My weekend has mainly been spent…

Clifton Suspension Bridge Clifton, Bristol in the autumn Isabel and Jesse Love Audrey, My weekend Clifton Suspension Bridge

  • Begrudgingly allowing Jesse into our bed before 6am.
  • Desperately trying to persuade him to go back to sleep.
  • Listening to him cough and splutter. The poor child has another cold.
  • Creeping downstairs to find my sister was already awake and drinking tea in the kitchen.
  • Popping the kettle on for everyone else.
  • Making pancakes with Mr. LA while the children watched The Little Mermaid with Nicola and her chap, Andrew.
  • Reminiscing about how terrified my sister was of the sea witch as a child.
  • Jumping in the shower and getting dressed for the day.
  • Coaxing the children into their clothes.
  • Stepping out into the rain.
  • Riding the bus into town.
  • Slowly wandering around the German Christmas Market.
  • Deciding it was a little too cold and wet to eat outside.
  • Taking cover in Cabot Circus.
  • Trying on a gorgeous red dress in House of Fraser.
  • Realising I didn’t love it enough to spend £215.
  • Sampling the burgers at recently opened Five Guys. We all enjoyed our meals, especially the fries!
  • Trying on pretty shoes.
  • Deciding to purchase said shoes.
  • Having a complete mental block at the cash desk that left me unable to recall my PIN number.
  • Putting the shoes on hold and hoping for an epiphany.
  • Catching the bus to Clifton.
  • Arriving to find the Downs bathed in the most spectacular golden light.
  • Watching the children clamber around the adventure playground.
  • Crossing Clifton Suspension Bridge.
  • Making our way into the Village.
  • Having a mooch around the shops.
  • Falling in love with Papersmiths. I’ll be back for a proper browse without the children soon!
  • Hopping on the bus and heading home.
  • Checking my PIN number and dashing back to the city centre in my sister’s car.
  • Parking precariously.
  • Hurriedly making my purchase.
  • Arriving home to find Mr. LA had almost finished making dinner.
  • Parading about the house in my shiny new heels. So pretty, so sparkly. {FYI, they come in the most amazing shade of red too. Perfect for tottering about on Christmas morning.}
  • Tucking into Mexican Lasagna.
  • Sending the kids to bed.
  • Sipping cocktails and having a giggle with our guests.
  • Retreating upstairs.
  • Falling asleep almost immediately.
  • Waking up to find a snotty child dozing next to me.
  • Thinking of my dad on what would have been his 60th birthday.
  • Drinking countless cups of tea in an attempt to feel human again.
  • Munching on toast for breakfast.
  • Opting to stay in my PJs all day.
  • Rifling through old photos with my sister.
  • Making pie, smashed carrots and posh peas for lunch.
  • Saying goodbye to our guests.
  • Wishing Brighton wasn’t quite so far away.
  • Sending Mr. LA on a chocolate biscuit run.
  • Gradually putting the house back together.
  • Staying home with Jesse while Izzy headed off to her drama class.
  • Tidying the kitchen and sorting laundry.
  • Ordering a few Christmas gifts online.
  • Snuggling with Jesse on the sofa.
  • Welcoming the others in from the cold.
  • Making scrambled eggs and baked beans for the children’s supper.
  • Lingering in the shower while Mr. LA put the kids to bed.
  • Sitting down with a small glass of wine to write this post.
  • Looking forward to eating the pizzas that are currently warming in the oven.

Love Audrey xxx

Champagne and Decadence ~ A Harrods Christmas Hamper

Harrods Christmas Hampers

It’s no secret that I’m rather fond of champagne. My first foray into the world of alcoholic beverages involved a few too many glasses of pink fizz at a family party. I don’t think my mother realised quite how much I’d partaken of until she noticed me lurching dramatically from one side of the pavement to the other as I ambled towards our front door at the end of the night.

Although I can hold my liquor a little better these days, my passion for this particular tipple remains. It will come as no surprise that when given the opportunity to sample a Harrods Christmas Hamper of my choosing, I immediately made a beeline for the bubbly.  Harrods Christmas Hampers

From the pale pink presentation box to the gilded Harrods branding, there’s luxury in every detail of this exquisite gift. Someone far more sensible than I am would probably have squirreled it away until the festive season was in full swing, but popping the cork and pouring myself a glass proved far too tempting.

There’s something terribly decadent about indulging in champagne and sumptuous chocolate truffles on what would otherwise be a perfectly ordinary evening. I highly recommend it.

Growing up in London, Harrods and its festive façade was as synonymous with Christmas as Santa Claus himself. I have fond memories of gazing up at the twinkling lights that adorn its exterior every year. An extravaganza of architectural opulence, standing in front of the Knightsbridge store always made me feel as if I was in the presence of something quite magical.

Throwing open our coffret of treats had a similar effect. Who wouldn’t want a gift that made them feel as if they were walking into the world famous Harrods Food Hall?!  Harrods Christmas Hampers

While my champagne taste leaves me swooning over Christmas hampers with a value of £20,000, Harrods stays true to its motto, ‘Omnia Omnibus Ubique – All Things for All People, Everywhere’, ensuring that my lemonade budget is catered for with a stunning range of gifts that cost less than £100.

If you’re still having trouble picking out a present, simply remember this insightful advice courtesy of F. Scott Fitzgerald:

‘Too much of anything is bad, but too much champagne is just right.’

Love Audrey xxx

Our Christmas hamper was a gift from Harrods, but my deep love of champagne and chocolates is as real and true as things come.

My weekend has mainly been spent…

The Downs, Bristol Clifton Bristol Holly Berries

  • Waking up with a teeny tiny hangover. I may have polished off an entire bottle of wine on Friday night.
  • Contemplating the greatness of Dallas Buyers Club, having watched it while drinking the aforementioned wine.
  • Drifting in and out of sleep as I snuggled with Jesse.
  • Dragging myself downstairs for a cup of tea.
  • Feeling odd without Izzy who had slept over at a friend’s birthday party.
  • Lying huddled beneath a blanket with Jesse on the sofa.
  • Eating bacon and eggs for breakfast.
  • Slowly getting ready to face the day.
  • Wishing Mr. LA didn’t have to head off for a working weekend.
  • Catching up on chores.
  • Greeting Izzy at the door.
  • Heating up leftovers for lunch.
  • Catching the bus to Kingswood.
  • Pottering about the shops.
  • Picking up some props for a few blog photos I had planned.
  • Meandering home for a lazy afternoon.
  • Playing around with my camera and a few fairy lights while the children watched Planes.
  • Cooking and eating an Indian spiced veggie shepherd’s pie. I’d love to share this recipe with you, but winter and it’s lack of light severely impedes my ability to photograph, and therefore blog about, food!
  • Surviving one of Jesse’s classic mealtime meltdowns. The joys of a fussy eater!
  • Feeling mildly relieved when both children were safely tucked up in bed.
  • Making myself a mug of hot chocolate and settling down to binge watch House on Netflix.
  • Talking myself into going to bed.
  • Reading the latest Simple Things magazine until I couldn’t keep my eyes open.
  • Waking up as Jesse clambered in beside me.
  • Making tea and fixing breakfast.
  • Ducking into the shower while the children played computer games on my laptop.
  • Piling my hair into a messy bun.
  • Coaxing the kids into their clothes.
  • Sorting laundry and making lunch.
  • Making our way to Clifton for Izzy’s drama class.
  • Attempting to ignore Jesse as he threw a strop about being made to walk further than a few steps.
  • Trailing after the children as they darted about on the Downs and the sun slowly began to set in the distance.
  • Taking too many photos of holly. Those red berries though, so beautiful.
  • Depositing Izzy at the Old Vic and heading off in search of hot chocolate.
  • Treating Jesse to a comic in WH Smiths.
  • Smiling as he used the free gift to transform himself into a knight.
  • Watching him stay in character all the way home.
  • Collecting Izzy and making a mad dash for the bus.
  • Running into Mr. LA on our way back to the house.
  • Listening to the children regale him with tales of everything he had missed.
  • Making the kids a quick supper and somehow finding the energy to tuck them into bed.
  • Collapsing into an exhausted heap on the sofa.
  • Deciding I didn’t fancy the food I had left bubbling away in the slow cooker all day.
  • Drowsily sipping Champagne while watching Luther. Drinking a glass of bubbly on an otherwise ordinary evening always feels so decadent.
  • Retreating to bed before 10pm.
  • Falling asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.

Love Audrey xxx

Our Dorset Holiday – Part 2

Little Boy with Autumn Leaves

Aside from the countless beach walks, our trip to Dorset also involved some fabulous family days out. Mr. LA was able to join us half way through the week and we spent Thursday and Friday enjoying some Halloween themed adventures at Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens and Seaton Tramway, both of which I’d highly recommend. I didn’t reach for my camera much, but you can see the children looking suitably spooky over on Instagram.

As the holiday drew to a close, we made one final pilgrimage to the coast. The walk from my parents’ house in Bridport to West Bay is particularly beautiful, as these photographs illustrate.   West Bay Dorset

Generally speaking, I’m not winter’s biggest fan, but I can’t deny there was something particular pleasing about our surroundings as we ambled through the countryside. Bursts of bright red berries against blue skies, the last of the fiery coloured leaves on the trees and horses grazing happily in a field. It all felt quite good for the soul.  Winter Fauna Dorset Countryside

We stopped for a pub lunch before heading on to the beach which was a real treat. The food at The West Bay Hotel was delicious. I sampled the scallops and Mr. LA tucked into fish, chips and mushy peas. We all felt very full by the time we left.  West Bay Dorset

We soon found ourselves wandering beside the waves. It had grown chilly and the wind had picked up, but the kids hardly noticed as they darted around like loons. I was nursing a cold though and beginning to feel quite sorry for myself. We allowed the children a bit of time to run around before making our way back to the house via the incredible rope park nearby.

The only photograph of me from the entire holiday involves minimal makeup, messy hair, my specs and purple wellington boots. Not my finest sartorial moment, but don’t the children look unbelievably happy?   West Bay Dorset West Bay Dorset West Bay Dorset

By the time we arrived back at the house I was ready to collapse. The children sat down to watch a movie and I promptly fell asleep for a couple of hours on the sofa. I’m all about afternoon naps when I’m on holiday!

I don’t think we’ll ever get bored of visiting Dorset, we seem to find new things to explore every time we go. The children’s passion for the seaside is contagious, and those beaches sure are beautiful, whether the sun’s shining or not. We can’t wait to go back. West Bay Dorset

Love Audrey xxx

My weekend has mainly been spent…

String Pocket Shelf   Izzy Clifton Downs Winter Sunshine

  • Waking up before the children.
  • Shaking my fist at the ceiling and shouting ‘WHY GOD, WHY?’
  • Trying desperately to drift off to sleep again.
  • Cuddling up to Jesse as he slipped in beside me.
  • Heading downstairs for a cup of tea.
  • Administering cold and flu remedies. I seem to have shared my germs with both Izzy and Mr. LA.
  • Making scrambled egg for breakfast.
  • Jumping in the shower.
  • Searching my nonexistent winter wardrobe for something that would keep me warm. I really must go shopping.
  • Coaxing the children into their clothes.
  • Stepping out into the rain and quickly walking to the bus stop.
  • Getting very wet in the process.
  • Stocking up on DIY supplies in Homebase.
  • Letting the children pick out some bird feeders for the yarden.
  • Browsing a few shops before lunch.
  • Enjoying a festive sandwich in the M&S cafe.
  • Desperately trying to force myself to start thinking about Christmas shopping. I need to be organised this year.
  • Riding the bus home.
  • Failing at DIY.
  • Exchanging cross words with Mr. LA.
  • Calming down.
  • Making up.
  • Slowly preparing a huge pumpkin stew.
  • Marvelling at how therapeutic it feels to carefully peel and chop vegetables.
  • Sitting down to enjoy a cup of tea while dinner bubbled away on the stove.
  • Ordering tile samples for the kitchen.
  • Daydreaming about decorating our bedroom.
  • Wishing I’d been a little more careful with the cayenne pepper. The stew was quite fiery, even after stirring in a whole pot of cream!
  • Eating too much.
  • Dunking the children in the bath.
  • Reading bedtime stories.
  • Sipping wine and munching crisps.
  • Enjoying every second of Place Beyond the Pines. Incredible film.
  • Collapsing into bed.
  • Waking up when Jesse climbed in next to me.
  • Leaving Mr. LA to sleep.
  • Fielding a barrage questions from Jesse about the female body. It should be illegal to quiz your parents about their genitals before they’ve had a cup of tea.
  • Getting cosy with the children beneath a blanket on the sofa.
  • Watching Miracle on 34th Street {a colourised version of the original} and not regretting it one bit.
  • Fixing breakfast.
  • Giving the DIY another go.
  • Standing back to admire our handiwork.
  • Falling head over heels in love with our String Pocket Shelf. The dreamy ‘Life is a Bed of Roses’ poster is from Dot & Fox Print Shop.
  • Feeling like the best wife in the world when I let Mr. LA place his strange Game of Thrones dragon egg thingy on the shelf before anything else.
  • Throwing together a meal in the slow cooker.
  • Getting washed and dressed.
  • Tucking into fish finger sandwiches for lunch.
  • Delivering Izzy to her drama class.
  • Snapping some photos in the last of the day’s light. The downs looked truly beautiful in the hazy winter sunshine.
  • Killing time in Clifton.
  • Sampling a honey and almond hot chocolate in Starbucks. It tasted like marzipan. Anything bigger than the smallest cup will probably make you sick.
  • Ambling back up Whiteladies Road in the dark.
  • Collecting Izzy and making a run for the bus.
  • Gazing out the window at the Christmas lights on Park Street.
  • Tumbling in through the front door and letting the warmth of home wash over us.
  • Sitting down to supper. Huge Yorkshire puds topped with sausages in onion gravy. Perfection.
  • Sorting laundry while the children splashed about in the bath.
  • Reading to Jesse and tucking him in.
  • Helping Izzy with her homework.
  • Saying goodnight to Mr. LA as he retreated to bed, full of cold and feeling very sorry for himself.
  • Settling down for a quiet evening alone.

Love Audrey xxx

Our Dorset Holiday ~ Part 1

Blue Beach Huts

Dorset gets under your skin.

My mother spent summers there as a child. Her family had a house in Charmouth, right near the beach. Years later, my sister and I enjoyed similar holidays along the Jurassic Coast, chasing waves and hunting for fossils. It came as no surprise when my parents decided to buy a house in this part of the country. The cosy bolthole they’ve created in Bridport means Dorset is now a familiar feature in the lives of my own children.    Charmouth Beach Dorset

For once, half term was all about them. I worked incredibly hard in early October to ensure I could unplug almost completely for the entire week they were off. My mum booked some leave too, and after a stressful train ride with three rucksacks, two children, one suitcase, a teddy bear and a guitar, the children and I began what felt like our first proper holiday in ages.

It helps that I find it so easy to relax at my parents’ house. Mr. LA was unable to join us for the first few days, so I slept alone in the attic, enveloped in crisp white linen as I starfished the night away on a ridiculously comfy bed. The children slept in their own room on the floor below, usually heading downstairs without me. The absence of an alarm meant I woke naturally most mornings. It’s crazy how rested you feel when you’re allowed to surface whenever you please! Beach Hut Charmouth Beach Dorset

Blustery beach walks were a top priority. I think my parents share my amazement at having produced offspring who enjoy being outdoors as much as mine do. They can still vividly remember my own aversion for cold, wet walks as a child! I still lack the requisite practical clothing for such pursuits. After hobbling across pebbles and sand in my clogs on the first day, my mum marched me into town to buy some proper wellies. I’m 31 and she’s still making me wear sensible shoes! Tan Peep Toe Clogs Lotta From Stockholm

That first visit to the seaside took us to Charmouth. Mum did a stellar job of exploring the water’s edge with the kids, collecting stones and paddling in rock pools. It was pretty grey and wet, but they didn’t seem to care. Charmouth Beach Dorset Charmouth Beach Dorset Charmouth Beach Dorset

Ever adventurous, Izzy waded out to small, sandy mound amidst the waves and proceeded to serenade us with her own version of Island in the Sun. Crazy kid. Charmouth Beach Dorset

With our bellies beginning to rumble, we jumped back in the car and headed to nearby West Bay for fish and chips. The children had asked for a picnic lunch to go with their coastal walk, but I drew the line at eating cold food in the cold!

I seem to take identical photos every time we visit this spot. I guess I just love those colourful boats bobbing away in the harbour. West Bay, Dorset West Bay, Dorset

We spent another, slightly milder, morning at the Hive in Burton Bradstock. I really love this beach. We didn’t visit on this occasion, but there’s a great a cafe overlooking the sea. The shoreline is a little less rocky than Charmouth which makes it ideal for chasing waves. The Hive Burton Bradstock

The kids got really, really wet on this occasion. They started off cautiously, gently dipping their boots in the sea foam before immediately darting back up the beach, but they soon grew bold, heading deeper into the waves until they were well past the point that their wellies could protect them from the water. The Hive Beach, Burton Bradstock The Hive Beach, Burton Bradstock The Hive Beach, Burton Bradstock

There were other trips to the seaside, but I’ll save those for another day. Just thinking about all that fresh air has tired me out!

Have you ever visited Dorset? What did you get up to at half term?

Pebble Heart

Love Audrey xxx

PS. All this looked a little different in the summer!