A Stylish Christmas ... Hired !

A Stylish Christmas ... Hired !.jpg

We are delighted to announce our new Christmas Hire + Style service exclusive to our Manchester and Cheshire customers. 

 If you're hosting Christmas at home this year and looking to create a striking tablescape for your guests, why not take advantage of our new flexible and cost effective hire service with no minimum order quantity and save up to an 80% discount on the retail price of each item. 

We are also able to offer FREE delivery and collection to Chorlton, Whalley Range, Didsbury and Stretford postcodes as well as FREE in store collection should that option be more convenient. Standard drop-off and collection for Manchester postcodes and Oldham, Stockport, Wilmslow, Knutsford and Alderley Edge is charged at £20 for the round trip. 

Choose from tableware and glassware from our core Danish collections including Botanical, Rustic, Industrial and Minimalist. View the ranges HERE

A minimum spend of £75 pre-order applies in addition to a 20% refundable deposit for loss and breakages and a 10% cleaning fee. All orders will be delivered between Monday 17th and Thursday 20th December and will be collected on Wednesday 2nd and Thursday 3rd January. You will be contacted in advance to arrange a suitable time and date. Alternatively, you can collect and return items to order store, please see our Christmas Opening Hours for details. 

To download an order form click HERE. Please complete and email your order request to creative@objectstyle.co.uk 

*Please note the last day to book our Christmas Hire Service is Friday 14th December. We strongly advise booking ahead as limited availability may apply. 

How to style A Modern Rustic Christmas Table

 Image Credit: House and Garden

Image Credit: House and Garden

For Christmas 2018 we are exploring a modern-rustic themed Christmas table that fuses elements of Scandinavian and Boho interior trends. 

Working with a romantic colour palette of dusky pinks, blush, rose and mauve paired with dove grey and flickers of brushed metals such as copper and antique gold, we are able to achieve a warm and inviting table scape that magically blends traditional and contemporary concepts. 


Neutrally toned tableware in fawn, off-white and beige work really well to create a modern-rustic look. Don’t be too concerned about each piece perfectly matching, this concept is meant to look relaxed and effortless so try mix-matching different glazes and shades to add depth and texture.

 Image Credit: The Future Kept

Image Credit: The Future Kept

Check out our rustic tableware collection at Object Style 

We suggest using a variety of different metals (preferably in brushed or matte finishes) such as copper, zinc and gold cutlery to add a sense of stylish luxury to the table. 

Gold Cutlery available at Trouva 

Table Linen

Another easy way to introduce texture is through table linen. Instead of covering the whole table in a table cloth opt for a runner which will add a nice layer and differentiation between the material and the table top finish, be it metal, wood or glass. For a modern-rustic look linen works better than cotton for the choice of cloth as the fabric is often flecked and tonal. For a pared-back, elegant look, allow the table runner to drape over the table towards the floor. 

We suggest Organic Table Linen from Not Perfect Linen 

 Image Credit: One Stylish Day

Image Credit: One Stylish Day

There are many styles you can experiment with table napkins such as mirroring the draped table runner, laying flat, rolling or creating an envelope pocket fold to display cutlery. Using twine or ribbon to tie around the napkin, try attaching a little Christmas keepsake such as a decorative feather or star along with some scented foliage like pine or eucalyptus as a thoughtful, handmade touch. 

A great selection of linen napkins available at Zara Home 

 Image Credit: Paper and Lace

Image Credit: Paper and Lace


Dried flowers and botanicals add a gorgeous rustic element, think Scandinavian lake-cabin style ! Just like we referred to aged-looking metals earlier in the blog post, the same rule works for foliage. Greenery such as silver-toned ‘Eucalyptus’ looks stunning displayed as table trail and ‘Honesty’ with it’s pearly paper-like seed cases looks so elegant displayed in centre vases. Perhaps, try using the famous festive flower mistletoe, displayed and attached with string to each Christmas cracker; whoever wins at pulling is in for a Christmas treat ! 

 Image Credit: 100 Layer Cake

Image Credit: 100 Layer Cake

Centre Pieces

Why not try experimenting with objects you wouldn’t normally use on a table setting ? Patterned tiles such as the ‘Vintage Metropolis Star’ tiles (samples from 99p) work really well as centre pieces for displaying water jugs, wine bottles, condiment servers and festive ornaments. They also add a contrasting yet complimenting ceramic visual to a matching dinner set.

Check out Bert + May, Terrazzo Tiles and Tones of Tiles for samples. 

 Imaged Credit: Style Me Pretty

Imaged Credit: Style Me Pretty

If your table space allows for a large centre pieces, giant metal star lanterns in brushed gold or zinc make a dramatic impact and are in-keeping with salvage element of the modern-rustic theme. 

Perhaps, your Christmas menu is just as impressive as your table setting so why not print your menu of texture paper (brown or white kraft paper work best) and display in a double-sided antique frame. 

Star Lantern and Antique Frames available at Object Style


Ideally wooden benches dressed in draped, textured sheep-furs are great for softening dense wood and are reflective of true Nordic style. If your table doesn’t have wooden benches, try layering furs and placing velvet cushions on chairs in contrasting colour ways to bring a Bohemian element to the table. A use of mixed material style chairs including transparent plastic, natural wood and black is another great way to make the setting look more eclectic and contemporary. 

Sheepskin Chair Throws available at MADE.com

 Image Credit: Daniella Witte

Image Credit: Daniella Witte


White and grey marble is heavily featured in Scandinavian homes and whilst it isn’t the most obvious Christmas pattern it will make any Christmas table look luxurious and contemporary. 

Marble crackers available at Cox & Cox 

Image 8 .jpg

Introduce elements of nature such as feathers and pinecones and add your own handmade touch by dipping the tips in festive glitter ! 

Candle light will make your setting look warm and inviting. Depending on how much space you have, try experimenting with a huge candelabra centre pieces, preferably dripping in wax for a truly rustic vibe ! Or if you don’t have a huge amount of table space, try using lots of different heights of candlesticks and tea lights in both glass and ceramic varieties to give the table plenty of soft, glowing light. 

How to style A Modern Rustic Christmas Table

Again if you’re lacking on actual table space, why not create your display from above ? Experiments with different shaped paper snowflakes and stars that can be easily attached to ceilings without any preparation. If you’re feeling more experimental, insert ceiling hooks into the joists to display heavier festive accessories such as glass lanterns, metal stars, candle holders and even botanical displays !

Handwritten name place cards give a wonderfully personal touch to any Christmas table. If you’re not too confident writing your own, order some calligraphy inked versions that can be personalised to your guests.

 Image Credit: Etsy

Image Credit: Etsy

Don’t forget that Object Style offers a Christmas tableware and glassware hire service, so you can create a striking tablescape just like these inspiring images for a fraction of the cost ! For more information click here.

Desert Decor: Creating a holiday home, in your actual home.

 The Joshua Tree Cabin

The Joshua Tree Cabin

Some people dream of living by the sea, some people long to see nothing but miles and miles of rolling hills from their kitchen window and some people like to see and hear life on their door step. I’m more like the later but when it comes to getting away from it all, the sun-drenched desert landscape and the enormity of jagged, Jenga style mountains adorned with exotic plants and flowers that exist in complete stillness and peace, is my favourite escape haven. 

My husband Alex and I have been fortunate enough to travel around California a handful of times, visiting the Mecca of Modernism Palm Springs, hippie-hideouts in Topanga Canyon and hilltop ranches in sporadic small towns residing on the edge of gigantic national parks. In fact we love it so much we’re heading back in January to explore the infamous Death Valley that boarders California and Nevada and heading south to the equally infamous Joshua Tree ! We always come away so inspired from this truly special part of the world, we’ve decided to welcome a little bit of desert inspired decor into our own home, starting with a new renovation project in our living room. 

What I really like about the desert look is that it is the perfect bridge between more feminine bohemian styles, mid-century modern and jungle decor. I like the effortless, lived-in environment that desert inspired homes radiate and below I’m going to be talking through how we plan to introduce these design elements into our lounge and how you might take inspiration to do so into your own homes.


Many desert homes are painted predominately white, probably due to the large open spaces and windows. In contrast, we are planning to use a bright, light-reflecting off white for one wall and are the painting the remaining 3 walls in warm, light terracotta with a chalky finish such as Book Room Red or Red Earth both by by Farrow & Ball.

On the whole a neutral colour palette of nudes, beige, off-white, cream, coffee, terracotta, caramel can be made interesting and exciting through the use of texture, levels and arrangement. 


Wood is perhaps the strongest design aspect of the desert decor trend. Be it entire wooden rooms seen in cladded cabins or incorporating various types of wood in one space such as fixtures and fittings like cupboards and built in shelves, mid-century furniture and reclaimed flooring.  

Our existing floor is a dark walnut parquet was only laid 18 months ago and now is finally showing some lovely worn-in marks and grooves, perfectly in-keeping with laid back desert decor.


Traditional Native blankets are a popular decorative features in many desert homes, such as Pendelton. They look stylish draped over sofas or rolled and displayed in baskets. However they can also be displayed walls by sewing loop holes to each corner and using large, industrial pins or clips to attach. For a softer look try a large piece of fabric art like the botanical scarf featured below.

Introducing handwoven wall art crafted from yarns and wool or embroidered tapestry is another good option to create texture. 

We’re planning on creating a curiosity wall that features personal souvenirs from our travels to the dessert like postcards and photographs that will sit alongside vintage wall baskets similar to the ones below. 


Wicker, bamboo, rattan, driftwood and birch ply as are common furniture choices within desert homes. They work well together as they are usually quite light in colour and tone. I personally like the idea of introducing a tiki vibe to a desert inspired space by displaying a 70’s rattan bar cart with vintage glassware and beautifully branded liquor bottles on show. 

Bamboo basket lighting displayed as a statement centre room feature or various shaped and sized grouped together and arranged at different heights looks really striking. 

We are in the middle of sourcing a vintage sofa with an exposed wooden frame, preferably with a super soft buttery yellow leather seat and cushions to help with our ever-hair-shedding pets ! Below are some beautiful exposed frame sofas, the velvet rust is my absolute dream sofa in an ideal world !


Most people assume that California lifestyle as being largely associated with glitz and glamour and whilst this is true, another big lifestyle influence is Bohemia, nature and spirituality. In addition to using native patterns within rugs, cushions and tapestry, moon-phases crafted from glass are an interesting alternative piece of wall art for your desert inspired room. Objects like crystals, minerals and fossils as well as mood creators like smudge sticks and incense burners also add nicely to the spiritual detail. 


Add finer desert detail with handmade pottery such as vases, votives and pots in various shapes and textures. Look out for large bulb-bottom ceramics or large urns that look great displayed on the floor next to huge house plants.  Another nice idea is to source pottery that is inspired by the landscape. We picked up some incredible handcrafted bowls and mugs by Santa Cruz potter Coco Chipsa, who’s work is inspired by Calforina’s moutnains, oceans and deserts.


Tiles are a really good way of bringing some colour into a neutral space. If you’re going for more of an Americana influenced look, vintage tin tiles work really well as splash backs in a kitchen or if you’re feeling really experimental as a tinned ceiling ! 

In our living room we are hoping to use ceramic diagonal colour block tiles (similar to the ones below) in either burnt orange and white or mustard and white to tile half way our main white feature wall, where our long-standing teak sideboard will sit in front with large house plants arranged either side. 


Bringing the outside is a key design element to creating a desert inspired room. Dry-heat, vibrant green plants such as various cacti, snake (mother-in-laws tongue), donkey tails and air plants look great grouped together or displayed singularly as one large statement feature plant. Dried flowers pressed into frames or hung upside-down, will work well as part of a shelving display or curiosity wall if you’re looking to shape a more bohemian look. 

All images in this blog post are not owned by Object Style and have been linked back to the source. Click on the image for the original source reference.

To see more Decor Decor inspiration follow my desert board on Pinterest.

Look out for our NEW desert design range coming soon to our store.

Up next on our blog: American Road Trip: Exploring Californian Surf Towns + LA

Object Autumn Book Club

Object Book Club

Welcome to Object Book Club, a new chapter of our shop that is launching this Autumn ! 

Our new members-only book club meets every fourth Wednesday of the month at our Chorlton store for an open group discussions about the book we’ve read that month. At each meet-up we will informally discuss your emotional response to the book, characterisation, themes, most memorable parts (descriptions/dialogue), strengths/ weaknesses and your opinion on the whole. 

Due to the intimate space of our store, Object Book Club is limited to just 10 spaces per session and strictly by advance bookings only. Each session will include complimentary hot and cold non-alcoholic drinks and nibbles, an option to purchase the book direct from our store and an exclusive discount voucher that you are welcome to use in our shop or online. 

Object Book Club is a great way to meet new people and enjoy a friendly mid-week social event for book lovers. 

Please find information below about our schedule and details of how to book your place. 

Look forward to seeing you there, 

Rachael x  

Dates + Times

Wednesday 26th September, 7pm - 9pm. 

Wednesday 24th October, 7pm - 9pm. 

Wednesday 28th November, 7pm - 9pm. 

Wednesday 19th December, 7pm - 9pm.

Book List

Book 1 - Normal People by Sally Rooney

Each new book for the next book club meet-up will be announced at our first event (Wednesday 26th September) or for new members looking to join the new read will also be announced on our Instagram and via our newsletter shortly after this date. 

Object Book Club Membership Options 

Option 1 - Autumn membership (4 meet-ups) + all book inclusions. 

  • Includes a copy of each book we will be reading at the 4 book club meetings (please note that books must be collected in store prior to the first event). We can offer local drop off for Chorlton and Whalley Range members. 
  • Secured place at the monthly book club meeting. 
  • Unlimited drinks + nibbles at the event. 
  • 15% discount in store or online for a one-off purchase per month. 

Price £70 - click here to purchase

Option 2 - One-off membership for first event (26/09/18)  + one book inclusion. 

  • Includes one copy of the book we will be reading that month (please note that books must be collected in store prior to the first event). We can offer local drop off for Chorlton and Whalley Range members. 
  • Secured place at the monthly book club meeting. 
  • Unlimited drinks + nibbles at the event. 
  • 10% discount in store or online for a one-off purchase to be used within one month. 

Price £20 - click here to purchase

Option 3 - Book club only membership for first meet-up (26/09/18)

  • Secured place at the monthly book club meeting. 
  • Unlimited drinks + nibbles at the event. 

Price £5 - click here to purchase

Finally our store address is - Object Style, 519 Barlow Moor Road, Chorlton, Manchester, M21 8AQ. 

Transport - Nearest tram stop - Chorlton. Busses 23, 86 and 85. 


What is West German Pottery ?

 West German Pottery in my living room at home. The bottle green urn is my most favourite piece. 

West German Pottery in my living room at home. The bottle green urn is my most favourite piece. 

West German Pottery, is the mid-century must have ceramic of the moment ! Featuring heavily in specialist vintage stores and vintage enthusiast homes, there are over 700 recorded styles (not including glazes!) to collect and right now at very reasonable prices. 

Known for its bold, bright decorative ceramics produced in the 50s, 60s and 70s, West German Pottery is an explosion of experimental coloured, glazed and shaped clay objects that some argue is a direct reaction of booming creativity after years of Nazi rule in the country.

The distinct style of the pottery is very easy to identify, as many pieces detail vibrant contrasting colours against a neutral or black base. A key design feature, is the ‘fat lava’ glaze, a thick, encrusted glaze that looks like an eruption as it bleeds down the ceramic.

Many West German Pottery pieces are sturdy and robust helping to facilitate international shipping. They vary greatly in silhouette and size from large cylinder shaped urns to Moroccan inspired bulb bottom vessels. Designers also experimented with different handles, positioning them in unusual places on jugs and pushing the boundaries on style and shape. 

 West German Pottery, small cobalt blue with an unusual square handle picture in my lounge at home. 

West German Pottery, small cobalt blue with an unusual square handle picture in my lounge at home. 

Some of the post-war West German Pottery studios are still in business today, for example Scheurich, a large scale producer, creating around 200 different glazes per design. Ceramano and Ruscha, were two clay houses known for their high-end craftsmanship and elegant styles, where as Es Keramik was a leading studio famous for its striking use of colour and design.

It’s worth noting that not all West German Pottery is stamped however that is not to say the piece isn’t an original or lacks value. The pieces we have sourced in our store however are stamped and detail with W.German or West Germany and the production number. Some ceramics also identify the studio too. This can also be tracked by the colour of the base. Whilst most studios used an off white, Ceramona , Roth and Carstens all used a red brick clay.

Finally, if you’re unsure which era a piece of West German Pottery is from you can look out for specific design elements. Pieces from the early years ('50-58) are influenced by the previous Art Deco era which can be seen in their shapes. Around mid 60's, the introduction of volcanic glazes started to appear taking texture to a new level and thus ‘fat lava’ glaze was born. A final point worth mentioning if you are considering investing in West German Pottery is that colour ways such as greens/greys and all white are more rare and harder to come across than traditional reds, oranges, browns and neutrals, which sometimes can reflect in the price. 

 West German Pottery, a beautiful double handled white jug pictured in my bathroom at home. 

West German Pottery, a beautiful double handled white jug pictured in my bathroom at home. 

Visit our Chorlton store or shop our Instagram to see our ever-changing West German Pottery collection. 

How to find the best design-led accommodation for less


Much like how I ‘try’ to maintain a sensible diet by eating little and often, I have more success when it comes to getting away ! 

Time and budget dependent, I much prefer to indulge in a short break every couple of months rather than wait for two weeks of solid summer sunshine. Personally, I know I work best in short bursts, to deadlines and often by a project by project basis knowing 72 hours of switch-off time is no more than a few months away. 

Some of you lovely folk have recently been asking how and where I seem to find these little bijou bolt-holes to rest my head ? And so I’m going to share my favourite travel sources and tips for getting the best deals, so you can stay somewhere fancier for cheaper. Sound like a winner ? Read on below ...

My Top 5 Travel Sources

Petite Passport 

Pauline’s great eye for design and passion for interesting interiors, save me so much time trawling through endless Google searches. Her pictorial travel blog, Petite Passport is very easy-reading with qualitative, concise content about the coolest hot-spots to visit around the world. Her printed travel guides are packed with beautiful imagery of her best recommendations and are small enough to carry in your handbag. I’m a bit old fashioned in preferring to purchase a printed guide as it makes a nice keepsake post holiday, plus it means you’ll spend less time on your phone Googling what’s good and where to go. 

Favourite places I found via Petite Passport

The Ludlow, Lower Eastside, New York

 Image - Petite Passport

Image - Petite Passport

The Line, Korea Town, Los Angeles 

 Image - Petite Passport

Image - Petite Passport

Welcome and Beyond 

Easy peasy travel website to search, navigate and discover ‘hand-picked paradise’ in unique locations, suitable for various budgets. From idyllic Italian farmhouses to urban Brooklyn warehouse apartments, Welcome and Beyond’s carefully chosen collection of places to stay is a key influencer for me on deciding where to visit next time and time again ! I really like the personal interviews with the hotel or guesthouse owner, it gives you a great insight and feel about where you’re going to stay. 

Favourite places I found via Welcome and Beyond

Masseria Moroseta, Puglia, Italy 

ostuni puglia
Masseria Moroseta Ostuni .jpg
maseria morreto ostuni puglia

CNT Traveller

I usually use CNT Traveller to discover more about the destination as their features are often presented as an in-depth article, written from the journalist’s personal experience. They are champions at covering relatively unknown places with little tourism and sometimes this can lead to finding really beautiful destinations that aren’t too costly. For more popular cities and towns, CNT Traveller organises content into specific guides such as Best Rooftop Bars in Lisbon or Best Coffee Shop in San Francisco, which gives you lots of good choices within the same feature and saves time searching for recommendations separately.

Favourite places I found via CNT Traveller

La Masion du Bassin, Cap Ferret, 

La Maison du Bassin cap ferret .jpg
La Maison du Bassin.jpg
La Maison du Bassin 2.jpg


What I really like about planning my travel escapes via Pintrest is that one attractive image of a bar or restaurant can lead to discovering so many other similar style places in the city or town by scrolling down the page to ‘More like this’. It’s really useful when travel bloggers and journalists create collage images with introductory text, for example 48 hours in Bordeaux. I can usually see from the style of the images if I am going to be interested in the content without having to click through and read the first few paragraphs. 

Favourite places I found via Pinterest

Casa Blanca, Les Chartrons, Bordeaux 

casa blanca hotel .jpg
casa blanca hotel 1.jpg
casa blanca hotel bordeaux .jpg

Cereal Guides

Really well-priced printed travel books and digital guides featuring the most stylish places to sleep, eat, drink, shop and explore. Cereal do tend to feature more higher-end establishments but 'just visiting' a lust-worthy interiors store or treating yourself to an expertly made flat white to be enjoyed in the most incredible setting, doesn’t cost more than your time or a couple of pounds. Their location maps that are organised by a key code are really useful for planning itineraries on your trip too. 

Favourite places I found via Cereal

Thyme Manor, Southrop, The Cotswolds 

 Image - Black Tomato

Image - Black Tomato

Further Recommendations

Lodestars Anthology, In Clover Magazine, Stylist Online

Tips for getting the best deal when booking accommodation

  • If possible stay mid week when rates are usually lower than at weekends.
  • Research when locals are on holiday. For example we made the mistake of visiting Puglia in the last two weeks of August when many Italian families where also enjoying their holiday. This meant accommodation was more expensive as were restaurants and bars due to huge surplus of tourists. 
  • Use comparative sites to find the best nightly rate and then contact the hotel or guesthouse directly and ask them if they can match the fee. 
  • If you can, pay up front as the economic market is so volatile, the exchange rate could differ by the time of your stay. 
  • Always check if taxes, resort fees and parking are included in the total price at the time of booking.
  • At check-in always ask if an up-grade is available. If so, it’s worth enquiring to see if it is possible to up-grade at a discounted rate.
  • Skip over-priced breakfast at the hotel if it isn’t included in your rate, especially if it is a buffet breakfast, non-one ever eats the equivalent to the hefty price tag anyway. 

Part 4 - American Roadtrip, exploring Monterey + Carmel


I sort of feel our official American adventure started once we got ourselves a set of wheels, left San Francisco behind and headed for the infamous Highway One (check out my previous blog HERE for advice about renting cars in the States). Now, I’m not the best passenger on motorways and certainly not on motorways that have 6 lanes of traffic but as soon as we’d passed San Jose most of the traffic had cleared and it was just us and the open road. 

pebble beach california.jpg

Our first stop was Seaside, a small town just outside of Monterey. We rented a kitsch ‘an artist’s cottage’ via Air Bnb and our host Murray gave a really welcoming and friendly service. He lives in his studio next door which has an amazing view of the Pacific Coast, which he paints daily ! His incredible landscape art is displayed all over the house and also in some of the local galleries in Carmel. 

It’s worth noting that Air BnB is actually banned in Monterary and Carmel which is why we chose to stay in Seaside. Hotels and guesthouses in those areas are very expensive and we personally found them a bit formal and stuffy. Another handy tip was that it was free to park our car at Murray’s home. 

On our first evening we ventured in Monterey which is about a 15 minute drive from Seaside. I’m going to be completely honest and say we were disappointed for the first time on our trip with lack of good quality restaurants and amenities. After watching episode of Rick Stein’s Road To Mexico, we took on board his recommendation and booked The Sardine Factory, the oldest and supposedly most well-regarded restaurant in Monterey. Unfortunately, we didn’t actually end up eating there as we felt the location and aesthetic didn’t warrant the price. 

Monterey by the day was definitely more appealing. This was our first taste of coastal California, which is nothing like any other coast I’ve ever seen before. We spent the morning watching surfers at Lovers Point Park, a stunning cliff edge at Pacific Grove, sitting peacefully drinking coffee and eating croissants in gorgeous mid-twenty degree heat (in January!). 

lovers point park california .jpg
lovers point park california 1.jpg

After a short walk on the beach, we headed to Monterey’s most famous attraction, the Monterey Bay Aquarium and spent a good few hours discovering what weird and wonderful things live in our oceans. This ended up being one of our best highlights from the whole trip, there are so many unique and unusual sea creatures to learn about and who knew that starting at fish for hours could be so therapeutic ? 

Next we headed to Carmel and chose to take the longer 17 mile scenic drive which costs around $10. Driving through huge pined woodlands, you’ll see modernist architectural houses nestled amongst the trees but the best view is when you get your first glimpse of the white sands and turquoise waves as you head down towards the seafront. There are designated points of interest where you can pull over and take photographs of the breath-taking peninsula. We had one part of the coast completely to ourselves, so just sat alongside washed up driftwood and took it all in, both us thinking I never knew America could look like this. Further along you’ll see very impressive houses of the Pacific Grove and Pebble Beach residents. Well, I say houses but these structures are more like chateaus and mansions, each one appearing more lavish and elaborate than it’s neighbour. 

17 mile scenic drive carmel .jpg

Eventually we pulled into Carmel, an incredibly pretty little seaside town which looks like it belongs in an Enid Blyton book. Shops, bars and cafes are housed in fairytale cottages with wooden swing-signs detailing their business name hand-drawn in calligraphy. Residents lawns look like they have been trimmed to absolute perfection (I can only imagine with nail scissors) and you will be fined by the mayor for wearing heels on the preserved cobbled streets. Over all, as sweet looking as Carmel was, we weren’t overly keen on the overall vibe, it felt very touristy, too polished and a little snooty for our taste. 

carmel by the sea

That evening, following a recommendation from our Air BnB host we drove out to what felt like the middle of nowhere to his favourite Mexican, Baja Catina located in Carmel Valley. The restaurant occupies an old gasoline garage which still has the original pumps outside ! Inside, there isn’t an inch of wall that isn’t covered in sporting memorabilia that the owner has been collecting since Baja Catina opened 40 years ago. Just like Murray said the food was authentic and really delicious, as you might have guessed everything is supersize (even the Margaritas) so it’s definitely worth sharing some plates. 

When we started planning and marking out our route from San Francisco to Los Angeles, our research encouraged us to spend some time in Monterey and Carmel. I am glad we got to see both of these places but because they are so small, the two can definitely be explored in the same day with maybe an overnight stay. Personally, it was the first time on our trip that we became a bit twiddly-fingered and felt many of places in each town were over-priced and touristy. In hindsight, I wish we would have spent one of our two nights in the Big Sur and embarked on more amazing nature hikes but that’s just our opinion.

Up Next: Part 4 - The Big Sur

Part 3: American Roadtrip, 48 Hours in San Francisco

American Roadtrip 48 Hours in San Francisco

This was our second time visiting San Francisco and I have to be honest in saying I was dubious about spending time in the city after our first experience. We last visited as part of our honeymoon in 2015, naively we didn’t do enough research so our time wasn’t spent as very well and we came away like we hadn’t seen what so many others had been sure we would love. San Francisco is quite a tricky city to navigate not only can the mood drastically change from street to street and due to those infamous hills, it’s not exactly an easy place to walk around. So this time, I made it my mission to adopt a militant style approach to research and planning to ensure we got the most out of our 48 hour visit and this time I’m converted, I get what all the pro San Fran fans were talking about !  

Personally, my favourite thing about San Francisco is its nightlife; buzzing, extrovert and raucous. We danced in dingy, sticky carpet dive bars, dined in extraordinary, gastronomical restaurants that hid behind unmarked, graffiti scribbled doors, saw the bright lights of the city scape from rooftop cocktail bars and watched impromptu Sunday afternoon jazz in the backstreet bars of The Haight.

By day things are a little calmer, sort of, though don’t be surprised to see someone just casually taking a naked stroll through the city, as long as they have a permit parade it’s completely legal to do so in California ! For interesting street murals that speak powerful political messages head to the Mission, home to San Francisco’s largest Hispanic community and make it your mission (excuse the pun) to eat Mexican around here ! For independent shopping small boutique stores head to Hayes Valley, there is a great selection of coffee houses and watering holes in this neighbourhood too. Read on below to discover my highlights of San Francisco. 

American Roadtrip 48 Hours in San Francisco
2American Roadtrip 48 Hours in San Francisco 2
American Roadtrip 48 Hours in San Francisco 2


Japanese Tea Garden

If you’re looking for some respite away from the noise of the city, visit the tranquil Japanese Tea Garden, the oldest in the whole of the United States. Talk a walk along the arched drum bridge or step across the stones in the stream, take in the scent of native Japanese plants, finishing with a visit to the harmonious Tea House and enjoy a traditional tea ceremony tasting. 


 Image Source:  Trip Savvy

Image Source: Trip Savvy

de Young Museum

Situated in Golden Gate Park, the de Young museum is worth seeing for it’s impressive architectural structure as it is for eclectic collection of 17th-20th American and African art. 



Gravel + Gold 

 Image Source:  Gravel and Gold

Image Source: Gravel and Gold

 Image Source:  Anne Street Studio

Image Source: Anne Street Studio

An independent lifestyle store, owned by a collective of female designers. Each piece of clothing, jewellery, textile art and ceramic is handmade in California.


Mel Rice Ceramica

 Image Source: Mel Rice Ceramica

Image Source: Mel Rice Ceramica

 Image Source:  Mel Rice Ceramica

Image Source: Mel Rice Ceramica

Ringing true to the phrase, the best things come in small packages, they really do in ceramicist Melissa Rice’s micro pottery shop. 


Oak + Fort

Super luxe basics and wardrobe staples for men and women. Oak + Fort also carry an interesting and affordable collection of jewellery and leather goods. 


Bars, Coffee + Eats

500 Club

American Roadtrip 48 Hours in San Francisco

In the UK we call them back street boozers, in the US they call them dive bars, equally you really shouldn’t like them but you just can’t help it ! You can’t miss the glowing neon pink signage with the camp Club Tropicana-esque cocktail, this place is loud, crowded, a bit smelly but incredibly intriguing. 

Monk’s Kettle

The pretzel knot with beer cheese fondue. I dream about it daily. Go visit and order this plus one of the 150 world beers + ciders available. 


Tartine Bakery

Widely regarded as one of America’s most influential bakeries, Tartine is a heavenly French-inspired bakehouse which has been praticising the art of bread making for over 20 years ! And they’ve got it just perfect, worth the queue, worth the price tag, smells as good as it tastes. 


Foreign Cinema

 Image Source: Foreign Cinema

Image Source: Foreign Cinema

Hiding behind a non-descript door (like all the best places are right ?) is Foreign Cinema, a large scale restaurant adorned with festoon lighting and set against a gigantic cinema backdrop showing guess what ... arty, independent, foreign films ! It boasts an extensive small plates menu from around the world and it is here I became a lover of sprouts. Brussel sprouts in California are big business, they are anything but boring and boiled and definitely not just for Christmas when you’re Stateside. Try them ! 


Sightglass Coffee 

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Head to their Mission location, my personal favourite out of their 4 coffee bars in San Francisco. Obviously the coffee is amazing but the setting with its huge light-filled crittal windows (definitely worth an Instagram post) , pared back ply wood interior and handmade ceramic mugs make a lovely surrounding to enjoy your choice of bean. 


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Other Recommendations

Museums + Sites


GLBT Museum

City Hall


Self Edge Denim - menswear 

Little Paper Planes - concept store 

Union Made - menswear 

The Voyager Shop - concept store with menswear 

Everlane - super basics 

Heath Ceramics - homewares 

Anaise - high-end womenswear boutique 

Bars, Coffee, Eats 

Four Barrel Coffee 

Wrecking Ball Coffee

LoLo - Mexican 

Trick Dog - Cocktail Bar

 Two things to be sure to pack for San Francisco are a lightweight jacket and a pair of sneakers.  Temperatures change by the street and heels + hills are an absolute no no !

Two things to be sure to pack for San Francisco are a lightweight jacket and a pair of sneakers.  Temperatures change by the street and heels + hills are an absolute no no !


Up next - Part 4: Monterey, The Big Sur, Cayucos and Santa Barbara

Part 2: American Roadtrip, 48 Hours in Seattle

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It was such a close call for us to either revisit Portland since falling in love with the city on our Honeymoon in 2015 or give it’s Northern cousin Seattle a try. Obviously we decided on the latter and I’m really glad we did. Seattle is a much bigger city than what we had anticipated but still manages to have a homely, small-town feel and the locals are the friendliest bunch of folk we met out of all the locals we came across on our trip ! There is a great foodie scene in Seattle, you really are spoilt for choice for artisan eateries, locally brewed beer, cider even wine and fresh produce farmers markets. What also really surprised me about Seattle was how pretty it’s suburban neighbourhoods were; Fremont for example, looks out at a picturesque harbour speckled with peacefully bobbing boats and Ballard’s leafy streets are dressed with twinkly fairy lights that coil around trees and frame shop fronts. We only had 48 hours in the city to cram in as much exploring as we could whilst battling an out of sync body clock and sleep deprivation (Seattle is 8 hours behind the UK), so we decided to spend most of our time in a couple of areas as oppose to spread ourselves too thinly. I feel like we only touched the surface of what Seattle has to offer and have a sneaky feeling we will return one day (armed with Nytol and severely strong coffee). 


Sleeping Under The Stars (sort of)

Perhaps one of things that made our visit to Seattle so memorable was our choice of accommodation. As I mentioned in my previous post, paying for somewhere to sleep for 3 weeks is a big outlay so we tried staying at various different places to stretch our purse strings and also because it’s fun to mix stuff up ! So our shoebox sleepover in a Stranger Things esque caravan in someone’s back garden was a fantastic experience, even if we did need to sleep in 15 layers and take turns to pass through the kitchen area en route to the shower ! Link to the Air BnB here

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Pikes Market Place, Downtown 

Okay this place is little touristy but it’s also quite iconic being home to the original Starbucks coffee house, though you’ll be lucky to actually get to see the shop front as masses of tourists flock with selfie sticks desperately trying to get their souvenir shot for Instagram ! Starbucks aside the best stuff is actually inside the market. Wander through crooked corridors and creaky, winding staircases to discover micros cafes, bars and eateries such as The Crumpet Shop and Stroryville Coffee before visiting the famous Farmer’s Market to pick up speciality foods to take home. 

Walk along seafront in Fremont

Perch yourself at Fremont Brewing Company, choose from one of 100 craft beers and ciders and take in tranquil view of the harbour and the impressive skyline of the city.


Glasswing, Capitol Hill

Located in edgy Capitol Hill, Glasswing is possibly one of the best concept store’s I’ve ever visited. Stocking an eclectic mix of homegrown brands as well as Scandinavian designers for men, women and the home, each carefully curated section of the store has been exceptionally well thought out. My favourite part was the vintage roll-top bath alternatively used as a huge planter to pot beautiful house plants within the botanical skincare area. 

 Image: A Taste of Koko

Image: A Taste of Koko

Moorea Seal, Downtown

This dreamy, pastel perfect lifestyle store is strangely situated in the financial area of the city though it is definitely worth making that extra effort to visit ! The visuals in the windows and within the store are beautifully designed and make an eye-catching backdrop to house locally made ceramics, jewellery, clothing and stationery. 

 Image:  Design Sponge  

Image: Design Sponge 

 Image: Design Sponge 

Image: Design Sponge 

Tides & Pines, Ballard

This native inspired indie store was so warm and inviting. Sometimes when shops try to be too many things, their initial intention can get lost and confused but this was totally not the case with Tides & Pines. Part clothing store, workshop space and grocer as well as stocking handmade pottery, native style jewellery, tapestry and more, this neighbourhood haunt was such a good example of what amazing things can be done in such a small space ! My personal favourite was being handed a complimentary glass of locally made, natural wine upon entering the store, I mean what more can you ask for ?!

 Image:  Tides & Pines   

Image: Tides & Pines  

 Images:  Tides & Pines  

Images: Tides & Pines 

Eats + Drinks  

Little Tin, Ballard

Oh my word this place ! Imagine a little wooden cabin with a kind of built in tiki bar, chintzy faux ivy and red roses twining around iron fixtures and 1920’s silent movies playing via a projector and this is Little Tin. Also offering the sweetest table service and the best decadent cocktail menu too. 

Barnacle, Ballard

‘Celebrating Italian aprivito in a jewel box space’, Barnacle is a lovely little spot to enjoy really great aperitifs like Campari’s and Negronis paired with delicious bar snacks. I really liked the European-style decor of Barnacle with its copper-topped bar, pretty blue and white pattern tiled walls and rustic baskets filled with colour popping packets of Lays. 

 Image:  Barncale  

Image: Barncale 

Stoneburner, Ballard

Furnished in dark antique wood, cosy dim lighting and adorned with souvenirs collected from around the globe, Stoneburner sits somewhere in-between an English pub and an Italian brasserie. Chef Jason Stoneburner’s venue focuses on stone hearth cooking with brick pressed meats, Mediterranean fare and uniquely topped crusty-yet-thin pizzas.

 Image:  Stoneburner

Up next, PART 3: 48 Hours in San Francisco coming soon. 

East Coast and West Coast America: Part 1 

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We’ve just returned from 3 whole weeks of exploring East to West Coast America. We now appreciate the sheer vastness of this country despite only seeing maybe a twentieth of the land and have a good understanding why some of its natives have never left home soil. It’s somewhere that feels so familiar as you walk along sidewalks recognising buildings and landmarks you’ve seen in films and read about in books, but at the same time it felt worlds away from our life in Manchester.  No two places were the same from the picturesque coastal towns, tiny villages in unknown valleys (one with a population of just 18 people), bustling fast-paced cities that leave you breathless, blistered and aching to dramatic landscapes lined with century old pine trees. To sum up our trip in a few words, we left feeling surprised, inspired and exhausted ! 

Travel Essentials + Tips

Why travel in January ? 

Travelling out of season can be significantly less expensive compared to high season, especially in January. We found that many restaurants offered good meal deals and happy hours and hotel rates were heavily discounted. Where possible we tried to stay in self catering accommodation like Air BNB on a Friday and Saturday and hotels during the week where there was no obligation to stay a minimum number of nights or pay a higher price for weekend accommodation. 

The weather in California in January is very pleasant, especially the further south you travel, like a British summer day, in May or June. It was pretty much perfect, and let’s face it, who wants to hike up the Hollywood Hills or pound pavements in search of famous landmarks in sweltering heat ?

 Seriously that is a January sky behind me ! 

Seriously that is a January sky behind me ! 

Renting a car

If you’re planning on renting a car during your holiday, try to make sure you collect and return the car within the same state, otherwise it becomes incredibly expensive. Ensure you book your car as far in advance as you possibly can as this will bring the price down and choose the collection point as close to where you are staying or airport you are arriving at to avoid paying unnecessary taxi fares. I’d also recommend hiring a larger vehicle that is suitable for driving along different types of roads and that can store all of your luggage. Another thing to consider is valet parking charges at hotels, you can easily add on a few extra hundred dollars for a nightly fee, tax and a tip for the person parking your car. When staying in Los Angeles we sought cheaper parking close by in a 24 hour secured parking lot, which worked out less than half the price than if we would have parked at the hotel. Finally, a good idea to stock up on lots of water too as service stations can be very far and few between if you become dehydrated.  

Getting Around

Before you travel download taxi apps such as Uber and Lfyt and set up an account. There are a vast amount of drivers working for both of these companies which means you’ll have to wait no more than a few minutes before your car arrives. You’ll also know how long the journey will take and will cost, you can opt to ride share which makes the journey less expensive and on average Uber and Lfyt cost 10-20% less than standard taxis. 

Taxes and Tipping Culture

Taxes are added on to purchases when you are about to make payment and can vary depending on the service and state. It’s a good idea to be aware of what the tax charge is beforehand to avoid going over your budget. For example we stayed in a motel in Santa Barbara that had a separate ‘resort fee’ of 28 dollars per night plus 10% city tax added onto our bill when we checked out, naturally we weren’t best pleased !

Standard tipping culture in the US is between 15-25% of the bill or anywhere between 3-5 dollars for a service such as valet parking at hotels or someone helping to carry luggage up to your room. It’s a good idea to have a large amount of smaller dominations handy to use for tips.

Self Catering Accommodation 

Unless you have an endless pot of money, eating out 3 times a day for 3 weeks is incredibly expensive. Like I mentioned in the above paragraph, it’s not just the expense of eating out but the tax and tips added on to every meal to consider ! We planned our trip so we stayed in a mixture of hotels and self catering accommodation so we could do some home-cooking that saved us some dollars and gave us a chance to eat something more health conscious. It’s also worth mentioning that most hotels do not include breakfast with their room rate and if you do opt to eat break in a hotel expect to pay around 20-25 dollars per person. 

 Our beautiful Airstream in Cayucous nestled in amazing hilltop cactus garden.

Our beautiful Airstream in Cayucous nestled in amazing hilltop cactus garden.

So onto our round up of our favourite places to eat, drink, shop and explore in all the places we were lucky enough to visit ! 

New York

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Until this trip New York had been my absolute favourite city in the world, it’s now a very close second (more about my new favourite later). What’s strange about my visit this time was how much it reminded me of Manchester, the buildings that blossom into beautiful architectural structures the higher up you look, the dirty, pungent smells of drains (hands up who’s whiffed this walking down Market Street !), the no non-sense, straightening talking attitude of native New Yorkers, the industrial heritage and diversity of cultures. In all the other times we’ve been lucky enough to pound the pavements of this incredible city, we’ve never set foot in neighbourhoods such as The Bronx and Harlem. The aim of our visit this time was to explore the areas that were nothing like back home (though The South Bronx is literally Ancoats 15 years ago ! ) and to see more of the cities famous sites, landmarks, arts and culture. Oh and to eat our bodyweight in Joe’s pizza, a hole-in-the-wall pizza shop selling slices as big of your face since 1974 for an incredible 3 dollars ! 

 Beautiful scenes at New York Public Library 

Beautiful scenes at New York Public Library 

 Stylish + sarcastic store front in Lower Eastside

Stylish + sarcastic store front in Lower Eastside

 Second slice down at Joe's Pizza

Second slice down at Joe's Pizza


 A Bronx Tale mural in Fordham, Little Italy, The Bronx 

A Bronx Tale mural in Fordham, Little Italy, The Bronx 

Bronx Tours

Like many visitors to New York, I’ve shared the opinion that The Bronx is a dangerous, no-go area to steer clear of but this trip we decided to throw all preconceptions out the window and join  Bronx local, Alexandra for a tour around her fascinating neighbourhood. We booked two tours, one to The South Bronx and one to Little Italy in the Bronx. Both areas are completely contrasting to each other but also to the rest of New York.

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The South Bronx sits on the water just over from East Harlem and is full of derelict industrial warehouses from Beethoven pianos, old electrical substations and art deco clock tower, all on the brink of gentrification. Slowly but surely these buildings are being turned in living accomadtion and small start-ups are beginning to move in as the rest of the city becomes unaffordable to most. Interesting street murals and art with messages of hope and pride line streets that look out-dated and forgotten. It was interesting to see that Botanicas selling religious artefacts like statues, ointments and candles were the most prominent businesses in The South Bronx, which again reinforces this message of hope and believe shared amongst the community. I won’t spoil Alexandra’s fantastic tour by explaining why The Bronx fell into such awful decline and why it is taking so long to recover, she's far better sharing the neighbourhood's history than me. Book onto her tour and see for yourself: 

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NiteHawk Cinema

New York is full of amazing independent movie theatres from the luminous neon art deco style to mid-century modern structures. On a rainy Sunday we took shelter at the super intimate NiteHawk cinema in Williamsburg and watched the newly released  Phantom Thread. As well as having a speakeasy style bar downstairs where you can grab a drink before before the film you can also order food and drinks to your table throughout the entire movie ! When I say food I don’t just mean popcorn and nachos, I’m talking a full on meal with sides, a bottle wine, a gigantic ice-cream sundae and after all that walking that is exactly what we did ! 

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Duane Park 

We wanted to watch a live performance at some point during our trip and opted for a burlesque show. Duane Park was the perfect setting as it was very a small, seated performance so you had a great view of the stage and the acts. The set price includes a 3 course fine dining meal and arriving drink of your choice plus the show which worked out to be quite a good deal. It was a really nice opportunity to dress up too as most of our nights in New York were spent in what we had worn all day as we were simply to tired to go back to the hotel and change. The show itself is not for the prudish, expect very little clothing, performers dangling from hoops above your head mid dessert, a full jazz band, a slipper bath and striptease and if you’re as lucky as Alex, a very flexible lady who someone got herself up into a handstand using his lap for leverage ! An entertaining evening that's for sure !

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Meg Shop

Beautiful fabrics, beautiful design, beautiful store and the loveliest of staff. Each piece from Meg’s collection is designed, cut and sampled in her Williamsburg store (one of 6 the US and Canada) and then made in the Garment District in New York. 


Minimalist womenswear store stocking effortless, utilitarian wares. 

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Sprout Home

Two adjacent sister stores selling an amazing selection of unusual houseplants and well-sourced goods for the home. 


Clinton Street Baking Company

My third visit to this Lower Eastside bakery and as ever it did not disappoint ! Excellent brunch menu selecting the usual all American fares but no-one makes blueberry pancakes like these guys ! I recommend brunching like a true New Yorker and sharing a dish then ordering one or two sides to taste more of the menu and if you’re really feeling in holiday mode, don’t forget the Mimosa !  

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Anis Modern

We stayed at The Paper Factory Hotel in Queens which was a really great find. Firstly very affordable, huge spacious rooms, nicely furnished with in-keeping industrial design, located opposite a subway station and home to the delicious Anis Mediterranean hotel restaurant. After a day of stomping around Manhattan coming back to Anis to dine in a calming botanical setting feasting on scrumptious Italian small plates and a really good bottle of red was heavenly ! 

Gansevoort Market

A rustic food hall that is great for cheap street food eats with lots of choice and much less crowded than Chelsea market that’s located just around the corner. 

Coming Up Part 2: 48 Hours in Seattle