The BiG Friday Edit | 19

I’ve got that Friday feeling!

After a very busy week I’m looking forward to a relaxed weekend which includes catching up on sleep and curling up with a good book. What have I been up to that has got me craving the most Hygge weekend ever?

The Health Edit:

I’m almost done the June 1Rebel #RehabSquad and I am tiiiiiired! With lots of after work plans this week I’ve been getting up at dawn (or earlier) to hit the gym. I know it’s good for me in the long run but I am really looking forward to sleeping in tomorrow and catching up on rest…before I go back for more.

The Book Edit:

I’ve started reading By Any Means by Charley Boorman and am already more than halfway through. It’s the perfect commute book because it’s light (a key factor!) and easily digestible. I am racing through a bit as I’m so eager to get started on Party Girls Die in Pearls by Plum Sykes.

The Screen Edit:

No time for TV this week! I have however, been culture-ifying myself in other ways. My friend Anne-Marie took me to see The Last of the Haussmans at Questers Theatre yesterday (it was really good and I was blown away by the acting, especially as the cast weren’t professional actors). Tonight Graham and I are going to see La Strada to support his cousin Cameron, as he was the Movement Director for the show

The Blog Edit:

This week on I took you out for dinner at The Ivy Chelsea Garden and shared June’s booklist. If you haven’t had a chance to catch up on all the latest yet – happy readying!

As always, thanks for stopping by. Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

June’s Blonde In Grey Book List

This month’s book list is a combination of old and new – a couple of fun re-reads mixed with some exciting new acquisitions…

By Any Means by Charley Boorman

Grabbing whatever local transport he can get his hands on, Charley travels from his home town in County Wicklow all the way to Australia – a trip of over 20,000 miles through twenty-five countries. He drives a lorry through northern Iran, rides a tuk-tuk through the chaotic and colourful city of Varanasi, and becomes the first person ever to wakeboard across the Malay/Singapore border. He sets up his own bus service in Turkey, takes a slow boat down the Mekong, and a very fast one through Borneo to deliver vaccines for UNICEF. And of course he jumps on a bike whenever he can, even if there’s a monsoon on the way . . .

This is a re-read because i forgot I had it! I originally bought this book because I loved watching Charley and Ewan McGregor’s Long Way Down and Long Way Round so I was intrigued to see what happened when Charley took on an adventure on his own. Though the whole trip from Ireland to Australia was filmed for a TV series I much prefer the written version as it has all the insider bits that get skipped over when something is edited down for TV. It’s a witty, interesting travel memoir perfect for anyone with a sense of adventure and wanderlust.

Party Girls Die in Pearls by Plum Sykes

Pimm’s, punting and ball gowns are de rigeur. Ursula Flowerbutton, a studious country girl, arrives for her first term anticipating nothing more sinister than days spent poring over history books – and, perhaps, an invitation to a ball. But when she discovers a ghastly crime, she is catapulted into a murder investigation.

Determined to unravel the case – and bag her first scoop for the famous student newspaper Cherwell – Ursula enlists the help of her fellow Fresher, the glamorous American Nancy Feingold. While navigating a whirl of black-tie parties and secret dining societies, the girls discover a surfeit of suspects. From broken-hearted boyfriends to snobby Sloanes, lovelorn librarians to dishy dons, none can be presumed innocent.

I AM SO EXCITED FOR THIS ONE!! Plum Sykes is one of my all-time favourite authors and the author of my favourite book (it’s tied for first with all of the Harry Potter books except Chamber of Secrets. I’m sure you can understand why…) Bergdorf Blondes. With a background in fashion and Anna Wintour on speed dial Plum Sykes is a master storyteller who creates characters you not only love but also want to be.  It’s been more than 10 years since the release of Plum’s second book – The Debutante Divorcee (which is also amazing) – so I am SO excited to read something new from her. Then I can gush about it on Instagram. BECAUSE PLUM SYKES FOLLOWS ME! #winning

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

It’s 3 a.m. and Elizabeth Gilbert is sobbing on the bathroom floor. She’s in her thirties, she has a husband, a house, they’re trying for a baby – and she doesn’t want any of it. A bitter divorce and a turbulent love affair later, she emerges battered and bewildered and realises it is time to pursue her own journey in search of three things she has been missing: pleasure, devotion and balance. So she travels to Rome, where she learns Italian from handsome, brown-eyed identical twins and gains twenty-five pounds, an ashram in India, where she finds that enlightenment entails getting up in the middle of the night to scrub the temple floor, and Bali where a toothless medicine man of indeterminate age offers her a new path to peace: simply sit still and smile. And slowly happiness begins to creep up on her.

This is another re-read and it seems very appropriate as I’m searching for some enlightenment in my life at the moment. Truth be told I remember the Julia Roberts version of this story better than the actual book so I’m looking forward to diving back in and reminding myself what I loved about it in the first place.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Eleanor Oliphant leads a simple life. She wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch every day and buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink every weekend. Eleanor Oliphant is happy. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled life. Except, sometimes, everything.

One simple act of kindness is about to shatter the walls Eleanor has built around herself. Now she must learn how to navigate the world that everyone else seems to take for granted – while searching for the courage to face the dark corners she’s avoided all her life.

Change can be good. Change can be bad. But surely any change is better than… fine?

I’ve heard rave reviews about this one and so am eager to have a read and see what all the fuss is about. (Insider secret: I know an editor who passed on this manuscript…bet she’s regretting it now!)

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Scarlett has never left the tiny isle of Trisda, pining from afar for the wonder of Caraval, a once-a-year week-long performance where the audience participates in the show. Caraval is Magic. Mystery. Adventure. And for Scarlett and her beloved sister Tella it represents freedom and an escape from their ruthless, abusive father.

When the sisters’ long-awaited invitations to Caraval finally arrive, it seems their dreams have come true. But no sooner have they arrived than Tella vanishes, kidnapped by the show’s mastermind organiser, Legend.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But nonetheless she quickly becomes enmeshed in a dangerous game of love, magic and heartbreak. And real or not, she must find Tella before the game is over, and her sister disappears forever.

This is one I stumbled across in the ‘People who bought this book also bought…’ section of Amazon. And I’m so glad I did! The cover is gorgeous and there’s an air of The Night Circus to the cover copy which suggests I am highly likely to love it. (Have you read The Night Circus? Do it now! It’s so good!!)

In addition to the books outlined here I’m going to make an effort to get through some of the books from previous book lists which got shunted aside. My goal is to be all up to date by 1 July.

Happy reading, all!

The Ivy Chelsea Garden

There’s no denying that Chelsea has hundreds of great places to grab a bite but if you’re looking for some prime people watching, you’ll want to book a table at The Ivy Chelsea Garden.

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Celebrating its 100th birthday this year, The Ivy has expanded from its original West Street venue in central London to include an entire ‘Ivy Collection’ of upmarket grills and brasseries across the city.

Having thoroughly enjoyed our recent brunch at The Ivy Soho Brasserie we were looking forward to the Chelsea experience, especially as the restaurant is renowned for having a gorgeous, blooming courtyard.

You know what they say about the best laid plans though…

The on/off torrential downpours earlier in the afternoon meant the courtyard wasn’t an option but it was hard to complain when the interior is this lovely…

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As Graham and I had both finished work early on Friday, we opted for an early dinner which meant we were surrounded by ladies who lunch, yummy mummies and millennials with generous parents (one table of 5 girls had over £10,000 worth of handbags between them which I can’t honestly believe they afforded on their own…)

Endlessly entertained by the conversations going on around us it took a while to be able to focus in on the menu which boasts ‘modern British dishes drawn from The Ivy’s own extensive menu’.

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We started with the salted sourdough bread, which is always a favourite! (Salt, bread and butter – what more could you want?!)

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For mains, Graham went for the Roast Salmon Fillet with a side of peas, sugar snaps and baby shoots and I opted for a combination of the Tempura Prawns and the Soft Goat’s Cheese Salad.

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It’s always a sign of good ordering when you can barely fit all the food on the table!

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We happily ate, chatted and surreptitiously kept up with what was happening at the neighbouring tables and by the time we were done the rain had finally decided to call it a day.

Happily stuffed, we strolled back down the King’s Road towards Peter Jones for a browse and then caught a bus home. The perfect end to a busy week!

The BiG Friday Edit | 18

Why do the short weeks always feel the longest? It’s only been four days but I am SO ready for the weekend. In the meantime, a bit of distraction for all of us counting down until the end of the day…

The Health Edit:

I’m doing it again! Yes, friends, I’ve signed up for the June 1Rebel #RehabSquad which means 10 action-packed classes in 10 days! I’m 2 days in and already sore but who cares? It’s fun, it’s good for me and it challenges me to push myself harder. It’s also a really great emotional release to spend 45 minutes a day pounding a punching bag and clearing your mind with endless rounds of squats, burpees, wall sits, sit-ups and (my least favourite) mountain climbers. Watch out, state of complete zen – I’m coming for you!

The Book Edit:

I spent last week racing through the Talon series (1/2/3) and was annoyed to find that book three wasn’t actually the final book – apparently there’s a fourth book? – especially as I’ve found the re-read a bit painful and the ‘racing’ I speak of was to just get it done. The heroine is so irritating! She has no regard for other people let alone their safety and so she is the cause of most of the problems she faces. Equally irritating is one of the males in the ‘love triangle’ (Again? Really? Come on YA authors, you’re better than this!). Why is he irritating? A) He’s hideously possessive considering he has no claim on her whatsoever, B) He calls her ‘Firebrand’ EVERY SINGLE TIME HE SPEAKS TO HER (she’s a dragon masquerading as a human so this isn’t completely nuts. Also, yes, I recognise I should never have had high hopes considering the premise of the story…). This kind of repetition is annoying but also just lazy on the part of the line editor. Take it out! I once edited a romantic thriller where the author used the hero and heroine’s full names (first and last) every time they spoke to one another. So, of course, I cut most of these – it wouldn’t have been readable otherwise! Okay, I’ve gone off piste. Basically I hope that the heroine and hero A(nnoying) end up together because they deserve each other’s awfulness. Will I be reading the final book* to see how it ends though? No.

*I’ve just checked Amazon and apparently there’s even a book 5! FFS.

I’m now reading a biography of Henry VIII (my tastes, they are diverse!) by David Starkey who is a real master at historical biography. Any of his books are good but I highly recommend Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII as it’s extremely interesting and well written.

The Screen Edit:

I’ve been catching up on the past few seasons of VEEP starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus. The language isn’t for the faint hearted but the comedy is top-notch. I laugh through every episode and at barely 30 mins long they’re the perfect, bite-size amount of TV after a long day. On the big screen I’m looking forward to seeing Wonder Woman this weekend! Gal Gadot is a literal goddess (on and off screen) and I’m looking forward to seeing her save the world.

The Shopping Edit:

I have tried on and rejected and bought and returned more dresses than I’d care to admit to this week. I’m in the mood to shop and this warm weather has me craving light, airy dresses in fun, floral prints but most of what I’ve tried on in stores or ordered online just hasn’t been quite right. Too heavy, ill-fitting, not like the picture…there’s always something. That’s the way it seems to go though – when you’re trying to save money you see a million things you ‘need’ and when you’re in the mood to splurge you can’t find anything.

The Beauty Edit:

I’ve got my fourth laser facial in four weeks tomorrow and I’m looking forward to seeing how my skin looks after a month of treatment. Hopefully glowy and wonderful! I’m also trying out this new serum, which my friend Ang has raved about. Can’t wait to see how it works.

The Political Edit:

I can’t even begin to express my disgust with THAT man. Here’s hoping that the golf course at Mar-A-Lago is the first thing to be swallowed by the Atlantic when the seas rise.

Despite the fact that the future of our planet hangs in the balance, I hope everyone is able to distract themselves long enough to enjoy the weekend!

Thanks, as always, for stopping by to visit 🙂