LAURA STAFFORD-SMITH

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14.10.18

Reason #101 why suits are THE wardrobe staple you need this Autumn...

It may be the middle of October, but so far this Autumn, the weather appears determined to keep us guessing. I guarantee I won't be the first, or the last person, to make such an observation, but these 20+ degree afternoons have been playing havoc with my OOTDs and so I felt the need to just quickly discuss it with you.

I'm a cold person; always have been, probably always will be. Hence, even if there's the slightest suggestion that the temperature will drop below 18 degrees, you'll find me layered up in vests (I know), polo necks, cardigans, my duvet-inspired puffer coat, and some sort of top layer. Needless to say it's been a nightmare, as I've been freezing cold first thing, and then sweating buckets come the afternoon.

Enter, the New Look co-ord which has been making far too many appearances in my wardrobe of late. I actually bought this a number of weeks ago, and you'll be pleased to know it's actually gone into the sale now, but it's just the absolute best for this time of year. First of all I fell in love with the blazer, and it was a total no brainer as it looks great with blue denim, white or black t-shirts, and pretty much any other colour you're likely to have in your wardrobe. I'm embracing the neutral/brown palette this season as it seems to be popping up just about everywhere, and this of course falls into that category absolutely perfectly.

With the blazer in my arms, I fell in love with the trousers. They have an elasticated waistband, so they're super comfortable, but also has the added bonus that it's super easy when it comes to going to the toilet. No belt loops, therefore no belt to wrestle with, no awkward zip, and no buttons just waiting to fall off and disappear. They do however have the appearance of a zip, which means they look suitably formal to wear to work - win win.

Finally, the skirt. This was, admittedly, a first for me, as I've never owned a matching skirt suit. I have to admit I'm still not 100% whether it's a combination that works for me. Partly I'm thinking that the problem is that I've been wearing it with a black polo neck and either black tights, or ghostly white bare legs, instead of being a bit more adventurous and trying to break up the colours a little. Open to suggestions on that one. I'm thinking of maybe trying some wooly cream tights and a rust coloured polo neck? Let me know what you think. If it's likely to be a faux pas, I'll happily give it a miss.

If you've followed me on Instagram for a while, you'll know I'm a particularly huge fan of a matching trouser suit, and there are some great ones on the market right now, which are perfect for layering (or not) in Autumn, and are really affordable. As they're staple wardrobe items, you'll more than likely wear them for years to come too, which is a bonus if you're as concerned about fast fashion as I've become recently. I've had a gorgeous tartan suit from River Island for absolute years now, and wear it all the time. It's genuinely become one of my items-I'd-rescue-in-the-event-of-a-fire and the cost per wear must be about 2p by this point.

The thing with co-ord suits, is that they're just so versatile. Bit chilly? Layer up with a polo neck, heeled ankle boots and throw an unfastened coat over the top. Just popping out to run a few errands? Stick on a pair of trainers and a slogan t-shirt. When the weather is as good as it has been just lately, you almost definitely won't need a coat. Failing that, you can always just wear them as separates, and the outfit possibilities are virtually endless.

I'm currently on the hunt for the perfect Christmas party suit, and so I'm trying to resist buying too many others beforehand. I've seen that Monsoon have a gorgeous burgundy velvet one, so I might well have to take a trip into Chapelfield and check that out, as I can see myself wearing that at every available opportunity come December (November). In the interests of giving you fair warning, I'd like to point out that it's about to start looking a little festive around here soon; once Halloween is out of the way, I practically transform into a little Christmas elf. There's so much I want to share when it comes to Christmas, so keep an eye out if you're as obsessed as I am.

I think I'll call it a day there, at the risk of getting too distracted and carried away talking about the C-word. Some of my favourite co-ord suits are linked below, if you're interested. Happy shopping! L xxx

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9.9.18

Sartorial suggestions for Ladies' Day #AD


Last September I went to the races for the first time in my life. This year, I've been invited to go back to The Great Yarmouth Racecourse Eastern Festival with Intu Chapelfield, and help judge the best dressed competition on Ladies' Day.

In preparation for the event itself, the team at Intu Chapelfield very generously sent me, Laura and Shelley on a girls' day out, for a spot of shopping and some lunch. It has been so long since I went on a proper shopping spree, so naturally we had the best time; what girl wouldn't love trying on clothes all morning, having a three course lunch and then shooting some photos afterwards?

I've popped a few photos of our day into this post, but I mainly wanted to share the details of my chosen outfit with you, and to impart some of my (admittedly amateur) favourite sartorial suggestions if you're heading to the races this year.

First things first, the outfit.

Somehow, despite spending hours checking out absolutely everything Chapelfield had to offer, I've put together an outfit which is comprised almost exclusively of items from ZARA. As soon as I saw the dress, I knew it would be the one. It's a collared off-white shirt dress, with button up and knot detailing but it was the material I fell in love with. It's 66% cotton and 34% polyester if you're interested in the exact composition, but the only way I can describe it is to say it's like a towel. Doesn't sound amazing (I'm not the best at descriptions) but I promise you it's an absolute delight.

Being such a versatile colour, I knew instantly which shoes I wanted to pair with the outfit. Animal print is having such a moment lately, and if you've followed me for a few years you'll know my favourite heels are a pair of leopard print block heels I picked up a few years ago from Topshop. Absolute no brainer. I was tempted to buy a new pair of leopard print heels as they had some gorgeous ones in Office but I thought I'd do myself a favour and save some space in my ever bulging wardrobe. Dune in House of Fraser also had some beautiful leopard print shoes, so if you're on the prowl (geddit?), Chapelfield is definitely a great place to start.

Another perk of the dress being so simple is that I knew I could really go to town on the accessories. Rimmel's Kate Moss 107 lipstick has long been a favourite of mine, so I'll most definitely be wearing that on the day. I think it's actually been re-branded since I first started buying it, and it's now shade #001 from the lasting finish collection. It is the most perfect Autumn shade and you can pick it up from Boots for £5.49; just thank me later...

One of the things I was quite keen to experiment with this year was head wear. I had my first experience of wearing a fascinator at the Royal Norfolk Show earlier this year, and so I wanted to try something a little different. Cue the chain print scarf. From ZARA, clearly. I'm not 100% sure how I'll style it yet so I need to try out a few different options to decide which is my favourite but I am so up for setting myself this challenge and seeing how creative you can get with a head scarf. It's something I've wanted to do for a long time, so let's see how it goes...

And finally, the bag. For some reason bags are one of those things I'm a bit fussy about and always something I struggle with when putting together a new outfit. I was really into the trend for basket/wicker bags throughout the summer and so I've been super happy to see that trend continuing into Autumn, meaning I could pick up the cutest little black bag with bamboo handles. I'm such a huge fan, and I know I'll be using it non-stop all season.

So how can you put together a competition winning outfit for the races? As part of the judging process, I'll be teaming up with Laura and Shelley and the team from Chapelfield, so here are some of the things I'll be looking for on the day:

  1. Autumnal colours: I am seriously feeling the autumnal vibes of late, so I'll be looking out for mustard shades and various shades of brown. 
  2. Animal print: need I say more?
  3. Block heels: I always think that block heels are such a good idea when you're going to any event where you'll be walking on grass. At the end of September, there's no saying what the weather will be doing either, so I'll be on the look out for some on fleek footwear. 
  4. Scarf print: having read this blog post, it'll come as no surprise that I'm loving scarves at the moment. Scarf print patterns are everywhere on the high street right now, but I think wearing the pattern in your hair, or tying a scarf onto the handles of your bag can also really elevate an outfit without meaning you need to go all out. 

So there we have it, a summary of the outfit I've chosen and some tips for sartorial success this season. Are you going to the races? If you've not already picked your outfit, Chapelfield have some amazing accessories and key pieces to base your outfit around. Why not make a girls' day out of it? You definitely won't regret it. 

This post was written in collaboration with Intu Chapelfield who very kindly gifted me a voucher to spend in their centre, and treated me to lunch. As always, however, all opinions remain my own, and are entirely honest and unbiased. 
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27.8.18

A quick roundup of my fave recipe books...



I love cooking, but I'd be lying if I said convenience and cost wasn't an important consideration for me. I have a mortgage, and I work 7:30 till 18:00 every day, so I want something super easy and as quick as possible for dinner. I'll happily spend hours at the weekend cooking, and cooking for a dinner party is actually one of my favourite things to do, but I like to be as efficient as possible Monday to Friday.

With that in mind, I thought I'd share some of my absolute staples when it comes to recipe books, and give a special mention to some of my favourite recipes within those pages. Happy cooking!

Jamie Oliver, 5 Ingredients, £12.99 (AMAZON)
First things first, I'll just point out that not every recipe needs only five ingredients, probably most. That being said, this recipe book is an absolute must have. All the recipes are super straightforward, and even where you do need additional ingredients, they tend to be classic store cupboard ingredients (red wine vinegar etc...) so you'll probably already have them. Most of the ingredients you could probably find in your local supermarket too, so that makes it nice and easy (if you're lazy like me!) to do the whole food shop in one place, and still put together an absolutely banging meal plan. Helpfully it's also separated into sections (pasta/chicken/fish etc...) so that's a winner.

Favourite recipes:
Sicilian Tuna Pasta // Seared Sesame Tuna // Italian Seared Beef




























Miguel Barclay, One Pound Meals Fast & Fresh, £4.99 (AMAZON)

So this is the second instalment of Miguel Barclay's One Pound Meals series. I've a feeling that there's actually a new one out, or at the very least is coming soon; it's a one pot recipe book, so I'm pretty excited to get my hands on that one as I've loved both others so far. I actually bought this book on a recommendation from Laura, after leafing through it whilst I was at her house last year. Pretty much everything I've made from it since, we've absolutely loved. I have to confess I've never actually checked that the meals come in at under £1 per person, but I'm quite willing to just take Miguel Barclay's word for it...

Favourite recipes: 
Bacon and Asparagus Tagliatelle
Butternut Gnocchi with Crispy Parma Ham & Feta
Pork Saltimbocca & Green Pea Mash
Churrasco Burger

Rukmini Iyer, The Roasting Tin, £10.51 (AMAZON)
This is potentially the best recipe book you could ever buy if you tend to verge on the slightly lazier side of cooking. Pretty much every recipe is cooked in just one roasting tin, and every chapter starts with a summary of the roasting times for different types of grain/vegetable/pasta etc... so you can adapt any of the recipes to change the base ingredients as you wish. I totally adore the design of the book, and have made so many of the recipes within it. I'd go so far as to say that this is potentially our current most-used recipe book, so definitely check it out whilst it's only £10.51 on Amazon!

Favourite recipes: 
Chargrilled Lamb on Flatbreads with Pine Nuts, Raisins & Goat's Cheese (I always swap the raisins for pomegranate seeds!)
Avocado and Chicken Salad with Pomegranates & Brown Rice
Bulgur Wheat with Roasted Red Peppers, Tomatoes, Feta & Pine Nuts (substituting giant couscous for the bulgur wheat though!)
Spelt with Chorizo, Sweet Potato, Red Onion & Spinach (with giant couscous again instead of spelt...)

Joe Wicks, Lean In 15, £9.99 (AMAZON)
I first came across Joe Wicks a couple of years ago when a friend of mine decided to take part in one of his personalised programmes and absolutely raved about the recipes she'd been given on the program in the shift phase. I actually can't recall how quickly I ran out and bought this book when it was released but I feel like I've owned it for a long time now - it could be one of the oldest recipe books I own, but that's not saying a great deal given that I'm only 25. Once again, this is a super easy recipe book but the reason I particularly love this one is because it's broken down into chapters based on your exercise level during that day. So if you've just done a big work out, you've earned yourself some carbs, and if you haven't? Well that's just tough luck and you'll have to make do with one of the lighter recipe chapters. Definitely not a hardship though, I promise you that. If you're that way inclined, there are also a few workouts in here, so it's a good place to start if you're looking for a bit of a lifestyle change.

Favourite recipes:
Thai Green Curry
Cheeky Chicken Fried Rice
Mighty Duck Noodles
Sammy The Sea Bass with Spaghetti

Happy cooking! X

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8.8.18

We're going to Ibiza...(sharing some holiday snaps)

   ...the quiet part though, don't worry.

A sentence I found myself saying to literally each and every single person we told. If you know me or you know Harvey, you'll know we're not big partygoers and the idea of going out in San Antonio and getting back the following morning (after sunrise) verges almost on some sort of hell. I'd do it for a long weekend (at a push) but I'm someone who needs my sleep; give me a few drinks, Harvey and somewhere beautiful to wander and I'm your girl. 

We booked Ibiza months ago, as our first 'proper' holiday together, nearly six years into our relationship. We've been to Barcelona for a long weekend, and spent another weekend in Bruges, but as far as sun, sea, sand, swimming pools and all inclusive food and drink went, Ibiza was a first.


We stayed at the Sandos El Greco hotel in Portinatx, which I literally couldn't fault in any way. Absolutely everything was spot on, from the drinks selection (my blood on that return flight was probably about 50% Amstel Radler and 50% Aperol Spritz), the ridiculous variety of food available for breakfast, lunch and dinner, to the modernity and size of the bedroom. We were all inclusive and so ate like absolute pigs all week; by the end of the week I was craving a normal sized, non-buffet style meal, and I think Harvey probably was too. 

So yeah, we stayed in a v. v. small resort called Portinatx which I have to admit was smaller than I'd probably expected. I'm talking a 5-10 minute walk in either direction outside of the hotel. It was quite literally stunning (there's nothing quite like the Ibizan sunset) so I took about 5000 photos a day; I won't bore you with all of them, but I couldn't resist sharing just a few.

A couple of days into the holiday, we hiked to the lighthouse at the furthest northern point of the island; it wasn't a long hike, but it was crazy hot. I'm one of those people who gets nervous being about a metre away from the edge of a long drop, so you can imagine the heart palpitations when we had to scale up and down what felt like very steep mountain sides, and navigate pathways no wider than my shin in 30+ degree weather.

Later that day I decided to finally start trying to get a tan on my back as well as front. BIG MISTAKE. Genius over here managed to fall asleep, and for the first time in my life got prickly heat rash. Yeah, glamorous... Annoyingly I spent the rest of my holiday swapping between sunshine and the air conditioned confines of our hotel room. The room was great. The heat rash? Not so much.

Anyway, the point of this post was really just to document the fact that the holiday happened. I always wanted this little corner of the internet to be a place to remember nice things that happened as well as to talk about fashion/beauty/lifestyle things. I have this image of me turning on an ancient computer in about 20 years time to show my kids the blog I once wrote. I don't imagine they'd be that interested in fashion of the late 2010's, but they might want to google Portinatx, and see what I saw.

Who knows...
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30.6.18

Summer is officially here, and that means picnic season has started... | AD

I love picnics. What could be better than putting together a spread of amazing, fresh and healthy food, packing it into a basket with some refreshing (probably alcoholic, let's be real) drinks and heading to a park or the beach to sit on a blanket in the sun with friends, and gorge yourself on food. That to me sounds like heaven, made better only by the prospect of playing a few games afterwards. Rounders is a particular favourite, as it gets everyone involved, and makes me feel like I'm a teenager again. Wishful thinking is a wonderful thing isn't it?

The weather of late has been glorious, and it looks like it's set to last which is music to my picnic-loving ears, but as always for me, prompts the question, what to wear? There's nothing worse than picking an outfit you constantly need to readjust, or you feel uncomfortable playing games in afterwards, so I feel like it's an important consideration. My absolute go-to is a jumpsuit or playsuit, and so I thought I'd share with you a few of my favourites on the high street right now, starting (obviously) with the one I'm wearing in these photos.

I love this playsuit for many, many reasons. First and foremost, it's linen, so in terms of dressing for the sometimes unpredictable English weather, it's a winner. Secondly, it's actually ~very~ roomy, so if like me you do eat virtually your entire body weight in food as a routine when it comes to picnics, it's quite positively dreamy. Finally I feel very comfortable wearing it, which is ultimately the main thing, right? It's navy so any spillages won't bring your sartorial credentials into question, the shorts are a good length so you can sit cross-legged, but also not so long you feel like a schoolboy, and the statement buttons give me life. Do you need me to continue?

If you're feeling a little braver than me, I also found another little gem on the Warehouse* website when I recently spent virtually an entire evening in an internet shopping black hole. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, it's sold out now but picture this: it was an off-white, linen(!!) culotte jumpsuit, with statement buttons the same as the one I eventually opted for instead. Dreamy right? Well here's a link to something similar from New Look. You can thank me later...


If colour is more your thang, ASOS (as per) have lots to offer. This playsuit from Boohoo has given me all of the festival vibes, and whilst I'm not usually a fan of the one statement shoulder/one shoulder strap kind of look, this would be absolutely ideal for a picnic as that additional strap adds security and peace of mind.

Back to jumpsuits, and in at number four is this one from MANGO. I've picked this as it looks a little warmer and could very easily be layered up if/when the weather turns. It's not just great for summer layering either, as I could picture this worn with a black polo neck come autumn, obviously with a berry-toned lip. I won't mention that season again for a while though, sorry everyone.

And last, but by no means least, I got pulled back to the Warehouse website. If you've known me for a while, you'll know I adore a bit of leopard print. In fact, my all-time favourite pair of shoes are a pair of leopard print courts, which don't get out too much as I don't want to ruin them - is that a bit tragic? Anyway, back to jumpsuits and my final option is this gorgeous little number which is just everything. That print, that ring detail, that neckline - everything about this jumpsuit is ticking boxes for me, especially in the day-to-night outfit stakes. It also looks pretty loose and flowing, so there'll be so much room for activities.


Basically I'm v. v. excited that picnic season is here. I might pop a round up of some of my favourite picnic recipes up on the blog soon if that would interest anyone? A bit of a picnic series perhaps, although I'm not sure if that's more for your benefit or mine so I can make nice food, photograph it, and then eat it...

* This was a collaborative post but all writing/opinions are my own. 
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13.6.18

Summer layering problems: sorted | AD




If you're anything like me, no matter how warm it is outside, years of getting goosebumps when everyone else is wearing summer dresses and shorts will have you leaving the house with layers upon layers. There's every chance you've also have spent hours and hours over the years trawling the internet searching for things like 'black hoodie womens', 'cosy oversized jumper' and 'summer knitwear'.

Well if that's you, trust me when I say I feel your pain, and we are most definitely not alone. Summer in England these days seems to be mostly lukewarm, punctuated by the occasional week of brilliant sunshine and bare leg weather. Dressing for the former is not my forte in the slightest. Somehow, despite being obsessed by the weather apps on my phone, I always manage to be overdressed on the hot days and under dressed on the colder days; you'd have thought I'd have got this covered by now, being nearly 26, but alas, I've had no such luck.




So I've been all about the layering this year, and for once, I've picked up a neutral piece instead of the usual black jumper I've opted for in past years. It's incredibly cosy, very versatile and it's unisex so if, like me, you love wearing oversized (read: your boyfriend's) jumpers around the house, it's perfect.

I've never really been a huge sportswear/streetwear kinda girl, but I'm low key obsessed right now with sweaters and ugly trainers. There are so many nicce (sorry, couldn't help myself) varieties of these jumpers on the NICCE London website, I feel a little bit like a kid in a candy shop; come Autumn I think I'll check out one of their hoodies as I'm a big fan of hoodies and long-line coats with jeans on the weekend. It's definitely a brand I'll go back to, as I love how luxurious the sweatshirt feels, and the slogan branding is always on point.

Question is, do I go all out on the trend and get the ugly trainers too? I'm really feeling the sweater, pleated midi skirt and ugly trainer vibe lately and the beauty of having picked such a neutral colour is that I could literally pair it with any other colour. Which obviously means that you could too... Found a bright red polka dot midi skirt you love? Boom. Invested in off-white denim dungarees this season? First things first, I'm ultra jealous, but I also feel like that's a winning combination. I was digging the black dungaree vibe, but a pair of off-white dungarees/cropped wide leg jeans would be next level. No prizes for guessing what my next google search addiction is going to be...



Photography by Shelley Beth

* This post was sponsored by NICCE London, who also very kindly gifted me the sweatshirt. As always, all opinions remain my own honest, and unbiased thoughts. 
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5.6.18

So you're thinking about getting a fringe?


We've all been there, scrolling through Instagram, looking at photos of Alexa Chung, Megan Ellaby and Sophia Rosemary, knee-deep in fringe envy and wondering just how we too can 'get the look', pondering whether we'll manage to nail that cool girl chic, or be transported back to the haircuts of our childhoods in an instant. 

I for one agonised over the decision for months. My only recent recollection of life with a fringe takes me back about 9 years (eek!) when I had a full, blunt fringe, which I seem to recall took ~forever~ to grow out. I'll point out at this juncture that centre partings weren't really on trend back then, and so I opted to clip my fringe to one side throughout the regrowth process. Well you can just imagine how that worked out. If it wasn't so horrific, I'd try and dig out a photo, but I also had dyed brown hair back in the day, and those roots just topped off the look nicely. Needless to say, I won't be making that same mistake any time soon. 

Anyway, after months of going back and forwards, I just decided to do it. New year, new me and all that. Nearly half a year down the line, there's a few things I've learned, and just in case you're in the same boat as I was at the end of last year, I thought I'd share them with you. 

No one, and I mean NO ONE, will style your fringe the way you do. 
Yeah, I don't really understand this one either, but somehow it's like there's a secret that only you've been let in on. With all the best will in the world, it just isn't going to happen. Or rather, it hasn't happened yet, in my experience. I live in hope though... 

Physical activity, or really anything that induces a sweaty forehead, is not your friend. 
At risk of this being a bit tmi, I am a pretty sweaty person when I work out. Thankfully it tends to be localised and not my entire body leaking like Niagara Falls, but unfortunately for me, that excessive sweating tends to pool on my forehead. And that never used to be a problem because my hair was always tucked behind my ears anyway, but obviously I can't do that anymore, so physical activity = sweaty, flat fringe = guaranteed fringe wash and blow dry. You don't even want to know what the result is when the fringe dries naturally in said circumstances. 

I do often wonder if I'm missing a trick here. Options currently include clipping fringe to the side and dealing with dents in hair, sweeping hair back with an alice band (sadly not a velvet one with my name on) or braving the sweatband. Haven't actually tested the latter option yet, but it's getting close. If someone could, in the meantime, invent a patch for your forehead to stop sweating, or some sort of invisible fringe shield, that would be fab. 

It grows, quickly.
I'm actually very fortunate in this regard, as Harvey's mum can always be relied on to trim my fringe for me. Now that I work from home and therefore don't head into the city that often, it's actually somewhat of a godsend. Salons usually do free fringe trims, but when you have to make a special 2 hour round trip and gamble that your stylist is free, it's a dangerous game. You could always have a go at trimming your fringe yourself, but I don't yet trust myself not to also trim my eyelashes in the process. Ah, adulting... 


Unless you get through hair spray like it's going out of fashion, give up on your idea of a permanently perfect fringe. 
Because it just ain't gonna happen. When I first had my fringe cut in, this used to drive me mad and I would be constantly preening and trying to 'fix' my new forehead accessory. Thanks to the point below, I now prefer my fringe with a little windswept action. It looks better when it's more natural (in my opinion), and although it actually takes a lot of work, effortless being the intention, I think I've mastered it. 

Avoid excess heat (i.e. straighteners) and invest in a barrel brush and hairdryer instead.
To say this revolutionised my fringe game would be an understatement. If you scroll through my instagram, all the way back to January, you can see a drastic difference between the styling, even though the cut was the same. I think the difference lies in the roots; when I used to use straighteners, I couldn't get them close enough to the roots to get any real lift, and even trying to recreate that with the straighteners just didn't work. Use a barrel brush and hairdryer, however, and that job becomes ten times easier. There's still a knack to it, but that Alexa Chung-inspired fringe is so much more attainable. 

It also goes without saying that excessive heat equals damage, so the less you can get away with using, the better. My current hair dryer is looking a little worse for wear these days, and I was recently very impressed by the Dyson Supersonic hairdryer when I saw it in use at a John Lewis event the other week. It's the fact you can control the temperature that really gets me. When this one gives up the ghost, I will for sure be thinking about investing in one. £300 seems rather a lot right now though, so it can sit on my wishlist for just a little while longer... 


So that's that! I could probably continue indefinitely, but they're the main things I've noticed over the course of the last few months. I have to say I think it's one of the best appearance-related decisions I've ever made, and for all the hassle, it's definitely been worth it in terms of the confidence I've gained.

As ever, feel free to send over any fringe-related questions if there's anything else you'd like to know! I'll link my instagram here, just in case you want to take a look at any more fringe action. Turns out there aren't that many blonde bloggers on my radar with fringes at the moment so I struggled to find anyone else to link... As it happens, I'm very happy to be corrected on this, so please also feel free to send over some recommendations.

I'm thinking I might start a series of posts along the lines of 'So you're thinking of...' based on my experience of all sorts of things (think lip fillers/LVL lashes/brow styling/personal styling etc...). I've gotten really interested in that sort of thing recently, so if you're also thinking about it, I thought it might be handy to share tips. Let me know what you think anyway! 


Photos by Katie Jade Photography
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25.5.18

SHIFT / Barely Methodical Troupe

Photography by Chris Nash 


A rubber band has limits for elasticity which, when exceeded, shatter into a thousand pieces. Within the first five minutes of the performance, I was convinced that would be the inevitable outcome but oh, how wrong I was.

There were moments, pure heart-in-your-mouth moments, where the audience visibly shifted in their seats, as the performers flew, seemingly unstoppably towards the edges of the stage, only to be halted by the blue rubber bands around their bodies, counterbalanced perfectly by their co-performers. For every action, there really was an equal and opposite reaction, and it was quite simply breathtaking.

There were feats of sheer strength and balance, each of the performers using their statures and unique skill sets in very particular ways. If ever you needed a reminder of how important core strength and trust are, this show more than provides one. Talking of balance, I'm fully considering setting up a tightrope walk situation in my garden; inspired really doesn't even begin to cut it.


I had cold, sweaty palms throughout the show, and couldn't bring myself to look away, such was the intensity. I walked out of the Adnams Spiegeltent, feeling completely astounded by the fluidity and ease with which every individual on that stage moved. Years of practice I'm sure, but the result was effortless. 

And yet to my surprise, amongst the suspense filled silence, there were moments of laughter as the troupe quipped and interacted with the audience. From someone who wasn't sure what to expect from a group calling themselves the Barely Methodical Troupe, I was completely bowled over and cannot recommend them enough. Now firmly on my radar, they should most definitely find their way onto yours too. 

If gravity-defying acrobatics and unforgettable displays of modern circus are your thing, that is... 

(I was very kindly gifted tickets for the event in return for review. My opinion remains entirely honest and unbiased as per usual, however.) 
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23.5.18

Sigma | Gandini

Photography by ASH

Juggling, Indian dancing, apples, geometry. Not four things you would ordinarily expect to find together in the space of an hour, but much like chalk and cheese, a match made in heaven. Whilst apples are perhaps a bit of a stretch (they were actually red and green balls, although it did take me a second or two to realise!), optical illusions were certainly the order of the day.

~ EXPECTATION ~

From the very outset of the show, audience expectations were challenged. Four very different women presented what was a surprisingly intimate performance, through the medium of circus, dancing, dialogue and chanting. Over the course of 60 minutes, 12 stories, 4 introductions and various outfit changes, the show highlighted the intricacies of Bharatanatyam dance, and the sheer skill of the Gandini jugglers.

~ STORY ONE ~

Writing this a day after the performance, I am still struck by the first story, entitled Screens. The staging was very simple, comprising a black backdrop, and two screens which, when turned around, revealed two large mirrors. Despite being only a small stage, I couldn't decide where to look as there was so much going on I wanted to see; who'd have thought that shadow projections and synchronised (and colour co-ordinated!) juggling would be so enthralling?

~ REFLECTION ~

As I sat in the audience, I was struck by just how much of a focus there was on rhythm, and natural rhythm at that, to the extent that it was almost hypnotic; at points I found myself distracted, marvelling at how focused the jugglers were, and wondering just how much concentration it took to stay in such perfect unison. When the screens were reversed to reveal mirrors, even the simple act of bouncing balls in perfect synchronicity became complex, giving me all of the hall of mirrors vibes.

~ THOUGHTS ~ 

So, final thought time. In all honesty, I wasn't sure what to expect from Sigma. The juxtaposition and total contrast of the juggling and dancing seemed a completely alien concept to me, and although it felt at times like the performance was slightly disjointed, it was a resounding success. I would very happily watch it again as I feel like it's one of those pieces where it would be a totally different performance the second time round. 

If you want to catch the show whilst it's still on tour, you can check out the tour dates here. I may very well see you there, but don't let that prospect put you off...

Oh, and if you've never been to any of the Norfolk and Norwich Festival events before, you should go - they're top notch. 

(FYI I was very kindly gifted tickets for the event in return for review. My opinion remains entirely honest and unbiased as per usual, however.) 


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