26.04

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2 0   W E E K S   &   N E W   H A I R   &   T E A   W I T H   T A N I A .

So many nice things happened last week (some big things, some little things) that I felt it was probably right to put together a post where I can document them and keep them safe. Let me start with the best one of all- reaching the 20 week point in my pregnancy!

Getting to the halfway point, and officially out of the ‘teens’, feels like a milestone- one that I’ve been looking forward to ever since that pregnancy test developed and the glorious ‘positive’ result appeared in the little window. I mean, true, I’ve been setting myself little milestones all the way through the pregnancy so far (reaching the 12 week scan, the start of the second trimester at week 14, the first movements, etc. etc.), but reaching the midway point feels like a big one!

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We had our 20 week anomoly scan on Thursday, which I can honestly (and so very gratefully) say was one of the wonderful experiences of my life to date. As I’m sure all parents are, in the two months between the 12 and 20 week scans I’d been so anxious to know that our baby was growing as healthy and strong as we’d hoped.

I wasn’t quite as nervous heading into the ultrasound room as I had been before our previous scan, but still- my heart was racing!

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Seeing our baby wriggling around on the screen (whilst also feeling the kicks and prods and wiggles from the inside, too!) was totally magical. It’s amazing now to be able to differentiate between the different types of movement I get to feel every day, because we’ve seen them happening live!

I couldn’t quite get my head around seeing how fully now the baby is spread across my lower abdomen. In my minds eye, I still picture it curled up tightly in a little ball and tucked away pretty low down, but as the books/apps/websites all say is due to happen around the 20 week mark, baby has uncurled and now seems to fill my lower abdomen from the belly button down!

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Isabella Oliver dress || Boden flats (past season, similar linked)

The sonographer talked us through everything that she was scanning for on the screen, and kept pointing out different parts of the baby’s anatomy that we might not have been able to distinguish otherwise.

Its little hands and feet were clear as day though- one hand spread wide (we saw each of the four fingers as well as the tiny thumb!), and the other hand was clenched tight into a fist that baby kept using to punch out at the scanning wand it wasn’t too pleased about being prodded by!

I didn’t realise quite how much I’d been subconsciously fretting, ahead of the scan, until we left the room and felt like my shoulders dropped by about two inches! Oh, and we’ve kept the baby’s sex as a surprise, in case you were wondering…

Let the intense guessing commence! ;)

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We’d had the scan early on that Thursday morning, and after we were done I headed straight to the train station to pick up Tania, who’d come down from London for the day to visit me! Well, I think the order of priorities for her visit went more like bump/baby, then Teddy and Elsie, and THEN me, but hey! I’ll take it ;)

Once we’d tired ourselves out on a long walk with the dogs, and then come home and refuelled on copious amounts of soup and bread (we’ll not mention the chocolate doughnuts we treated ourselves to as dessert…), we decided a spot of tea was in order.

There are a few places near where we live to get a lovely cup of tea, but none so lovely as Pennyhill.
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It’s this grand old hotel set in parkland in a village called Bagshot, and is actually where I was working as a waitress aged 18 in the months leading up to when Jason and I first met and started dating.

It holds a lot of memories for me, that place. Mostly of me being quite possibly *the* most terrible waitress of all-time, since I spent the vast majority of each and every shift lingering in the kitchens and batting my eyelashes at the chefs, until they promised to set me aside a portion of whatever delicious concoction of food they were whipping up!

Shameful, really…but to be fair, getting to tuck into my very own pistachio souffle at the end of a shift was totally worth it ;)

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Tania and I sipped our way through two pots of rose tea and English Breakfast tea (my first cup in months as I’ve been off it this whole pregnancy…it made me realise I’m still not over that aversion), and repeatedly bemoaned the fact that yesterday’s weather had been all summery and glorious, and yet that day was overcast and breezy!

Still, we stayed outside on the terrace, not least because being able to watch the rabbits hopping about on the lawns below made sitting in the chill totally worth it!

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Now, what was the last and final thing I wanted to talk to you about? Oh yes, new hair!

So, I had a pretty mammoth haircut early last week (6/7inches of hair gone!), and it’s been a total game-changer for me. My hair had grown horrendously long, and I’d been dithering and dithering over how to have it cut and so it took me ages to actually get round to visiting the hairdressers.

But now all I can think is…why did noone tell me sooner how much easier mid-length hair is to style than long hair sooner?! I’m a total convert.

Though if anyone mentions the words ‘practical Mum haircut’ in the comments, we’re going to have a falling out…;)

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05.01

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O N E   F I N A L   C H R I S T M A S   T R E A T . . .

One thing that my family and I always wish we had more of is quality time together. With there being an eight year age difference between my sister and I, and the fact that I moved out of our family home more than four years ago now when she was only 13, it often feels as though our lives are on two very different timelines!

Instead of buying my Mum and sister each a stocking full of bits and pieces this Christmas, I decided that it might be fun for us to spend the afternoon together in London indulging in our shared favourite pastime- eating afternoon tea!

And so it was that a table for three was booked in Sketch’s Gallery restaurant, at 2.30pm on the 3rd of January…

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My Mum and I had been to Sketch for tea years and years ago, in the little tearoom right at the front of the building, but despite having seen the famous pink Gallery in approximately 5 million Instagram photos, I’d never made it there before!

The room itself more than lived up to expectation…

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First on the menu came the selection of teas- English Breakfast, ceylon and rose, silver needle, rosebud, and peppermint tea. I loved the delicate tasting ceylon, but Mum was adamant that the silver needle was the star of the show.

The chinaware is part of what makes Sketch so fun- the shapes are all slightly unusual and have words or phrases on them like ‘dreams’ ‘ghost’ and ‘forget about it’.

I fell in love with those sweet tea cups!

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The main event, those heavily laden cake stands, arrived, and we got stuck in.

There was so much to choose from, it was hard to know where to begin! We ate basil and fennel  and cream cheese and smoked salmon flatbreads, miniature grilled Comte cheese, coronation chicken, and ricotta and cucumber sandwiches.

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The sweet things followed next- lemon and passionfruit tarts (the best thing we ate all day!), pineapple cake, mini blackcurrant cheesecakes, and, of course, the obligatory scones with jam and clotted cream.

Pot after pot of tea arrived as we ate, and eat we did! In fact, by the end of the meal we all were full to bursting, and I was so very glad I’d happened to wear a pair of trousers that’re a good couple of inches too big for me around the waist!

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As we whiled away the afternoon, sipping from our teacups and spooning generous quantities of jam onto our scones, we chatted about the past few years of our lives, and the ones ahead too.

About time spent feeling frustrated and cooped up at university, about the exciting summer just gone, about weddings and birthdays and families, and what the future might hold for each of us.

It felt so peaceful and civilised, and the nicest way to wrap up the Christmas season ahead of this first working week of January.

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09.07

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TEA IN THE GARDEN.

A few months ago when Jo first put her Maid of Honour, hen-weekend-organiser-in-chief hat on, she asked me if there was anything specific I’d love to do as part of the celebrations- and if you’ve been reading here for a little while, I’m sure you can guess what my reply was. Afternoon tea, of course! Sitting down to a feast of tiny sandwiches, and towers of cakes and sweet treats and pastries is up there amongst my all-time favourite activities, and is a pretty unbeatable way to spend a sunny summer afternoon if you ask me!

Over the past year or so, I’ve been lucky enough to have some pretty special afternoon teas. We’ve gone fashion-themed at The Berkeley, sampled a modern take on the classics at Selfridges, and delighted in Laduree’s classic French offering. But a rose-themed tea put together by my Mum and my Mother in Law, hosted in one of my favourite places in all the world? Well that’s truly something special. My Mum and Julia had been in cahoots for a couple of weeks putting together the tea party, and they did the most beautiful job on it! I mean, would you look at that table? Roses everywhere, even on the chinaware!

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^^ We each had a floral mug to take away with us as a party favour- the sweetest idea, right? ^^

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Between them our Mums had made my favourite treats from both sides of our families- Julia’s famous carrot cakes and miniature sticky toffee puddings (baked in individual cases to hold a sea of toffee sauce!), Grandma’s rice crispy cakes (recipe handed down to my Mum, who’s got them down to a fine art now!), as well as a veritable feast of other desserts and sandwiches cooked up by them both!

My Mum did her usual trick and overcatered spectactularly (I mean, she made three cheesecakes to serve 11 people, and quadrupled every single recipe she worked from ;), which, since it meant we all got to take away boxes stuffed with the leftovers, turned out to be quite the happy accident! The leftover slices of raspberry and honeycomb chocolate tiffin I’d demolished by early afternoon the following day, and Jason and I polished off the last of the crispy cakes whilst marathoning OITNB two nights ago. It’s been a great few days, really it has!

Oh, and don’t worry, I’m going to ask my Mum for that tiffin recipe to share with you here. It’s *killer*. Like, ‘make pointless visits to the kitchen just for the excuse of snaffling another bite from the fridge’ kind of killer’. I had to eat the lot in one day just to get it over and done with, really…
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^^ Sticky toffee pudding for one! Seriously the tastiest ever. Julia’s got the recipe nailed! ^^

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Our niece (and baby bridesmaid!) Sienna spent the afternoon pottering around the garden hunting for snails, and then terrorising my sister with them! I like to think of it as retribution for all the years Cesca spent driving me to distraction when she was a tot, and our 8 year age gap seemed oh so very insurmountable! ;) And now look, I have to stand up a step from Cesca in photos just to get a little help in the height department! Where on earth have the years gone?
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And with a whole lot of photos and a happy frolic in the garden later- we’re done with the telling of the hen weekend tales!

I can’t even begin to say how touched I was by how much effort my nearest and dearest went to to make the weekend so very special.

It was the greatest ‘send off’ into married life I could’ve wished for.

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20.01

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After our whistle-stop tour of ‘Mr Selfridge’s London’ came to an end, we left our tour bus behind at Selfridges and rode up, up, up on the escalators until we reached The Corner restaurant and champagne bar on the second floor. We were in pursuit of afternoon tea, and even though breakfast hadn’t been all that many hours previous, by the time we settled down to eat I was pretty ravenous. What is it about a day in the city that makes you twice as hungry as normal?

The Corner restaurant was beautiful, in that wonderful everyday-luxury way that Selfridges has perfected. The bar was all antiqued mirrors and gold with rows and rows of spirits in the most inviting-looking glass bottles, and the huge windows the wrap around the restaurant let in this dreamy, perfect-for-photographs hazy light.

What I wore :: Trench coat || Hat || Trousers || Ballet flats || Blouse

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^^ This one was snapped by Doug, who Netflix had brought in to take photos during the trip. I had absolutely zero idea it was being or had been taken- apparently my ‘I’m taking a photo’ face is a serious one! ^^

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Afternoon tea was so delicious- the scones with lemon curd especially were the firm favourite by general consensus! The caramelised banana bread was pretty immense too though, if I’m telling the truth. The conversations over tea spanned everything from the differences between the blogging and YouTube industries and communities, to what it’s like to live so far north in Norway that the sun never rises in winter, and how there’s no signature national cuisine in the Netherlands (according to Bastian, a stylist from Amsterdam!). It was a peaceful moment during the trip, that afternoon tea.

After we’d eaten our fill of finger sandwiches and scones and pastry and drunk enough tea to tide us over the rest of the afternoon, we peeled off in twos and threes for a couple of hours shopping in store. On the agenda for Miss Milly and I was a stop by the Ladieswear department (were I bought a dress that’s so light I won’t be able to wear it for months, and now makes me long for spring every time I open my wardrobe), then to the shoe section for a little wedding shoe try-on, and finally to the chocolate department, because why on earth not?!

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The final part of our day was spent at The Savoy, learning about regency clothing from none other than fashion expert Caryn Franklin! The producer of Mr Selfridge and actor Tom Goodman-Hill (who plays Mr Groves, in the series) stopped by too to answer a few questions, and explained that the female actresses have been more and more happy as the series have progressed, since they’re able to shed the stiff corsets and dresses as the fashions and styles of the era move on! We had chance to try on some of the beautiful 1920s pieces of the type that feature in the series- all wide brimmed felt hats (not that I hadn’t had my fill of wide brimmed felt hats already that day! ;), and gauzy beaded wraps and thick wool jackets for the men.

Honestly and truly, Mr Selfridge is worth watching if for the beautiful outfits alone!

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Dinner that night at The Savoy was the icing on the cake, and we journeyed back to Brown’s very happy, very sleepy, and *very* full! I’ve never been so happy to see a beautifully turned down bed, and was in my pyjamas within about thirty seconds of my bedroom door clicking closed behind me.

The hugest of ‘thank yous’ to Netflix for such a wonderful trip. It was the biggest treat! And if I wasn’t already a Netflix disciple, I totally would be now! ;)

The only problem I have now is…what to catch up on next? (Recommendations gratefully received, of course!)

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Posted in afternoon tea, DAY TRIPS, LONDON, PRESS TRIP, RESTAURANT, WINTER

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