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Quitting the Caffeine
Back in October, I made the decision to cut out caffeine from my diet with the view of improving my health. I would generally have a cup of tea or two a day, the occasional coffee and the occasional can of coke. I would find that if I didn't have my cup of tea with breakfast of a day, I'd get a splitting headache that wouldn't subside, even with caffeine or painkillers. So whether I wanted a tea or not - I'd always have to make sure I had one for fear of developing one of those stubborn headaches.

And for this reason, I know that giving it up was one of the best decisions I ever made.
WithdrawalIt wasn't the easiest thing to do, oh no - I had a fortnight of very painful headaches and had to stay strong and not reach for the teapot for a day's relief - it really was a cold turkey situation that quickly made me realise how dependent I'd become on caffeine. No surprise really, as I'd been drinking a minimum of one tea a day for the last 13 years. And then I realised that my headaches were because I was experiencing withdrawal, and that's really quite scary. 
As hilarious as the line 'reaching for the teapot to get some relief' sounds, it's not quite that funny... When you aren't a smoker, don't do drugs and don't drink much alcohol, you never expect to find yourself addicted to something. But now I know that I was, and kicking the habit has been totally freeing.
How I feel now...Four months on, I'm super happy with my decision and don't have any plans to ever go back to my old ways. Yes, I will eventually decide to introduce the occasional coke or coffee back in to my diet, but when I say occasional, I really mean it.
To be completely honest, when it comes to tea, there's barely any taste difference between decaf and regular anyway, so what's the point in starting back again if I don't need to?
One side effect I never expected was having so much more energy and feeling far more awake throughout the day. Before, if I was having a laggy day at my desk where I couldn't keep my eyes open, I'd reach straight for the kettle. Yes, it would briefly pick me up but of course it would wear off a short while later. 
I couldn't definitively tell you that I have more energy in general, because you do get used to whatever becomes normal for you. But the main thing is, if I'm tired, I now know I need to get some more rest, not a big cup of quick-fix caffeine. It's all a bit more natural, and being in tune with my body, which is never a bad thing. 
And as I sit here reflecting on the past few months sans-caffeine, I'd say that there've definitely been less droopy eye moments at my desk and a wee bit more focus. Win win.

How to Quit Caffeine
So, my tips for how to quit the old devil bean are:
  • Ease in gently and don't go cold turkey if you can help it - given I generally had one cuppa a day, I couldn't exactly reduce that down gradually, and I think that's why those first few weeks were so tough. If you've been on the caffeine for as long as me, your body's going to need some time to adjust
  • Switch to a good quality decaf brand. There's no use trading in your lovely posh caffeine tea bags for some cheapo budget brand - you will taste the difference and may confuse this with the lack of caffeine instead. My favourite is Yorkshire Blend Decaf - I don't taste a difference at all
  • If you get withdrawal like I did, don't give up - it's only going to make it worse if you quit again later. My view was, if I'm going to suffer the side effects, I might as well get them out of the way now
  • Most cafes and restaurants offer decaf tea options, not just coffee. I'd never noticed decaf tea on the menu so figured I'd have to start carrying a supply of tea bags around with me - but I've yet to find a cafe that hasn't been able to do me a decaf tea which is wonderful
  • I'm not a huge coffee drinker, but hubby is. We've got a Nespresso machine and neither of us have noticed a difference when using the decaf pods over the normal ones - other than slightly less choice of flavours, but I can't say that's something I notice with my once-a-month coffee anyway!

The only thing I particularly miss is popping open an ice cold can of coke or Dr Pepper on a hot summer's day - there's just nothing quite like that taste! And I will, in future, allow myself to enjoy drinks like these that have caffeine in, but I just won't bring regular drinking of them into my daily routine - and for now, I'm sticking with my caffeine-free, artificial sweetener-free Appletiser!

So, if you're thinking of cutting back / quitting caffeine, I can tell you from experience that it's the best decision for not only your health, but your well being too. For me, letting go of all the dependency, the threat of headaches and regularly feeling shattered has had such a positive impact on my mental health and that's exactly the thing that makes it all worth it.

Of course, knowing that I'm looking after my body more and stripping my diet back to something a bit more natural is the greatest feeling of all.


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Rose Pleated Dress - Shein | Faux Fur Coat - French Connection | Shimmer Heart Block Heels - Rainbow Club | Claudia Pearl Clutch Bag - Collectif | Pearl Sun Ray Earrings - Jasper & Opal at Not on the High Street | Silver Plated Bracelet - Jon Richard at Debenhams

Vintage Romance
This look is all about subtle elegance - perfect for a romantic Valentine's evening with your sweetheart. This gorgeous dusty rose coloured dress is accented by the classic silver and pearl accessories, and gives a nod to the 60's with the leopard print faux fur coat. These unusual semi-starburst earrings also bring a hint of mid-century style to the look, while the adorable heart block heels give it a contemporary edge - the perfect all rounder!

Date Idea: The old classic; dinner and a movie.
Drift back in time to 1970's New York and opt for the highly acclaimed new film, If Beale Street Could Talk. Due to be released in time for Valentine's Day, the film looks set to be full of beautiful filmography that tells a heart-wrenching story. Watch the trailer here.

Images from If Beale Street Could Talk

Simmons Lip Print Shift Dress - Joanie Clothing | Singapore Shoes in Red - Charlie Stone Shoes | Red Leather Lips Bag - Lulu Guinness | Multi Key Pendant Necklace - Topshop | Soft Touch Microfibre Tights in Avorio White - Calzedonia | Red Hair Bow Clip - Claire's AccessoriesGalentine's DayThis look is all about confidence, colour and fun! If you're flying solo this Valentine's, arrange a night out with the girls and dress in this bold 60's style shift dress to bring out your playful edge. Hang the keys to your heart around your neck and who knows what the day may bring!
Date Idea: Cocktails with your favouritesEscape the busy restaurants and skip straight to the cocktails with your best girls. Or don your PJs and bring the bar home with these fab recipes for festive homemade cocktails. My particular favourites on this list being Love Potion, Something (Sweet)Heart and Raspberry Kiss. (Images below).
Images from Cosmopolitan.com


Hedy Polka Dot Pencil Dress - Joanie Clothing | Caroline Cape Coat - Collectif Clothing | Molly Heart Tassel Heels - Lulu Hun | Lou Velvet Heart Bag - Lulu Hun | Heart Hair Stick - Accessorize | Love Heart Pendant Necklace - Forever 21
Date Night
For a smokin' date night with the one you love, opt for this chic wiggle dress and collection of crimson-toned accessories. Crushed velvet and gold jewellery bring grandeur and charm to this outfit, while the sequin-tassled shoes bring out a cheekier side! Reveal your curves in this form-fitting dress from underneath the sultry cape, as you step in from the cold and begin to heat up...

Date Idea: Catch a Cabaret Show with your Beaux
Venture into the big city to see the ultimate retro glamour show - burlesque! Proud Cabaret City in London is showing Love in the City on Valentine's night and all the following weekend, and judging by their photos of previous shows, it's going to be full of surprises!

Images from Proud Cabaret City

So the only thing left is to ask the question - which outfit would you choose?

Happy Valentine's Day all!
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As you've likely seen on Instagram, my lovely hubby surprised me with a mini break in the French Alps for my Christmas present. We set off on the 2nd January for 3 nights to a little town called Le Grand Bornand, just south of Geneva and not far from Chamonix.

On the Road...After waking at the ungodly time of 2.30am, we began our 11 hour drive and arrived off the ferry in France shortly after sunrise, with the smooth, open road ahead of us!


It's safe to say there were a fair few refuelling stops on route, and a French-speaking American in Starbucks who didn't quite get my English name!

As we approached the mountains, there were times where we were reminded a little bit of America, and fell in love with road trips all over again...



And finally, after a long drive that finished with snaking up the narrow sides of mountains in the dark of night, we arrived at our gorgeous Air Bnb that sat overlooking the valley that housed Le Grand Bornand.

Not that we knew just what that meant - all our view consisted of was the town's lights and the odd set of car headlights soaring through the sky, which indicated just how surrounded by mountains we really were. As we stood looking out over the valley, breathing in the icy air, it felt so precious to be back in the mountains once again.

We stepped inside and didn't hang about with getting the fire roaring and the red wine flowing. I donned my gorgeous new Pjs and we lit our 'ski lodge' candle - all items that Paul gave me on Christmas day as clues to the holiday.


Fromage & Fire...
The next morning, we realised just how beautiful this place was. We awoke to light streaming in through the huge picture windows as the sun rose over the Aravis mountains opposite. Nothing had quite prepared me for that first glance of those snow-capped peaks towering over the little town set deep in the valley.





And once again, my mountain heartbeat beat loud and clear inside my chest.


After a few quick snaps out on the balcony, and a taste of just how cold -9°C feels when in your pyjamas(!), we put our warmest winter outfits together and stepped outside to explore our new surroundings.


I opted for the beautiful teal accessories that had made up some of my clues from Paul - and paired them with this oh-so-soft cashmere rollneck and THE best invention from Primark - faux fur lined leggings. They honestly were my saviour with the freezing temperatures and mountaintop winds.

Cashmere Rollneck - Old Season from John Lewis & Partners Similar Linked Here | Long Sleeved Vest & Faux-fur Lined Leggings - Primark | Scarf & Hat - Mountain Warehouse | Cabin Socks - Fat Face | Replica Perfume Discovery Set - Maison Margiela at John Lewis & Partners




After the obligatory Instagram snaps outside, we headed down the winding mountain road into town, parked up, and headed straight back up another mountain, only in a rather different mode of transport...





Once at the top, we decided to brave the cold so we could soak up all the wonderful views, and ordered hot chocolates and lunch outside on the cafe's balcony. 


Note to self: bring sunglasses tomorrow.




Eating fromage & frites in the crisp mountain air with the winter sun on our faces was divine - but so was slipping inside to pay the bill and allow the log burner's roaring fire to bring some feeling back to our cheeks!

We ordered another hot chocolate each (cause you know, holiday and all) and soaked up the views one last time before heading back down the mountainside.






By the time we'd got back down and walked into the centre ville, the cold had got through all our many layers and was starting to sting our skin... so we headed to the local grocers and picked up some bread, cheese and wine to take home and enjoy by the fire.



We arrived back to gourmet hot chocolate, new doggo friends and that wonderful feeling of not having to be anywhere or do anything.


We spent all afternoon and all evening sitting in front of the fire, other than a quick break to make cheese fondue before collapsing back into the chairs, and topping up the carafe with plenty more vin rouge.

The sun set over the Aravis behind us while the fire crackled and flickered in the grate beside us, and we whiled away the evening drinking wine and chatting the night away.



Sunrise & Slopes...The next morning, I set my alarm early so that I could be up before the sun. I left Paul in bed and threw on my layers, and slipped outside into the cold mountain air with my camera.

Thus began the dance from bed to balcony for the next 40 minutes - after capturing the beautiful fruit-salad sky and jumping back into bed to warm up, the sky had changed again to something just as stunning that I couldn't resist photographing.



It was totally worth it, of course.

Eventually I called it a day, lit the fire in the grate and jumped back into bed.
[Translation: I got fed up with keep putting all my layers on, banged about trying to light a fire which woke Paul up, then climbed back into bed with a cuppa while he got up and tried to fix my awful attempt at a fire!]





Nonetheless, once the fire was roaring and I could feel my toes again, it was one of those glorious mornings where you're in no hurry to start the day - so you roll over in bed and drift in and out of sleep for a while, listening to the crackle of the flames.


Grey Ribbed Rollneck - Tu ClothingLong Sleeved Rollneck & Faux-fur Lined Leggings - Primark | Cabin Socks - YakTrax at Cotswold Outdoor | Replica Perfume Discovery Set - Maison Margiela at John Lewis & Partners | Hat - Vintage


Of course before I layered up again I had to get a snap of mountains on mountains! Posing for this shot in -7 was certainly exhilarating... I think!?

Once we were dressed and out of the cosy confines of our Air BnB, we made our way to the next town over - La Clusaz.


After testing out my French to buy the tickets, we hopped into another cable car to take us high up into the Aravis.


And the views were just perfect.


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So, resolutions. 'A new year, a new me.'
All those broken promises of gym visits, healthier eating, making more time for this, that and the other... They all sound pretty fantastic until you either slip up or stop completely and as a result feel desperately disappointed in yourself for failing. Well, of course you've failed - because the goals you've set aren't realistic to your personal situation. To be honest, I think they hardly ever are. I could make a resolution to change certain things and to add tasks into my routine - but unless it's a priority to me, and genuinely what I want to achieve, I won't keep up with it. Because it's not relevant to my personal situation.

The only resolution I'm making is to not make any resolutions.  Because in my experience, resolutions only ever last a couple of weeks or a month or so - and then you feel terribly guilty because you have 'let yourself down.'

No, resolutions aren't the ticket to mental wellbeing. Instead, I'm going to talk about my thoughts for the coming year - and I'm keeping them simple.


1. Don't sweat the big stuffWe all talk about not sweating the little stuff - and I've been working hard over the past year to get to the stage where those little things just don't get to me. OK, so I have my moments occasionally but more often than not nowadays, I do my best to take things in my stride and not get in a flap just because some plans change at the last minute or something doesn't quite work out how I thought it might.

What my first thought for 2019 is - let's not sweat the big stuff either. This is something I'm not so good at doing, so it'll take a lot of reprogramming. But I know that taking away the huge question marks that I find constantly hanging over my head will be the best thing I ever did for myself. It'll take some work, but hopefully I'll be sitting here in a year's time writing a similar paragraph to the one above and no longer worrying about the ifs, the hows, and the whens.


2. Do keep sweatingThe gym isn't for everyone. And on countless New Year's Days, I've sat and decided 'I'm going to get fit and healthy this year' for it to all come crumbling down around me and that ridiculous sense of guilt setting in like concrete. I wasn't into fitness all those years - so why on earth was I setting myself up with a goal that I knew I wasn't going to meet!?

But ever since summer of 2018, I have got into fitness and (2013 me if you're reading this, you might want to sit down...) I can hand-on-heart say, I love the gym. It's come into my life at the perfect time and it is the best stress relieving, self-esteem boosting me-time I've ever found. I work out when I want to, I don't stress about it if I don't (but I do miss it) and taking classes like yoga has really allowed me to connect with body, mind and soul - and as a result, find a much happier me. 


3. Keep creating
Creating beauty, creating fun, creating memories. Whatever the word creativity means to you - embrace it and enjoy it. Don't feel pressured because you didn't finish that craft project, because you never quite got around to launching your online shop or because you never finished a plan or intention.

Create HAPPINESS. Not fear, not stress, not guilt. Live for what you believe in, what you want to do and what makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

I'd love to say that I'll get more prints up in my Etsy shop this year, or that I'll do more projects at home, but to be honest, all I'm going to ask of myself is to create the kind of happiness that brings a sense of freedom and relaxation.



4. Stop comparingStop comparing yourself to others. To where they are in their lives now; to where you thought you might be today. What's meant for you will not pass you by. Everyone is on their own journey in life. 

Yes, there'll be a fair few moments that I'll need to repeat these to myself at times when it doesn't feel as true - but as a general rule I really want to make this a part of my natural way of thinking. We are all walking a different path in life, and we need to make of it what we will. We can spend a year worrying and stressing about the things that haven't been, but we'll waste a year in doing so. A year where we could have been learning, exploring, traveling, creating, giving... If it's meant for us, it won't pass us by - therefore lets enjoy the time in between and let go of the negative focus.




So simply...
Be the very best that you can be.
Can being the important part. Do what you can and always aim high, but don't give yourself a hard time if you have an off day or struggle to achieve a target. Open up expectations. Don't lower them - open them up to more possibilities, more ideas, different outcomes. 

Work hard, take care of yourself, forgive more, achieve more, but mostly, stand back and appreciate what you've already achieved. Stop focusing entirely on where you want to be; pull up a seat and look back at how far you've come, how much you've already achieved and how that's all made you feel. Remember when you wanted what you currently have. Because I bet you what you like, it's pretty bloody fantastic and you made it all happen.

Happy 2019 everybody. I wish you the happiest of years with the very happiest of yous.



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2018 was a magnificent year for us. It saw home improvements, finally purchasing our dream car, becoming Godparents to our gorgeous nephew and embarking on the adventure of a lifetime in the Southern USA.
Yep, 2018 gave us a LOT to be grateful for. So, here's a photo roundup of one of the best years ever...
































































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Our festive season has felt to be quite a busy one this year. With lots of lovely pre-Christmas activities like seeing the London Community Gospel Choir do a festive special, snuggly days babysitting our little Nephew, toasting marshmallows at the Enchanted event at Audley End House and drinking all the mulled wine, all the cocktails and aaaalll of the festive hot chocolates - and somewhere in between we've managed to fit in Christmas parties, evenings out, mince pie baking and our traditional Christmas Eve breakfast!






 



Can we also take a moment to talk about Asda's Gingerbread Gin Liqueur!? I was given this bottle at work and it literally is the best drink. Ever.

Not only does it taste phenomenal, but it also shimmers and glows with gold sparkle when you shake and pour it.

DREAMBOAT.

December the 23rd
On the Sunday before Christmas, we spent the day doing the last bits and pieces of gift wrapping and house prep before heading into town to Wintasia, our local Christmas teepee that becomes the cosiest refuge throughout December. Mulled wine in one hand, and toasting marshmallows with the other, we had a lovely family afternoon huddled around the fire before retreating back to big sister's snuggly home for a pre-chrimble bevvy.




Christmas Eve
On Christmas Eve we went for our traditional walk into town to get breakfast and a wander around the shops. We then headed home past all the festive cottage doors to curl up with a cuppa in front of the Muppet Christmas Carol - another favourite Christmas Eve tradition of ours!




Roma found her present underneath the tree and decided she'd been patient enough - she adored the giant catnip fishy inside and was throwing it about all over the place!

We also had the pleasure of being invited to celebrate Polish Christmas this year with my Sister, Brother in Law and family on the 24th, which was a magical experience with prayers, presents and the perfect Polish three course meal.




Christmas Day
Our Christmas Day this year began with a cup of tea while opening stockings in bed. Paul found a plethora of American sweets and drinks in his, whilst I found the most adorable collection of miniatures to commemorate our 2018 - like a mini Fiat 500x, a mini version of our sofa and some miniature spirits as a momento of all the lovely things we've enjoyed this year.


We then packed up all our wrapped gifts from under the tree and headed over to my parents out in the country. 

We had a brilliant, traditional Christmas Day all together, with winter walks, pressie opening and the best chrimble dinner cooked by my Mama.



As you may have seen on Instagram this week, my Christmas present from Paul was an amazing collection of the snuggliest knitwear, the richest hot chocolate and much more, like gourmet s'mores and colour changing pine cones for the fire.


Once I had opened everything, he showed me a moodboard that he'd made for inspiration - featuring a snowy log cabin and roaring fire. Then he told me... that he's taking me to that very same log cabin this week It was the best Christmas surprise and made me cry tears of both excitement and shock!


Turns out there was even a clue in the stunning mountain themed wrapping paper too!


December the, erm...
The last few days then passed in a haze of cosy days on the sofa, long, hot baths with a book,  falling asleep at 7pm then staying up until past midnight watching films, with the odd trip out the house now and then.







We also had Paul's family Christmas last Friday, which was a wonderful day filled with pimped up prosecco, board games and a huge indulgent feast complete with chocolate fountain!



I hope you all had a wonderful festive season filled with lots of sparkle, love and happiness. I also wish you a very happy New Year and hope 2019 brings you all the magic you could ever wish for...


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Would it really be Christmas if I wasn't spending my spare time pouring over websites to find the most beautiful gift ideas? - And no, you don't have to answer that!
So welcome to my little Christmas wish list, featuring lots of gorgeous products from some of my very favourite shops. We've got a classic dining theme, the snuggliest 'day at home' essentials, classic retro outfits for both the big day and New Years Eve, and some favourite items for a lovely pamper day at home to recover after all the celebrations! All carefully put together to bring you my select list of beautiful buys this Christmas.

Warm Winter Cosy
So first up, we've got my favourite accessories for snuggling up at home over the festive period. You know, those days where you really don't fancy getting dressed and you certainly don't plan on leaving the house. Those ones where you stay in your PJs, stick a Christmas DVD on and drink your weight in hot chocolate with aaaalll the trimmings. 
I actually bought the grey jumper for myself after falling in love with it while writing this wish list - and I can tell you now, it will not disappoint! It is super soft, snuggly and goes with everything. It's my new wardrobe staple for winter.
Cotton Star Print Nightdress, M&S | Laura Mercier Ambre Vanille Honey Bath, John Lewis & Partners | Cashmere Bed Socks, The White Company | Grey Ribbed Roll Neck Jumper, Tu Clothing | Fir Tree Botanical Candle, The White Company | Faux Fur Throw, Dunelm | Grey Faux Fur Slipper Boots, Tu Clothing
Christmas Day
I decided to put a couple of retro outfits together for Christmas Day & New Year's Eve, as these are some of my favourite posts to do. So, for the big day, I've gone old school Christmas film from the 90s - red tartan and velvet! And you know I love any outfit that requires a petticoat - so this check swing dress from Collectif ticks all the right boxes. Plus - how adorable are these black pom pom earrings?

New Year's EveOf course an outfit for ringing in the New Year has to have some sparkle - and I am literally obsessed with star print at the moment, so it had to be this snazzy Hellbunny number paired with the custest cosmic hair slides from Accessorize - all that's missing is a sparkling glass of bubbly!

Cosmic Love Dress, Hellbunny | Silver Crossover Court Shoes, Russell & Bromley | Moon & Star Hair Slide Set, Accessorize | Glitter Clutch Bag, Jimmy Choo | Black Bolero, Collectif Clothing 

Relax & Pamper
I love those few days in between Christmas and New Year, when the days are all about long lay ins, hot soaks in the bath and lazy afternoons in front of the TV. And I always have a few pamper sessions in these days - so I've chosen some festive candles, calming bath salts & have sneaked the ESPA advent calendar in there too - to continue the pampering right through the month! And of course, I couldn't do a wish list without the lovely RVK Loves collab with Balance Me Beauty - isn't that packaging just so gorgeous!?
Christmas Votive Candle Set, Plum & Ashby | Comfort & Joy Advent Calendar, ESPA | Super Moisturising Hand Cream Gift, Balance Me Beauty x RVK Loves | Supreme Faux Fur Hot Water Bottle & Cover, The White Company | Geranium Body Cream, Arket | Sleepy Cow Calming Bath Salts, Cowshed | Essie Merry Mani Bauble Duo, Sainsburys

Fine Dining
A big part of Christmas for me is setting a beautiful table that oozes festive elegance, so I had to include a themed set up in my Chrimble wish list. I've got a bit of an obsession with deep blues at the moment so I've opted for a classic navy, white & silver colour scheme with a hint of stars and sparkle - perfect for serving a luxurious festive feast! Set of 6 Star Champagne Saucers, The Vintage List at Not on the High Street | White Pom Pom Tablecloth, Next | Silver Glitter Table Runner, Next | Navy Table Runner, Ikea | Navy Felt Placemats, John Lewis & Partners | Stoneware Dinner Plate, H&M Home | Mikasa Ciara Navy Pleated Napkin, Wayfair | Silver Bead Burst Napkin Ring, Kim Seybert at Lux Deco | Gloriana Flatware Cutlery Set, Anthropologie | Rosemary Sprig Porcelain Plate, H&M Home 

And of course, if you want to add an extra bit of festive fun to your home this year, you can head on over to my shop to blag yourself some Christmas prints!


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Beautiful October
Hello and happy November to you!

October saw us freshly returned from our big States trip and very excited to get all autumnal and cosy, having spent most of September in 38 degree heat.

So everything became very orange very quickly... from the little pumpkin display scattered along our dining table, to the flurry of autumn leaves that adorned our mantlepiece. And it didn't stop there - my autumn wardrobe came out in all it's brown, gold and red glory, I made countless foodstuffs with the apples from our tree and we even managed to fit in a visit to the pumpkin farm with the brother in law, big sister and our little nephew.



Home-baked GoodnessWe are very fortunate to have inherited a mature Blenheim apple tree in our garden, and while it is somewhat of a pain in summer as it blocks a lot of light - it really comes into its own come September. The fruit grows plumper and riper throughout the month until finally in October the branches can't take the weight anymore and the apples begin to drop. Crisp green apples tinged with a rosy blush turned sweeter and more crimson as the month went on. Normally October would see me offloading as many apples as possible to other people but this year I really got in the swing of using them for just about everything.


Apple & Cinnamon muffins for breakfast; Sausage, Mustard and Apple tart for dinner; Apple and Blackberry Crumble for dessert; Toffee Apples for Halloween - even Spiced Apple Chutney now sits in jars waiting patiently for the Christmas cheese to come out. I've never made so much from this autumn bounty - we were even adding apple chunks to chicken casseroles for a sweeter bite, not to mention the one or two apples a day I've eaten at my desk since the first drop back in late September.
It's been really lovely and has given me a real sense of accomplishment for making the most of what nature has given us - next year I'll definitely look forward to the harvest rather than dread the month-and-a-half apple drop!


Autumn Walks
As soon as the leaves began to change, I was itching to get out and about to kick my feet through all those fallen crunchy leaves. I'm grateful to have had many opportunities in October to immerse myself in all the wonderful colour and light of autumn, not to mention the cold snap that meant I could finally dust off my coats and snuggle down in scarfs, hats and gloves.


One of the things encouraging me outside in the cold has been the huge amount of baseball that Paul has been playing since returning to the UK - nippy Sunday mornings in Cambridge have been spent down on the American sports field watching him stealing a taste of Atlanta once again.




Also how fab is this photo that he took on a timer? I can't take credit for this unfortunately but he certainly takes selfie to a whole new level!


Pumpkin Picking
The highlight of October is often an afternoon spent down at the pumpkin patch. This year was spent with our wonderful Sister & Brother in Law and our little Nephew Max, at Cammas Hall Fruit Farm in Hatfield Broad Oak.


Its safe to say Max was more excited by the aeroplanes flying overhead, but the adults certainly enjoyed wandering around looking for pumpkins!


And would I even be a real photographer / embarrassing Aunty if I didn't plop Max in a wheelbarrow and take his photo!?




Conker Picking
Our other autumnal moment of note in October was a brief drive down Chestnut Avenue, which is a beautiful, long straight road that waves gently over the fields and is lined with ancient horse chestnut trees.

We stopped for a quick wander in the surrounding woods and stumbled upon an untouched paradise of fallen leaves and endless amounts of shiny brown conkers.

Of course it's imperative to match your outfit to your autumn activity - even if it was an impromptu stop off! This was the rust-coloured beret's first day out of the wardrobe since last winter and I'm super glad that it's back!

And Onto November...
I hope you all had a wonderful October filled with lots of glorious golden tones. I'm happy to see that the autumn leaves are sticking around a bit longer and keeping November a flurry of crimson, ochre and chocolate brown.

I love this time of year so much; the evenings become cosier, the days see us wrapped up in woolly layers; the excitement of festivities arrives on the horizon and nature glows in a fiery blaze of colour. 

Soon the trees will shake off their leafy jackets and the snuggling season will be upon us - the season of course, for curling up by the fire, wrapping hands around hot chocolates and watching delicate snowflakes flutter to the ground in a magnificent dance of icy wonder.

I wish you a beautiful November and I look forward to seeing you back here soon - I'm currently working on some ultimate Christmas wish listing - and I can't wait to share it with you!

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I can't even remember how we found out about the Blue Ridge Parkway. It was likely the result of a Google Image search for 'American Road Trip' whilst looking for inspiration. Whenever and however we found it, it quickly became a definitive pin in the map and a big part of our Deep South holiday plans.After driving down from Washington DC, with a quick motel stop in Roanoke, we eventually hit the BRP shortly before sunset on day 2. We only covered a short distance (and got a few snaps) before we arrived at our next bed for the night, Bear Den Mountain Cabins.


After an evening toasting marshmallows on the campfire outside our mountain cabin (more about this stay to follow), we woke early and ambled along the BRP with the whole day ahead of us for taking in the scenery and plenty of photo ops.




The sweeping roads coupled with breathtaking scenery made this one drive we won't ever forget. Smoothly descending down the mountainside then climbing once again, higher and higher through the clouds, around rocky mountain faces and the occasional hairpin bend.

And every now and then, stopping off at overlooks to breathe in the fresh mountain air whilst gazing out into the vast dappled landscape of the Appalachian mountains, then watching the weather change in a matter of moments.



Discovering the wilderness that grows atop the untouched mountaintop...










Come late afternoon, the mountains began to get bigger and our little white car pushed to climb higher. We had arrived at the Great Smoky Mountains and the highest elevation of the Blue Ridge Parkway; 6,053 feet.





Then, as the BRP came to an end at Cherokee, North Carolina, we joined the main road once again and took a short detour to find Soco Falls.

After a slightly treacherous climb down a series of slippery rocks with only old bits of rope to hold on to, we arrived to a view of the 60 foot falls with water splashing onto the rocks below in an almighty crash of sound.


The sheer force of this natural waterfall and the difficult journey to it made this a being to be reckoned with. We stood for a short while, breathing in the cool, calm air and feeling the spray on our faces before beginning the climb back up to the main ground, then continuing our journey on to our next bed for the night as the sun began to set around us.

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"That's it for you now. If you didn't know it already, you've woken something up and it's never going away. If that part of you is there, everyone's got their own moment when they felt their mountain heartbeat spring to life."
from 'Between the Sunset and the Sea' by Simon Ingram.

I felt my mountain heartbeat spring to life exactly 3 years ago; while standing on the pine needle-scattered ground, gazing out into the azure waters of Moraine Lake as the sun slowly sunk behind the mountains around it.

And again, whilst waking early and wandering outside to watch the sunrise over the rocky mountainscape, the sun casting a stunning crimson colour palette over everything it touched.

I hadn't felt anything quite like it before. Something awoke inside me in that moment; a desperate longing; a need to be with nature and to basque in all it's monumental beauty... Coupled with the overwhelming sense of awe that catapulted everything into a fresh new perspective. How beautiful this world is; how tiny we are in comparison; that the sheer force of nature will always determine the way that humans, animals and plants will live their lives.

In the presence of mountains, you really can feel the earth breathing. The lush green landscapes of trees backed by the harsh, cold rock of mountains. Bold, bright sunlight shining down through crisp, pure air onto nature's finest creation, softly dusted with snow. The strongest force of nature and to me, the greatest attraction of the planet.


Not long after our Canadian honeymoon, I finally realised what my first and only tattoo would be. Ever since I was a teen, I’d wanted a tattoo but I could never decide on what sort of thing I wanted. But shortly after my mountain heartbeat sprang to life, I instinctively knew what I wanted it to be; what I needed it to be. 

So, after 3 years of waiting for the right moment, and a few months of designing, I arrived at the design that subtly did it all justice. I knew the place to have it done would be Hunstville, Alabama, as that was where Paul got his only tattoo done 11 years ago, and it seemed such a nice thought to do the same thing.

...And I'm so glad I did. Now, not only does my tattoo have the sentimental meaning and tie me to the mountains, it also holds the most wonderful memories of our holiday of a lifetime. I loved every second of getting it done, and it still gives me goosebumps now when I catch it in a mirror as I walk past.

The design itself is based upon a particular selection of Canadian Rockies that became so important to us when we were there. And although I spent a while designing it, Paul ended up doing some sketches for me when I had hit a wall with it - so the tattoo I have is actually the hand-drawn work of my husband.


And now my heart has it's mountains, because the mountains have my heart.

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