Monday, July 22, 2013


One of my favourite childhood memories from when I was growing up was the day we got our family pet- Oscar. Mum had taken Christine and I for a day trip to London to visit the Natural History Museum and Dad, who worked as a Prison Officer at Belmarsh Prison, had arranged to give us a lift home in the evening. As we approached Dad's waiting car just outside the prison gates Christine and I spotted a little golden shape sat on the back seat...this little golden shape turned out to be Oscar, our wonderful Golden Retriever who from that moment became our beloved family pet for the next 16 years. 

Karl and I have been toying with the idea of getting a dog for quite some time now. We looked after a friend's dog- a little black labrador called Coco- for three weeks a few months ago and I absolutely fell in love with him! Needless to say I was pretty upset when we had to send him packing back to his rightful owners but looking after him sealed the deal that we both wanted a pup! 

As you know it's been a bit of crazy time for us recently with the build and moving house etc. so whilst Karl and I have spent a lot of time talking about getting a dog I honestly thought that it would happen next year some time. Wanting to be part of the puppy-buying process right from the start I told Karl that strictly under no circumstances was he to surprise me with a dog after a couple of failed visits to the Labrador Rescue centre made me realise just how important it is to meet any little pup you are thinking of bringing home to make sure it's the right one for you (and you're the right family for him)...

So...a few weeks ago I was working down in London for work and upon my return to Manchester Karl picked me up at the train station. I threw my suitcase into the boot and jumped into the car ready to give Karl a big hug...moments after I sat down I got the shock of my life...A little black ball of fluff climbed onto my lap and a gorgeous little face beamed up at me...For a second I thought it was Coco returning to us for another holiday, but I soon realised that this wasn't the all. The little fluff ball was tiny compared to Coco and he also had a big bow tied to his collar! 

May I introduce you to Roly... my surprise pup!

My first ever photo with Roly

My little pupster

Utterly scrumptious

Having a snooze

Having a snooze on his new Mummy

Chilling with his Daddy

My darling little Pup

Despite my warnings to Karl about surprising me with a pup he took it upon himself to contact Coco's breeder to see if they had any pups left... there was only one left... ROLY! A sure sign that he was meant to be ours :-) 

Karl not only managed to replicate one of my favourite childhood memories with absolute perfection... but he also picked the perfect pup!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Making a House a Home

We've moved in!

Two weeks ago Karl and I went to sleep for the very last time in our little house on Cambridge Terrace. With the hustle and bustle of preparing to move, it didn't really hit home that it actually was our last night in the house until the following night when I found myself staring up at our brand new ceilings in our brand new bedroom! So long wonderful little Cambridge Terrace, happy times in a happy home... hello shiny new house! 

There's still a lot of work to do and our house is going to be used as a show-home this weekend to try and sell the remaining two plots. This has meant that since we moved in I have been working tirelessly to bring life and character to our new home and to bring it up to the 'show-home standard'. 

On a limited budget and with a tight turn-around I have had to be savvy and resourceful in order to get the furniture we need and not spend thousands of pounds (which I could very easily do!)

I will be taking before and after shots next weekend and we'll see how close I managed to turn the blank canvas into my dream home. In the meantime here is a sneaky preview of the bargains I have sourced over the last couple of weeks (am I officially getting old blogging about furniture?!)  

    Before and after pic of the sofa. 

Karl loves this sofa suite... I do not. As a happy compromise we have kept the sofas but I have covered them with Sofa Huggers- the whole suite for about £100. It will do... for now! Soft, fluffy cushions are always an absolute must so I bought some lush, natural cushions in TKMaxx (my new favourite shop) and then recycled the old cushions by buying new cushion covers. I still haven't decided on my colour scheme but we'll see what emerges, I'm liking the neutrals with a splash of colour!

New sofa bed

I toyed with the idea of getting a second hand one but none of them looked very nice and to be honest- you just don't know what might have happened on a used sofa-bed! I got this brand new sofa bed from The Pavilion in Ashton and it was an absolute steal at £270. I wonder who will be the first to sleep on it?

Oak Desk
Ignore the bit and pieces on top of it, we still need to hang the pictures on the wall. This was another brilliant steal from The Pavillion, a solid oak desk for £130. 

Oak Bed
Karl and I went into Dreams the other week and both really liked this bed, it was a little out of our price range so we looked on Gum Tree to see if we could find something similar. We found the exact same one with a mattress for £170! It's like new and probably the most comfy bed I have ever owned.
Dressing Table

Every girl needs a vanity dresser, this was actually the first piece of furniture I bought and was an absolute bargain- £60 on Gum Tree.
Window Seat
Here's me shamelessly posing on the window seat, releasing my inner bookworm! 

I've been after a metal mannequin for ages and stumbled across one in TKMaxx (on one of my many visits...) It was reduced to £27 which to me was a sign that it had to be mine! I've wrapped a clip light inside it to turn it into a statement lamp. 

So...a few days till the show home, fingers crossed our new home will wow those that come to visit and we will end up with more wonderful neighbours!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Motorbike Dreams

"Travelling in a car is like watching a film, riding a motorbike is like starring in it..."

I've wanted a motorbike for as long as I can remember. This desire was spurred on after I read about Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman's epic motorcycle trip "the long way round"- 20,000 miles, across 12 countries and 19 time zones. On this trip of a lifetime they crossed Europe, Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan and Mongolia, through Siberia, over to Alaska, through Canada, North America and finished in New York. What a journey! I genuinely don't think there could be any better way to explore the world than the sheer energy, joy and freedom of being on a bike! 

There are still so many places I want to visit and explore and now that Karl has his "big-bike" license I just need to catch up so that we can hit the road together. I'm taking it easy and one step at a time, so for now am jetting about on my little Suzuki GS 125 and when I feel ready (hopefully by the end of the Summer), I will be confident enough to take the test. In the mean time I am practicing hard and finding my inspiration here

A little tribute to my growing love affair with bikes:

On two wheels in the Philippines
Off to explore a bat cave (just before I crashed...)

Me and my amigos off to explore Boracay

Jumping for joy on Orchid Island, Taiwan
Shameless selfie

Hitting the road, Green Island, Taiwan

Motorbikes and best friends: a perfect combination!
My first bike: Suzuki GS 125 

Suited and booted, ready to take on the world!
Off out for a Sunday afternoon ride

Wrapped up, ready to hit the road

Relaxing with a glass of merlot... (I was the passenger!) 
My fellow biker! Biking + good food = heaven 

The beautiful Ducati

My chariot...(I WILL be able to ride this one day!)
Me in my biker outfit

As you know, I am someone who always likes to be planning 'my next big adventure'. I'd love to just take off and travel to deserted coastlines, winding mountain roads, bustling back-streets and vast, open countryside. On a bike you are completely immersed in the sights, sounds and smells of a country and free from the confines of a bus or car, the perfect way to travel!

To follow the advice of Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman: "Change your life.  Take your time. Take the long way." That sounds like a grand idea to me. 

Where do you think would be good to explore on a motorbike?! 

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Blank Canvas

And it all began with a with a blank canvas. 

This could not be more true as our new house is very quickly coming to life; things are moving along at such a speed and important decisions regarding interior need to be made! For me this is quite overwhelming as Karl has said I can pretty much do whatever I like (budget permitting) so I need to think hard about what I want my beautiful new home to look like.

In the words of Henry David Thoreau "the world is but a canvas to our imagination", this is exactly how I am feeling about my new house: it's a complete blank canvas at the moment and we can do whatever we like. The entire house has now been plastered and is ready to be painted, decorated, personalised and brought to life. This is the first time in my life  have ever had to think about such things and knowing where to start can be a bit mind blowing, so thank goodness for Pinterest!

The following pictures show the blank canvas that is our house as it stands, along with my ideas and inspiration shamelessly stolen from Pinterest. As someone who has a terrible tendency to change her mind I have no doubt that these ideas will grow, develop and completely change, so I promise to show you the final results when we eventually move in (which will actually be in about three weeks)!

Let's start from the top and work our way down....

The 3rd Floor. Our bedroom with ensuite.

I've always dreamed of having a beautiful window seat in my bedroom, a perfect reading/ day-dreaming spot.

Something light, airy and gorgeous?

Simple, delicate and lots of light

Beautiful natural tiles and a big mirror (a splash of colour will give it the personal touch)
The staircase going down to the second floor

Spot lights on the stair case are also an absolute must.

The hallway upstairs

Again, light and airy is the dream! I love the idea of picture frames, mirrors and books filling the hallway.
The Study/ Spare Room

Classy and quirky...
The guest bedroom 

A warm and inviting spare room
The main bathroom 

Again, lovely natural tiles- timeless. 

I adore the shelving in this picture, lots of space for pretty pictures, tea lights and luscious soaps!

A homely staircase with an array of gorgeous photos, paintings or mirrors.

Teeny, tiny downstairs toilet 

Shelves and wicker baskets to maximise the space
Shelves, shelves, shelves!
The living room

A corner sofa with wonderful, squishy cushions...perfect for movie nights!
This snug is incredible... I love everything about this picture. 
Kitchen/ Diner 

I love the layout of this kitchen and I especially love the rounded work surfaces. 

These pictures are a (very) rough design of what our kitchen might look like: rounded surfaces, a breakfast bar, a glass cupboard with lights (for the cocktail and wine glasses!) The surface won't be black- it will be gorgeous oak to match our wonderful oak doors!
A birds eye view. Where you can see the second door on the right we are actually going to have an American-style fridge freezer with an ice and water dispenser! 
Potential dining area idea (I'm particularly loving the HUGE wine rack in the background!) Lovely glass table,  candles,  Japanese style table decorations and statement art work on the wall. 

I can't wait to show you the final 'before' and 'after' shots... what are your thoughts so far?! As a complete novice to all of this any ideas are warmly welcome!