Friday, 31 May 2013

Oliver Bonas, Edinburgh:

If you've never heard of Oliver Bonas, don't worry, you and I were in the same boat up until a week ago.  The stores are primarily based in London, with a few scattered across England, but the brand new Edinburgh shop is the first one to reach Scotland.  I was invited along (by the lovely Emma!) with a few other bloggers to celebrate the Hanover Street store's grand opening, and I had a fantastic time!

I was very excited to find out that Oliver Bonas sells a huge array of clothes, jewellery, homeware and even beauty products.  I was especially excited about the homeware!  Apparently Oliver Tress, the founder of Oliver Bonas based the idea for the business on 'his love for buying unusual gifts for friends on his travels'.  This means that the stock is hugely varied, and there is something for every price range.  The Edinburgh shop is laid out beautifully, with attractive displays and plenty of space to browse.  Think Anthropologie, but a little younger and with more neon colours!

I love the cardboard stag heads in the photo above, they're the most decorative ones I've ever seen!  My favourite has to be the little birdhouse on the far left, though.  Wouldn't that be a cute addition to any home?

This necklace is one of many stunning statement necklaces on display at the back of the Edinburgh store.  Normally I would be totally intimidated by jewellery like this, and I would never even think about trying to pull it off myself.  However, one of the lovely staff members at the event was wearing this necklace as part of her uniform, and it looked amazing!  She told me she was planning to wear it with her graduation dress, but it looked just as good with a simple black collared shirt.  It turns out it's a surprisingly versatile piece, and it just goes to show that it's worth trying these things on!

These ornate iron chairs in various pastel colours are a big part of the shop's window display at the moment, and I think they do a great job of summing up the feel of Oliver Bonas as a store.  They are also so summery!  If I had a patio, or even a balcony (sigh, a girl can dream) then I'd be in great danger of purchasing a few for myself!

Sofas, chairs, stools and benches from The Velvet Chair Company are dotted all over the Edinburgh store in a huge variety of colours.  I even tried one out, although the price tag made me a little bit nervous!  If you're looking to make a quality soft furnishing investment, however, the chairs look great and are obviously sturdy.

Just to add to the excitement, two barmen from Candy were on site to mix us up some delicious fresh cocktails (my favourite of which was served in a jam jar!) and we were all given a hand decorated Bibi's Bakery cupcake to take home with us.  Some of the best butter icing I've ever tasted ensued!

So, what did I buy?  Well, I honestly could have bought almost everything in the entire shop.  Lianne and Gillian kept (nervously) laughing every time I picked something up off a shelf and announced that I didn't just want it, but needed it, but that's really how I felt!  In the end, I was quite sensible and went for a Korres lip butter in jasmine (above) and two glass neon bottles that I had been eyeing up all night (below).

I had a lovely time at Oliver Bonas, and was extremely excited and grateful to be invited along.  I will undoubtedly be back in store to have more of a browse, and I would recommend it if any of the stock in my photos seems up your street.  If you're more local to Glasgow, you might be happy to hear that an Oliver Bonas is due to open on Byres Road soon.  If not, there is always the option to shop online, and there are literally thousands of products available there.  My poor bank balance!

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Vanilla Ink reward:

I thought it might be nice to share my Vanilla Ink Kickstarter reward (which I was very excited to receive recently!) with you all.  If you have no idea what Vanilla Ink is, you can read about the group's studio, what they do and what their recent Kickstarter was all about in my first and second posts from a little while ago.

I received a handmade thank you card from Scarlett (on behalf of all of the Vanilla Inkers), as well as my beautiful Vanilla Ink brass badge.  The badge is now in pride of place on my most worn jacket, and it is a simple but beautifully made keepsake that I will treasure!

Thanks to the success of their Kickstarter campaign, the Vanilla Inkers will be exhibiting at the International Jewellery London trade fair from Sunday 1st to Wednesday 4th of September this year.  You can still see their Kickstarter page here, or otherwise get up to date information about what they're up to on Facebook or Twitter.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Inferior Inspiration #3:

I'm obsessed with cushions and throws this week, which can only mean one thing: I'm finally getting around to covering the sofa!  Hopefully in a matter of weeks we will have a beautiful, customised sofa, I can't wait!

1. These SPRINGKORN fleece throws from IKEA are totally garish, but I love both of the tropical prints. (£9)

2. I know the owls on this GULÖRT cushion cover (also from IKEAare a little strange looking, but I think they're cute.  The bright hot pink colour cheers me up too! (£4)

3. Okay, admittedly there's a little bit of colour clashing going on in this collage!  Don't worry, I wouldn't put these cushions beside each other on my sofa in real life!  I find the Seashells Print cushion from Marks & Spencer to be a refreshing alternative to the samey nautical themed home accessories that are everywhere lately.  Let's give the anchor and beach house prints a little rest for a while! (£15.60)

4. I think this Ahoy There Lifesaver cushion from John Lewis is intended for a child's bedroom, but who could honestly resist it?  It would match the seashell cushion as well! (£15)

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Sunny Scotland:

It's pretty ridiculous weather for May.  As I'm typing this, the sun is streaming through my window, but only a few days ago I was listening to the heaviest rain I've ever heard batter down on the roof above me at work.  It always surprises me (and I'm sure you'll understand if you too live in Scotland, or really anywhere in the UK) how truly stunningly beautiful my home country can be when it isn't raining.

A few weeks ago, Edinburgh was treated to a roasting hot day of blue skies and sunshine and (very unusually) it was my day off work.  I had lunch in Princes Street Gardens and then made the surprisingly short ten minute walk up the road and to the top of Calton Hill.  I was astounded by the beauty and peace just five minutes walk above the city centre.  I took all of the photos in this post on that afternoon.  It's nice to have photographic proof of sunshine for those grey and torrentially rainy days.  Hopefully they can make you feel a little sunnier, if the rain and clouds have got you feeling down, or encourage you to get out and enjoy your surroundings while you can, if you have good weather.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Inferior Inspiration #2:

This week's inspiration post is dedicated to all of my furry friends out there.  Apparently I've gone a little animal accessory mad!

1. Craig has actually been eyeing up these cast iron stag head wall hooks in a nearby shop for a while, and I think they are small enough to be cute, whilst also being practical (there's that word again!).  I found them online at Toys & Interiors, but they are also available at Context Interiors if you are in the Edinburgh area! (£17.95)

2. Toys & Interiors also stock these stag head salt and pepper shakers, aren't they adorable?  I'm unlikely to spend nearly £30 on a pair of salt and pepper shakers, but they're nice to look at! (£29.95)

3. Okay, so apparently animal themed salt and pepper shakers are a thing.  Funnily enough, I don't even own a salt or a pepper shaker at the moment, but maybe that means I'm in the market for one.  I saw these French bulldog shaped shakers in Debenhams, and they are currently in their sale for a far more affordable price than their stag shaped counterparts. (£7.50)

4. If you read my post about DJCAD's Degree Show, you may already have seen some of Mary Beth Quigley's amazing stuffed animal creations.  I think Lorne the sausage dog would make a pretty cute guard dog!

5.  Perry the penguin is another member of Mary Beth's menagerie.  I would love to have him just 'chilling' out in the corner of my living room, but wouldn't everyone?

Saturday, 18 May 2013

DJCAD Degree Show 2013:

On Friday night I made a trip back to my old haunt and university town, Dundee.  As well as seeing both great friends and excellent bands, I also managed to fit in a brief trip to Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design's annual Degree Show.  The Degree Show showcases the work of the college's fourth year students, giving them a chance to display their art for family, friends and even potential clients or employers to see.  Last year, a few of my close friends were graduating from DJCAD, and I was extremely proud and impressed at the quality of their hard work (and I'm not just saying that!).  It was nice to visit the show this time (without half as much bias) and still be wowed by a lot of the art that I saw.

John Kelly's simple yet intricate pen and ink drawings immediately caught my eye almost as soon as we got to the Degree Show.  He creates painting and sculptures too, and his most recent work concentrates on landscapes and architecture.  Outside of the Degree Show, you can see more of John and his work at the Pittenweem Arts Festival (Saturday 3rd to Sunday 11th August 2013).  Find him online at: (my own photo)

Becca Frances won me over with her frame collage of epic proportions (you know I'm a sucker for a good frame collage), but I also very much enjoyed her chair leg prints.  I'm pleased to discover that her website/blog is up to date and obviously personal, chronicling a labour of love.  You can follow Becca's Degree Show progress at:

All of Mary Beth Quigley's animal sculptures are wonders to behold (especially Geoff the giraffe, who stands at an amazing 4 metres tall!) but Flo the flamingo was my personal favourite.  If you visit, don't forget to check out Mary Beth's masterpiece: Mr and Mrs Panda Head's Living Room.  The space is exquisitely decorated, down to the very last detail.  I was astounded at how well thought out the whole thing was, it even smelled like a real living room.  Honestly, I sat down on Mr and Mrs Panda Head's sofa and didn't really want to leave.  Check out Mary Beth's huge and impressive body of work here: (my own photo)

I liked every single one of Jonny Lyons' Degree Show photographs, and could have spent hours looking at them.  There wasn't a huge amount of explanation alongside his work, but as far as I can tell the artist made his own beautiful and progressively more dangerous tools (a saw, an air rifle, a bazooka) and then photographed himself using them.  The phrase 'staying foolish' is repeated a few times on his blog, and I like the honesty suggested in those words.  The actions depicted in the photos might be dangerous, but they were intended as exercises of love and trust between Jonny and his friends, not just as reckless pastimes.  His website and more of his excellent photography can be found here:

If you're still hungry for art, I would strongly advise checking out my old friend and flatmate, Daniel Tyminski, as well as Fiona Skinner, Matt Wilson and Bryndis Blackadder.

The DJCAD Degree Show is free to the public and open from now until Sunday 26th May.  If you live nearby, or have the chance to visit then I highly recommend it.  Make sure to give Dundee my love!

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Inferior Inspiration #1:

This week I have been dreaming of summer and digging bright colours, as well as practical home accessories that are also cute.

1. These Summer Stripe cushions from BHS come in six colours, but the orange is my favourite.  They remind me of garden furniture and sun loungers! (£8)

2. The Petrol Rococo frames from Urban Outfitters are reduced at the moment.  Is there such a thing as neon pastels?  If not, I have no idea how to describe these colours!  I've already bought four of the 5x7 inch sized frames in various shades, and I'm going to hang them together in a small collage somewhere.  Apparently I'm obsessed with photo frames and collages! (£5)

3. I thought these Water Cog Wall Hooks from Debenhams could inspire a great DIY project.  If old cogs aren't your thing, then pretty door knobs from somewhere like Anthropologie might be a suitable alternative.  Very practical, too! (£22.40)

4. A decorative clapper board, on the other hand, isn't very practical at all.  My inner film student would quite like one, though, and Debenhams has them in two sizes! (£9.60/£12.80)

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Instagram #10:

1. Drinking Don Draper's favourite at Bar Kohl  2. In the midst of a hair cut  3. Before and after photos of that hair cut!

4. A raspberry scented candle in a mug from Primark  5. My big sister and me circa 1994-ish (for National Siblings Day)  6. Dressing like a country singer

7. My favourite of all his silly faces  8. Pancakes with the works at City Cafe  9. One cup of joe, please

10. Strawberry socks  11. The top of Calton Hill on a beautiful sunny day off  12. All the essentials for RSD 2013 (mint humbugs and sunglasses?  Check!)

13. Sad lads  14. Glad lads  15. A romantic photo shoot on our trip to Paris

16. A takeaway brownie from the amazing Lovecrumbs  17. A tiny Craig eating a normal sized Custard Cream, or a normal sized Craig eating a giant Custard Cream? You decide!   18. No filter required for this lovely sunset after work

How was your April?  I hope you're all enjoying the sunshine!

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Paris, April 2013:

Bonjour!  Sadly, our brief trip to Paris is already over, but we managed to squeeze a lot of sightseeing into three days!  Although you might not want to hear it (Margaret, I'm looking at you...) we were treated to some amazing weather while we were there, which made it feel like a real holiday away from all the wind and rain.

The view from our room (points if you can spot a famous landmark!)

We stayed at the Hotel ibis Paris Sacr
é Coeur in Montmartre  which wasn't luxurious, but was a great budget hotel with a clean room, an ensuite bathroom (a commodity that can be difficult to come by in Paris) and even a view of the Eiffel Tower!

Paris from the Sacré Coeur

We arrived early on Monday afternoon.  After the first of many embarrassing linguistic exchanges in the airport ('Yes, yes, all the way to Paris.  Next!') we made it in one piece to our hotel, checked in and went straight out again to start exploring.  Our first stop was the nearby 
Sacré Coeur Basilica, the famous and extravagant church situated at the highest point in the city that really has to be seen to be believed.  It's completely free to admire the Sacré Coeur's breathtaking architecture, both inside and out.  However, we paid the extra €3 to go down into the (admittedly slightly creepy) crypt below the Basilica and have a snoop there too.

A beautifully ornate lamp post near the Louvre (Edinburgh City Council, take note!)

After lunch and ice cream in Montmartre, we made the mistake of skipping the Metro and walking all the way from Montmartre to the Louvre Museum, passing by the Moulin Rouge.  By this point, the sun well and truly had his hat on, and we spent a little while enjoying the weather in the grounds of the Louvre.

Time had slipped away from us a little by this point (probably should have taken the Metro!) and we decided that we didn't have time to see the inside of the Louvre before dinner.  Instead, we headed towards the Eiffel Tower and stopped off at Le Campanella Brasserie for dinner.  The restaurant had a very excitable maître d', but he was friendly and welcoming and we had a nice meal in the modern but cosy restaurant.

Beef bourguignon at Le Campanella 

The plan was to go up the Eiffel Tower at dusk in order to see the whole of Paris by both day and night, but (predictably) the queue was too long, and the security checks too inefficient to get us to the top of Paris's most famous landmark before nightfall.  Still, I can't really complain as the views were amazing, there was virtually no wind and every city is just as beautiful at night.

The river Seine by night from the Eiffel Tower

After choosing to walk down from the second floor of the tower (mistake) and getting well and truly lost on the unfamiliar and dark streets of the city, we admitted defeat and took a metro back to Montmartre.

On Tuesday we forced ourselves to get up early and hobble out on sore feet to see the awe inspiring Notre Dame Cathedral.  Like the Sacré Coeur, it's free to visit Notre Dame.  Craig and I were prepared to pay €8.50 to climb the 387 steps to the top of the cathedral, but the queue for the tower was already miles long, so we skipped it in favour of going back to the Louvre.

Colour coded 'love locks' on Pont des Arts

Of course, as any informed traveller will already know, the majority of museums and galleries in Paris are closed on Tuesdays.  In fact, even I already knew this, which is why I had specifically planned for us to visit the Louvre on Monday.  Whoops.  Undeterred, we walked along the Champs-Élysées to the Arc de Triomphe and took in the view from up there.  We had great fun watching all the crazy driving and near misses on the roundabout underneath the landmark.  Driving in Paris is something else!

A panorama shot from the Arc de Triomphe

After resting our tired little legs back at the hotel for a while, we headed out in Montmartre to find some dinner.  Un Zebre a Montmartre has some great reviews on Tripadvisor, and we enjoyed a lovely dinner there.  The staff were really friendly, and actually let me attempt to speak some (very rusty) French when ordering, rather than interrupting in their much more fluent English.

We stopped for a couple of after dinner cocktails at the Café des Deux Moulins, which has become a popular tourist destination since the café was featured in the 2001 French film, Amélie, starring Audrey Tautou.  It was fun to visit (and peer at the glass case of film memorabilia kept in the toilets), but the cocktail menu was very uniform, and the drinks themselves didn't knock my socks off.

Props from Amélie 

was devoted entirely to visiting the enormous and beautiful Palace of Versailles, and we still didn't manage to see all of it.  We took the train from Gare d'Austerlitz straight to Versailles (it's the 'C' line, if you're planning on making the trip!) and only had to walk for about five minutes before we reached the grounds of the palace.  I mean, you really can't miss it.

The weather was unbelievably nice and there wasn't a cloud in the sky, with the temperature (we found out later) averaging at around 25 degrees celsius.  If we had had the foresight to bring sun cream and two pairs of sunglasses, not just one between us, it would have been an idyllic day!

After queuing for a really, really long time (we did a lot of queuing on this holiday!) and sizzling in the sun, Craig got his ticket.  Before going inside, we had a picnic lunch in the beautiful gardens of the palace, which are free to visit, and could take weeks to properly explore, if you'd rather not pay to see the palace itself.  

The inside of the Palace of Versailles is stunning and decadent beyond belief.  I had visited once before (on a school exchange trip) but since seeing Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette (2006) I was itching to go back.

After seeing the palace, we explored more of the grounds, which cover around 800 hectares (over 1900 acres) in total.  Unsurprisingly, we didn't see all of the gardens, but we walked down to the boating lake and watched our fellow tourists attempt to operate rowing boats without bumping into each other (they mostly just bumped into each other, though).  You can also hire bikes and even golf buggies if your legs aren't up to the challenge of walking around Versailles.

I loved visiting Versailles, and can't complain about the amazing weather that we had, but Craig and I still felt pretty sorry for ourselves as we tried desperately to stay awake on the train back to Paris whilst realising the extent of our sunburn...  That night, we dragged ourselves back out into Montmartre for what turned out to be a very memorable farewell dinner (a quarter of a wheel of Raclette cheese between two of us!) and then gratefully hobbled back to the hotel to bed.

Raclette a l'ancienne for dinner

We left Paris early the next day and were back in Scotland around lunch time.  It was an amazing trip, and I'm pleased that we squeezed so much into such a short space of time.  In all honesty, I kind of felt like I needed a holiday to recover from my holiday once we got home!

Have any of you visited Paris recently, or are you planning a trip?  You might find it useful to know that if you live in the EU, are under 26 and have a passport or driving licence handy to prove it, you will be eligible for free or reduced entry into quite a few Paris landmarks.  The Louvre, the Arc de Triomphe, the Palace of Versailles and even the Eiffel Tower were all free or at least slightly cheaper for me, so keep your ID handy if you are holidaying there soon!