Sunday, 28 December 2014

DIAMONDS ARE A GIRL'S BEST FRIEND: HOW TO SELECT THE RIGHT ENGAGEMENT RING

We're very lucky over the Christmas period to have two guest blogs - the first from the renowned Longleat.  Make sure you take a look at their site Longleat Weddings if you're looking for an outstanding luxury wedding venue. With a choice of wedding packages, including a bespoke package, which can be tailored to your needs, it's a really magical venue - perfect for a Vintage wedding - or, in fact, any type of wedding!

We know some of you will have been planning your wedding over the Christmas break - and if you haven't yet chosen the ring this great piece from  offers lots of good advice to ensure you get a ring you'll love for a lifetime ... or perhaps you can leave this blog page up as a bit of a hint to your Mr Right!  Over to Longleat Weddings
http://www.pinterest.com/pin/53691420532460264/ - (coffee in the mountains) 
"If you’re planning to ask that special lady to marry you, then you’re going to want the right sort of sparkler to ensure you get that all important ‘yes’. According to the Guardian, 75 per cent of British men, at some point, have to go engagement ring shopping, and most are terrified of getting it wrong. After all, their partner is going to have to wear the ring for the rest of her life, so she’d better like it!

http://www.pinterest.com/pin/70650287878933829/ - (the berry)
Times have changed a lot over the past few decades, and the surprise proposal is somewhat a thing of the past. Most couples at least discuss getting married before he decides to pop the question, and some go as far as planning a holiday to ensure their engagement takes place in a suitably romantic location. Plenty of modern couples actually go out together to choose an engagement ring, which takes a bit of the guess work out of picking the right one.

Even when the blushing bride to be is involved in the decision making process, getting just the right engagement ring is a tough task. With so many cuts, designs, diamond sizes and other variables involved, the couple can truly be spoilt for choice. But when you want to look as incredible as all those amazing wedding venues you’ve been dreaming about, it’s important to get it right. Here are some great tips to help you locate the perfect engagement ring in the sea of possibilities that surround you.
   
Understand the code of the diamonds
As much as you want to get a nice design for your engagement ring, the main value of the piece is locked up in the diamond itself. By understanding what the different qualities of a diamond are, you can pick a ring that will hold its value for many years to come.
  • Cut: The most common cut is round, but you can also see cuts such as the princess, the pear, the heart and the marquise. Make sure you know what cut you are keen on to help you hone down your search.
  • Colour: The best quality, and most expensive, diamonds are completely colourless. The most colourless diamonds are graded ‘D’, with the scale going down to ‘Z’ for those which display subtle colours.
  • Clarity: Don’t get too hung up on the clarity, as it won’t affect your diamond greatly and you can’t see the imperfections without a magnifying glass anyway. However, do be aware that the very best grading for clarity is IF (internally flawless) and the worst is I3 (imperfect 3).
  • Carat: The size of the diamond is measured by carat. A whole carat is 0.2gm and is divided into 100 units of smaller measurement called points. Most engagement rings are somewhere between half a carat and one carat.
A good jeweller will know about all these standards, and will be prepared to take the time to talk you through each one. If you want to be completely sure of getting a high quality diamond, get a ‘cert’ stone which has been graded and coded by a gemmological laboratory.
http://www.pinterest.com/pin/366550857146466934/ - (adornemeaustralia)

Choose the right metal
Consider your options when it comes to the metal that you have your diamond set in. Most diamonds are set in gold, but that’s not the only option.
  • Platinum: This, the strongest of all precious metals, is a more expensive options than gold but is a material designed to last a lifetime.
  • 18k gold: This gold is a cheaper yet still highly valued option. Because it is malleable, it is more susceptible to damage, but can be repaired more easily too.
  • 14k gold: The lower the karat number, the less pure the gold is. 14k gold is cheaper than 18k, but still offers great value and a beautiful finish.
  • Palladium: Like platinum, this is an incredibly hard wearing metal of the highest purity, but is lighter and cheaper. It has an attractive whiteness to it which can make it an interesting choice for an engagement ring.
When thinking about which metal to have your ring made in, it’s important to consider more than just the appearance and cost. If your partner wears other rings next to her ring finger, buying a harder metal for her engagement ring could damage the neighbouring jewellery. Remember too that whatever metal her engagement ring is fabricated from, her wedding ring will need to be made of the same to avoid causing damage to either piece.
http://www.pinterest.com/pin/526639750150491102/ - (fabulous fashion & style)

Getting it right for her
The design of the ring has to be perfect for her, so make sure you understand her preferences before you start shopping. Does she like vintage clothes and d├ęcor at home, or does she prefer a modern style? Have a look through her own jewellery collection and see what types of pieces she’s been shopping for herself.

If you’re choosing your own wedding ring, the only real answer to finding your perfect style is to look, and look, and look. The web is a great resource of images, as are wedding mags and jewellery stores in your local high street. If you want something really unusual, you could have your ring bespoke made by a local craftsman, which is often not as expensive as you think.

Whether you’re shopping for the engagement ring together or planning a surprise proposal, your perfect ring is definitely out there somewhere. Make sure you buy from a reputable supplier if you don’t want to get ripped off with a cubic zirconia, and remember to keep the receipt just in case things don’t go entirely to plan!"

Friday, 28 November 2014

OX PASTURE HALL - A PERFECT 'VINTAGE' VENUE!


My great passion in life is travel - abroad and in the UK - finding new places and spreading the word.  Because of that passion I've also come to love a good hotel.  I used to be happy (and occasionally still am in the warm weather) with a sleeping bag and a tent but these days you'll more often find me looking for something a bit special - boutique hotels and beautiful places to stay with all mod cons and that little bit extra something.


We were recently lucky enough to spend a night at Ox Pasture Hallnear Scarborough  in beautiful North Yorkshire and I can honestly say, it was one of the loveliest places we've stayed in a long while! We turned up after a difficult weekend - initially cancelling and then rebooking, which didn't phase Lynsey on reception just one bit. She took it all in her stride and welcomed us with kind words and open arms, including our dogs in the very warm welcome and going the extra mile by serving our afternoon tea in our room so we could have a bit of quiet time.


The tea itself was superb - lovely fresh sandwiches (with their crusts cut off as is traditional!), a selection of gorgeous cakes including lots of yummy chocolate but also an AMAZING mini mango tart (fortunately there were two of everything or there could have been a fight!) and two enormous scones with a very generous pot of cream as well as jam and butter!  All this on top of being slightly overwhelmed by the size of our suite, which was, quite frankly, almost as big as the downstairs of our house!  The decor was really soothing - sand coloured with cream and sage linen and curtains and beautiful honey coloured wood.  We had an enormous lounge with a great sound system, TV, dining table and very comfy sofa, a bedroom with a huge bed (and second TV - luxury!), and a superb luxury marble bathroom with THE most amazing taps on the bath and sink as well as a wet-room type shower!  Nothing had been missed, with lots of extra touches - a fan for summer, heater for winter and lovely bath robes for after your soak!


We needed a pet friendly hotel as we were accompanied by our two Scottie dogs.  Lots of hotels say they accept dogs but this one genuinely loves them.  All the staff make a fuss of them and we were  seated in an area of the Bistro with extra space for dogs.  There's a lounge area next to the bistro with an open fire and, in fact the only place our pooches couldn't go was the restaurant.  Not only that, but, as the hotel is located in the North Yorkshire Moors National Park and only two miles from Scarborough, there are moorlands, woods and beaches galore to walk your four legged friends!  The beauty of our suite was that it backed onto a lake owned by the hotel as well as having a courtyard at the front where they could run out for a quick night-time walk.


It's hard to describe how peaceful Ox Pasture Hall is.  Surrounded by fields, we woke to the sound of bleating sheep just outside our window.  Lynsey and Shaun, the owners, are completely in tune with this and have set up benches and seating areas around the grounds - perfect for reading or just contemplating the landscape.  There are lots of  little touches throughout the hotel like this, which show just how much thought they have put into it.


We were looking forward to dinner but hadn't really taken on board what a reputation the hotel has for being one of the best restaurants in the Scarborough area. The head chef is renowned for cooking fabulous food and the modern creative menus are packed with local and regional produce showcasing the best of Yorkshire food and we were blown away by our meal.  We both loved our choices but my salmon with horseradish ice-cream starter was out of this world and I think my duck leg was probably the best I'd ever had.  I was determined to resist dessert but Jason, who was looking after us, brought two spoons for Cookie's Caribbean Cocktail, including creamy mango rice pudding, coconut pannacotta, passion fruit sorbet and pina colada - dreamy!  



Obviously, I was also looking at Ox Pasture in terms of a wedding venue and I think it's pretty perfect.  Set in 17 acres of secluded grounds with stunning panoramic views of the North Yorkshire Moors National Park, the hotel can cater for almost any type of wedding from large, exclusive use; Asian and multicultural weddings; outdoor nuptials; evening receptions and small intimate affairs including civil partnerships and wedding vow renewals.  The venue also lends itself to seasonally themed weddings - think winter snow or spring flowers.  What I love is that the hotel has lots of character areas but also some barn-like rooms which are perfect for decorating in whatever style and colour you choose (I couldn't help but picture Mabel, our vintage bike, sat outside in the courtyard).  There are several courtyards with fountains - perfect for photographs and, in fact, you can take a look at their wedding gallery for inspiration but here's a peek at a few past weddings.



If you're looking for a venue in beautiful surroundings, with amazing food, friendly staff who go that extra mile and will help make your day really special, as well as incredibly comfortable accommodation and a fabulous 'morning after' breakfast I really think it's you couldn't ask for more.


We left the next morning feeling properly rested after a great night's sleep on a wonderfully comfortable (and enormous!) bed.  My only grumble was that we couldn't stay another night!

We made a 10 minute detour into Scarborough (where I spent many happy childhood summer holidays) for a walk on the beach before heading off back down the motorway and back into the 'real' world.  I've already recommended Ox Pasture Hall to a couple of friends who are looking for a break from the rat race and it's definitely on our 'return' list. 

I'd love to hear from anyone who gets married there - I think it would be pretty darn magical!



Thursday, 27 November 2014

CHRISTMAS IS COMING ...

Today I received my long-awaited book order through the post and it occurred to me that it would be a perfect Christmas present for anyone who loves Bristol Vintage so I thought I'd write a quick post to let you know about it in time for Christmas ordering!


To give you a bit of background, several years ago I read about someone who was putting on a 'market' in her flat in London.  I was intrigued, signed up and that's how I met Kerstin Rodgers, aka Ms Marmite Lover.  I loved her instantly - she is one of those people with a big personality - fun, feisty, bursting with ideas and not afraid to put those ideas into actions.  


At her first market I sold my vintage wares from her bed and shared her bedroom with several fascinating stallholders, including a cocktail bar on her ironing board!  Sadly, she's no longer able to hold the at-home markets, but her last 'night market' will be one of my enduring Bristol Vintage memories - I was based in her gorgeous garden shed-cum-guest room, surrounded by fantastic-smelling food stalls and a piano-accordionist playing Radiohead's 'Creep' with barely a free inch to breathe, the evening was so popular- a surreal, fun and inspiring night to remember!



Kerstin launched the supper club/pop up/underground movement in the UK in 2009 with The Underground Restaurant and her Find A Supper Club website is the major online resource for supper clubs to advertise their dates and locations.


Her first book 'Supper Club: Recipes and notes from the underground restaurant' is one of my favourite recipe books (and, according to my husband I have far too many!) and has proved a really popular gift amongst my friends.  It's also stunningly beautiful, fabulously innovative and the sort of book I like to just sit and read in the evening.


My copy of Ms Marmite Lover's Secret Tea Party arrived this morning and immediately fell open on one of my all time favourite sweet treats - Pasteis de Belem (Portuguese Custard Tarts). I'm ashamed to say that, what was supposed to be a productive afternoon working, has ended up with me salivating over glorious photographs of divine afternoon tea recipes, from the obligatory Marmite Sandwiches, through fabulously simple Olive Oil & Chocolate Crostini, naughty Magic Meringue Mushrooms to the wonderful Outrageous Multi-tiered Raspberry Pavlova as well as teatime cocktails!  Including tips on furnishing and setting the table, making your own cake stands and reading tea leaves, the result is another beautiful, imaginative, inspiring cook book that anyone who loves cooking, baking AND eating will adore!


Right - had better get back to work ... but think I'll just make a Ginger Hot Chocolate to keep me going!

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

MOOMIE'S AMAZING ARTWORK FOR 2015!

I'm so excited!  Moomie Swan has done it again and come up with this fabulous artwork for next year's Bristol Vintage Wedding Fair at Clifton Pavilion, Bristol Zoo Gardens.

I love working with Moomie - I just give her a short brief and she runs with it and always 'gets it'.  This year I sent her a couple of photos of Audrey Hepburn in a beautiful wedding dress to give Moomie a feel for the period and style I had in mind ... and she did her research, worked her magic and came back with this amazing 'Roman Holiday' inspired artwork.



I hope you love it as much as I do.  In the New Year watch out for our postcards in shops & cafes throughout the area but, more importantly, keep checking into this blog to read all about our gorgeous exhibitors!




Thursday, 30 October 2014

ANATOMY OF A HEN PARTY LIFE DRAWING CLASS

I was very excited when I heard about this great Hen Party idea.  Over to tutor Penny for a sneak peek behind the scenes of a Hens with Pens  class.



What actually happens at a hen party life drawing class? One of the most frequent questions I’m asked is “How rowdy are the hens?”, quickly followed by “Is the model nude?”.

I really enjoy teaching the classes and find that there is a massive variance in mood from the quiet and studious to the very lively. It depends on the personalities within the group and, of course, what time of day the class is held. In all cases I try to provide some tuition so that those who really want to learn how to draw get the chance to pick up a couple techniques. At the same time I’m aware that it’s a party activity so I don’t put too much pressure on anyone to produce a masterpiece!



As for whether the model is nude – yes he is! In the academic tradition of life drawing, models would always be nude so that students can gain an understanding of anatomy. The same is true for a hen party life drawing class.


A Hens with Pens class - timeline
As a hen party life drawing tutor, my weekends are spent dashing round the countryside with sketchbooks in tow – one of the nicest aspects of the job is getting to see all the fabulous accommodation that hens are using – in one case we even held a class in a yurt!


After I’ve arrived and set up, my first task is to get all the hens wearing their berets and moustaches and furnished with drawing materials. We then spend about an hour doing some low-pressure portraits of each other that can and usually do have hilarious consequences.


At half-time our male model will arrive, and my job is to secretly usher him in to get changed without the bride catching sight of him. Once he’s modelling the hens often ask questions about whether he gets nervous, but for a professional art model it’s all in a day’s work. Both myself and the models love seeing the hens’ drawings and it’s really rewarding for both of us to see a progression in technique and an improvement in drawings over the two hours.


Penny is a life drawing tutor at Hens with Pens.


Monday, 20 October 2014

Vintage Baker Finds - Retrovert

Every so often I find a vintage supplier who's so good I have to share. So while they might not always be 'Bristol' based, they certainly get the Bristol Vintage & Vintage Baker Finds seal of approval.

This week is all about Retrovert.


Retrovert specialises in vintage clothing and accessories from the 1920s through to the 1980s.


Their collection is totally unique and absolutely authentic. 


You can find them via their online shop, at local Cambridge events and vintage fairs.


Retrovert is owned and run by Sophie and her eclectic collection is inspired by her love of textiles and design. 

Find out more on the website, have a read of Sophie's online vintage blog or check out where she'll will be visiting next on the events page. You can follow Retrovert on Twitter and Facebook too. Happy vintage shopping!


When Sarah Baker isn't writing children's books she writes features for Vintage Life Magazine and Pretty Nostalgic. You can find her on Twitter @bysarahbaker or via her website www.bysarahbaker.com 

Sunday, 5 October 2014

FINAL PHOTOS OF THE DAFFODIL

It's been so wonderful looking through all the gorgeous photos of our fair from Frances Taylor - Bristol Wedding Photographer and her partner Chris.  The stands look out of this world and the venue was just perfect for the vintage theme.





















































Thanks again to everyone involved and to the Daffodil for providing us with the perfect venue!