Old English Company Haul and Review

I’m a big fan of shopping small businesses where possible and I have an entire favourites file on my laptop dedicated to my first ports of call when seeking the perfect gift- for a loved one or for myself. High up on that favourites list is the Old English Company- known for their hand letter-pressed wares, it’s one of those sites where you are guaranteed to find something for everyone so when they got in touch asking if I would like to collaborate I wasted no time at all in sending my reply.

All items c/o Old English Comany

I was pretty much given free reign of the website and allowed to pick out some products to review and keep. The decision process was a lengthy one, there were (and are) so many items I love and narrowing it down was near on impossible.
My Mum and I both collect enamel pins and the Old English Company do an impressive selection for £7.00 each. I had to go for the coffee for life pin for myself- coffee IS life, every one who knows me is aware of this and waits until I’ve had at least one cup before attempting any kind of interaction.
I picked the Number 1 Mother pin for Mum as she’s been a bit stressed out lately and I wanted to remind her how much I appreciate her. I seem to barely see her these days between work and spending time at Bob’s so I’ll take any chance I can to make her feel special and remind her that I wouldn’t be where I am today without her.
As well as collecting enamel pins I also hoard mugs- I have a vast selection at home, and at Bob’s- and his collection is growing rapidly thanks to me as well. The Old English Company sell many, many mugs with tongue in cheek, motivational and sentimental statements on them- perfect for gift giving (and budget special at a tenner each, not bad for something so personal to the recipient). I chose the “good morning my love” mug to give to Bob as it’s the first thing he says to me each day- in a terrible Bristol accent, and as soon as I saw this print it made me smile. Of course I went coffee themed again for myself. It’s become a new fixture on my desk at work, where my dependence on coffee is now a standing joke.
Finally the stationery addict in me couldn’t resist adding this planner (sparkly pen from Typo) to my notebook collection. I’m a list maker, it keeps me grounded and on track and this planner has no dates on it so it’s perfect for ad-hoc use at any time during the year. It would be great as a bullet journal platform as well, and a great gift for any one who is in to their organisation. It’s £11.95 which may seem pricey, but any fan of a good note book will know and appreciate that some times it’s just worth paying that bit more- with it’s chic black cover and pearlescent print, this is as aesthetically pleasing as it is practical- it also comes in several other colour ways.
As you can probably tell, the Old English Company certainly didn’t disappoint and I hope this post serves as inspiration and encouragement to shop small businesses. Take a look at the website and let me know in the comments what your favourite products are- I’m desperate to add more of their homewares to my life, and I’m pretty sure Bob won’t notice if a sneak a few to his until we get a place of our own…


The Cat Lady Wish List (volume II)

Given how obsessive I am about cats, there has been a distinct lack of them on the blog lately (along with posts in general). Whilst having a rare hour or so of down time at the weekend I found myself browsing my favourite online haunts and homing in on all things feline, which led to this post, volume two (volume one here) of the cat lady wish list. It may only be a brief post, but fellow cat ladies (and gents) I hope you find some inspiration.

Ring: watchshop.com | Slippers: typo | Mug: thunder egg | Tee: monki | Stickers: katie moody | Skirt: joanie | Cross Stitch Kit: the geeky stitching co

As far as purchases go, at least a few shall be made- I actually already own the cross stitch kit (and have for some time, with no time to stitch these days!). Typo have recently opened a store in Bristol and given that I have to pop in to get a gift for someone it would be oh so very rude not to grab a pair of those slippers whilst I’m at it right? The Monki t-shirt is a bargain at £8 and I think two of those shall be picked up- one for myself and one for my Mum, who I inherited my cat lady traits from.
The other three items will be winging their way on to my Birthday wish list- somehow almost an entire year has passed since I turned 30…time really does go faster the older you get!

Have any feline themed items caught your eye lately? Feel free to let me know what, and where in the comments.


The Top European ski runs and why they’re the best*

Learning to ski has gone from being something I’m not all that bothered about to something that I really, REALLY want to do, so when I was set over a piece by Chill Factore about Europe’s top ski runs my interest was certainly peaked. I’m not much a fan of snow when it falls in the UK, but proper stuff, when you’re bundled up and keeping warm by staying active? Bring it on I say!…
From our lift passes and snow park, to our ski lessons and snowboard courses Chill Factore has a range of activities and facilities to help you get into snow sports. But what are our top recommendations when it comes to hitting the mountains for real?

If you’re in the mood for a ski holiday and don’t want to go long haul, Europe is home to some of the world’s most amazing runs. Whether you’re into beautiful scenery and gentle slopes, or rapid drops and adrenaline-pumping speeds, we’ve found the best European ski runs to inspire your next holiday.

Sweden: Piste 4
Scandinavia offers some fantastic ski opportunities, Piste 4 at the Riksgränsen ski resort is a top run found in the Swedish Arctic Circle — a spring break means you get to experience long days, midnight sun and a top terrain for freestyling! Skiers love launching off the natural bumps of the Riksgränsen slopes- But head to Piste 4 — the most famous here — and you’ll glide into Norway before looping back around during your descent!

Switzerland: Parsenn
To get to what is believed to be the ‘birthplace’ of Alpine skiing you take the funicular railway, which was built in 1931. From here, you go up to the 2,662-metre Weissfluhjoch and begin your amazing descent past forests and quaint huts before reaching the valley in Kublis again for the train home.

This run is a classic in Swiss skiing and offers you a great mix of sight-seeing, landscape and gentle terrain, with a maximum gradient of 26%.

France: Sarenne
Apparently the longest black run in the Alps, this is ten miles in length so you get around 90 minutes of intense and continuous skiing starting from the 3,330-metre Pic Blanc. Before you begin your descent make sure to check out the stunning peaks of the Parc National des Ecrins.

This is an exhilarating run where you’ll have the chance to take on a drop of 2,000 metres. However watch out for the launch — it’s incredibly steep!

Austria: The Streif
A word of caution, this one isn’t for beginners or the faint hearted! The Streif is found on the Hahenkamm mountain and hosts one of the most hazardous races in the World Cup — essentially this is one of the world’s most feared runs (perfect for thrill-seekers and those with as much experience as they have confidence!)

At the starting gate get ready to nearly freefall as you begin your 3,300-metre descent at the top of the Streif. In an seconds you’ll have 85% gradients to contend with at a speed of around 84mph! Overall, the course is about 3,312 metres in length with an average gradient of 27%, so perhaps consider some private lessons before you take on this mammoth challenge! The Streif is so famous that a documentary film was made about it in 2015 — Streif: One Hell of a Ride- I’ll definitely be leaving this one to the experts!

Switzerland: Mont Fort

At 3,329 metres Mont Fort in Verbier is a tough challenge for any skier. This run provides a 1,300-metre descent and is generally considered the most challenging of Verbier’s pistes. Unmaintained by machinery Mont Fort has many bumps and is extremely steep — fitness and experience are needed in abundance.

If you can handle it Mont Fort is breath-taking and offers an exhilarating experience that you won’t get on many other runs in the world — try it at dawn for spectacular views of the sunrise over the nearby mountains and glaciers. Another advantage of Mont Fort is it’s location. Verbier is probably one of the world’s most luxurious and party-centric resorts, ideal if you want to make this a rue skiing holiday with a mix of activity and relaxation!

France: Aiguille Rouge
France is home to many amazing ski runs, one of which is Aiguille Rouge — the tallest peak in the Les Arcs resort. At 3,226 metres in height and with a vertical descent of over 2,000 metres this run is classified as black at the top and red a third of the way down.

You get extraordinary panoramic views of the Italian Alps here. It’s best to take on Aiguille Rouge at the very start of the day, as cable car queues get busy quickly! Luckily there’s good quality snow everywhere on the Aiguille Rouge.

Italy: Sella Ronda
Found in the Dolomites and offering potentially the very best views of the Alps this long-distance circuit is a breath-taking experience for beginner and season skiers.

View limestone cliffs and open pastures as you make your descent. The the Sella Ronda run is made up of around 14 miles of runs looping around a huge crag that are linked by lifts. It’s the ideal spot if you want to catch a glimpse of several villages along the way and you can do the run easily in a single day — although it’s recommended that you try it in both directions!

Switzerland: Lauberhorn
Maybe adrenaline-pumping runs are your thing and you’re looking for a challenge with your next ski holiday. If so test your skills on the Lauberhorn. Here, you’ll begin from the 2,500-metre apex and descend 4,500 metres in just 150 seconds. Supposedly the Lauberhorn is the fastest run in the World Cup. However there’s much more to contend with than steepness — there’ll also be a 130-foot jump that catapults you into the air and speeds of nearly 100mph — enough for g-forces to come into play.

Austria: Harakiri
Anything that’s named after a samurai ritual for suicide must be approached with caution! At 1,500m in length the Harakiri run in Austria is found in the resort of Mayrhofen and usually has an icy centre with more easy-to-grip snow at the edge. This Austrian run is supposedly the steepest groomed slope in the world with an average gradient of almost 80%!

Similar to many other runs, the beginning is the scariest — experts say keep your weight on your outer ski and try to decrease your speed whenever possible to reach the bottom in a vertical stance. In other words plenty of specialist ski lessons are essential- and a good sense of balance!

France: Pas de Chavanette
Can’t choose between Switzerland and France? Why not get the best of both worlds by visiting Pas de Chavanette — also called the ‘Swiss Wall’ — on the French-Swiss border? This popular 200-metre ski run is based at the heart of the Portes du Soleil ski area and features swift drops and steep angles — so much so, your vision might be slightly obscured at times!

This run is an ungroomed run and its difficulty level relies on the season. Ski on a decent layer of snow and you will glide effortlessly — but beware when the run is icier and bumpier, as only experienced skiers will be able to hold themselves upright and make the necessary emergency stops when required.

There’s a decent mix of runs that are perfect for beginner, intermediate and experienced skiers here. However, there are plenty more European runs you can visit if you look around. Why not plan a visit to Chill Factore prior to your departure to make sure you have the necessary skills to make the most of your ski holiday adventure?


The Fight to get Fit (and a work out wear wish list)*

Once upon a time I used to thrive on being physically fit and active. My favourite past times included going for a run or hitting the gym with a friend and I felt much better for it. Certainly much better than I do right now, never in my life have I felt so out of shape. Partly I blame the mental process of recovery from an eating disorder. My body is still repairing and weight hasn’t yet re-distributed properly – in fact I still haven’t finished restoring weight, and that in part is much of the problem. For the other part I’m just much more sedentary these days and I miss that feeling of being strong and powerful. I spend my days at a desk 9-5 and the majority of my weekends on the sofa binging on netflix, cuddled up with Bob and the kitten. It’s not just my physical health that’s suffering with this either, my mental health has been more of a battle lately and I feel like a good dose of exercise induced endorphins will work wonders.

But where to start? Exercise is a tricky area when you’re at a somewhat precarious stage in your recovery- physically I’m much, much better than I was, but I’m not in the best physical shape even for starting exercise. No one really mentions the muscle damage that comes with malnutrition, the aches and pains and fatigue that lasts long after the restriction. Add in to that the fact I’m still a smoker, albeit much reduced, I haven’t been able to kick that crutch yet and the fact my bone density is borderline for osteoporosis…I’m going to have to start off small, no 10k runs or marathon training for me just yet- more of a gentle ease back in and build up strength with the more sedate sport of swimming, or some calming yoga.

(both items from simply swim)

Swimming is a catch-22 kind of activity for me. I know it’s brilliantly good for building up strength without putting additional pressure on bones. It’s also a good way to build up lung capacity and stamina. It’s something I so badly want to get in to, and yet the thought makes my blood run cold. For someone who massively struggles with body image the idea of being so exposed is terrifying. It doesn’t matter how much I try and tell myself that the only person concerned with how I look is me, it’s such a massive mental hurdle to over-come. Not just poolside too, the changing room poses as much of a threat to my sanity, which is why I’ve included dryrobe- not for it’s devilish good looks, but because it means I can negate the risk of exposure from the inevitable dropped towel in the changing room and generally feel a bit more concealed.

(all from sweaty betty)

Now, Yoga I have far more trivial issues with. Firstly the availability of classes in my local area that don’t take place during the working day is dire. Secondly they are also extortionate (I guess a small, fairly rural town is a captive audience).
I’m also that person who gets the giggles in the middle of a class, or has the uncontrollable urge to break wind- I’m a classy lady, both of which are generally frowned upon during a serious session.Yoga at home would be the ideal solution to this, but I’m not disciplined enough. I tried it once, lasted all of two days then promptly found other things to do- without the structure of being at a class for a certain time, or having handed over cold hard cash to participate I just couldn’t keep it up.
So there we have my random diversion in to my current mental state and odd desire to get fit whilst being quite limited in what I can actually do.
The dream is to get back to moderate running, or some cardio and strength sessions at the gym, but I appreciate that for now I need to be kindest to my body and start small…if anyone has any advice, or can recommend some other low impact/gentle exercises or classes that might suit me then please, please do let me know in the comments.


A Holiday Swimwear Wish List*

I’ve finally got around to booking some time off work over the next few months, and for the first time in a few years I’m in a position where I can afford to book a holiday. After an incredible but somewhat cold and rainy trip to Scotland last year I’m seriously hoping to head to sunnier climes this time around. Working out where we want to go is proving tricky for Bob and I- we’d be going in July and want somewhere with sunshine, but not too hot (Spain’s 40 degree days might be ok for me but I fear Bob would come back as a puddle). It also needs to be affordable and somewhere that doesn’t take 6+ hours to fly to- four hours is about my maximum tolerance on a plane for a week long break.

Whilst picking a destination might be difficult, thinking about a holiday wardrobe is all too easy, although not without it’s own challenges.
My body this Summer is going to be very different to how it was last Summer, and even more so than the ones before. The idea of baring skin is daunting as I’m not yet used to my changing figure and it’s certainly not as toned as I would like (there’s a whole other post coming on that one). Still, the high street seems to be awash with gorgeous high-waisted bikinis at the moment so I thought that today, with it’s grey and dismal sky, I’d pop together a wish list of some of the swim wear I could definitely envisage myself in this Summer.

From top left-
ASOS | Simply Beach | Simply Beach | ASOS | Monki | Simply Beach

It goes without saying that ASOS was my first port of call when seeking inspiration- I barely even scratched the surface of their swim wear pages before I had more than a dozen items on my wish list! I was especially taken with this white and floral printed number for lazing on a beach, as well as the much plainer block navy set for more practical purposes such as swimming or any water based activities.
It would also go without saying that I’d find something I loved from Monki- every Summer I admire their swim collections wishing I had reason to justify a purchase. This year I might be able to do just that and I feel that this ruche monochrome bikini set would be both flattering and stylish.

Branching out of my usual haunts and I stumbled across Simply Beach as well, which got me thinking back to the quality over quantity debate. I am absolutely smitten with the blue and white set by Lepel London- and whilst the set might set me back £40 one suspects it is built to last more than some of my cheaper picks on this wish list. I might be imagining it but I also imagine it to be more supportive and therefore flattering, but that could just be me trying to justify potentially spending more on a bikini than I ever have before.

So there we have it, my swim wear wish list. All I need now is for us to decide on a holiday destination, get something booked and then start shopping (and given I’ve grown out of every bikini/pair of shorts/just about everything I own) I feel I have the perfect excuse.

Where are you heading for your holidays this year? Do you have any recommendations that fit my affordable/not too far/plenty of sunshine brief?