storiesxhouseofhackney

BRAND IN FOCUS // &OTHER STORIES x HOUSE OF HACKNEY

Not shy of a good collaboration, one of my favourite fashion brands, &Other Stories has joined forces with one of my favourite interior brands, House of Hackney. Having looked through the entire collection, I can say its as bold and brash and opulent as you might expect!

This is a whole collection of summer must-haves that encourage a style filled with playfulness and extravagance. Founded in 2011 by wife-and-husband team Frieda Gormley and Javvy M Royle, House of Hackney is known for championing bold print and colour.

Here are some of my favourite pieces.

&Other Stories x House of Hackney // Bag  – £35
&Other Stories x House of Hackney // Jacket – £110
&Other Stories x House of Hackney // Dress – £110
&Other Stories x House of Hackney // Mules – £79

 

&Other Stories x House of Hackney // Skirt – £79
&Other Stories x House of Hackney  // Swimsuit – £35
&Other Stories x House of Hackney // Dress – £69

 

&Other Stories x House of Hackney  // Culottes – £69
&Other Stories x House of Hackney  // Dress – £79

This collaboration will be available online and in selected stores from May 24th.

Make sure you don´t miss it by signing up for the &Other Stories  newsletter.

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Wife and Husband team Frieda Gormley and Javvy M Royle, House of Hackney, talk to &Other Stories.

How do you describe the spirit of the co-lab?

Like a heightened version of nature. This collection show how women are walking to the beat of their own drum. We want those who wear our pieces to feel wonderful, strong and feminine.

What’s the inspiration?

We’re inspired by Victorian psychedelia, in particular Victorian paintings with flowers that don’t exist in real life. Just exquisite flowers created from the painter’s imagination.

Is dreaming up flowers something you’ve tried?

Yes, actually, in this co-lab one of the flower prints is based on the poppy but the rest are flowers that don’t exist in real life. They’re heightened versions of blooms that nature in fact hasn’t created. Yet.

You’re influenced by the author Virginia Woolf, in what way?

The collection is influenced by the style that Bloomsbury artists, like Virginia Woolf, wore when going on country retreats or when she was meeting up with her artist friends around Bloomsbury. The Bloomsbury Group was a crew of true bohemians and free-thinking artists who had meet-ups around Bloomsbury, London, at the start of the 20th century.

How would you style the co-lab pieces?

We love the bohemian mood of the pieces. Playing with the proportions, like wearing the blue velvet jacket with one of the floral dresses. Throwing on a pair of the flat mule shoes, which feels very modern, adding accessories like the small bag with vintage zebra print. And why not tie one of the scarves around your head?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

C

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storiesxhouseofhackney

MONKEY // IS MISSING IN TRANSIT

THIS IS A PLEA ON BEHALF OF ELI HILL.

This time last week was our final day in Billericay, and subsequently, the last day we saw Monkey. During the commotion of saying goodbye, along with poor Eli being weighed down with, what can only be described as “everything bar the kitchen sink”, Monkey was set down in his classroom as he handed out treats to his fellow classmates and we then dashed off on our journey straight up to Manchester.

By the time we realised he was MIA, it was too late and the school had closed for the day. Eli put on a brave face and cuddled me in the hotel that night, instead of his beloved pal, Monkey.

The next day a member of school staff kindly posted Monkey back to us (last Thursday) via Royal Mail (somewhere in #Billericay, though exact location is TBC). This is the last known sighting of Monkey. To say we’re devastated that he hasn’t (YET) turned up is an understatement. Eli and I are basically sat in the front window, every day, waiting for his return. I keep telling Eli that Monkey is having a lovely time, on his jollies, building sandcastles, having some “me time”, before he joins us in our new Mancunian family home…

Monkey has been there every single day for Eli (and sometimes, for me and @jameshill.tv too!). He was given to Eli by our wonderful friend @goshb many moons ago. Since then Monkey has been to there to cuddle Eli through the night when we couldn’t, when Eli had one of his many hospital appointments, he’s been there through FOUR house moves – including one to Berlin and back. He was there for Eli on his first day of nursery and on his last day at school. He was there through the vaccinations, chickenpox and the wedding’s and the birthday’s and the halloween’s and at the table with us on Christmas Day and not forgetting the crazy car journey’s we all enjoy. Monkey has played in the snow and on the beach, at the museum and at the park. He’s seen the loveliest sunsets and fireworks. They had picnic’s and parties. Through the tough time and the fun times. Monkey was always the one who could fix it, make everything ok. Even when Eli dressed him up in his undercrackers and socks, Monkey never once complained.

We know Monkey is of the @jellycat variety – we’re not sure which ‘design’, but we do know that its now retired. We’re facing the stark reality that the ‘original’ Monkey may not turn up (Royal Mail, SHAME ON YOU, if he doesn’t). I have tried contacting our local Royal Mail depot, but unfortunately I can’t get past the automated robot as I don’t have tracking… and apparently,  they cannot look for specific parcels in your depot without the tracking either.

So here is the plea.

Do you or someone you know have this EXACT monkey? We’re more than happy to purchase, we just want Eli to have his friend back by his side – its bee an especially hard week for him, considering the move from Essex to Manchester without any real-life pal’s yet.

We can’t believe we’ve managed to leave him and hopefully he is *just* delayed in transit, but if not, please do help. If your child has lost something that they find pure comfort and love in, then you’ll understand. Eli is heartbroken (as am I).

PLEASE SHARE – #GetMonkeyBackToEli

Thank you for reading
C

xxxx

storiesxhouseofhackney

BRAND IN FOCUS // HUSH | SUMMER ’18

I’m super excited to bring you HUSH’s new summer collection, designed with their signature easy chic that will be perfect for the warmer months (hopefully) ahead.

Update your wardrobe with a new range of floaty dresses, simple cotton tees, denim shorts and beautiful beach cover-ups, as well as a stunning new range of mix-and-match swimwear, sandals and seasonal accessories. Embrace the laidback cool of Tulum with this season’s collection, shot on the spectacular Caribbean coast of Mexico.

You can also get FREE delivery to all UK addresses (and free returns) when using the code SUM18 – a chance to try on whatever you’ve got your eye on, in the comfort (and warmth!) of  your own home while we wait for the sun to arrive.

What’s even better? HUSH are also kicking off the new season with an amazing competition, read on for details below.

 

WIN The Shoot!

To celebrate the launch of the HUSH Summer collection,  they’re giving away a five night stay at Papaya Playa Hotel in Tulum, the gorgeous location of the summer shoot, along with flights and a £500 hush voucher – so you can experience their summer campaign in person.

Just an amazing prize!

To enter, simply fill in the form on the HUSH website, here.

Just can’t wait? Shop the new Summer collection in the Never Concise Shop, now!

Good luck!

C
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storiesxhouseofhackney

Miscarriage & Me // Update: 4

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It’s been a little while since I mentioned our Miscarriage. 160 days, in fact, since my last post on here about it all. Because you don’t need me to tell you, life just has to move along. Especially when you have an Eli AND a James to look after too (!)

Since the end of the miscarriage, so much has happened. I’ve had the most spontaneous evening with Harry Styles, The Retreat, Bonfire Night, Christmas, New Year (fresh slate),  proposed move to Manchester (happening sometime, SOON!), followed by a stay in Manchester Royal Hospital (James, after a visit to A&E), a birthday surprise for my Papa and Mother’s Day. But here we are, almost half way into March. A month I’ve been desperately trying to not think about. But it’s here now and I have to face up to it. So by bashing this all out on the keyboard, I’m hoping I can get some kind of cathartic release.

So March. What’s the significance?

Well, my due date would have been, TODAY, 15th March.

So I knew that, at some point in March, whether that baby came early, or today, or indeed like their Big Brother, Eli, and arrived super late –  we knew had prepared that to have a brand new baba, in March. Today our arms are empty.

But obviously, this is not the case. This isn’t what’s happening this March, at least.

Today, I’ve had messages of love and support and care and its been so nice. I’ve had the head tilt, which has cheered me up without anyone even realising (a la Richard in Friends, see my reference, here) (SIDE NOTE // does anyone else live their days through quotes from FRIENDS? I can’t think of a day when I didn’t reference it at least!)

How have I been?

 

  • Well, physically, I felt battered and bruised for a few weeks post-operation – really exhausted. I slept through the day a lot. Mentally, I was totally drained. But I had to keep going – especially for Eli. I also overate, no rhyme or reason, but I couldn’t stop eating. Boy am I paying for it now as I try and shift off the pounds! Though, I’ve lost 10lbs in 5 weeks, so I’m getting there slowly.
  • Cycle-wise, my periods returned, a few days out from when I expected and they are still a bit strange. As I mentioned lots before, my periods are exceptionally painful (Endometriosis) and usually with an excessive amount of blood loss. While the pain has been the same (!!) as before, the blood loss is somewhat scant. So I’m wondering whether some endometrial tissue was removed during the ERPC operation? Who knows – but my body is still keeping me on my toes.
  • FYI – just after the New Year I received my ‘invitation’ for my Cervical Screening Test. I went to book it and was told to wait until 3-4 months AFTER the ERPC, to allow for the cells around the cervix to regrow following a miscarriage.  I had my Smear test last week – awaiting the letter back. But as usual, it was smashing, no problems with the procedure at all. It took around 2 mins, tops.
  • Following my operation I had a spate of infections (chest/ear/lung/so many colds). It culminated with a Spirometry Test and our darling Coco heading to a rescue centre to be re-homed. The diagnosis was COPD and I have a lung age of 61. Shockingly, I’ve never smoked and I’m only 31. Since Coco was re-homed however, my symptoms have dwindled and I feel much more healthy again! I’m sorry to say its all probably quite likely that I had a pet allergy 🙁 But I’m pretty impressed with my recovery and taking just one inhaler a day now. (Also, it goes without saying too – Mum’s ARE always right, damn!)
  • I became jealous, I guess, and sad – wouldn’t ‘luck’ just have it that so many friends (and IG strangers!) were announcing their pregnancies and births? Of course it would.  Though, as it is fairly obvious, I do absolutely  love a baba (I wouldn’t be craving my maternal duties again if I didn’t!) and it’s so wonderful to see these new babes coming safely into the world. I am honestly over the moon for everyone I’ve come into contact with who has told me of their happy news! But then I feel the intense guilt for feeling this sadness… part of me can’t help but think, this should also be us. We could be sharing our happy news right now too. Aren’t emotions bloody brilliant, eh?
  • Mentally – I’ve all over the place.
    • I’ve had a weeks and weeks where things have been great! Actually never better! But the closer we’ve come into March, the more vulnerable I’ve felt.
    • This week, I feel low and sad and diminished.
    • Without this being a completely sombre update, right now, I feel like I have this big black cloud hanging out with me – following my every move. I can’t shake it off.
    • I’ve had lots of tension headaches, back & neck (tension) pain and intense dreams – when I’m able to actually sleep, that is.
You can always count on Rupi Kaur to put your feelings together for you.

—–

I confronted my inner thoughts last week, which involved a whole lot of sobbing my heart out – and vocalising exactly I’m how feeling. I’d bottled it up, probably since November. It feels better to share – even if the other person doesn’t say anything at all – just sharing, feels so good. Though, the only person getting the brunt of it all at the minute, is poor James. And of course, he feels all the feels too.  A baby, our new baby, could have been in his arms, too, making him a parent all over again.

I didn’t have a follow up after my ERPC, I didn’t actually even speak to my GP about the trauma we’d been through. (Should I have? Should I have been sent an invitation for a follow up appointment of some kind? What happens in your local authority? ). I feel like maybe the grief is only just hitting me now – perhaps because when the due date has been and gone, then it all becomes real and in turn, gives us some kind of closure. Because that’s the end of the life-cycle, as it were. If that makes any sense at all. This all got me thinking, I have nothing physical to ‘show’ for my loss. So I contacted PALS at Broomfield Hospital, to see if I could access my medical records, notes, multiple scan imagery. See if there is any ounce of explanation following my ERPC (and the subsequent investigation that was to allegedly follow).  I kept my eyes firmly closed for a lot of the scans and procedures – willing it to be over. Anything any specialist pointed out or illustrated on the screen was a blur and didn’t register with me. Apparently I should have been offered copies of my scans – I’m now wondering if this also would have helped mark our loss and support our grieving process. Also, you can also ask (or may be offered) a Certification –  according to The Miscarriage Association,  this is a kind of ‘ death certificate’. For some parents, the sadness of pregnancy loss before 24 weeks is increased by the fact that there is no documentation that acknowledges the loss of their baby.  We recommend that NHS trusts create and offer some form of certification for parents who would like this. Tim Loughton MP has recently tabled a Private Member’s Bill which includes a request for a report on whether the law ought to be changed either to allow the registration of pre-24 week pregnancy losses (so it’s a personal choice) or to require it (so it is a legal requirement). The Miscarriage Association ran a survey on this to collate personal views – more details on this can be found, here.  The PALS team at Broomfield got in touch with a really lovely email – which was followed up by a call today from the Matron of Gynaecology. She’s invited us into the hospital to go through my notes and any questions / concerns, with my consultant (who was also the consultant we had for when I was pregnant with Eli), Miss Joshi. I was taken aback by the phone call and became quite emotional with the Matron. The kindness of strangers will never cease to amaze me.

To our Baby Briston-Hill (PRAWNER #2), you never did arrive in our arms – but you will be forever in my heart. I will live in wonder of who you would have been  – you’ll always be my favourite what if? my little darling.

Our little fam is pretty special – I’ll be squeezing these two extra hard today 🖤

Thank you for reading thus far; and thank you for the bags of support and love we’ve received. It means the world 🖤 Eli is going to be the BEST big brother (EVER) when it happens. And not a single one of us can wait. As the wonderful mind that was Professor Stephen Hawking, so perfectly put it,

“Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious. And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you don’t just give up.”

 Professor Stephen Hawking

So this is what we’ll do.

All my love,
C
✖✖✖

—–

Support networks:
The Miscarriage Association
Tommy’s, The Baby Charity
Cruse, Bereavement Care
SANDS, Stillbirth & Neonatal Charity

Donate:
You can donate directly to The Miscarriage Association, from my FACEBOOK PAGE, HERE.

See also:
READ MORE >> Miscarriage & Me.
READ MORE >> Miscarriage & Me // An Update
READ MORE >> Miscarriage & Me // An Update: 2
READ MORE >> Miscarriage & Me // An Update: 3

storiesxhouseofhackney

Professor Stephen Hawking // 1946 – 2018.

THE MAIN // M A N

Today is an incredibly sad day, not just for Science, but for the Universe. Professor Stephen Hawking passed away in the early hours of this morning, he was 76. Stephen you were our family Hero, and what an extraordinary human 🖤

“I have noticed even people who claim everything is predestined, and that we can do nothing to change it, look before they cross the road”.

He was wickedly funny too!

Oh and Stephen, life would  most certainly be tremendously tragic if it weren’t funny. So thank you, also, for all the witty remarks you had in your magnificent brain 🖤 As he was the most intelligent person on this Earth, it goes without saying that his views on current affairs were not to be messed with either. Just gonna leave you to search “Stephen Hawking” and “NHS” or indeed, “Brexit”; enjoy at your own leisure 💁🏼‍♀️

Here is my favourite quote by Professor Hawking, it’s one to live by:

“Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious. And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at.
It matters that you don’t just give up.”


C

✖✖✖

storiesxhouseofhackney

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY // 2 0 1 8

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY // 2 0 1 8

I can’t quite believe how quickly the past year has gone – but my goodness, something I do believe, is that Women are really a force to be reckoned with. We’ll take no rubbish.  We’ll stand up for what we believe in. We won’t stand down.  Stay soft. Stay brave. Stay fierce. Stay kind. Stay curious. Stay honest. Keep supporting your peers, your family, your friends & strangers, who happen to be WOMEN. Don’t take no for an answer. Oh and just love with your whole heart, you wonder WOMAN 🖤

For me and my family, personally, it’s been a bloody tough year. But in the days and nights of pain, I’ve found solace in the words and support of strong Women. I would not be in the position I am right now, without them. For this and a million other achievements, thank you.

These words, by Elizabeth Gilbert, resonated with me:


“The women I love and admire for their strength and grace did not get that way because shit worked out. They got that way because shit went wrong and they handled it. They handled it a thousand different ways on a thousand different days, but they handled it. Those women are my superheroes”.

 

Read more on the #PressForProgress movement, here: internationalwomensday.com

So Happy International Women’s Day – whether you’re a Woman or a Man, let’s celebrate and support Womankind, everywhere.

C

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#iwd #internationalwomensday2018 #internationalwomensday #womenempowerment #womanhood #sisterhood

storiesxhouseofhackney

SOMETHING FOR THE WEEKEND // 28.02

 

The Shop has been updated with some New Arrivals from across the web 🖤 Click the link, here 👆🏻

Now I do wonder if my Mum kept hold of my @adidas poppers from ‘96?🤔

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storiesxhouseofhackney

NEVER KNOWINGLY CONCISE: EVENTS // LMC x BLOOMON WORKSHOP

IN // B L O O M

EVENT: LONDON MOTHERS CLUB x BLOOMON WORKSHOP
EVENT DETAILS: FLOWER ARRANGING WORKSHOP, BUBBLES & NIBBLES
VENUE: PAPER MILL STUDIOS, LONDON
WHEN: 15TH NOVEMBER’17 – 7:30pm – 10pm

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After recently receiving a lot of beautiful and really thoughtful flowers, I toyed with the idea of going on a Floristry course of some description. I found potting them into numerous vases and caring for them really therapeutic. I felt real joy in tending to them and having the vases scattered around the house was a constant reminder of peoples’ support.

Then, as if by actual magic, @londonmothersclub and @bloomonuk teamed up for a mega floristry evening fuelled by Prosecco & Donuts & (fizzy) Prosecco CRISPS 🌷🍾🍩 I couldn’t respond to the invite quick enough!

Upon arrival at Paper Mill Studio’s (not far from where we used to live in North London!), I was offered a lovely cold glass of the good stuff. The workshop was then promptly introduced by Kerrie-Anne.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Bloomon expert florist then took us through the individual flowers she had selected for her arrangement – talking through the process of selecting your blooms and how to arrange them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was then time for us to give the arranging a go for ourselves.

We were each given the same bunch of flowers to arrange, using our new knowledge – and the Prosecco & Prescco CRISPS kept us going too!

So what important tips & tricks did I learn for arranging my flowers?*

  • WATER // Crystal clear water is key. When you first fill your vase, use the little packet of flower food to nourish your plants. After a 2-3 days, refresh the water.  Add a little drop of bleach (YES BLEACH!) to keep bacteria at bay. Less germs = longer lasting blooms. Also, don’t worry about filling your vase to the top with water, they don’t need a FULL vase.
  • FLAT LAY // Lay all of your stems out. Look at the bud ratio’s and heights before arranging.
  • PRUNE // Re-cut your stems. Often the bottom of stems have a hard time absorbing water. A fresh cut – at a nice angle, like the bottom of a drinking straw – will do just the trick. The angle increases the surface area for better absorption. Also, make sure no leaves fall below the water line as they will decompose.
  • REINCARNATION // Keep your longer lasting blooms fresh by taking out stems past revival and removing over-wilted buds. ‘Deadheading’ channels energy into the blooming flowers, meaning healthier flowers that continue to bloom.  
  • HOME SWEET HOME // Blooms can be picky. Make sure they feel right at home in your home by placing them away from drafts, direct sunlight, radiators and fruit.

Your bouquet will look beautiful for upward of 10 days. But, there will come a time when only the very strongest, longest lasting flowers remain. Too few to remain in the vase. Too many to waste. Now is the time to get creative with mini vases!

* Some Tips & Tricks – provided by the Bloomon.co.uk BLOG.

I also managed to dry a few of the steams in some single bud vases from this bouquet above – and from the one I was additionally gifted (read on). The berries, especially, were great over Christmas and worked really well with a vase of greenery!

So with the end of the workshop we were given our personally-arranged blooms all wrapped up nicely, ready to be plonked straight into our huge (and pretty stunning!) vases that we were also kindly gifted.

As usual, it was brilliant to be surrounded by a group of such wonderful women – whilst doing something I’m getting really quite passionate about! I learned how to arrange and some excellent tips for longevity AND I met some new (and familiar!) faces along the way. So much fun. I now REALLY want to be a florist! 👌🏻❤️✨

ARRANGING AT HOME

      

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you so much for organising K-A! 😘

As an icebreaker we talked about which flowers we like best. I love a vintage peach rose, it holds a real sentimental value for me. I’ll also definitely be adding a lot more foliage to my arrangements from now on too – the greenery really offset’s the colour in the buds (also great for filling gaps!)

So, what’s your favourite flower?

C

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NB: I was gifted the flowers that I arranged during the workshop;  plus an additional bouquet, as well as the large vase,  floristry scissors and towel. I did not receive payment for this review. All views in this post are my own and are 100% honest.

#bloomonUK #gifted

MORE ABOUT BLOOMON

WEBSITEbloomon.co.uk
INSTAGRAM: @bloomonuk
BLOGbloomon.co.uk/Blog

 

Who we are

Bloomon was founded in 2014 when three rebels – a flower fan, a supply whiz, and a number-cruncher – got together to turn the flower industry on its head. From a dining room table in Amsterdam, we’re now bringing our beautiful bouquets to homes in five countries. World, here we come!

What we love

We love to test. We love to learn. We love to optimise. Beers on Friday evening. Table tennis after lunch. Random air hockey tournaments. We love creativity. Open minds. Free spirits. Smart kids. Cool kids. We love open windows. Too much coffee. Polaroids. Oh, and our rooftop terrace is pretty much like family.

What we stand for

We make art and science come together. In fact, we’re all about acting on a greater plan. Think big, win big. We seek challenge. Even if we don’t score on our first try, we do it better every day. And we always look on the bright side – no matter what.

What we want

Simply put: We want to spread happiness. And we want to do it together. Diversity is our strength. There is no push without pull. No spark without friction. No yin without yang. At the end of the day, we’re all running in the same direction to make our customers and colleagues smile every day.

storiesxhouseofhackney

SPOTLIGHT ON // BELT BAGS, WAIST BAGS… BUM BAGS.

SHOP THE BUM BAG EDIT

Depending on how stylish you are your childhood, I imagine, you’ll refer to this style ^ of bag as The Fanny Pack, The Belt Bag, The Waist Bag or as normal people, like myself (LOL), THE BUM BAG.

The Bum Bag was something of a staple for the 90’s household. I’m sure my sister and I had matching black & fluro ones… you know the sort.

After recently booking our first PROPER, PROPER Summer holiday since 2014, my first thoughts turned to “right, so what (bag’s) do we need to take” Of course. I’m all about The Bag. But you kind of need to be when the holiday mostly involves ALL THE THEME PARKS. Anyway, I digress. James and Eli will have their Tiba & Marl backpack’s, but I can’t really take a shoulder bag with me. I need something more secure and something I’m not able to over-load with all the rubbish I usually fill my bag’s with… ! So how about the good old bum bag? After looking at a few sites, it quickly came to my attention that 2018 is the year of The Bum Bag – and boy has it come back in a du jour way.

I mean, my all time favourite, Sarah Jessica Parker, is wearing one – so it must be ok, right? They’re on the catwalk, they’re in the street. They make life that little bit more hands-free, they’re functional and durable – and actually, a lot of the styles I’ve seen, do have a decent amount of space for all your STUFF (though, I will be forced to limit to the actual essentials, which is something I kind of needed to do in 2018).

So here is my edit of some of some styles that caught my eye. From everyday leisure – to luxury,  SHOP THE BUM BAG EDIT >>> HERE.

So, what do you make of the humble Bum Bag? Friend or foe? Have you seen some styles that you really like? I’d  love to hear what you all think!

C
✖️ ✖️ ✖️

storiesxhouseofhackney

NEVER KNOWINGLY CONCISE: IN REVIEW // THE RETREAT, ESSEX

 

WHAT: The Retreat, Essex
VENUE: Creeksea Place Barns, Burnham-on-Crouch
STAY: 3rd November – 5th November

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This time last week (eeek, I started writing this the weekend after The Retreat in November, life took over – apologies for my tardiness!) I was sat around a huge, dining table, surrounded by 26 other Women who were complete strangers, sampling the utter delights of the incredible Chef, Susan Foynes. (You have NO IDEA how long I’ve been desperately seeking the cuisine by Susan, and my god, it was worth the wait!). I was on The Retreat, located at Creeksea Barns in rural Essex, the concept born by Wonder Woman, Kate Irwin.

Back in April this year, I actually won my place on The Retreat; nobody could have foreseen how rubbish this year would have/has been, nor just how NEEDED The Retreat would really be by November.

Without being a total misery, our year has been filled with ‘life experience’, let’s say. From car accidents to family medical complications, anxiety, depression, loss and most recently, my miscarriage. It’s been tough and stressful and intensely sad – but we’ve learned a lot. Had I not won my place on The Retreat, I most certainly would have been up for the 2 night stay and the agenda that Kate had so perfectly organised.

So, what went down? (Bear in mind, I ain’t so good with the concise stuff, so this could be lengthy!)

Friday 3rd November

I just about managed to get the house in order and Eli sorted ahead of my 40 min drive in time. We live in Billericay and have quite a lot of country lanes in the area, so the drive to Creeksea Place Barns wasn’t a total shock – though the amount of bends was pretty crackers! It was dry and chilly and bright and our countryside is just stunning, isn’t it? I had the company of Harry Styles’ debut album for the journey. I arrived at 4:30 and was greeted by Kate. It’s a funny old world, chatting online with like-minded Women, you immediately feel like you’re pal’s when you finally do meet – this was no exception after receiving the BEST squeeze from Kate upon meeting for the first time!

I grabbed my suitcase and bits and bobs from the car and Kate took me along to my room. I was sharing with ‘Hanna’, I didn’t know a Hanna… I was nervous, but figured, she didn’t know me either, we were in the same boat. Turns out, I did “know” Hanna, or rather I did know the @the_savvy_mummy and was following her on IG.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After a few introductions (and the most delicious flapjacks from Susan!) acquainting eachother with our Instagram accounts, we were led to the decked area outside for a Group Mediation, as guided by Sarah Grattan of Yoga, Health & Wellness. I’ve only practiced Mediation in the past year or so, following an event with Mothers Meetings & the Mindfulness app, Quility. The session was brilliant (though, I was petrified to ‘sing’ my name as means of introducing myself, but hey, we all did it and it definitely helped  break the ice!) and a great way to relax before dinner and engaging in more conversation with the other attendee’s. Also, just wanted to highlight that there was the most incredible full moon on Friday 3rd November. This of course was fully to blame attributed to my emotional state.

So while we’re on it, dinner on Friday evening was >>

 

 

After din din’s, a group of us relaxed on the sofa’s in the main barns before heading back to our own rooms. Hanna and I chatted till probably *too late*, but it was great to have such a lovely talk with someone so likeminded! I should at this point give Hanna a little apology for my snoring; me, snoring, who’d have thought it!

SATURday 4TH November

I had one of those sleeps where you’re mega comfy and cosy…. but also clock watching. I knew I had to be up super early for our ‘silent walk’. And just couldn’t get into a proper slumber (despite the snoring).

My alarm went off at 6:45am. I’m not gonna lie, I struggled to get out that bed! But just shy of 7am, I found myself wrapped up and with the Wellingtons on, we were gearing up ready for our Silent Walk. I’d never been on one before so was intrigued but also curious as to what I was ‘meant’ to do exactly. Truth is, nothing was expected of me. The entire weekend was pressure-free. Kate made is completely explicit that if we didn’t want to take part in something, that was fine, likewise, if you wanted to do something else, that was fine. The Retreat had to work for us all, as a group and individually.

Kate asked us to refrain from speaking on the walk, to take time to think about whatever we felt we needed to – to reflect – to also take in the beautiful surroundings. I desperately tried not to reach for my phone to take photos – but I took just this one, below. I took it at a point where we stopped for just a few minutes along the walk. I was ready to burst into tears. I found the walk particularly intense – which I certainly hadn’t prepared myself for. How could such silence make you feel so overwhelmed with emotion? I was very grateful for taking the walk with everyone, it was actually really quite poignant for me, in the end! I will definitely be trying this again – whether on my own or with friends/family. It was really interesting – and lovely not being distracted by conversation or the old phone!

Post-walk, we all made our way to the main barn for the BEST breakfast ever.

Susan & Natasha had prepared the most incredible feast. For the first time, I tried baked porridge – topped with CREAM – which was a total revelation. Susan, please send me the recipe – it was just incredible! We also had plenty of other bits to munch on ahead of the Nutrition & Training session with Jemma of @trulymadlyhealthy.

 

So from 10, Jemma joined us in the outdoor barn for the Nutrition session, where she talked through what fuel she takes on, on a typical day. Jemma gave us a take-home sheet with examples of good/bad foods and alternatives. The hot topic’s raised were ‘What Milk should we be having?’ and ‘How much BEEF can we eat?’ (LOL @LoveForTheMama).

Following the nutrition session, Jemma took us through a Training session with warm up and straight into stretching, using an elastic gym band. I paired up with mega Mama & Photographer extraordinaire, Charlotte Green. We then had to work together using the bands to stretch and pull – which was part difficult/part hilarious.

By the end of the session, I was SO HUNGRY. Susan & Natasha had prepared a warming bowl of Butternut Squash Soup, topped with yoghurt and pumpkin seeds, served with freshly baked baguettes. SO GOOD I went in for seconds.

 

After lunch, we had a few hours of ‘free time’ – I already had a back massage booked in at the Saltmarsh Spa – and had planned on being completely chilled for the rest of the time between. But what is this? A mobile gift shop filled to the brim with wondrous treats?! MERAKI GIFT is a brilliant concept, founded by Nadia following a curry evening with friends, in 2016. 4 months after the initial idea, the UK’s first mobile gift shop was ready to hit the roads! Meraki is a Greek word meaning the soul, creativity and love you put into your work – the Meraki gift truck is just that, packed full of soul, creativity and love,  travelling throughout London and the UK providing gorgeous gifts at markets, fairs and events.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I couldn’t leave the van empty handed – I wanted to buy SO MANY things! It was such a treasure trove. I went for a very me necklace – gold with Lightning Bolt pendant – by Ophelia.


HUSH have a similar design // Click here to shop

I also did a bit of hanging out with the ladies from @Black_and_Sigi, @AWhittinghamphoto and Charlotte, where we proceeded to sit in front of the WORST Christmas films ever, on channel 5 (whatever else!?)

Soon enough it was time for my massage. Now, I have an incredibly bad back, full knots and tension and stiffness –  especially since my car accident in March. I actually *need* massages often, so I guess I know what I’m looking for. While my massage was ‘good’ and the ‘time out’ was soooo needed, it wasn’t quite what I’d usually go for. I was also a little distracted by the ticking of the clock in the room – but hey, thats just my personal hearing issues going into over drive there, I think!  Nevertheless, the treatment was on the cheaper side, so it was fine.

I jumped into my swimming costume and headed back into the Spa. I spent a good half hour, on my own, in the jacuzzi as the sun set, looking over the rolling fields. It was just total bliss.

Caitlin Scheybeler joined ahead of our final dinner – the evening however, was quite emotionally charged, to say the very least! Caitlin is a psychotherapist and fellow mum, also founder of @MamakaLondon.

Through Caitlin we all (I tried to, through sobbing face) shared something that we had going on in our lives that we’d like to let go of – and also, what we’d like to let in – in order to lead a happier life. This evening proved, once again, that everyone you meet is fighting a battle you have no idea about – so be kind, always. Once we’d gotten over the tears and great words of advice from Caitlin, we all dug into the most beautiful final supper from Susan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seriously, just the most glorious of meals. Susan Foynes, you have surpassed all expectations. Just stunning! I really must get to one of The Yes Mum Moon Club’s!

At this point, Kate handed out the most jam-packed goody bag I’ve ever seen! Each tote was hand embroidered by Dawn, founder of @girlfridayembroidery – such a lovely touch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We all enjoyed a few more glasses of wine than we’d anticipated, I think! And a lot of the group headed over to the dutifully named, “Party Barn” . We all had a more relaxed conversation with eachother, with the best music blaring! (YEP, it was that kind of retreat! We all definitely let our hair down!)

I initially attempted to get to bed at 1am. But am placing blame firmly at Kate’s door when I say I didn’t end up getting to ‘bed’ (on the sofa!) until way gone 3:30am. I’d spent a lovely time chatting with Kate’s brilliant sister, Natalie.  Natalie, I have to just say, you’re one of the most kind and caring souls I’ve ever met. Completely selfless, beautiful human.

SUNDAY 5TH November

I woke  on the sofa, to the smell of baked porridge – the time was 6:15am.  At 7am the majority of us were out on the field, with moderate hangovers. The temperature was 4c (though it felt much, much colder) and it was the most beautiful sunrise I’d ever seen. We prepared for ‘Grounding’ by slipping off our socks and shoes, so we could connect with the Earth. Though it was absolutely freezing underfoot, it was also pretty magical – and again, I felt pretty overwhelmed with emotion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Following our outdoor session (with a little bit of help from @motherofall_tings!) , we went back indoors for our final breakfast. Baked porridge and sour dough, doesn’t get much better does it! This all set us up for a Yoga session with Keeley Beech, founder of Yoga4all. Having only ‘practiced’ Yoga in the comfort of our living room, I was again nervous for a proper session – and one in front of others. Thankfully, Keely was brilliant in her approach as she caters for all abilities – also, the environment was so calm and I didn’t feel conscious about my own abilities.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At 11:30, Jemma of @Mummas_health_hub came along to talk through her own fitness journey, whilst also  giving us her amazing hints & tips on fitness planning and fitting it all in. Jemma is a personal trainer and Mum to 2 boys, who started writing down little tips for herself, when times were so busy and she couldn’t train for the length of time that I would have liked. She talked through how she’d stick post-it notes around the house to prompt her, short exercises, sequences that took only a few minutes but were quite intense, and tips to remind her to relax too – that’s how her Pack of Hacks was born. In the time that I’ve known Jemma, I’ve found that she’s a force to be reckoned with – a true Mum-Boss with a heart of old (and abs of total steel!). 

Time soon ticked away and before we knew it, we were saying our final goodbye’s for the weekend. Though, I absolutely knew I’d be seeing a lot of these wondrous women again soon. That’s been the beauty of The Retreat – the brilliant culmination of REAL Women. There was a real sense of sisterhood across the entire weekend. We were all in it together and there for oneanother. This weekend has changed my life in so many ways. I can’t thank you enough Kate.

Can’t wait to meet up again soon – and please do give @the_retreat_essex a follow across all the channels too – there’s so much more up Kate’s sleeve and it’s bloody exciting!

 

C
✖️ ✖️ ✖️

NB: I did win my place on The Retreat, but was not asked to write a review/did not accept payment for doing so. All opinions are my own and are 100% honest.