Sunday, 19 February 2017

A guided Tour of some of the best architectural gems in Manchester

I am a Manchester girl, born and bred and I thought I knew my city pretty well. Not as well as I thought after a very insightful and entertaining tour with Manchester historian and journalist Jonathan Schofield?

Jonathan runs many tours and is editor of Manchester confidential, online magazine and blog about everything that is great about this city.

The tour started at The Portico Library, a building I have walked past many times and been told about many times over the years, but it was yesterday, with Jonathan, that I finally got to enter this magnificent historic building where many literary greats and historical figures of Manchester's past were members. Names such as Elizabeth Gaskell, Sir Robert Peel and John Dalton have sat in these rooms, researching, writing and debating. It is small and intimate in size but grand on atmosphere and ambience with its dark book lined walls, gilt framed portraits and Georgian panelled windows gazing down below onto Moseley Street, once the grandest of Manchester roads.

After Jonathan regaled us with plenty of tales and anecdotes about the libraries previous history and members, we moved across the road to King Street,previously home to The Midland Bank, now Jamie Olivers restaurant. The bank was designed by architectural giant, Edward Lutyens and the bank vault, which was our point of discussion, was littered with simple details showing Lutyens attention to detail. Again many insightful stories were told about when the vault was cleared for the renovations of the restaurant to commence and what was found in the lockers. I won't spoil Jonathan's stories by telling all, you'll have to go on the tour to find out? Safe to say the story is now Manchester legend.

After King Street we crossed over to Manchester Central Library, a building I have been to many times but of course, as this was a tour of Manchester architectural treasures, Jonathan didn't show us the obvious rooms open to the public. Instead he took us to the top floor and the librarians office with far reaching views of Oxford Road beyond and told us the history of the Peterloo massacre and the belief that bodies from that siege remain under the stone pavings in front of the library!

Our final destination was The Hidden Gem church behind John Dalton Street. A lovely little church, as its name perfectly describes.

Jonathan runs many tours all very different in their themes but all, I'm sure, equally fascinating. I will definitely be going on more and if you're thinking of a visit to Manchester in the future, I would highly recommend you try and fit one into your visit.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Five 2017 Must See Exhibitions

As January falls upon us, it's a good time of the year to look forward and make plans. I always like to have events or days out to keep me going through the dark and damp month of January and there are some fantastic exhibitions being held around the UK and europe this year. These 5 at least I intend to visit.

The Radical Eye, Modernist Photography from The Sir Elton John Collection

This exhibition at London Tate Modern, is formed from part of the personal photography collection of Sir Elton John who owns some of the most important and iconic images from the last century. Works include those by Mann Ray, Imogen Cunningham, Breton and Dorothea Lange. Images we are all familiar with but have probably never seen up close. The exhibition runs until 7 may 2017 and is not to be missed for anybody interested in this art form.

This fantastic and insightful exhibition into the life and mind of the  late British musical icon David Bowie, makes one final unexpected appearance in Europe. For just over 1 month the exhibition, curated by the V&A, will be shown at Museu del Disseny before it moves onto New York and Japan. If you can possibly see it, go, it is more than you could ever expect.

Approaching his 80th birthday, this is the largest exhibition of the artists work, celebrating a lifetime of varied output across many different mediums. The exhibition runs from 9 February 2017 until 29 may 2017

This exhibition is very close to my heart,being a northerner. The exhibition is a study of the north and its inhabitants, habits and cultures and how this has shaped creatives emerging from the area or those that have been influenced by this part of the country. Featured artists include Corinne Day, Gareth Pugh, Raf Simons, Paul Smith, Nick Knight amongst many more. In collaboration with SHOWstudio fashion & film and sponsored by Adidas. This is one to take my daughter to who is studying textile design and photography at school. I'm sure it will prove to be a truly inspiring and influential exhibition.

I had to include this exhibition for my husband. He is so excited about this, being a huge fan of the band for as long as I've known him which is a long time! Apart from that though the bands collaborations with artists has been a large part of their work throughout their career and long before  Damien Hirst was putting sharks in tanks, this band were floating giant inflatable pigs over Battersea Power Station so maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised? The exhibition runs from 13 May 2017 until 1 October 2017.

Friday, 13 January 2017

Get the Tribe Vibe with Urban nature Stories HomeWares

A new homewares brand has caught my attention this week. Urban Culture Stories. This Amsterdam design brand, has a new concession in Selfridges at the Trafford Centre.

The products are predominantly global inspired and quite ethnic, featuring lots of earthy coloured prints, woven throws and rugs and tie dye textiles and tableware. Vivid colour, pattern and texture is a trend that is going to emerge this year, moving slightly away from the neutral black and white global textile trend.

Prices are good and with an emphasis on recycled materials and quite limited stock, which ensures, a certain element of exclusivity, I really like this new addition to the bigger high street offerings within The Trafford Centre.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Lusting after Toast OAS range

I have always loved the clothing and homeware brand Toast and I'm not saying that trying to jump on any sponsored blogger post bandwagon. Toast has always optimised my ideal type of clothes, casual, relaxed, tomboy style dressing in the best quality fabrics, with an interesting spin on design classics.

For some reason however, it has escaped my attention that they have an even more perfect range for me, under the name of OAS. I bloody love it and I want it all now!

If I had to reign myself in, as most of us obviously have to, then these would be my top 5, my "I have to have these items in my life" My husband or anybody that knows me, would probably say on looking at these items, but you have them already. Ok I have variations of them, but you can never, in my opinion, have too many dungarees, pinafores or slouchy trousers & these, as I have said, are not just any slouchy trousers, they are Toast!

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Tomboy Style New Years Eve Outfits

New Years Eve always seems to be the one social evening of the year where sparkle, glitter and glamour are called for in the clothes department. This is a perennial problem for the tomboy style dresser and can sometimes, and often in my case, cause the most angst over the Christmas period. What to wear that suggests you are dressed for the occasion but not so much so that you feel as though you are having an out of body experience and attending the function as some one other than your true self. Weddings also have this effect on me, but I am learning slowly that dressing as yourself is always the best option and nobody would expect anything else.

Here fellow tomboys, lovers of Garcon style, are my suggestions for the party evening of the year. Items that say, I know it's party time but I'm keeping my inner freestyle soul intact and not wasting my hard earned mula on any shiny s*** that won't see the light of day again after midnight.

1) Culottes are a tomboy girls current new BFF worn with a heel or soft fabric top they can look chic and stylish.

2) Wear a full on party skirt such as sequinned but dressed down with a sweater, T-shirt or sweatshirt.

3) Wear a tulle prom skirt with every day items such as a military jacket and ankle boots or biker boots & again with a sweater or sweatshirt

4) Jumpsuits are still hanging around or opt for a semi jumpsuit/dungaree version such as this one from Anthropologie, now in the sale!

5) Add silver to anything in the form of shoes, bags, jackets and it says I'm party ready.

If in doubt there's always the tried and tested Parisian chic silk shirt and well cut black trousers demonstrated beautifully here by Clemence poesy

  1. Zara Jumpsuit
  2. Laura Celement at La Redoute
  3. Asos
  4. Cos
  5. Aldo silver block heel shoes
  6. Hush
  7. Zara metallic pleat skirt

Happy New year to all my readers. What ever you wear, where ever you are, have a fab time!

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Easy Rustic Country Style Foliage Christmas Wreath

This is, I grant you, a very last minute tutorial on how to make a Christmas wreath, but to be honest, if you're anything like me and have a hectic rush towards Christmas, then you will still be thinking about making yours anyway?

This wreath is so easy to make and can be practically cobbled together with any flowers, berries or foliage you can find in any local florists or while out walking, and the more last minute, the better it will look as we head towards the big day, this weekend.

You will need:

  1. A  12" flat wire double wreath ring from your florist
  2. some floristry wire
  3. scissors or secateurs
  4. fresh moss
  5. Selection of flowers, berries, foliage

Start by filling the gap between the outer and the inner circles of your flat wire wreath ring with the moss.

Next secure the moss be tightly wrapping the floristry wire completely around the whole wreath ring.

Next make fan shaped bundles of foliage,berries or flowers from your chosen selection be crossing them over each other from left to right alternatively, holding them tightly in your hand at the base. Trim any excess stems so that each stem is equal in length, using your secateurs.

Ignore my grubby hands and nails, this is not clean work. If you are precious about your hands or nails, then I would advise wearing gardening gloves although you can probably get a better grip without them?

Attach each bundle of foliage and berries to the moss covered wreath laying it flat and tightly winding the base of the bundle to the ring with the floristry wire. Pull the wire very tight so that there is no slack at all and snip the wire once it is firmly secure. I always work by laying the first bundle on the top of the ring facing to the right of me. Then overlay the next bundle facing in the same direction with the head of the bundle covering the base of the first and so on until the whole ring is covered. 

To hang the wreath make a loop by cutting a good length of floristry wire, bending it in half to form a horse shoe shape and poking the two loose ends through the middle of the two rings so that the top of the loop is against the moss. Then with the two loose ends bend them back towards yourself, thread through the top of the wire which is against the moss and pull tightly to secure. Twist the two loose ends together to secure and this will form a loop to hang. If you prefer you could attach some natural coloured string to give the wreath a more rustic finish.

So here it is, as somebody commented, perfectly imperfect? Just my type of style.

If you want to see the lovely lady that taught me how to make this wreath, then here is the very talented Kitten Grayson, making a beautiful wreath for Farrow & Ball and showing, in a video, rather than trying to explain to you, how it's done.

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Small Independent Business - The Potting Shed Alderley Edge Cheshire

The Potting shed has been situated in the lovely Cheshire town of Alderley Edge for almost 20 years and was one of the first destination shops I can remember frequently visiting when we bought our first home. The buckets of flowers, pots of plants and twisted willow basket ware spilling onto the pavement always made sure I stopped the car to get out and browse inside and the business has grown and evolved over the years to spawn The Little Potting Shed in near by Tarporley.

Fast forward 20 years and it's still one of my favourite shops and definitely one of the loveliest florists I have ever visited. The wide range of flowers and plants are displayed against a dramatic backdrop of black painted wooden tongue and groove and flowers and foliage spill out from beautiful containers old and new.The shop changes seasonally and the window displays and objects on display are always stunning.

Along with a selection of homewares, candles and small gifts, this is a testament to how successful and enduring a small business can be when attention to detail and an unwavering eye for beautiful objects is at the core.