Happy Easter!

Happy Easter everyone! Hope you’re all having a fantastic day today!

20140420-105705.jpg(Yellow d’Orsay style flats from Next)

Don’t forget, Easter’s not just about chocolate either – I say it’s also about…

20140420-110036.jpg(Shoes from Mint Velvet – and they’ll be available again in the first week of May!)

Eggs in general! Namely these homemade Scotch eggs I made using chorizo sausage – perfect for an Easter buffet.

How do you celebrate Easter? A family dinner, Easter egg hunt, church service, walk in the woods? Let me know!

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Easter 2014 at Fortnum & Mason

Fortnum and Mason is one of my favourite stores in London – and when it comes to holidays and celebrations, they always push the boat out with a great range of beautiful presented food and amazing displays!

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Obviously, the main attraction for Easter celebrations in the UK is chocolate, moulded into the shape of eggs or Easter animals. I really liked the chocolate duck eggs, encased in a cardboard egg container!

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There were a variety of edible animals, including this sweet little pig – although I don’t remember pigs being an Easter animal!

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There were also various chocolate offerings, varying from the restrained to the extravagant.

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You could also get an Easter egg hand decorated in the store, which was a nice touch!

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You could also pick up a pretty batch of macarons if you preferred something less traditional, but still colourful!

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There were loads of simnel cakes – can’t say I’ve ever had one at Easter but I’d love to try it!

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One of the best addition to the range in my opinion, were the Easter biscuits. Again, they ranged from the subtle:

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To the adorably over the top!

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You could even buy a little meringue chick!

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And there were some spectacular yellow flower arrangements in the basement too!

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If it’s Easter, it has to be lamb – and the butcher had some very tempting morsels on display!

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All in all, Fortnums is definitely worth a visit at any time of year, but particularly during holidays and festivals! (If you’re not into food, there’s also an amazing millinery selection, accessories and toiletries on another level, including a beautiful perfume department!)

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(Obligatory Fortnums selfie!)

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You can find Fortnum & Mason online at www.fortnumandmason.com, or visit in person at 181 Piccadilly, London, W1A 1ER. It’s a short walk from the nearest Tube station – Piccadilly Circus.

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Russell & Bromley / Stuart Weitzman Corkswoon Wedges vs Sainsbury’s Tu Suede Wedges

Kate Middleton’s most iconic pair of smart casual shoes are probably her blue suede wedges. Most frequently seen during the 2013 Summer Olympics in London, these wedges are by American designer Stuart Weitzman and available at Russell & Bromley in the UK. However, there are also plenty of high street replicas – such as the pairs from Next and Hobbs last year. This year, grocery chain Sainsbury’s is in on the trend, producing a pair of blue suede cork wedges for £18 for their clothing line Tu. I happened to drop into Sainsbury’s yesterday wearing the originals, so I present a quick side by side comparison in the interests of retail science!

(Just an FYI, Sainsbury’s is the lighter blue of the two!)

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I thought it was funny to note that 1) these were the only pair left after the Duchess’s appearance with the similar pair the other day, and 2) that they were positioned right next to some Sledge lookalikes!

My verdict: the Tu wedges are a decent replicate at £18, although the colour is not really a match for the dark navy of the originals and therefore doesn’t blend that well with dark jeans – which is the way Kate usually wears hers. For the price you probably won’t be surprised to hear that the suede doesn’t feel as nice, and the shoe itself isn’t as comfortable – although the heel and platform are both lower!

Sainbury’s don’t do mail order but you can find the details, including the item number, here. The original versions are here from Russell & Bromley, although they always sell out after an appearance!

See my previous post about the difference between the Hobbs Myra wedges and the R&B Corkswoons here.

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Restaurant Review: Annie’s, Manchester

This week I took a trip up to Manchester to visit the Corrie set, and soak in the Corrie-related sights of the city. No Corrie-fan’s visit to Manchester would be complete without a stop at Annie’s, the restaurant owned by Jennie McAlpine, who plays Fiz in the show.

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Annie’s is located in the centre of the city, within walking distance of all of Manchester’s great shopping areas, and it’s also a great place to go for a pre-theatre meal.

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We popped in on a Monday evening – it was really quiet but apparently we just missed the pre-theatre rush.

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I ordered a glass of Annie’s Fizz, which is Prosecco and cherry brandy, with a cherry at the bottom. It was so good I had another one!

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Anyway, onto the proper menu! Annie’s serves a simple selection of good, Northern fare, all presented with modern flair to give it a bit of restaurant pizazz.

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I ordered the Lancashire rarebit which came with a delicious chutney and was served on whole meal bread. A great start to the meal, and the chutney was the perfect balance to the heavy, rich cheese.

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Meanwhile, my husband had the corned beef hash cake, topped with a perfectly cooked poached egg and accompanied with another relish. Again, a great balance of flavours.

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For my main course, how could I have chosen anything other than a hotpot? Famous across the country, the Lancashire hotpot is a lamb stew topped with sliced potatoes. It’s also famous in Coronation Street thanks to Betty, a sadly departed character whose legendary hotpots are still served in the Rovers today. You can’t visit Lancashire without eating a hotpot.

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Served with a gorgeous side dish of red cabbage, the hotpot was a decent size and chock full of lamb. My only nitpick was that it was a little dry – I like mine swimming in sauce, but this had just enough to keep everything moist.

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My husband had the cottage pie – which he thoroughly enjoyed, along with the carrots which came on the side.

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We also had chips because we were on holiday. So it was basically a legal requirement. These were crispy, thick and delicious. Definitely try these if you get the chance!

Halfway through our meal, we were greeted by the lovely and (literally) fragrant Ms. McAlpine herself, who pops in from time to time to greet guests and see how everything is going.

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It was a lovely surprise as she plays one of my favourite characters! And she and her father Tom were both incredibly friendly and chatty.

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Onto the pudding – this was another no brainier. It had to be the Fizz Bomb! (This is the nickname given to Jennie’s character on the show!)

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We shared this between us as by this point we were both really full. It was very tasty indeed – chocolate ice cream coated with a shell of milk chocolate, drizzled with sauce and studded with popping candy.

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All in all, it was an enjoyable meal, great service and a lovely evening! The staff were great and the food was tasty and traditional.

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You can find Annie’s online at anniesmanchester.co.uk. The restaurant is located at 5 Old Bank Street, Mancheter, M2 7PE, and you can call them on 0161 839 4423 or book via email at bookings@anniesmanchester.co.uk.

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Bags ‘n’ Shoes: Lamb 1887 Agnes Clutch and Bronze French Sole flats

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Yet another new English designer for me – this time, it’s Lamb 1887, which is a reasonably priced label that has been seen on a few celebs (Pippa Middleton, Millie Mackintosh, Diana Vickers etc).

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The studded leather clutch comes with rose gold hardware, and a detachable chain.

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It also has some cute detailing on the bag, including the Lamb logo:

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And another logo on the zip:

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The bag is a good size, although because of the flat shape, it’ll be tricky to fit things in that aren’t, well, flat!

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I paired it with an older pair of French Sole flats that I picked up from a warehouse sale a few years ago.

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The neat thing about these flats are that they’re lined with some faux fur, making them perfect for those days where you want to wear flats but it’s still a bit nippy!

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I also thought that the bronze went pretty well with the rose gold and black of the leather. Also, I haven’t had much of a chance to wear these yet, so when I realised there was a bit of a match, I jumped at the chance!

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As you can see, my love of chain and leather straps is continuing at a healthy pace – and detachable straps are just so handy for turning an everyday smart bag into an evening clutch bag.

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The interior of the bag has a lovely beige suede interior, with a handy zip pocket section for holding your cards or blotting paper and the like!

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I purchased the Lamb 1887 Agnes bag from Atterley Road, which is a great retailer with an amazing edit of some great brands – perfect for picking up smart day wear, work wear and the like! You can also purchase it directly from Lamb at their website here. The bag retails for £150 and also comes in beige.

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The French Sole shoes are no longer available, but you can visit their website for more in similar styles and colours here.

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Nautical and Nice

It all started with those pointed Dale flats from L.K. Bennett… And then the French Sole nautical collection. And Modalu’s nifty fabric Riviera tote with that amazing navy and white stripe… Pretty soon, I was obsessed with all things nautical, and, well, it was pretty much only a matter of time before this happened:

Nautical and nice

On the top row we have the aforementioned Modalu tote (£75), and next to that, the Soho grab, also from Modalu (£89). If leather is more your thing, Modalu also do this amazing azure blue Artemis shopper, which is one of my favourite colours this season (£199).  L.K. Bennett also have a couple of really cool nautical totes this season – at the end of the top row is the Hoxton canvas tote (£175), and the cool and quirky Lytham St. Anne’s canvas beach bag (£95, one of a series of three) starts off the second row on the left. Save your pennies with the simple chic of this navy striped tote with rope handles from Next (£20), or treat yourself to Kate Spade’s Welcome To Brighton bag (£130). Rounding out the bag selection are two clutches – on the left is L.K. Bennett’s embellished straw Evie clutch (£225), and the right is Kate Spade’s nifty Terrace Drive Abbett clutch (£245).

On to the shoes! On the top row we have French Sole’s red pointed Penelope flats (£180), then L.K. Bennett’s azure Connie espadrille wedges (£160). The L.K. Bennett team are mad for gosgrain this season, because they have several offerings that make use of the striped ribbon in a variety of colours – each of my selections is available in various bold striped patterns. Next to that on the end of the top row of three is another nifty pair of French Sole flats, Henriettas with a rope pattern that dances across the toes (£160). On the bottom row on the left are a pair of slingback pointed toe flats from Next (£26), another pair of simpler Henriettas from French Sole – I couldn’t resist the rope bow! – (£150), and then a peep-toe espadrille wedge from Next (£34). Finally, a Marlene block heel sandal from L.K. Bennett (£175), and those shoes that started it all, the Dale pointed toe flats, from L.K. Bennett (£150) – available in navy and white, azure and white, and raspberry and white, and all in that gosgrain finish I love so much!

Do you like to channel a bit of nautical style in your wardrobe come the sunnier seasons? Without doubt, nautical style is always in fashion during spring and summer, and I’m a sucker for it every time! Considering that it always makes an appearance on the shelves, it’s a smart investment to pick up a few nautical accessories to mix and match – you’ll probably find you end up using them year after year. Do you have an old favourite you like to bring out?

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Replikating at Hobbs, Gunwharf Quays

Gunwharf Quays is my local shopping outlet, and whilst it doesn’t have as many luxury brands as Bicester, it’s still an amazing place to shop.

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If you’re after some Kate Middleton style, it’s also a great place to pick up replikates!

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Many of Kate’s favourite shops and brands are here, including L.K. Bennett, Barbour, Hobbs, Jaeger, Ted Baker, Links and Ralph Lauren

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I popped in to Gunwharf for a quick pit stop this weekend, and here are some of my finds!

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This awesome Ted Baker jacket in silver was a special sample priced at £80. Unfortunately it was a bit creased and didn’t photograph well, but it had a beautiful shape to the back.

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Ted Baker is an excellent place to get really gorgeous party dresses or frocks for the races.

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Another great outlet is L.K. Bennett. I’ve purchased many a great item in here, including a teal Jude jacket (£60) and a pair of black suede Harper pumps (£115). Highlights today included a black Davina dress (Kate has worn one in teal under her Jetta jacket – like the Jude) for £150, and Sledges in beige, gold and black glitter for £115.

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I spent most of my time in Hobbs though – I love the brand and the physical stores, but let’s just say their online service leaves a lot to be desired… But let’s stick with the positive for this post!

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There were a few items in here from the current mid season sale, including plenty of items in the same Dalmatian print that Kate wore in Southampton (hers was a collarless coat). The Niamh top was there in blue and white for £28.

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There were also trousers, a scarf, and a cardigan (£50).

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As the Dalmatian mac that Kate wore is long since sold out, these are great replikating options which use the same print! There are even shoes – the Lexi open toe court for £49 and the Bea ballerina, £35.

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My favourite replikate from Hobbs is the Myra wedge, in navy suede (£49).

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They also had the mushroom version, which was incredibly tempting!

Hobbs Outlet stores can be found at Bicester, Braintree, Canterbury, Cardiff, Cheshire Oaks, Kildare, Portsmouth, Swindon, Walton-On-Thames and York. Track them down at www.hobbs.co.uk.

Discover more about Gunwharf Quays at their site www.gunwharf-quays.com.

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Bag ‘n’ Shoes: Modalu Large Dickens Tote and Russell & Bromley New Dry Boots

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The lovely Tatiana from Tatiana’s Delights recently posted a great lead for the Modalu sale on her Facebook page, which prompted me to do a bit of investigation – and a lot of shopping! I had a couple of weekends away looming (one of which I’ll be posting about very soon!) and so I was in the market for a smart leather tote bag which could double as an overnight bag. Enter the large Dickens Tote!

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In the sale for a fairly hefty discount (although, sadly not any more), this bag is enormous, but it’s not so comically large that you can’t use it as an everyday bag when you have a lot to carry.

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It also comes with this nifty, detachable, horse head clutch, which would be great for storing travel documents! I’ve also detached it to use it as a clutch for evenings – it makes the perfect travel companion for the tote, I have to say!

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I paired it with my Russell & Bromley / Aquatalia New Dry wedge boots – as the weather gets warmer I’m going to have to retire these trusty boots with a heavy heart, so I thought I’d get some more use from them while I can!

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As I live in leggings and skinny jeans, they fit perfectly in my wardrobe!

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Also, you can’t go too far wrong with matching black to black!

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I’m also a bit in love with the simple design touches that add a generous dash of luxury to this tote. The horse head envelope clutch and the gold Modalu logo…

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And these cute shell motifs which adorn the zipper tags!

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What’s not to love? I am definitely incredibly impressed with the customer service, the quality of the product, and the speed of delivery, too.

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Inside the tote is one large open space with a zip top, plus an internal zipped pocket and slip cases for a phone and papers. On the back of the tote is another zipped pocket, meaning there’s plenty of room for sectioning off your pills, receipts and other important things!

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The Modalu Dickens tote is currently sold out, although here is a Google shopping link in case you can find one online. Visit Modalu’s site for more of their products here.

The Russell & Bromley New Dry wedge boot is currently available in most sizes at their site here for £225.

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Sunshine at the Beach

Sunshine at the beach

 

Since I bought my lovely yellow Zara coat, I’ve been thinking of ways to style it for spring. As I’m also slightly obsessed with nautical stripes at the moment, I put together this outfit featuring a striped navy and ecru jumper from Next (£18), striped, pointed Dale flats from L.K. Bennett (and also available from Next… Although I’ve been waiting for mine to dispatch for a month: £150), inky denim leggings from Next (£24), the aforementioned yellow Zara coat (£99.99) and the Mulberry Lily in Emerald (£750).

Bright colours, nautical influences, and a mix of green, yellow, blue and white – what do you think? I have to confess, I’m struggling to come up with bag matches for this coat that go with the rest of an outfit!

EDIT: Grazia magazine UK is currently offering 25% off L.K. Bennett between 1-14 April. Pick up the 7 April edition with Gwyneth Paltrow on the front for your code, which can be used online or in a store!

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The Perfect Spring Coat from Zara

Channeling two of this season’s hottest trends is this delicious lemon yellow coat from Zara, which caught my eye today!

The perfect spring coat

 

The collarless coat is hot shape for this season, and it’s one that I’m just starting to warm to at the moment. It’s a classic shape that has yet to make its appearance in my wardrobe, but I’m more than happy to make the plunge now I’ve realise how flattering and feminine it can be. And in this beautiful colour, it’s even more on trend – check out the Pantone colour report for Spring 2014 here. I have to say I’ve never described a colour as being ‘freesia’, but I’m definitely going to start now!

So what do you think of the collarless coat trend? Is it a yay or a nay?

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