The Middle Sister

The wonderings, ponderings and other 'ings' of me. Lifestyle, review, news and opinion posts. Chic with a hint of sarcasm... hopefully!

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

#CambsMeetUp - Catesbys Event

What happens when a couple of fabulous gentlemen who love the Provence way of life want to bring that dash of French chic design to a store in Cambridge?  Well you get Catesby's on Green Street, that's what.  One of those 'I'll just transplant my salary directly into your account' shops that beckon you in with dark wood panelling and gorgeous little trinkets at every turn.  Which, coincidentally enough, is exactly where I found myself last Sunday morning... this stuff isn't just thrown together you know! 

The lovely Clashing Time invited me and a tribe of bloggers (is that right? I've no idea if we have been given a collective noun or not yet?) to this independent treasure for the latest #CambMeetUp event which I had been looking forward to for ages!

Neil and Jonathon, the owners of the store welcomed us in with joyful abandon, talking about why they love interior design, France and Cambridge. They got me totally on side when describing themselves as 'the anti Primark' of the high street.  Insisting upon a 'buy less love it longer' mantra I was won over by this unusual yet refreshing sales pitch.  Luckily for them the store is besieged with the cutest bits and bobs for you to find and love for longer in your home, many of the girls picked up a bargain or two before they left.   

When we were done with shopping we headed upstairs to the cafe where we had been provided an instagram friendly breakfast over which we could catch up or introduce ourselves.  Blogger friends like Lifesacatwalk and ClaireBellaMakes were around and I even hung out with some new faces (hello FashionistaBarbie, SuitcaseandSandals and The Trove) as well.  It's here we got to meet the lovely Julie from Cambridge Satchel CompanyJulie is is a big fan of Catesby's and seemed only to pleased to chat away to us, proudly showing her latest bag and pictures of her gorgeous dogs in equal proportion.

All of which now means I'm left with a dilemma.   Do I save up to redesign my home, buy a new satchel or get a boxer puppy!?

Friday, 15 April 2016

Neal's Yard Remedies - Cambridge Event

Having suffered with crappy health for the past month including tonsillitis, a kidney infection (FFS!) and a hacking cough I took a sort of unscheduled hiatus from blogging.  But I'm back now and what better topic to start with then discovering the apothecary wonders of Neal's Yard at their blogger event in Cambridge.

I've always liked Neal's Yard hand cream and thought of them as 'fairly pc' but had no idea quite how proud they are of being one of the most holistic stores on the high street, the website is awash with details of their transparency and integrity.  So confident are the Cambridge team that when I questioned them on the supposed imminent arrival of Origins and their competition they exclaimed 'we have no competition! No one does what we do'.

Arriving at the event I was given a glass of prosecco and some canap├ęs, good start guys, while the ever enthusiastic staff talk me through the lotions and potions that surrounded us.  It's here I discovered a substance called Spirulina, a vibrant teal blue powder that gives you a boost of Vitamin B as well as being a powerful detoxifier.  I was advised 1 shot a day in smoothies would have you feeling a difference in your well being after only a few weeks. 

The skin care range is perhaps what they are most well known for and a wonderful hand and arm massage with Wild Rose Beauty Balm was perfect for the tired limbs of bloggers and photographers always on the go. This product is reported to have 10 uses including a moisture boost (perfect for long haul flights!) lip balm and facial mask.  It's quite an intense scent and isn't for everyone but having used it for a few days I can tell you even my 'dead leaf' hands and feet are feeling the smoothing effects.

The small but perfectly formed store opened in Rose Crescent over 15 years ago, being one of the most popular and ever changing streets in Cambridge it really has stood the test of time.  Talking of small but perfectly formed a nod has to be given to the goodie bag I left with.  While others fill your boots with leaflets, samples and random bumpf Neal's Yard took the high road.  A full size product and 30 minute therapy taster session.  

I can't wait to book mine (though the near constant engaged tone or answering machine in the Cambridge phone may well hinder this a tad!) 

Have you used Neal's Yard products or therapies? 

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Review Time: Bombay Sapphire Tour

I’ve got a wonderful husband… No this isn't a ‘smug married’ post it’s a ‘compliment before I say something a bit mean’ post.  As I was saying he’s proper awesome but a right bugger to buy presents for.  If he wants something by the time he’s told you what it is he’s already ordered it online and if he hasn't it’s because it costs a gazillion pounds.  So if like me you have someone in your life that is as difficult to buy for as Kanye is crackers then the Bombay Sapphire Distillery Tour may be just the thing you need to hear about.  Which is where we found ourselves this weekend as I purchased these via Travelzoo as a Christmas present for awkward pants himself.  

We walked over to the red brick buildings with our usual positive ‘it’s definitely not going to rain’ attitude and just about made it indoors before the heavens opened. We were given a map of the buildings and then left to our own devices. This felt quite freeing as it meant I could run around and touch as many things as I wanted.

The little ear piece thingys could tell you more about the distillery if you were so interested.
In truth there wasn't much that was out of bounds and anything truly delicate was behind huge cabinets so that clumsy types couldn't cause too much trouble. Like these past entrants to a gin glass competition which produced some seriously odd offerings and one or two my kleptomania itched for. 

As architecture, the distillery is all out beautiful, lots of Victorian grandeur and the show-stopper greenhouse which you can’t fail to be impressed by.  This housed a number of the botanicals that go into making Bombay so distinctive including liquorice, orris root, grains of paradise (I kid you not!) and cubeb berries.  

Proof the sun did come out after a while!
The botanical dry room was my favourite and the most interactive aspect of the tour.  You get to touch, sniff and taste over 20 different roots and spices, all in a bid to work out what your taste buds like best.  When you’ve found something that floats your boat you clip the corresponding number out of the flavour chart or ‘aroma map’ – I’ll tell you why in a sec.   Seems I like the aforementioned cubeb berries, (no I still don’t really know what they are either) cassia bark and lemon peel… who knew?

Then it was time for my other favourite part of the tour.  The bar! It’s here that you hand the bartender your aroma map and they recommend a cocktail for you for free!  I had the Laverstoke, a heavenly mix of:
Martini Bianco - one whiff of which took me right back to my teen years! 
Elderflower cordial 
Fever-Tree ginger ale (cos duh! middle class)
Mint sprigs
Ginger root 
Beefeater gin…… syke! Not really obvs its Bombay you use, loony.

Honestly even if you aren’t a mahoosive gin drinker I’d highly recommend this as it was scrumptious.  I liked it so much I had a second one which only cost a fiver.  I may have been in Cambridge too long but to me that’s actually quite a good price for a cocktail.  If it was a blisteringly lovely day I could easily have spent a few more hours here and fingers crossed will do just that if I go back in the summer months. 


Drink responsibly blah blahdiddy blah et cetera.


Friday, 26 February 2016

Don't be such a bitch!

It’s time to talk about an affliction that has been sweeping the nation. There is no known cure and many of those affected won’t even know that they've got it.  I know because I am one, and I only truly realised when I saw a photograph of myself that was not a selfie.   A picture I hadn't taken showed me that I too, am a sufferer of RBF.  

Resting Bitch Face.

I first had an inkling that my face didn’t react the same way as others as a teenager.  Several times whilst I was staring out into space, wondering what I would do if Corey Haim ever came to the UK, or what colour scrunchy to wear (yes it was the 80’s) I was accosted by people I had no memory of upsetting.  On these occasions they would get fairly annoyed and enquire as to what ‘my problem’ was.   It took a while for me to figure out they felt I had been staring at them with a bitchy look… apparently. 

I have been reminded I have this tendency by my ever lovin' hubby but its not something I spend too much time thinking about.   However I felt inclined to write about this after reading an article on Stylist about ladies that put on their make up on the train (quite an art!) I agreed with many of the sentiments the writer mentioned until she wrote this:

"On any given day, the reactions to my train make-up routine run the gamut from captive fascination, bemusement, huffiness, snarls, eye rolls, bitchy-resting-faces, scowls and my favourite, a flurry of tuts from middle-aged gentlemen with briefcases”.

Now hang on a second!  Bitchy-resting-faced people are not the same as plain old bitches. They're mostly likely not even really looking at you.  If they are its through a sleepy haze mildly wondering 'how is she going to get her winged eyeliner the same on both eyes when the train banks right in a minute?'

RBF gets a bad wrap and is constantly confused with No Expression At All Face (NEAAF). NEAAF affects the face as well but means the poor soul has the same expression whether they are happy, sad or angry etc. 

People assume those with RBF would be good at poker however I, and my family, can vouch that is most definitely not the case.  It is the upside for NEAAF sufferers however (if this is you I suggest you learn the rules and get yourself down to Las Vegas pronto!)  See it's resting bitch face, not engaged bitch face so when I am excited and interested my face is too.  It's only when I'm not doing or really thinking about anything that I look like a complete cow. 

So next time you see me or anyone with a face like a cat's backside please try to remember, they’re not necessarily pissed off at the world.  They may just be resting their face. 

Have you had any similar experiences?   

Friday, 19 February 2016

Fashion Show review

So its been a while since I attended a fashion show and as its not clear if I'll be invited to Cambs Style Week this year, I was proper chuffed when Clashing Time let me be her plus1 to the Robinson Mercedes-Benz  style event last Wednesday. 

We got there a little later than planned but settled into the best spot we could find for taking images at the end of the runway. It soon became obvious that the show itself was a somewhat veiled excuse to entice us to purchase a spanky new car, which was fair enough as it is a car show room.  

Unfortunately, when it came to the images the photographers section - such as it was - didn't really lend itself to getting the full length of the tall beautiful ones in shot.  Which is why none of my subjects have any feet.  Also quite oddly, there wasn't any announcement of where the clothes were from either.  I was told afterwards that apparently it was whispered over the music but from where we were standing this couldn't be made out. 

This was a particular pain as there were a few looks I was interested in.  Luckily I got chatting with the lovely girls of Dizen Clothing after the show and it turned out most of the pieces I liked were from their range.  These two super entrepreneurial chicks stock some affordable yet chic designs, they even have accessories and a Home and Gifts section.  I highly suggest you take a nose at their website, off you pop I'll wait here til your done...

So anyway, whilst I took a gazillion shots only a few came close to making the grade.  I came to favour one particular model as not only did she remind me of a cross between Lily Cole and the more fun one out of Frozen but she was the only one that didn't need a feck load of red eye reduction.

Its Anna, with only one plait!
Being newish to photography this is my main bugbear at the moment as I've yet to master the art without making my subject look like an Anime character.

When it was over, the compare really got stuck into his 'you know you want a new car' spiel, unveiling one I've forgotten the name of but which they were sure would piss all over whatever car we had at the moment.  Apparently it's lighter and more luxurious then the previous awesomeness Mercedez-Benz offered though I'm guessing from the sound of the engine it's not more environmentally friendly.  We'll gloss over that and instead I'll show you a toddlers-eye-view of the beast in question. 

Ta-frickin-dah - It doesn't get any better than that now does it! 
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