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Brand In Focus | Southwood Stores.

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Southwood Stores is an online concept store by Hayley Southwood, where you will find handpicked, quirky, Scandinavian influenced gifts and homewares. Hayley believes passionately about empowering women and has recently launched her own in-house label GRAY, celebrating strong women.

I first came across Hayley and her online shop back in 2013. (I can’t believe it was 3 years ago?! Time sure does fly with a toddler in tow!) At that time, Hayley was the only UK stockist of Hello Apparel; and I went straight ahead and ordered a HELLO Jumper from her, along with one of our most loved prints that sat in Eli’s bedroom, The Mountain Print by Clare Nicholson. I always loved parcels from Hayley, with the attention to detail of packaging and customer care; with some treats even winging their way over to Berlin!

Watching Hayley, via Instagram, over the past few years has been wonderful. Seeing how her little shop has grown and expanded with wicked new products and new brands, through to the launch of her very own clothing label: GRAY By Southwood Stores.  The ethos of Hayley and her shop is to be brave and follow your dreams. And she’s definitely succeeding there – having now opened her very own Southwood Stores showroom – where you can not only have a cuppa with the lady herself, but from here she also offers Social Media / Branding services with sessions operating on-site.

Details of showroom opening times are as follows:

Monday 10am-2.30pm
Wednesday 10am-2.30pm
Friday 10am-2.30pm
First Saturday of the month 11am-2pm

I could buy everything that Southwood Stores have in stock, but here are some of my current favourites hitting the top of my #MoMWishlist:

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WIRE MESH MEMO-BOARD (BLUE) – £55.00

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VINTAGE SCHOOL CHAIRS – £60.00

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PALM LEAVES – £55.00

Back to GRAY By Southwood Stores. Hayley worked really hard to find the right garments for her label – high quality and responsibly made. The slogan graphic prints are also locally screen-printed by a “woman owned business”. I think it’s fantastic that Hayley has stuck to her local roots here too – there’s nothing better than championing your local business community and spreading the love even further afield.

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The sweatshirts are super soft, wash well and have a really flattering fit. I went for the WARRIOR sweatshirt. Because, well, we’re all WARRIORS. “The strongest people are not those who show strength in front of us, but those who win battles we know nothing about”. This is something that resonated deeply with me – and I do feel like a proper WARRIOR when I’m wearing my sweatshirt. It’s more than just words, isn’t it? It’s about how these things make you FEEL.

On top of alllllll this, Hayley is also hosting a series of Conversational Meet-Up’s, of like-minded Women. The recent one looked brilliant so look forward to the next Event’s being scheduled. You can find the latest details and tickets, here. 

Hayley is a true inspiration and I look forward to seeing how Southwood Stores continues to grow and evolve! (Oh, and I can’t wait to have a cuppa with her in person at the new showroom soon!). Keep doing what you’re doing Hayley, everything about your being is amazing. Just remember to BREATHE (and get the kettle on!).

 

MM.

*NB: This is in no way a sponsored post. I just wanted to big up a Mama who I think is frikkin amazing*. 

 

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The Big Feastival 2014.

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Well, I’ve been meaning to write up this post for a long while now! But, the usual happened… Lots going on with work, Eli running riot, holiday shopping, going on holiday (INCREDIBLE HOLIDAY – post to most certainly follow), more work and family time.

SO! Where do I begin?

We had the most amazing weekend at The Big Feastival and we were so sad when it came to an end! From start to finish – from the delicious food and drink we had the pleasure of tasting, actually watching and meeting our favourite Chef’s and of course, the absolutely incredible activities and performers for the kids. (I *even* loved the camping part too!). Quite literally, our perfect festival! We cannot wait until next year!

This post is most likely to be quite photo-heavy.

So here it goes!

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Our journey there (and back) was brilliant. No traffic and beautiful country roads as we travelled from our Essex-home to the Cotswolds. Eli slept a lot which was also great. We’d been up since 5am, so we hoped he’d sleep in the car to catch up. (We also could have done with sleeping en route too – we barely slept a wink for the excitement!)

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Our car was brilliant going across the fields – finally, proper off-roading in our off-roading car! It was raining and really quite chilly when we arrived on site, at Alex James’ farm.  We decided it best to hire a Mr Trolley, because as you can see, we did not travel light! I don’t know how we would have managed without it to be honest, lots and lots and lots of trips back and forth to the car I guess! Which, frankly, isn’t ideal with a toddler and drizzle! We hired the trolley when we arrived and again when we were packing up on the Sunday. We hired the trolley for the minimum time of 30 minutes. We weren’t far from the car so filling and emptying the trolley and returning it back to the Mr Trolley stand took no time at all! We located some flat land within the Family Campsite and set to work…

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Our wicked tent cost just £50 from Halfords! I honestly cannot recommend this tent enough. I’m not a camper, by any stretch of the imagination, (although after this trip, I might be a camper now!), but this tent was perfect! It took about 15 minutes to put up and about 10 minutes to take back down again (thanks to the help from Mr Eli of course!). It was sturdy and roomy inside; and it felt like really good quality. We’ve had a ‘pop-up’ tent previously (unfortunately, this tent is lost somewhere between France and Newcastle due to friends not returning it back to us, post-2008 Surf trip . They know we’re not happy about it…) and the new tent is by far a better product! I look forward to camping with this tent again.

We decided that we didn’t want to sleep on the floor of the tent – let’s be honest, we’re too old to be sleeping on the floor now. I also refused to sleep on a blow-up bed or with a sleeping bag. We purchased two very, very comfortable camp bed’s for a tenner each from eBay (brand new, inc postage!) and we took a long our Winter duvet as it tends to get very cold on a night, even in August. I suppose you could call us Glampers in respect of this. Eli also equally had his Glamping cap on with his Little Bird by Jools Oliver sheets and blankets in his travel cot.

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Never before have we been to a festival where there are food stalls on the camp site. The main ‘arena’ didn’t open until after 10, so the stalls were much-needed for our breakfast before you head into the main area. Of course, this isn’t any old food van on a campsite! This is a “Le Swine” van by Bruno Loubet! Also wanted to mention that on each campsite there are an amazing amount of loo’s, showers and an area to use a cooking stove should you wish. There were no camp fires allowed on the site, at all. I thought this was brilliant. I was of course worried about other people using gas around out tent due to there being several tragedies in the past few years, so this set me at ease. And how nice is it waking up and not smelling of fire?! Definitely made for a lovely camping experience.

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And… we’re in!

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We watched DJ BBQ for a wee while and then decided to head for some late-lunch!

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Mr Memoirs headed straight to the DJ BBQ stall where he ordered this incredible pulled pork burger! YUM!

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Me, being me, opted for Risotto… because that’s what you have when you arrive at a festival, right?

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We then spent some time at Adam Henson’s farm. Eli is a massive animal-lover so he was in his element being able to get up close and personal with all the lovely animals!

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We then caught Mr Levi Roots and his Reggae band.

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The Doom Bar tent by Sharps Brewery was particularly awesome, with its beach and secret tasting rooms! I had a lovely pint of IPA which tasted like honey.

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We’ve been going to festivals for over ten years now. But this festival was special. We had our beautiful, and well-behaved, little boy in tow – it literally could not have been any better!

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Dancing at the main stage!

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Having a drink with one of our favourite people, Mr Gennaro Contaldo. Last time we caught up with Gennaro, Eli was fast asleep and we were sat they didn’t meet properly. This time, Eli was more than awake!

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Time for the Hello Apparel to come out! This lovely sweater is available in store and online at Southwood Stores.

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Want to also do a massive shout-out to the ever-so-brilliant ladies from the Up All Hours tent. They provided a cosy, home-from-home environment in which you could change and feed your little one’s. I loved chatting to you both over the weekend! Thank you for making our festival experience a fresh and clean one! (And cheers for all the goodies you send us home with too!).  Up All Hours is a new parenting platform that connects, entertains and most importantly supports parents who are ‘Up All Hours’. sign up, here> Up All Hours.

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The Katsu curry from Yu Kyu was so good I had it TWICE over the course of the weekend.
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Crepes from Crêpe Lucette to satisfy my sweet tooth.

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It went A LOT higher and faster than I expected… and seemed to be never-ending!

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Only bumped into our favourite off of Countryfile! Mr Adam Henson!

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We went for ‘Number 5′ from Alex James’ Cheese Hub – and what a choice! It was so delicious and creamy – and went really well with our red wine back at the tent.

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I will have to do a blog post on everything Little Bird by Jools Oliver related – too much to talk about!

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One of our festival highlights was watching the lovely Justin Fletcher from CBeebies.

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I can’t bare these… but Mr Memoirs do love a Bloody Mary! He thoroughly enjoyed this one from Little Devil. It didn’t half have a kick to it!

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Well, this was dreamy! Amazing smoked short rib in a brioche bun with salsa and a fried egg. RIDICULOUSLY GOOD! It was the salsa that really did it for me. This was from the stunning Barbecoa van.

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Oh heck, it’s only David Loftus and Bruno Loubet!

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Chatting to David Loftus while we wait for Jamie and Jools to come from round the van!

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These two people, right there, are my favourite people. I adore Jamie and Jools (I know you’re all so sick of hearing this now!) but I do. We’re huge Jamie Oliver fans – every recipe we’ve ever cooked and in every Jamie restaurant we’ve ever dined, we’ve always eaten the most tasty food our tummies could muster. And Jools, well, Jools has given me the chance to dress my son in beautiful clothes that suit US as a family. Our son wears clothes that reflect him as a person and he looks so damn cool it’s untrue (not even being biased).  Oh, and while we’re on it…

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Speaking with Jools Oliver is probably the most star-struck I’ve ever been! (Even after meeting all those rockstars… and indeed the actual Queen!). She’s just beautiful, isn’t she?!

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We had a lovely Gin and Tonic while the boy slept, from the great guys over at Fever Tree. We love their soft drinks (mixers), they go amazingly well with Sipsmith Gin and Chase Vodka too!

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Watching Daisy Lowe bake (who knew she was doing that now?!) with her Mum Pearl Lowe and Danny Goffey standing infront of us.

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Seeing Jamie and Gennaro cook together in real life was an absolute pleasure. The relationship they both have is wonderful. They were so funny, informative and so full of passion.

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My path recently crossed with Alex James’ via work. I would have loved a chat and a proper photo with him but unfortunately his P.A wouldn’t let me. Such a shame! I took a #selfie irregardless, ha!

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We waited for what felt like hours for our pizza’s from Rossopomodoro – but when they arrived, my goodness, they were goooood! Worth the wait!

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Fat Boy Slim was incredible! We hadn’t intended on staying for the set from Norman Cook, but we got sucked in! Eli was fast asleep and the crowd was just so happy – the atmosphere was amazing!

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The next morning was our final day (booooooo). Mr Eli helped us pack up the tent so we could then go into the main arena and enjoy the rest of our last day at the festival.

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Eli and I had lovely bacon rolls and Mr Memoirs opted for Kedgeree from What The Dickens!

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Our first stop (and possibly my actual highlight of the festival!) was seeing the delightful Mr Bloom swoon. Eli was in absolute awe – he was so mesmerised, it was beautiful to watch him!

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Then we went to see Jamie and Adam Henson…

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…followed by Monica Galetti (who was surprisingly lovely in real life!)

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Then we spotted Mr Nathan Outlaw.

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After a final mooch around the site and a spot of lunch (yes, we went and had a Katsu Curry again) it was time to get the car packed up and drive home. We literally had the BEST weekend – we had the time of our lives, all of us. This is the perfect festival for a family – and of course, a foodie.

I must also take this opportunity to thank the brilliant folk over at Jamie’s Italian without whom we would not have had tickets The Big Feastival! We sadly missed out on the Early Bird tickets for the 2015 Big Feastival as it was while we were on holiday (we didn’t time that well did we!) but we will certainly be booking up when they’re available for general release.

MANY THANKS AGAIN BIG FEASTIVAL – YOU WERE EPIC!

MM.

 

 

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BRAND IN FOCUS | Hello Apparel.

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I LOVE finding new Childrenswear brands. Hello Apparel has been on my radar for a little while – I just haven’t gotten round to writing up my Brand In Focus for them!

Hello Merch is an independent company started in 2008 by Sam Means as an outlet for artists to manufacture and sell merchandise online and on tour, without giving up their rights by signing major label-style merch contracts. Hello Apparel is available for Adults as well as kids; although, I think the kids range is much cooler! ;o

Unfortunately, Hello Merch is just available for import at the minute. But the ever so lucky Southwood Stores will be the ONLY UK stockist very, very soon! So keep your eyes peeled! I actually cannot wait!

Here are my favourite pieces, that I’d love to dress Mr Eli in!

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Hello (Kids) Navy Raglan Pullover, $35.00.

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Hello Individual Onesies,$18.00.

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Arrows (Kids) Black Tri-Blend T-Shirt,$22.00.

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Sunglasses (Kids) Raglan Tri-Blend Shirt,$24.00.

 

MM.