Tuesday, 16 September 2014


I'm sorry to say that life has been too hectic lately - there really hasn't been much rest and relaxation in the Take Courage household, and sadly no time to blog here.  I have been desperate for a weekend at home, a moment to breathe and to do the laundry (I must be getting old).  Needless to say, I relished every minute of my free Saturday, which was mostly spent drinking tea between tidy-dry shifts, and catching up on my favourite blogs and magazines.  A new favourite is Kinfolk, which has some of the most beautiful photo stories - it felt peculiar browsing without being interrupted by Blackfriars station (my stop for work now I've finished my stint at Canary Wharf - boy, did that go quickly!).  I have to say though that my new iPad Mini has transformed my commute, even if I have to squeeze my blog-reading into a 13 minute train ride...

So what have I been up to?  Mostly being a grown-up, I'm afraid: looking after little Lily, going to work every day, trying to preserve what's left of my tan from our single precious week in Greece (photos to come, eventually).  Life keeps getting in the way of everything else I want to do, but sometimes it's good to surrender to it all, let some things go and make the most of some R&R when it comes along.  

What I'm wearing  |  Top: Urban Outfitters  |  Jeans: Topshop  |  Watch: Michael Kors  |  Turquoise bracelets: Picked up for a couple of euros in Bodrum, Turkey  |  Ring: Ottoman Hands

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Parma Violet

I couldn't believe my luck when UGG Australia got in touch to ask if I'd like a nice summer day out on them as part of their "Best Days of Summer" campaign - err, yes! I planned it all out: we'd rent a Zipcar, drive out of London to Mayfield lavender farm (which has been on my to-go list forever), have a big lunch in the sunshine and take lots of pretty photos. Sorted!

But I should have known better - this is a British summer. We drove to the lavender farm and pulled into the car park, camera in hand and ready to go. And then it poured.

So, we took shelter in the palm house at Kew Gardens instead and pretended we were in more tropical climbs. I just love that place and could spend hours there if only it wasn't so sticky and hot! The stickiness didn't last long, however - the Texan and I were soaked right through as we ran back to the car!

Thank you, UGG, for a very British best day of summer!

What I'm wearing  |  Dress: Made by me at my sewing classes!  |  Sandals: c/o UGG Australia  |  Bag: c/o Laura Ashley

Share your UGG summer photos and stories using the hashtag #bestdaysofsummer for a chance to win a £300 UGG giftcard - all details here.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Antique and Vintage Guide to Bath

Back in June, the Texan and I heroically squeezed the entire city of Bath into 24 hours, and despite the brevity of our trip, it wouldn't have been complete without a quick scoot around Bath's antique and vintage shops.  If you ever find yourself in this beautiful city, be sure to pop into at least one - you're sure to find something!

Abbey Furniture / Abbey Gardens, 97 Walcot Street
Although Abbey Furniture and its neighbour Abbey Gardens mostly sell their namesakes, there are also lots of smaller pieces to take your fancy.  In particular, they have a good selection of old mirrors (impossible to resist!) and other interesting pieces to make your house a home - my favourite was a set of old ornate gates which I thought would look fantastic hung on a wall.  I came away with a gorgeous model boat, which now lives in my bathroom.

Old Bank Antiques Centre, 16 Walcot Buildings
I was hooked on the Old Bank Antiques Centre from the moment I approached the front door and read its sign, "Beware of the cat".  As we entered, I was greeted by its feline shopkeeper and shown around its wares by my new furry friend.  Set over several floors, this place is a mixed treasure trove of proper antiques and mid-century, and the prices vary accordingly.  I saw a set of French kitchen jars for £30, which is about half what you'd pay in London.  It really pays to get out of town if you're on the vintage hunt!

The Small Shop, 11 Walcot Buildings
The Small Shop is, as you might expect, very small indeed and you don't even need to go in, you can easily browse from the street - shells, fossils, eggs, animal skulls scattered amongst paintings and African wood carvings make for an interesting shopping experience and, despite its petiteness, you come away feeling like you might just have missed something wonderful.

Cethegrande, 2 Nelson Place East
Another little shop, Cethegrande has an eclectic mix of homewares with a distinctly nautical flavour - busts, metal tins, ceramics, bell jars, framed insects and lots of ropes, it's another cornucopia of treasure. The prices were a little higher than some of the other shops I visited, but they were still cheaper than London, and everything was unique and well curated which I think warrants a slightly heftier price tag.

Jack & Danny's, 3 London Street
This place is nuts and you really have to be in the mood to rummage - but be careful, it looks like the ceiling might fall down if you get a little too enthusiastic!  Hard hats on, and with a little patience (and washing detergent), you're bound to find something incredible here - there's just so much that there's no way you couldn't.

Quiet Street Antiques, Quiet Street
Quiet Street Antiques is a traditional antiques shop and sadly everything was out of reach of my little purse.  I mention it here, however, because it did have some beautiful items for sale and would be worth the visit if you're looking for a special gift for someone.  In particular, it had an amazing collection of jewellery boxes - they really were the loveliest I've ever seen - which would be the perfect present for a wedding or anniversary (hint hint to the Texan!).

Michael & Jo Saffell, 3 Walcot Buildings
Unfortunately this little shop was closed when we visited but it looked pretty cool - it sells old tins!

Julian House charity shop, 86 Walcot Street
There are a couple of Julian House charity shops in Bath but the one on Walcot Street was AMAZING. The entire back section of the shop is filled with vintage loveliness and it always feels just that little bit better parting with money that is going to charity.  I left with a lace pinnie (for future baking posts, haha!) and a gorgeous French-looking jug for flowers.

Susannah, 25 Broad Street
This was probably my favourite shop in Bath - everything was just beautifully feminine!  Filled floor to ceiling with lace, embroidery and glassware, if I were lucky enough to have a "dressing room", I would come here first to decorate it.  There was an amazing Victorian mirror with flowers made from leather but sadly it was part of the decoration and not for sale.  I'm now on the lookout for a similar one!

The Black & White Shop, 21 Broad Street
This shop has an abundance of vintage designer clothes at really reasonable prices - it reminds me of those Mary's Living & Giving shops - and you'd be hard pressed to leave empty-handed.  I picked up a floral silk skirt for £20, but could have easily have parted with my money for more - I came across a couple of Burberry trench coats and a Mulberry bag while rummaging.

Vintage to Vogue, 28 Milsom Street
I recently saw this place featured on Dawn Porter's show, "This Old Thing" (did you watch it too? I can't stand her, but I suppose it's good to see vintage being promoted!), and I can see why - it has a great selection of high quality1950s silk shirts, knitwear, and lots of tweed, and although small, it's definitely worth a snoop.

The Bartlett Street Antiques Centre, 8 Bartlett Street
This antiques centre is massive, so allow yourself some decent snooping time! It's a collection of vendors so there is a real mix of items for sale - from expensive, lust-worthy jewellery to old typewriters and records. You could easily get lost in its endless rooms.

Scarlett Vintage, 5 Queen Street
Last but not least is Scarlett Vintage. This is a fantastic vintage clothing shop with lots of 1950s cotton dresses, novelty prints and silk scarves - all my favourites!  There was a bag with poodles printed all over it in the window but sadly I'd spent far too much money by this point.  I must remember to save a bit aside for this shop next time I'm in Bath!

The above was all we managed to come across in our 24 hours in Bath, so please do let me know in the comments if there are any other treasure troves which I missed!  I love Bath, so there is no doubt that I'll be back very soon.