Margaret Howell: what a babe. I've been hoicked right out of that fashion funk and plunged into new season bliss by way of burgundy corduroy and charcoal woolens. See that grey blazer top right? I have one just like that (a £20 ebay bargain, originally from Toast) and now I can't wait to dig it out. That's why I love you, MH. I say it every single year but my god, it's true; you make me fall in love with the clothes I already own, all over again. That's true talent (and kind on my bank balance).

Also, I am 100% on board with the inclusion of pyjamas in every collection ever. 

Do you go swimming? Bob and I recently joined a leisure club in Newcastle, and we've been meeting there after work to go swimming together. It's become one of my favorite times of day; the pool we go to is often completely empty, and there's a jacuzzi to relax in after our swim. It's somewhere between exercise and meditation, and it's great to spend some time together as a couple (time that's not spent in front of the TV or eating, although I enjoy both of those things), decompressing after daily office madness. Swimming is gentle and soothing for aching joints and bad backs (paramount for people who work at desks all day like we do) and toning for muscles. I enjoy having a short run on the treadmill first, and using the swim as a cool-down. I've been reading up on the various health benefits which apparently include reduced stress levels, better sleeping patterns and increased self-esteem. 

There's really nothing better - especially during these early autumn days - than getting out of the pool, throwing on an oversized cashmere jumper, swirling damp hair into a messy bun, and retreating home for a late supper (and on Fridays, a cheeky glass - or two - of red wine). Heaven. 

“writing about a writer's block is better than not writing at all” - Charles Bukowski

Greetings all. For those of you who still read this (thank you, lovely people), you may have noticed that I've been quite quiet recently. 

I set up this blog because I wanted to write things for a living, and now I do. It's really quite wonderful, but a side effect of that is me finding it difficult to write recreationally. I can muster the enthusiasm but actually doing it is another issue. I've been suffering from personal writer's block for what feels like the entirety of 2014. I keep starting to write but can't seem to finish anything. When I do finish something, I don't like it, so I don't share it. It's infuriating and it makes me so sad.

I don't really know what I'm getting at here, I just thought it was time to check in. Thank you for following my ramblings - hopefully this won't last forever. 
There's just something about whisky, isn't there? I can't drink it without thinking of hard-boiled detectives and secret agents; glamorous and alluring in that uniquely 'Noir' kind of way. I've wanted to be a whisky drinker ever since I read my first Raymond Chandler novel and to my great delight, my tastebuds are finally co-operating. Whisky sours has been my tipple of choice since I tried it last Christmas eve (in a Frankie & Benny's, if you must know). The citrus juice balances out the perfumed taste of the whisky and makes for very refreshing drink. Perfect for those who like their tipple sweet or bitter (I like mine on the bitter side), because it's very easy to adjust.

I find the ritual of drink making - as well as the drinking, of course - very therapeutic. A weekend treat that I can't help looking forward to. I was lucky enough to receive a little bottle of 'The One' from The Lakes Distillery in a goodie bag recently, so I thought I'd take the opportunity to share my recipe for whisky sours. I've made a few alterations here and there - cocktail purists may want to look away now!
I recommend enjoying this drink whilst playing some sort of tactical war game. If I'm ever put in charge of mobilising a team of elite soldiers to save the world against an alien invasion, I can say with complete confidence that I'll be more successful with a glass of whisky in one hand. If computer games aren't your bag, find something on Netflix starring Humphrey Bogart... 

As always, I'm proud and excited to learn about, and support, local brands and businesses. Thank you to The Lakes Distillery and OPR. 

H&M / Dorothy Perkins / Gap / New Look / Gap

I've really rekindled my love for the summer dress recently. It's been uncharacteristically hot and humid here in the North of England; the comfort and ease of an airy dress, paired with simple sandals and a light cotton cardigan is a total delight. I'm going for a sort of "off duty ballerina" look - Kristina very kindly commented so on my recent Instagram shot

I've been surprised at how good the high-street offerings are this year - there's lots of my favourite blue hues to choose from. I purchased the Gap maxi dress (above) last month and (after a bit of a sizing fiasco) it's come to be one of my favourite garments. I really wanted to buy this striped jersey number from Boden, but unfortunately I missed out. I'll be on the hunt for something similar for the rest of the summer... 

Have you seen Sofia Coppola absolutely killing it at this year's Cannes Film Festival? Honestly, she's always perfect, but this particular Cannes capsule wardrobe is a total work of art. I adore the devotion to a simple blue and back colour palette, and the way she looks so completely effortless at all times. The navy maxi t-shirt dress with jewels and sandals? Exquisite.

I've always wanted to go to Cannes, but I kinda want to go as Sofia Coppola, do you know what I mean? 
This past week I've been feeling lousy. My skin is blotchy and dull, my hair is lifeless and dry, I feel slow and sluggish and bloated. Life seems to demand zest from us one moment and serenity the next, and we must flit between the two with grace and ease; it can be exhausting. I'm someone who finds this constant transition difficult (anxieties are hard to leave where they belong), but there are little things which ease stress and make life easier. I made the above list after a particularly tiring day. How comforting it is to know that often the only thing standing between me and calm is a bunch of flowers or a soft boiled egg! 

Please do share any 'pick me ups' of your own, I'd be delighted to hear :-)
#FenwickBeautyWeek, Monday 12 May - Saturday 17 May

Oh Fenwick, you really know how to make a girl feel special! Beauty treats in celebration of #BeautyWeek - there really is no better way to spend a day off than watching endless beauty tutorials on YouTube and digging through a bag of new products... 

First and foremost, can we please talk about how AMAZING the EOS (Evolution of Smooth) lipbalm is!? I just adore it. I don't wear coloured make-up so balms are my lip-weapon of choice and I'm constantly on the lookout for new ones to try. I favour a natural product with a fresh, tasty scent and this one fits the bill completely. It's 95% organic, 100% natural, petroleum free, and packed with lovely ingredients like shea butter, vitamin E and jojoba oil. This pink one I have is the raspberry and pomegranate version and tastes delicious, I can't stop applying it and then licking it back off! I can't not mention the spectacular packaging - a smooth, ergonomic pebble-like design which twists open to reveal an 'egg' of balm. A wonderful product all round. 

I really enjoyed reading this post on A Cup of Jo last week, and - as a result - was delighted to find a can of Rituals foaming gel and a tube of Kiehl's exfoliating body scrub in my Fenwick goodie bag. I'm not usually a big user of body scrubs and lotions, but they feature in Jo's 'smooth legs for summer' tips and I really want to give them a try.

Other products in my bag were Dior Addict 'Flash' mascara (launching 28 May), Viktor & Rolf 'Bon Bon' perfume, Clarins essential oils bath tonic and Molton Brown orange and bergamot hand lotion. I can't wait to try them!

If you're planning to be in Newcastle this week make sure you head into Fenwick to take advantage of a whole host of offers and events in the Beauty Hall. New product launches (from the likes of Clarins, Bare Minerals, Chanel, Giorgio Armani, Dior, Dermatilogia and Shu Uemura) and fragrance sampling will be accompanied by luxury free gifts with purchases, live beauty demonstrations, and make-up and skincare masterclasses by industry professionals:
  • Thursday 15 May: Lancome national make-up artist Marc Sinclair 
  • Friday 16 May: Sisley national make-up artist Paulina Siembor
  • Friday 16 May: Laura Mercier national make-up artist Chris Howells
  • Saturday 17 May: Dior regional make-up artist Martin Aitken 
Products available from the Fenwick Beauty Hall on the ground floor. Follow Fenwick Newcastle on Twitter and Instagram, and like on Facebook, for more information.