The Sunday Outfit: Dungarees

Sundays should really be spent in pyjamas. But, sometimes, brunch just won’t come to you. Therefore something warm, comfortable and, crucially, able to hide a food baby, is required.

At the beginning of the year, I shared my loved for The Pinafore Dress. But dungarees are even better. I was always put off because they can be quite pricey – and finding the perfect shade of denim is impossible (especially if you are like me and don’t like wearing blue jeans anyway…)

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But this skinny black pair from New Look completely changed my mind. Very cheap and so comfortable. And I totally bypassed the blue denim situation by opting for black. For a first time dungarees-buyer, try to find your favourite pair of jeans in dungaree form. I wear black skinny jeans almost everyday, so black skinny dungarees were an obvious choice (though it took me a while to work that out).

Dungarees are also one of those brilliant outfits that make it seem like you have made an effort – when really that couldn’t be further from the truth. Ideal for rolling out of bed on a Sunday morning with just ten minutes to spare before brunch.

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A November Reading List

It’s been so long since I’ve written a reading list. As ever, I’m tearing through books at a horrifically expensive rate but if I’m honest, I’ve had a bit of a poor reading spell lately. Throughout October I picked up three (three!) books by authors that I love, to find them just a bit disappointing. And every time I have visited Waterstones I’ve just felt overwhelmed. There are so many books, how on earth are you meant to pick?

So here’s hoping that November is a better reading month. It’s a fairly mixed bag this month. I’m back on career reading, something I never thought I would enjoy but it is fascinating when you get the right book. I have a light hearted read all about dogs (what’s not to love?) and a family drama you won’t be able to put down. Happy reading everyone!

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*For a fascinating career read: Inside Vogue: A Diary of My 100th Year, Alexandra Shulman. If you have read my post on Magazine Career Must Reads, you will know that I love memoirs by magazine editors. As I work in magazine publishing myself, I just find it fascinating. With British Vogue celebrating their centenary this year, I was so excited to discover the BBC had done a two part documentary on the magazine. But, to be honest, it wasn’t that great. The memoir by editor in chief, Alexandra Shulman though, is fantastic. It is essentially a collection of her thoughts over the year the magazine celebrated its 100th birthday. You get a real insight into how the magazine works and it doesn’t get bogged down in the glamour of her job (which is hugely glamorous). No name dropping or obsession with big parties and budgets. In fact she is very honest about how much they have to reign in spending. If you watched the documentary and felt a little underwhelmed – read this.

*For a light-hearted doggy romp: Peggy and Me, Miranda Hart. If you don’t find Miranda Hart funny, I wouldn’t recommend this. And I completely understand why people don’t find her funny, but her sitcom always particularly tickled me. I read her first book, Is It Just Me?, a couple of summers ago and could not stop giggling away to myself like a loon. This book centres on her dog, a Shih-Tzu Bichon Frise cross called Peggy. It’s simply a hugely entertaining recounting of their adventures together and her thoughts on being a dog owner. The perfect light-hearted read for dog lovers as the evenings are getting longer and darker.

*For an addictive domestic drama: Three Wishes, Liane Moriarty. I love Liane Moriarty with her larger than life characters and completely addictive story lines and plot twists. I would say that Big Little Lies and The Husband’s Secret are her two absolute best books, but Three Wishes is also brilliant if you have already devoured those. It centres on the Kettle triplets, Lyn, Cat and Gemma, focusing on their relationship and the various ups and downs they have to deal with in their own lives. As with any Liane Moriarty book, there is plenty of drama to keep you reading furiously and the characters are so vibrant you feel almost like their fourth sister by the end.

Exploring Richmond Park

The temperature has seriously dropped here in London over the past few days. Out of nowhere, winter has arrived. It’s raining, it’s freezing and the Christmas lights haven’t even been turned on yet to cheer the whole situation up.

It’s so much easier to be enthusiastic about being outside in autumn. It’s chilly but only a little (enough to make you think ‘ooh it’s a bit nippy’ but then move on) and the world looks stunning in its autumnal colours. Winter though, it’s almost not even worth leaving the house. Only for minimal amounts of time when you absolutely have to.

But I’m trying to hold on to that autumnal spirit of adventure rather than give in to the temptation to hibernate. So Tiarnan and I set off to Richmond last weekend for breakfast and to explore Richmond Park. Because even though we live so nearby, I’ve never properly walked around, admired the deer and enjoyed it before.

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We started with breakfast at Muriel’s Kitchen, which is quickly becoming one of my favourite London breakfast spots. They have branches in South Kensington, Soho and Richmond which recreate the warmth and cosiness of a family kitchen. All of their restaurants are beautiful and entirely unique, and the food is fresh and beyond delicious. Highly recommend!

We had a quick look around the shops because I can’t bear to see a high street of shops and not venture in to at least one (or maybe several). And Richmond has a wonderful higgledy-piggledy high street that seems like it should belong to a village rather than London. I was a little caught off guard that all of the shops have already cracked out the Christmas decorations, but I guess that Bonfire Night is over so it’s time to eat mince pies and deck the halls. But still, I admired everything (and made mental lists of what I want to buy for others, and myself…) but it still felt a little too early to commit to any purchases.

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But anyway, the main attraction – Richmond Park. It really is an incredibly sight, one minute you are walking through the residential streets of London and the next you are in an enormous, sprawling deer park. It’s hard to miss the deer, but if you don’t want to get too close you don’t have to. But they are the most amazing, calming presence, just minding their own business as you mind yours.

The red deer in particular really are a sight to behold. Red deer are the fourth largest deer species and the stags are enormous. But again, they are so peaceful and calm. You can get relatively close, stop and take pictures and they will just gaze back at you. Amazing. And they are as much a resident of London as I am…!

So if you are visiting London, take a trip out of central to Richmond Park. Or if you are a Londoner, there’s nowhere better for some fresh air and a walk. It’s getting cold, but Richmond Park is definitely worth it.

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How to Spend… November

October felt like a gentle introduction to autumn. Now the typical crisp mornings are here and carrying around an emergency pair of gloves (just in case) is absolute necessity. The leaves are still falling so we’re trotting around on golden carpets but now that the clocks have gone back and the days are getting shorter, winter is definitely on its way.

I am December’s biggest fan, but I’m also very much on board with November. Even though the dark evenings feel hugely depressing when its a Wednesday and raining, there is nothing better than seeing the newly black sky fill with fireworks for Bonfire Night. And when it is a Wednesday and raining, I’ve been trying to curl up with a book and enjoy the cosiness. At home we have an open fire, but here in London I’m making do with an electric blanket and it’s pretty fantastic. And let’s be honest, it’s not that cold yet (we’ve got the treat that is January and February for the real temperature drop).

But anyway, November. Time to bundle up and head out for hot dogs and fireworks on the 5th, wear our poppies in remembrance on the 11th and stir the Christmas pudding to make a wish on Stir Up Sunday. Have a happy November, everyone!

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*Go to a firework display: Halloween was all well and good, but Bonfire Night is still my favourite. Fireworks beat scares any day, in my book. We’re coming to the end of the Bonfire Night weekend, so I hope you all headed out to big displays or at least set some sparklers off. And then, of course, warmed up with hot dogs and big cups of steaming tea afterwards. If not, there’s still time tonight…

*Explore a place you have always meant to go: Isn’t it always the way that if somewhere is close to you, no matter how pretty/historic/amazing, you never end up visiting? Well, become a tourist at home for the day. Although it’s getting chillier, everywhere still looks beautiful in its autumnal get up. And pretty soon we’ll want to hibernate until spring, so now is the time for day trips. For me, that place was Richmond Park and we finally got round to exploring it on Saturday afternoon and, of course, it looks beautiful at this time of year. Blog post coming soon…

*Make homemade warming drinks: Autumn is the time for warming drinks. Mulled apple cider, Winter Pimm’s, mulled wine or hot chocolate – take your pick and become your own mixologist. There are so many simple recipes online, and I’ve been surfing around for the best homemade hot chocolate which I’ll share soon. And a spicy, appley hot brew is practically autumn in a cup.

*Book ahead for Christmas:  I feel a bit guilty talking about Christmas (is it still too early?) but here in London there are Christmas activities that simply have to be done and they book up fast. I’m compiling a mental list of everything I want to do in December, and thinking about booking the tickets so there’ll be no disappointments (because no one wants disappointments at Christmas). We always go ice skating so I’m starting to decide whether we’ll book somewhere new or, more likely, head back to Somerset House which we love. And I’m desperate to go to the ballet. I’m hoping that with just a little bit of organisation, we can fit everything in…

A Few Favourites: October

The clocks have turned back and we’ve shared our sweets with the trick or treaters. I have actually really enjoyed October this time round. Usually autumnal celebrations are reserved for Bonfire Night so Halloween passes me by, as do the beautiful autumnal colours as I spend my days wrapped up in city life.

But this time I have made a real effort to enjoy the changing season and celebrate Halloween. And I’m so glad I did, it’s been a great month. We started in Amsterdam for Tiarnan’s marathon, exploring the canals and the cafes, I’ve made the flat a cosy haven for the ever darkening evenings and we celebrated Halloween by picking pumpkins and baking sugary, spooky treats.

But before we welcome November and the skies fill with fireworks, here are some of the things I have been loving this month.

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*Pluk, Amsterdam: I have written an entire post on Pluk so I promise not to bore you, but spending the weekend in Amsterdam was a real treat this month. It’s a place that I’ve had half-heartedly on my ‘to visit’ list for far too long, but the lure of other European cities has always been stronger. After a quick Google search I stumbled across Pluk and set my heart on visiting, so it was the first thing we did on Saturday morning. It’s unlike anywhere else I have ever found – a gorgeous café attached to an interiors, gifts and stationary shop. If only they were here in London…

*Orange Grove candle, by The White Company: It has started to get so dark so early in the evenings now the clocks have gone back. Hugely depressing – but I’m trying to look past the darkness and instead use it as an excuse to enjoy cosy evenings at home. Home cooked dinners, good TV and plenty of candles has been the way of October and that’s set to continue for the foreseeable. I’ve bought more candles than I’d care to admit this month, but my favourite has to be Orange Grove by The White Company. I love the look of their pillar candles and even though I love all citrus scents, this one just feels so autumnal.

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*A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman: October has been a bit of a poor month on the reading front. Everything has just been distinctly average. Fortunately there was one exception though – A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman was brilliant. I picked this up when I had half an hour to kill and ended up in Waterstones. It is about a grumpy old man called Ove, as he struggles through daily life suffering ridiculous situations and idiotic people. It is funny and moving in equal measure and after I turned the final page my commute felt a little bleaker without Ove for company.

*Halloween: This is the first year that I have taken Halloween even slightly seriously and it has absolutely exploded over here in the UK. I went to my first ever fright night, which was hugely fun if slightly terrifying. And while I used to do pick your own strawberries when I was little, I had never even seen a pumpkin field before this month. But we got went down to one on the back of a tractor and returned with a pumpkin harvest fit for homemade soup. It’s been a great month, but now it’s time for fireworks, early Christmas preparations and much shorter days…