Small Business Saturday: The Best Independents in Cambridge

A Girl, A Style _ Small Business Saturday Cambridge Wine MerchantsI’ve lived in Cambridge for nearly eight years now, and it’s been a delight to build a collection of favourite local shops, cafés and the likes that I treasure (as well as discovering new gems that continue to pop up) over the years. To me, it’s the small independent boutiques, the local baristas (who know you by name), and the local neighbourhood cafés that really make a community (and which have helped make this adopted city feel like home for me).

This weekend, the UK celebrates Small Business Saturday; a day when people across the country are encouraged to get out support their local small businesses.

I’m always asked about my favourite places in Cambridge (and to be honest I think this warrants at least three separate posts), so when American Express – founder and ongoing supporter of the campaign – asked me to team up to highlight some of my favourite local independents, I was delighted to take part.

A Girl, A Style _ Small Business Saturday Hot Numbers Coffee CambridgeA Girl, A Style _ Small Business Saturday The Pint Shop CambridgeWhilst this list is far from exhaustive, here are a few of my favourite local shops and eateries in Cambridge that I regularly visit:

Hot Numbers // For me, Hot Numbers is the authority on good coffee in Cambridge (to the extent that most of the best cafés in town serve the coffee roasted in the café). At the original Gwydir Street location (just off Mill Road), its signature flat whites come with a side of jazz with live music on Thursday and Friday evenings, as well as on Sunday afternoons, and a rotation of local art on the walls. This is the perfect spot to read the Saturday papers or work on your creative idea (the staff don’t mind how long you loiter with your laptop); and you’re just as likely to pull up a chair beside a Nobel laureate as you are a tech founder.

Pint Shop // Bene’t Street is my favourite foodie destination in the city (I send all my friends there if they’re new to town), and Pint Shop is one of the best on the block. Granted, I don’t partake in two out of the three things it’s famous for (beer, bread and meat), but it’s still one of my favourite cosy spots to while away a lazy afternoon. This is a firm local favourite beloved for its craft beers and modern twists on British classic dishes.

A Girl, A Style _ Small Business Saturday 6 Ice Cream CambridgeA Girl, A Style _ Small Business Saturday The Urban Larder Cambridge6 Ice Cream // Hands-down my favourite ice cream in Cambridge. Aside from the Cambridge Cream (its signature combination of honey, lavender and burnt cream), its flavours change daily depending on what’s in season, so you never know what you’re going to find on the menu (which is half the fun), but expect unusual flavours like salted dark chocolate, blackberry sorbet, or strawberry and rose.

Urban Larder // Over on Mill Road – which is home to lots of independent grocery stores and eateries – you’ll find Urban Larder. It’s exactly what you want a local neighbourhood café to be, and serves up delicious coffee and snacks (made from locally-sourced ingredients) with a smile. Its three-cheese toasties are something else.

Garden Café // One of my favourite ways to spend a lazy Saturday is to find a seat beneath a big tree in the Botanical Gardens and spend a peaceful few hours with a good book and the weekend papers. I always stop at the Garden Café on my way in for a picnic to complete my perfect afternoon (its home-made sausage rolls, salads and cakes are excellent).

A Girl, A Style _ Small Business Saturday Cambridge Wine MerchantsA Girl, A Style _ Small Business Saturday Boudoir Femme CambridgeCambridge Wine Merchants // Although I rarely drink, this is one of my favourite local gems and where I always head when I want to treat the wine-enthusiasts in my life. The staff are all oenophiles and have an encyclopaedic knowledge of wine, and it stocks both well-known and hard-to-find wines from all the best regions. The beautiful Kings Parade location (right opposite Kings College) also serves up Jack’s Gelato and Pimm’s from the window in the summer months, and hot mulled wine in winter.

Boudoir Femme // This award-winning independent fashion boutique is always one of my first stops in Cambridge for wardrobe basics; the perfect pair of MiH jeans, American Vintage tees, cashmere scarves and Yawn pyjamas.

Cambridge Satchel Co // Without a doubt my favourite Cambridge-based brand. This label has grown from humble beginnings – founder Julie Deane started the label from her kitchen table in Cambridge when she couldn’t find a proper leather schoolbag for her children – to become a global success story. Beloved by preppy students and fashion editors alike, its chic leather bags are entirely desirable. If in doubt, go for the classic satchel in tan, navy or oxblood.

A Girl, A Style _ Small Business Saturday Cambridge Satchel CoLove, Miss B xx

This post is in partnership with American Express and Small Business Saturday (but I couldn’t be more proud to support the ‘shop small’ initiative). Visit amexshopsmall.co.uk to learn more about Shop Small in your city. What’s more, American Express Cardmembers will receive a £5 statement credit when they spend £10 or more in a single transaction at a participating small business during the campaign period (3 to 18 December 2016). There is no limit to the number of participating small businesses you can receive your £5 statement from, however, you can only claim this offer once at each small business (terms apply). 

Promoter: American Express Services Europe Limited has its registered office at Belgrave House, 76 Buckingham Palace Road, London, SW1W 9AX, United Kingdom. It is registered in England and Wales with Company Number 1833139 and authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

The Best Hostess Gifts: 30 Gifts for the Domestic Goddess

The Best Hostess Gifts for the Domestic GoddessPictured (clockwise from top left): marble serving platter // brass ‘hello’ ornament // monogrammed tumbler // copper tray // gold-rimmed glasses // cut glass cocktail mixing jug // gold fortune cookie // kitchen towel // brass apple candle // ‘perfection’ dish // large candle c/- // small candle // conversational side plates // gold cheese knives

It’s hard to believe that 2016 is nearly over, but here we are at the end of November already. Of course, with the arrival of December comes the wonderful festivities of the holiday season. My own diary is rapidly filling up with holiday parties and events galore (and we’ll be hosting a few events for friends and neighbours at our place, too).

I was always taught to never show up at someone’s home empty-handed, and whether I’m just staying for cocktails or the whole weekend, I always like to take a small but lovely gift for my hosts. While flowers or a bottle of wine are always excellent standbys, I personally like to put a little more thought into a token I know they’ll be able to enjoy long after the party is over (but which needn’t cost much more than that predictable bottle of wine).

Because everyone has different tastes when it comes to their home, it’s best to stick to items which will work no matter the recipient’s taste or decor. I find it hard to go wrong with some classic cut glass or brass, or a touch or marble or copper. And I don’t know a single woman who wouldn’t be thrilled to unwrap a beautifully scented candle, for any occasion. So below, a few ideas for the perfect gift; whether it be a thoughtful gesture for the party host, or just a beautiful present for the glamorous homebody.

For the gracious hostess: a set of chic tea towels and an offer to help with the post-party cleanup, a bottle of the most luxurious hand wash, or a guide to every entertaining scenario for the modern-day hostess.

For the budding mixologist: a bar cart-worthy cocktail set, a pair of gold-rimmed champagne coupes, a cut-glass mixing jug, or a set of monogrammed tumblers.

For the passionate foodie: a handsome box of the very best chocolates, a gingerbread candle (which doubles as a cookie-cutter once finished), a pair of marble platters, or a wedge of French brie and a set of cheese knives.

For the glamorous homebody: a golden monogrammed mug and a tin of salted caramel hot chocolate, the ultimate guide to a stylish home, a whimsical lucky charm for the coffee table, or the most beautifully-scented candle.

Let the holidays commence!

P.S. Stay tuned for a few more gift guides in the next two weeks (and as always, let me know if there’s anything in particular you want to see on here). 

Love, Miss B xx

By Invitation: A Night in New York with Michael Bublé (+ a Competition)

A Girl, A Style _ Times SquareA Girl, A Style _ Michael Buble

As those who follow me on Twitter and Instagram will have seen, a little while ago I was invited to New York to join Michael Bublé to mark the launch of his debut fragrance, By Invitation, and new album. And when Michael Bublé calls, you definitely answer (and jump on the next trans-Atlantic flight). Regular readers will know my that New York is one of my true loves (I’ve been every year for the past 7 years), but this was definitely one for the books.

After spending our first day ticking off as many of our favourite New York things as we could, on the second day we were treated to a fragrance masterclass with renowned perfumer Karine Dubreuil-Sereni, who worked alongside Bublé to create By Invitation. I’m a bit of a fragrance obsessive, so it was so wonderful to learn about the complexity of the fragrance notes (from precious white musk to cassis and red roses) and the process that goes into creating a perfume. Truthfully, I normally avoid ‘celebrity’ fragrances at all costs so was worried I wouldn’t like this one, but it is honestly gorgeous; feminine but not saccharine, classic and yet modern. Mr Bublé summed it up by saying that if he were to pass a gorgeous woman on the street, this is the smell he would want to catch as he passed. I’ve been wearing it constantly since autumn (I especially love it spritzed into my hair or on a scarf so that it lingers all day), and am always getting asked what I’m wearing.

A Girl, A Style _ Times SquareA Girl, A Style _ Michael BubleA Girl, A Style _ Chanel Classic Flap Bag

My friend Hayley and I were lucky enough to get to spend time with the man himself in the afternoon, and he is quite probably the most charming man I have ever met (lovely, kind, handsome and hilarious in equal measure). Needless to say, my long-standing Bublé crush went up a few notches (sorry, fiancé!). Afterwards, we hopped to DryBar for a blowout (when in New York…) before headed back to the iconic Hotel Edison to get ready for the evening.

Downstairs, the ballroom had been transformed into an intimate jazz club (scented with By Invitation, of course), where we were serenaded by Mr Bublé and that voice. I grew up idolising the glamour of the stage and the old jazz crooners, so getting all dressed up and running through a glittering Times Square to hear Bublé perform at the iconic Edison Ballroom will definitely go down as one of my favourite New York moments to date.

A Girl, A Style _ Times SquareA Girl, A Style _ Times SquareWearing: Self Portrait dress (similar style here) // Whistles sandals (sold out, but similar style here) // Chanel bag // Kenneth Jay Lane bracelets (similar style here) // J.Crew necklace (faux pearl version here) // Lulu Frost earrings.
Beauty: Charlotte Tilbury lipstick in ‘Bosworth’s Beauty’ // Deborah Lippmann nail polish in ‘La Vie en Rose’ // NARS blush in ‘Gaiety‘.

Thank you, Mr Bublé for the most magical evening in New York City!

Love, Miss B xx

Any fellow Bublé fans out there? I’m giving away a bottle of the gorgeous new ‘By Invitation’ fragrance signed by Mr Bublé himself, just in time for Christmas! Just comment below letting me know why you should win and I’ll choose and announce the winner on the 2nd December.

Shop the post:

I was flown to New York courtesy of Michael Bublé and ‘By Invitation’. Photos of me by Bang on Style (thank you, Debs!)

7 Things for the Weekend

a-girl-a-style-_-autumn-in-cambridge

Happy Friday! This week has been especially hectic, so I’m looking forward to some much-needed time away from my desk this weekend. We have family visiting from Australia, and are headed to Amsterdam for a long weekend away (I went earlier this year for a day for work and loved it so much I vowed to return in the autumn). I can’t wait to explore those gorgeous streets again! Let me know if you have any suggestions for things to see/do/eat in the city.

1. My friend Alex is visiting today and I’m SO excited to see her! We’re going to have lunch, go punting on the river, and wander around the colleges in all their autumnal glory. I adore this time of year but feel like the window for glorious autumn weather is so short, we have to play tourist in our own city while the weather is still lovely.

2. Come autumn, I’m all about that classic collegiate preppy look (I’m pretty sure I say the exact same thing every year, but I know what I like…), and this is exactly the skirt I’ve been searching for for years (it also comes in a cute mustard colour). I’m teaming it with a crisp white shirt and ballet pumps for now, and tan knee-high boots and a cashmere sweater once the weather gets cooler.

3. October’s arrival means it’s officially boot weather. It’s time to pack away your summer sandals and do a fall footwear stocktake. I was in need of a new pair of ankle boots (I live in them for autumn), so just bought this cute pair from Topshop until I’m ready to commit to the Rag & Bone version.

4. I’m a year-round bright lipstick lover, but lately I’ve been wearing a deep burgundy red on repeat. I added this one to my collection a few weeks ago and it’s so perfect for these crisp autumn days (the ‘Charlotte‘ shade is dark and glamorous without veering into gothic territory).

5. The days are suddenly getting rapidly shorter, and the resulting temptation to spend cosy evenings tucked at home has set in. The joy of getting home from work, lighting a candle (this is my current favourite), climbing into fresh pyjamas (I just bought this pair; they look like Kate Spade but are a total bargain) and curling up with a book (I just started this one) / Gilmore Girls marathon is real. Whatever your cosy pleasures are, embrace them guilt-free before the party season fatigue sets in!

6. For some reason, I hate using the word ‘Fiancé’. Even though I’m engaged, it feels somehow smug and pretentious; like I’m saying “I found a man, aren’t I clever?”. I always thought I was being slightly irrational, but the New York Times is here to tell me I’m not alone: the term is officially out of fashion.

7. If you haven’t already, this is the perfect weekend to switch over your seasonal wardrobe (sadly, the summer weather is now behind us). I’m still teaming many of my favourite summer dresses with ankle boots and a leather jacket or trench coat, but the rest gets packed away to make room for lovely new-season sweaters (these are my favourites), coats and cosy scarves.

P.S. Don’t forget you can follow me over on InstagramTwitterPinterest and Facebook for daily updates + catch my latest posts (in case you missed them) here: 

Style: How I dress for a week in my double life (politics-meets-blogging and everything in between)
Travel: A weekend in Vienna
Style: On wardrobe staples + that back-to-school feeling

As always, please do let me know what you’re buying, doing or enjoying this week in the comments below (I always love reading your favourites).  I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Love, Miss B xx