If there’s something I’ve always dreamed of having, it’s beautiful handwriting. The kind that our grandparents have- elegant and swirling, with the sort of unique quirks and traits that make it as instantly recognisable as the sound of their voice. My own handwriting has always been as changeable as the weather. I never managed to find my own style whilst at school, and basically formed my own ‘hand’ at the age of about 10 by copying the writing of a friend of mine who always had the most admired handwriting in our class ;)

And so, when an email pinged in my inbox a few weeks ago inviting me to attend a workshop in which I’d have chance to learn the basics of hand lettering and calligraphy, I sent back a ‘yes please!’ faster than you can say ‘joined up writing’!

The workshop was held in Stockbridge and hosted by the lovely ladies behind a store called Hero, whose beautiful aesthetic I’ve admired via Instagram for a long while now. Our day began at 10 in a tucked away room of Woodfire restaurant (right on the high street), where we warmed ourselves up with a few coffees and pastries and chit chat about what a beautiful setting Stockbridge village is. I’d spent the whole of the drive down that morning admiring tiny farmhouse cottages and spotting fat pheasants in the fields and birds of prey flying overhead- if only it wasn’t quite so far away from Guildford and beyond the realms of a sensible commute for Jason, I’d have added it to our ‘house hunting locations’ list already!

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^^ How dreamy is Hero’s range? I’d have taken that blue jumper home with me in a heartbeat! ^^

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The calligraphy workshop itself was being run by Becky of Betty Etiquette, who was the most patient and encouraging teacher you could hope to find. We each were supplied with a pen and nib (which felt so elegant and old-school to write with, I loved it!), black Indian ink, paper, and an instruction card that walked us through the basics of Copperplate hand lettering. We started small- drawing out painstakingly careful vertical lines onto the paper that varied in thickness and weight- before moving on to lines in diagonal directions, curved shapes, and then finally on to numbers and letters. Becky explained the rules behind the Copperplate script that give it its characteristic style- downward strokes must be thick, sideways lines fine, and the lettering should be fluid with a slight forward slant.

It was far, far trickier than you’d imagine, and yet a thousand times more satisfying and enjoyable than it was fiddly! As someone whose artistic ability was maxed out during Art GCSE (all I ever wanted to do was play with the cameras anyway, and oh what a foreshadowing that turned out to be!), it was so pleasing to see the results of the morning’s work coming out looking not too shabby at all! I mean, I don’t think I’ll be attempting any hand-lettered place cards for the wedding any time soon, but you know! Maybe when the time comes to write thank you cards, I’ll have it in the bag! ;)


^^ Nines were hard for me, okay? I never did get it down…^^

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My favourite, *favourite* part of the morning was moving on to writing out our names. It was harder than you’d imagine not to just slip straight back into your own handwriting, and instead to remember that the letters should have a forward slant to them and a distinctive pattern of weight and heaviness.

I decided to have a go writing my married name, which is, as you can imagine, my current favourite activity. I’m like a schoolgirl with a crush at the moment, writing out ‘Mrs Rosie Chappel’ and practising my signature in the corners of to-do lists and notebook pages every chance I get! ;)

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Our workshop ended all too quickly (I could’ve sat there scribbling away for hours!), and was rounded off with a beautiful mezze lunch and yet another round of delicious coffee. It really was the loveliest way to spend a midweek morning, and I can’t recommend looking into a workshop with Betty Etiquette highly enough. It would make the loveliest hen party activity!

Thanks x1000 to lovely Laura from Hero for inviting me to attend. Do search ‘shopathero’ on Instagram and follow along- it’s the dreamiest feed!


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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! ^^


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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You know those articles that go round and round the internet, ’10 ways’ this, ’25 times’ that? The type of articles that we read on Buzzfeed, and then three weeks later pop up in our Facebook feeds via a ‘share’ from our parents? ;) Well, in my imaginary article, entitled ’15 ways in which you know your addiction to Netflix might be getting out of hand’, let me add the following as number 1 on the list- when you mention said streaming service so many times on your blog without even realising you’re doing it, Netflix themselves clock that you’re kind of a huge fan! ;) Because that, my friends, is precisely how I found myself in London on the ‘Netflix Catchup Tour’ early last week!

Netflix invited me and a few other bloggers and journalists up to London last week for a couple night’s stay at the sublime Brown’s hotel, to celebrate the release of Season Two of Mr Selfridge! The trip was a total whirlwind and full of so many exciting moments it’s hard to know where to start explaining it all!

I always find that getting the chance to learn more about companies I admire is my always very favourite thing about these wonderful press trip experiences. As a consumer, I suppose I tend not to think very often about the amount of man power and planning and technology that goes into making a service like Netflix available. I take it for granted, and forget that there was a time before we had quite *so* much content available to us at all times- seemingly endless choice, whole series at our fingertips, and intuitive suggestions of what we might like to watch or listen to or catch up on next. The freedom and control we have over our entertainment is pretty incredible, when you come to think about it! Remember when we used to have to consult the TV Times pages in the newspaper for scheduling? And when there only used to be four channels, and then, *GASP!* Channel Five arrived! I vividly remember watching my Mum tune in Channel Five on our telly when it first became available- the excitement was real, I tell you! ;)


The main focus of the trip was the fabulous Mr Selfridge series, and how Selfridge brought about radical changes in the way we shop that are still in play today. The weekend before the trip I thought it might be fun to sit down and watch a couple of episodes, so that I was up to date on the series. But one episode turned into two, and then three, and then by the time I got to London on Monday evening and settled into an armchair in Brown’s Kipling Room for our ‘silent screening’, I was on episode nine of ten! In fact, when the screening was finished and we were invited through to dinner, I’d just got started on the final episode of Season 1 and was, for probably the first time in my life, reluctant to go and eat! ;)

^^ Multi-tasking at the silent screening! Netflixing, and pre-Instagram editing. You know how it goes ;) ^^

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On Tuesday morning, after a night’s sleep in the world’s most heavenly bed and then breakfast in the hotel, we were met outside Brown’s at 9am sharp by a row of vintage cars. They were some of the most beautiful cars I’ve ever seen (the old Rolls Royce ones especially!) and totally made me rethink my ‘I really don’t want a vintage car as wedding transport’ stance! Milly and I hopped into the back of the Rolls Royce (after snapping a few photos, of course), and were whisked away over to Covent Garden to begin our tour of ‘Mr Selfridge’s London’! 

What I wore :: Hat || Blouse || Watch


^^ The contrast between centuries old architecture and brand new buildings and shops and innovations is one of my favourite things about London, and so looking up at the huge billboards in Piccadilly Circus from the back of a vintage car was kind of a dream! ^^

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The tour took us to some of the filming locations used in the Mr Selfridge series, and Lisa, our tour guide and an expert on Regency London, was on hand to tie in the fictionalised Mr Selfridge with his real life counterpart! We visited Lady Loxley’s household, the Theatre Royal on Drury Lane (where Mr Selfridge began his affair with gaity girl Ellen Love- the scandal!), and fans of the series will recognise the building above as the Selfridge home. Sadly it was an exterior filming location only- in a dreamworld, we would’ve been able to go wandering inside and perhaps get chance to snoop round Mrs Rose Selfridge’s wardrobe! 

The tour rounded off at the famous Selfridges store itself, where we were whisked inside out of the chill for a few happy hours spent enjoying afternoon tea and a little shopping too. So you see, it was sort of the best! More photos to come tomorrow, because you didn’t think I’d mention an afternoon tea and *not* share photos, did you?


Fans of Mr Selfridge- are you as excited as I am for the release of Series 3? I’m kind of tempted to wait for it to be released on Netflix, so that I can set aside a weekend for watching the whole series in back-to-back episodes!

** Photos of me taken by Doug Peters.


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Our final day up North ended with a trip to Barbour HQ in South Shields, to watch those most famous of waxed jackets being made on site. I’d been looking forward to this part of the trip the most- years of having a boyfriend partial to watching shows like ‘How It’s Made’ has rubbed off I guess! So I rose early once again (in my little Newcastle hotel room with its beautiful view over the River Tyne), resorted to laying my full body weight onto of my suitcase just so I could get it zipped up, and we were on our way out to South Shields by 8.30am!

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Inside the factory, we began the tour by moving right to the start of the production line, where the waxed cotton is measured out and the pattern for several jackets is cut at once. The machinists in the factory are absolutely incredible- the speed at which they work, and their skill and eye for detail, is a sight to be seen. I spoke with Tracy, who sits towards the very end of the production line and whose job is is to sew the final hem on the jacket, and she told me that it takes on average one whole year to train and get up to production line speed. And considering Tracy works to a pace of sewing 54 hems per hour (YEP!), it’s hardly surprising that the training takes such a long time!

The energy inside the factory was amazing. Photos don’t do it justice at all! It’s noisy- hundreds of sewing machines buzzing and clicking and humming all at once, not to mention the odd screech as the rails of partially completed jackets are pulled down the line on to the next station, ready to have pockets attached or zips sewn on or soft corduroy-lined collars put in place. Every single one of Barbour’s classic waxed jackets are made at the South Shields factory- some 600 jackets are made each day alone, an average of 3000 per week!


^^ ‘Dress tartan’ lined waxed jackets! ^^

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^^ Kerry’s role within the production line is to sew the ‘Authentic Barbour Tartan’ label onto the lining of each jacket. Because of the intensity of the training, each of the machinists specialise in just one or two jobs on the production line. What fascinated me most was how easy they made their task look- one or two quick zips with the sewing machine, and each piece was complete! ^^

Once we’d got to the very end of the production line (and watched completed jackets being parcelled up ready to be sent out to customers), we moved on to the repairs department of factory.

Compared with the frenetic pace of the central part of the factory, the repair department felt practically laid back! I hadn’t realised before, but Barbour offer a repair and rewaxing service for all their waxed jackets, a service which is on offer to customers for the full life of their beautiful jacket.

The loveliest lady named Jean showed us around her department, and explained about the process of repairing jackets. Barbour frequently receive jackets that’ve been worn for upwards of ten or twenty years in for repair, that might never have been rewaxed and are beginning to suffer from years of heavy use! Each jacket is assigned to a machinist, who spends time assessing the jacket to understand what on it needs fixing, repairing any rips and tears, and replacing any panels or hardware that might need a complete renovation, before sending the jacket on to be rewaxed. The day of our visit, one particularly old jacket had just undergone a 5 and a half hour repair!

Jean told us that even though oftentimes the cost of having an old Barbour jacket repaired might be equal to the price of buying a new one, customers form such strong bonds with their coats that they’d rather pay to have their old ones fixed up! The jackets become part of family heritage too- some have been sent in to be rewaxed and repaired by sons and daughters wearing their parents old coats!


^^ New, freshly made Beadnell jackets, vs. an old, well-loved example in for repair! The colour differences on the jacket on the right are due to the coat having just been patched up with freshly waxed cotton. The faded panels had never been rewaxed, and would have originally been the same colour as the dark green panels on the centre of the jacket. This one was about to go off and be waxed, ready to come out looking good as new and a uniform dark green colour! ^^


After our tour of the factory, we headed up to the Brand Room to be given a guided ‘tour’ of the Barbour archive. It was nothing short of *fascinating*- I truly could’ve listened to archivist Gary talk all day! He showed us the oldest Barbour jacket in the archive, named ‘Uncle Harry’ after its owner, which was made in 1910 and donated to the Barbour archive by Uncle Harry’s family after he passed away. It was incredible seeing how the years have shaped Barbour’s jackets, from the full length waxed capes they made early in the 1900s (designed to provide protection from the elements for drivers of horse-drawn carts), to the traditional shooting jackets that helped make Barbour the luxury brand we recognise today later on in the 20th Century.

And after all that, (and following lunch, a little talk from Dame Margaret Barbour herself in her very own office, and a visit the Barbour shop), it was time to head back home. The whole trip was such a wonderful one- I always leave experiences like this feeling so inspired, and getting to see the decades of love, dedication, and drive that’ve gone into making Barbour such an internationally successful brand was nothing short of awe-inspiring. Listening to Dame Margaret talk with such pride about her company too was incredibly moving- she took over running it after her husband, John Barbour, passed away when he was just 30, and is a passionate supporter of women in business.

A true role model in every since of the word.

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What I wore :: Barbour cream aran knit jumper  || Jeans (on sale!) || Scarf || Barbour ladies quilted utility jacket

p.s. My friends, if you’re ever in the vicinity of Newcastle, you must stop by the Barbour factory outlet store in South Shields! Some killer deals to be found there, I’m telling you!

p.p.s. Thanks to lovely Sarah from Barbour and Jen from J for Jen for snapping a couple of photos of me during the trip! Credits to the photographers, and all! :)

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