The Middle Sister

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

Friday, 23 June 2017

Event: Winsor Bishop Independent Jewellers

Is it just me or do you too find posh stores can sometimes be a little intimidating?  It’s not just a fear of the ‘pretty woman’ once over, sometimes I feel a bit like a fraud for even daring to step into the place.  I’m sure a neon sign that says ‘she is wasting your time’ goes on over my head that only staff of luxury boutiques can see.  I'm a wait and save up kind of women, and if I really like something I know I'll get there eventually so it doesn’t stop me, but I will admit to feeling a little uncomfortable at times.

One place that really doesn't stress me out though is Winsor Bishop, this independent Trinity Street store has the most welcoming and accommodating staff.  You really feel like you are sitting round a friend’s beautiful lounge when you go in… If your friend had more bubbly than a champagne house in France and a whole shed load of precious stones that is!

A fortunate few bloggers (myself included) got to have an exclusive look around the Cambridge store at their blogger event this week.  Mini cakes and prosecco was offered (and gratefully accepted) and we got to try on anything we wanted.  Hearing the staff tell stories of the ‘Indiana Jones dude’ who sources their gems not only conjures up ideas of magical adventures, it also puts my mind to rest on if their jewels are conflict or not*.  And that’s a really good thing because these gems make me wonder if I need both my kidneys or if one kidney and a tennis bracelet would suffice?

While the quality jewellery is pretty expensive because much of it is made in the Norwich store the middle man is cut out, so the price isn’t as crazy as you might think.  They also stock a number of other well-known brands as well as a few I’d not heard of.  A new favourite of mine is Halcyon Days, and Winsor Bishop is the only stockiest of their embossed bangles and bracelets in Cambridge.  

The Norwich store being open since 1834 has already cemented stories of generation after generation coming to purchase their engagement rings, push presents and first watches.  However the Cambridge shop is only six months old and has all its stories still to come. Wouldn’t it be cool to be a part of them?

Have you been inside yet?

 *they’re not in case you were wondering.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Layaway Friendships

We all have them.  People who you were so close to but now never see and barely even speak with.  If you don’t yet, count yourself lucky but it happens to everyone eventually, friendships slip away.  

I'm not talking about those that part company after a disagreement, it’s the ones that have just dropped away, usually for one of two reasons.  Either one person has moved to another part of the world and time zones have killed things off or its when one has kids and the other doesn't.   For many, including me it's that the second one that is at fault.

Inspired by @Lifesacatwalk’s post on outgrowing friendships I've been thinking about those people in my life that I truly love but that haven't been around for a considerable amount of time.  Old friends who don't seem to ever be free to come to my neck of the woods.  And when we did meet up would spend what time we had together talking about themselves or focused on their kids.  

These aren't people that have treated me badly, on the contrary up until some years ago I would have said they were as close as family.  It’s just that their interests and time constraints have made it more than a little tricky for us to connect. The years pass, the divide grows and any invitation sent seems to get ignored or acknowledged with an ‘absolutely let’s fix a date’.  But the date never gets fixed.

Just so I am clear and people don't loose their shit talking about generalisation I'm not saying this is everyone that has children.  For some the balance seems to work naturally and I have many friends who are parents that I see regularly.  It is also not in any way an attack on those that choose to have offspring.  Yay for you and your valid life choice, it’s just one that I didn’t make for myself. And I have zero regrets about that.

Now if you're reading this post and seeing yourself please don’t think for one moment you have to explain or persuade me to understand why things are separating between us.  I get it. Your kids are everything to you, you’re busy being a parent, a person and a mum* or you live in a time zone that doesn't match with mine. There isn’t always room to see and catch up with everyone you love. 

And the thing is I've changed too.  I have so many blessings in my life that are important to me.  I too have a limited amount of time to spend with family and friends, on my passions and career aspirations. I'm not going anywhere but I’m equally not able to instigate our meetings either.

Maybe you too feel a tinge of regret that we haven't caught up recently or you haven't replied to a message.  If so I hope you know that there is no judgement, no grudges held or feelings hurt from my side of things.  Its okay, better than okay its life and I'll be here ready to chat when we can both invest in this relationship again.

Don’t worry, I know I'll see you soon.

*or dad

Friday, 2 June 2017

Event: AmaElla and Neals Yard at Elegant Atelier

Another day another blog event, the scene in Cambridge for those odd people like myself that enjoy online journaling* has never been better, and so I found myself in one of my favourite independent stores.   A small but perfectly formed boutique on Rose Crescent  Elegant Atelier is a delight for the eyes, if sometimes a little sore on the wallet! Sinead, the owner stocks some less obvious brands like Rixo London and Ba&sh, designers which are fast becoming pinterest addictions.  She also has a killer line in Jewellery and has now taken on two intensely scented perfumes from Alice in Perfume (a discerningly good name if you ask me)!

Together with Neal's Yard Remedies they launched the pop up for latest lingerie designers on the block AmaEllaJulie Kervadec and Lara San Gil, the co-founders of AmaElla are immediately different from other lingerie companies as they feel it important their designs are both ethically and sustainably sourced.  Many only bother with one or the other... or neither but I digress.  They work with ethical fashion manufacturers, one here in the UK and another in Portugal which is GOTS certified, so you know its an upstanding establishment.  

With the exception of Oil, Fashion is the most polluting industry in the world** even worse cotton, a natural material, is among the most pesticide-intensive crops that we use to dress ourselves in**.   Julie and Lara together decided that if they were going into business it was going to be in an as kind a company - to both the planet and its people - as possible.  Great for us as that means any White/First World guilt we may feel will be minimal!

This is all well and good but if the design sucks its doesn't much matter I hear you cry.  Well fear not, the cut out detail of the pyjama shorts in particular is classically classy, as is the lace and velvet edging on the pyjama top and negligee.  Sexy yet comfortable and in sizes 32A to 36D (or S, M, L)*** I am so looking forward to seeing what else they have on offer over the coming months. 

What do you think of AmaElla?

Is Ethically/Sustainably sourced fashion important to you?

*what? its a word.... isn't it?... well it is now. #MyBlogMyRules.

** Source:

*** Please see individual sizing chart on their website

Friday, 26 May 2017

A Happy Morning

I've been thinking about being grateful (yes again).

After the events in Manchester, when there is so much wrong with the world it seems some bloggers and westerners in general can get bogged down with first world problems.  Our lives don't appear as perfect looking as others so we sulk and blame the media we are using for our own failings.

I've been blogging for over 6 years though only seriously for the past couple. While I don't have a gazillion followers, a professional photographer to take my images or a size 8 body I'm honestly happy with my lot. 

Just to clarify this isn't a dig at those that are suffering, whether with mental health issues or other problems.  Its just a call to those of us that are wallowing to take a step back and try to see the bigger picture.

We aren't being chased from our homes and country only to be met with suspicion and mistrust from the very people we need help from.  We haven't just had our innocence ripped from us in a mass of nails and misplaced anger.  We haven't watched our children starve to death knowing the same thing could happen to us at any moment.  

Its important to take time to celebrate the little things.  

For me this is being in the moment of a sunny morning playing with a camera.  I'm in relatively good health, I have good friends, a loving family and enough money in my pocket for a pretty little latte.  I've a lot to be happy about and I've a sneaking suspicion that if you look at your life you do too.

Are you making the most of this UK bank holiday weekend?

Monday, 15 May 2017

Travel Time: Barcelona, You sneaky city!

Some cities you fall for instantly.  From the moment you step off the plane and the first time you see the sites you’re enamoured.  Barcelona didn’t do this for me.  Let me explain, I’ve been on a good few European breaks and honestly Budapest and Sienna grabbed me more quickly and I wasn’t sure that Barcelona would do the same.  Its squares didn’t have of the vast historical significance the Pantheon or the grandeur of Piazza del Campo but they had something else, something I didn’t see the first day I was there.   They had community.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.  This trip was a birthday present from my husband – 4 nights and 5 whole days in Barcelona.  When we arrived we headed straight for the beach.  I’m not really a beach person but we found a nice shaded bar in which to sup cava and try out the tapas.  It’s here I found my heart softening.  Because Barcelonans know that truffles (in any variety) and cheese (in any variety) are wonderful bedfellows. 
The Gothic Quarter grabbed my attention as a well-trained suitor who doesn’t want you to know he likes you would, subtlety but with intent. As we strolled around winding streets and found ourselves in front of traditionally beautiful cathedrals I felt myself warming.  It may not be my favourite European getaway but it still had its charm.

Then I met Antonio Gaudi. Not literally of course as he died in 1926 but through the genius that is his architecture.  I genuinely do not understand why more architects, designers or artists haven’t followed his lead.  His buildings have an edge of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or the City of Oz about them.  All fantasy and fable but inspired wholly by the natural world as he said himself ‘Everything comes from the great book of nature’.   Sagrada família is bonkers, but anything that’s taken 200 years to finish and still be a priority has to be given probs, though I’d love to see the original estimate of time and cost to see if it had gone over budget a smidge!

If the cathedral gave me goosebumps Park Guell, Casa Batllo and La Pedrera damn near brought me to tears. I don’t often get all ‘connected’ to architects but I am quite certain that Gaudi and I would have gotten on extremely well.  His dreamlike vision and other dimensional ideas are what my creative side has been yearning for.  He’s like the grandfather I never had and if that’s a bit to stalkery for you I’m afraid you’ll just have to learn to deal with it. Because I love him.

On our first night we discovered the best little café bar in the city and visited/got inebriated in it every night thereafter.  You know when you walk into somewhere and they’re playing music that fits your vibe, have the kind of food that makes you want to gorge yourself like a foie gras goose and wine that makes you wonder what you have been drinking all these years? Well that’s Bar But.  I honestly think I may have to kill off some taste buds for a few days until I forget how good it all was so that I can enjoy the sustenance of home.  After three nights we made friends with the staff and my love for the city was cemented.

On the last day I saw more of that community I was talking about before.  Students sitting on piazza steps sharing fresh bread and tomatoes with their friends.  Children and dogs all scampering around whilst spritely grandparents smiled or chased after them.  The buildings all seemed to house independent businesses and had huge windows on the street level that you could look in.  Watching the leather goods makers, carpenters and interior designers so openly ignoring the bustling big city industries just a few streets away gave me pause.

As I walked around, the result of our EU referendum weighed heavy on my heart.  I saw family, not of blood but bonded from a shared space and felt we as a nation had opted out of being a part of something beautiful.  Turning our backs on our friends and neighbours to embrace dated traditions and an empty future.   Love for Barcelona sneaks up on you, at least that’s how it was for me.  I can't wait to go back as there was much I didn’t see and when I do I hope to be made to feel as welcome as I was this time. 

Have you ever been to Barcelona?

What was your favourite part?

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