Lyra and Chas bed

House news – and teenage bedrooms

So things on the house front have moved on AGAIN.  After the third house purchase fell through, I’ve got to be honest, we were pretty despondent.  I’ve never heard of it happening before, but the last one got right to survey and then the survey came in 20k under budget.  Anyone else had any experience of that?

Anyhoo, it’s all change again, because we think we’ve found the perfect house – the one we’re already in!  We’ve got some lovely plans to do the place up – with a spacious kitchen diner instead of our poky kitchen and separate dining room  (more of this later, but my Pinterest page is burgeoning) and new floors and even bathrooms when funds permit.

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Decorations at London Heathrow

Win an overnight hotel stay and airport parking with APH!

Often, the most stressful part of travel is getting to the airport. On my last trip, the flights were difficult to book and I ended up flying from Heathrow, but returning back to Gatwick.  We always use APH meet and greet parking (I love being met at the airport by someone who whisks your car away leaving you free to walk straight into the airport, then magically returns it just as you walk out again after your trip) so I decided to drive to Heathrow, leave my car, then get an airport coach back from Gatwick on my return.  APH were wonderful, and moved my car to Terminal 5, the nearest terminal, so I had the shortest journey possible to pick up my car again.  I was delighted.

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Luckies of London laptop case

English Mum’s Big Christmas Gift Guide – top treats for teens!

I think teenagers are some of the most difficult people to buy pressies for (difficult all round, but that’s for another day haha).  Thinking creatively about their presents, aside from the never ending list of PS4/Xbox related things occupies quite a lot of my time before Christmas, so I thought I’d share a couple of lovely present ideas with you.

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The Snow Leopard martini

Christmas cocktail fun: the Snow Leopard Conservation Martini

A friend of mine’s got a bit of a thing for premium drinkies and, knowing I feel the same, sent me a bottle of this lovely stuff: Snow Leopard vodka.  This uber cool super-premium vodka was created by Stephen Sparrow, a passionate conservationist and ex-drinks industry expert, who heard about the plight of the Snow Leopards during a trip to the Himalayas.  There are just 5000 of these beautiful big cats left in the wild and Stephen created the Snow Leopard Trust UK with a goal to raise a million dollars a year to save them.

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The Sloane

A Christmas tradition: the Harrods hamper

There’s something delightfully festive about a Harrods Hamper.  Seeing as we’re all getting into the Christmas spirit here at English Towers, I was very excited when Harrods offered us the chance to try one out.  We chose ‘The Sloane‘, and it arrived (you can track your order online, and it arrives within 3-5 working days) well protected and carefully packaged.  The hamper, a glossy square dark brown cane basket with a faux leather embossed lid is huge – rather over huge, if I’m honest, for its contents, which I’d probably describe as all the ingredients for the poshest afternoon tea you’ve had in your entire existence.

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Rough puff mince pies

Rough puff pastry mince pies

The thing about home baking is that it should be a joy.  My favourite times are spent in my kitchen – pinny on (Cath Kidston, a treasured present from my friend Taralara), oven on, flour everywhere, radio playing, people popping in and out for a chat or a quick taste – it’s my therapy. I’d go mad without it.  Someone once told me that you should never bake when you’re miserable – nothing goes right – cakes don’t rise, things don’t taste right… it’s because the baking picks up on your mood, and I completely believe that’s true.

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Appleyard London 'mulled wine' arrangement

40% off beautiful Christmas flowers from Appleyard London!

I love flowers – adore them.  Mr English spent the whole summer buying me sunflowers from our local market, but now it’s moving into Christmas time, I’m all for red roses, fragrant pine and silvery eucalyptus.  I was delighted, then, when the lovely chaps at Appleyard London sent me some of their beautiful Christmas flowers, the gorgeous ‘mulled wine’ arrangement – a mix of velvety red grand prix roses, pine cones, berries and seasonal foliage.  The arrangement scented the whole house and made us all feel really Christmassy.  I can imagine it taking pride of place in the centre of the Christmas table.

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Kitchen jars

My ultimate store cupboard essentials

With our house purchase still slowly moving forward (reeeeally painfully slowly, but nobody’s actually said no yet, so we’re holding out hope), my thoughts keep gravitating to my new kitchen.  The Pinterest page is slowly filling up with gorgeous kitchen shots and I’m starting to make a few notes about what I’d like in my dream kitchen.  Being a practical sort of gal, and needing everything close at hand, I’m a huge fan of Kilner jars.  I like to have lots of things on display and within easy reach when I’m cooking, so open shelves will definitely be the way forward.  Tombola Times are hosting a MASSIVE survey of tons of food lovers, asking them what their top ten hero products are, to try and discover the ultimate store cupboard (you can find the survey here), and most of mine can be found in jars in my kitchen:

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In your dreams, pal...

TWO teenagers driving? Give me strength!

Happy half term!  We’ve been really busy planning a trip to Florida next week (it’s Mr English’s 50th while we’re over there too), and I spent the weekend in London with my friend Erica (more of this very soon).  There’s also been more work on The Secret Special Thing that Cannot be Mentioned.  All will be revealed soon, I promise.

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The beautiful garden at our dream house

My week in food: doughnuts, chocolate pudding and dhal

Happy Sunday!  I hope you’re having a lovely chill-out day wherever you are.  I’ve had a such a lovely week this week, with some AMAZING career news (that sadly I can’t tell you about yet – I know, I hate it when people do that too), and a visit from Sam, home from university for a couple of days (he’s loving it, by the way – London/uni life really seems to suit him). I also had an incredible time at Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons – more of this later on in the week.  We’ve also put an offer in on the HOUSE OF OUR DREAMS, but I’m really trying not to get too excited as it’s very early days and we’re still waiting on a mortgage too (but check out the garden – above – how pretty is that?).

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Babybel packed lunch

Interesting stuff about cheese

Last week I was invited to talk with Bel UK about cheese.  You’ve probably heard of them, not just for Babybel (a staple in most fridges and lunchboxes) but also Boursin, The Laughing Cow,  Leerdammer and other cheesy treats.  The Nutrition Advisory Board meets every so often to discuss everything cheese related.  There are nutrition experts, public relations experts, executives from Bel UK, and, erm… me.  I think I’m there as the token ‘normal’ person.  I’ve done this a couple of times now and it’s really, really interesting (and not just because I really, really like cheese).

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Flapjack and builders' tea

The house update. And flapjacks.

So since our original offer on the House of Bodily Fluids back in July, we really haven’t heard very much.  We didn’t really chase it as I guess we’re not in a massive hurry, but all of a sudden it kind of dawned on us that we hadn’t had any paperwork, and started to chase a bit harder.  Our solicitors, worryingly, had heard nothing at all from their solicitors.  I drove past the house and they hadn’t even STARTED clearing it, and you can imagine what a job that’s going to be.  Then we started to hear rumour that the probate wasn’t going smoothly and there were issues with the man’s business that had to be sorted before the house could be sold… Ugh.

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Kin by John Lewis Bronte distressed leather tote bag in silver

Smartening up: my autumn fashion wishlist

Now as I’ve told you before, I’m a jeans and jumpers girl (shorts and t-shirts in the summer).  I’ve got a few lovely events coming up, though, that are going to require poshing up a bit, so whilst lusting after all the new snuggly autumn stuff, I’ve got my eye out for a few smart bits and bobs too.  John Lewis have just launched their autumn fashion magazine too – so here’s the top five things on my wishlist (when I’ve finally started stocking the EU pasta mountain and buying things like Oyster Cards for Sam):

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Boden Johnnie B

Happy Friday! 20% off code at Boden plus free delivery and returns

You know I’m a HUGE Boden fan right?  I love their great quality basics, I’m more than a little taken with their beautiful leather handbags and shoes, plus their dresses are lush.  So, yeah, just obsessed really.  If you’re already a convert, then this code will fill you with a happy, Friday feeling.  And if you’re not?  Pop over and have a look – what better time to experiment than when there’s 20% off and free delivery AND returns?

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Brotherly love

For Sam. Sniggering, silly voices and new beginnings

So this is our last week living as a proper family unit I suppose (although let’s face it, with Mr English’s weird job, we’re only ever a family unit two weeks out of four).  Sam’s off to university next week and we’ll miss him loads.  This became apparent as we watched the NFL tonight and sniggered, en famille, when the commentator said ‘bush’, and then a bit more when he said something about ‘coming in from behind’.

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Say hello to the Best Cruise Blogger 2014 (hint: it’s me)

So after all the begging and pleading, yesterday I finally got to slip on my new favourite LBD (thank you, Mint Velvet) and my gorgeous sparkly new necklace from Alice’s Wonders, lash a load of concealer over my hideous jetlaggy eye bags, and head off to London for the Cruise International Cruise Awards 2014.

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