Monday, 31 August 2015

Goodbye August ..... Hello September.

September has arrived after a very soggy Bank Holiday weekend...  a big wash out for many in the UK., sad as its the last long weekend before Christmas! August was a fairly quiet month for me, filled primarily with spending time with family and friends as it what filled with birthdays and occasions.
Taylor and I have had many trips this month delivering birthday packages and catching up with loved ones.
  • Birthday treats for a special nephew turning 17!.
  • A bouquet of goodies for my Mum along with a lovely lunch.
  • Prosecco and pampering for my Sister-in-Law's parcels.
  • Brothers box in Star wars splendour!
  • Besties birthday box filled with fun treats that only a bestie gets!
  • Friends birthday bag filled with sweet treats.

A glorious afternoon in August was spent celebrating this special ladies wedding. As they threw a surprise in July and ran away and got married we turned the tables and threw a surprise wedding breakfast for them... 3 tier wedding cake and cupcakes my contribution to the day.



August's planner was to be as curious as a cat. Fitz & Darcy were very curious in August following me to the end of the road and meeting me from the bus stop .... so cute and very fun.
Snapshots from the month from my Instagram feed ;

  • Apple launched a bloom of beautiful windows at work to showcase their Apple watch 
  • Healthy eating kicked off in August - favourite of the month breakfast in a jar!... perfect for eating at my desk.
  • Claridges treats from my Birthday breakfast.
  • Catching up with cousins and old friends at birthday breakfast.
  • Beautiful skies in-between the clouds and rain
  • Remembering anniversaries .. 73 years together Nan & Gramps.
Here's looking forward to a dryer September and a month of rugby!

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Christmas in August...

Yes I have written the C word in my title and I am talking Christmas!....  Back in July I had hinted that I had been scrap-booking and crafting and over the last couple of months I have finally completed my Christmas album from 2014.
For the past 4 years I have completed December Daily / Journal Your Christmas with Shimelle, but haven't blogged it or shared much... Here is my Christmas in its entirety for 2014.
Had a lot of fun compiling my album and pages.
August also saw the Christmas shop open at work... this years Selfridges shop is all about  blue, gold and stars.



July / August also saw multiple Christmas press shows across the city - Selfridges included .... very odd seeing fake snow Christmas trees and Reindeers in St Christophers Place on one of the hottest days of the year.
This Christmas be prepared for a Star Wars take over..... more to come nearer the time.

Social Media Sunday ~ August

Today I am sharing some of my favourites from Social Media during the summer month of August. My Instagram feed is filled with hearts and twitter with stars. As usual my 'likes' are filled with flowers, and some fun favourites with a gorgeous hue of summer.

  • Gorgeous blooms from the personal shopping lounge at Selfridges as shot by my lovely friend Elaine.
  • Complete Kitchen-Aid envy with this beautiful baking shot from Tracey @ Tink72x
  • Bike envy with this fun turquoise bike Captured by Lucy. I met Lucy last month on a photography workshop and her instagram feed is a joy.
  • Perfect beach shot, capturing the absolute aesthetic of summer.. this time from my fabulous friend Lee.
  • Beautiful blooms from Claridges hotel, as seen when visited earlier his month. Gorgeous hues of blue.
  • Another perfect summer shot, this time from writer Ali Harris with this glorious beach hut image. Have loved following her summer adventures in Canada in recent weeks.
  • More beautiful blue rhododendrons, this time from Sally at Gettingstuffdoneinheels, another favourite instagram feed.

  • The recent art installation at Covent Garden has been captured perfectly by Tracey Burfield. Her images are fabulous from London and afar.
  • Social Media Sunday wouldn't be complete without a picture of Mr Gandy, here captured painting whilst helping at a kids charity event with M&S.
  • Tall ships gliding along the Thames, backlight by the O2 captured by Find Steph ....delightful.
  • Eye Candy galore on this months favourites; Martin Kemp captured in the summer sunshine by band mate Steve Norman.. perfect.
  • My favourite New York photographer has done it again Dantvusa sunset over one world trade centre is stunning.
  • Had much fun following David Beckham this month and his adventures at Guy Ritchie's wedding....David Beckham & Henry Cavill together,... mmm now there's a thought.. and a visit to a firehouse!... oh my!!
  • and finally this fun image of Johnny Wilkinson at the recent Touch Tour event with O2 at Saracens home ground... kicking off the countdown to the Rugby World cup.
I hope you have had fun with my social media summer loves... here's some from previous months... thank-you all that have featured for brightening my month with your gorgeous images and witty little posts... I've loved them.

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Book Love ~ August

Before August leaves us under a deluge of rain and cloud I am going to share the 7 reads that have entertained me on my travels during the summer!
The Little Flower shop by the Sea - Ali McNamara - as previously blogged my favourite of the year so far!.. Poppy inherits her beloved Grandma's florist shop in the village of St Felix in Cornwall, a place she never thought she would return to after spending her childhood summers there. Poppy finds the magic of the village sprinkling its healing powers on her and the friends that she makes. A glorious summer read which capitulated me back to many a summer spent on the Cornish beaches and lanes of St Ives.
The Cake Shop in the Garden by Carole Matthews - I was lucky enough to meet Carole at the start of the summer and we talked about her canal boat holidays which are one of the key features in The Cake Shop in the Garden. Fay Merryweather runs a cake shop in her garden which backs onto the canal waterways  just outside Milton Keynes. Along with running the cafe, Fay also cares for her cantankerous mother who took to her bed many years ago and and hasn't ventured out of it since. With a high maintenance 'perfect' sister living in New York, and bit of a dull boyfriend, Fays life is far from exciting or glamorous. One day a canal boat moors at the end of the her garden and a younger hunk of a guy pitches up an offers help with some odd jobs. Lija (Fays assistant) and Stan (Fays 93 yr old regular customer) both encourage Fay to employ Danny and soon a Fay starts to realise that life cannot stand still. As with all CM's books nothing is as it seems and suddenly Fays life is thrown upside down and she has to make some big choices. I loved this book, I laughed lots especially at Lija and adored Stan. Another great read from Carole... looking forward to the Christmas book!
Life or Something Like it - Annie Lyons ~ Cat lives for her job as PR at her best friend Jesse's company (Jesse is also Cats long term secret crush)  Cats sister-in-law has to fly home to Australia for the summer and Cat finds herself looking after the children, Ellie and Charlie after she is put on gardening leave after a client makes a huge PR faux pas. Children aren't Cats strength, her mobile phone is her baby! Cat also finds herself coming up against Finn, the uncle of Ellie's best friend, even finding themselves sharing a holiday cottage on the Suffolk coast whilst she battles to keep her job and look after the children. I really enjoyed this book and related to Cat lots!... Finn is simply gorgeous, its a lovely family fun filled book, with a very hot hero.
When I met you - Jemma Forte ~ Marianne is 31 and still living at home she has grown up believing that her father fled to Australia when she was a young and has been relatively content (aside from her passion for playing the violin - something her family do not encourage) growing up with her mum, stepdad, sister & half-brother. Imagine her surprise when I dad, Ray turns up one evening with a host of secrets. This book was a surprising read, one I really enjoyed, I loved seeing the relationship blossom with Ray and Marianne making me laugh and cry. This is a heartfelt family drama in a book and it will have you rooting for Marianne until the last page.. well done JF.
Fairytale Beginnings - Holly Martin - Millie Rose is a historian for Castle Heritage, she is also a huge romantic in particular the Disney Happy ever after and the perfect Prince Charming. Millie finds herself at Clover Castle the epitome of Walt Disney castle and home to Cameron. Millie finds herself falling in love with the castle, the magic of the village and possibly the lord himself!
The Lie - C.L.Taylor - a contrasting read to the rest of my summer reads, but one that I devoured in hours.The Lie tells two stories, in alternating chapters - the present day, and the past events of five years ago. The present day follows Jane, a homebody who has a love for animals, her caring partner and his young daughter. But Jane doesn't actually exist, the life she has built for herself is all a lie. Her name isn't even JaneFive years ago, Jane (then known as Emma) and her three best friends set off on what should have been a trip of a lifetime to a yoga and meditation retreat in the mountains of Nepal, but the trip quickly turns into a nightmare of lies, deceit and disturbing secrets... I would love to tell you more about this book but do not want to give anything away... a fabulous psychological thriller which will keep you guessing until the end.. it had me hooked!.
Summer at Shell Cottage - Lucy Diamond - Lucy Diamond really does
write a great family drama. The Tarrant family have been holidaying in Shell cottage on the north Devon coast since Olivia and Alec discovered the cottage by chance on their honeymoon  and later becoming its owners when Alec's novels hit the bestsellers list. This summer would be different though, Alec has died and Olivia finds herself widowed and a little lost. Freya is struggling to juggle the demands of being a GP, motherhood and loosing her beloved father. Robert is keeping secrets from his wife Harriet and teenage step-daughter and shouldering the loss of his father. An even bigger secret is revealed when Olivia arrives at Shell Cottage and soon the Tarrant's idyllic family life is falling apart.... Shell Cottage proves to be a healing, heartfelt, summer for all the family. I loved this book and was the perfect read to finish my summer with. All of the Tarrant family have secrets which unravel over the summer and Lucy Diamond writes a great family saga. .. loved it, thanks Lucy.

As you can see I managed 6 reads this month, here are a some book posts from recent months. What have you all been reading this month?
Thank-you ladies for keeping me entertained this month on my commute and travels…. It's been a joy.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Birthday Tea at The Ham Yard Hotel

Autumn last year The Ham Yard Hotel in the midst of Soho started getting a name for itself as the "it" hotel of the season. It's fair to say the that this hotel was soon added to my "London Loves List".
Nestled in a courtyard, this hotel alongside, bars and outdoor dining create the Ham yard village. It's hard to believe that you are a stone's throw away from Piccadilly Circus and the heart of Mayfair as the courtyard space creates a complete urban village feel.
The courtyard consists of a tree filled garden, with a stunning bronze sculpture as its centrepiece. The hotel itself blends itself into the surrounding features in a cacophony of glass and steel, inside the hotel you are greeted with a rainbow of colours, textures and styles. The Ham Yard features many unique experiences including a very funky bar, a fabulous 50's retro bowling alley, theatre/cinema along with a spa, roof terrace and gym.
I had afternoon tea booked and was escorted through the bar and restaurant into the drawing room space and was seated alongside the conservatory. The space is beautifully lit from the natural skylights of the conservatory and was a gorgeous space to just relax and unwind.
The Ham Yard's tea package is really good value and allows you the option to add signature plates to the menu as you wish. I opted for the standard tea (menu changes weekly) which is a selection of afternoon savouries, cakes & scones with clotted cream & jam. All were presented on a beautiful glass cake stand which complemented the tea set perfectly.
Service and food were great, attentive when required but discreet enough to truly relax and enjoy both the environment and food.
As with Claridges I was surprised with a birthday plate complete with cute cupcake, candle and strawberries, the lovely diners surrounding me all stopped and sung happy birthday which was equally as embarrassing as it was lovely.
Alongside where I was sitting I watched the team set up the room for a private afternoon tea party, the room looked stunning when finished, The tea table looked stunning along with a beautiful fruit/flower decorated naked cake, perfect for the baby shower which was later hosted in the room.

There was so many areas of The Ham Yard that I loved, however think my absolute favourite area was the beautiful library lounge… 

I could easily have lost myself in this space for a couple of hours. Kit Kemp has done an amazing job on the interior of this hotel which sits under the Firmdale Hotels umbrella and hope to visit again later this year. The New York equivalent has been added to my "New York Musts List" It has firmly been added to me London Loves list and one that I look forward to re-visiting.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Summer in the City ~ Parks & Palaces

After a huge birthday breakfast it was time to walk off the calories with a stroll through the open spaces and parks of the city. Part 2 of my day included a visit to Kensington Palace, something that I had on my "London to Do List" for a long time and had never got round to. 
I do like visiting our historical palaces and looked forward to visiting the former home of Queen Victoria, Princess Diana and currently Kate & William. To make the most of the sunshine I chose to walk through Grosvenor square across, Park Lane and through Hyde park.
Ambling along Brook street my iphone went into instagram overdrive with all the glorious window boxes. (how beautiful are these)
Grosvenor Square was a hive of activity and I spent ages people watching along with lusting after the glorious hollyhocks that were the signature planting in the beds surrounding the water feature within the park. It was lovely to see them full of bees and insects…
Leaving the lovely Grosvenor Square I headed across Park Lane into the 350 acres of Hyde Park. Hyde Park was acquired by Henry VIII from the monks of Westminster Abbey in 1536 and was a private hunting ground until James I came to the throne and permitted access. Hyde Park may not be as pretty as some of the  other parks in London but it has some gorgeous features, including a glorious lake, lido, and eateries. Early morning you can often catch the army's cavalry contouring through the park, exercising the military horses or practising manoeuvres.
Ambling through the park, you could definitely tell summer was here…. Some of the visitors to the park were very pleasing on the eye!
One of the nicest parts of the park is on and around the Serpentine Lake, perfect place to escape from the hullabaloo of the city and enjoy nature and have some fun. Whether its boating, peddling or swimming the Serpentine has lots to off. I took advantage of a seat at the Serpentine Bar & Kitchen and enjoyed watching the birds and boats on the water.
After a brief stop I continued my walk through the park passing the exit for the Royal Albert Hall, Princess Diana memorial and admiring a beautiful flower bed of glorious purple and pink bedding plants and dahlias, into Kensington Gardens and the grounds of the palace.
Flanked by 2 huge wrought iron gilded gates (made ever more iconic during the mourning period of Princess Diana) Kensington Palace sits within the park alongside its glorious garden and orangery. Kensington Palace currently houses a fashion exhibition which features dresses worn by the Queen, Princess Margaret and Princess Diana during the decades. This sits alongside a very interesting installation from the mourning period of Queen Victoria.


One of my favourite features was a fun and funky wall, decorated with a specially commissioned wallpaper from Cole & Sons which accompanied an exhibition in 2012 when the refurbishment of the palace was completed.
Outside the palace alongside the garden  sits the Orangery, a greenhouse structure built in the style of an elaborate palace that was commissioned by Queen Anne in 1704, its beautiful setting lends itself perfectly for a spot of tea, lunch or slice of cake. Still recovering from breakfast and with tea booked later in the day, I didn't partake in refreshments, but have it on my list to return to.
The gardens of Kensington Palace and the Orangery are just beautiful, a cacophony of colour and planting in a very structured manner. With viewing gaps within the tunnel of foliage it is one of the best features of the palace and offers such varied views at each point.
After a lovely lunchtime and afternoon in the park, it was time for me to jump on a bus and head to Piccadilly for me to enjoy Afternoon Tea as another Birthday treat. 

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Birthday Treats ~ Breakfast at Claridges

This year for my birthday I decided to do something a little different and embarked on a day of treats in London.
My day started at the gorgeous hotel of Claridges for a birthday breakfast....having been for afternoon  tea and  christmas dinner, I knew that breakfast would be as lovely.
Fortunately my breakfast was a perfect summer's day and showcased the hotel in all its glorious splendour.
Sweeping through the legendary revolving doors into the gorgeous art deco lobby, a vision of glorious blue blooms from the hotel florists McQueen's showcased the areas beautifully.
I was led into the foyer and reading room where I was seated in a comfortable armchair for my breakfast. 
The breakfast menu is vast, and offers a huge array of choices from healthy through to indulgent... I opted for the english, consisting of  Burford brown eggs; fried, poached or scrambled, sweet cured bacon, Middlewhite sausage, grilled tomato, field mushroom,showcasing british produce at its finest.

My breakfast was absolutely delicious, accompanied with a gorgeous pot of coffee and freshly squeezed pink grapefruit juice. Much to my embarrassment & delight after eating my breakfast I was presented with a birthday pastry complete with candle and birthday message.
I couldn't fault food, service or ambience during my visit to Claridges and had an amazing start to my birthday. As I was leaving I was handed a little green Claridges bag filled with treats - jams and a mug for my birthday, a lovely surprise and a gorgeous souvenir of my time in this stunning hotel. Claridges really is one of the best hotels in London and a perfect place to kick-start a day, especially if its your birthday.Thank-you Claridges & team for a lovely time, food, service and surroundings were perfect.

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

A summer in the city...

Hello August!....
wow how can we be in the 8th month of 2015, where is this year going.
As you can see the blog has had an August make-over, this month opting for multi shades of blue to hopefully compliment the summer skies and seas.

The planner is full of birthday dates as August is month filled with family and friends birthdays so it will be a month of catching up with loved ones.
The summer staple wardrobe of white linen trousers and birkenstocks (blue, white & silver being my favourites for this month) are out along with some new birthday bits; Kate Spade world map pashmina, and KS navy watch and Michael Kors phone case. ;-)
Commuting will be impacted by tube strikes so the kindle is loaded and the sneakers ready for a long walk. I still have to share my day of treats for my birthday which I will hopefully do in the next week, along with some fun in the sun with Taylor, who seems to find a friend every-time I leave him in a car park!
David Gandy on the desk is urging me to have fun in the sun in the city and I hope to do that!
Here's to a glorious August...


Monday, 3 August 2015

Goodbye July.... Hello August!

So August is here along with the school holidays and summer!... July had a mixture of amazing hot gorgeous days and also moments of rain.
July is always a very busy work month, so down time was sporadic, however what I did have I certainly made the most of. July also saw me commuting between 2 houses as I cat-watched for my friends whilst they holidayed around the mediterranean. This saw me making the most of my friends garden, and breakfast and reading were a joy on the pagoda, overlooking the pond.
An early birthday present from my friend Ali of her new book was a lovely treat, one I devoured in the garden... here's my thoughts

- Kits discovered a new place to sleep this month by the KitchenAid - somewhere that they normally aren't allowed.!
- Calendar corner looked very fruity this month!
- Loved the orange & pink styling this month, coordinated fabulously with my Kate Spade desk accessories.
- Had a fabulous day Food Styling with Emily & Catherine... had some amazing props to play with and I learnt lots. Here's more from that day.
- My desk, - a regular Sunday feature in July... hopefully this weekend is my last for a few weeks!
- Coffee in the garden; a lovely treat whilst house-sitting for my friends.
- An evening with Bette Midler was one of my July highlights... she was fabulous. A real bucket-list moment for me.
- More fun with the planner... having lots of fun on instagram with this; planner even has its own feed; @tcaketess
- Curry - days off in the week when working weekends gave me time to cook from scratch... this very delicious chicken dopiaza curry a favourite of the month.
- July saw a deludge of Christmas press shows across the city.. Selfridges included.. welcome to #destinationchristmas.
- Cocktails on the roof at work to celebrate the half year and hard work with the team.Loving the passionfruit in the kilner jar,
- Crafting; the scrapbook creative fairy came out to play and I finally kick-started my December Daily from 2014... more to come.
- Saw the gorgeously super talented Rugby hero Jonny Wilkinson in July at Saracens ground for the Rugby World Cup O2 touch tour.... more to come.
- July also saw the Wimbledon tournament take over the Tv and London for the 1st week of the month and although there was some great tennis to watch, I was equally as enthralled David Beckham and Bradley Cooper watching in the grandstand.


- July culminated in Birthday's for the twin & I!....gorgeous flowers & gifts from loved ones.
- Birthday was a day of treats which I will share in August; Day featured Claridges, Kensington Palace and The HamYard Hotel... deliciously decadent day of treats.
July was a month of work, fun, food and a little crafting!... looking forward to sharing more in august.... pop back later this week when the blog gets its august makeover.

    Monday, 31 August 2015

    Goodbye August ..... Hello September.

    September has arrived after a very soggy Bank Holiday weekend...  a big wash out for many in the UK., sad as its the last long weekend before Christmas! August was a fairly quiet month for me, filled primarily with spending time with family and friends as it what filled with birthdays and occasions.
    Taylor and I have had many trips this month delivering birthday packages and catching up with loved ones.
    • Birthday treats for a special nephew turning 17!.
    • A bouquet of goodies for my Mum along with a lovely lunch.
    • Prosecco and pampering for my Sister-in-Law's parcels.
    • Brothers box in Star wars splendour!
    • Besties birthday box filled with fun treats that only a bestie gets!
    • Friends birthday bag filled with sweet treats.

    A glorious afternoon in August was spent celebrating this special ladies wedding. As they threw a surprise in July and ran away and got married we turned the tables and threw a surprise wedding breakfast for them... 3 tier wedding cake and cupcakes my contribution to the day.



    August's planner was to be as curious as a cat. Fitz & Darcy were very curious in August following me to the end of the road and meeting me from the bus stop .... so cute and very fun.
    Snapshots from the month from my Instagram feed ;

    • Apple launched a bloom of beautiful windows at work to showcase their Apple watch 
    • Healthy eating kicked off in August - favourite of the month breakfast in a jar!... perfect for eating at my desk.
    • Claridges treats from my Birthday breakfast.
    • Catching up with cousins and old friends at birthday breakfast.
    • Beautiful skies in-between the clouds and rain
    • Remembering anniversaries .. 73 years together Nan & Gramps.
    Here's looking forward to a dryer September and a month of rugby!

    Sunday, 30 August 2015

    Christmas in August...

    Yes I have written the C word in my title and I am talking Christmas!....  Back in July I had hinted that I had been scrap-booking and crafting and over the last couple of months I have finally completed my Christmas album from 2014.
    For the past 4 years I have completed December Daily / Journal Your Christmas with Shimelle, but haven't blogged it or shared much... Here is my Christmas in its entirety for 2014.
    Had a lot of fun compiling my album and pages.
    August also saw the Christmas shop open at work... this years Selfridges shop is all about  blue, gold and stars.



    July / August also saw multiple Christmas press shows across the city - Selfridges included .... very odd seeing fake snow Christmas trees and Reindeers in St Christophers Place on one of the hottest days of the year.
    This Christmas be prepared for a Star Wars take over..... more to come nearer the time.

    Social Media Sunday ~ August

    Today I am sharing some of my favourites from Social Media during the summer month of August. My Instagram feed is filled with hearts and twitter with stars. As usual my 'likes' are filled with flowers, and some fun favourites with a gorgeous hue of summer.

    • Gorgeous blooms from the personal shopping lounge at Selfridges as shot by my lovely friend Elaine.
    • Complete Kitchen-Aid envy with this beautiful baking shot from Tracey @ Tink72x
    • Bike envy with this fun turquoise bike Captured by Lucy. I met Lucy last month on a photography workshop and her instagram feed is a joy.
    • Perfect beach shot, capturing the absolute aesthetic of summer.. this time from my fabulous friend Lee.
    • Beautiful blooms from Claridges hotel, as seen when visited earlier his month. Gorgeous hues of blue.
    • Another perfect summer shot, this time from writer Ali Harris with this glorious beach hut image. Have loved following her summer adventures in Canada in recent weeks.
    • More beautiful blue rhododendrons, this time from Sally at Gettingstuffdoneinheels, another favourite instagram feed.

    • The recent art installation at Covent Garden has been captured perfectly by Tracey Burfield. Her images are fabulous from London and afar.
    • Social Media Sunday wouldn't be complete without a picture of Mr Gandy, here captured painting whilst helping at a kids charity event with M&S.
    • Tall ships gliding along the Thames, backlight by the O2 captured by Find Steph ....delightful.
    • Eye Candy galore on this months favourites; Martin Kemp captured in the summer sunshine by band mate Steve Norman.. perfect.
    • My favourite New York photographer has done it again Dantvusa sunset over one world trade centre is stunning.
    • Had much fun following David Beckham this month and his adventures at Guy Ritchie's wedding....David Beckham & Henry Cavill together,... mmm now there's a thought.. and a visit to a firehouse!... oh my!!
    • and finally this fun image of Johnny Wilkinson at the recent Touch Tour event with O2 at Saracens home ground... kicking off the countdown to the Rugby World cup.
    I hope you have had fun with my social media summer loves... here's some from previous months... thank-you all that have featured for brightening my month with your gorgeous images and witty little posts... I've loved them.

    Saturday, 29 August 2015

    Book Love ~ August

    Before August leaves us under a deluge of rain and cloud I am going to share the 7 reads that have entertained me on my travels during the summer!
    The Little Flower shop by the Sea - Ali McNamara - as previously blogged my favourite of the year so far!.. Poppy inherits her beloved Grandma's florist shop in the village of St Felix in Cornwall, a place she never thought she would return to after spending her childhood summers there. Poppy finds the magic of the village sprinkling its healing powers on her and the friends that she makes. A glorious summer read which capitulated me back to many a summer spent on the Cornish beaches and lanes of St Ives.
    The Cake Shop in the Garden by Carole Matthews - I was lucky enough to meet Carole at the start of the summer and we talked about her canal boat holidays which are one of the key features in The Cake Shop in the Garden. Fay Merryweather runs a cake shop in her garden which backs onto the canal waterways  just outside Milton Keynes. Along with running the cafe, Fay also cares for her cantankerous mother who took to her bed many years ago and and hasn't ventured out of it since. With a high maintenance 'perfect' sister living in New York, and bit of a dull boyfriend, Fays life is far from exciting or glamorous. One day a canal boat moors at the end of the her garden and a younger hunk of a guy pitches up an offers help with some odd jobs. Lija (Fays assistant) and Stan (Fays 93 yr old regular customer) both encourage Fay to employ Danny and soon a Fay starts to realise that life cannot stand still. As with all CM's books nothing is as it seems and suddenly Fays life is thrown upside down and she has to make some big choices. I loved this book, I laughed lots especially at Lija and adored Stan. Another great read from Carole... looking forward to the Christmas book!
    Life or Something Like it - Annie Lyons ~ Cat lives for her job as PR at her best friend Jesse's company (Jesse is also Cats long term secret crush)  Cats sister-in-law has to fly home to Australia for the summer and Cat finds herself looking after the children, Ellie and Charlie after she is put on gardening leave after a client makes a huge PR faux pas. Children aren't Cats strength, her mobile phone is her baby! Cat also finds herself coming up against Finn, the uncle of Ellie's best friend, even finding themselves sharing a holiday cottage on the Suffolk coast whilst she battles to keep her job and look after the children. I really enjoyed this book and related to Cat lots!... Finn is simply gorgeous, its a lovely family fun filled book, with a very hot hero.
    When I met you - Jemma Forte ~ Marianne is 31 and still living at home she has grown up believing that her father fled to Australia when she was a young and has been relatively content (aside from her passion for playing the violin - something her family do not encourage) growing up with her mum, stepdad, sister & half-brother. Imagine her surprise when I dad, Ray turns up one evening with a host of secrets. This book was a surprising read, one I really enjoyed, I loved seeing the relationship blossom with Ray and Marianne making me laugh and cry. This is a heartfelt family drama in a book and it will have you rooting for Marianne until the last page.. well done JF.
    Fairytale Beginnings - Holly Martin - Millie Rose is a historian for Castle Heritage, she is also a huge romantic in particular the Disney Happy ever after and the perfect Prince Charming. Millie finds herself at Clover Castle the epitome of Walt Disney castle and home to Cameron. Millie finds herself falling in love with the castle, the magic of the village and possibly the lord himself!
    The Lie - C.L.Taylor - a contrasting read to the rest of my summer reads, but one that I devoured in hours.The Lie tells two stories, in alternating chapters - the present day, and the past events of five years ago. The present day follows Jane, a homebody who has a love for animals, her caring partner and his young daughter. But Jane doesn't actually exist, the life she has built for herself is all a lie. Her name isn't even JaneFive years ago, Jane (then known as Emma) and her three best friends set off on what should have been a trip of a lifetime to a yoga and meditation retreat in the mountains of Nepal, but the trip quickly turns into a nightmare of lies, deceit and disturbing secrets... I would love to tell you more about this book but do not want to give anything away... a fabulous psychological thriller which will keep you guessing until the end.. it had me hooked!.
    Summer at Shell Cottage - Lucy Diamond - Lucy Diamond really does
    write a great family drama. The Tarrant family have been holidaying in Shell cottage on the north Devon coast since Olivia and Alec discovered the cottage by chance on their honeymoon  and later becoming its owners when Alec's novels hit the bestsellers list. This summer would be different though, Alec has died and Olivia finds herself widowed and a little lost. Freya is struggling to juggle the demands of being a GP, motherhood and loosing her beloved father. Robert is keeping secrets from his wife Harriet and teenage step-daughter and shouldering the loss of his father. An even bigger secret is revealed when Olivia arrives at Shell Cottage and soon the Tarrant's idyllic family life is falling apart.... Shell Cottage proves to be a healing, heartfelt, summer for all the family. I loved this book and was the perfect read to finish my summer with. All of the Tarrant family have secrets which unravel over the summer and Lucy Diamond writes a great family saga. .. loved it, thanks Lucy.

    As you can see I managed 6 reads this month, here are a some book posts from recent months. What have you all been reading this month?
    Thank-you ladies for keeping me entertained this month on my commute and travels…. It's been a joy.

    Wednesday, 19 August 2015

    Birthday Tea at The Ham Yard Hotel

    Autumn last year The Ham Yard Hotel in the midst of Soho started getting a name for itself as the "it" hotel of the season. It's fair to say the that this hotel was soon added to my "London Loves List".
    Nestled in a courtyard, this hotel alongside, bars and outdoor dining create the Ham yard village. It's hard to believe that you are a stone's throw away from Piccadilly Circus and the heart of Mayfair as the courtyard space creates a complete urban village feel.
    The courtyard consists of a tree filled garden, with a stunning bronze sculpture as its centrepiece. The hotel itself blends itself into the surrounding features in a cacophony of glass and steel, inside the hotel you are greeted with a rainbow of colours, textures and styles. The Ham Yard features many unique experiences including a very funky bar, a fabulous 50's retro bowling alley, theatre/cinema along with a spa, roof terrace and gym.
    I had afternoon tea booked and was escorted through the bar and restaurant into the drawing room space and was seated alongside the conservatory. The space is beautifully lit from the natural skylights of the conservatory and was a gorgeous space to just relax and unwind.
    The Ham Yard's tea package is really good value and allows you the option to add signature plates to the menu as you wish. I opted for the standard tea (menu changes weekly) which is a selection of afternoon savouries, cakes & scones with clotted cream & jam. All were presented on a beautiful glass cake stand which complemented the tea set perfectly.
    Service and food were great, attentive when required but discreet enough to truly relax and enjoy both the environment and food.
    As with Claridges I was surprised with a birthday plate complete with cute cupcake, candle and strawberries, the lovely diners surrounding me all stopped and sung happy birthday which was equally as embarrassing as it was lovely.
    Alongside where I was sitting I watched the team set up the room for a private afternoon tea party, the room looked stunning when finished, The tea table looked stunning along with a beautiful fruit/flower decorated naked cake, perfect for the baby shower which was later hosted in the room.

    There was so many areas of The Ham Yard that I loved, however think my absolute favourite area was the beautiful library lounge… 

    I could easily have lost myself in this space for a couple of hours. Kit Kemp has done an amazing job on the interior of this hotel which sits under the Firmdale Hotels umbrella and hope to visit again later this year. The New York equivalent has been added to my "New York Musts List" It has firmly been added to me London Loves list and one that I look forward to re-visiting.

    Tuesday, 18 August 2015

    Summer in the City ~ Parks & Palaces

    After a huge birthday breakfast it was time to walk off the calories with a stroll through the open spaces and parks of the city. Part 2 of my day included a visit to Kensington Palace, something that I had on my "London to Do List" for a long time and had never got round to. 
    I do like visiting our historical palaces and looked forward to visiting the former home of Queen Victoria, Princess Diana and currently Kate & William. To make the most of the sunshine I chose to walk through Grosvenor square across, Park Lane and through Hyde park.
    Ambling along Brook street my iphone went into instagram overdrive with all the glorious window boxes. (how beautiful are these)
    Grosvenor Square was a hive of activity and I spent ages people watching along with lusting after the glorious hollyhocks that were the signature planting in the beds surrounding the water feature within the park. It was lovely to see them full of bees and insects…
    Leaving the lovely Grosvenor Square I headed across Park Lane into the 350 acres of Hyde Park. Hyde Park was acquired by Henry VIII from the monks of Westminster Abbey in 1536 and was a private hunting ground until James I came to the throne and permitted access. Hyde Park may not be as pretty as some of the  other parks in London but it has some gorgeous features, including a glorious lake, lido, and eateries. Early morning you can often catch the army's cavalry contouring through the park, exercising the military horses or practising manoeuvres.
    Ambling through the park, you could definitely tell summer was here…. Some of the visitors to the park were very pleasing on the eye!
    One of the nicest parts of the park is on and around the Serpentine Lake, perfect place to escape from the hullabaloo of the city and enjoy nature and have some fun. Whether its boating, peddling or swimming the Serpentine has lots to off. I took advantage of a seat at the Serpentine Bar & Kitchen and enjoyed watching the birds and boats on the water.
    After a brief stop I continued my walk through the park passing the exit for the Royal Albert Hall, Princess Diana memorial and admiring a beautiful flower bed of glorious purple and pink bedding plants and dahlias, into Kensington Gardens and the grounds of the palace.
    Flanked by 2 huge wrought iron gilded gates (made ever more iconic during the mourning period of Princess Diana) Kensington Palace sits within the park alongside its glorious garden and orangery. Kensington Palace currently houses a fashion exhibition which features dresses worn by the Queen, Princess Margaret and Princess Diana during the decades. This sits alongside a very interesting installation from the mourning period of Queen Victoria.


    One of my favourite features was a fun and funky wall, decorated with a specially commissioned wallpaper from Cole & Sons which accompanied an exhibition in 2012 when the refurbishment of the palace was completed.
    Outside the palace alongside the garden  sits the Orangery, a greenhouse structure built in the style of an elaborate palace that was commissioned by Queen Anne in 1704, its beautiful setting lends itself perfectly for a spot of tea, lunch or slice of cake. Still recovering from breakfast and with tea booked later in the day, I didn't partake in refreshments, but have it on my list to return to.
    The gardens of Kensington Palace and the Orangery are just beautiful, a cacophony of colour and planting in a very structured manner. With viewing gaps within the tunnel of foliage it is one of the best features of the palace and offers such varied views at each point.
    After a lovely lunchtime and afternoon in the park, it was time for me to jump on a bus and head to Piccadilly for me to enjoy Afternoon Tea as another Birthday treat. 

    Saturday, 15 August 2015

    Birthday Treats ~ Breakfast at Claridges

    This year for my birthday I decided to do something a little different and embarked on a day of treats in London.
    My day started at the gorgeous hotel of Claridges for a birthday breakfast....having been for afternoon  tea and  christmas dinner, I knew that breakfast would be as lovely.
    Fortunately my breakfast was a perfect summer's day and showcased the hotel in all its glorious splendour.
    Sweeping through the legendary revolving doors into the gorgeous art deco lobby, a vision of glorious blue blooms from the hotel florists McQueen's showcased the areas beautifully.
    I was led into the foyer and reading room where I was seated in a comfortable armchair for my breakfast. 
    The breakfast menu is vast, and offers a huge array of choices from healthy through to indulgent... I opted for the english, consisting of  Burford brown eggs; fried, poached or scrambled, sweet cured bacon, Middlewhite sausage, grilled tomato, field mushroom,showcasing british produce at its finest.

    My breakfast was absolutely delicious, accompanied with a gorgeous pot of coffee and freshly squeezed pink grapefruit juice. Much to my embarrassment & delight after eating my breakfast I was presented with a birthday pastry complete with candle and birthday message.
    I couldn't fault food, service or ambience during my visit to Claridges and had an amazing start to my birthday. As I was leaving I was handed a little green Claridges bag filled with treats - jams and a mug for my birthday, a lovely surprise and a gorgeous souvenir of my time in this stunning hotel. Claridges really is one of the best hotels in London and a perfect place to kick-start a day, especially if its your birthday.Thank-you Claridges & team for a lovely time, food, service and surroundings were perfect.

    Tuesday, 4 August 2015

    A summer in the city...

    Hello August!....
    wow how can we be in the 8th month of 2015, where is this year going.
    As you can see the blog has had an August make-over, this month opting for multi shades of blue to hopefully compliment the summer skies and seas.

    The planner is full of birthday dates as August is month filled with family and friends birthdays so it will be a month of catching up with loved ones.
    The summer staple wardrobe of white linen trousers and birkenstocks (blue, white & silver being my favourites for this month) are out along with some new birthday bits; Kate Spade world map pashmina, and KS navy watch and Michael Kors phone case. ;-)
    Commuting will be impacted by tube strikes so the kindle is loaded and the sneakers ready for a long walk. I still have to share my day of treats for my birthday which I will hopefully do in the next week, along with some fun in the sun with Taylor, who seems to find a friend every-time I leave him in a car park!
    David Gandy on the desk is urging me to have fun in the sun in the city and I hope to do that!
    Here's to a glorious August...


    Monday, 3 August 2015

    Goodbye July.... Hello August!

    So August is here along with the school holidays and summer!... July had a mixture of amazing hot gorgeous days and also moments of rain.
    July is always a very busy work month, so down time was sporadic, however what I did have I certainly made the most of. July also saw me commuting between 2 houses as I cat-watched for my friends whilst they holidayed around the mediterranean. This saw me making the most of my friends garden, and breakfast and reading were a joy on the pagoda, overlooking the pond.
    An early birthday present from my friend Ali of her new book was a lovely treat, one I devoured in the garden... here's my thoughts

    - Kits discovered a new place to sleep this month by the KitchenAid - somewhere that they normally aren't allowed.!
    - Calendar corner looked very fruity this month!
    - Loved the orange & pink styling this month, coordinated fabulously with my Kate Spade desk accessories.
    - Had a fabulous day Food Styling with Emily & Catherine... had some amazing props to play with and I learnt lots. Here's more from that day.
    - My desk, - a regular Sunday feature in July... hopefully this weekend is my last for a few weeks!
    - Coffee in the garden; a lovely treat whilst house-sitting for my friends.
    - An evening with Bette Midler was one of my July highlights... she was fabulous. A real bucket-list moment for me.
    - More fun with the planner... having lots of fun on instagram with this; planner even has its own feed; @tcaketess
    - Curry - days off in the week when working weekends gave me time to cook from scratch... this very delicious chicken dopiaza curry a favourite of the month.
    - July saw a deludge of Christmas press shows across the city.. Selfridges included.. welcome to #destinationchristmas.
    - Cocktails on the roof at work to celebrate the half year and hard work with the team.Loving the passionfruit in the kilner jar,
    - Crafting; the scrapbook creative fairy came out to play and I finally kick-started my December Daily from 2014... more to come.
    - Saw the gorgeously super talented Rugby hero Jonny Wilkinson in July at Saracens ground for the Rugby World Cup O2 touch tour.... more to come.
    - July also saw the Wimbledon tournament take over the Tv and London for the 1st week of the month and although there was some great tennis to watch, I was equally as enthralled David Beckham and Bradley Cooper watching in the grandstand.


    - July culminated in Birthday's for the twin & I!....gorgeous flowers & gifts from loved ones.
    - Birthday was a day of treats which I will share in August; Day featured Claridges, Kensington Palace and The HamYard Hotel... deliciously decadent day of treats.
    July was a month of work, fun, food and a little crafting!... looking forward to sharing more in august.... pop back later this week when the blog gets its august makeover.