Sunday, 20 April 2014

Street Style Sunday

Yesterday we went to Whitstable and although I've travelled quite a bit around the world I haven't seen that much of England. I was certainly really impressed with Whitstable, not far out of London, this seaside town boasts lots of little independent shops everywhere which is a rare treat for us londoners. And I can't walk past a second hand store without having a little perusal, lucky for me (not so much my family) they are in abundance in Whitstable. 

Perfect weather for wind sailing.

So this was my outfit for the day. I was promised a nice warm day by the weather reporters, but it was bloody cold, so it wasn't the most practical outfit.

This week we were dog sitting this little cutie pie - Pedro. And we are currently in negotiations trying to persuade the hubby that we need a dog in our lives. Wish us luck!

A couple of weeks ago I asked my twitter followers which skinny jeans were their favourite. And someone recommended Vero Moda jeans. These jeans are  from Noisy May at Vero Moda and I have to say I absolutely love them. So you really should check them out, I literally live in these jeans. 

The top I bought for an upcoming holiday, but if I only wore it on holiday I would only wear it one or two weeks of the year. So here I am making the most of my purchase and feeling a little bit like a super hero with my cape. 

Denim jacket - H&M
Top - Topshop
Jeans -Noisy May at Vero Moda
Necklace - Banana Republic

Get involved and link up with us this week, you can link an adult's outfit post or a kid's one. I will comment on everyone who links up and you'll get some other comments from other people who links up too.

The Rules -

1. Add the link to a specific outfit post, not your main blog page.
2. Grab a button and add it to your post (our text link is also fine).
3. Comment on this post and at least one other post...the whole point is to visit each other.

Link up your own street style posts and we'll share our favourite ones next week, with a link to your blog. 

Instagram: If you'd like to get involved on instagram tag us in your pic with #streetstylesunday in the comments. 

Friday, 18 April 2014

The New Me - A Pregnant Yogi

For all my friends that know me well, they will testify that I face exercise the same way I obsess over faddy diets (first with furious determination and then a week later it is forgotten about), and I can barely stretch to touch my toes.  That’s why it might come as a bit of a surprise that I have taken up pregnancy yoga, and that I LOVE it.   Granted, I have only been a few weeks since I was given the go-ahead following my first scan, but I am genuinely taken with the class and I have every good intention of continuing right up until my baby’s birth.

The class is friendly, unpretentious and you don’t need any previous yoga experience, just a bump that is 12 weeks old or beyond.  The focus is on breathing, meditation and movement, and ultimately how all these things can help to give you the best possible pregnancy (alleviating that troublesome back pain, swollen feet, fingers and toes) and birth experience.

Having been through an uncomplicated, but long and painful birth first time round with Coco, you would forgive me for thinking that there is no way a few breathing techniques will help me get through labour again.  However, on the contrary, the class is helping me believe that this time round I have the power to stay calm and in control, and I genuinely believe that what I learn in the class will help me achieve this.  I did do some yoga when pregnant with Coco, but in my usual fashion, I didn’t stick it out until the end and I often found it difficult to concentrate and really commit what was being recommended to memory.  After all, on most good days, I can barely remember my own address, let alone what breathing exercises to use when whilst trying to push something the size of a melon through a gap the size of a lemon.  I was therefore delighted to learn that the classes include ‘birthing rehearsals’ which clearly explain what techniques should be used when during labour to give as much relief as possible.  We will even be given a take-away sheet to read through at home, which doesn’t sound groundbreaking, but could be very handy to read through and practice during those last few anxious days at home.

The Air-Yoga Studio in South Woodford

Our lovely teacher Kat King does recommend hypno-birthing and says that yoga works particularly well alongside this.  However there is no need to go down this path if it’s not for you (there is no way I could ever be capable of turning off my mental to-do list!) and Kat clearly says that yoga will work for you throughout your pregnancy and birth however you chose to birth your baby, whether it be naturally or via caesarean. 

At the end of the day, even if I end up using absolutely nothing from the class during my next labour, I will still love my yoga class.  When you’re unable to go to the loo without having a small person wrapped round your ankles trying to unravel the toilet roll, having one blissful hour per week to yourself to have a good old stretch and connect with your baby is a real treat and I’d recommend it to everyone.

You can find details of Kat’s classes on her website….

The class I attend is at Air-Yoga Studio in South Woodford and runs on Tuesday evenings at 6.45.  Individual classes are priced at £12 but discounts are available when buying a group of five or ten classes in advance.  

For more information please visit…

Hope to see you there!

Gemma x

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Flamingos forever

You've always wanted one (even if you didn't know it) and now you can get your mitts on that flamingo garden ornament you've always dreamt of. I'm not sure where this recent fascination with flamingos has come from, but they are everywhere. The first flamingo I remember coveting for the home was a Cole & Son wallpaper a couple of years that is now so famous, but was too expensive for my purse. So maybe we have Cole & Son to thank for this recent feathered trend gathering speed.

Debenhams have recently collaborated with interior designer Abigail Ahern, known for her quirky, witty and eclectic taste to bring us an affordable yet dare I say it 'trendy' homeware range reminiscent of the slightly costlier Graham and Greene stuff. And of course Flamingos feature shown here in this brightly coloured cushion perfect for adding a colour injection. 

Or how about this brilliant lampshade to perk up an otherwise dull lamp stand. 

Clothes haven't escaped the Flamingo effect either, and this dress from Topshop is a tropical  delight. 

If you don't fancy donning your home or your body with this stand-on-one-leg-for-some-unknown-reason bird, but love Flamingos, then why not treat yourself to this fab wallet.  

Love or loathe Flamingos? Will you be making a pink feathered purchase? 

Nat x

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Introducing Elaine

Let me introduce Elaine, an ex-pat Brit living in Washington DC America, a married mum to her nearly 3 year old son. She will start writing a weekly post for Style Me Sunday. As you'll see she's great with words and has a passion for interior design and cooking so will hopefully add a much needed new dimension to Style Me Sunday. 

Here's her introduction post, hope you like it, and if you do please show some love with your comments, likes, shares etc.

Elaine's next post will be about interior design and how they did their amazing kitchen.


What do you think when you hear or see the words "Washington, DC"? Do you think Barack Obama? Capital of the USA? Land of the Free? Before I moved here 12 years ago, I never paid any heed to any place in the US. Sure, I watched the news but to be honest, I'd grown up with media telling me that Americans were loud, brash, uncultured and wore fanny packs with white trainers. Therefore, why would I want to visit, let alone live here? Long story short - a romance with an American that lasted about as long as my jetlag when I arrived. In sum, I stayed after the fallout and am still here almost 13 years later.

In my first few years of being here, all the stereotypes mentioned above, completely fell away. I made some lifelong friends who I've trusted with my sanity and I know they're keepers forever more. What also fell away were my preconceived notions that Britain and the US are similar culturally. I grew up watching Dallas and Dynasty. I knew America. How wrong I was. Winnie Churchill wasn't far off when he said that Britain and the US were "two nations divided by a common language". Even after all these years here, I still have to "translate" a fair bit. 

There's the pronunciation thing: Water becomes wahdder; butter becomes bahddah. There are spelling changes: Aluminium is aluminum; paediatrician becomes pediatrician... Then there are some words that aren't used at all over here: Trousers, trolley, football, knickers, trainers, tap, dustbin, rubbish... The lists are endless... and on a day when I'm overly tired or in a real rush, it gets more than frustrating. The more het up I get, the stronger my British accent gets...and well it's all a bit of vicious circle really.

My European friends love to party (within reason, most of the time), eat rich and sometimes downright unhealthy foods, love a glass or three of booze and generally don't take themselves seriously at all. They also do the self-deprecation thing brilliantly. My American friends love convenience - the quicker the better, living healthily, yoga, running and loving oneself in a pleasantly spiritual way. It's not that the euro pals are reckless or that the americans are puritanical and can't have fun, it's just very different. I tell myself I get to be in the best of both worlds. 

Hand on heart though, I'll never fully be "at home" in the USA. I miss Britain. Sometimes I miss it so deeply that I can't stand it. The small things - a newsagent that sells milk, cigarettes, sweets and newspapers on every corner. I miss British humour and have to sate myself with watching Graham Norton repeats. Self-deprecation and taking the piss out of someone *even though it's someone one cares for* is not welcomed over here. I stopped self-deprecating when a few girls tried to do an intervention on my "self hatred". Oh, dear god. I also miss the telly adverts (they're more edgy and clever than the US ones), the news (Trevor McDonald in particular for some very odd reason), hearing the Scots, English, Welsh and Irish accents. I even miss Waitrose for god's sake. I cannot find decent butter or caster sugar here for love nor money. When I'm around other Brits, all my repressed Brit humour, self deprecation and piss-taking literally explode out of hiding. When I'm in Waitrose, I go utterly bonkers. Duck fat? Yes please. Heston Blumental ready-made suppers for one? Hell yes. I am like a child in the world's most amazing sweet shop. Oh, it's "candy store" here. I am almost weeping writing that. 

Last time I was home (Great Malvern, Worcestershire), I visited three sweet shops. Just because I could. I am struggling to recall a time when I was happier than walking out with that little white paper bag full of toffee bonbons. Three little bags actually. Three different shops. In one day. 

Most of all, I miss being able to pop over to see my sister and her family; to have supper at my parents' house; to spend weekends with my brother and his family, generally being dickheads together and crying with laughter. We did that whole selfie with sellotape thing YEARS ago!

My son was born in DC. He turns 3 in a few weeks, and is now talking - Spanish with his father and English with me. He has an american accent because of school. I endlessly repeat WARTAAAH as I cannot bear to hear him say wahdderrr. I know, call me shallow. I drill shopping TROLLEY, rubbish BIN and TROUSERS, pants are your underwear! into him all the time. I change the words of the nursery rhymes back to the PROPER version... It's the wheels on the bus go round and round ALL DAY LONG, not all through the town. Heresy! As my husband says (rather smugly I might add) "I will never have to hear him say words differently to me as he only speaks Spanish with me". Git. My child will end up with an accent like Lloyd Grossman. Fack. 

Why do I care that my son, born and being raised in the US has an american accent, you might ask, aghast at my idiocy? Well, being selfish and honest - I want my son to have and experience some of who I am. I am a proud Brit with a maroon passport cover that has a crown on it. I will never give it up. My son has a blue passport cover with an eagle on it. Mine is nicer-looking. British immigration officers at Heathrow and Gatwick are charming and pleasant and I pass through quickly. The US ones are mean and make people cry. Okay, yes I am joking about the passports (not about the US immig officers though, they really are bastards). In seriousness though, Britain is where I was born and grew up and at the end of the day, it is who I am. It's my identity. I am genuinely saddened when I think of my son having no foot in that part of my heritage. Without it, will he ever really understand me and why I think the way I do as an expat, or will he grow up thinking his mum says things weirdly?  

I enjoy living here. If I didn't, I'd leave. Here are some of the pros: The weather is a million times better. A MILLION. I can actually sunbathe in the garden for several months of the year. It doesn't rain that often. Snows even less. The customer service is pretty damn good. I can return an item of clothing to a shop and not have to have a speech prepared as to WHY I want to take it back. Here, they just take it from you, no questions asked. In M&S, it's a shame-inducing interrogation, even if you have the receipt in hand and tags still on the garment. (The last time I did a return was over 15 years ago, but clearly I am still traumatised. M&S, Worcester High Street, 1998. Oh the horror.) If you have a large appetite, you've hit the bonanza - all portions are humungous. And in comparison to Europe, dirt cheap. You can buy the latest Gwyneth Paltrow health foods all under one roof - Wholefoods. I know it's in London now, but still, does it carry Vegenaise??!!! I am sure this is the only country one can buy Vegan Sugar. I have to admit, never before did I realise sugar contained dairy or meat. *Seriously, people???*. 

All this has made me terribly nostalgic and a little bit homesick. I'm off to eat some Walkers crisps (prawn cocktail flavour, heaven) and chocolate digestive biscuits ($20 for a pack of SIX but I didn't care) whilst drinking a large mug of tea in front of BBC America.   

Elaine x

Monday, 14 April 2014

I did it - The final marathon update.

Well I did it. 

Sarah and I before the marathon.

I pushed my body and my mind to the limit and I cannot tell you how pleased I am that it's over. And how very very sore I am. 

I had a couple of personal goals in my head that I wanted to achieve. And all throughout running, I just keep telling myself in my head "it's only 4 hours or so of pain and I will only do this once in my life, don't waste this experience." I didn't want to be disappointed that I didn't push myself to the limit - "SO DON'T GIVE UP!"

At 19 miles seeing my friends and family.

I wanted to run the whole way and I did. I cannot tell you how much I wanted to stop running and walk, the feeling was overwhelming (especially the last 6.2 miles) but I knew that if I stopped it would have been almost impossible to start running again. I've had problems with my knees during training and I took pain killers before and during the marathon to get me through. I stopped once before at 15 miles in a 20 mile training run and couldn't start running again, I had to stop a stranger and ask to borrow his phone to call my husband to pick me up (he obviously took pity on me and decided a hobbling crying lady was in no fit state to nick his mobile). Also I said to everyone before the marathon my goal was just to get round, but in my head I wanted to achieve a time around 4 and 1/2 hrs because I thought I could do that if I pushed myself. And for my first marathon a time of 4.22 I am very happy with. 

For anyone who wants to run the marathon what I will say is - it's the hours of training that are the really tough bit. Sacrificing nights on sofa watching tv with your loved one after a long day at work and/ or kids is a head fuck. Or days out at the weekend with the kids sometimes have to be done without you, because you have a long run that you have to complete. And then there's the recovery time of course. If like me you have a young family you have to have the support and understanding from those around you otherwise it's a battle too hard I think. It would break my heart when my daughter used to cry 'I wish mummy didn't have to run again' but I knew that what I was doing will eventually outweigh all the negatives. I love that I've showed my daughters that I can achieve something amazing through hard work and dedication. Not to mention the associated other health benefits of exercise seeping into their little minds unconsciously. 

Luckily I have no photos of me after the marathon.

I just want to say thank you to everyone that supported me, your words, pats on the back, donations have helped me a huge amount and I am so grateful. So a massive THANK YOU!

Before Laura knew her cancer was terminal she said she wanted to run the marathon. Well Laura I did and I did it because you couldn't and I did it because thinking of you helped push me on. And we raised over £2000 to date for Laura's fund at Saint Francis Hospice. And that is what it was really all about. 

There is still time to donate if you would like to:

And that is the last you'll hear about it I promise. 

Nat x