Unexpected surprises

We’ve been prattling around in our living room of late, preening here, paining there and you’ve been kept very much up to date on our progress. But, I thought I’d spare a moment for a rather ingenious and totally accidental addition to our living room.

Way back when we were hosting a 1970s inspired Christmas soiree, we had a bare patch of wall destined to host some artwork. But, no frames. We’d not managed to find any that we liked and so it was looking like we were going to have to showcase the newly decorated living room sans artwork!

Frames, Poundland
Lamp, TK Maxx

But, I was in a Poundland picking up something stupid like table confetti or tea lights and I stumbled across some frames (for £1 each, funnily enough) which were rather brilliant. 

They’re white with a grey mount inside, and a string with two wooden pegs on, for hanging photographs from. There’s no glass, so it’s easy to swap and change the contents of the frame – which inspired us to get creative.

Table, IKEA

We quickly popped them up and hung our previously purchased book of 12 ink bolts. Y’know, the kind psychoanalysts and psychiatrists use. They’re gorgeously abstract designs that spark conversation, and you can remove the cards from the frame to read the subliminal meanings behind each one too! It was supposed to just be an interim solution, but we quite like them.

Postcards, Faber

Kathleen Lines’ Stories For Girls, Muriel Goaman’s Anyone Can Cook, Paul Birckhill’s The Great Escape, Abetti’s The Sun, Jean Conil’s Haute Cuisine, Anthony Buckeridge’s Stories For Boys, James Blish’s Welcome To Mars, Seamus Heaney’s Door Into The Dark, Alfred Duggan’s Devil’s Brood, T.S. Eliot’s Collected Poems, Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar and Rudolf Arnheim’s Film As Art.

Then, this season we switched it up, with some postcard versions of famous covers from the faber publishing house archives. They’re typography heavy and blooming gorgeous. Some are obscure books I’ve never heard of and others are household names, like Seamus Heaney’s Door Into The Dark and Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar. There’s also 100 in the box, so loads more to swap in and out too! Not bad for a last minute £1 find!


Boot camp take aways

So, I announced in early January, in Jay-Z launching Tidal fashion, that I was committing myself to a fitness boot camp by Darren “Bear” Craven, to get myself into shape following my incredible efforts at gaining Christmas podge.

I’ve since been to two classes.

One thing that’s struck me is (how fucking painful it is) how hard it is to commit to specific class times when you’re a busy independent corporate bitch. That’s why I’ve turned it around (unlike Jay-Z’s Tidal) and taken the things I’ve learnt from Darren at his Bear Strength Conditioning Performance classes and used them to form my own circuit at my usual gym to practise in-between (or, if life gets in the way, instead of) his classes.

In all honesty, we’re all busy, but we have to find time to keep fit – so by attending my usual gym twice a week when I can fit a 45 min session in, I’ll be able to supplement my once weekly Bear class nicely and if I have to skip a class, so be it (I hope Darren isn’t reading this).

So, three things I learnt at Bear SCP, that I’ve taken away and practise in my usual gym:

Weighted Leg Lift

Like a normal leg lift, but with a 2kg weight stuck in-between your feet. Careful not to drop it on your balls!

Runny Heavy Thingie

Spot the photographer!

You stick a weight on it and then run as fast as you can down a carpeted runway, like Naomi Campbell when she fell over at Vivienne Westwood, it’s most fun (hard).

Plank-reverse-Plank (came up with that name myself!)

Basically, you assume the plank position and then descend onto your elbows and back up again, over and over, for 3 minutes a set. Ouch.

Cue Rocky theme tune.

This post was written with my disclosure policy in mind here.


When life gives you lemons

Tom Daley is fit. Like, y’know, with muscles and stuff.

He said it’s all down to one thing.

(years of disciplined training and Olympic sponsorship)



I’ve been doing this for a week know and I love it, it’s like a morning hug. It’s calming, nourishing and does honestly give you a nice boost!

Try it!


You’re gunna hear me roar

I just wrote this blog and then the bloody thing deleted it. I want to shoot something.

Sooo, as I was saying, I am aching all over because I, like the rest of the world, has decided to get back in shape after eating way to much cheese and drinking, to be quite frank, a disgusting about of whiskey, over Christmas. As I type this I’m drinking an Avacado, Cucumber, Celery, Apple, Pear and OJ smoothie and an attempt to appease my pickled body and dull skin into forgiving me my trespasses.

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js So, as well as getting back into our gym, on our morning smoothie regime and curbing my enthusiasm for Irish Whiskey, the boyf and I are feeling a little more human.

But, we’re taking it further. In an effort to eat cleaner, we’ve invested in a bumper pack of lean meats and poultry from musclefood.com, your friendly online butchers who deliver in chilled packages, to your door.

Darren Cravens

Before you go all suburban on me, no it’s not GM, 3D printed meat-substitute from Romanian Horse farms. It’s British Red Tractor certified, RSPCA Freedom Foods accredited, Soil Association approved, good, honest meat. You get tonnes of the stuff too, filling our 2nd freezer to the brim and therefore forcing us to eat cleaner and more high-protein food as we get back into the swing of things.

But, I’m not finished, I’m going the whole hog. I’ve joined a boot camp squad too. I know, I’m like Madonna.

Fitness and lifestyle coach Darren Craven hosts a boot camp style, high intensity workout class our of Proper Gym in Ancoats and I’m going to be hopping over the city once a week for 3 months to partake in the classes, get my home-work for in my own gym and receive some one-on-one training too, all for the benefit of your entertainment on this here blog.

So, expect more from me on my training trails soon!

This post was written with my disclosure policy in mind here.


A Very 70s Christmas

We hosted a little soiree t’other evening, to mark the festive season and for an excuse (as if we needed one) to have a little drinkipoos with friends before we all go our separate ways for Christmas. 

Christmas tree and a Holiday Armadillo…

Thankfully, the parents had been to stay the week before and in that time painted and wallpapered our living room, bringing us one step closer to realising the vision we have for the space.

Now, as you’ll remember from my post a couple of weeks ago, the decision to go green or go orange was causing chaos (in my mind), but I can now reveal – we went for orange. The warmer, less severe choice of the two, with the Farrow & Ball Indian Yellow complement on the surrounding three walls.

Glassware and ink-spot artwork gallery 

Whilst the room isn’t nearly finished yet, it’s a start. Next up, we need to find a fabric we like for the curtains Mama will make us, we need to give the paint a third and final coat (when the decorations are down in the new year) and then we need to replace all our furniture – starting with the sofas. But, we’re well on our way. 

To celebrate the 1970s contemporary inspiration behind our décor, we served a retro spread for our guests. Mature cheddar and pineapple on sticks, home-made mince meat puffs, pigs-in-blanketcocktailsausages, mini quiches and puff pastry pies, “assorted party mix” and a gorgeous spiced apple Christmas punch in glass punch cups a la your grandmother’s Boxing day buffet.

“Do you know what they call Bombay Mix in Bombay?… Mix.”

Merry Christmas!


Things I want

Yep, I’m obsessed with interiors right now, because we’re decorating our home, so here’s some things I want St. Nick to bring me BECAUSE I’VE BEEN WELL GOOD!

Linea at House of Fraser
Marks & Spencer Home
Clas Ohlson


Who’s hue?

Oh dear oh dear, the boyf and I are in such dilemmas. It’s autumn (nay, winter!) and we’re once again turning our attention to décor after a summer of drinking Prosecco on the balcony. Only, we have a very clear vision in our minds – but when we try to articulate this, or indeed paint it on the wall, we get all confused and then just put Netflix on.

Our living room is large, dual aspect, has newly glossed skirting, door and door frame (thanks in-laws!) and we’re looking to go 1970s contemporary-retro. Think mustard coloured glassware, sideboards and shag rugs.

We’re going to implement a tried and tested formula, one statement wallpaper to three parts painted wall, and are stuck on the combination of colours.

Option 1, Trippy Orange 

This paper is a right statement, and we love the mix of burnt orange and deep chocolate. It’s warm and cosy without being stuffy. Still, this paper would work well when papered all over a sparsely furnished room, but despite the room’s size and ability to pull off such a commitment, we’re only looking to paper one wall. So, that begs the question, which colour do you paint the remaining three?

The paper even features in Two Broke Girls!
We’ve toyed with a few muted yellows, to really hone in on that yellowish tinge so beautifully reminiscent of the 70s.

India Yellow is absolutely beautiful, the kind of earthy warm yellow you see in North African towns or south Spanish villas. It goes well with the warmth of the wallpaper, but is it too much in the way of yellow?
We also like Sudbury Yellow from Farrow & Ball too, a slightly lighter yellow, but still as warm and thick.

Option 2, Green force

The other option we’ve been toying with is ditching the oranges in favour of greens, which is incidentally the colour we best like for upholstery.
This moody green and mocha combo is at once freshy modern, but still harks back to a time of outside loos and cermaic ducks on the wall. We love it.

But, once again we come unstuck when it comes to the paint we want to combine it with.

Salty Peat, Valspar and Conifer, Colours
How much green is too much green? Will it be too cold? Will it be too dark? Oh the questions! Wish us luck!


You are here

We’ve been tarting up our new home since we moved in, but at a snail’s pace because our priority has been enjoying summer on the balcony!

Now it’s autumn though, our attention has turned back to décor and the hallway we need to finish off before moving onto the living/dining room.

You can catch up on our painting here and our up-cycling here

Manchester Doodle Map, David Gee, Pencil Me In, £42 (framed)

Now, Pencil Me In is a gorgeous shop, that I’ve mentioned in posts before. It’s on Chapel St, very close to our home, and represents part of an indie renaissance around the £360m regeneration area of Salford Central and New Bailey, skirting the River Irwell and Spinningfields. Along with Lupo, the italian coffee shop, Kings Arms and its theatre space and the Salford Arms, the strip is getting known amongst the hipsters.

The store stocks gorgeous stationery, prints, gifts and all manner of wonderfully cute things, including lovely doodles by local illustrator, David Gee, who, incidentally, is based just above the store!

David’s illustrations adorn ceramics, phone cases and come in the more traditional framed print form, and the boyf and I fell in love with this monochromatic doodle map of our fair city, Manchester.

It works perfectly well on an otherwise barren wall, breathing a little humour, sense of location and place within the welcoming foyer to our home.


Welcome mat

I recently blogged about buying our first home and getting our Linda Barker on and painting the hallway – this season’s it colour – grey.

Well, we’ve just about finished and we’ve added a couple of additions to help make the space pop.

Firstly, we inherited a boring side table that was being used as a dressing table in the master bedroom. It fit quite well in the hallway, so we decided to give it a shot.

First I sanded it down and removed the top layer of eggshell paint and various make-up stains from the flat’s previous inhabitants. Then it was time to prime it. We used Valspar Paint & Primer in One, a spray paint primer that leaves a nice even coat and gives the colour spray something to stick to.

Once that was dry, it was time for the first coat of Valspar Paint in luminous yellow! Why this colour, of all colours? Well, it looks great against grey and it’s all the rage on Pinterest, dahling.

#Yellow Louis Chairs | Susan Greenleaf's Home  Joy  Art Print by Garima Dhawan - $18.00  More of the grey, yellow, white combo. Although I think too much yellow here ... 

It needed two coats to give it a good even colour and once the second coat was dry, I sprayed it with Valsper Clear Satin Varnish to give it a protective coat.I also re-sited the radiator in our hallway so the new table could fit snuggly against the wall. No biggy (nails emoji)

Our beautiful hallway

Then there was the photo ledge, as inspired by Notes from Nessa’s blog, which we made from scratch! First I took three pieces of timber, two 2×1 and one 2×3. The boyf glued then together with wood glue. We had to use elastic bands to keep them firmly together whilst the glue dried. Once dried, we painted it with high gloss paint, we used Dulux Once in Brilliant White, to match all our woodwork. Then there was the pesky issue of the holes

Our beautiful picture rail

I drilled the holes and, using the spirit level etc, drilled matched holes into the wall. But, when it came to screwing the ledge to the wall, it was impossible to get the screwdriver, let alone a drill, in place. The ledge was too narrow, Damn it. Still, with a little unorthodox DIY and a lot of swearing, It’s up (and it sure as hell ain’t coming down) with a few of our memories on it.


Markain of Huntley Homme, interviewed

Huntley Homme, fashion for the modern homosexual. No, this ain’t leather gear and nipple clamps, but something a little more, on-trend.

Based out of Melbourne, Markian and his partner James are the power couple behind this newcomer to the etail landscape and I got to bend Markian’s ear about all the important things.

Rambler: Why gay fashion? 
Markian: I don’t think there is enough of it out there. I know there are some amazing people out there creating beautiful work, but if you do an online search for gay fashion a lot of the t-shirts are just so clichéd and uninspired. I’m all for wearing your pride, but I wanted to share a more creative and expressive way to do that. Our prints are a mixture of hand drawn sketches, digitally created art or a mixture of both. 

Rambler: What’s your background? 

Markian: Styling and photographing womenswear fashion. I’ve spent years making girls look hot and I’m thrilled to be able to share some of that love with the boys now.

Rambler: Who is your customer, are they club kids, students, queens, all of the above?

Markian: Definitely all of the above, I’d like to think there is something in there for every gay. We had a big sale from Russia last week and I couldn’t help thinking that if he wore some of the t-shirts publicly he could be arrested for “gay propaganda”. Our y-front sweat pants and some of the more graphic prints are sure to turn a few heads, but there are also some more subtle pieces that you can wear every day, no matter where you live and what the political climate is. 

Rambler: Who is your favourite RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant and why?

Markian: I’ve got to give it to Courtney Act this season. I’m only 2 episodes in and I may be a little biased as she’s a fellow Aussie, but girl knows how to work it. My all time fave would have to be Ongina from Season 1. She always stomped the hell out of that catwalk and I love how she rocked her shaved head.

Rambler: Kylie or Dannii?  
Markian: How can you ask me that, they’re both from my hometown Melbourne! I’m Team Kylie but I do have a big soft spot for Dannii. I wish she would stop judging singing shows and actually start singing again. 

Markian of Huntley Homme

Rambler: Boxers or briefs?

Markian: I’m a brief boy all the way.

Rambler: What’s next for Huntley Homme?

Markian: The main focus for now is getting our name out there. I’ve had the opportunity to connect with some amazing photographers and stylists that I really admire, so hopefully you’ll be seeing those collaborations come to life in the near future. My partner James and I are already working on the next collection so stay tuned. 

Rambler: Any celebrity clients as yet?

Markian: Not quite yet but fingers crossed. We’ve reached out to a few people and I would love to see that come to fruition. There are definitely some guys we want to get our hands and clothes on. 

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