Friday, 3 August 2018

Scottish Road Trip: Dundee to Oban

A good friend of mine came to visit from France recently to take a road trip across Scotland. It was so much fun that I wanted to share it with you.

Firstly, meet my friend Salima! She's wonderful. I've known Salima for about 8 years now. We worked together for a couple of summers when we first met and just got along really well but she lives in France. Not fair! She is incredibly chic, as you'd expect, and really does not enjoy colour and pattern like I do. I've always liked that she cannot hide how much she dislikes some of my outfit choices. On this trip I had the last laugh though, as she brought a pile of 'hiking' outfits, seemingly believing that Scottish people dress like they've just crawled out of a khaki-filled cave. They were hilariously bad (and not featured here or she'd kill me).

There was just one small issue with planning our road trip... I can't drive! But we didn't let that deter us. Salima can drive, although she hasn't in the UK, so we decided to hire a car together that she could drive and I would navigate and yell out what speed limit we were working to (and potentially work the gears). The dream team!

Since part of our old job together had involved organising and logistics, it was both easy and fun to plan our trip together. Like old times. Although Salima flew into Edinburgh, we decided to set off from Dundee as it's central. So, after a day in Dundee to walk around the city and hang out with friends, we had 3 days with the car. We decided to head west, straight across the country, and then do a loop. We booked a night each in two hotels and worked around those.

Day 1: Dundee to Oban
The direct route from Dundee to Oban is lovely and scenic yet takes under 3 hours. We had no specific plans on route but stopped off as we passed through Perth, Crieff and the Trossachs at spots we liked. We brought a picnic and ate it next to the river, since it was the hottest weekend in July.

We arrived in Oban on schedule to settle into our B&B. We stayed in the Dana Villa and it was fantastic- central, beautifully decorated and wonderful hosts. I wish we'd stayed longer. Then we headed along the harbour for a relaxed dinner at the highly recommended Waterfront Fishouse Restaurant to watch the sunset across the sea.
Day 2: day trip to Mull and Iona
Salima wanted to spot wild animals and I wanted to branch out from my old annual Mull trips to see the surrounding islands. Rather than worry about driving on and off the ferry - and to give poor Salima a break! - we decided on a tourist day trip. The Calmac Mull and Iona Adventure includes a ferry to Mull, coach tour round the island and further ferry to Iona to walk around the tiny island. It was a shame that we didn't pass by Tobermory but the driver/tour guide was really good and we covered a lot of area in the time. The 2 hours on Iona was more than enough to see the abbey and those beautiful white sands. We sadly didn't see any dolphins or deer but it felt like an adventure.

Since we didn't get back to Oban until 6pm, we grabbed a quick bite at another seafood restaurant (more fish!) and headed up the coast to relax at our next hotel near Fort William. Oh deary me. We weren't quite as lucky with that one. We had a difficult sleep, a flooded bathroom and a broken window so we couldn't get any fresh air on the hottest night of the weekend. Welp!

At least it was only one night.
Day 3: Fort William to Pitlochry
Next, we had planned to head up to Cairngorms National Park to see the wild reindeer herd. But we had to return the car by 4.30pm and those tiny roads can become a nightmare if there are any traffic problems. We're both quite sensible so we gave it a miss. Instead, we took the north route back via Pitlochry (1hr 40) so that we could still see some of the Cairngorm mountains. It was nice to pass through areas that I remembered from childhood, as I spent summers at my grandmother's home in that area. We saw lots of highland cows, or, as Salima calls them, 'Hamish cows' (because years ago we saw one cow named Hamish).

We ate ice cream and took a short walking tour around Pitlochry, passing through the town, up the salmon ladder and across the dam. Then we made a trip further out of our way for the best view in Scotland (imo), Queen's View. The clue is in the name.
I am so glad that Salima came to stay and made me think more about visiting my own country. It's so easy to take your local surroundings for granted but we saw a lot of things that I hadn't even known about beforehand. And my list for future Scottish adventures has grown! It's only a few hours in any direction, there's really no excuse not to do it.
As for Salima, I'm missing her already. Bisous!

Tuesday, 31 July 2018

July Wishlist

Summer wishlist from blogger Kimberley of Wardrobe Conversations featurin a hanging planter from Lima Lima, printed silk scarf by Bodil Jane, silver earrings by Holly Mcafee, banana pin by We Are Out Of Office and cookbook from Yasmin Khan
1.) Sunset air-plant holder | Lima Lima
Move over macrame, there's a cooler plant holder in town. To be honest, I don't even understand how air plants work but this would look neat in my home. And hopefully wouldn't require too much effort to take care of.

2.)  GIRLBO$$ scarf | Bodil Jane
Amsterdam-based artist Bodil Jane makes us all want to be chilling in a pink and plant-filled home, chatting all day on the phone and hanging out with a leopard. I think I could pull it off. Not sure about that? What about bedecked in designer in the tropical orange version.

3.) Lemon thyme leaves studs | Holly Mcafee
A departure from my usual Pat Butcher dangleras but I love Holly Mcafee's understated and chic jewellery. The latest verdant collection features delicate and recognisable shapes from nature that ooze luxury. These remind me of the little helicopter pods from sycamore trees that I played with in childhood (nb: these are actually lemon thyme leaves).

4.) A sliced banana pin | We Are Out Of Office
Of course if you slice a banana you want the extra bit to come with it, so that's what We Are Out Of Office has done with this fun little double-pin. As they say, it's "great to wear to a vegetable party". I'm also pretty fond of the Leek Pin For All Occasions.

5.) "Zaitoun: Recipes and Stories from the Palestinian Kitchen" cookbook | Yasmin Khan
Okay, this isn't really homeware but it fits in with the plant theme I've got going this month and I think it'll look great in my kitchen. I'm a huge fan of middle Eastern flavours, so I'm very interested to try a tasty new twist by looking at levantine cooking. This Palestinian cookbook, and Yasmin Khan's debut book "The Saffron Tales" fit the bill and come highly recommended. I'm hungry already!

Summer wishlist from Scottish blogger Helen of Wardrobe Conversations featuring, summer washi tape by illustrator Kate Pugsley, peach print note pad by Annie Dornan Smith, tiger print shirt dress by Hayley Scanlan, Palm Springs printed cushion by Finest Imaginary and Nikki McWilliams and enthusiast tshirt from The Wedding Enthusiast

1.) Washi Tape - The Sea Collection | Kate Pugsley
Yes, I'm a person who gets excited about washi tape - and how could I not when they are this cute! I love Kate Pugsley's whimsical illustration style, especially these little swimming ladies. These tapes are perfect for wrapping summer birthday gifts or for finally putting my holiday snaps in the album I bought in January.

2.) Peaches A5 Desk Pad | Annie Dornan Smith
Looks like I'm going a bit stationery crazy this month, and it's not even back to school time yet. This peachy design is just, well... peachy! This little notebook is great for making lists, which is something I like to do - A LOT.

3.) Tiger Print Zip Up Shirt Dress | Hayley Scanlan
I'm usually more of a leopard print kinda gal but ever since I saw this dress pop up on Instagram I'm coming around to the tiger print look. This shirt dress is giving me so many cool safari vibes and I'm loving it. I need it in my summer wardrobe now, you know before summer's over.

4.) Palm Springs Desert Scene Cushion | Finest Imaginary x Nikki McWilliams Collab
Don't you just love it when two of your fave indie designers come together for an amazing collab? Me too - and that's just what's happened with this Palm Springs cushiony goodness from biscuit queen Nikki McWilliams and laser master Finest Imaginary. Nikki's also got together with a number of other awesome designers to create a whole range of amazingness that's well worth checking out.

5.) Enthusiast T-shirt | The Wedding Enthusiast
Kimberley told me recently that I don't let my enthusiasm come across. Perhaps this tshirt will help as a reminder for me to share my passions rather than keeping them just for me. Plus, the delicious colour combo makes me think of peaches and cream, and that's definitely something I can get excited about!

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Top 5: ECA Degree Show 2018

Illustration work by Felicity Hamilton at Edinburgh College of Art Degree ShowSilversmithing by Jan Warnock at Edinburgh College of Art Degree Show
Performance costumes by Megan Gallacher at Edinburgh College of Art Degree Show

DJCAD Degree Show - tick
GSA Degree Show - tick
ECA Degree Show - tick

Yes, as well as Dundee and Glasgow,  I also managed to make it along to Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) for their 2018 degree show. Just call me a degree show tourist - if I could just spend the summer travelling around all of the ones up and down the UK, that would be fab, but for now I'll stick to the above three (I did also make it to Gray's in Aberdeen but was too busy snapping pics on my phone and forgot to take proper photos with my actual camera). I visited ECA on a rather hot day but with a bottle of water to hand and some dried apricot to fuel me along I managed to make my way around almost everything. I was a little thrown due to the building work meaning some things weren't in their usual places but I powered through in order to pick out and share my top 5...

1.) Felicity Hamilton | IllustrationColourful characters by Felicity Hamilton at ECA degree show
Illustrated headscarf and homewear by Felicity Hamilton
Felicity's work is full of character, colour and pattern - of course, I fell in love! And then I realised I'd seen some of this before. Turns out that Kimberley actually gave me one of Felicity's cards for Galentine's day! It's great to see students producing and selling their work before they've even gradated and I think that experience really helped Felicity's degree show work to look polished and oh so professional. I basically wanted everything from her stand and am currently trying to decide what scarf to buy first from her online shop. It's also now my goal in life to be one of her fabulous ladies lounging by the pool.

2.) Jan Warnock | Jewellery and SilversmithingSculptures based on the female form by Jan Warwock at Edinburgh College of Art
Sculptural work by Jan Warnock at Edinburgh College of Art Degree Show 2018
When it comes to the Jewellery & Silversmithing work I'm usually all about the wearable pieces but this collection of abstract sculptures really surprised and delighted me. The colours used are so delicate and fresh but the objects themselves carry a wonderful weight to them. Inspired by the female form and the folds and marks that we usually ignore or try to hide, Jan used her own body as her primary resource making it a very personal project. Mixing contemporary craft techniques with traditional silversmithing methods, these pieces feel modern, unusual and rather beautiful.

3.) Emily Dunlop | Fine Art
Interactive artwork by Emily Dunlop at Edinburgh College of Art Degree Show 2018Plant artwork by Emily Dunlop
I'm not much of a plant person but Emily's work might have changed my mind. Her plants definitely had plenty of personality. Yes, the wires may look a little messy but they allowed the plants to communicate. Touching the leaves caused them to shout out, brining to mind questions about humans effects on nature. That interactive element, plus the sterile looking tables and plastic casings made me feel bad for the plants and want to set them free/ take them home with me (even though they'd be much worse off in my care).

4.) June Cholsiri | Contemporary Art PracticeColourful baloon sculpture by June Cholsiri at Edinburgh College of Art Degree Show 2018
Sculpture work by June Cholsiri at ECA Degree Show 2018
June's work focuses on meditative practices, concentration and consciousness, taking inspiration from her own making process as a form of mindfulness. These precarious sculptures certainly forced me think about the here and now by making me constantly worried that they were going to fall or break. Using fragile materials and compositions, like stacked cards and balloons, creates a tension that's hard to get away from and a temptation to touch the work that was difficult to control.

5.) Megan Gallacher | Performance Costume
Performance Costume designs by Megan Gallacher at Edinburgh College of Art Degree Show 2018Performance Costume designs by Megan Gallacher at ECA Degree Show 2018
A few weeks before I headed to the degree show, Kimberley and I ventured through to Edinburgh for the ECA Performance Costume Show. It was a great presentation filled with fantastic performances and excellent music choices I was very much looking forward to seeing the pieces again. Making my way round the display I was not disappointed. Megan's costumes were ones that really wowed at the performance, with the detailing and the incorporation of lights working so well on stage, but they also looked fanatic close up with the striking print (can I have it on a dress please?) and layers of fabric.

There you go - another strong top 5 graduates to keep an eye on. I'm not sure how I'm going to keep track of all this amazing talent but I'm gonna give it my best shot. That's one of the reasons I love putting these posts together - they give me something to refer back to! I'm feeling super inspired and impressed by all the work I've seen across these shows and wish all the graduating students the best in the big bad scary world that comes after uni!

Thursday, 28 June 2018

June Wishlist

Wishlist featuring earrings by Atisans and Adventures, pin by Finest Imaginary, tshirt by Yippy Whippy, patch by Jacqueline Colley and blanket by Kristina Micotti
1.) Eye Love You Ceramic Heart Earrings | Artisans and Adventurers
I have serious heart-eyes for these amazing earrings! They mix some of my favourite things: red, eyes and ceramics - I would love to have these dangling from my ears.

2.) Factor 50 Club Enamel Pin | Finest Imaginary
I've really been enjoying all the sunshine we've had lately but I do have to remember to top up the sun cream regularly. I have very pale skin and I burn so easily, so maybe wearing this pin would help remind me to keep reapplying the factor 50.

3.) Existential Dread Tshirt | Yippy Whippy
This tshirt makes me lol so much! I love the juxtaposition of the cheery design with the pessimistic poem - you know, for when you love colour but you still have all the feels. Also I totally remember having one of those pull-along telephone toys when I was little.

4.) Flower Power Patch | Jacqueline Colley
I met Jacqueline at Blogtacular and absolutely loved the background design and the tote bag print she created for the event. Then I looked at her shop and feel for every. single. thing. in. there, this patch included.

5.) Octopus Blanket | Kristina Micotti
It's weird to be thinking of blankets when it's so hot but this weather won't last forever and when it disappears I'm gonna want to wrap myself up these tentacles. I'm a huge fan of the design and love the red and pick colour combo.

Wishlist featuring skirt by PurpleFishBowl, shorts by Topshop, tray by Depeapa, backpack by Madlu and earrings by Baked by Lou
1.) Fine Art Collection Portrait Skirt | PurpleFishBowl
Erm.. what can I say? There's just something about this that drew my eye to it. I love the pink and green combo and there's something quite familiar about that face ;) I'd like all my outfits to be this narcissistic. I totally recommend looking through the whole Fine Art Collection. Each piece is beautiful and unique.

2.) Spot Ring Pull Mom Shorts | Topshop
I've tried to find these in my size in three different Topshops already but, as usual, they don't stock any size other than a 10. Whyyyy? They are clearly meant to be mine.

3.) Fruit Platter Tray | Depeapa
This is quite random but recently I've been delving a little too deep into the world of serving trays as I've been trying to find one for my flat.  Who knew it would require so much research? This one is the cutest of them all!

4.) Airforce Blue Urban Backpack | Madlug
Someone recommended these backpacks over on the In Colourful Company Facebook group as an affordable alternative to Fjallravens and I think they're pretty great! As well as looking good, this company does good! Madlug was set up by a youth worker and for every backpack sold, one will be given to child in care in Ireland and UK. Brilliant!

5.) Dangle Earrings | Baked by Lou
The trouble with Baked by Lou polymer earrings is that there are too many versions that I just need! I'd never miss an opportunity to wear a memphis squiggle though.

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Top 5: Lessons from Blogtacular 2018

Blogging duo Wardrobe Conversations share 5 Lessons from Blogtacular 2018Wearing Dreamland leopard print jumpsuit at Blogtacular 2018Wearing a tropical Monki shirt at Blogtacular 2018

It's been well over a week since we returned from our trip to London for Blogtacular 2018 - so that's just about enough time to process all the information we took in and figure out how we want to put that info into practice. If you haven't heard of Blogtacular, it's a conference (plus blog, plus podcast, plus online community, plus so much more!) for creative entrepreneurs, bloggers and influencers to discover new ideas and inspiration. We went for the first time back in 2015 and had an absolute blast. We've been keen to make it back ever since but life kept getting in the way. This year we weren't going to let anything stop us and got organised asap.

The event featured opening and closing note speakers with a whole bunch of workshops and talks in between, alongside a creative genius bar, market place and delicious food. On top of all that there were also fringe events (in the shape of fun photo walks and delicious dinners) the day before to give attendees the chance to meet each other before the main event. Between us we attended almost everything, splitting ourselves between the different talks and workshops and going on separate photos walks and dinners. We did A LOT and it's only now we've finally let everything sink that we've been able to pick out our top 5 take-aways. Phew!

Exploring colourful corners of London on the Blogtacular photowalk

1.) Taking time out to be inspired is a must
We each went on a colourful photowalk on the Friday before Blogtacular: Kimberley headed to North London for a look around Camden with Natasha Nuttall while Helen headed south for a trip around Peckham with Emma Jane Palin. These trips were all about exploring new places, finding some colourful street art, taking fun photos and chatting...lots of chatting. It was great getting shown around somewhere new by someone who knows the area and we really enjoyed taking lots of photos just for the hell of it (though mostly for Instagram - prepare to see a lot of these photos popping up on our feeds over the next few weeks!) This kind of group exploring is a great way to get to know people and be inspired by different places. Taking time out to visit new places is certainly something we'd like to do more of and if we can do it with a group of other colour obsessed folk - even better!

2.) Take risks and don't give a shit
If there was an overarching theme to the talks, it was that you have to put yourself out there. This may mean being vulnerable with personal content, having a go at that scary first Youtube video or chucking out your old Instagram theme for something entirely new. Tiffany Han asked us all to think about how much truth we are willing to tell our audience, and demonstrated that the best ideas are often inconvenient for us. Coasting is easy. It's pushing your own limits in terms of ideas and comfort that get the juices flowing. In her Creative Compelling Insta-stories talk, Laura Jane Williams advised not to give a shit about messing up when we first try talking to the camera . Much like yesterday's news, it's forgotten about in seconds as our audience moves on to consume the next person's content. And Dominique Davis said in Finding your Photo Style that she never would have had #allthatisthree if she hadn't impulsively added what she thought was a one-off photo to her Instagram grid.

Colourful stalls at Blogtacular 2018

3.) Edit!
This was a strong message from two of the workshops: In SEO Happy with Elaine Malone, editing was important to make posts easy to find and to be clear about the post's content, while in How to Write Awesome Blog Posts with Greta Solomon it was all about making posts useful and telling a story in the best possible way. Sometimes, just sometimes, we have the tendency to waffle on. Trying to write posts in a short period of time can actually mean they turn out longer because we don't have the time to go back over and edit out said waffle. While we do enjoy writing in a chatty style and don't think we'll step away from that, we know everyone's busy so getting to the point quickly is always a good idea. Also it might mean we're more likely to spot those stupid spelling mistakes that have us kicking ourselves after we press publish!

4.) Be inspired by what your obsessed by
This was a point made by Tiffany Han, who opened the conference with a inspiring keynote speech, and it really struck a cord. It's something we always try to do but seeing it written down somehow made it seem all the more important. It got us asking the question of ourselves - what are we obsessed by? The answer: colour, independent brands, dressing adventurously, building relationships and having fun! We hope that comes across already but we'll be making a conscious effort to ensure we're always on the look out for inspiration and sharing our obsessions - let's all be geeks together!

5.) Let's get physical
We love the internet. We spend A LOT of our time on the internet... probably a bit too much, but we love how it helps us to connect with different people - people we probably wouldn't just happen to come across in our daily lives. But all the likes, thumbs up, clicks and DM chats just can't compare to meeting people in real life. Blogtacular gave us the opportunity to meet some of our internet favourites in the flesh and make friends with a whole new group of people who we are now avidly following online. Having those IRL conversations makes us feel more invested in these awesome people when we see their faces or products pop up in our feed. Yes, chatting to so many people in such a short space of time took a lot out of us but it was so worth it. We really hope we can meet up with these folk again in the real world!

Blogging and creative inspiration from Blogtacular 2018

There you have it - our top 5 tips from Blogtacular 2018. We really did have a lot of fun and met some amazing people. Blogtacular are taking a break from the big conference next year but will be hosting a number of smaller events and we can't wait to find out more. There's also the Blogtacular podcast which is full of amazing advice from some fabulous creative folk.

The goodie bags in the first photo and the photo background in the second and third pics were designed by the wonderful Jacqueline Colley - go check out her lovely things.