January in Pictures

Starting the New Year on an optimistic vibe. Lovely sparkly things arriving in the post (the last spoils from my December shopping binge) before putting myself on a January Shopping Ban. Continuing my quest for a rose-tinted life. Beautiful pink sunsets the silver lining to dreary grey days. Lovely lazy walks along the river in Cambridge and bike rides through the tiny cobbled streets. Weekly trips to the farmer’s market for bunches of cheery (early) spring flowers to brighten my house. A fun photoshoot in London.

In the spirit of my quest for New Year organisation, evenings were frequently spent knee-deep in clothes as I sorted my wardrobe, tubs of beauty supplies and drawers of jewellery (turning up forgotten favourite treasures in the process). Receiving my second major blog award in Cosmopolitan magazine. A shopping ban encouraged me to wear current favourite pieces in new ways. My Westminster office looking hauntingly majestic beneath foggy London skies. Celebrating Australia Day from afar. Ignoring the cold, dark days outside with blissful, indulgent wintery hibernation.

I hope you’ve all had a wonderful start to 2012!

Love, Miss B xx

P.S. As I’m so addicted to sharing little snapshots of my life via Instagram, I’ll be making these collages of my monthly adventures a regular feature every month. Sometimes things just get so hectic, it’s easier to say in pictures all the things I’ve been up to. 

Australia Day

In honour of it being Australia Day, I thought I’d celebrate the things I love (and miss) the most about that gorgeous corner of the world I call my homeland (for it is all these things, and a wealth of other memories, that have shaped who I am today):

1) Seemingless endless summers (though I don’t miss the associated sunburn, heatstroke and melting face that goes with the 40 degree days) which make it possible to waft about in white cotton dresses and eat mangoes for breakfast for months on end;

2) Hours spent collecting seashells along the whitest beaches I’ve ever come across, warm sand underfoot, and vast stretches of azure blue waters (if you do one thing before you die, make sure you sail around the Whitsundays and swim in the Great Barrier Reef);

3) The fact that our default national attitude is to be laid-back, relaxed and happy (all the sunshine and the tanned, athletic men don’t hurt with this disposition!);

4) The smell of sunscreen and nightly backyard barbeques in the evening all summer long (I don’t even like meat, but one whiff of this smell and I’m instantly transported to my childhood where meals were eaten beneath the shade of trees in our garden on balmy evenings);

5) When the sun eventually does go down in the evening, there is nothing quite as spectacular as the sight of the Southern Stars (I once went camping in the desert and vividly recall the sight of those stars stretching from horizon to horizon, brighter than anywhere I’ve ever seen them before);

6) The sounds of the beach, of the birdsong in the tropical rainforests, of thunderstorms on tin roofs and the haunting strains of a didgeridoo being played;

7) Lazy weekend trips to the beautiful, slow-of-pace wine regions for sunburnt hills, luscious green vines and wines, and unfailingly exceptional food;

8) The most majestical landscape you will ever find. I can think of few other countries that can boast fiery red deserts, tropical rainforests, seas that glint like jewels, and rolling green hills as this proud land does.

Happy Australia Day to all my lovely readers Down Under! Now, I’m off to hunt for some cheese Twisties, a lamington and a Kath and Kim marathon….

Love, Miss B xx

Paris: The Vintage Chanel and Hermes Emporium, Les Trois Marches

Regular readers will know that I rarely blog about individual stores I visit on my travels, so when I do it means it’s a very special place indeed. When I was in Paris a couple of months ago, I met one of my favourite fashion friends on the Left Bank for what turned out to be the perfect Parisian afternoon. Being the lovely girl that she is (and knowing my penchant for Chanel and gorgeous vintage jewels), she shared with me one of her Parisian secrets: Catherine B’s vintage emporium, Les Trois Marches. It may look unassuming from the outside (in true Left Bank style), but I actually gasped when I stepped inside; so good is it that I just had to share it with you all here so that you may visit it on your next trip to Paris.

Stocking nothing but vintage Chanel and Hermes, this tiny boutique (divided into two neighbouring shopfronts) is almost too good to be true for any Parisian fashion devotee. Within its walls are shelves and shelves of Hermes Kelly bags in every colour imaginable, rows upon rows of Chanel boucle jackets, towering stacks of silk scarves and windows glinting with vintage Chanel jewels (my weakness).

Gorgeous accessories aside, my favourite part of the shop was the owner herself, the wonderful Catherine B. Instantly we bonded over our mutual love for all things Chanel (despite my rather dismal French skills), and swapped stories of our respective obsessive hunts for particular pieces from our favourite collections over the years. Such is her reputation in Paris that Chanel and Hermes themselves send customers to her when they’re after a particular vintage piece (and if she doesn’t have it, she can probably find it for you), but mostly I just kept thinking that she was so interesting and brimming with joie de vivre that I could have happily listened to her storytelling all weekend.

At one point, when I gazed upon the rows of Hermes bags telling her how I dreamed of one day returning to her shop to buy my own, she slipped behind a crimson curtain into the back room and emerged a few minutes later with a rather weathered looking Birkin bag. Laughing at my confused face, she explained that this was the very first Birkin bag ever made (yes, the very same one made for and owned by Jane Birkin – it still has her initials and her manicure set inside; fellow fashion obsessives will understand how big a deal this is) and that she now owns it herself. And this is exactly why I love Catherine so much; although she collects iconic and collectible pieces, she understands that rather than them being in a fashion museum, they should continue to be worn and loved by women who will continue to treasure them as they were intended.

I won’t pretend that prices are any cheaper in here than they are in mainline Chanel or Hermes stores, but everything is in pristine condition and a collectible treasure you will keep for the rest of your life. Catherine makes it her pleasure to match items to their perfect owner, and she sent me home with this vintage Chanel military brooch to add to my collection (and which now makes me smile every time I glance at it; as much for the memories it holds of my time in Paris and Catherine’s stories as for it’s appearance).

Have you ever stumbled upon a shop somewhere in the world that was so marvellous it felt like a wonderful emporium filled with stories? I’d love to hear about it!

Love, Miss B xx

Les Trois Marches de Catherine B, 1 Rue Guisarde Paris 75006, +33 14354 7418 (Metro: Saint-Germain des Pres or Saint-Sulpice)

P.S. All images (except first and last) from Alexandra Clamart (as you all know I always try to use my own photography/illustrations on here, but in this case I was so caught up in Catherine’s shop that I failed to take more than a single photo!)