It seems like we've embraced the American culture of Black Friday and Cyber Monday with great gusto. Here are some of the great deals happening this weekend. Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends and readers in the U.S. One of these days, I've got to try pumpkin pie. It's a completely alien concept for me to put pumpkin in a tart but hey, there's always a first time!
After spending an entire day at the sleepy village of Bibury, we checked into our room, a last minute booking on AirBnB. The spotlessly clean (and new) room and a bathroom all to ourselves cost me a grand total of £35. Yup. That's it. After a hurried breakfast, we set off on our journey for the next Cotswolds village on my list - Chipping Campden.
The skies had turned grey with ominous clouds on the horizon. It was barely 12.30pm but it was already getting dark. The drizzle had turned into a downpour. Chipping Campden is an affluent and bustling market town with nary a spot in sight to park my compact rental car. I felt like I'd stepped into a Barbour advert seeing that's the preferred attire here. Jodhpurs were a common sight too.
We were getting wetter and colder by the minute as we trudged up and down the streets looking for a café with an appealing menu. Lil L and I finally agreed on Huxley's, a gastro pub-cum-café housed in a 500 year old building with a large open fireplace. It's small and packed to the gills with regulars where the staff pretty much knew everyone by name. We perched ourselves by the fire because frankly speaking, we looked like drowned rats and this was the quickest route to get dry and warm.
My beef casserole was fantabulous. The meat was melt-in-your-mouth tender, infused with guinness ale after hours of stewing. Lil L waxed lyrical about her mushroom on toast. We had to hurry along to our next destination - Bourton-on-The-Water.
Well. When it rains, it pours. I'm talking about torrential downpour here. We ended up huddling inside the car at the parking lot as the rain came down hard and fast. We had a moment of respite so we dashed out and did the world's fastest sight-seeing in the history of mankind. And then ran into Smith's of Bourton to seek shelter and enjoy their famed cakes. The lime and coconut cake was divine. I rarely if ever walk into a tearoom decorated with all things chintz (I'm allergic to floral prints). It was such a novelty experience......for me anyway to be in a proper old fashioned tea room, drinking tea instead of tossing back cups of coffee and surrounded by floral prints.
Too bad about the weather. Guess we'll have to make our way back again to The Cotswolds.
I received an invitation to a leisurely breakfast in Pimlico, courtesy of Yawn London. It's hard to turn down food, a neck massage and manicure along with some decent company. Talking to kids all day can make your brain go a little wonky and I don't mean in a good way.
I'm always paranoid of being late as getting around London can be a logistical nightmare. More so if you're missing the inbuilt satnav DNA in your body like me. Surprisingly, I arrived with plenty of time to spare so I decided to wander around the pretty streets of Pimlico. The council workers were in the process of installing Christmas lights and attaching mini Christmas trees to street lamps. There were so many pretty terraced houses to ogle. I thought I'd take a peek at a nearby realtor's office to check out the listings in the area. Bad idea. Where's that weak-kneed/light-headed emoji when you need one?
The breakfast was held at No.11, a spacious and airy cafe with plenty of armchairs and sofas which looked so inviting that one may have trouble extricating themselves after a coffee or two. The neutral decor with splashes of pastels gave off a sense of serenity making it a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle outside.
It was such a pleasant surprise to bump into Christina (check out her fabulous Instagram account) who always left such sweet comments on my IG feed. Her sunny and positive disposition certainly put a smile on my face despite having little sleep the night before.
Alice Whiteley, co-founder of Yawn along with her team, Charlotte and Tamara were so welcoming that they'd instantly put their guests at ease. Three years ago, Alice was a successful business management consultant as well as a mom of 3 who led an incredibly hectic life. She'd stumbled upon the idea of producing her own line of quirky but comfortable sleepwear by accident while out shopping for pajamas.
Finding none that ticked all the boxes, she'd set about putting wheels in motion. She flew to India to source fabrics and worked with a team to design the print while simultaneously holding down a full time job and juggling mommy duties. Let's pause here for a second as I feel rather exhausted just thinking how she managed it all.
All their prints are hand drawn and custom made just for them. The cashmere blend socks are absolutely divine and kept my feet toasty warm during cold autumn days. Believe it or not, I've only ever worn old raggedy sweats and t-shirts so it's been bliss having a set of proper pyjamas to slip into at night. The brand's all about relaxation which is something we tend to forget to do in our ever fast paced lives where we try to cram more into 24 hours than ever before.
Yawn pyjamas are now stocked online as well as in various independent boutiques throughout the U.K and Europe.
1.Nespresso Inissia with Aeroccino by Magimix
Awesome coffee at a touch of a fingertip. What's not to like? This is THE best deal I've seen so far. Machine with frother for under £100 and comes with a £75 voucher towards your Nespresso capsules.
2. Sony Headphones
Sleek headphones with crisp audio at a price that won't break the bank.
8. Olympus PEN E-PL7 with 14-42mm lens
High tech, retro and compact but takes sharp and vibrant photos. It connects to smartphones via wifi and fits into a small handbag with ease. I can't rave enough about this camera. I'm still in love with mine. No more achy shoulders or neck from lugging heavy cameras. FYI: I've switched from Canon to Olympus for work.
16. John Lewis Barbican Snuggler
Once you've sat on a Barbican Snuggler, you'll never go back to an armchair. I perched my tushie on one recently and would've carried one home if I could. It's beyond comfortable, spacious and just the right size to curl up with a book and hot drink on a cold winter's day.
17. Mango Faux Fur lapel coat
It's a modern remake of the classic black coat. A winning combination that won't go out of style.
18. REN Vita Mineral Omega-3 Optimum Oil serum
Whew! What a mouthful BUT....it's been a lifesaver. The skin gets chapped and dry in the colder months. I've noticed a real difference when I use a drop or two of the oil serum. My skin stays hydrated for hours and it keeps fine lines at bay. By the way, a little goes a loooooong way.
19.Janie Dry Stick Spot Cleaner
I carry one in my handbag at all times. It's far easier to remove a stain if you treat it as early as possible.
20. Eddingtons Kettlemate Fur Collector
You're probably thinking....."what the fluff? Why did she include a metal fluff" If you live in England where you drink/shower/wash with hard water, you'll grow to hate limescale. Pop one into your kettle and it'll "collect" limescale each time you boil water. You'll only need to take it out for a quick wash to remove limescale every now and then. Why didn't anyone tell me about this before????
I have been dying to explore the Cotswolds since well, forever really. Recently, I counted the number of trips I've made to France in the last 7 years. 15. Yes, 15 trips and I haven't even ventured out to the Cotswolds where the nearest village to me was a mere 1.5 hours away. Shame on me.
Since school's out and Lil L has been pestering me for a mom and daughter date, I jumped on the idea of an impromptu road trip. When I say last minute, I mean really really really laaaaaaaast minute. I emailed a host on AirBnB just before midnight, received a reply immediately (good man. He sleeps late and has a gadget attached to his fingers at all times), picked up our little rental car the next morning and we were off on our mini Cotswolds adventure.
We drove along the winding country lanes with Lil L oohing and aahing at the sight of rolling hills, sheep and whatnot. Autumn is probably the best season to explore the Cotswolds. The countryside is spectacularly awash with ombré leaves.
We arrived at Bibury, also known as one of the most picturesque villages in the Cotswolds just in time for lunch. It was probably a bad idea to have a picnic by the river because we were hounded by fearless mallards who wanted a bite of our sandwiches. Dudes....don't you realize you're part of the food chain too??
If you have a British passport, perhaps you may recognize the row of stone houses above. Arlington Row has become rather famous, so to speak, that hordes of tourists hover outside to take numerous photos and selfies. Interestingly enough, the compact yellow car belonging to one of the residents there - an elderly retired dentist, has been a source of discontent amongst many tourists for photobombing an otherwise perfect photo opportunity. It was all over the papers a year or so ago. Oh well. You can airbrush wrinkles and create thigh gaps at a click of a button so it can't be too hard to erase a yellow car. Just sayin'.
Originally built as a monastic wool store in the 14th century, it was converted into weavers' cottages three hundred years later for workers at the mill nearby. The mill is only a short walk away from Arlington Row, located opposite the charming vine covered Swan Hotel (first photo at the top of the page) along the river Coln where native brown trouts can be seen swimming in the clear waters.
We ambled down the narrow lanes to ogle at some very quaint and rustic houses with their colorful doors. It's a tranquil and picturesque little village set in the idyllic English countryside. We stumbled upon St Mary's church, slightly off the beaten path from the well trodden Arlington Row. It dates back to Saxon period which makes it more than a thousand years old. *gasp*
There was a wedding on (we seem to hit a wedding each time we visit a Cotswolds village) so we gave a quick peek through the gates and hurried back to our little car. I was pleasantly surprised at how friendly the local folks are. Quick to smile a hello even when they're going about their daily tasks despite the fact that they get swarms of tourists nearly everyday. This rarely happens in Winchester. It's normally....eyes forward, keep your stride steady......
Next up, Chipping Campden and Bourton-on-the-water (whew. What a mouthful!)
More on the Cotswolds here (Castle Combe) and here (Lacock).