Kazan | Russia

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The other week I went on a business trip to Kazan in Russia to review a new store we designed. I headed there armed with no more than my notebook, iPhone (for pictures), tape measure, and a pack of drawings. And even as we boarded our first flight towards Moscow, I had no idea what to expect.

And I was pleasantly surprised.

When we arrived to Kazan in darkness after a day of traveling, I jumped into a taxi with my coworkers unable to speak any form of the complex language. I felt entirely in the hands of my friend and translator – where would I be without her! And I quickly learned that Ben’s driving is significantly better and safer than I previously believed. I saw nothing of the city that night except for car parks and our hotel lobby, with a blackness in the distance that could have only been one of the lakes or rivers that run through the city.

When I woke up to sunshine and 20 degree (C) weather, everything looked so much different! What a stunning city in the sun!

We had a small bit of spare time on the last day we were there and thus we walked down the main shopping street to the Kremlin. On the street was fantastic architectural buildings from old Russia, and ending with the beautiful white brick of the Kremlin against the blue sky was a definite treat.

We ate pilaf which was delicious – and sampled a Russian dessert which was a light mousse with chocolate on the outside, but rolled up into a ball. It was delicious. I can’t remember what it was called. We had fruit juice water which was very tasty – and a tea flavoured with autumn (apples, cinnamon, and green tea).

Plus by the end of my trip, my lovely friend taught me some words! I can now say ‘good afternoon,’ ‘thank you,’ ‘goodbye,’ and my room number in Russian!

Stay tuned – I’m heading to St Petersburg in 2 weeks time! X

Wedding Colour Inspiration – Navy



Lena and Jeff's wedding photos from Atwood Ranch in Glen Ellen, California


Ben and I have always adored the colour navy.  The best of the blue hues.  Its a deep and beautiful colour, full of the mystery of black but the softness of pinks.  When paired with other colours and details it can sharpen them and highlight even minute details.

My engagement ring is also a sapphire – a beautiful rich navy blue.

So what do you think of using blue as our wedding colour?  I thought I’d put some inspiration for your thoughts.  Would it be too much for a spring wedding? x

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And We’re Engaged!



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Ben has asked me to marry him – and I said yes!

What a crazy whirlwind it has been since then. I have been neck deep in bridal blogs and wedding venue sites, looking aimlessly at Pinterest boards and budgets, and have been freaking out every time I look at my left hand. What!

So I am so sorry it’s been such a long time since I have posted! Things have gone a bit upside down and priorities have certainly shifted! (I do not dare to open up my Duolingo that I haven’t touched – no doubt that owl has certainly taken away some of my levels by now.) But I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

We have received such an outpouring of love and support that it is overwhelming and so beautiful all at once. We have promised to print out and keep all of the words that have been said as it has been our motivation and has certainly meant so much to us!

So let me tell you how it happened: we were walking back to our home rail station from The Globe after an amazing and wonderful birthday day in London. We walked over the Millennium Bridge and Ben wandered up to Saint Paul’s Cathedral which is just on the other side of the river. I took a couple of choice photographs thinking this will be great for the blog. Then as we wandered up the steps to the entrance of the Cathedral, Ben turned me around, got on one knee and asked me to marry him!

I was so overwhelmed I barely remember what he said.

So I am going to be marrying the most wonderful man in the world – ah! I cannot be more happy or excited. X

My London Birthday

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I had the most exciting Sunday this past week – it was my birthday! I know some people might not feel like their birthdays are a big deal, but I always feel like that day is super special to me.

We returned from France on the Saturday, and this was my one day between the holiday am starting back at work. I thought Ben and I could spend it quietly at home in Bishops Stortford – maybe going to a nice brunch and spending the remainder of the day in the sunshine.

Little did I know he had something entirely different up his sleeve!

We boarded our train into London Liverpool Street around 11am, after a morning of coffee and bagels (yum!!) I thought – are we going to the Southbank? Shoreditch? Islington? Is he just teasing me and we are only going to the next town down the line?

I followed him all the way to Canary Wharf, where we got off of the DLR and walked to the Museum of London. First order of the day was to see the exhibition on slavery and sugar import in the docklands. It’s fascinating, and takes you through London’s history up until preset day- including a life size model of what the city would have looked like in the 17/1800s! Highly recommend it.

Afterwards, we took a lovely walk through the new part of the city (which reminds me of New York really..) and ‘stumbled’ upon the Thames Clipper! I had never been on the Thames before for anything – and so we boarded heading towards the older part of the city. We cruised past the Docklands and under Tower Bridge which was AMAZING to see at that angle, and disembarked at Embankment. Next on our plan for the day: Gordon’s Wine Bar!

I ADORE this wine bar. It was the location for Ben and my first date, and has been the scene of many of my meet ups with friends since. They serve my favourite bottle of red wine in the world – Chianti Conti Serristori. Adore. Adore. Adore.

With this and a bite to eat at the best place to grab a Bratwurst hot dog (Herman ze German), we walked across our bridge to the SouthBank. The last thing we were going to do today, Ben told me, was watch Antony and Cleopatra at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.

I had the most amazing birthday. Ending the day with a walk along Millennium Bridge back towards Liverpool Street with St Paul’s in our midst, I felt already on cloud nine. This – if you want to copy it my friends – comprised the happiest day of my life.

The Lot Valley | France

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Last week I spent an unbelievable week in the Lot Valley in France. Surrounded by wine country and fields of sunflowers, I joined Ben and his family for a wonderful week of relaxing and exploring the neighbouring towns.

The weather wasn’t the greatest – and I certainly didn’t pack for it – but with that aside the wine and the scenery were to die for. I arrived on the Saturday, keen to practice my French I had been studying for some weeks prior, and was immediately hit by the presence of sunflower fields. It is the one thing I will take away from the trip – the site of them on that sunny Saturday.

We explored neighbouring towns of Duraval, Puy L’évêque, Cahors, Belaye, and others. Spectacular view across the valley awaited us at every turn.

On both my flights I met so many lovely older English couples who had bought property in the area. They loved it and the small, nondescript airport spoke volumes about the quiet areas that surrounded. What a lovely part of the world to experience!

Rye | Sussex

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Ben and I headed off to Rye at the weekend for a friend’s wedding. I had heard little to nothing about Rye before that day – but when I came to work Friday and said where I was going that evening, everyone pipped up to say something. ‘Oh Rye is beautiful!’ ‘There’s a lovely old pub there…’ ‘Go down to this beach on the Sunday…’

Well folks – Rye has now made my top three towns of England.

It is a stunning town on a hill and very well serviced by a ton of small independent stores and coffee shops. It has a number of adorable B&Bs and pubs that still have accommodation above. The charm of the cobbled streets (stunning to look at, rough to walk on) and the old houses that looked like they had remained untouched since the 14th century truly took my breath away.

Let me just say that any moment I could steal away from the wedding and all it’s wonderful festivities, I was walking around this town taking photos and enjoying the sunshine.

We stayed at the old and haunted Mermaid Inn which is the most Old English place I have ever stepped foot in. Just to get to the room was a maze of going under low beams and passageways and twisting around old staircases. You can visit the bar area and restaurant if your not staying, and I recommend it just to see the interiors of this old English maze.

The wedding was held at the much more modern George Inn – which had a much more upscale charm.

I wandered around for breakfast one morning and stumbled upon the Apothecary Coffee House which is a charming venue with retro looking baristas and amazing looking cakes. They had soya milk (which is always a plus for me) and I had a simple croissant for a total of what you would pay for a small latte in London.

I love this town. With the seagulls cackling away as a sign of the sea being near, it would be a perfect holiday place, even for families. X

Musings on Sunshine

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England glistens in the sunshine. There is this green lushness that England has generally (I think it’s from all the rain) and sunshine is the perfect compliment. I don’t know of anything else in nature that makes me so excited or brings me more happiness then sunshine and heat on a Saturday or Sunday.

So I apologise ahead of time for my postings on sun, heat, and how awesome this is. I think my fellow Londoners can agree. X

Regent’s Canal

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This is one of my favourite walks in London. The canals stretch from Little Venice all the way through Stratford, and are relatively untouched by tourists. It is such a tranquil walk through the city that you don’t even realise you are in bustling neighbourhoods.

We walked from Regents Park through to Camden Lock – which isn’t that far in the scheme of things, but was still beautiful. And with the sun shining and the tourists away, it was a great way to spend a morning in the city.

Something I have always wanted to do is to rent Boris bikes and ride from Little Venice to Paddington. What a great ride though the town – with pubs and places to stop off and rest – it would be a fantastic day out. X

Paycocke’s House

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In Coggeshall, there is a gem in the form of a National Trust property. The Paycocke’s House, once belonging to a wealthy merchant in the cloth trade, was built around 1500, with many of the original features still intact. The ornate woodwork and wood paneling is a stunning display of craft, and the gardens are a lovely place for a small game of croquet!

The home is small, but the details and the knowledgeable staff are a treat. There is even a small cafe to sit and grab a tea and cake (I went for a cream tea- could not resist!).