One sunny Bank Holiday weekend in 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.
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.
This weekend was exactly what I needed. I’ve finally recovered from the election (I haven’t stayed up literally all night like that since I was at University and had six essays all due in my final week before graduation) and a frenetic few months in Parliament and have finally been able to relax for the first time in ages. The Clever Fiancé was overseas for work, so on Saturday I made the most of my first day with no plans in weeks and headed to Notting Hill for an all-day date with myself (every girl needs them occasionally): a much-needed primp and polish session at my favourite salon (Taylor Taylor on Portobello Road for those who ask), lunch at Ottolenghi, a little shopping at Aesop and Diptyque and treasure-hunting on Portobello Road, and wandering around those gorgeous leafy, pastel streets in the sunshine.
On Sunday – he fresh off the plane and in need of caffeine and sustenance to help stay awake all day, me in need of juice and weekend newspapers – we headed out for the kind of long, lazy dates Sundays were made for: lunch, sunshine (which, in typical English fashion, lasted until precisely the minute we took these photos) and a walk through a few of our favourite colleges.
I threw on my ‘lazy weekend’ uniform (when it’s too warm for tights but not yet warm enough for breezy dresses, it’s always an iteration of the easy top, blazer and denim combination) that always feels like Sunday. It takes 5 minutes flat to get ready and you’re good to go wherever your weekend plans take you; I just add heels (only if I’m cycling instead of walking, and otherwise it’s chic ballet flats or ankle boots), sunglasses (these Miu Miu cat eye sunglasses seem to go with every single thing I own) and bright lipstick to yesterday’s hair and the most comfortable clothes I own to make it look as though I have made an effort, when really I haven’t.
Gloriously lazy weekends; you’re really rather wonderful.
The most divine package landed on my desk yesterday morning; the utterly charming and lovely Ralph Lauren (the undisputed Godfather of that polished glamour I love so much) sent me over a couple of his ‘Holiday’ candles to put a great big smile on my face and instantly get me in the festive spirit.
I love beautiful scented candles more than almost any other small luxury for the home, and this one is amongst the best I’ve ever tried. The fragrant cocktail of pine needles, redcurrants, cinnamon and juniper berries is almost indescribably lovely, and it has instantly infused me with festive joy more than any of the mince pies and Rat Pack Christmas tunes I’ve been gorging on all week. And as if by some Christmas miracle, it started snowing outside my window here in Cambridge just after I lit it. I can’t tell you how much it filled me with glee to awake this morning to the sight of a fluffy layer of white icing on the ground and a house that smelt of Christmas. How’s that for a magical holiday candle?
And because I adore you all so much and want someone else to have a little of Ralph Lauren’s holiday cheer (I can’t promise it will bring you snow, but I am sure one smell of this will make you feel instantly happy and festive), I’m going to give one of the these away.
To enter, just leave a comment here or send me an email telling me why you’d like to win. For extra brownie points (though I’m by no means going to be bossy about and insist you do anything), follow A Girl, A Style via your preferred methods (Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram (on iPhone/iPad) or Bloglovin‘), and Ralph Lauren’s Facebook page. Be sure to include your email address so that I can contact you if you win. And so that I can try my very best to get it to the winner in time for Christmas day, last entries by 11am Monday morning GMT.