Date night at Pier Eight, The Lowry

Date night at Pier Eight, The Lowry

Date night at Pier Eight, The Lowry

Most people won’t know that The Lowry is where John and I spent our first date – it’s our best kept secret, albeit unintentionally. On a cold, frosty Sunday morning, back in 2013, we nervously strolled along the quays until the warmth of The Lowry enveloped us and there we sat; two people pretending to observe its namesake’s paintings, making small talk and stealing fleeting glances at each other. I look back with fondness and remember that feeling of nervous excitement. Because of this day, over four years ago, The Lowry holds a special place in my heart.

When we were offered the chance to review the pre-theatre menu at Pier Eight – The Lowry’s restaurant and bar, before watching Cabaret, John and I earmarked the evening as date night. As we’re marrying next year, it’s unsurprising that date nights are becoming few and far between so primed for an evening of nostalgia, I chose the dress I wore on our second date and we set off to make our 5.30pm reservation.

Named after its address on Salford Quays, Pier Eight offers a contemporary and modern dining experience and its waterside setting overlooks Salford Quays and its impressive Millennium bridge. On arrival, we were seated next to the window, which must be the best seat in the house during the summer months, but on a dark autumnal evening I asked to move inwards to a seat with better lighting. It was fortunate that I asked early. We were accommodated at a central table, and whilst in the process of choosing from the menu the restaurant filled with pre-theatre diners, just like us, chatting excitedly about the plot line of Cabaret.

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Aperitif

As designated driver, there was to be no aperitif for me so I asked my waitress about the selection of soft drinks on offer.  She reeled off a list of the usual suspect, but then continued to offer soft drinks such as Fentimans and Fever Tree. I chose my favourite, Fentimans’ ginger beer. If I thought the soft drinks menu was extensive, the gin menu offered well-known gins such as Tanqueray and Gordons but also, craftier  gins such as Sipsmiths, Hendrix and Ophir. John chose his favourite combination: Tanqueray with elderflower Fever Tree.Pier_Eight_The_LowryTo start

With five options, the starter menu provides plenty of choice. I eventually decided to be adventurous and try something new in pressed confit chicken & duck, lentil dressing, warm rye crumb with a mushroom ketchup. John opted for seared scallop, pancetta, pork dumpling, caramelised cauliflower puree, crispy sage and apple sauce because he’d simply never tried them before and wanted to choose something different.

When our food arrived, I was not only impressed by its presentation but with the variety of flavours and textures. The rye crumb was an intriguing inclusion, providing a crunch alongside the velvety confit. John was equally as impressed with his seared scallops, but not before he captured his starter – proving his weight as an Instagram husband-to-be. He was surprised at the taste of scallops, saying they were meaty not rubbery and would definitely choose them again.

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Main

For our main course, we both chose the lamb rump with sweet potato, Savoy cabbage, onion puree and lamb jus with a side portion of chips. Again, when our food arrived, the presentation impressed us.

The lamb was cooked to perfection in that it was hardly cooked at all. Rare enough to be flavoursome, but not oozing blood all over the plate. John compared the look of the sweet potato to an eighties’ croquet, but it was soon gone. Surprisingly, so was the Savoy cabbage – when I cook it at home, it gets pushed around the plate. High praise indeed. Wonderfully hearty and comforting, the main was my favourite dish.

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Dessert

I was instantly drawn to Grandpa Greene’s ice cream with vanilla waffles, I think after such a rich starter and main course I was seeking a classic flavour palette. Again, presented beautifully but I found I was chasing the ice cream around its silver dome.  A mixture of favourite flavours, the ice cream went perfectly with the waffles which contained only the slightest hint of vanilla.

John chose peanut butter and raspberry cheesecake with a peanut cluster, which he thought was a strange combination of dessert flavours at first, he found the taste slightly strange to begin with but soon developed a taste saying he could eat it again. Nice try, John. It’s no surprise that this was John’s favourite course.

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Too full to fit in your dessert? An interesting quirk of pre-theatre dining is that you can enjoy your desserts, cheeses or ice-creams with drinks or coffees during the performance interval – you just have to let your server know. This is something we didn’t choose to do, but during the interval, I wish we had!

Service

We chose three courses from the pre-theatre menu, at a price of £27 per person with a £5 supplement each for the lamb rump and felt this was good value for money. We found our waitress to be friendly, informative and attentive, but not overbearing. Our plates were quickly taken away and the service was extremely efficient, any breaks between courses was at our own choosing. We wouldn’t hesitate to return, or recommend it!

Location: Pier Eight, 906 The Quays, Salford, M50 3UB. For the pre-theatre menu, you can book your table when you select your theatre ticket by visiting The Lowry’s website, here.

Interested in seeing a show? Read more of my posts featuring The Lowry: The Wind in the Willows and Jane Eyre.

*We were invited as guests to review Pier Eight The Lowry. As you’d expect, this does not change our opinion.*

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A London launch, hazelnut lattes and the end of autumn #Little Loves  (#4)

A London launch, hazelnut lattes and the end of autumn #Little Loves (#4)

Life is busy, hectic, chaotic – these are the words I’ve found myself repeatedly typing in emails, this week, to friends, colleagues and fellow bloggers (albeit the latter with a shared understanding and sense of camaraderie). I’ve only myself to blame. This autumn, I decided to throw myself back into blogging and with it, Manchester blogger events. Combined with work commitments, it’s been utter madness! I’m learning to embrace it and to simply, go with the flow – life will catch up, eventually.

With this in mind, there’s plenty that’s brightened my world in the two weeks since my last Little Loves post: afternoon tea on a narrowboat, discovering red wine as a complete beginner, visiting bridal shops, #LOTD x Louise Thompson’s fashion launch at STK, Manchester blogger meet up and more. So, without further ado, here’s my last two weeks in review:

Read

Tin Man. This week, I finally finished reading Tin Man by Sarah Winman and how I wish I could read it afresh. As I closed the book, I felt saddened that the protagonists of the story had lived their lives loving each other, but unable to be together. Novelist, Matt Haig, perfectly describes the book as ‘dripping with tenderness.’ I’m hoping to read, ‘When God was a Rabbit’ next, when my library reservation arrives. Have you read either?

Zest of Alice. In particular, her post entitled ‘Establishing Relationships and Expectations with Brands‘ from blogger and digital marketer, Alice Fairweather. Waiting for my 6.10am train to depart from Manchester Piccadilly, I stumbled on Alice’s post via twitter and, working in a similar field, I was interested to read Alice’s view. I nodded along in agreement: establishing relationships is about being polite and showing a genuine interest in a brand.

Watched

Cabaret at The Lowry Theatre. John and I have recently discovered a shared interest in theatre, so when we were offered the opportunity to watch Cabaret, we knew it would make the perfect date night. Neither of us were aware of the plot line and we were intrigued to discover the show is set in the heyday of pre-war Berlin. Will Young shines in his role as the flamboyant Emcee and is curious to watch. Cabaret is funny and poignant, in equal measures.

Heard

Knuckle Puck. You know how excited I’ve been for their upcoming tour? Well, it’s been cancelled! In mourning for what could have been, I’ve sorrowfully listened to home-made films of their previous live shows over on YouTube.

The crunch of leaves. Arriving at London’s Euston Station, late afternoon, last week, we decided to walk the thirty minutes to The Strand. Dusk was falling and as we were to be in London for less than 24 hours, I bought a roasted hazelnut latte and stomped through the leaves enjoying the last remnants of autumn.

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Time. I wish. Swiftly moving on…

Wore

Bodycon. For the first time in my life, I bought a bodycon dress to wear for the #LOTD x Louise Thompson launch at STK, in London. After seeing the collection, I knew the event was to be a glamorous affair and with the help of a friend, chose this black midi dress from River Island. Since losing weight, I’m trying to wear different styles but I still can’t quit dark eyeliner flicks teamed with red lips.

Joanie Clothing. Oh. My. Life. 40% off? I’ve lost count of the times I’ve worn Dina Dinosaur since my trip to Sheffield and after seeing the collection up close at their Christmas event, I couldn’t say no to bagging my favourite pieces from this season at almost half price. Investment pieces. To make my point, I wore last season’s tartan Clara dress to a wine tasting evening last night. Still love it.

And lastly…

I’m looking forward to a quiet weekend! I’ll be spending time in Liverpool, mainly to help a friend with her Gothic jewellery stall at the Winter Arts Market which takes place in Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral, and also to visit The White Closet to continue my hunt for the perfect wedding dress.

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I’m linking up with Morgana’s Little Loves

Creature of habit: Wolf Alice, more Tin Man and the start of Christmas #LittleLoves (#3)

Creature of habit: Wolf Alice, more Tin Man and the start of Christmas #LittleLoves (#3)

It’s been two weeks since my last little loves post and I’m hoping the adage ‘better late than never’ rings true. I’ve been living life and trying to find time to write in between (the irony of having a lifestyle blog and being too busy to write about it). The past month has been spent travelling around the UK, attending blog events and completing some urgent ‘wedmin’. Life has been a bit of a blur. I never thought I’d say this, but I’m looking forward to returning to my quiet, cosy life of evenings wrapped up in a blanket, with the fire on.

So, without further ado, here are the last two weeks in review…

Read

Tin man. I’m still trying to read more of Tin Man, but as it’s usually late by the time I pick it up – I’ve fallen asleep holding it more times than I care to admit. Next week, I’ll be travelling into London again for the final day of Facebook Fast Track training so I’m hoping to catch up on some reading during the early morning train journey.

Blogs, blogs and more blogs. I’d estimate that, in the past fortnight, I’ve visited around 100 blogs as part of the outreach work I’m completing at work. It’s my first task every morning (after making a cup of coffee of course), I run through the list of published collaborations and read each one – it’s a definite perk of my job and one of my favourite parts. 

Watched

X Factor. Here’s where I admit that I’m not a fan of X Factor, but during our stay in the Peak District at East House Country Hotel, Erica and I were faced with an evening in after dinner, accompanied by a bottle of pink fizz. X Factor seemed like the natural progression and surprisingly, it was the perfect girls’ night in. Despite liking alternative music, I’m going to jump on the bandwagon and profess my love of Rak-su. This year, X Factor seem to have axed the novelty acts and put real talent in its place. Bravo. Will I continue to watch it? Probably not, but I’ll be keen to know who wins. 

Made

A start on my Christmas shopping. Finally. I’m genuinely terrified of the Christmas shopping I need to complete this year. Usually, I’ve purchased the vast majority of my gifts by now and around the end of November, I start wrapping. Even with the arrival of Christmas adverts and markets, I’ve bought few gifts and these are for my thrifty Christmas gift box (thanks to finding gorgeous items in a Bakewell charity shop) Ironically, I’ve received gifts with the arrival of my John Lewis Secret Santa gifts which I wrote about this week. 

Heard

I’m obsessed with Wolf Alice (and so is half of the UK, and probably the world). I missed them performing live last Thursday in Manchester, due to a blogging event with Salon Success and Paul Mitchell. I’ve played their new album, Visions of a Life, whenever I’ve had chance: in the car, in the office, in the shower – just to try and make up for the fact that I missed their live show. I’ve just discovered this stripped back version of ‘Don’t Delete the Kisses’ thanks to Morgana referencing it in her latest Little Loves post – I don’t think I could love Wolf Alice any more. 

Jimmy Eat World. Slam Dunk tickets were released on sale, along with the news that Jimmy Eat World are headlining along with Taking Back Sunday. The teen emo inside of me has relished hours of listening to all of their albums during the commute and whilst I’ve been working

Knuckle Puck. Still. On repeat ready for their UK tour!

Wore

More pinafore dresses. No surprises there. I’ve been wearing more pinafore dresses – they’re comfy and practical (and I can see why toddlers are dressed in them!) This time, I’ve switched up my collection of trusty denim dresses for corduroy. Joanie Clothing sent me their Olive Cord Pinafore Dress in the aptly named colour ‘pumpkin spice’ for my #JoinTheWorld trip to Sheffield with Visit England. I want to start wearing more of my second-hand finds and this is the perfect dress to layer with my thrifted and vintage blouses. 

New pyjamas. On my return from a visit to London, I had over an hour’s wait in Manchester city centre before I could catch my train back to St Helens. Like all right-thinking women my age, I decided to call into Primark and investigate their Christmas pyjamas range. I was not prepared for the sheer influx of themed pyjamas: Disney, Harry Potter and Christmas. I made an on-the-spot decision to invest, and spent the walk back to the train station waylaid under the burden of paper Primark bags. So worth it. 

And, lastly…

You’ll notice there have been some pretty huge changes to the design here and it’s all thanks to Steffany from Haus of Coco who is changing the entire look and feel of Polkadot Pink to bring it more inline with my branding and the topics I write about. It’s a work in progress, but already, I’m really pleased with how it’s coming along. 

I wish I could say that next week promises to be quieter, but I’ll be travelling to London twice for Facebook training and also to attend the launch of #LOTD’s celebrity collaboration with Louise Thompson. 

Until next week…

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Christmas Traditions to Start this November

Christmas Traditions to Start this November

John_Lewis_Secret_SantaNow that Halloween and Bonfire Night are over for another year, I feel it’s socially acceptable to start getting excited about Christmas and the traditions it brings. We’re right on the cusp of the festive season (already, Christmas adverts are starting to fill our screens) so if, like me, you’re a love of organisation here are some of the Christmas traditions I’m making a start on right now, this November. 

Secret Santa

If there’s one Christmas tradition to love, it’s secret Santa. Shopping for secret gifts, for people you’ve never met or know little about. Blog stalking, listening in on conversations and each with a valid reason – it makes me feel as mischievous as an elf! What’s not to love?

Each year, I sign up for blogger Secret Santas and this year is no different. In stark contrast, I signed up for both John Lewis’ Secret Santa and Someone, Somewhere’s  thrifty Christmas gift swap. 

Starting the festive season early, my John Lewis goodies arrived last week, wrapped in their fabulously festive wrapping and tied in beautiful green ribbon. Before opening my gifts, I was a little apprehensive. My Instagram holds no helpful clues to my taste (unless you plan on gifting me a rustic building) and my blog name features my least favourite colour (clever, huh?) Poor Santa!

That said, Secret Santa didn’t do bad at all (considering I provided zero clues) and I was gifted with useful gifts – thank you. Here’s what was in my parcel:

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Pom pom ballerina slippers // Sara Miller Jasmine, Lemongrass and Ginger Candle // Caroline Gardner Hearts Multi Ribbon Notebook // Prosecco Bon Bons

As a stationery lover, my favourite gift is the Caroline Gardner notebook. I’m always scribbling away, whenever I get the chance so it’ll be nice to pull this beautiful book out of my handbag on train journeys, or when grabbing a quick coffee. Who am I kidding? It’s too pretty to even consider writing in it.

I’m sure you’ll agree that John Lewis is a British institution when it comes to Christmas gifting. If you’ve got Secret Santa gifts to buy on a budget, try John Lewis’ Secret Santa category to find gifts under a tenner.

Janet’s thrifty Christmas gift swap is one of my favourite blogger-organised Secret Santa. My box should arrive next month, which means i have around 3 weeks to source some thoughtful yet thrifty finds for my recipient. Thankfully, I have one gift ticked off following a quick visit to Bakewell last weekend. I can’t tell you what it is yet, but I promise to share in good time.

Christmas Markets

Living near Manchester, it won’t surprise you that a trip to the the Manchester Markets is one of my favourite Christmas traditions. I go most years and featured it here in one of the very first blog posts I wrote. The popularity of these markets continues to grow and to beat the crowds, I’ll be visiting just after they open in late November.

However, there is an alternative. If you’re from the North West, you may already know of Bents Garden Centre and the magical transformation it undergoes each year to turn it into a Christmas wonderland. This year, they’ve created their own Winter Food Market in store, transforming their Open Skies Glass House into a small, potted version of a Christmas market. I visited on  launch night and experienced a  delicious pulled pork sandwich and mulled wine. I couldn’t recommend it more, especially if you’re looking for an alternative to busy, city centre markets.

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Alternative Advent Calendars (Forward & Reverse)

Last year, I made an alternative advent calendar for the first time. It was for John, my fiancé, and was nothing fancy but definitely personalised to his tastes. My alternative calendar featured socks and John’s favourite chocolates, socks and chocs. It cost around £25 to make and an afternoon of shopping and wrapping. 

This year, I’ve seen a lot more mention of reverse advent calendars. It’s a simple concept based on the idea that you add an item rather than removing an item. Up to 25 days before Christmas, pop an item a day into a cardboard box and by the end of advent, you’ll have a hamper to gift to someone in need. You can find further information on the Changing Lives website, here

What Christmas traditions will you be starting this November? 

Falmouth tales, wedding stories & Facebook HQ #LittleLoves (#2)

Falmouth tales, wedding stories & Facebook HQ #LittleLoves (#2)

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Falmouth tales, wedding stories & Facebook HQ #LittleLoves

So here we are, another week I’ve managed to record my week of #LittleLoves and, what a week it’s been – little old northern me has travelled over 1000 miles to visit Cornwall and London! 

Without further ado, here’s my week in review…

Read

Tin Man. I wanted a light read (literally) to take to Falmouth with me, so I picked up Tin Man from my local library after reading Morgana’s thoughts. I wanted a book I could become completely absorbed in. The Amazon description promises an emotive read, 29 pages in, I’m already touched by the warmth and tenderness of Ellis.

Maps, maps and lots of them. Tube maps, Google Maps and town maps – you name it. Let’s just say, navigation is not my strong point – nor John’s. On the Cornish road to Falmouth, we took more wrong turns than either of us would admit to. It’s been testing, to say the least. 

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Watched

Not a lot. This week, I’ve been I’ve been immersed in writing, reading and listening to music. With visiting Falmouth and London, I’ve barely switched on the TV apart from to join my morning coffee partners: Susanna, Piers and Lorraine. There just hasn’t been anything to entice me. Moving on!

Made

A very big decision by choosing my wedding ring. I wrote about the experience in my last blog post – it was wonderful! I’ll say no more. Go read it, if you haven’t already.

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Made sustainable choices. I’ve also started to consider the balance of second-hand clothes that I buy, and wear, in comparison to first-hand clothing. I’m trying not to make unattainable promises without understanding the ratio. I’ve made a promise to myself that in November I’ll compare the percentage of clothes I buy from high street retailers, eBay, Instagram and of course, online. 

Wore

A smile. As cheesy as it sounds, I’ve been feeling a lot happier recently. Of course, it’s been a great week filled with travel, music and learning, but I feel like I’m returning to my old self. 

Lotta From Stockholm clogs. Last Christmas, John wrapped up a new pair of clogs to add to my collection. I bought my first pair in 2013 and featured them in one of my first ever fashion posts here. I’ve never had a pair of T-bar clogs before, but they’ve quickly taken pole position in my twee-loving heart. It helps that they’ve garnered so many compliments. I’m trying to get as much wear out of them before winter comes. Look at how cute they look next to this mosaic shop entrance!

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Heard

The sounds of the sea. Being a town girl at heart, it’s not often I visit the seaside (I could if I wanted, after all Southport isn’t far at all) so to hear roll of the waves lap on to Gyllyngvase Beach alongside the squarks of seagulls was surprisingly delightful.

A soundtrack of feminist punk bands who make an unholy, but glorious racket. With the 692 mile round-trip journey, I’d downloaded a variety of Spotify playlists which we abandoned for a cocktail of feminist punk. Priests and White Lung were the perfect companions to power through the evening drive. 

Many interesting facts. I’m enrolled on Facebook’s Fast Track programme, essentially that means I travel to Facebook Ground Control, in London, to learn about best practices for paid advertising on the platform, including workshops on attribution, Facebook business manager, conversion and my favourite, creative. Wednesday’s session focussed on the importance of creativity when creating ads. I came away with a handful of facts that really made me think, my favourites: we only need to see an image for 13 milliseconds to identify it and importantly, we should be aiming to provoke an emotive response. It blew my mind. I started to consider the use of emojis in captions and the importance of branding. I’m still thinking about it.

And, lastly…

Now that Halloween is over, it feels socially acceptable to talk about Christmas. I cannot contain my excitement any longer! This week, I signed up for Janet’s thrifty Christmas gift swap and weeks previous, I’d joined John Lewis’ Secret Santa!  These gifts arrived this week, bringing a little bit of Christmas cheer early- my gift features pink, sweets and stationery. What’s not to love? Secret Santa, you’re a keeper!

And, if it wasn’t enough that I’ve travelled to Cornwall and London this week, I’m off to Sheffield this weekend with my blogging pal, Erica, and Visit England. I cannot wait!

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Birthday Brunch, Knuckle Puck & Gorgeous Books #LittleLoves (#1)

Birthday Brunch, Knuckle Puck & Gorgeous Books #LittleLoves (#1)

Year_of_the_FloodWith my fascination of documenting the every day it was inevitable that I would, one day, begin to participate in Morgana’s #LittleLoves series. With the premise being to remember those small, sometimes overlooked, joys that light up each week, I wanted to take my love of journaling one step further.

So, here we are, and what a week I’ve chosen to start with as this week marked my 33rd birthday. With both of my closest friends being on maternity leave, we took the opportunity to go for brunch at Cobble, in Ormskirk (one of my favourite places to sip coffee and watch the world go by), talk weddings and lavish in new baby cuddles. 

Read

This time last year, I discovered Margaret Atwood’s ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ and became immersed in reading more of her gloriously dystopian books. I was dedicating time to read, usually at the end of the working day. Now that I commute into Manchester, I’ve lost that glorious mid-afternoon hour to motorway traffic but I’m reclaiming it before sleep, starting with Atwood’s ‘The Year of the Flood’. Although I’m only 18 pages in, I have so many questions that have so far gone unanswered. From the first paragraph, I want to know: Why does the elevator no longer work? And, why, if Toby slips and falls climbing to the room, won’t there be anyone to pick her up?

Watched

The Great British Bake Off. I know what you’re thinking, didn’t we all? Well, no. This was the first episode I’ve purposefully sat down to watch (better late than never, huh?). I’ve surmised that Bake Off is essentially, watching people bake whilst you yourself eat cake with a few quips from Noel Fielding. This I can get on board with.

How could I forget ‘The Layover’ – the gloriously, mind-numbing film I watched on Sunday evening in an attempt to relax before the working week. Billed as a comedy, the plot centres on two friends competing for the attention of a love interest when their flight is cancelled due to a hurricane. Bordering on slapstick at times, it certainly provided a laugh or two. 

Heard

After booking tickets for their December tour, this week I’ve continued my obsession with American pop punk band Knuckle Puck – specifically, their EP ‘While I Stay Secluded’ and new album ‘Shapeshifter’. Although it’s not quite as addictive, it’s a welcome addition to my Spotify playlist and I’m sure it’ll grow on me ahead of their Manchester show.

And with the arrival of #StormBrian, who didn’t have the Arctic Monkey’s ‘Brianstorm’ as an unwelcome ear worm last weekend? That said, it did provide the perfect soundtrack to accompany the strong wind and downpours, as well as the perfect excuse to spend a slow weekend at home. 

Made

New blogging friends. It’s absolutely wonderful to meet bloggers who are very much on your wavelength and willing to support you – even though they barely know you. Steffany, the design brains behind boutique creative studio ‘Haus of Coco‘, is helping me to redesign and reimagine Polkadot Pink, bringing it up to date while staying true to my style. 

Wore

Recently, I’ve been investing in my work wardrobe making autumn/winter purchases mostly from online retailers. I work full-time in a creative office, so I have complete freedom when choosing how to dress.  This week, I’ve wore lots of new (and new-to-me) clothes. I took advantage of a 20% discount offer and invested in this polka dot Clara dress in a gorgeous burgundy colour and have used my staff discount to buy this smock style dress. I’ve decided that as I spend 37.5 hours a week in the office – I may as well be comfortable and presentable, while attempting to feel good about myself. 

Lastly

Following on from our trip to Lake Bled, Slovenia, John and I’s wedding plans are starting to take shape. As you know, two weeks ago, I visited Magpie Wedding _ The Show and this weekend, we will travel to Falmouth to meet with Mirri Damer (the designer of my engagement ring, featured here) to discuss the design of our wedding bands. We’ve never visited Falmouth before, but it holds a lot of sentimental value to John’s sister – who got engaged on Gyllyngvase beach, so to discover Mirri Damer’s studio is based there feels like fate. 

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