Rosie-Sunrise-in-Scotland Watching-the-sunrise Sunrise-on-Arthur's-Seat Cider-with-Rosie-Barbour Edinburgh-sunrise Silver-coffee-pot Prestonfield-Whiskey-room

I woke up early on our first morning in Scotland. We’d gone to bed late the night before (after that beautiful formal dinner), but I couldn’t resist getting up early to watch the sun rise over Arthur’s Seat. My alarm rang at 7am…and then at 7.15am too. The room was pitch black and totally silent, and rising from the sheets wasn’t easy. I put on every layer of knitwear I’d managed to fit into my little suitcase, and headed outside about ten minutes before the sun was due to rise. The hotel staff promised to have a fire and a coffee waiting for me when I got back in…

The sunrise more than lived up to expectation. A deep purple sky turning pinker and pinker as the sun rose, with streaks of peach sitting low over the treeline. Getting to watch it in all its bright, short-lived glory was worth the cold toes (I missed not having my wellies and thick socks to hand, I can tell you), the colder fingers, and the coldest nose.

When I got back in to the hotel (and was installed in front of a fire in the ‘Whiskey Room’, with coffee in one hand and Elle Interiors in the other), the very first article I read began with the following:

“Scottish-American naturalist and author John Muir has this advice: ‘Keep close to nature’s heart…and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.’

I can’t think of any advice I’ve ever been more inclined to follow.


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The past week was such an exciting one, I don’t really know where to begin in relaying it all! But I suppose that since the beginning’s always a sure-fire bet, we’ll begin there…

J Barbour & Sons was founded some 120 years ago this year by a man (and visionary!) named John Barbour, and the company has been handed down through the generations ever since. In celebration of this being a landmark year for the company (as well as Barbour’s beautiful collection of tartans and their incredible heritage), myself, the darling Jen from J for Jen, and a fair few journalists from international press teams were invited up to Scotland and Newcastle for a few day’s break. I flew up from Heathrow to Edinburgh (during those ‘we’re in the tail-end of a hurricane, brace yourselves!’ weather warnings, and with enough turbulence to make even the most seasoned traveller a little green around the gills!), and arrived at Prestonfield House in serious need of a little time and space to decompress. And oh my, did I find it.


Prestonfield is without doubt the most beautiful hotel I’ve ever been in! It’s all plush carpets, beds so large you could lose yourself in them, velvet curtains, tall sash windows, and long portrait-lined corridors. The sort of place where nothing’s too much trouble for the staff, and you wind up wishing that you could move in to one of the rooms and live there forever. Right after I’d settled in and unpacked, I sat down by the window and ate little white chocolate truffles alongside a glass of bubbles, whilst admiring the view of Arthur’s Seat out my bedroom window. A ‘pinch me’ moment, if ever there was one!

Prestonfield-Hotel-Edinburgh Prestonfield-hotel

After spending approximately 8 and a half hours attempting to comb out the knots in my hair (again, thank you mini-hurricane), I headed down to a formal dinner hosted by Dame Margaret Barbour. Before dinner, we got to see a mini preview of Barbour’s S/S15 collection (all muted shades, lightweight fabrics and soft tartans, so beautiful!) and were talked through both that and the current season’s collection by the head of men’s and ladieswear respectively. Dinner itself was just wonderful. We ate ‘neeps and tatties’, haggis (which was so delicious, and was even ‘addressed’ in traditional Scottish style!), marmalade puddings, and sweet chunks of Scottish tablet. Toasts were given, glasses were raised, bagpipes were played Robbie Burns poetry was recited, and Auld Lang Syne was sung. I didn’t take many photos (I was too busy pretending to know the words to Auld Lang Syne ;) so you’ll have to trust when I tell you what a beautiful evening it was! There are one or two snapshots over on my Twitter feed, so click through for elegant place settings and table centres and whatnot…

Peacocks-at-Prestonfield-house Eggs-benefict

The following day, after a breakfast which featured a roughly 2:1 coffee to food ratio (just how I like it), we gathered up our suitcases and bags and headed out in the direction of Leith, for a trip to tartan specialist company Kinloch Anderson. Now, I hadn’t realised quite what a serious business tartan is until last week’s trip! Barbour (both the family and the company) has roots in Galloway in Scotland but has been located for most of its life in South Shields, so when they found themselves in need of their own signature ‘Barbour tartan’, they called in the experts. Kinloch Anderson are a sixth generation family business, who specialise in creating tartans, kilts and Highland dress, and a whole range of beautiful tartan products. It was Douglas Anderson who designed the beautiful signature olive green Barbour tartan, which is used to line so many of the waxed jackets.

The story behind the tartan is a beautiful one. Helen Barbour (Dame Margaret’s daughter), had been doing some research into her family’s heritage, and discovered that neither they or the company itself had its own tartan. Up until Helen’s lifetime, Barbour jackets were lined with widely available tartans like ‘Black Watch’, which made them easy to replicate and prone to (poor) imitation. Kinloch Anderson designed a new, totally original tartan for Barbour at Helen and Dame Margaret’s request, which is based upon the Ayrshire district tartan (the district from which John Barbour came) and has an earthy colour palette to echo the company’s countryside roots.

What I think is most beautiful though is that not only is the tartan registered to the company, but it’s the Barbour family’s own tartan too. And so because of this, in wearing our tartan-lined Barbour waxed jackets and those soft woollen tartan scarves we borrow from our parents and never give back, we become a part of Barbour family heritage. The idea captured my heart, and reminded me for the umpteenth time during the week what an incredibly powerful thing family is.

Kinloch-Anderson-traditional-tartan-kilt Kinloch-Anderson-family-tartan

^^ Aren’t those herringbone wool blankets to die for? If I’d had space to get it home in my suitcase, I’d have bought one in a heartbeat! ^^

Kinloch-Anderson-tartan Bright-tartan-picnic-blanket Cider-with-Rosie-Barbour-tartan

What I wore :: Barbour ladies utility quilted waxed jacket || Shirt || Winter dress tartan scarf || Jeans || Boots || Hat (similar)

After leaving Kinloch Anderson, we headed over to the riverside for lunch at The Kitchin. I felt so full up after the previous night’s dinner I thought I’d never manage to eat again, and yet by the time lunch rolled around, I was pretty ravenous! The Kitchin had a lovely modern-elegant feel to it, and the food was wonderful. The emphasis is on ‘From nature to plate’, and we were given a little printed map of Scotland at the start of the meal which showed the provenance of most of all the main ingredients. Inspired! I ate a starter of partridge, then a saffron risotto with pancetta-wrapped cod cheeks, followed by a chocolate and mint soufflé. All delicious, but the cod cheek risotto won the day. It was so rich and buttery, and both hearty and delicate all at once.

The-Kitchin The-Kitchin-cod-cheek-risotto

And so, to Newcastle! I’ll continue on recounting the trip tomorrow, so stop by in the morning for some a sunset that’ll blow you clean away! For now, we’ll leave off with the sun setting over the river Tyne…



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Would you take a look at that cute face above? That’s Sprout, and she’s pretty much the unofficial Boden mascot! Well, maybe the official mascot, since her image is appearing on the front of a few items of Boden’s beautiful Christmas collection this year! But, we’ll get on to talking about the Christmas collection a little later! First up- that walk!

Friday started in much the same way as Thursday did- with fresh coffee, and spectacular breakfasts at The Bull. Even though the day at River Cottage had been such a foodie one, I woke up ravenous and enjoyed another plate of The Bull’s amazing smoked salmon plus a bowl of granola, yoghurt, and fruit for breakfast. The rest of the day’s activities were something of a mystery to us, and our plans had been debated and guessed over at much length during the previous day or so. We’d been told to bring our wellies and that we’d be going for a walk with Johnnie (Mr Boden himself!), but didn’t even know where we’d be once we finished walking! Or actually, where the walk was going to begin, for that matter…

The cars and lovely cab drivers arrived bright and early to pick us up, and took us deep into the countryside before telling us to get out, and take a hike. Hah. I’m kidding. But seriously though, with landscapes like these all around us, how could we not want to head out on two feet and explore!…

Boden-on-the-road!   Cider-with-Rosie-Boden Boden-butterfly-walk Boden-Dorset-walk-views

Johnnie led us on a four mile walk all through the meadows and up and down hillsides, stopping to point out some of the most beautiful vistas and wildflowers, and also to tell us stories about Sprout’s penchant for squirrel-chasing. I’d not been on a walk for almost a week by the time Friday rolled around, and it felt amazing to get out and stretch my legs again after days of indulgent eating and drinking! The weather was warm and dry (we lucked out the whole trip!) and the morning was a pretty glorious one.

It turned out, the walk we were taking led us right to the beautiful Mapperton House, for an afternoon of exploring, flower-arranging, and lunching in the grounds! Mapperton is owned by Caroline and John Sandwich (descendants of the most famous Lord and Lady Sandwich!), and was voted the Nation’s most beautiful manor house a few years back! It really is stunning! After a quick coffee and a shoe change (turns out wearing wellies in 20+ degree weather is not the most pleasant of experiences) we headed over the old stables to learn a little about flower arranging with the British Flower School.

Boden-Sprout! Cider-with-Rosie-British-Flower-School

Charlie talked us through all of the flowers she had available for us to work with that day (my favourites were the roses, which smelt better than any I’ve come across since I was a child) and showed us the basics of how to arrange a simple, rustic bouquet.

Now, I’m going to level with you. I’ve always had this (entirely ridiculous) impression that flower arranging looked not too tricky. I’d thought privately to myself for years ‘Pah! How hard can it be, it’s just cutting all the flowers to the same height and bunching nicely coloured ones together! You can’t really go wrong, can you?’

Wrong. You can.

It (not surprisingly at all!) is a lot more fiddly than it looks, and requires a whole lot of skill! ‘Well of course, Rosie!’ I’m sure you’re thinking, ‘of course!’. I’ll tell you now that if this whole blogging thing fails me, I will NOT be pursuing a career in flower arranging. Despite not having any God-given flower arranging skill whatsoever, I had an absolute whale of a time putting together my bouquet outside in the sunshine, and learning more about the flowers Charlie and her team grow at Mapperton. We spent the rest of the day eating ploughman’s lunches and ice creams for dessert, exploring Mapperton’s grounds, and talking non-stop about everything from the merits of countryside vs. city living, to perfectionism, dog-owning, hen parties, and bread-making!

British-Flower-School Wild-flowers-British-Flower-School-Mapperto

Now, I’m hopping around in the timeline here, but I need to tell you all about Thursday evening! I had to keep this for a second post, you see, or else yesterday’s would’ve been about half a mile long ;)

After having spent the day at River Cottage we came back to the hotel, and, after a quick freshen up (read: removing random dried bits of dough from my hair) went up to the hotel bar for a preview of Boden’s Christmas collection! The collection is (predictably) completely stunning- all bejewelled accessories, bright Fair Isle knit jumpers, soft mohair scarves, jacquard print trousers, and vintage-inspired boxy faux-fur coats. There was so many incredible items, it made me almost start wishing away the summer! Especially amazing were a pair of metallic loafers that’ll be part of the Johnnie B Christmas collection. I fell SO hard for them, and will be picking up a pair just as soon as the collection becomes available online! No photo I’m afraid- I was too busy mentally pairing them with everything in my wardrobe to remember to take a photo…

Champagne-glasses   Boden-Christmas-knitwear

^^ How perfect are those Fair Isle jumpers? Roll on winter! ;) Also, spot the Sprout-themed knitwear above… ^^

Boden-Christmas-collection   Mini-Boden-Christmas-pyjamas

^^ Mini Boden tartan pjs! ^^

We ate dinner in The Bull’s private dining room after the collection preview, and the evening was a lovely one. I ate duck breast with a cognac and cardamom sauce on bok choi, and then the tastiest dessert I’ve had in a long time. Homemade strawberry marshmallows, with honey comb pieces, meringue, and a scoop of vanilla ice-cream. Divine! Again, no photo, partly because it was pretty dark by the time we ate dessert, and also because I’d inhaled it before even the thought ‘maybe I should’ve taken a photo of this’ had crossed my mind! ;)

Duck-cognac-sauce Boden-Christmas-in-July-press-trip

I know I said it at the end of yesterday’s post, but I really can’t thank Boden enough for taking me away on such an incredible trip. Not only was it mind-blowingly generous and the most wonderful treat, I came away feeling so inspired and full of vigour and enthusiasm for returning to work. Spending a few days talking to so many passionate, driven, like-minded people about the way they run their businesses was absolutely invaluable, and filled me with new focus and energy that I’m excited to channel into my own projects.

So a HUGE thank you to the wonderful team at Boden for inviting me along, for being the most attentive and fun hosts, for keeping us all topped up with bubbles from the moment we arrived in Dorset to the very last stretch of train journey back into Waterloo, and for an unforgettable experience! And roll on Christmas time, because I can’t wait to add those metallic loafers to my wardrobe!

* I’m wearing Breton top from Boden, dungarees from New Look, & my trusty old Hunters.

** Boden’s Autumn collection is being released in the next week…eyes peeled everyone!


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If there’s one thing I’ve learnt in the past couple of years of blogging, it’s that the fashion industry runs on an entirely different time schedule to most of the rest of the world. Whilst we’re out enjoying the sunshine wearing our floaty sundresses and wide brimmed hats, clothing companies are already working hard on collections two or three seasons in advance and have this year’s Christmas collection all ready to drop! It’s incredible! ‘Christmas in July’ is a big thing too, I’m learning. Retail companies preview their Christmas collections in July, so the month winds up becoming a bit of a summer/winter/Christmas melting pot!

Last week, the lovely team at Boden invited me along to their ‘Christmas in July’ press trip down to River Cottage in Dorset, to celebrate the upcoming launch of their beautiful Christmas collection. And if Christmas is a time of excess, generosity, joy, and indulgence- the trip was about as Christmassy as you can get in the very height of summer! Let me tell you more…

We (me, a few lovely folk from Boden, several other bloggers, and some journalists) met in that famous meeting spot beneath the clock in Waterloo late afternoon on Wednesday, and boarded a train to Crewkerne armed with what felt like a hundred suitcases and bags. I’d intended to get some work done on the journey down to Dorset, but wound up spending the entire train ride talking non-stop with the lovely Natasha and Katherine and didn’t get so much as one single photo edited! It was worth it though, of course!

We stayed at the Bull Hotel in Bridport, which serves insanely tasty food, has a fabulous bar, and a fabulously eclectic range of rooms. After a few cocktails in the hotel bar on Wednesday evening, we hit the hay in preparation for Thursday’s busy day at River Cottage. Turns out though, not even the sedative effects of a great strawberry daiquiri will allow you to sleep through a dawn chorus of seagull-screams, and I wound up being awake so early the following morning I actually had time to squeeze in a quick workout before going down for breakfast!


After breakfast (coffees, smoked salmon, granola, yoghurt- the works!), a spot of top-speed blogging & email-answering, and some intense outfit deliberation (I brought basically my entire wardrobe with me…) we jumped into cabs and headed out West in the direction of that most famous of farms.

River Cottage is set back from the road, in its own little valley. The views were pretty spectacular, and we couldn’t have been more lucky with the weather. You know how Jason and I have been having an on-going debate for a good three years or so now, about whether we should move somewhere more urban or entirely rural when we next decide to move house? Well, after spending a couple of days down in Dorset, I text Jason and was all ‘Okay, you win. This is pretty great. To the countryside we go!’ It made him a VERY happy man!

River-Cottage-views River-Cottage-Farmhouse

We started out the day at RC with a batch of fresh drop scones, some more coffee (pretty much I drank on the trip was coffee, cocktails, or champagne. Boden know how to show a girl a good time!) and collectively Instagrammed enough photos that we actually maxed out the wifi. But I mean, River Cottage is basically one giant Instagram photo, so what on earth were we *supposed* to do?! The drop scones were tasty, but the granola they were topped with was even better. Super nutty and poppyseed-filled. Yum.

Drop-scones-with-granola-and-lemon-drizzle Cider-with-Rosie-River-Cottage River-Cottage-Boden-cooking-school

Before getting started in the cookery school, the head gardener took us on a tour round the kitchen gardens and farm. River Cottage is completely organic, and listening to the head gardener Will speak so passionately about the merits of farming sustainably, eating locally, and generally living well was incredibly inspiring. I’d like to say that it’s given me a new-found enthusiasm for gardening and growing my own veg, but I’m still too much of a wuss around bugs to be much use in the garden. I’ll be passing on the inspiration to Jason instead, and let him take charge of our grow-your-own endeavours…

River-Cottage-gardens Pear-tree River-Cottage-pigs  

^^ We met the pigs! They were adorable, with muddy noses and stubbly backs. ^^

Cider-with-Rosie-in-Boden-River-Cottage Picking-redcurrants-at-River-Cottage

The first half of the day’s cooking lessons were spent focusing on bread. The chef who lead our classes for the day, Andy, gave each of us a little starter from the River Cottage kitchens for us to work into our own loaves, and showed us a few different techniques for kneading the doughs. The dough we made was so much wetter and softer than any I’ve ever made in the past, and it made for a beautiful loaf. I did spend most of my morning trying to remove strands of my own hair from the dough I was kneading though…long hair problems.

River-Cottage-Cookery-School Rosie-River-Cottage Cider-with-Rosie-with-Boden-at-River-Cottage

Whilst our first loaf of bread proved, we got on with making loaves of fresh soda bread! This was definitely my favourite thing we made during the day- the loaf was so warm and nutty and rustic, and above all, SO easy to put together! No kneading, no proving- just mix and bake!

The loaves all got taken out of the ovens one by one, and brought outside to be eaten alongside our lunch in the kitchen gardens. Lunch was an incredible rainbow affair- a starter of light vegetable soup (with broad bean broth, and soda bread + butter on the side), and a main of beetroot, fennel, and courgette salads with charcuterie made from River Cottage’s own pork! We ate outside in the sunshine, and it was all pretty idyllic. And surreal too, to be sitting enjoying my lunch with so many inspiring women (bloggers like Sasha who I’ve admired for such a long time, writers and editors from The Telegraph, Cosmopolitan, & Vogue, and the passionate team from Boden itself), in that famous kitchen garden! Oh, and I nearly forgot to mention that whilst we were cooking, Hugh himself popped in to say hi to us all! Yep. It was a pretty cool day!

Kitchen-Garden-table-at-River-Cottage River-Cottage-vegetable-lunch Making-cheese-at-River-Cottage Labneh  

Post-lunch, we headed back in to the cookery school so get started on making canapés and cocktails that would be perfect for a Christmas party! Andy whipped up a batch each of fresh labneh (strained yoghurt cheese) and lemon-scented curd cheese, and we got cracking cooking courgettes with fennel tops to go with the cheeses, and mini potato rostis to act as a base for smoked duck breast and homegrown redcurrants.

The final part of the day was spent whipping up some smoked sloe gin cocktails, which were punchy enough to knock your socks off! The smoke gets passed right through the sloe gin, then lingers on its surface for a minute or two before disappearing. Can you even imagine how amazing they’d be to serve around Christmas time?

Smoked-sloe-gin-cocktails River-Cottage-Boden-Christmas-in-July-canapes  

^^ Four types of canapés! :: Garlic roasted tomato + labneh, smoked duck breast + redcurrants on a potato rosti, fennel-topped courgettes + curd cheese, & sweet gingernuts topped with yoghurt and berries! ^^

We’d chosen to walk right down to the farmhouse from the road when we arrived at River Cottage in the morning as opposed to being driven, but after all that food, we felt it was probably best to hop in the truck for the journey back up to the cars! I honestly don’t think I’ve ever eaten so well as we did that day! The trip to River Cottage was just brilliant, and I left feeling so inspired and keen to experiment more with my own cooking. I’d absolutely recommend it, as a day trip, mini-break, special treat, or perhaps even a hen-do! More details on the huge range of courses can be found here, if you fancy finding out more.

The biggest thank you both to the team at River Cottage and to Boden, for such an amazing day! Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post, where I’ll be sharing photos from our countryside walk with Johnnie, and also a little sneak preview of Boden’s Christmas collection!

* Outfit details for the above! :: Trousers: Boden. Tee: Topshop. Shoes: Office (similar).

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