Tuesday, 31 July 2012

La Roultiere Breil - a perfect holiday

I don't know about you, but when I go on holiday I like to feel like I'm staying somewhere that feels just like home - only better. I've stayed in many hotels all over the world but there's something about staying in a holiday home, and the freedom that it gives you to come and go as you please, that really can't be beaten.

For Becki and Rob's wedding the Davies family, young and old, upped sticks for Parcay Le Pins and the surrounding area for a week of celebration and relaxation, staying in a plethora of gites and holiday homes. The Boy and I opted to stay with my mum and dad, my brother, uncle Howard, Karen, Megan, Gareth and Ali, in three gites side by side in Breil called La Roultiere.

There are five gites at La Roultiere (two other families stayed in the other two) all beautifully maintained and situated around a central dining, barbecue and boule area. They even have a swimming pool - perfect for the French sunshine.

Let's face it, going away with family is always going to be tricky, especially when the ages of the people going range from 25 all the way to 89, but at La Roultiere there was enough room to breathe, meaning the trip went off without a hitch. And hopefully the Davies clan didn't annoy the other holidaymakers too much.

The complimentary bottle of rose wine on arrival, coupled with the attentive affections of the resident dog Meg, all led to us having a fantastic week of relaxation.

I loved it so much at La Roultiere that my return to London has led to many an afternoon daydreaming about owning a gite myself someday (this is a dream that I am determined to make happen) and I've even started learning French in anticipation!

I simply cannot recommend La Roultiere highly enough. We all had a wonderful time and I'm already planning a possible return visit next year with The Boy - and whoever else fancies some relaxation in the French countryside.

Find out more about La Roultiere, or even book a stay here.

Monday, 30 July 2012

My week in photos 7

Yet another crazy week in the L&F household. The start of the Olympics saw an influx of tourists in London town which, coupled with the heat, led to me wanting to run for the hills by the time the weekend hit. Luckily enough The Boy and I had already planned in a visit to see his family in Somerset (more of that later) so a spot of relaxation in the sunshine was in order. It was bliss-just what I needed to escape the madness of the city. 

Here's what I got up to before our trip away.
 Clockwise from top left: The first sunrise of the Olympic work shifts (5am alarms are TOO early for me) - Wishing I looked like the H&M mannequins - Cocktails with the girls from work after pretty much the worst Friday ever - Cute dog print shirt from Max Mara Weekend - Pretzels on a boat (more of that to come) - Illustrations by Tessa Farlow on one of the Swans of Wells - Champagne at noon on a Friday - John Lewis on Oxford Street all dressed up for the Olympics

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

What's next at Next

Those who know me well will be familiar with my love affair with Next. I've always been a fan of the retail store and I even love their sales (although I'm not one of those camped outside at 4am women, I always find what I want). They've recently begun to release their new collections for AW12 and let me tell you, I am loving what I'm seeing. I've always been a bigger fan of winter than summer and it looks like Next have hit the nail on the head with the perfect mix of fashion must haves and core staples to get me through the season. 

Here's a glimpse at what I'm loving so far.

 Clockwise from top right: You can't beat a good Mac and this wine colour is perfect for Autumn (£80) - These Chelsea boots/shoes are perfect for winter walks (£28) - For smart work dresses, Next can't be beaten (£40 and £35) - I'm loving peplum tops right now and I can never resist a bit of animal print (£24) - Relaxed check dress for weekends away (£38) - Flock spot pencil skirt, bang on trend (£35) - Rivaling Burberry with this classic trench (£80) - A faux fur fifties inspired coat? I'm in (£110) - These trousers (and legs for that matter) are to die for, get me to the gym (£35)

Monday, 23 July 2012

Wedding belle

OK, OK, I promise this will be (one of) the last France related posts for a while - but can there really ever be too much of a good thing? I just can't resist letting you all see how amazing Becki and Rob's wedding was - the entire reason The Boy and I were in France in the first place.

The wedding was The Boy and I's first wedding of the year, and it certainly kick started the season in a fantastic fashion. Becki and Rob chose to get married in France, at a house owned by Rob's parents - and somewhere The Boy and I have spent many a happy holiday with the Bride and Groom. It was a truly beautiful day. The sun was shining, love was in the air and it was wonderful to see so many friends and family (both ours and theirs) come together so far from home to celebrate the occasion. Here's a glimpse of the day. 
The sun was shining, so I got dressed in my glad rags and headed over to the house with The Boy who was on Usher duty (and I somehow ended up in charge of buttonholes). All was well, the setting for the ceremony couldn't have been more perfect and as the guests arrived you could tell we were in for a special day. Becki kept us waiting (which for anyone who knows the Bride would say is pretty standard) but her arrival was well worth the wait. Becki's lace strapless gown suited the setting perfectly and the neutrally coloured flowers and bridesmaids dresses were simply stunning.
I think it's often easy for weddings to get out of control and the meaning and message of the day gets lost along the way, but this certainly wasn't the case with Becki and Rob's. This wedding very much had a feeling of family, love and commitment, with friends and family both old and new, really feeling like we were part of the day.

The house is simply stunning at the best of times but Becki and Rob had done a spectacular job of transforming the grounds into a fairytale setting, fit for a magical day. I think I can speak for everyone when I say it was amazing, from the food, to the dancing, to the fireworks and one that will stay with me for a long time to come.
Congratulations Mr & Mrs Bond - wishing you a lifetime of happiness together

Sunday, 22 July 2012

My week in photos 6

Life in London continues to be frenetic and nightmarish in equal measure in the L&F household: dieting is proving difficult, daydreams of holidays abroad continue to persist and the weeks keep on flying by. However, having spent last Sunday getting the flat in order, I'm feeling a lot more organised and ready for all that the weeks ahead have in store. Here's what's happened over the past week or so.
Clockwise from top left: Dim Sum on a Sunday with The Boy - Lovely AW12 designs by NW3 at Hobbs - A Saturday trip to the V&A - Current reading matter - My favourite design at the ballgowns exhibition - Thinking how pretty Zsa Zsa would look in this Whistles sale number - A sunny day in the V&A - A sneaky Saturday cupcake with Mother - Amazing outfits at the Ballgowns exhibition - Yummy noodles - Would two muffins be wrong? (YES) - A little Sunday night viewing (to remind me that things could always be worse)

Friday, 20 July 2012

The Love list

As much as I've been rambling on of late about my fondness for France, I must say I do love holidaying in England. It must be something to do with the years of summer holidays I spent traveling around Brewery's and craft shops with my family that has me yearning for a British escape (well that and reading the Famous Five and Swallows and Amazons when I was a kid). There's just something about the British seaside and English country villages that will forever hold a place in my heart. 

I've spent many a week in the past wandering around the Isle of Wight with both friends and family and I really want to go again this year. Usually I try and stay in one of the many amazing places owned by Vintage Vacations, like the Shack.

The Shack is an amazing two bedroom cabin looking out onto a wild flower meadow and a secluded cove and beach. In a word, it's magical, and the perfect place for a weekend away. One of the reasons I love staying at the Shack so much is because it's different. It manages to transport you back to a time when you didn't need to worry about charging your phone, because you didn't even have a phone. Bliss

Claire over at Jazzpad is the one who has reignited my passion for holidaying in the UK and also has me desperate to stay at the beautiful Orchard Carriage in Somerset. It looks amazing and, like all that the Shack has to offer, would be the perfect place for a holiday where you can truly relax and unwind. 

You can find Orchard Carriage and many other amazing places to stay over on Canopy and Stars, a great website showcasing unusual retreats in the UK, France, Spain and Portugal. I'm loving The Chapel in Shropshire (hint, hint).

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

The ties that bind

Brace yourself, this is set to be an overly sentimental post-it's strange what a holiday can do to a person. A little time away from the daily grind, in a different environment, with people you truly care about can really make you see how lucky you are.

It's funny how easily people can come into your life without making too big of an impact, and it can end up feeling as if they've been there all along. I've never felt this more than on my recent holiday to France for my cousin Rebecca's wedding. 

We have a family tradition for the cousins (me, Mark, Gareth, Megan, Matthew and Rebecca) to have our picture taken in both height and age order and, having recreated this childhood image as one of Becki's wedding photographs, it's strange to think that once there were only six of us. Ali (Gareth's wife), Mel (Matt's wife), Robert (Becki's husband) and Michael (aka The Boy) all play such a huge part in any family gathering that now we're very much a ten rather than six. It's not often that we get to gather as a group, normally only at weddings or special events, but when we do it's like no time has passed, and with everyone getting on so well, I truly feel blessed to have such a wonderful family. I'm not going to lie, as someone who finds large scale social gatherings somewhat of a challenge, I used to approach family  occasions with some trepidation. But over the past few years, with many a wedding and milestone birthday, these gatherings have become more frequent and now I look forward to seeing everyone and catching up on what everyone's been up to.

Had it not been for Becki and Robs wedding this holiday might never have happened but I'm so glad it did, I was in dire need of a break from everyday life and what better holiday is there than good food, fine wine and great company?

Monday, 16 July 2012

LOTD: Friday date night

Firstly, I must confess, these pictures weren't actually taken this weekend (this weekend was much more of a sleeping in front of Gladiator kind of date night, as opposed to actually leaving the flat) but I loved this outfit so much I thought it still warranted a LOTD post.
Blazer - Dorothy Perkins
Top - River Island
Necklace - NW3 at Hobbs
Jeans - Dorothy Perkins
Clutch - Primark
Shoes - Primark

In my eyes, nothing beats a good blazer. Skinny jeans, a draped top such as this one (a favourite from River Island) a clutch bag, blazer and heels is my go-to outfit of choice for date night - perfect for a variety of places. 

The place on this particular occasion was Rossopomodoro in Notting Hill. Having been to the branch near Covent Garden and craving wine and carbs after a hard week at work, The Boy and I hopped on the bus and had a stroll about before dinner. 

I love Notting Hill, there's always something new to see (and plenty of perfect spots for a photo or two). Great pizza, great location, ultimately Notting Hill is the perfect place for a casual Friday night date with The Boy.
Find out more about Rossopomodoro here.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

If we took a holiday

Last week saw the entire Davies clan  (plus an Andrews) up sticks and head to France for the wedding of my cousin Rebecca and The Boy's longtime friend Robert.  

Those who know me well will know that had I not been going on this holiday, it is likely I would have suffered some sort of mental breakdown due to general work/life stress. Put simply: this trip came not a moment too soon.
The stormy seas - Heart shaped cheese - The taste of things to come - Messing around 

The day of travel dawned grey and dreary, with the five o'clock alarm coming (in my opinion) far too soon. Father was doing his usual pre-travel panic (which goes something like: the bags aren't going to fit/are the windows shut/is everything turned off/Laura have you turned off all the taps, and so on) but miraculously we still managed to make it to the port by 6.15am-where the Chichester contingent were waiting. Grandad and Anne had been up for hours, chomping at the bit to get the journey underway and were already sipping cups of tea on the ferry with Howard and Karen when we arrived. 

The Boy needless to say was disappointed that the catamaran was not a full scale ferry and there was little to keep him entertained (but he perked up when they put Scooby Doo on the tv and my Dad bought a pile of newspapers). I meanwhile was happily eating a ham and cheese sandwich (the breakfast of champions), reading the colour supplement and listening to the Rock of Ages soundtrack that I had downloaded especially (The Boy was so pleased). Things took a turn moments after leaving the harbor when the captain announced that the sea was likely to be "moderate to rough". Excellent. A few minutes later the ham and cheese sandwich made a reappearance and it's safe to say I did not feel good. Luckily for me (and everyone else involved) the weather calmed down a couple of hours into the crossing and I was able to comfortably resume my napping position ahead of our three hour car journey. 

In my opinion, a family holiday would not be complete without an arduous trip crammed into the  back of my dads car whilst trying to establish the correct route using a map published before I was born and, luckily for me (and The Boy) there was plenty such journeys during this one week break. There was only one medium (to major) paddy when The Boy proceeded to pretty much throw the satnav at the windscreen all the while screeching "if we've got a working satnav why don't we use it?!?" at anyone within earshot. I suspect this tantrum had more to do with there not being enough space for us in the "kids" car if I'm totally honest.

We did so much over the week that there's far too much for one blog post so I've got many more lined up featuring some of the things we got up to whilst we were away, but for now here's some of my favourite pictures from the trip to keep you amused.
 The Super Seven Go Canoeing - French streets - Villandry - The Boy and I - Meg the dog - Mark and Megan lead the way - Meat salad - Boule, the evening sport of choice

Friday, 13 July 2012

Fish & Chips: the dinner of champions

Firstly, I must apologise for the lack of blog posts lately. I know, I know, I'm rubbish. But what can I say? Things got a little crazy so I went away for a while and have come back revitalised and with a new outlook on life.

You can expect many a blog post over the coming days filling you in on all that I've been getting up to, but first let me tell you all about one of my new favourite places to eat in West London, which I finally got to try out a couple of weeks back.
I had passed Kerbisher & Malt at Brook Green on many an occasion but had never been passing at the right time of day to partake in any of the delicious food they had to offer. A fish and chip takeaway cum restaurant, this small eatery puts all other fish and chip shops in the shade. The stylish, retro inspired decor is right up my street and really suits the Kerbisher and Malt brand - and customer.

After a period of deliberation I went for cod and chips, lemon mayo and a diet coke (having to make an emergency trip back to the counter five minutes later to order a side of mushy peas to share). Let me tell you, the food was divine and the portions were more than generous.

Having always lived by the sea, the move to London has meant my almost weekly indulgence at the local chippy has fallen by the wayside (and my waistline has thanked me for it) but as an every-so-often treat, Kerbisher and Malt looks set to be my new go-to fish and chip shop. I can even be healthy and have my fish grilled should the mood take me.

Voted the Best Contemporary Chippy is Britain by Esquire magazine and with glowing praise from the likes of Heston Blumenthal, K&M seem to be going from strength to strength. With a new branch opening soon in Ealing, it looks like many more West Londoners will be able to take advantage of this gem of an eatery. Hell, even if you're not from West London, Kerbisher & Malt is definitely worth a visit.
Find out more about Kerbisher and Malt here.

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