IN TO THE WILD // our journey to becoming caravanner’s!
I suddenly realised, whilst sat in our ‘van, that we’d bought said-van one whole year ago. It also struck me that I needed to get those reviews out of my journal and onto Trip Advisor. So with all of this in mind, I’m also adding notes of our adventures back on my blog as it’s been far too long since I’ve written my thoughts out on the keyboard!
So, lets go right back to the beginning…
Oh hello! ✨
We’re The Briston-Hill family.
2 adults, 2 children. First time caravan owners with a need for the wild.
Welcome to our adventures in our new-to-us caravan! We also have a brand new instagram account detailing our caravan journey
We’d been camping long before our children came along over ten years ago 🏕 We’d also often talked about upgrading the tent to a caravan, but never thought it would be possible any time soon! So we kept adding little upgrades here and there to our lovely camping set-up. Our penultimate camping experience was last summer 2021 in lovely Llangollen. We more or less vowed it was our last camping trip after a heat wave and a teething toddler made camping-life difficult. Post-Llangollen we intermittently looked at caravans. We still felt it was a pipe-dream. We LOVE the outdoors; I can’t think of anything better than sleeping under the stars 💫 And, call us gluten for punishment, we went on our final camping trip to The Lakes in August 2022. Again, it ended up in a heat wave and was nothing short of horrendous. So, we decided this really was the end of our tent-trips.
After A LOT of research and of course, A LOT of searching for “the one” we finally came across our Bailey Unicorn Valencia van at the end of August 2022.
After 19 years of privately renting houses and two recessions, we decided that maybe buying bricks and mortar isn’t for us after-all. Not that we plan on living in a caravan…yet 😆 But we feel so lucky that we’ve been able to buy our first caravan and have absolutely LOVED every single adventure we’ve been on over the past year. There has of course been up’s and down’s and we’ve not had the best after-care from the dealership (Stewart Longton of Preston) but it’s been amazing to learn on every journey we’ve had. The freedom and pure joy the ‘van has brought us is incomprehensible.
And In-to(w) the wild we will continue to go! 🌞🌿🌙 #intowthewild ✖️✖️✖️
Meet Joanna Riding, founder of Mini Maison, a brilliant online store offering modern, but playful, nursery and kids’ decor to style-conscious customers who wish to look beyond the high street – AND Mama of TWO!
Jo talks to us about how she juggles being a Mum Boss, the Mini Maisonconcept and THOSE Blue Blahnik’s!
CB: Please introduce yourself and your concept. JR: I’m Jo and I’m wife to Steve and Mum to Joshua and Sammy (4 and 2). Mini Maison, my company, sells modern décor for nurseries and children’s bedrooms.
CB: Brand names are a really important first impression of what you’re about, so how did you come up with your online alias/brand name? JR: Mini Maison came about through good old fashioned brain storming over the course of a few weeks. It wasn’t the first name that came to me but I knew that I’d change my mind a few times before settling on THE one… I was right – I went through Little House, Lilliput Décor and a few others before settling on Mini Maison!
CB: Where did it all begin? What inspired you to start up your concept? JR: I started Mini Maisonafter I struggled to find modern décor for the nurseries I designed for my boys. I researched for a while (probably for too long, because I was so nervous to actually take the leap) and our virtual doors opened in 2015. The business is currently going through a period of change as we grow to incorporate ALL children’s décor and not just babies, because I realised that as my boys grew out of their baby years, I was STILL struggling to find the cool products I was looking for on the high street.
CB: What is your brand ethos? JR: Mini Maison is the friendly place to shop if you’re looking for playful, modern design for your kids’ spaces; bedrooms, nurseries and playrooms. I’ll always do my best for my customers and try to make Mini Maison a place to go for good, accessible design.
CB: On a day-to-day basis, what or who inspires you? JR: My kids inspire me daily to be a better person. Sometimes this errs into mum guilt (see above) but I started Mini Maison so that I can be work and fulfil my ambitions AND be around to pick them up from school.
CB: Can you tell us about or give us a sneaky peak of something new that’s coming up? JR: We’ve got a few new brands joining the Mini Maison family in the next few weeks… I can’t say too much but it includes these two absolute beauties (below).
CB: Anything you wish you’d known before you became a parent / best piece of parenting advice? JR: People will ALWAYS have an opinion, if you’ve asked for it or not. Go with your gut – Mama usually knows best. And… nap when the baby naps. This is a crucial one for me. Even if it’s not every day, you’ve got to make the most of a napping baby because the napping phase DOESN’T LAST! I know some people struggle with this but if you choose to tidy your house instead of sleeping when you’re knackered then I might think you’ve lost the plot a bit (I LOVE sleep – it’s my special skill, being able to sleep anywhere, anytime!)
CB: Parenting-essentials, we know there are more than a few! But what is the one thing you can’t leave the house without? What is your most used piece of parenting/child paraphernalia? JR: When they were babies I had SO MANY must haves (that I then had to wean my children off of!): Ewan the Dreamsheep, Sleepyhead, dummies, swaddling suits (basically swaddles with zips on that meant we didn’t have to faff around with getting the tightness right – although they do look like straight jackets!). Now they’re older, we’re finding that they’re all about the night lights – sometimes more than one (good job Mummy has a never ending supply!). And an iPad – I think that one goes without saying, right!?
CB: Along the same vein as above, what is your ultimate Mama-Essential? What is your go-to item that you just can’t live without? JR: Concealer – to cover breakouts and also the massive bags that are usually hanging around under my eyes!
CB: What gives you ‘Mum-Guilt’? And how do you get round it? JR: Time I spend working and not ‘being’ with my kids. Running your own businesses does sometimes spill over into ‘family time’ and I think this is inevitable. But I do feel bad that I’m sometimes replying to emails or dealing with last-minute problems when I’m meant to be paying attention to the boys. This means that I do put the TV on more often than I probably should, and I feel REALLY guilty about this.
CB: Me-time is super important too, what do you like to do to zone-out? JR: I actually rarely feel like I zone-out or turn off. I’m almost constantly thinking about work – whether it’s new product ideas, new marketing techniques, listening to a podcast, let alone the actual work-work that goes into running a business. I’m desperately trying to tune out the voices in my head which are constantly chattering about the business. My husband and I try to have one evening a week where I’m not on my phone or laptop, and we just make a nice dinner and have a few drinks together. Also, seeing my bestest friends just helps me feel more centered (if a little hungover).
CB: Which are your go-to brands/shops? JR: Where do I start?! Iove Zara for clothes – I’m like a kid in a sweetshop and it’s great also for kids clothes too. I do try to buy from some smaller brands too, including Scamp and Dude and Fred & Noah for the boys. My friend Lucy runs Born at Dawn and she has curated a range of beautiful, timeless clothes that I want ALL of!
CB: What current wardrobe item is your all-time favourite and why? JR: I still have my wedding shoes, which are THE blue Manolo Blahnikshoes from Sex And The City. I try to wear them to events as often as I can (which is not very!) but to be honest I just like getting them out of the box and looking at them as they are just SO beautiful. In terms of things I actually wear regularly, you’ll almost always find me in a pair of skinny jeans. They’re my go-to-staple (even if they are on their way out of fashion).
CB: Choose 3 words to describe yesterday. JR: Chocolate (it was Easter), fun and family.
CB: Tell us something about you that might surprise people. JR: I have a really thin skin and worry A LOT about what people think about me. People are always surprised to hear this because they think I’m really confident but on the inside I’m usually bricking it and worrying about how I come across. NB. This can lead me to talk a lot, often about a load of old shit!
CB: Whats the kindest thing anyone has ever done for you? JR: My husband is always doing kind things for me and is incredibly thoughtful and I feel blessed that I’ve surrounded myself with the most incredible friends and family… their kindness regularly sees me through the week. One particular occasion springs to mind, after I’d had my second baby (by c-section) and couldn’t drive or walk very far, my friend Catherine would come to my house and help bundle me and my boys into the car and take us out for the morning somewhere, so that I didn’t actually go insane stuck in the house.
CB: Recommend a book, film or album from the past year. JR: Bad Moms – this was the last time I went to the cinema (I know… too long ago!) but oh my god, it is SO funny. It’s so good to spend your evening properly laughing out loud watching a film with a friend. Also, Amy Schumer’s autobiography is a brilliant read.
CB: What can you see out of your closest window / what is your current view? JR: Our garden – and it’s just reminding me of all the work I want to get done on it before the summer officially arrives
CB: Other than with your family & friends, where would you most like to be this weekend and why? JR: On a beach, with an endless supply of food and drink, with some shade available (I think this officially makes you a Mum when you can’t spend too long in the sun anymore!), and some books and magazines.
Loved chatting with you Jo – looking forward to seeing howMini Maison continues to progress, expand and inspire!
Welcome to Mini Maison, a shop offering modern and playful nursery and kids’ decor to style-concious consumers, wanting to look beyond the high street. Our carefully selected and curated products look equally good in a bedroom as they would in the rest of the home.
Started by an interiors-loving mum who gets inspiration from blogs and social media, she found it almost impossible to get her hands on the products that she was seeing online, in the UK, resulting in high shipping costs and problems with boring things like customs and import tax. And so Mini Maison was born. A simple idea; to bring you contemporary accessories for your little one’s bedroom, all the while offering unparalleled customer service and individual style.
Enjoy browsing and please do not hesitate to contact us should you need any assistance or have any queries. Oh, and please stop by regularly as we will be adding new products all the time.
For those who don’t know, I have a penchant for old interiors – especially from the 70s. I had been particularly fond of a certain 70s print (originally a 1958 painting) by Vernon Ward, entitled “Harmony of Spring”, since we first set eyes upon it back in 2006. I’d searched and searched vintage shops, car boot sales and antique fairs for years and years and not ever come across it. I’d been recently trying to get hold of “The Chinese Lady” by Vladimir Tretchikoff on eBay and low-and-behold “The Harmony of Spring” came up along my search. Why had I never looked on eBay for it before?!
As it happens, it’s quite a popular print. A new listing of the print was coming up every few weeks, but they were either going for far too much money, it would be local collection only or I would miss the listing! I almost gave up. I then found one that was ending within a few days, no bids, it was local pick-up in Leeds. I sent a message to the seller and see if they would be happy for a courier to take the item – obviously at my cost. This is where I praise MyHermes like no other delivery company! I LOVE them! They’re a fantastic courier, dramatically cheaper than Royal Mail/Parcel Force and are so convenient! You can drop your parcel off at a designated MyHermes drop/collect point or the courier can come directly to you and collect the parcel from you. I use them frequently for sending bulky or heavy items. Amazing.
Anyway, I digress. The chap who was selling the print was so so lovely and agreed to help get the print to me, with MyHermes, should I win. The auction was ending REALLY early on a Saturday morning, of course I was up with Eli. I could not believe my luck when I won! And for a ridiculously low price too. It’s stunning in real life, quite a large framed print; originally framed at Boots!
I’m in love with this print. Hope you like it too, here are some more photos. I WILL share more shots of our house when we’re more settled – still in a bit of upheaval post-move at the end of July!
Are there any decades or interior styles that you’re in love with?
For those who know me, will indeed know that I have a penchant for all things old. I love things with character, a story. I’m a particular fan of 70’s interior, as can be spied throughout our family home. I wanted Eli’s bedroom to be no different (it is however still a work in progress, so I will follow up with a blog post when it’s all lovely and finished!). I came across the wonderful world of Belle & Boo completely by accident – but fell in love straight away. The illustrations are just beautiful, harping back to a by-gone time. All their products feature the whimsical drawings, everything they craft is of the highest quality (as is their lovely packaging!) and it’s just such a lovely, original and nostalgic brand.
Before Eli had even arrived I purchased the Pirate Party money tin for his nursery… but knew I’d be back for more!
As soon as we moved house I wanted a few more Belle & Boo pieces, so came up with the idea of using their greetings cards as pictures and promptly bought the simple white frames.
But then of course, a fortnight after we moved into our new home, it was Eli’s birthday! I knew I’d seen some party decorations on the Belle & Boo website – and I just could not resist! I purchased some plates, napkins, a beautiful party garland, table cloth (which sadly does bear the stains of the incredible pulled pork buns and burnt beans that we had as our party food) and party bags.
Everyone commented on how unusual and lovely the decorations were – oh, and how they matched our home perfectly too! We didn’t really have a a ‘theme’ for Eli’s party – we just wanted all of our close friends and family together to celebrate (plus we’d just moved house!), but the Belle & Boo decorations MADE the theme. I was so so pleased with how everything looked and I will certainly treasure all of the Belle & Boo pieces from his party. In fact, I’m thinking about putting the party garland up in his bedroom, we only have bunting along the one wall, the addition of the garland would work really quite nicely.
Belle & Boo have not asked for this review or paid commission. I am solely passionate about this lovely brand and wanted to share my pieces with you.