Tuesday, 8 October 2013

My new radio show!

Hello! I apologise for my recent absence. Moving back up to Edinburgh, surviving fresher's weak and learning how to cook and look after myself has been rather occupying my time, as well as studying, playing hockey and gigs (Johnny Flynn and Laura Marling how I love you).

However, I am back and have many posts in the pipeline, primarily about my brief travels in the summer to Iceland and Barcelona. This post though is about the very exciting news that I have also now landed myself my own radio show on the Edinburgh University student radio station FreshAir. I've wanted a show since my friends began one last year, so I chose my songs, made up my demo and here we are!

The name of the show is Music, Musings and Meanderings in keeping with my blog name and y time slot is 12 until 1 o'clock on a Sunday and you can tune in and listen live on
the FreshAir website from this Sunday onwards. I am also going to record the shows and upload them onto soundcloud for people to listen again if they miss it. I will be playing a mixture of music I like, mainly folky, old and new and trying to include local gigs and up coming artists. I am really excited and hope that people enjoy listening!

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Lou Lou's Vintage Fair - Leicester

Today my mum and I headed over to Leicester cathedral for Lou Lou's Vintage Fair. Firstly I hadn't realised quite how pretty that part of Leicester is; the cathedral fence was lined with purple blooms, the street is wide and traffic-free and the Guildhall is simply lovely. We arrived early which was a good job as a queue of well quaffed, red lipped creatures began to form outside the door.

Inside the Cathedral there were about ten different vintage stalls with a great selection of men's and women's clothing, jewellery and accessories, 50s rock n' roll was playing and there was an exciting atmosphere in the beautiful setting. I did very well with my shopping, grabbing some early bargains. I got some classic levi cut-offs, two checked shirts, some lovely brogue boots, a chunky knit and a little dress. In general it was good value and it was a really great event!

Picture from Lou Lou's Facebook Page.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

My Decorating Tips for a University Bedroom

As I'm moving into my university flat on Saturday I decided it's probably about time I uploaded my tips for decorating a university bedroom. I've always thought it's very important to have your own personal space, particularly when living far away from home and so believe that making your room your own is essential. So here it is..


Make sure you have your own bedding, that'll make you feel cosy and safe. I have the classic ikea rose, but just pick what makes you happy. Obviously I also have my patchwork quilt, which I toiled over for weeks and weeks, and I love! If you want to take it even further you can bring or buy a matress topper. One of my friends has a mattress topper, and a massive fluffy duvet and pillow, we call it cloud bed and it's the envy of everyone who's ever sat on it. I would also recommend bringing lots of cushions, they personalise your room and are ideal for making everyone comfy if you all settle down to watch a movie in one room.


Use any posters that you love as well as maps and photo posters, which can be made quite cheaply on any photo printing website. I have a couple of movie posters, maps, piste maps, my own drawings as well as a calendar which helps me to keep my life organised.

Pin Boards

Most likely, if you're in halls you will be provided with at least one pinboard, so go wild and fill it with whatever makes you happy, old memories, new friends etc. Pinboards are also quick and easy to make using fabric, ribbon and pins, you can find excellent directions here. You could also apply this same technique to your ready made pin board in halls.

Make a washing line

If you're not allowed to use blue tac or Sellotape on your walls, and aren't rebellious enough to disobey this order, a great way to display your posters, photos and anything else you may want is on a washing line. I like the idea of using regular string and plain wooden pegs, this may also work out to be the cheapest, but you can get creative, introducing ribbons, pins, broaches - anything you fancy that will make you feel happy and comfortable in your new room. Bring photos from home of friends and family and add to your line as you gain more special photos, postcards and fliers.


More often than not the flooring in a university bedroom will be less than desirable, particularly if you're in halls. A quick, easy solution to this problem is sticking a rug down, even if it doesn't cover the whole floor it will draw attention away from whatever nasty carpet has been previous bestowed upon you. Urban Outfitters do some pretty cheap little ones starting from £12, but if you have a bigger budget they have a full range, many of which are really lovely.

Pot plants

If I could I would have full trees growing in my bedroom, or a wall like this which is in the Anthropologie shop on Regents St. London. However I don't quite have the means, so I'll settle for pot plants. In general they aren't very hard to look after, just give them a water now and again. I have a little Jade Plant which is growing fast. If you're even more green fingered you could even gave a go with a bonsai. We're even thinking that we might give herb growing a go this year.


Of course everyone seems to be obsessed by fairy lights, and why not they are lovely, so go for it. I would also say that it is very important to have a bright desk light, it makes work so much easier and you're more likely to stay awake!

Wall Hangings

I have lots of wall hangings that my grandparents brought back from India, from the time they lived there. These are a fantastic way to cover up boring walls. My brother used these and saris bought cheaply off Ebay to drape from his ceiling and down his walls to give an oriental feel.

Linen basket

Make sure you have some kind of linen basket or bag so that you don't leave your dirty washing on the floor all the time. I use my old gym bag from primary school, I can hang it up and fit lots in it and it looks really pretty which is a bonus.

Scour the Charity shops for finds

You can find all kinds of things in charity shops, they're cheap, eco friendly and the money goes to a good cause. I recommend buying crockery, knives and forks, little pots and trinkets to store jewellery and even blankets and cushions. It's all about luck which is what makes charity shopping all the more exciting. If you're a fresher it's good to have more than one set of cutlery and crockery, because making and sharing food is one of the easiest ways of making friends. One of my friends literally brought about 18 mugs to uni together with a mug stand, which has stood her in pretty good stead.


If you're in halls don't be afraid to move your furniture around (the bits that aren't fixed anyway), a lot of my friends did this and managed to give themselves a lot more play area. Also, in my halls, everybody took the wheels off the bottom of their bed. If you're not in halls but don't like your furniture head out to the junk and charity shops to see something you might need for your room - a bigger desk for example. Don't be put off my colour either, repainting furniture gives it a whole new lease of life.


If you're keen on sewing you'll know that bunting is really easy to rustle up; simply cut out your triangles with pinking shears and the sew them onto a ribbon and, like the washing line, this avoids sticking things to the walls as it can be pinned or tied. Last year, one of my friends bought a strike long enough to go round her room four times, allover the cupboards and along each shelf. It was great.


Try and bring some speakers, they make listening to music and watching movies so much better. I have my record player too which is always a talking point. Also don't forget your instruments, everyone loves to jam around a guitar no matter how bad you are.


Obviously I would take my fish Bruce if I could, but I worry that he wouldn't survive the journey and that there would be no one to care for him during the holidays. You have to check with your landlords, or just break the rules, but I've heard plans for tortoises (yes please!) and kittens. Last year I know a group that managed to keep a pet hamster for months by moving it around according to the cleaning days, he was called Hammy!

If you have any more ideas please let me know. I'll upload some photos when I'm all moved in and unpacked. And freshers.. don't worry you're going to be fine. Great, in fact.

Recipe: Homemade Elderflower Cordial

One of the really lovely things about english summer in the variety of natural produce at hand throughout the season. Elderflower cordial is one of my favourite drinks and because we have elderflowers in abundance in my village, last month my mum and I decided to make some of our own. My grandma told me that you should only pick elderflower's in good weather, so we waited for a sunny day and headed down the lane to do some picking. The process of making the cordial is really easy, and it can be frozen and used gradually throughout the year.


2 litres of water
2 kilograms of Caster Sugar
6 lemons
2 packets of citric acid
Approx. 30 elferflower heads

The directions are very easy. Simply shake off the flowers and zest and slice the lemons, while bringing the water up to the boil.

Once the water is boiling add the sugar and let it dissolve, take the pan off the heat and then add the flowers, lemons (with zest) and citric acid. Give it a stir and leave to sit over night in the fridge so that all the flavour comes out of the flowers.

The next day simply strain the mixture through a muslin and then enjoy with water and lots of ice! If you fancy something a bit different why not add some ginger into the mixture? Enjoy :)

Monday, 1 July 2013

Declaration of Wellness

I am hereby declaring myself well again. I know glandular fever isn't the most serious illness, but it has been pretty rubbish and I've been lucky enough not to have had it for months and months (I better not have a relapse). I went on my first run today since I've been ill so hopefully I'll be back to fighting fit in no time. It hasn't been all bad either; I can now swallow pills and I've made a huge patchwork quilt, read the Life of Pi and started a blog. Oh, and conquered my fear of roller-coasters, so quite productive I think. I am also declaring myself better because I have to really, as I start my job as an activity leader at a summer camp down in Surrey next Monday. I'm pretty nervous and very excited to be out and about. So, thank you to all my lovely family and friends for the cakes, cards and presents and especially thanks to my parents for getting me on the mend.

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Canoeing on the Nene

Today I went on a family day out, dog in tow, brother at Glastonbury, to a little village the other side of Oundle called Waddenhoe. My dad's new obsession is canoeing and so we thought we'd have a paddle on the river Nene and a picnic on the river bank. For our base we used a lovely pub garden which ran right down to the river, called the King's Head. On a day like today, where we are blessed with blue skies and sunshine it really is a magical spot.

I had a wonderful time with my dad out on the water and it's a shame I couldn't take my camera out with me, but I fear that could have ended in disaster. It's lovely to see a familiar landscape from a different angle. The river was teeming with life, from fish and birds, to plants and insects. We saw swans with their cygnets, a moorhen with its chick, ducks and ducklings and even a heron. The edges of the river were lined with tall reeds tangled with some form of water lilly with beautiful yellow flowers which protruded through the surface of the water, while underneath bloomed a forrest of freshwater weed. Among many other insects, there were amazing blue dragon flies with opaque black wings that danced across the water, the motion of which couldn't be caught on camera.

I think this may well be my favourite hobby that my dad has adopted so far, sailing and mountain biking were less successful, while skiing remains a constant. I would really recommend taking to the water, along the Nene there are various places to hire canoes, and lots of pretty spots to stop at along the way. I've decided that in the future I rather fancy having a house that backs on to a river, or taking a holiday on a narrow boat.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

My First Ever Patchwork Quilt - Part II

As many of you may know, my main activity this summer has been making a patchwork quilt, mainly because my other plans were cancelled due to illness. You can read my first post about this here. I thought it was about time I gave an update on my progress, which has been slower than before as I have been up and about and seeing my friends.

The patchwork top was finished last week and so I went over to Jenny's Patchwork Studio, to buy the wadding and the fabric for binding my quilt. I went for the wadding that Jenny recommended as she is clearly the expert, and was able to get two more metres of the binding fabric. As ever Jenny was very helpful and her studio is really lovely with a great set-up and classes running throughout the week. I went to John Lewis for the backing fabric, which is also really beautiful.

I chose to bind my quilt using this technique, where the binding is wide, so that I could make the most out of the pretty pattern of the fabric, also in the hope that it would bring together the rest of the pattern and make my quilt look more cohesive. Im pretty please with the result, though I wish I had been more accurate with my measuring and cutting as my corners don't quite miter properly on the reverse side, however I don't think this is too detrimental to the overall look.

At the moment I am working on sewing the back of the binding to the backing by hand which is a lengthy process, and then I need to decide the best way to sew all three of my layers together. There are places around the country where you can send your quilts to be machine quilted, although the designs available here are more beautiful and intricate than anything I could achieve on my own machine, this is a very expensive process which could be up to £150, which I simply can't afford. I may try to quilt on my machine, or simply do it by hand, and I also haven't decided what sort of design to go for, whether to sew in the seams or to do something more complex such as a floral design.

Hopefully next time I post about my quilt it will be the finished article, perhaps even in situ on my new double bed in my university flat up in Edinburgh. I'm excited.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Brick Lane

I've been going to Brick Lane in the East-end of London for about five years now, both with my friends and with my family. Then, I was a self conscious fourteen year old listening to emerging 'nu-folk' music and making some rather dodgy outfit choices, though I still stand by some of them, and Brick Lane was one of the most exciting places on the planet. Now I have friends who live near-by, frequenting its boutique cafes, celebrity spotting and making regular purchases from its plethora of vintage shops. While I could say that this has made the magic wear off for me slightly, it really hasn't. Brick Lane still remains one of my favourite places in London. The market is on a Sunday and so this is the most vibrant, if tourist-y, and exciting day to go.

As far as shopping goes I would recommend getting there early, not early early as the stall holders won't be about of bed, but I try to get to the pop-up vintage market under the Sunday-Up market (they're right down Brick Lane - you can't miss it), by about ten o'clock. This means you can choose from some of the best items and you can see them properly as you don't have to elbow your way through hundreds of dawdlers. I really recommend this market, I always find a bargain here. Today I bought a larger denim jacket, a floral sleeveless shirt, and a thick checked shirt. The other place I always seem to find success is Beyond Retro, the successful international chain, which can be found just off Brick Lane on Cheshire Street. From here I bought two funky shirts, one white lace shirt and a pair of stripy shorts. This shop is awesome.

My advice would be steer clear of Rokit and Blitz. Although Blitz is wonderfully laid out and a huge store, in general both are very over priced, that is of course unless you find that must have item that you've always wanted then who's stopping you splash out?

It's lovely to have a wander around and visit as many shops as possible, as well as making the most out of the markets, many of which are artists selling their unique creations. Despite an overcast sky and spitting rain there is always a great atmosphere on a Sunday, the vibrant street art, buskers and local characters means the street buzzes with life.

At the Sunday Up market and in the Truman Brewery you can get food from every conceivable country you can name from around the world, think of a country and you're sure to be able to find its national delicacy somewhere between the bustle of hipsters and tourists. On top of the variety, more often than not, the food is great. Today I had oriental chicken dumplings and noodles, like the ones that come as a starter in Wagamamas, but even bigger, yum!

Here is my haul for the day. I did really well, as it usually takes something big for me to part with my cash. I'm pretty pleased, and had a great day, so thanks to my parents.

Monday, 10 June 2013

A Myriad of Quilting Marvels

On Sunday my mum and I took a brief trip out to a local quilting show in the village of Wing, to get some inspiration and just to see what was going on really. We were both quite surprised to be greeted with such a wealth of talent. You can read about the Wing quilting group here in the Rutland Times, but neither this article, nor the attached photo do the ladies justice. Every pew was draped with a large, brightly coloured and beautifully crafted quilts. It made me feel a bit embarrassed about mine, but everyone was nothing but supportive.

In the village hall there were a variety of stalls selling fabrics, knitted goods and other oddities. We chatted to a lady called Jenny, who runs quilting classes and sells fabrics (here is her website). She advised me on what wadding I should use in my quilt - 80% cotton and 20% polyester, to keep the softness but allow it to go through the wash. Apparently the only brand you should buy is Hobbs. Unfortunately this wadding is quite thin, not quite what I wanted to keep me warm on those chilly nights up in Edinburgh, and too expensive to double up, at £12.50 a metre. I'll have to investigate if Hobbs make any thicker wadding, or just follow the expert's advice. From Jenny I also bought some fabric that I would like to use for the border and binding of my quilt. It is from a collection called Prairie Home by Two Friends, Jenny only had a metre but I will see if I can find anymore online or take a visit to Jenny's workshop.

The whole event was in memory of the former teacher of the group Alison Maudlin and in aid of the Rutland Stroke Club. I won a lovely handmade cushion in the cushion tombola, and the ladies were also raffling a quilt that they had all helped to make. 

My spoils of the day - My appliqued and hand quilted cushion (I really lucked out with this one) and the fabric I am hoping to use as binding for my own quilt.

Along the same lines I also wanted to share a quilt I completely fell in love with on a trip to one of Stamford's many antique shops yesterday. It was reversible with pink paisley on one side and blue on the other and it was gorgeously thick and heavy. Unfortunately I don't have £199 to spend. We can dream (or make our own).

Sunday, 9 June 2013

My First Patchwork Quilt - Part I

Since I've been ill I have had a lot of time on my hands and being the type of person that gets bored after three days of lounging around, I inevitably had to find something to do with myself. This happened to be patchwork. While it isn't the most youthful, nor fashionable hobby I have really enjoyed myself so far.

I have had a huge bag of fabric remnants for as long as I can remember, made up of past projects, donations from both of my grandmas and different pieces of clothing from all the members of my family. Therefore some of these fabrics have great sentimental value and have been wanting to make them up into a patchwork quilt for a very long time.

I decided to throw myself in at the deepend somewhat wanting to crated a large quilt for a double bed, out of pretty small squares and I must say that I am a complete novice and any expert quilter (such as those demonstrated in my next post) may shudder at my wobbly lines and uneven seams. However, this being my first quilt and something I'll keep on my bed at uni I don't really mind.

I made my squares 10cm by 10cm as I wanted to use some of my smallest scraps. I read somewhere that you must try to cut with the grain of the fabric, which is pretty challenging with ikea pillowcases where the grain is nigh on invisible, so I ended up with some pretty wonky squares, but I didn't want to waste them.

If anyone is making their own quilt, or thinking about it I would really recommend you purchase a rotary cutter, some kind of edge - for example a long metal ruler, and a cutting board. It will make things so much easier. I was cutting freehand using scissors so it's no wonder some of it went awry.

I threw myself in there really, starting with some of my favourite fabrics that I had very little of. I laid out my design for the centre and decided to work outwards. I used a sewing machine to make my quilt.

A selection of my squares many of which will be left over

While I feel like my complete lack of expertise means I cannot make this a How To post just yet, I would like to offer some tips, having learnt with experience:

  • Rotary cutter - so much easier for cutting straight lines
  • Have some kind of pattern to your design - I found it looked prettier than if if was completely random
  • Aim to layout as much of your design as possible before you start sewing
  • It's all in the ironing - iron your seems flat at every opportunity to get the best looking results
  • Aim for right angles and straight lines - but don't beat yourself up if you go a bit off piste
  • Sew your squares in groups rather than lines and then attach them together eg. once I'd realised that lines didn't work too well I sewed my squares in groups of 9

Left to do, I have to finish sewing together the final three layers of squares and then attach them to the main body of the quilt. Then I need to bind the quilt with some kind of border, which I will need to research how to do. Finally I must back the quilt with some kind of sturdier fabric, sandwich a layer of wadding in between the top and the bottom and somehow quilt all three layers together. As you can see, I'm really making it up as I go along.

Where I'm currently up to - it's become rather challenging to photograph!

I was inspired by mainly my grandma, but also Kirsty Allsop and her "vintage home", Cherry Menlove and various vintage quilts I've seen. Fabrics came from all over, but the ones I purchased new came from a rather pricy Cath Kidston bundle and from a lovely shop in Stamford called Callyco.

Please forgive the quality of these photos I only kept track using my iphone camera, I can assure you there will be nicer photos when the final result is uploaded.