The BiG Friday Edit | 14

I love having Friday off! Especially when it’s the first day of TEN glorious vacation days! To kick things off I have a fabulous itinerary of lunch at Burger & Lobster, some Primark shopping and then off to the movies to see The Fate of the Furious.

Before I go though…

The Health Edit: I survived my first (last?) 7-day cleanse! And the 10-day #RehabSquad! I am tired and will spend today eating ALL OF THE CARBS as reward. #winning

The Book Edit: There was a lot going on this week so my reading has been limited to whenever I’m in transit. Not ideal but what can you do? I finished off Sorcerer to the Crown which was really good. It was a bit more dense then I anticipated (because of the language style) but a really interesting premise and beautiful story world.

The Audio Edit: I started the S-Town Podcast last night and I’m hooked. I know nothing about it (is it real? fake?) and I’m actually a bit hesitant to find out because I’m enjoying being swept away by the story.

The Blog Edit: This week was all about rounding up birthday fun with blogs on my horseback riding adventure, a surprise birthday afternoon tea and a facial at Biologique Recherche. Up next week: my cleanse diary (it’s a long one!), the importance of doing a regular digital detox in today’s world and an ode to a special lady in my life.

The Life Edit: I’m leaving on a jet plane! Graham and I are off tomorrow for a whirlwind trip to Canada which will see an exciting family get-together, some epic shopping (ALL of the junk food!) and a lot of delicious food. Can’t wait!

As always, thanks for stopping by. Hope you all have a wonderful and very Hoppy Easter weekend! 🙂

The Biologique Recherche Facial

It’s no secret that I love Liberty and tend to spend (too much) time there but I only recently learned that there is a secret wing…where magical, beautiful relaxation and transformation takes place!

Hidden away behind a secret door lies a warren of rooms where you can indulge in all manner of spa treatments courtesy of the brands found in the beauty hall below.

To kick off my birthday week I booked in for a facial with my newest cult find – Biologique Recherche. Having read so much about their products and sampled P50 for myself I thought it would be fun to go all in and splurge on a Soin Lift C.V.S facial which promised to be ‘the ultimate facial to accelerate cell renewal, restructure, firm, hydrate and protect against exterior aggressions. Using the Jacquet-Leroy massage technique to stimulate elastin and collagen whilst lifting and defining facial contours. Contains diatome powder, amino acids, silk proteins and hyaluronic acids. Lifting, exfoliating and nourishing.’

I arrived at the counter a bit early and was swiftly escorted up the stairs, through the hidden, magical door into the hallway of dreams. I need this wallpaper and design aesthetic in my life!

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The room itself was just as gorgeous.

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There’s something about a spa treatment room that just instantly relaxes you. The soft lighting, the gentle background music, the subtle scent of the lotions and potions they’re about to use to turn back the clock and have you walking out looking 5 years younger.

I got comfy on the table and the specialist got to work using the wide variety of products to address everything going on with my skin.

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For the next hour she massaged and sculpted my facial muscles in what can only be described as a ‘unique’ way. There was undulating pressure, feather-light application and firm pressure to work away any remaining tension in my shoulders and arms.

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After she had applied what felt like 9 layers of oil onto my face she abruptly announced that we were done which left me feeling more than a little confused. Surely she needed to….remove said oil so that it didn’t run off my face as soon as I stood up?

I could have voiced these concerns, sure, but whenever I’m having a beauty treatment (skin, hair, nails – doesn’t matter) my internal dialogue is always a lot more assertive than what I actually say and do out loud. So my response was a very polite ‘thanks so much!’

As soon as she left the room I was up and across to the mirror to see what state my skin was in – and I was pleasantly surprised! My cheeks were smooth and supple and though there was a faint dishevelment to my overall appearance I attributed this to the brief scalp massage and lack of makeup.

I emerged back into the patterned hallway feeling revived and relaxed, anxious to hold on to the feeling for as long as possible as I knew the impending rush hour tube journey home was likely to put a damper on things.

Overall my skin was in excellent shape in the days that followed and the relaxation (with minor moments of weirdness – I refer you back to the mention of undulating pressure) was lovely. I’d say that a facial at Biologique Recherche is worth a try but with a somewhat steep price tag you may want to limit it to special occasions, as there are plenty of spas in London with fantastic facials at a more affordable price point.

If you are going to book in though, make sure you do it well in advance and be warned that the treatments are only available on certain days at certain times because all of the Liberty beauty brands share the treatment rooms.

Thanks for stopping by today – hope you have a relaxing rest of the week!

Surprise Birthday Afternoon Tea

On the Sunday following my birthday I was told that I needed to be dressed in something ‘delightful and springy’ and ready to be picked up from my apartment at 1:30 for a surprise outing. Needless to say, I was intrigued…

After serious debate I decided on an old, favourite Zara dress with new H&M shoes and my delightful new Warehouse trench from Asos – bright, springy and ready for anything!

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On the dot of 1:30 my doorbell rang and I was greeted by Lucy and Ella bearing presents, flowers and the world’s largest and most delightful birthday balloon.

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After gifts (the BEST part of any birthday!) we hopped in an Uber to a mystery location (Ella to the driver: ‘DON’T SAY WHERE WE’RE GOING!’)

We wound our way through London and ended up at the gorgeous Landmark Hotel in Marylebone for afternoon tea. We were a bit early for our reservation so we grabbed a table in the Mirror Bar and indulged in some pre-tea cocktails and mocktails. I opted for the ‘Rather Refreshing’ which was a tasty mix of raspberries, elderflower cordial, apple juice and cranberry juice. Lucy got the ‘Berries Temptation’ and Ella went for a classic Aperol Spritz.

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There was a sense of anticipation as we sipped our drinks as the hostess had mentioned that we had a reservation for 5. Now, maths has never been my strong suit but I felt fairly confident that there were only three of us in the car on the way over…

The mystery was soon revealed though with the arrivals of my friends Sophie and Tilda. I was thrilled to see them and so excited for the tea ahead as we made our way into the gorgeous glass atrium.

We got a fantastic table in the heart of it all with views of the piano player (you know you’re at an exceptional afternoon tea if there’s a live piano player!) and the champagne/tea bar.

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What followed was one of the best afternoon teas I’ve had in London…and I’ve had a lot! The company was delightful, of course, but so were the sandwiches. We were a really easy-going group and only four out of five of us asked for alterations to the sandwich menu.

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We happily dug into the sandwiches and tea – I went for the Winter Garden blend which was fab. Not all the girls knew one another (they were super sneaky and got in touch to arrange everything with Graham’s stealthy help) so it was fun to see these wonderful women I’m lucky to call my friends laughing and chatting together.

After eating as many sandwiches as we could we moved on to warm, fluffy scones and jam.

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It’s little surprise that by the time they brought out the sweets we were all already sitting back in our chairs and needed a bit of a breather before diving in!

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The blueberry macaron was my favourite and had the fun bonus of turning all of our mouths dark blue. The adorable mini hot chocolate mug was beautifully presented but the gelatinous base was not exactly a crowd pleaser…

We had made our way through dessert when suddenly the piano struck up ‘Happy Birthday’ and a lovely cupcake arrived with a flourish.

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There was no way I was going to be able to eat another bite for probably the rest of the day (and I’m not a massive cake fan as it is – shocking, I know!) so I begged Sophie to take it home with her.

Stuffed and happy we sat enjoying the atmosphere and warm greenhouse feel for a while before heading out into the beautifully warm day.

But not without first marking the day with a photo op!

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Look at my gorgeous friends. Love them!

Sophie headed off to catch the Cambridge Oxford Boat Race (which we (Cambridge) won! – I say ‘we’ loosely as Graham’s the one who went there, not me, lol) and Tilda, Lucy, Ella and I decided to walk off our post-tea drowsiness in nearby Regent’s Park.

The blooms have been absolutely beautiful in London the past few weeks so it was the perfect time for a leisurely stroll and some silly picture taking.

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^ My new favourite ever picture of Tilda and I.

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Eventually real life called us back and we said goodbye before heading off in different directions.

I spent the tube journey home feeling grateful for the friends that I’ve made here in London and the experiences we’ve shared in my four years here. It was so sweet of them to plan such a lovely afternoon and to treat me to such a wonderful tea (book in for yours here). I was a very lucky birthday girl!

My Birthday Horseback Adventure

There are few things more exciting and memorable than an experience you’ve literally waited your whole life for turning out to be even better than you imagine. When I woke up on my birthday and found out Graham had arranged for us to go horseback riding I couldn’t have been more thrilled. For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to go horseback riding and, for one reason or another, haven’t had the chance. But now it was finally time!

After a lovely birthday breakfast high above London at Duck & Waffle I put on my most riding appropriate outfit (an important consideration!) and we hopped in an Uber towards the Kingston Riding Centre.

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We arrived early for our lesson so proceeded to introduce ourselves to every horse in the stable. It’s the polite thing to do and I loved seeing all their personalities and gorgeous faces.

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^ An interesting hair style choice!

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While we wandered we also took the opportunity to check out the tack room…

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…and spend some quality time with the beautiful Lily. She was completely calm and basically my ideal horse. I assume she’s used to being told how wonderful she is because there was a faint air of ‘Yes, I know…tell me more’ about her.

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I literally couldn’t have been happier.

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^ I mean, look at the joy on that face!

Obviously I was convinced that Lily was my horse so when we found out Graham would be riding her I was…disgruntled. But I wasn’t going to let a minor setback upset my day so I donned my helmet and got ready to become one with whatever horse they gave me.

Turns out that when you’re 5’2″ and it’s your first time out they tend to give you a pony rather than a horse…

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After Graham and I stopped laughing I stepped up, expertly threw my lag over the saddle and greeted my new friend, Red. Ruby (my instructor) then led us to the training arena for the lesson.

We practiced walking and cantering (I’m a natural, for the record) and though Red was a little bit lazy (he’d just had lunch so I couldn’t really blame him) it was pure joy from start to finish, especially as we had perfect weather – the warmest March day in London in 5 years!

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^ My thoughts in this moment: ‘BEST BIRTHDAY EVER!’

We made our way back to the stables already planning when we could return.

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With a final farewell to the troops…

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….I thanked Red for his time…

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…and we headed off for an afternoon of shopping and delicious pizza dinner.

The perfect birthday, all thanks to wonderful Graham. 🙂

 

The BiG Friday Edit | 13

After birthday week this week has felt decidedly lacklustre…even despite the sunshine! I have a feeling next week will be better (it’s only 4 days long and then I’m off for 10 blissful days!) so I’m gonna take a deep breath and fight through to that moment of Friday Freedom.

In the meantime…

The Health Edit: I have never been healthier then I am at this moment. I’m on day 5 of the #RebelSquad April challenge (10 classes in 10 days) at 1Rebel. I am also on day 2 of a cleanse recommended by one Ms Gwyneth Paltrow. It’s one I’ve wanted to try for years and finally decided to bite the bullet and do. Though I’ve tried and failed cleanses in the past (I’m all for embracing healthy pursuits…it’s the follow through that I often struggle with) but with this one I’m not hungry or bored so I think it has staying power. It’s a seven-day program so by mid next week you should all expect to see my skin glowing and a general air of health and wellbeing surrounding me.

The Book Edit: I finished Talking as Fast as I Can at a speed Lorelai Gilmore would be extremely proud of. It was witty, fun and though I could have used a few more behind the scenes secrets (who do YOU think Rory should end up with, Lauren?!) I thoroughly enjoyed it. I’m now half reading Pivot and half reading Sorcerer to the Crown as Pivot requires a lot of stopping to do exercises so can’t really be read in transit. I’m enjoying both books in different ways! (Find out more about all three in my April Book List post here)

The Screen Edit: I’m still all about Elementary as I work my way through season four. I love the characters, I love the relationships, I love the mysteries (and am getting expert level good at predicting the bad guy!), and I love Clive! If you’re not already a fan please start watching the series just to find out who Clive is. You won’t be disappointed!

The Blog Edit: Lots of good stuff to come next week – my first ever horseback riding experience, a surprise birthday tea treat with my friends (including a walk in the park with some completely casual photo ops like the one above!) and a new beauty post. Make sure you check in to get all the details.

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

April’s Blonde In Grey Booklist

Another month, another book list! Here’s what I’m excited to be reading this month:

1. Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham

About: In Talking as Fast as I Can, Lauren Graham hits pause for a moment and looks back on her life, sharing laugh-out-loud stories about growing up, starting out as an actress, and, years later, sitting in her trailer on the Parenthood set and asking herself, “Did you, um, make it?” She opens up about the challenges of being single in Hollywood (“Strangers were worried about me; that’s how long I was single!”), the time she was asked to audition her butt for a role, and her experience being a judge on Project Runway (“It’s like I had a fashion-induced blackout”).

In “What It Was Like, Part One,” Graham sits down for an epic Gilmore Girls marathon and reflects on being cast as the fast-talking Lorelai Gilmore. The essay “What It Was Like, Part Two” reveals how it felt to pick up the role again nine years later, and what doing so has meant to her.

2. Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin

About: A biographical portrait of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln and some of the men who served with him in his cabinet from 1861 to 1865. Three of his Cabinet members had previously run against Lincoln in the 1860 election: Attorney General Edward Bates, Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase and Secretary of State William H. Seward. The book focuses on Lincoln’s mostly successful attempts to reconcile conflicting personalities and political factions on the path to abolition and victory in the American Civil War.

3. How England Made the English by Harry Mount

About: Q: Why are English train seats so narrow? A: It’s all the Romans’ fault. The first Victorian trains were built to the same width as horse-drawn wagons; and they were designed to fit the ruts left in the roads by Roman chariots.

For readers of Paxman’s The English, Bryson’s Notes on a Small Island and Fox’s Watching the English, this intriguing and witty book explains how our national characteristics – our sense of humour, our hobbies, our favourite foods and our behaviour with the opposite sex – are all defined by our nation’s extraordinary geography, geology, climate and weather.

4. Pivot by Jenny Blake

About: In today’s economy the average job tenure is only four years, and falling. Roles change constantly. Even smart, motivated people hit professional plateaus. ‘What’s next?’ is a question we all have to answer more frequently. But how do you advance without getting stuck?

In Pivot, Jenny Blake, co-creator of Google’s Career Guru Programme, shows you how to build upon your assets – your strengths, interests and networks – to create a career with meaning and adventure. You will learn how to redirect your energy, scan for opportunities and identify new skills without falling prey to ‘analysis paralysis’ or ‘compare and despair’.

No matter your age, industry, or bank balance, pivoting is the crucial skill you need to stay agile and keep you moving forward.

5. Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho

About: In Regency London, Zacharias Wythe is England’s first African Sorcerer Royal. He leads the eminent Royal Society of Unnatural Philosophers, but a malicious faction seeks to remove him by fair means or foul. Meanwhile, the Society is failing its vital duty – to keep stable the levels of magic within His Majesty’s lands. The Fairy Court is blocking its supply, straining England’s dangerously declining magical stores. And now the government is demanding to use this scarce resource in its war with France.

Ambitious orphan Prunella Gentleman is desperate to escape the school where she’s drudged all her life, and a visit by the beleaguered Sorcerer Royal seems the perfect opportunity. For Prunella has just stumbled upon English magic’s greatest discovery in centuries – and she intends to make the most of it.

At his wits’ end, the last thing Zachariah needs is a female magical prodigy! But together, they might just change the nature of sorcery, in Britain and beyond.

So many exciting stories to look forward to! In case you’re curious, I’ve popped the list of books I’ve read so far below. As always I’d love to hear what you’re reading too so please do leave me a comment and let me know!

The list of books I’ve read so far in 2017:

  1. The Thirteenth Tale – Diane Setterfield
  2. Rather be the Devil – Ian Rankin
  3. Seating Arrangements – Maggie Shipstead
  4. Techbitch – Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza
  5. The Big Four – Agatha Christie
  6. Love, Rosie – Cecelia Ahern
  7. The Marble Collector – Cecelia Ahern
  8. The Residence – Kate Andersen Brower
  9. Hitman Anders and the Meaning of It All – Jonas Jonasson
  10. The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper – Phaedra Patrick
  11. The Girl Who Came Home – Hazel Gaynor
  12. Unrivalled – Alyson Noel
  13. Burning Glass – Kathryn Purdie
  14. Six of Crows – Leigh Bardugo
  15. Crooked Kingdom – Leigh Bardugo
  16. The Thousandth Floor – Katharine McGee
  17. Clean Beauty – the editors of GOOP
  18. Annihilation – Jeff VanderMeer
  19. Authority – Jeff VanderMeer
  20. Acceptance – Jeff VanderMeer
  21. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
  22. Spark Joy – Marie Kondo
  23. After You – Jojo Moyes

Happy Reading!

The Classic Trench

Read virtually any fashion piece and it will tell you that one of the key, ‘must-have’ items everyone should have in their wardrobe is a classic trench coat.

In theory, this should be an easy purchase as there are so many varieties out there available at pretty much every single price point.

In actuality, it can be a years long search to find the one that is practical, fits right and suits your specific needs.

But when the day finally comes and you find ‘the one’? Pure, unadulterated bliss!

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This beauty is from Asos and is perfect in weight, colour, fit and style. An exciting new addition to my wardrobe and a welcome staple in light of the fabulous spring weather we’ve been enjoying in London this past week.

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For a Sunday afternoon with friends for which the dress code was ‘delightful and springy’ I paired it with favourites from the high street – backless loafers, an eye-catching necklace (old, new season here) and sunglasses from H&M and a dress from Zara (old, similar style here). With my Marc Jacobs bag I was set.

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I have a feeling this is the start of a beautiful friendship.