flatly of an hermes scrapbook surrounded by sticky tape scissors bits of paper and pens
Home

SATURDAY SCRAPBOOKING

Now that I have a flat, the next task on my to-do list is to decorate it. As it’s a Regency property, I want to keep the main parts as age appropriate as possible. I don’t have an endless budget and bearing in mind the ceiling price for a flat of this size in this area, there will have to be some compromise. Sure I would love to have the entire thing gutted, re-rendered and all the original mouldings and ceiling roses put back in, but I think that whilst it would look good, it may not necessarily be a frugal move. Coving and roses yes, but probably less ornate versions would work just as well, especially when it’s all going to be painted white. I can introduce colour with soft furnishings and special pieces I have collected over the years.

As my mind is constantly running and I haven’t completely mastered Pinterest, I keep scrapbooks. I have always kept them for things that catch my eye, mainly from magazines, so I have re-opened my decoration one and started to add to it once more. Thankfully I have always gravitated towards period features and statement/classical pieces, which means the majority of it is still wholly relevant.

Simple things like photographs of nature can provide the best colour schemes. Think moss growing on an old rock, or decaying Autumn windfalls – there is no better source of inspiration than Mother Nature herself. With that in mind, I’m getting back to the sticky tape, scissors and endless magazines; the perfect way to spend a wet Saturday.

Recovery

TESTING

I know I previously posted about getting my foot on the property ladder, but what I didn’t mention was how bloody long a process and how utterly frustrating it was. Due to England’s burgeoning house prices a lot of people simply cannot afford to own their own home, so I was elated to secure a mortgage ‘agreement in principle’. Then came the property search; surprisingly difficult in Brighton as properties are being snapped up lickety-split. The buy-to-let boom is officially on. That said after a few months of hunting and several grey hairs later, I secured an offer on a flat in my dream location. The prayers and patience paid off.

When it came to actually issuing the mortgage the problems really began. The lender declined the mortgage, which begged the question why agree to lend in the first place only to decline the funds at a later date? To say I was stressed was an understatement. Nothing in my 33 years has ever been this stressful, yet I didn’t pick up. Recovery  has taught me patience and acceptance – two of the most powerful tools in my artillery. Through sharing with my friends and asking for help when I needed it, I was able to keep my head above water.

Eventually the mortgage sorted itself out, with a little bit of help from my higher power (not to mention a lot of nail biting and pulling out handfuls of my rapidly greying hair). Sadly the problems didn’t end there. Paperwork from the solicitors seemed to move at a snail’s pace, with things needing to be checked or signed every couple of days and hurdle after hurdle kept coming my way. All this with the seller’s solicitor chasing and an horrendously busy work schedule. Still clean and sober – snaps for Samuel.

On the day the vendor and I were due to exchange contracts another box needed ticking which meant a whole day of dashing around and we were unable to complete. I was devastated. After six months of living on a knife edge and testing the patience of everyone in my radius, I was ready to give up. Up until this point I had always thought I had accepted the situation, but only when I completely surrendered and put complete faith in the god of my understanding the sale went through. Thank fuck. It’s easy to talk the talk in recovery, but with patience and faith, I was able to walk the walk.

So after the most trying half a year of my life I am now a very proud and truly grateful homeowner. Staying clean is testament to my hard work and how much the programme works; no matter what life throws at you, we are only given what we can handle.

diptyque green and purple christmas candles on windowsill
Home

DIPTYQUE DELIGHTS

One of my favourite things about the festive season is all the scents – think rich spices, spruce, chestnuts and open fires. As I’m too lazy to make pomanders or constantly bake gingerbread in order for my home to smell appropriately Christmassy (is that even a word?), I go for the easy and chic option: Diptyque’s annual Christmas candles.

Yes I know it’s only November, but the big day is just over one month away, so whilst I am waiting for this year’s festive offerings to arrive in the post I thought I would share some of the previous editions I have left over. Not only are the jewel-coloured glass vessels beautiful to look at, but they also smell divine. Using only natural ingredients means they smell exactly that – natural. No hideous synthetic odours are permitted in my abode.

Coincidentally my good friend Lornaluxe is hosting a Diptyque candle giveaway on her blog, to celebrate her Instagram account reaching a whopping 60 thousand followers. It really is one of the most beautiful accounts I have seen and by golly she has put the work in to earn those followers. So if you want to be in with a chance to get your mitts on your own Diptyque treat click here and good luck.

 

diptyque red and green festive candles on windowsill

leaning against pillar wearing a camel cashmere coat and sunglasses
Fashion, Menswear

CRAVING CAMEL

Hump day. Or Wednesday, if like me you are not down with the kids. So what better to wear than camel? See what I did there?  It’s everywhere this winter (check out this great edit here) and the classic camel coat is one piece of clothing no man should be without.

As a break from the norm I opted for a lightly textured cashmere version, so it’s not as heavy as wool, but super warm. Perfect seeing as I hate too many layers. The orange under the collar was another detail I fell in love with and I’m all about the little things.

The beauty of a classic camel coat is you can dress it up or down, I can literally think of a dozen ways to wear it. Today I kept it casual and wore it with black Fendi jeans, a white embroidered Marc Jacobs t-shirt, and neon Nike trainers.  Black is the perfect partner to camel, so if ever you are stuck with what to wear it with, just keep it simple. Riccardo Tisci’s final version of the iconic Air Force 1 is a perfect example of this.

Seeing as I went pretty low key with my outfit, I thought I would let my man-clutch do the screaming talking. If you don’t want to go for black as a partner to camel, leopard works just as well. Maybe a studded pony skin Louboutin number wasn’t the most understated of choices however…

 

walking past an iron fence wearing black jeans and camel cashmere coat close up shot of leopard print pony hair iPad case and camel coat walking away down a brighton crescent in a camel coat with orange under collar

Recovery

ON THE LADDER

Today was a special day. A very special day indeed – I picked up the keys to my very own flat. After years of searching for ‘the one’, I started to think that this day would never come. Sure it may be a little small and in need of complete refurbishment, but as they say it’s all about the location. Five minutes from Brighton town centre and ten minutes walk to the beach, Kirsty and Phil would be thrilled. Best thing is, it’s all mine.

Casting my mind back eighteen months, newly in recovery, I could barely face leaving the house; so to be the oh-so-proud owner of a Regency property is testament to how far I have come. With the budget stretched and my patience pushed to the max, I can kick off my proverbial heels and give myself a pat on the back. It really does work if you work it.

Since swapping Esquire for Elle Deco, I now get excited about parquet floors and ceiling roses. I’ve even slowed down the spending, well, for clothes at least. Who’d have thought? That said, I do have my eye on a particularly snazzy Balmain blazer, but I guess some things never change…

two bespoke rings from Baroque Brighton in their boxes against a colourful cushion
Jewellery

BAROQUE BESPOKE JEWELLERY

If you have read my previous posts (and if you haven’t read my blog before – welcome), you will know I love anything bespoke. I also love jewellery, so bespoke jewels seem to be a logical progression right?

I have been purchasing loose stones for some time now, but was waiting to find a competent jeweller who could live up to my exacting standards. After a bit of internet research and good old fashioned foot work, I came across Baroque Jewellery. Established in 2006 and situated in Brighton’s famous Lanes, it’s a unique and glamorous shop run by a team of skilled designers and craftsmen with over 60 years combined experience in jewellery making. As if the sumptuous dark interior wasn’t enough (box ticked), the shop features unique and eye-catching window displays with both their own pieces and those of other featured designers.

Upon entering the store I was greeted by a friendly chap who was incredibly knowledgable when it comes to stones (another box ticked). I am admittedly picky and rightly so, I like good quality and craftsmanship with that extra flourish when it comes to design. So after a chat about what I had and what I was looking for, I left it with the team to come up with a design.

My first piece was to be centred around a flawless half carat cognac diamond I had picked up on my travels. I was a little unsure of what style to go for, but Aaron and Jason came up with a beautiful design in rose gold that surrounded my centre stone with smaller varying colour brown diamonds – I couldn’t be more pleased. Especially as they were also able to use some existing 9 carat yellow gold from an inherited ring and bump it up to 18 carat rose gold (tick). The finished piece was a simple yet striking design, which I know I shall cherish forever (tick, tick).

close up of hand wearing bespoke cognac diamond ring set in pink gold

On to my most recent piece. I have always wanted an emerald ring but struggled to find a design that suited me and my style. So after discovering Baroque and seeing the quality of their work first hand, I again chose them to commission another piece.

The stone this time was a bit larger, weighing in at 2.6 carats, so I needed to balance out the emerald by having an appropriate setting. In order to stop it looking delicate I went for a ruby halo, made with stones from a band I never wore. Think of it as recycling, but in a luxe way. As the centre stone had some inclusions (which I love in emeralds), I thought a good way of echoing this was to have the ring set in blackened white gold. A great contrast against the pink rubies.

After around 6 weeks, my second bespoke ring was ready. The team at Baroque kept me regularly informed on its progress and I was able to pop in and see the model of the ring to make sure everything was to my liking.  It really was a pleasure to build up a rapport with the team and for them to get to know me in order to fully understand my crazy mind vision. The result was far beyond what I had desired, a stunning unique jewel that perfectly showcases my style.

So my thanks go out to all of the helpful, professional and friendly staff at Baroque. They truly are skilled craftsmen (and women – not forgetting you Pippa) who not only make wonderful jewels, but also good business relationships.

 

wearing bespoke large emerald ring set in blackened white gold surrounded by pink rubies bespoke black gold emerald ring with ruby halo in brown leather box on a colourful cushion