OOTD: Obsessed with the Denim Dress

I took advantage of the sunshine today and walked into town to have a browse around the shops. This denim pinafore dress was a flash sale steal from ASOS. I love it – I’ve already worn it 3 times since it arrived on Wednesday! It works equally well with a range of tops underneath but today I paired it with a simple white tee.

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I forgot to get a picture of the back (this is what happens when you’re rushing to leave the house) but it’s cut away to waist level (imagine a demin skirt with braces!).

I think this dress is so versatile – for an even more casual summer or sporty look it would work with a bralette and trainers. For the colder months, or maybe as a more demure look for work, I’d team it with a polo neck jumper and tights. If I had to change anything, I would make the straps adjustable (t’s a tiny bit baggy at the top) – but I still think this dress is going to be a firm favourite of mine for a long time 🙂

H x

Denim dress and Sandals: ASOS, White t-shirt: Miss Selfridge, Orange reversible tote bag: Accessorise, Sunglasses: Topshop, Horse necklace (an old favourite): Urban Outfitters.

 

Me and My Bike

Let’s talk cycling!

Due British success at the Olympics and in the Tour de France, cycling in the UK has never seemed so popular.  Around here, the cyclists have been out in force during these past few weeks of rare summer weather.

Growing up surrounded by quiet country lanes, with parents who loved UK holidays, I spent a lot of time cycling as a child. Apart from a very brief period where I was forced to cycle to work (I very quickly bought a car), as I got older my bike rides became more and more infrequent.

Then in 2014, I was persuaded (read: bullied) into purchasing a lovely road bike by my Tour de France obsessed boyfriend. But I was still a fair weather rider – the furthest I had ever cycled was 10 miles, and I hurt for days afterwards.

Until last year.

I took on the challenge of cycling 150 miles in two days, for charity, in an event organized by the company I work for. I enjoy exercise (honestly!) and previously considered myself fairly fit – but I was in no way an endurance athlete. This was TWO CONSECUTIVE DAYS spending 6-7 HOURS on a bike.

But I did it! And guess what – I’ve agreed to do it all over again.

The next ride is in September. To increase the challenge factor for those who rode last year, we’ve chosen a new, longer route: 160 miles in over two days.

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Taken last year, before my pedals were forcibly swapped for clip-ins…

So, cycling has once again become a regular thing in my life. Like training for any long distance event, it takes up a lot of time: fitting in ~100 miles a week training is not easy when you’re working 9-5! But call me a convert – these days I’m all about racking up the miles and checking my stats on Strava!

Among the colleagues taking part there’s actually a good male:female ratio – great to see.

Like so many sports, cycling is dominated by men and let’s be honest, cycling is not an attractive activity. Lurid lycra, padded shorts, sweating, flies in your face, pulling horrendous grimacing expressions while trying to tackle a hill. Then there’s the discomfort involved – I get stabbing neck pains from being hunched over the saddle and let’s not even mention saddle sores (hands up if you know all about chamois cream).

I’m not really selling cycling, am I? So why do it?

  • I got into cycling because of my boyfriend and it’s really nice to have an activity that we can do together. Despite the limitations of road bikes (dry, smooth roads only for me please!) it’s still a great way to explore the countryside around us.
  • It’s social! There’s a great group for our work ride that get together to train. We’re all about comparing the chain oil ‘tattoos’. There’s also plenty of cycling clubs out there…
  • It’s (relatively) cheap exercise! Yes, a decent bike and kit will set you back a bit (unless, like me, your boyfriend is not the most imaginative with presents and therefore constantly buys you bike gear). It doesn’t have to be a road bike – once you’re set up you are free to head out whenever you like!
  • It’s a challenge! Even if you come back tired and wanting to eat ALL the food in the house, completing a long ride feels like a great achievement.

Including my commute to work, I cycled 42 miles yesterday – but I felt surprisingly sprightly today which means my training is paying off 🙂

H x

Leaving the City… 2 years on

We spent yesterday in Bristol, taking in the buzz of the Harbourside Festival and catching up with friends. It made me think about how things have changed for us in the time since we left our city centre flat, 2 years ago this summer.

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City   ❤

The decision to move to countryside suburbia was not an easy one. We were 25 and 27 at the time – it seemed like ‘settling down’, which I felt we were too young to be doing!

I thought I’d reflect on how we came to the decision….

THE PROS

Affordability

Turns out EVERYONE wants a quirky period terrace within walking distance of the city centre. No matter that most are poky, prone to damp, have tiny paved backyards and are squashed onto narrow streets with no parking – they are fashionable. After being outbid on several properties (at least once by cash buyers intending to renovate and sell on for even more crazy ££££), we had to admit defeat.

Out here, we can afford a proper grown-up house with a garden and a driveway. Call me old but having my own parking space (we have ONE EACH!!) is a DREAM COME TRUE. Never again will I arrive home at 10pm, spend 20 mins looking for a space, find a space, try to squeeze into it, realise it is way too small even for a KA, probably dent mine/neighbour’s car, almost cry with frustration, end up parking streets away and have to carry up a ridiculous amount of stuff up 4 flights of stairs.

Greenery

As well as having a cute little garden to call our own, we are on the edge of the Cotswolds. We can head out on our bikes and be surrounded by beautiful quiet countryside within minutes.

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Countryside   ❤

Travelling

We are now just a 25 min country road drive from work. No more selfish rush-hour drivers cutting us up on roundabouts or hours spent helplessly queuing behind a motorway pile up. Now we just get caught behind the odd tractor!

Also (and I realise I sound like an estate agent here) – we are so close to the M4/M5 that popping over to Wales for the day or zipping down to London by car has never been so easy.

THE CONS

Travelling (again!)

We’ve become more reliant on our cars. If I want to visit friends by train, I’m dependent on Boy being available to ferry me to/from the station.

If we want to go out drinking in Bristol (as we did yesterday), it’s an hour-plus bus journey. Or crash at a friend’s house and persuade them to drive us home in the morning 😎

Fewer activities (for younger people)

When we lived in the centre I used to go to various dance classes. No pole dancing on offer in suburbia – it’s line dancing or Zumba, where I’m not exactly expecting to meet potential friends at the same stage of life as me! Classes in Bath or Bristol are only a 30-40min drive, but on a week night I’m not sure I want the hassle.

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After 2 years spent in a drafty, leaky (but beautiful) period flat, I should have known better – but I had my heart set on a period terrace. Victorian fireplace, lovely sash windows, lots of character… but also needing LOTS of maintenance. With our sensible heads on, we had to admit that some of the houses we loved were potential money pits.

Out here, we don’t have the choice. I can only dream of the period cottages or converted barns nearby. So, soulless housing estate here we are! But, #first world problems. We’re not just fortunate to have a roof over our heads – as young people in the UK, I know we’re very lucky to be able to buy our own place at all.

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Garden   ❤

It feels like we were a bit ahead of the game – more and more friends are buying houses and moving to areas which are closer to good schools than good bars! I love our house and the little town that we’ve moved into – it suits our lifestyle perfectly. I wouldn’t rule out a move back towards Bristol, but for now I’m glad we made the jump out here 🙂

H x

Bathroom Inspiration

The bathroom is the last major ‘project’ in our house. It is currently a dated peach affair, complete with an oversized shower cubicle that takes up half the room (it is HUGE. Visitors always feel the need to run into it and speculate how many others could squeeze in next to them – I’d say at least 6). After the 8 month saga that was our DIY kitchen, we’ve decided to leave the bathroom revamp to the professionals.

I love all things interiors, so I’ve been having a LOT of fun on Pinterest getting my ideas together. We’re going for a simple, white, contemporary look. I’ve chosen matt white subway tiles for the walls, but I’m tempted to jazz up the floor with Moroccan-style tiles.I’m hoping to squeeze in some natural wood shelving, seagrass baskets and some houseplants for contrast as well!

Last on my wishlist is a little wooden stool for the corner – useful for holding bits and bobs during bathtime (maybe a glass of wine and a candle for ‘me’ time!).

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We’re booked in for September (our chosen plumber is popular, hopefully for good reasons!), but I’m getting excited already 🙂 I can’t wait to share the finished look!

H x

Turning 27…

Listening to: Night Swim, Josef Salvat

On Friday, I turned 27.

I’ve had the usual ‘Join the club!’ and ‘How do you feel…?’. So far, I haven’t been able to come up with a response more creative or meaningful than ‘Erm…. OK’. I don’t feel any different. I don’t look any different. If anything, the only thing I feel is more aware of potential preconceptions other people might have of me if they knew my ‘number’.

Especially since this week, not one, but two of our friends quietly shared some very exciting, but very ‘adult’ news with us. The Boy loves to wind me up that my body clock is ticking (Yes, you would be right in thinking that he can be annoyingly misogynistic sometimes). I used to think that big life decisions would suddenly become clear and obvious one day, like clouds parting in the sky to reveal the sun. But it feels more like some decisions creep up on you. Like slowly becoming aware that you are not alone in a room. But few decisions in life are straightforward or easy, are they? Especially for someone who is so indecisive she struggles to choose between breakfast cereals.

We had a long weekend in the Peak District as a birthday treat, with a visit to Alton Towers thrown in and a gorgeous meal at the local pub (The George, Alstonefield. I want to go back NOW). Over peach bellinis, real ale and a bottle of white wine (we may be getting older, but we haven’t learnt not to mix our drinks), the boy and I had a good catch up. When you live with someone it’s very easy to just co-exist and not think to check if you are on the same ‘page’ in life. Or it is if you are extremely low-key on the relationship front like us.

My birthday is also linked to our anniversary. More specifically, it’s the day when Boy first asked me out. Our first date, and the date we consider our anniversary (despite never really bothering to celebrate it…) is tomorrow, July 4th. We’ve been together 6 years, since my 21st birthday. As wonderful as that is… 6 years of my life! I won’t pretend that part of me wonders what would have happened if we hadn’t met when we did.

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Nothing has changed; but at the same time, everything is changing. Lives don’t stay still. I guess I feel like I’m just getting really happy and settled into this ‘age’. But at any moment you can be on the brink of another stage of life.

H x