Summer Collage
sunglasses | leather tote | fedora | scalloped edge one piece | mom shorts | Bumble & bumble surf spray | Birkenstock Arizona | Triangl bikini

I've got summer on the brain. All of a sudden the nights are getting lighter and I'm waking up to sunshine instead of street lamps. It's not just me though. Healthy eating and fitspo pics have started flooding my instagram feed. Bikinis are starting to appear back in stores and the 'Holiday Shop' has started making its way back into the categories of my favourite online stores. I'm sick of layering and wrapping up. I'm ready for days spent lying in the sand with a good book. And feeling the sunshine on my skin. So really it's not surprising that in the last few weeks, as my wanderlust hit a high point, I decided it was time to start making summer plans. But with the warmer months still seeming years away, I wanted a little early season. Cue the headache of finding somewhere warm where the weather is reliable early in the year.

Turns out your options are fairly limited. Unless you're looking at Caribbean cruises or heading south of the equator, there's not a lot of places you can venture with guaranteed sunshine in April. And then I stumbled on Cape Verde, a lush cluster of islands just off the coast of Africa. With crystal clear, turquoise water and white sandy beaches, Boa Vista seemed like the perfect little paradise to spend a week in the sun. So I'm starting my summer wardrobe planning a little early. I want simple, pieces like little crochet tops that I can throw over a bikini and some little denim shorts. Straw fedoras, thick black birks and huge sunnies at the ready. Simple leather bags that I can throw over my shoulder, full of books and sun cream, when I'm heading to beach. Bumble and bumble styling spray that I can spritz into my salty, sun-bleached hair before heading out for an evening meal.

I'm a big fan of holidays where figuring out what to wear isn't a hassle. So the outfits I'm planning are low maintenance. I'm already making pinterest boards and planning my holiday reading list... any recommendations?
For the last couple of years now, Anna's (aka The Grazer) supperclubs have been one of the city's best kept secrets. They don't happen that often, and when they do the first warning you get is a little email in your mailbox letting you know you can request your place. And if you're fast enough to get yourself one it's a slow wait until the day before the event, when Anna lets you know what'll be on the menu. Having been to three of her feasts, and tried dishes I never would've ordered before, it's one of the best experiences for any self-proclaimed foodie. Since tickets go pretty fast, I've never been to a Supperclub where I've known that many people. It's bring your own booze and you're seated on a communal table (always beautifully laid out). So it's the perfect opportunity to get out of your comfort zone and get to know your fellow diners, with your welcome drink (usually something gin based and delicious) in hand.

newcastle skint guide
Is it just me or is this year already flying by? I feel like Christmas is barely over and yet we're already in February. And with the warmer months, comes summer planning. So obviously I've already been hard at work and arranged an April getaway, there'll be Glasto in June and now planning a trip to Canada in July. Unfortunately that means that the savings I'd put together for this weekend in London are now going to be completely wiped out paying for flights and stuff. Time to start saving. Plus after a pretty busy weekend at BBC 6 Music festival (and with another one ahead), now seems like a good time to start. And since saving blows, I've been thinking what I can do to spend less money and still feel like I'm having fun. So in the interest of helping me get ideas, let's try a different type of post. Whether you're a student, feeling a bit skint or just want to save some cash, here's my top 5 things to do in Newcastle...
finding photography and focus
Last week I decided to give myself a week off blogging, and spent the weekend with a friend. I'd had a stressful few months, I felt like work was getting on top of me, and my writing had lost focus. I'd lost sight of what I wanted my blog to be. I was unhappy with the way my content was coming out.. that it was always a mishmash of occasional outfit posts and sporadic content. I couldn't order my thoughts and the frustration only further served to block my words. Ironically a key part of my job is creating brand strategy, mapping content and developing brand communications plans. So why was I failing so miserably to do it for myself?

With Spring just around the corner, and a holiday booked for April, what I really should be doing is kickstarting some sort of healthy eating. There's definitely something about the cold months that makes you crave comfort food and cake. And since it's the season of lots of layers, there's plenty of ways to disguise the signs of overindulging.. but after a pretty lavish week food-wise and an amazing feast at the supperclub at Cookhouse on Thursday, it seemed daft to start now. And when I found out a friend was up this weekend, it made sense to head to one of my favourite places in town for coffee and cakes! Well the weekends are made for a little indulgence, right?
Cafe Royal is one of the worst kept secrets in town. It's pretty much the only decent place in the city centre where you can get brunch til later on a Sunday. Their food is always consistently good. And their cakes are ENORMOUS. I went for pineapple and passionfruit cheesecake for a change, but their raspberry scones are always a good choice. Served with homemade jam and clotted cream, they're pretty much a meal in themselves. Although looking through the pictures this morning, I feel like I could definitely eat it all again! In between stuffing our faces, we were trying to discuss our upcoming London trip at the end of the month. Since we're all dotted around the country, we decided to arrange a little girly weekend, so we need a plan of what to go and where to see. I'm going to be putting together some posts before our visit, but if anyone has any ideas for places to go, or recommendations, please share them! For now, I'll leave you with major cake cravings...

I have got to be the worst kind of blogger. Waiting until the darkest part of the day to take photos, taking photos then not posting them for days.. this post is a shining example. I took the photos back on Wednesday, but honestly the way I was feeling when I woke up, I didn't feel like doing much. So in my head even taking the photos (crammed right next to a window to try and get SOME sort of decent light) was a small victory. So anyway, I'll get on with shall I?

The other week I got an exciting email from the people at Estee Lauder asking how I'd like to try out a range of their Smashbox, Bumble and Bumble and Ojon products. I've not tried Smashbox or Ojon, but what I was really excited about was the Bumble and Bumble goodies! I've been a fan of their thickening hair spray for a long time now and it's done wonders for my fine hair, so honestly I was excited about trying out any new products. The fact that they included these two little beauties from their Invisible Oil range was just a bonus! Invisible Oil contains 6 featherlight oils to help soften, silken, tame, de-frizz, detangle and protect your hair. They're also sulphate free, meaning that they're much more nourishing for your locks. Right now, I'm a little more paranoid than usual about the products I use on my hair, so having something that protects and looks after, as well as cleansing, is really important to me. A lot of people don't think twice about using sulphates but they can actually be pretty tough on your head, stripping your hair of both its colour and essential oils. Kinda scary when you're shampooing your hair every other day, right?

With a pretty shit couple of weeks ahead, this weekend seemed a good time to get away for a little while. So after work, I headed up to Gisborough Hall, for a mini spa break with my mam. She's not been very well, and it's not very often we get to go away and spend some time together, so it was the perfect remedy for a pretty stressful week. When you’ve got loads going through your head, sometimes the best thing to do is just break away from it all.
Nestled just outside of Guisborough, an old market town, Gisborough Hall is a mid 19th Century hall that offers a pretty picturesque setting for any weekend getaway. Technically the weekend was my Mam's Christmas present from my little brother, and we'd been saving it as a treat for a rainy day. The packaged included an overnight stay at the hotel, 4 course meal and a spa visit. So having enjoyed a feast of panna cotta goats cheese, beetroot and walnut, followed by pavé rump steak and a delicious selection of desserts, we spent Friday night drinking prosecco and unwinding after a stressful week. Which left Saturday to relax, enjoy deep tissue massages and wander around the grounds after a hearty breakfast and sitting watching the morning snowfall.
Since the last time I posted, I made a pretty big impulse purchase and treated myself to a new camera! I've been deliberating it a while now, and finally settled on the D70. So after it arrived wandering around the grounds of Gisborough Hall yesterday was the perfect opportunity to have a play. I decided to opt for body only and bought a 50mm f/1.8 (because the 1.4 just seemed soooo expensive), so I'm still getting used to using a prime lens (and a Canon), but so far I'm hooked. I feel like I need a project at the moment, and since I've just started a photography course with work, now seemed like the right time to invest in a new camera.
I still feel like I'm getting the hang of it and after spending a few freezing hours wandering around the grounds and then the town itself, I feel like I'm getting to grips with it more. I'm hoping that it'll help me get back into blogging and I can't wait to start shooting more posts.. I don't know if it's just having some time to myself to clear my head or glimpse of tiny little snowdrops peeking out of snowy ground, but Spring seems just around the corner. And with the months of warm weather and better light starting to feel closer, it feels like there's a lot to look forward to all of a sudden.

outfit details:
jacket: Barbour, cardigan: Mango (similar here), skirt: Topshop, boots: Kurt Geiger, bag: Mulberry