Planning travels and adventure

One thing I find a coping mechanism for my grief is to plan travel and adventures as I feel it gives us something to look forward to and a different focus for the future.  So this weekend I’m spending a little time planning our travels for the first half of the year, which also include two family weddings on opposite sides of the earth!

I’m often asked how we can consider travelling to the other side of the world with an 8-month-old baby well we have done it before with Violet when she was just 7 months old.  I can highly recommend you travel with your baby’s while they are little, as even though they won’t remember the trip believe me the new experiences they will have and people they will meet will shape their personalities.  You can like us take lots of photos to show them when they are older too.

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Violet with one of the many friends she made travelling

If like us you unfortunately lose your baby at 15 months old then at least you will have more happy rich memories of them from travelling and spending more time together as a family. Priceless!

Anyway for those of you who might be considering taking my advice and travelling with your little ones here’s a blog post I wrote a few years ago after our first long haul trip with a baby Violet to New Zealand.  I hope it inspires you to travel more in 2019!

Ten Top tips for flying with a baby

After travelling over 22,000 miles from UK to New Zealand and back via Singapore and Bali with a 7-month-old baby Violet in 2016 we now have some top tips for anyone flying with a baby.

Request a bassinet – If your airline is long haul then you should be able to request a bassinet for your baby which will mean you will need bulkhead seats so make sure you select these when checking in and choosing seats online.  A bassinet will prove useful not just for when your baby sleeps but they can be propped up to play with toys too.

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Violet sleeping on the way to New Zealand in 2016

Outfit change – it goes without saying that you will have spare outfits for baby but make sure you have extra clothes for yourself in your hand luggage as there’s nothing worse than having to sit covered in baby vomit for the entire of take off/landing plus then 30 minutes of turbulence because the seat belt seat is still on.

Easily removable clothing – sleep suits and onesies we’d recommend for flying plus a zip up fleece or dressing gown anything snuggly and easy to remove.  Layers and press studs are your friends.

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Violet in her fleece & onesie watching the Snoopy film on the way home from Singapore

Hats – we’d recommend packing a cotton hat for your baby as airline air conditioning can be fierce and surprisingly the vents seem to be above the bulk head seating so right near the bassinet.

Mini-change bag – if you’re on a long haul flight then a smaller change bag will be handier we bought one that was a mat that folded out with room for 2 nappies, wipes and change of clothing.  It fitted into the seat pocket so saved time and easy to grab in a rush.

Extra muslin cloths – take the large ones as these are multi-functional serving as dribble wipers, blankets if baby gets chilly, a stand in change mat, sunshade or a scarf for mummy!

Lounge access – If you are flying long haul and transferring on your journey then it might be worth investing in the use of an airport lounge as this can make a big difference when it comes to heating milk, food and changing your baby in a relaxed environment.  Often lounge access isn’t too pricey either if you book in advance.

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Violet just chilling on the reception desk in Singapore

On-board dining – Some cabin crew will have the good sense to ask you, if you’re travelling with another adult, if you’d like your meals to be staggered so you both get to eat by swapping baby duties.  This is a great idea and why not ask if this is possible when you board the plane.

Hand sanitising gel or spray – these no water needed hand sanitisers are a god send when you are on an airplane and its difficult to access a toilet to clean up before food.

Toys, toys and lots of toys!  Again it goes without saying but the more you have for your little one to do the better. We had a set of toys and books easily accessible for on board the first plane and another set in our other carry on so we could swap them over for the second connecting flight so she wouldn’t get bored.

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Violet sitting playing with toys in the bassinet while I eat breakfast!

Finally I advise you to relax – yes it sounds ridiculous to say this when you’re flying with a baby, possibly feeling totally stressed out like all evil eyes are on you the passenger from hell, but try your hardest to also make the journey as relaxing and as enjoyable for yourself, as your baby will pick up on your vibes so smile and see it as an adventure.  Experience it through their eyes so the journey is exciting and new!

Happy flying! x

Barcelona beach break?

I never thought of Barcelona having beaches before. Yes I knew of a beach resort outside the city called Sitges but in the two times I have visited the city of Barcelona I never realised they also had beautiful sandy beaches.

My hubby was invited to attend a conference in the city for work and so I decided that baby and me would tag along for a few days to get some much needed vitamin D.

His conference was on the outskirts of the city centre in a residential area close to the port and opposite the museum of natural history. It was also virtually on the beach.

The weather in early December was 18 or 19 degrees which if you’re Mediterranean is Baltic but for a British person that’s summer! As most Spaniards thought it was cold the beaches and yes there are more than one were virtually empty on what we’d class in England as a gloriously sunny day.  They also have beaches that are well kitted out with showers, toilets & play equipment so great for families.

The plus point of Barcelona over a more traditional beach place in Spain such as the Costa del Sol or one of the islands is the fact it’s Barcelona! So you have lovely beaches but in the evening you have all the delights of a big cosmopolitan city and if you’re bored of the beach you can look around the sights of the city.

Having been to Barcelona a few times before I’d been around the city to the usual tourist places like Las Ramblas, the Gothic Quarter and the Park Guell – Gaudi’s fantastical Park but even though I’d seen the Basilica de la Sagrada Família from the outside I’d never been in as the queues were always hours long. The beauty of visiting in December is there were no queues for any of the big tourist attractions- brilliant!

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I think it’s fair to say the cathedral blew us away once we got into it. I can only describe it as Star Wars like as it was so other worldly but the stand out thing for me were the stain glass windows that had Picasso style artwork in their design and a unique blend of colours and shades that perfectly made use of the light coming into the building. I would love to spend a full day in the cathedral watching how the windows react to the different light in the day. So beautiful I highly recommend a visit and to think at the moment it isn’t even finished.

After visiting this extremely famous Goudi place of worship we then went and visited another more ancient place.  The original Barcelona Cathedral, or Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia, to give it its official name, in the Gothic quarter, again a place I hadn’t visited before because the queues were far too long. This one was built in the 13thand 14thcenturies.  We lit 10 candles here to remember Violet, Arthur, my Nan, friend Alethea and other friends who are going through a bad time. Amazing architecture and a huge achievement when you think when it was built without modern day technology; the Basilica de la Sagrada Familia will probably take as long to be built (currently scheduled for completion in 2026) and the builders now have every bit of technology.

Aurora loved both buildings and gazed amazed at the beautiful ceilings and windows.  It was so peaceful and although I’m not religious I love the calming atmosphere in these buildings as though they have absorbed the love they have witnessed over the years.

I also need to mention how amazing Jet2 are when travelling with babies. The cabin crew were brilliant helping us with bags onto the plane and then taking baby for cuddles while we got our luggage into the overhead lockers.  They were 100% better than when I’ve flown with EasyJet and Ryanair who I’ve listed in order of horrendousness with Ryanair being the worst offender.

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Aurora enjoying her first flight experience

In short I’d highly endorse a winter sun break to Barcelona so get looking at those Jet2 flight deals now.

Happy flying

Love Sarah x

Travel – A few days in Switzerland

I’m not a stranger to travelling alone having worked as a PR for travel clients I have travelled all over the world on my own so when a friend who was working in Switzerland invited me over for the weekend I jumped at the chance.

I got a cheap flight to Basil from Manchester and then got the train to meet my friend in Zurich.  I’d been to Zurich before as I used to have a Swiss client but I had only actually experienced it in torrential rain looking grey and miserable.  It was great to see the place flooded in bright sunshine and we walked around the beautiful old town and by the river.  It was stunning.

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Early the following morning we got the first of many train journeys to visit one of the world’s best spas inside Villa Honegg Hotel in Ennetburgen.

It truly was one of the most breathtaking spas I have been to with a giant outdoor hot pool that looked out over the Swiss Alps and Lake Lucerne.  It helped that we had glorious sunshine and a cool breeze that came down from the snow capped mountains.  The spa is sat on the side of a hill that was surrounded by farmland lower down and flower filled meadows in front of it.  Inside the spa there was an indoor spa pool and sauna facilities too.

The hotel had a restaurant that overlooked the spa with an outside terraced area so we ate lunch there with again stunning mountain views before we departed for the train station once again to continue our journey this time several hours travel to Interlaken.

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Interlaken can be described as the tourist centre of Switzerland with coach loads of Chinese, Korean and American tourists arriving into the town in order to explore the nearby sights.  We even noticed they have a Hooters bar to satisfy our friends from across the pond. The town offered a vast choice of accommodation including high end hotels and back packing hostels.  We decided to book an AirBNB apartment as we were only staying for one night – would be arriving late and leaving early the next morning.  The split level studio apartment was to a contemporary loft design, owned by the artists running the nearby modern art gallery, and was practical and functional with what we needed for a one night stay.

The following morning we headed again by train to climb Jung Frau the highest mountain in Europe.  We stopped off in Grindelwald a very stunning Alpine town half way to Jung Frau that sounded like it belonged in a Harry Potter book.  It is used as a base for hikers and skiing enthusiasts.  It was breathtaking surrounded by snow-capped mountains.  I could happily come back here to stay for a few days and enjoy the mountain air. Apparently this was the place Heidi was filmed.

We only stayed in Grindelwald for a quick coffee and then continued our journey up Jung Frau by train on the highest train line and ultimately train station in Europe.  The sun was still shining so when we hit the snowy surrounds I was relieved to have my sunglasses.  This was the most scenic train journey I have ever been on, absolutely stunning views from every direction and we climbed so high our ears reacted as they do on a plane. Once we reached Jungfrau station we then had to continue on foot to the Sphinx observatory, the highest point in Europe and it was truly spectacular.  My friend even stripped off her layers as the suns reflection on the deep snow was so warming.  Some of you James Bond fans may recognize the setting here as it was featured in Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

On our way back down the mountain we stopped off in Lauterbrunnen another pretty village this time it is one with stunning waterfalls where we enjoyed some dinner and chatted to some Australian tourists (yes they get everywhere!) before heading back on the train to Zurich via Lucerne.

The following day I enjoyed a leisurely lunch in Villa Villette in Cham on the banks of Lake Zug before catching the train back to the airport for my flight home.

Travel tips –

Flights – I flew to Basil from Manchester with Easyjet however the trains are so efficient in Switzerland that it could be cheaper to research travel into various different airports.

Train – I recommend you purchase a Swiss rail pass if you plan to travel around as we did as this as it is the most cost effective way to travel.

Luggage – there are inexpensive luggage lockers in most train stations in Switzerland so you can leave items as you travel to collect as you pass through the main hub stations to collect on way back.

Accommodation – there’s a wide choice of accommodation in Switzerland but if like us you simply need a bed for the night then take a look at sites such as AirBNB that can be more cost effective saving more money to spend on 5 class spas!

Surviving after Child Loss

Whilst I was sat on a train heading to Glasgow earlier this week I decided to write a few blog posts touching on subjects people have been curious about.

People often ask me about how we coped with losing Violet and about the techniques we employed to try to help ourselves get through this time.

We tried to remember what we enjoyed about life when our daughter was still with us and focused on making ourselves do these things even though we didn’t want to and certainly didn’t have the motivation.

It all began with us still going on a mini-break to the Lake District only a few weeks after she had died.  A break we had already planned and paid for when our daughter was still alive.  That trip was an extremely hard one for us and we only stayed there for the bare minimum of time.  We also had lunch at L’Enclume that I had arranged as a belated birthday surprise for my hubby.  We just went through the motions and returned home early on the final day as we felt lost.

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Cartmel, Lake District

The things we had enjoyed doing as a family trio were travel, Violet was a true jetsetter and travelled more in her short life then many adults do in theirs, and dining out in new places.  Admittedly the fondness for dining out was more mine and my hubby’s as Violet disliked food although she did enjoy people watching.  She was always good as gold too preferring to use high chairs to rest her books on for reading and often got praised by staff for how clean and well behaved she was.    I work in travel and hospitality PR so my work has always channeled my passion but I felt as though this love had disappeared with Violet.

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Violet watching the Snoopy film on the flight to New Zealand at 7 months old

After the initial Lake District trip we continued to make sure we planned and booked other things in advance, so then we had less chance of being able to back out and change our minds at the last minute.  Don’t get me wrong there were quite a few dinner reservations we made and then couldn’t be bothered going to or arrangements with friends we had to back out of as we simply couldn’t face it.

We jointly decided that we should focus on ensuring, despite our misery, that we booked restaurants or mini-breaks for anniversaries and birthdays.  We encouraged each other to make an effort to keep the reservation, as we often found that only one of us would wobble and want to back out of plans.  We worked as a team to persuade each other knowing that it was for the best in the long run.

We planned trips to places we had already wanted to visit but only for a few days at a time, as again we knew a big trip would be too much for us.  Places like Florence in Italy for Valentine’s day, Bilbao in Spain to visit the Guggenheim, Montenegro to escape for Violet’s anniversary, Morocco to escape Arthur’s due date etc.

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Sunset in Bilbao, Spain

Slowly but surely after nearly 2 years I can now talk again about travel being a passion of mine, without instantly feeling guilty about it as now I realise that this was also a passion of my daughters and something she would still relish if she was alive today.  I also embraced a new hobby for photography, especially landscape and architecture.  All the photos in this blog are mine.

I’ve not yet gotten there with the dining out thing, I’m still fond of food and work in hospitality however we don’t dine out as a couple anywhere near as much as we used to.   I know in time we will and this will be easier too. To the “friend” that said to us after Violet died “well at least you can now travel whenever you like and dine out whenever you like” well we did travel and dine whenever we liked with Violet as she loved it and we can nearly do this again without pangs of guilt and imagining what she’d have thought of it/been like in these places but every day is tough.  It’s not as easy as “at least you don’t have to arrange a babysitter”.

Traditional holidays like Easter are the worst

Lots of people this week were talking about how they are looking forward to the Easter weekend and spending much needed time with their families and children. I find myself forcing a smile and having to say “I bet”. Then they ask if I’m looking forward to a break and again I smile and say “oh yes of course”. I don’t say that for me my break is being at work away from all the reminders that we have a massive gaping hole in our lives where our daughter should be and isn’t.

We should be looking forward to the weekend possibly organising Easter egg hunts in the garden, taking Violet to a farm so she can pet all the animals and we’d take her to the family music events in Heaton Hall too as she’d have loved those.

Is it bad that part of me when they announced we’d have another cold spell this weekend with possible snow thought ‘oh good it’ll save me having to watch smug families going out enjoying spending time with their children, that just hammers home more clearly what we are missing or even having to watch some not enjoying their children, yelling at them which I find even harder to stomach’?

They say Easter is the time for new life and in previous years I used to find it cheerful and uplifting, as it also meant we were getting close to my birthday, which I used to find exciting. Now it is just a reminder of another year without my precious daughter. Sometimes I feel like a prisoner in a jail striking off lines on the wall with every passing year, while we wait and hope to see Violet once again.

Spring is the time for growth and lots of children have growth spurts once the weather starts improving in line with more vitamin D and sunshine. It reminds me that our daughter isn’t growing anymore and that she is permanently stuck at age 15 months. She will always be that age in our minds and hearts. We never saw her walk, talk in proper sentences, dance or even eat. She never said “mummy”. This is the really heart breaking thing the realisation of all the things we will never see her do or experience with her.

So if you have children this Easter please make sure you do make the most of your days off work and spend lots of time with them making memories. Hopefully you will always get to enjoy seeing your children grow every year but, if like us, something horrendous happens, then you will only ever have the memories to last you for the rest of your life so make sure they are good ones!

Take that photograph and film them opening their Easter presents or doing that Easter egg hunt because it will be over in a flash but the film or photo will last a lifetime, meaning so much to the relatives who bought them that present or organised that egg hunt.

Also do me, those who have also lost children, struggled to conceive or would just have loved a family but couldn’t have one, a favour and when you feel like your children are getting on your nerves this Easter, stop for a moment. Take a deep breath and for a minute realise how truly lucky you are and that there are those of us who would happily take all the tantrums in the world, sleepless nights and naughty behaviour just to have our children back. Appreciate your families and try to enjoy the moments, as they really don’t last for long.

For all of us without our kids at least we have chocolate!

Happy Easter

Love, Sarah x

p.s. all the photos in this post were taken at an artisan chocolate factory called HR Chocolate established by artisan baker Haflio Ragnarsson in Reykjavik, Iceland.

The real American meaning of Mother’s Day

I recently discovered through joining an online support group called the Tigerlily Trust that, whilst Mothering Sunday as a concept in UK came from an 16th century English tradition of annually honouring your mother in church the more widely known Mother’s Day was founded in America in 1907 by a lady called Anna Jarvis, who wanted to do something to honour her mother who had lost 7 babies.  The original version of Mother’s Day was created to remember and honour a grieving mother.

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Anna wanted to create a day where people could honour and treat grieving mothers to actually recognise their pain and suffering in a day of remembrance. It took only a few years before this day that was associated with deep emotions and grieving mothers was hijacked by commercial organisations in the US that saw it as an opportunity to sell gifts and greetings cards to all mothers. It was then that the Mother’s Day as we currently know it was born.

Now it is with deep irony that those women who are suffering the grief of losing a child or perhaps not being able to conceive one are no longer recognised by this day, instead they often feel even more isolated and upset by the commercialisation and celebration of motherhood. A motherhood they are grieving the loss of and maybe struggling to come to terms with not having.

Someone said to me the first Mother’s Day after Violet died that I wasn’t to let the day upset me as she was sure I would no doubt become a mum again in the future. I was devastated and not strong enough to reply that I will always be a mother however it’s just my child is no longer here with us. I still think like a mother, feel like a mother and to a certain extent act like a mother because deep down I am one!

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Me & Violet on holiday in Cyprus she was 10 months old

Anyway to all those grieving mums out there please remember this day was created exactly for women like us who have to deal with the pain of losing or not having their babies with them every day, so don’t let other people make that pain worse or commercial organisations make you feel bad as they’re just doing it to make money.

To all the mother’s out there who have their babies please remember that this day was created for grieving mothers, who are exactly like you, who through no fault of their own unfortunately lost their children. Please do us grieving mothers or “wish we were mothers” all a favour, celebrate Mother’s Day and your wonderful children, hug them close, love them and appreciate all the little moments, remembering that some of us aren’t as lucky. You are blessed not because of the gifts of flowers, chocolates and handmade cards but because of the little people you have in your lives that others would happily give anything to have.

Big love, Sarah x

Question time: the questions I dread being asked

For those of you that don’t know, I do PR and marketing for a living so that involves at times attending networking events, black tie dinners and entertaining clients. In the past I’ve always excelled at making small talk and creating conversation with new people, finding it easy to get a rapport quickly. However now I find myself dreading strangers asking me questions that are usually quite normal to ask when someone is getting to know you. Questions such as “do you have any children?” or “do you have a family”.

I then have a choice do I lie and say “oh no I don’t” then the conversation can continue to move along in a light hearted cheerful way or do I tell the truth that I have had two children but unfortunately both have died. This honest approach is the one I usually use, as I don’t believe in lying to people especially when my job is formed on the strong foundations of trust and honesty and about building relationships.

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Violet at a few months old

The more I practice the easier it gets for me to deliver my “Yes I did have two children but unfortunately they died. I had a little girl who died a year last September at 15 months old and a little boy who only made it to 22 weeks of pregnancy, who died last September because of an incurable brain abnormality.” And “no we don’t know why my little girl died. The coroner opened an inquest into it and we finally have an inquest date of 17th May.” The first few times someone asked me I ended up in tears during the inevitable questioning that ensued afterwards and made my guests feel awkward that they had upset me but now I have it down to a tee and can deliver explanations, answer questions in the same matter of fact way I tell people about where Randall & Aubin source their fish!

It’s almost becoming natural now for me to talk about it openly at work if I’m ever asked but I worry that people may think I’m cold or detached as I now rarely get upset at all in a work environment and find myself able to talk about my children in almost a matter of fact way.

Afterwards once I get home is a different story as I find I have to have a little cry to let the emotion I bottled up out and if I find myself having to tell several different people my sad news at a larger networking event or dinner then it can sometimes can drain me emotionally for days.

People assume because I can put on a brave face for work and social situations that deep inside I’m strong, tough and can cope with anything, so sometimes they feel the need to share their problems, dilemmas and trials with me thinking if I can handle losing my children then I can maybe help them too. They don’t realise the tidal wave style flood I’m often holding back under the surface. A volcano more often than not looks just like a still stationary mountain from the outside but inside there’s a great deal bubbling under the surface that no one sees until the big outpouring or eruption and that’s how I feel most days.

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Photo of Pat in Iceland just outside Reykjavik

So yes I may seem strong, calm and together on the outside but you’ve no idea the effort that that can take, in order for me to put my “game face” on (I mean that in the together psychological sense rather than a make up one!). Yes I do care about my friends and other people, so do feel you can speak to me but please remember there’s a limit sometimes to what extra stress I can take on board, especially if your stress in the grand scheme of things isn’t exactly that life threatening.

Please forgive me also if I make arrangements to see you and then cancel at the last minute sometimes I get so emotionally drained that I can’t face having to make conversation with anyone.

Thanks for reading,

Love Sarah x

The Small Things

I used to be a self-confessed shopaholic before I had Violet I loved nothing more than a shopping spree round town getting a new dress, looking at the sales, maybe some new shoes, new toiletries etc. Now I hardly ever shop.

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Violet wearing a new pretty dress in May 2016 & it always cheered her up

Instead losing my children has taught me to appreciate the experiences life has to offer, rather than simply buying stuff. So now we’d rather spend our money on dinner out or save for a holiday somewhere or spend time in the outdoors.

It has also made us more grateful for our friends and family who have been so supportive, throughout these last few years. Yes we have had good friends fall by the way side but many more that have stepped right up to the plate to hold our hands during our lowest ebbs. We are so appreciative of these people, as it makes us realise that as cruel and evil as the world sometimes seems there are good, kind people out there.

There have also been near strangers and distant friends who have been so kind and gone out of their way to help us in small ways that mean much more because of the thought that goes with it.

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From the last party Violet ever went to and she loved a good party!

Some people have gone out of their way to remember our daughter by doing Iron Man contests, swimming Windermere, organising events and other challenges to raise money for her fund helping us to create that lasting legacy for Violet we so crave.

There have been lots of moments of kindness from people that have reduced us both to tears and we love you all so thank you!

Love, Sarah x

p.s. if anyone wants to donate to her fund click here  and tickets for the Violet ball on 29th September 2018 can be reserved here

 

Design Inspiration – Modern Morocco


This is the first of hopefully many design inspiration blog posts I plan to write, as for those that don’t know me I adore architecture and interior design. I take a lot of photos of it especially when we travel.

We are also about to begin a home extension and remodel so I’m collecting lots of lovely design ideas to give me inspiration about what we’d like for our new home.

When we visited Morocco last month I took about a thousand photos of architecture and interior design, both modern contemporary and ancient traditional, so this is my first post where I look at modern eclectic Moroccan design.

I was honoured to be given a guided tour of one of the newest and chicest boutique hotels in Morocco; the fabulous Salut Maroc in Essaouira.

Each of the 11 bedrooms are individual and have been personally designed by the owner, who also designed all the fabrics especially for the hotel, having them handmade in Morocco. Anyway I will let the photos speak for themselves…

Don’t be scared of patterns & colours even if you think they may clash.  Love the overall effects here.

Why not embrace a feature wall and create a beautiful mural as artwork?

Bathroom inspiration why stick to cream and white – cheer things up go for vibrant blues, yellows and embrace patterned tiles!

Even lounge, dining and entrance spaces can be cheerfully designed fusing modern and classical design touches with colour and pattern.  Don’t think I’ve ever seen the Mona Lisa in such an eclectic setting!

Garden or patio inspiration

I’m someone who is guilty of sticking to neutral colours or black and white when it comes to interiors but I think a pop of colour from a nice rug, cushions or even a burst of wallpaper on one wall could help to lift the dreariest of UK winter days!

To get this type of look from the UK high street check out

Next and their Brighton or Studio by Next range 

John Lewis fusion range for furniture & cushions

For tiles check out Tile Giant’s Moroccan Bizarre range  or Geometric range

There are lots of others out there on the high street and smaller homewares stores that are embracing the Moroccan influence for this coming summer season.  Feel free to share any finds or your own photos with me.

My next design inspiration post will look at traditional Moroccan design.

Love, Sarah xx

 

Anniversary dinner at L’Enclume

It’s important to mark the special occasions when they occur, as difficult as it might be when you’re also grieving.

Last month I got totally spoilt by my gorgeous husband and taken to L’Enclume in Cartmel in the Lake District as it was the 5th anniversary of our very first date. Cumbria holds a special place in our hearts, as it was the first holiday we ever had together when it was snow filled and the hotel we stayed in had a gorgeous fountain outside that was frozen.

When we arrived this time and checked into our room my hubby got instant extra brownie points when I saw this photograph on the bedroom wall!

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We stayed in one of L’Enclume’s many guest houses in the village that had clearly been renovated recently, so was luxurious and decked out with modern facilities but the real icing on the cake for me was the attention to detail. Knowing I was allergic to cows milk they had ensured the mini bar had a bottle of soya milk in it and dairy free treats too.

We arrived a few hours earlier than our dinner reservation so there was time for a bubble bath before getting dressed for the restaurant and I have to say I loved the handmade organic bath products and the heated tiled floor. Got inspiration for our forthcoming house renovation!

The L’Enclume dinner experience (and I call it an experience as it is more than just having dinner) was amazing and a real treat all 18 courses. The menus were presented to us at the start of the meal in an envelope sealed with branded wax. There were 2 menus in the envelope a “normal” one for my hubby and a dairy free one for me alongside the wine flight details too. 

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The L’Enclume wax seal
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Standard/ Cows milk free menus
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The Wine Flight

Each course was presented and described in detail by the extremely attentive staff.

Here are photos of some of the amazing dishes.

The highlights for me was the scallop served with green tomato and hogweed juice that tasted a little appley, the monkfish was delicious and the grilled potatoes, ramson (which we googled to discover is a name for wild garlic) and smoked eel was one of the tastiest dishes. We could have eaten more of it!

The other delight was the dessert named “Anvil” which was a chocolate mousse dusted with bronze and gold powder set in an Anvil shaped mould.   My hubby’s mousse was white chocolate whereas mine was dark chocolate orange. They were sat on top of preserved orange and passionfruit.

At the end of our sumptuous dinner we were offered the cheese board, which looked amazing but we literally couldn’t fit anything else in.

Dinner or lunch here is the perfect special occasion treat as it really is an amazing experience if you are a real foodie like us.

The breakfast the next morning in Rogan’s café, that’s also owned and run by the team behind L’Enclume, was probably the best breakfast we have ever been served. Here’s a copy of the menu.

If your budget doesn’t stretch to lunch or dinner at L’Enclume then I would heartily recommend a trip to Cartmel and lunch in Rogan’s, that I’m sure will be more than worth the hour and half drive from Manchester.

For more details of L’Enclume the restaurant click here

For details of the accommodation available click here

For more information about Cartmel and what to explore there click here