Weekends at the Countryside Estate

I should probably clarify that title; this is not actually my countryside estate; well, not outside my daydreams anyway. But though I may not have a sprawling mansion of my own, having sunny weekend adventures in the English countryside is one of my favourite summertime pursuits.

We really couldn’t have asked for a better summer here in England; the days long and golden and the weekends just made for languid, outdoor pursuits. On one of these golden weekends last month, my family and I piled in the car and made for the country; winding over the rolling hills and around curving country lanes lined with brambles (pausing only to allow the horses and their riders to cross our path) towards Polesden Lacey in the Surrey countryside.

We walked through the spectacular house, peering into display cabinets and imagining what Mrs Greville’s famous high society parties for the British royals, Prime Ministers and Edwardian ‘It girls’ must have been like; all lavish excess and glittering chandeliers and flowing champagne. Afterwards, we walked through the rose gardens (me sticking my nose in every bloom I passed), loitered too long on the croquet lawn and then spent the entire afternoon lazing on the sprawling lawns – the house behind us and the rolling hills stretched out in front as far as the eye could see – for a picnic (my beloved Uncle had packed one of his gourmand feasts) as a jazz band played until the sun sank low upon the hills.

Oh, how wonderful these summer weekends are! In my book, there is always room for summertime picnics and games of croquet and adventures in the countryside.

Wearing: ASOS scalloped collar shirt and floral pants (sold out, but similar styles here), Mulberry ‘Lily’ bag, Salvatore Ferragamo ‘Varina’ patent bow flats, Kenneth Jay Lane pearl bracelet (worn on each wrist), Chloe ‘Myrte’ sunglasses (similar styles available here), Jersey Pearl necklace, Alex Monroe lucky clover charm necklace, vintage brooches (similar style here). Beauty note: Chanel ‘Chance’ Rouge Coco Shine ‘Chance’ lipstick, Chanel ‘Emprise’ Le Vernies nail polish, Annick Goutal ‘Petite Cherie’ perfume. 

Do you have any favourite countryside escapes where you live? I hope you’ve all been having a wonderful summer filled with happy adventures and glorious new memories.

Love, Miss B xx

Brighton Rock

As an (half) Australian, I’m fairly certain I have an affection for the beach genetically coded in my DNA structure. Growing up, the long summers would be filled with early morning swims in the ocean, sunsets spent collecting shells or lying on the sand and school excursions spent learning to sail or snorkel off the coast. The sand is always fluffy and white, the water blue and the days hot enough that lying on the beach in a bikini is logical.

By contrast England, for all its great virtues, is not so blessed on the oceanic front. The water looks sort of cold and steely, instead of fluffy sand there are actual pebbles, and where there should be tiny little alfresco cafes and juice bars there are usually fun fair rides and old-fashioned sweets shops and the garish sound of retro arcade games. But you know what? It’s those colourful stripey deckchairs (for lounging on in lieu of white sand), the sound of those vintage rides, the smell of ice cream and boiled sweets, and the British determination to ‘make do’ and enjoy what they’ve got no matter the weather that makes the English seaside so wonderful.

Because there is no beach near London or Cambridge, the Clever Boyfriend and I had never, in our four and a half years living here, taken a trip to the English seaside before (although I had been with my friend Amanda back here and with my family when I was younger). So one sunny weekend last month, we headed to London to collect my cousin and then took a roadtrip down to Brighton (the only way a roadtrip should be done: with the sunroof down and the stereo blaring the perfect summer sountrack) to educate the Boyfriend on the charms of the British seaside.

Obviously, I donned pastels and deckchair stripes; because matching your surroundings is fun and that’s just the kind of girl I am (and because this dress – which I’ve worn more times this summer than I should probably admit – reminds me of Grace Kelly cruising up the French Riviera in the 50s). We piled out of the car, strolled through the gardens of Brighton Pavillion and walked past the faded pastel buildings that line the shore all the way to Hove, the next seaside town along the coast for lunch. After our fill of fish and chips at the Regency (because is there anything else to eat at the seaside?), we walked back towards Brighton pier along the pebbly shore (the Clever Boyfriend tried his best not to be too offended by the absence of sand); past sunbathers (trying to get a suntan – even though the sun had by then disappeared behind the clouds – in the way only Englishmen do) and seagulls and a vintage carousel filling the air with its hurdy-gurdy tunes as it twirled and twirled upon the shore.

I pestered the boys like an irritating small child until they relented and bought me the biggest ice cream they could find (yes!), and afterwards we walked along the boardwalk to the pier. We passed the fairy floss stands and retro neon lights and the 1950s penny arcade games and bought sticks of Brighton Rock to suck as we leaned against the railings to watch the waves lapping at the pier below.

Wearing: River Island dress c/, Mulberry ‘Lily’ bag, Stella McCartney sunglasses c/ Sunglasses Shop, Lulu Frost necklace via J. Crew (similar styles here), Jersey Pearl necklace, Mimco bracelets and hair bobbles (past season), Jacquie Aiche heart ring via Shopbop, Anya Hindmarch ‘Lucky Sixpence’ coin purse (past season but similar styles here and here), vintage London souvenir scarf, Nails Inc ‘Cambridge’ nailpolish (similar shade here). 

Afterwards, we drove home tired and sunkissed and happy. For it’s certainly not a natural beauty, but the English seaside is so fun and charming regardless.

Please do share your favourite beaches in the comments!

Love, Miss B xx

 

Summertime Pursuits

Here in England, we have been blessed with the longest, warmest summer I can recall since I moved here. The sun has been shining solidly for a month, the days are long and hot and the balmy evenings are made for languid, outdoor lazing in parks or by the water. Many of my happiest memories have been made in golden summer moments, so I plan to make the most of every sunny day for the season. Here are a few of the ways I’ll be spending the summertime:

1. Take a trip to the seaside. Growing up in Australia, most mornings started with a swim in the sea or a weekend at the beach, so to me, it just wouldn’t be summertime without a few seaside adventures. If you don’t live near the coast (as I don’t in Cambridge), then make a road trip out of it and take a weekend trip to the seaside for sunshine, sand and ice cream.

2. Throw a garden party or picnic. If you’re lucky enough to have a garden of your own, then gather all your friends and throw a summer garden party. Otherwise, pack a basket of snacks, a bottle of champagne and some fun activities and head to the park for a fabulous picnic. Bonus points for a round of croquet or bocce on the lawn.

3. Master a signature summer cocktail. You don’t have to be an expert mixologist, but everyone should be able to serve up at least one signature cocktail. Master a drink or two that you love (mine is a rosewater and lychee or pear and elderflower martini) and have your friends around for a summer cocktail party.

4. Wear bright lipstick. Summer is the perfect time to have a little fun with your makeup. Move on from Spring’s pastels and try bright colours you wouldn’t normally wear. I’ve been playing with bright pink lips or cobalt mascara paired with dewy sunkissed skin, messy buns and my favourite summery perfumes.

5. Go on a boating adventure. When the sun is shining, there is nowhere more pleasurable to be than on the water. If you don’t count someone who has a yacht among your friends (and if you do, lucky you!), then hire a rowboat or a punt, take surfing lessons or go wild swimming in a lake for an adventure on the water. If all else fails, then don your favourite swimsuit and your biggest shades and spend the whole day at the best pool you can find. I’ll be punting in Cambridge, rowing on Regent Park lake or having a pool party in Cambridge.

6. Have fun outdoors. I figure that when the temperatures are soaring, exercise might as well be fun. Learn to salsa dance, play tennis, take up surfing or go for a hike. I’ll be taking my Pashley out for long bike rides around Cambridge.

7. Watch jazz or theatre in the park. In summer, I’ll take any excuse to be outside on balmy evenings, so I include my cultural outings in this. Most cities have a wonderful programme of outdoor cinema, jazz, theatre, performances or festivals in green spaces. I’ll be going to the rooftop cinema at The Varsity by the river in Cambridge, jazz on the lawns at countryside estates with my family and watching Shakespeare in the gardens.

8. Pick your own strawberries. To me, one of the best things about summer is the abundance of delicious fresh fruit and produce (I’ve been practically living on a diet of cherries and nectarines the past few weeks). Head to a pick-your-own farm and fill a basket with sun-ripened berries or cherries and eat them just as they are or turn them into homemade jams and tarts.

9. Go to the zoo. Spend a day doing the things you used to love doing as a child. Go to the zoo, the aquarium or the funfair. Buy an ice cream, go on the rides and smile at the animal enclosures. I’ll be going to the Friday night lates at the London Zoo for monitors and monkeys.

10. Eat lobster + champagne. Head to the coast or marketplace near you for the freshest summer seafood, then throw a simple yet luxe lobster and champagne dinner party. Perfect!

Now, if anyone needs me, I’ll be having a picnic in the garden…!

What are some of your favourite activities to do at this time of year? I hope you’re all having a wonderful summer so far!

Love, Miss B xx

 

Springtime Pursuits

Here in England, it feels as though spring is only just bursting forth from the drabness of the last days of winter. Yet in truth, there is less than a month until summer begins, and I’m determined to squeeze in all my favourite spring activities before the new season begins. This is my favourite time of year; all fragrant blossom-lined streets, long days and golden sunsets, spring cleaning and fresh new beginnings. Here are a few of my favourite spring pursuits (or how I will be spending the next few weeks before embracing the glory of summertime):

1. Be a flower girl. More than anything, I love springtime for the beauty of nature’s grand explosion of flora. The first fragrant narcissus and jonquils, pretty puffs of cherry pink blossoms on the trees, carpets of sweet bluebells on woodland walks, streets lined with heady lilac trees, and the English gardens coming alive with the sweetest-smelling blooms of every colour. I’m going for sunset walk to see all the prettiest flowers in the neighbourhood, picking handfuls of wild daisies, buying myself (or someone I love) a bunch of the most blousy pink peonies I can find just because, fill my house with flowers and stop to smell the roses, always.

2. Love where I live. I can’t think of a single place that isn’t improved by the beauty of late spring, and there are few better times of year to fall into a deep love affair with your city. I’m vowing to explore new neighbourhoods where I live, try a new place for brunch, try to find the best coffee (or eggs florentine, martinis, ice cream, live jazz…) in town, take long walks past all the prettiest places, take photos of my favourite sights in all their spring glory and play tourist for a weekend (and when in doubt, pretending I’m playing out the opening scenes of a Woody Allen film).

3. Freshen my look. In my book, it’s entirely acceptable to float through spring in a wardrobe of white dresses, tanned skin and pastel hues. I’m packing away the coats and cashmere for the season, swapping my burgundy lipstick and dark manicures for a dewy glow and pink cheeks, adding a pop of colour and pretending I’m the girl in a Coppola perfume commercial.

4. Spring cleaning. Whether you approach the act of spring cleaning with satisfaction or disdain, there is no denying the pleasure of a freshly-spruced home that sparkles from top to bottom. I’m throwing open the windows, putting on my favourite tunes and spending a day cleaning, scrubbing, dusting and polishing everything in sight. I’m sorting through my wardrobe, bathroom cabinets, and cupboards and culling anything that isn’t loved. There’s is something so liberating about getting rid of anything that makes you feel drab.

5. Primp my place. After all that sprucing and de-cluttering, I’m taking the time to add a few things that make me smile; a beautiful new lamp, some crisp new linen, a few new Diptyque candles, some statement pieces and finally hanging some pictures on the wall.

6. Go outside. When the weather is this perfect, it feels a terrible shame to waste a moment of it indoors (especially in England, when you never know when the blue skies might suddenly turn drab). I’m meeting friends for al fresco picnics in the park for dinner with a side of sunshine, going for bike rides down country lanes, heading to rooftop bars in town for after-work cocktails with a view, and taking a rowboat out on the lake (you’ll find me rowing on the Serpentine).

7. Spread a little sparkle. Everyone seems to be a little bit friendlier when the sun is shining. Amplify the happy feelings of spring by trying to do one good deed everyday for no reason other than to make someone else’s day a little brighter. Smile at strangers you pass on the street (because happiness is infectious), send a ‘just because’ package to a friend that you know will make them smile, volunteer for a good cause, pay a compliment to someone, and practise random acts of kindness often.

8. Try something new. What is something you’ve always wanted to try, but have never quite got around to doing? Why not revisit your ‘bucket list’ or New Year resolutions to master one skill or another and tick at least one thing off. Enrol in a language class, try a completely new cuisine, ride in a hot air balloon, learn to dance the meringue, go to a polo match, learn to bake macarons.

9. Watch the clouds float by. Luxurious lazing, or taking time to dream, is highly underrated. On a glorious spring day, I just want to lay under a canopy of trees on a sunny day and soak in the loveliness of spring. Because sometimes the best plans are no plans at all.

10. Have an adventure. Where do you want to go this weekend? Gather up your friends and take a fabulously weekend trip somewhere. Plan a scenic route, compile a playlist, pack some snacks, put down the sunroof and just drive off into the sunset (bonus points for ‘glamping’ under the stars at your destination). The only rules: a sense of fun and adventure! I’m heading to Brighton for fun fair rides, striped deckchairs and ice cream beside the seaside.

Now, if anyone needs me, I’ll be punting on the River Cam

What are your favourite things to do at this time of year? I’d love to hear!

Love, Miss B xx