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.
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’).
Last month, I was lucky enough to be whisked to Munich for two days to attend Oktoberfest with Thomas Sabo. Now, anyone who knows me will know how hilarious the thought of me at a beer festival is; I hardly ever drink and the thought of noisy festival goers en masse rather fills me with terror. But because I love Thomas Sabo, and because I know attending Oktoberfest is one of those things every traveller should experience once in their lifetime (but that I probably wasn’t about to go anytime soon otherwise), I jumped at the chance.
So there I was a few days later; swapping two days in the office for the annual Bavarian festivities. Happily, my blog pal Carrie had also been invited; as we’re both premature nannas who don’t drink beer, we knew we’d be sticking together like glue. We tore ourselves away for half an hour after landing to quickly peek at the city, before being ushered off to begin our evening at Oktoberfest. We were greeted by our lederhosen-clad guides and delicious gebrannte mandeln (paper cones of hot sugar-glazed almonds) for a walking tour of the area.
In truth, I was a bit apprehensive and didn’t know what to expect, but I honestly had the most wonderful time. The atmosphere was celebratory and merry; the air thick with the smell of warm gingerbread and the sound of old-fashioned fairground rides, and I was wide-eyed at the sight of all the charming stalls (selling German snacks and ceramic beer krugs) and almost everyone dressed in their lederhosen and dirndls. Although I was aiming for ‘Bavarian fairytale’ when I got dressed, I only wish I’d found an authentic dirndl to wear to really get into the spirit (we were the odd ones out to not be wearing traditional dress).
After trying our luck at a few games of chance and walking around the whole site (it’s not especially large, so only takes about an hour or two to cover the ground), we headed into Käfers Wiesen Schänke - one of the oldest and grandest beer halls at the festival. It was as though we’d stepped into some kind of German Disneyland; it felt like a perfect version of every traditional stereotype you could imagine. Think jolly oom-pah bands and revelry, gingerbread hearts strung from the wooden beams, and the sound of hundreds of giant beer glasses clinking. At our booth we were greeted by tables groaning with giant pretzels, brotzeit (platters of German sausage, cheese, radish and bread), potato dumplings and strudel. As the night wore on, the cries of ‘Prost!’ (cheers) grew more frequent and everyone began singing loudly and dancing on their benches while we looked on in bemused wonder (I’m sure I would have joined in had I managed more than an inch of my beer…! I’m so very rock ‘n’ roll, I know).
As they say, it certainly was a night to remember!
Hello darlings, and a very belated happy new year to you all! Apologies for the inadvertent blogging hiatus this year; my day job has been rather frenetic of late, and I confess I’m not always excellent at balancing these two worlds of mine. Busy though it has been, I have to say: 2015 has been rather wonderful thus far!
For now, I’ll start with the most significant news: as those of you who follow me on Instagram may have seen, I got engaged on New Year’s Eve! The Clever Boyfriend and I met on that same night 10 years ago; by a series of coincidences we had ended up at the same cheesy bar and, as the cliche goes, our eyes met across the room. One chance encounter and a midnight New Year’s Eve kiss later, we started dating; frequenting tiny Italian cafes and galleries across the city as we fell head over heels for each other. Since then we spent years separated by oceans (he studying a Masters in Tokyo, me in Australia), moved half way across the world together, and made a home together in Cambridge. And then on New Year’s Eve, while celebrating at home (with our own tiny, but fabulously sparkly soiree with just a few of our favourite people), he asked that question. It was the perfect way to celebrate a decade of love and togetherness.
Being the Clever Boyfriend that he is, he knows me well enough to know that I would want to choose my own ring (he knows how much jewellery means to me, but also how particular I am about what I like). So he proposed with a candy lollipop ring (truly!) with the intention that we would choose one together and, in the meantime, I’ve been wearing a rather spectacular Lulu Frost stand-in.
This weekend, we at last started the hunt for the ring. As any good engagement ring searches go, we started at Tiffany & Co. on Old Bond Street where I fell in love with the sparkliest diamonds of them all (with the price tags to match…) and had my Audrey moment, and then it was on to Cartier, De Beers and the jewellers along Hatton Gardens (with a stop at Laduree on the way to refuel on tea and French sugar). As we haven’t quite found ‘the one’, I think we’ll opt for a bespoke ring that is uniquely ours (I’ll just have to be patient for a few more months). Stay tuned!
Summer is on its way out in England, and I’m trying to make the most of these last balmy evenings before they disappear for the year. Of all my beloved Cambridge pastimes, there is little I adore more than lazy summer evenings spent idling on the River Cam. At Kings (the grandest of all the colleges), the river bank is not accessible to the general public, so we usually have the entire stretch of bank to ourselves.
Often, I’ll meet the Clever Boyfriend there after work, and we will have a picnic for supper, stretched out on the grass with cheese and strawberries from the market and some bread to feed to the resident swans (who always come to say hello).
As we sit there together in the shade of the willow trees – the Kings chapel swooping into the sunset in front of us, the college cows grazing in the grass behind, and the punts floating up the river at our feet – it always feels more like a perfect literary moment from an entirely different era than real life.