French Sole Warehouse Sale!

I have to admit, I’m a bit of a brand obsessive. I don’t love a lot of brands, but when I get into something, I can be incredibly loyal, even if whatever the product is is squarely out of my price range! French Sole is one of those products that I fell in love with, but couldn’t really afford. I first became really aware of the brand on the lovely Duchess (aka Kate Middleton) very shortly after she got married, as she piroutted around Waitrose’s carpark wearing a pair of their pretty flats. I fell in love because I LOVE ballet flats, and this company was literally the brand to bring them to the masses – beloved of Diana in her day, too. I had a mega crush on their sparkly gold Henriettas last year, but alas, couldn’t really get a size that felt comfortable on me for the price. Then I discovered their limited edition Union Jack shoes at the end of 2011 and stalked them until they were made available in the UK. They were launched in shops only, but I hassled the poor people at the warehouse until they very kindly sent me a pair for the princely sum of £125 – more than I could really afford, but easily justifiable for the beauty of the shoes, in my opinion! (Many thanks to those long suffering warehouse staff for sending them to me before they were really available, I was so grateful I sent them a card!).

Anyway, I was absolutely thrilled when I saw on Facebook that the company was holding a warehouse sale this weekend, so to treat myself after a fairly horrendous deadline, I got up at 6am, so I could get ready and drive an hour to get to the sale. I ended up getting there half an hour early, but they were already letting people in! IMG_5716

This is what the warehouse looked like on a dreary October morning – complete with a food van (that I was too excited to buy anything from!). IMG_5717

This is the sight that greeted me inside – the sides were set up with shoes out on the table corresponding to the sizes, so I immediately ran over to the 40 section. IMG_5718

There were so many beautiful shoes, I just stared for a bit – then I saw people were picking up the shoes and trying them on, so I immediately pulled my socks off to join in! At this point, I had no idea what the prices were, but that wasn’t going to stop me… IMG_5722

They had bargain bins with pairs for £10 each, but I couldn’t find anything in there that I liked, so I began to grab pretty shoes at random, hopping up and down and slavering at the display like some kind of uncontrolled pervert in the red light district. IMG_5720

Honestly, though, can you blame me? IMG_5719

I eventually worked out that the pricing seemed to be £20 or £40 for the boxed pairs, so I went nuts and grabbed about five pairs that were literally so awesome I couldn’t believe it might actually be possible for me to leave without them. I then hobbled over to the corner to try them on… IMG_5723

These are the pairs I came away with, and I love each one. Starting from the top middle, a pair of quilted white flats with a black toe (very Chanel-esque), a pair of gorgeous brown-bronze flats (which you can’t see in the photo, but are actually lined with black fur), another pair of quilted shoes in brown with patent strips on the toes, then possibly my favourite, the brown glitter pair so similar to the ones I coveted last year (except not the same colour, but since then I’ve bought a similar pair in gold and black, so these are perfect!), and finally, a cute pair of plaid flats with a bronze shimmer finish, and more patent strips on the toes. The quilted pairs were £40 each, and the others were £20, which means I got around £600 of shoes for £120. Very. Pleased. The only thing that’s not too good is that it’s been fair too cold to wear these anywhere since I bought them – roll on spring, please!

(Even more amazingly, Vogue featured French Sole four times in their list of 100 best shoes for A/W 2012, and two of those styles – 28 and 53 – are very similar to the ones I picked up at the sale! Dare I say I prefer the shape of the ones I bought, though? Cos I do!—autumn/winter-2012-13-designer-heels-flats-and-sandals/gallery/59)

Becoming Effie Trinket

If you’ve seen my recipe for Katniss’ alternative plum stew, you’ll know that I love the Hunger Games. So much so that I’m planning a party (well, it had to be done, right?!) with loads of food, and costumes! Who else to dress up as other than the style queen herself, Effie Trinket?!

Looking at photos of Effie, it seems as though two of her major style signatures are puffy sleeves, and contrasting colours. Looking around on ASOS, I found this great, puffed sleeve coat from Liquorish:

Looks just like the kind of thing that Effie would wear, right? Even more so when you check out the back view and those awesome sleeves!

The item is much pinker in real life (you can check it out here), so I reckon the best colour pairing for this is teal! Something like this, sitting on top of a curly blonde wig!:

My Holiday to Cornwall: or, How To Put On A Stone in a Week

So, I went to Cornwall for the first time in my life about two weeks ago. I had a blast, visited some amazing places, ate some amazing food, but in the process I destroyed my bank balance and my waistline! The next month is going to involve some serious recovery… IMG_4005

I Actually Won Something!

Oh my goodness! I actually won a competition! I can’t believe it, but it’s true!

Hobbs ran a competition which invited people to post their Ascot Ladies’ Day outfits on Twitter using Instagram. I’m not really a Twitter user, but I do have an account, so I Instagrammed a pic, bumbled about trying to make it work – and lo and behold, I won a £200 Hobbs voucher! Here is my winning entry: IMG_3095

I love my Britannia hat even more now! And, I love Hobbs as well! Thank you, Hobbs!

Ascot Ladies’ Day!

I love Ascot Ladies’ Day… Let me revise this. I love wearing a hat in the company of other, well-dressed hat wearers. I just really, really, REALLY love hats. But, I never wear hats. If you knew me, you might be surprised how much I love hats, because of my general lack of headwear. So, Ascot Ladies’ Day is the day I pay a wedge of cash to someone to let me into a field wearing a hat, so I can feel no shame all day long for indulging in my frivolous love of hats.

As it’s Jubilee year, this was my hat of choice:


This is the Hobbs Britannia hat, and the moment I saw it in the paper, I had to have it. I bugged the hell out of the Hobbs customer service team until it was released, and as soon as it appeared on the site, I ordered it immediately. Then, it became the centrepiece of our grand scheme to colour co-ordinate for the day. I always go with two of my friends, Rachel and Lorraine, so it was decided that we should wear red, white and blue. I immediately bagged red, because it’s my favourite colour and I decided I needed an excuse to buy another red dress. I forgot I already had three. Rachel bagged white, and Lorraine went with blue. Then, we decided to each have one accessory with the Union flag on it. I already had my hat, so shoes and a bag were the obvious choices. For my wedding, I actually wore a pair of Union flag shoes, so Lorraine decided to track a pair down for herself.


Rachel bought a really cool Union flag purse by LDC (and it was so cool I had to buy one too), and we were all set… apart from the dresses. At first we were all going to buy the same dress in different colours, but the one we had in mind just needed too much alteration, and the blue and the red weren’t particularly strong. So, we abandoned that idea and Rachel ended up with a beautiful white ASOS dress (that she won in a competition!) and Lorraine borrowed another ASOS dress from me. I wound up buying a pretty lace dress from Pepperberry. IMG_2929

Hilariously, I spent ages before the event agonising over whether everyone else would be wearing this hat, because I’d seen it in the press a lot after I bought it, and it was a fairly obvious choice considering even the venue was decked out in the flag to celebrate the Jubilee – but no one else was wearing it. Someone else did have on the exact same dress as me, though… Typical! IMG_2930

Here are Rachel and Lorraine – I cleverly cut off Lorraine’s amazing shoes, because I’m awesome at photography!

Needless to say, we had a great time. We won a third of our stake back, which is great, and we even got to stay for the singing around the bandstand! IMG_3037

If anyone has any other British hat-wearing events they can recommend to me, please do!

Welcome to my world!

Welcome to my new blog, which will be dedicated to some other passions and interests of mine – fitness, and fashion! Unfortunately, they don’t always mix together too well with food, but I’ll be uploading healthy recipes, snacks, tips and hints that I’ve learned about, and hopefully creating a place where I can document my interests and maybe share them with some readers!

A bit about me: I’m a journalist, I live in the UK, and I’m a real foodie. I got married a couple of years ago and lost a fair bit of weight for my wedding. Since then, I’ve been trying to keep on track and stay healthy! I’m not a saint, and I’m definitely well known for my ability to turn a humble occasion into a mammoth eating session, but that doesn’t mean I don’t eat for health, and work on my fitness too. And, of course, I love fashion, so I’ll be able to talk about that here, too!

I hope you enjoy your stay!

Tis a winter hiatus!

Unlike some robust gals who bike through wind and hail, I only cycle for fun, so I’m going to take a few months off during the dark winter days! Good luck to you cold-weather cyclists – the only cycle I’ll be on this winter is my exercise bike!

See you in the spring!

Cycletta: my thoughts

I had a brilliant day yesterday completing the (nearly) 40k course at Cycletta South, and thought I would share some of my observations and great wisdom with you. See, now I’ve done my first 40k RACE I am now a proper athlete and such, and I even have a tiny medal to prove it.

  1. Say what you like about safety, but the number one use of a bicycle bell is to ping at small children who are waving at you. They LOVE it.
  2. When event organisers say ’40k ride’ along with the words ‘you can even do it on a Pashley’, bear in mind that if you DO cycle on a sit up and beg, everyone will be surprised you didn’t die on the way round.
  3. Hills are a bitch.
  4. Headwinds are a bitch.
  5. Headwinds and hills will make you think you are about to die – you probably won’t, but it will be close.
  6. You burn calories doing long cycle rides, but you can’t count them all if you hit the flapjacks at the feed station.
  7. Do not greet male cyclists in a friendly way by dinging your bell at them, whilst sticking your tongue out in concentration so you don’t fall off your bike. It looks a little like you’re trying to sexually harass them.
  8. Bison Hill should be renamed Bitching Hill, because that’s all I did on the way up.
  9. Wet wipes are your friend when you’ve finished.
  10. Once you’ve got past that finish line, you’ll feel like the Queen of the Universe!

Stay tuned for a proper write up of the day later!

Things to do in autumn / fall

Now, this isn’t so much related to cycling, but I thought I’d post it here nevertheless – and it’s also being posted on my food blog, Distracted Gourmet (check it out if you haven’t already!).

Autumn is my favourite of all the seasons – and I love all of them already! But there’s so much great stuff you can do in autumn that I can’t help but love it. In order to help me get the maximum out of the season, I’ve created a check list for myself. I’ll be heading back every now and then to check my progress, too!

New Forest Autumn 3

The beautiful autumn colours of New Forest - by stevestreet

Autumn to do list

  • Have Halloween party
  • Have Thanksgiving dinner
  • Make pinecone decorations
  • Make a leaf wreath
  • Make jam
  • Walk through the leaves
  • Gather chestnuts
  • Make Christmas pudding
  • Celebrate Bonfire Night
  • Carve a pumpkin
  • Cycle down a hill with my scarf flying behind me
  • Make the best hot chocolate
  • Make pickles

What’s on your to-do list this autumn?

Save money: cycle

I’m pretty lucky – I don’t need to commute, because I work from home. (Or, it sometimes seems more accurate to say, I live at my work). My husband refuses to cycle to work because a) the route back is one mega hill, b) his bike is more unreliable than our car, and more importantly, c) he always has boxes of paperwork and a laptop to transport. So neither of us have much experience of commuting by bike. But, I know for some people it’s a tipping point for buying a bike, and in many cases, it can actually be faster to get to where you’re going by bike. But, is it cheaper?


There’s a handy website at which could help you work out how much money you can save by travelling to work by bike. It’s not perfect (and requires you to do some of the maths yourself in order work out how much your present commute costs per day), but it’s a good start to incentivizing people to cycle to work. With petrol prices going up all the time, it certainly something to consider.

I wonder, though, how many people cycle to work because they just like cycling? Shouldn’t that be your main reason? All of the cost and health benefits are really a bonus – and sort of pointless if you actually don’t enjoy the commute. Cycling is something you should do because it’s awesome, not because it’s ‘cheaper’. And, I really do wonder how much cheaper it really is – honestly, starting cycling from scratch, with a brand new bike and all the equipment, is not cheap. Yes, it pays off over time, but a bike isn’t a financial investment – it’s freedom on two wheels. Can I get a hells yeah?

But, of course, as the Cycle to Work Calculator site itself is the first to point out, sites like these are great for making you feel smug about your bike-bound commute. Saving the planet… yeah, cool. Looking stylish… great. Sailing past traffic… ha. SAVING THE MONEYS… AWESOME! May I get another hells yeah?