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.

Back to School Wardrobe Basics

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It’s that time of year when an crisp fall breeze blows through, the students start piling back into their Cambridge colleges, and the lazy days and floaty white dresses of summer are slowly pushed aside in favour of a fresh new look for the season and all my favourite autumnal pursuits; bike rides, afternoons in the museum, and hours spent reading in my favourite spots around town.

Come September, I start to rotate my seasonal wardrobe (feminine sundresses and sandals are slowly packed away to make room for cashmere and denim) and find myself craving the preppy Cambridge sensibility I always seem to turn to at this time of year.

I love the look of those ‘back to school’ basics; classic blue jeans teamed with striped tees, navy blazers and crisp oxford shirts. Although I’ll add a few more trend-led items and replace a few of my most well-worn pieces each season, these are the same basic wardrobe staples I have been wearing for years.

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While some things may have changed in my wardrobe over the years (these days it more about quality over quantity, and staying true to my own style vs being swayed by every passing trend Vogue tells me I should buy into), others will always remain the same. I still want to team a new pair of shoes with my lived-in old jeans, or a new party skirt with a classic shirt.

I’ve been loyal to Gap since my university days, and for over a decade they’ve always been one of my first stops for the most comfortable jeans I own, the perfect basic tees, and the Oxford shirts that for form the basis of my 9-5 wardrobe. I’m thrilled to be collaborating with them this season to prove that regardless of where you are in life, the classic never go out of style. And really, it’s nice to know that whether you’re 18 or 48, there are some things that always look and feel right.

a-girl-a-style-_-do-you-1a-girl-a-style-_-cambridge-prepsterWearing: Gap striped tee (comes in 4 colours) c/- // Gap ‘girlfriend’ jeans c/- // Gap gingham shirt c/- // ASOS hat // Chanel bag // Mulberry shoes (old, but similar style here) // Kenneth Jay Lane necklace (similar style here) // Michael Kors watch // Karen Walker sunglasses // ‘Everybody Rise’ book.

From Friday 16th – 23rd September, I’m excited to be taking over the windows of the Cambridge and London Oxford Street flagship stores, and you’ll also find a curated selection of my favourite pieces for the season ahead in-store (those very wardrobe staples I reach for year after year, and which never go out of style). I hope you love the pieces as much as I do; I know your wardrobe will thank you. And if you’re visiting either store, please snap a picture of my windows, rails or anything you buy and tag me (@agirlastyle) + #DoYou on Twitter or Instagram; I’d love to see!

What are your timeless classic wardrobe basics that you turn to year after year? I’d love to know if we’re on the same page.

Love, Miss B xx

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Post in partnership with Gap #DoYou. Photos by Joe Galvin

 

Punting on the Cam

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One sunny Bank Holiday weekend last month, my friends Liv and Joe were visiting Cambridge for a spring staycation. Of course, I did what any self-respecting Cambridge-resident would do: rounded up my favourite Cambridge girl Caroline and her boyfriend, Oscar, and insisted on a picnic and an afternoon of punting on the river to kick off the summer.

I cycled across town to meet the gang at St John’s, where we all traipsed through the Bridge of Sighs towards the river to borrow a punt from Caroline’s college. We all piled in, the bottles of champagne outnumber the crew, and set off on the Cam with dashing Oscar and his master punting skills at the helm.

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The sun was shining gloriously, so the afternoon melted into dusk as we floated up and down the river more times than I could count until it was time for dinner. It is quite simply the best way to see all the grand colleges along the Backs, and the three of us recounted all the marvellous historical tales we could think of as we passed each college, and made up our own stories when we couldn’t think of anything better.

It wouldn’t be a Cambridge summer without at least a few adventures by the river, and there’s no place I’d rather be on a sunny Sunday afternoon than messing about on boats with friends.

Summertime in Cambridge, you’re alright.

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Wearing: Saint James for J.Crew top // ASOS jeans // Salvatore Ferragamo pumps via Monnier Freres // Ralph Lauren blazer // Chanel bag // Tom Ford sunglasses // Chanel brooches // Michael Kors watch // J.Crew necklace.
Beauty: Chanel ‘L’Eclatante’ lipstick // NARS ‘Gaiety’ blush // Deborah Lippmann ‘Naked’ nailpolish

What are your very favourite adventures to kick off summer? I’d love to hear your traditions, old and new!

Love, Miss B xx

Photos by Joe Galvin

Weekend Stripes

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It finally feels like Spring here in England, and I couldn’t be more grateful. In between the weekly rain showers, it’s at last warm enough to throw off the coats, pack away the winter layers and go bare-legged.

I’ve been celebrating the new season by breaking out of my winter hibernation; picnics with friends by the river, Saturday brunch dates with my love, buying bunches of spring flowers for the home, and stocking up on a few new buys befitting the warmer weather.

A Girl, A Style _ J.Crew Ruffle Stripe DressA Girl, A Style _ J.Crew Denim JacketA Girl, A Style _ J.Crew Ruffle Stripe Top

Given the fact I’d spent the past five months wrapped in layers of cashmere, I’d practically forgotten how to dress for those in-between months of spring. So, as is usually the case when I don’t know what else to wear, breton stripes to the rescue.

I bought this J.Crew dress the other week (I liked it so much I bought the top version as well) and it’s just right for running around town on weekends. I’ve so far teamed it with heels and a trench coat for casual no-meeting days in the office, or white sneakers and a denim jacket for weekend errands and shopping trips with friends. It’s the kind of easy throw-it-on-and-you’re-done piece that gets the most mileage in my wardrobe, and the dramatic sleeves do all the work for you (and so requires little more than some excellent earnings and sunglasses to look ‘done’).

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Wearing: J.Crew dress (also available in a top version + inexpensive alternative here) // J. Crew denim jacket (inexpensive alternative here) // Mulberry heels (old, but similar style here) // Celine sunglasses // J.Crew navy + clear necklaces // BaubleBar earrings (similar style here).
Beauty: Chanel ‘L’Eclatante’ lipstick // NARS ‘Impassioned’ blush // Deborah Lippmann ‘Naked’ nail polish.

Love, Miss B xx

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Photos by Beth Morton