while.  Not a good idea to get carried away on excited energy the night before you get married!  I didn’t sleep a wink that night and I remember sharing a room with Jo, one of my bridesmaids.  In the corridors I could hear MM and his brother howling and giggling – I knew it was going to be a tough morning!

I headed off at the crack of dawn with my Mum and sis to get our hair done.  I felt rough as a badger’s arse but ridiculously excited!  The champers at the salon soon had me buzzing again and it was off back to the hotel to get dressed.  Now remember this is the 19th September in West Yorkshire – all bets would be on rain and clouds but the weather was stunning!  Blue skies and sunshine – in fact a little too warm for some dehydrated folks:)  Later I heard it was quite a miracle that MM made it to the ceremony at all.  He had gone to work off some of the previous night’s excesses in the gym, having forgotten his sneakers he ran barefoot on the treadmill and went flying off the back of it, then he tried to walk downstairs in his flip flops, spilled his cup of water and went flying again!  I’m giggling as I write this – talk about the excesses of youth!

I walked in with my Dad to Pachelbel’s Canon and Simon read The Owl and the Pussycat and we were done!  Mr and Mrs – as easy as that.  The great thing about our venue was that no one had to go anywhere as we used the same room for the ceremony, the reception and the disco.  Our first dance was to ‘Love me Tender’ but I remember the dance floor clearing later too as we whirled each other around to ‘Satisfaction’ by the Stones.  There are some amazing photos of MM and his mate dancing and stripping – yes stripping though not naked thankfully – to ‘Bad to the Bone‘ – many chins were on the floor at this remarkable scene – my Dad’s for one.

The following day we made our way back to London elated, and then on the Monday we jetted off to Northern Cyprus where we traveled with back packs and a jeep for 2 weeks – bliss.

After 14 years and 2 kids not a day goes by when he doesn’t make me laugh – at him or with him:)  Happy Anniversary my lovely.

The photo on my desk!:

Now off to Bacchanalia tonight for a tamer celebration than 14 years ago!

Today’s outfit is all Zara!  TRF blue pants, t-shirt and jersey blazer worn with my Tory Burch Eddies.

 

 

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Embracing routine.

I always know that I’ve had a great break when I wake up wide eyed, bushy tailed and ready to get back into a daily routine.  I’m not denying that it was tough getting out of bed at 5.45am this morning but after a strong cup of java I was ready to rock and roll.  Now can someone just explain to me why children sleep in when they need to get up and yet get up with the birds when they can stay in bed?  My two had to be well and truly peeled off their beds this morning but I’m always thankful when there is no grouchiness – adults and children were all smiles this morning…it won’t last.

I’ve already had a very exciting morning – I’ve just bought tickets for myself – yes just me, myself and I – to head back to the UK in February.  The first quarter of the year is always a great time to plan a trip as it is normally quite an uneventful time of year after all the frivolity of the Christmas period.  I’ll be spending my time with family and friends and traveling between the North West and London – I cannot wait!  There is something so freeing traveling alone.  I love my family vacations, but traveling under my own steam, and doing what I want and when I want is very indulgent.  Oh and there might be some shopping to do too!  Yay!:)  It’s going to take me till then to decide what to pack too as I’ll be meeting up with a bunch of very stylish ladies – more on that at a later date I promise!

On Saturday night MM and I had a lovely date night – well it started out lovely.  We went to see Skyfall which I have to say was amazing – Mr. Craig with a bit of stubble was quite luuurvely and Javier Bardem was the best baddy ever!  We then had plans for dinner – unfortunately a flat tire made it a tad more stressful than anticipated so my appetite had dwindled by the time we sat down to eat.  The pinot noir and sticky toffee pudding made everything better though.  Oh and the new Isabel Marant Dickers put a spring in my step too.  I wore them with some Gap camouflage jeans bought a few years ago – but I love them as the camo print is really dark and very subtle.  The sparkly jumper is the Skye jumper from Boden – perfect for a bit of snuggly bling and a night at the movies, and I layered it over an H&M t-shirt dress for warmth.  The scarf is also an oldish H&M purchase.  Boden, by the way, have 30% off till tonight!

Today ’tis freezing again so I opted for my coated skinny jeans, black knitted tunic dress and scarf all from H&M (and none of which I can find on the rubbish US site), with my Rag & Bone Newbury boots – yes my feet are very happy with me right now – though my pocket book not so much.  Better do some work and earn some money before that trip to the UK:)

I’ve had some great emails for Cyber Monday but as I clearly don’t need any new clothes or boots I have not indulged.  Have you treated yourself yet?

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Loving some AllSaints.

I love AllSaints.  Not only do I love their urban styling but their flagship store in Spitalfields is just across the road from my London pad and The Golden Heart, where we have had many a lively night before a curry on Brick Lane.  Wearing my AllSaints brings me closer to home and another great bonus is that you rarely see anyone else here in Atlanta wearing it.  I tend to order it online as I can get it tax free due to them not having a stand alone store here in Atlanta, but Bloomingdale’s in Lenox Mall has a great concession managed by the fabulous Charlie.  If you go tell him I sent you – he will treat you like a star!

Yes they are a little more expensive than a lot of other high street stores but they have a great sale every 6 months and their knitwear especially is so unique it is, in my eyes, worth it.  I also love their tops and I have a couple of dresses too, oh and my leather straight leg trousers are AllSaints too.  Yes I have quite a thing for them.  Lots of raw edging, exposed seams, asymmetric drapey hems and an industrial palette gives their clothes a great urban vibe, but they are equally wearable, and I have found, in the main, that they are good quality – though I did have a t-shirt that had to go back twice due to the fabric weakening from the dying process – I gave up on it sadly, though I loved it so much!

So today I am wearing my Express blush jeans and Ash Thelma wedges with my AllSaints Pipali top and AllSaints Itat shrug.  They are the perfect tops for layering on another beautiful Fall day.  I love the skinny arms on their knitwear.

Right now I am wishing the week away as I am desperate for a haircut on Friday!

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#NBCFail

The Olympics have started – hooray!!! NBC are covering them – boo!!!  I have watched NBC religiously since landing in the US and watch Bri-Wi every night at 6.30 – my 30mins with the US’s version of the ‘rest of the world’, but NBC you have disappointed me so over the past few days.

1. The Opening Ceremony was NOT shown live, then the recorded version shown Friday evening was filled with ad breaks, and NBC omitted several pieces of the show including the full musical line up, plus most importantly and most insulting, the tribute to 7/7 was omitted – now if the BBC ever omitted a tribute to 9/11 we’d be hearing about it to kingdom come.

2. Every night Brian tells me at 6.30 there will be no spoilers and all the main events will be shown in the prime time coverage – BUT – he then says something along the lines of “but this news has already rocketed around the world so we’ll tell you now anyway…” and then proceeds to tell me about the Chinese female swimmer whose race I haven’t even seen yet…#MajorFail

3. Ryan Lochte is an irritating s.o.b. who happens to be a pretty good swimmer – I don’t need to see his grill or his shoe collection again – or him tossing a 650lb tire for that matter.

4.  I know we’re in the US and not everyone is aware of the UK geography, but when it comes to Manchester it is NOT ‘just a bit North of London’.

5.  And yes I know it is US coverage but there are other countries taking part that we’d like to see something of…
I could go on and I am trying to rise above it and enjoy the Olympics, but take a look at the tweets with #NBCFail and you will see I am not alone in my grievances.

Rant over.

This should be the last week of dust and dirt in the house – the electrician has been, the painting is done, the shower door hung and all that remains is for the door pulls on the vanity to be added and the mirror to be hung.  Thrilled is an understatement – I can’t wait to get into our new master suite.  While the work has been going on I’ve also done a bit of rearranging in the other areas of the house and yesterday we completed the sitting area in the kitchen with two fabulous IKEA Tullsta leather chairs – for $199 each they can be used and abused by the kids as much as they want – and they look brilliant.  Definitely glad we opted for the off white in the end as I think the black version would have closed in the area a little too much.

Today it’s pretty miserable weather – rain, heat and humidity – but I’m taking advantage of wearing my white jeans for the month before Labor Day.  These are the cropped Zeldas from Express – currently just $29.99, worn with my new Blighty boatneck from Boden, bought in the sale.  My red lipstick today inspired me to wear this scarf – another H&M bargain for $3!  Not sure how well you can make it out but it has fabulous red lips all over it – I love it!  I finished off the outfit with my red Tory Burch Revas for an additional splash of color.  I love the Blighty boatneck – definitely more of a sweat shirt and I sized up so I can layer it in the Fall – not reduced quite as much as I’d have liked in the sale but enough to have bought this dusk one and the quail egg one.

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