Malmo and Moss Meets: Littlewood Life

My best friend at University was Northern Irish so, in between discovering that if you put Baileys into Sambuca it creates a drink that tastes a lot like vomit suspended in petrol, I heard a lot of tales of Finn McCool and the Giants Causeway.  My dad's family are actually all Northern Irish but my Grandma Phoebe was the family Black Sheep so we didn't go back to Belfast when I was growing up.   Although that didn't stop me alluding to relatives off the Shankill Road if I was trying to sound a bit gangsta at high school (which wasn't really required that much growing up in a small market town in Northumberland).   Whereas at one time Eamon Holmes represented the pinnacle of Northern Irish totty, these days Jamie Dornan has a new generation of ladies rushing to storm Stormont.  However, since joining Instagram I have discovered that as well cuddly news presenters and sexy TV pyschopaths, Northern Ireland also has a strong stock of stylish lifestyle bloggers of which my absolute favourite is Emma of @littlewoodlife.

 It was this picture that first made me click follow on Emma's instagram, I am a sucker for a suspended twig

It was this picture that first made me click follow on Emma's instagram, I am a sucker for a suspended twig

 Emma's fireplace has me dreaming of using brickslips to add a bit of texture into our house

Emma's fireplace has me dreaming of using brickslips to add a bit of texture into our house

Emma grew up not far from where she lives now with husband Andrew and their three kids although, as Emma points out, nowhere is too far away from anywhere else in Northern Ireland. Where Northern Ireland is definitely far away from if you don't use a plane to get there is London.   13 hours away to be precise.  I discovered this 10 years ago after my irrational aviation fear lead me to elect to travel to a wedding in Belfast by a combination of Megabus and ferry.  5 minutes after pulling out of Victoria Coach Station a large Balkan man in the seat behind me whispered through the gap in the seats "You look nice"  causing me to spend approximately 12 hrs and 48 mins of the journey wondering whether i would be able to use my doors keys as numchucks should he try and abduct me when we stopped at the services in Stoke-on-Trent.  

 An indoor tree tha thrives, I need to know Emma's secret

An indoor tree tha thrives, I need to know Emma's secret

Having taught in a fairly gritty secondary school for some years before becoming a blogger am fairly sure Emma would have had my Balkan Bus Pervert sorted out in no time.  Think Michelle Pfieffer in Dangerous Minds and Mrs McCluskey from Grange Hill all rolled into one feisty Northern Irish package.  Sticking teaching out long enough for husband Andrew to qualify as an architect, the Pfieffer McCluskey years also helped the couple get on the property ladder.  First with a little semi which was then traded in for a detached house doer uper. Having gained a taste for renovation, Emma and Andrew seized the opportunity to build their own home when a plot of family land came up.  I really need to encourage my mum and dad to become more expansive land owners, my dad hasn't even succeeded in securing a coveted council alottment yet because, in his own words, not enough people are dying in their local area. 

 Ernie the Dachshund adding to the kerb appeal

Ernie the Dachshund adding to the kerb appeal

Although it does not sound like building a house is a walk in the park from Emma's description of a build that took place amid redundancy, sick children, a bout of pneumonia and the death of a rabbit.  It sounds a bit like an episode of Grand Designs set in Watership Down! Project managing the build themselves meant forging close relationships with tradesmen working on the job.  A little closer than Emma would have liked in the case of Neil the decorator who plastered whilst providing blow by blow updates on the condition of his prostate as well as criticising the work of any and all other tradesmen working on the job (including Andrew).  An obssessive aversion to mess meant he did at least dry clean his dust sheets although was arguably in the wrong profession if he didn't like getting his hands dirty

 The parquet flooring was reclaimed from Fleet Street

The parquet flooring was reclaimed from Fleet Street

 Adding some serious sophistication to cocktail hour

Adding some serious sophistication to cocktail hour

After one update too many on his enlarged prostrate Emma paid him off and employed a decorator with no interest in sharing the details of his down below affairs with her.The end result is, however,  a gorgeous, warm and inviting family home which Emma has decorated in a style I am going to coin "Scandi Classic Cotswold Farmhouse Luxe" (trips off the the tongue I think you will agree!).  Whites and creams create a great backdrop to show off features that add personality and texture to their home such as the parquet flooring in the hallway that was reclaimed from a newspaper office in Fleet Street ( if that floor could talk!), a stunning exposed Belfast brick wall in the living room and gorgeous old cast iron radiators throughout.

They also have the woodburner of my dreams in their Living Room which is on my house wishlist if I can just stop buying cushions long enough to save up for one.  Should M15 ever discover that the key to defeating ISIS lies in smothering them in soft furnishings then I would be the lynchpin of the Cushion Counter Terrorism Strategy.  Or maybe i will just have to find a woodburner that can burn both logs and cushions. 

 Emma's dressing table was one of my favourite corner's of her home

Emma's dressing table was one of my favourite corner's of her home

Emma's inspiration for the soft, luxe interior comes from reading lots of US based lifestyle blogs with Gal Meets Glam, Barefoot Blonde, Love Taza and Somewhere Slower being particular favourites.  If you have ever wondered what it would be like to live in a Pink Clapboard house in Charelston with one of those wraparound verandas then Gal Meets Glam is the blog for you.  Be warned, you will come away with serious pastel home and swooshy hair envy.

Although their house is located in the beautiful Northern Irish countryside, it is actually only 20 minutes from Belfast which, over the last 5 years, has benefited from huge amounts of regeneration and is now a buzzy, lively little city with beautiful parks and plenty going on. Those there to Dornan spot (or Eammon spot if you prefer your men chunkier and with greater experience in presenting news items about telepathic dogs) should also take time to visit the University area for quirky coffee shops and brunch stops or the Cathedral quarter for bars and restaurants.   Belfast is also home to the Titanic exhibition which was recently voted the number one tourist attraction in the world.  I still can't watch the film starring Leonardo de Caprio and Kate Winslet after going to see it with my then boyfriend age 17 who cried through the final third whilst I remained uncharacteristically dry eyed and ended up being offered tissues by a woman in the row in front.  Nobody wants another woman to have to mop up their man with Kleenex.   

 I dream of the boys wardrobe looking like this instead of a screenshot of a bring and buy sale

I dream of the boys wardrobe looking like this instead of a screenshot of a bring and buy sale

With her parents having been savvy enough to invest in a holiday home in the South of France  the Littlewoods often swap County Amagh for the Cote D'Azur, although Lake Como is giving La Croisette a run for it's money after Emma fell in love with it's stunning scenery and laid back vibe last Summer.  When in France, favourite places to eat include Angelina in Paris (which, elasticated trousers alert, serves white hot chocolate to die for), or Les Garcons in VilleFrance for delicious dinners in a courtyard surrounded by jasmine. Slightly less French (but right up my fatty treat street) is Emma's favourite bakery back home called Donuts from the Pocket opposite the QUB in Belfast.  Having checked out some of their amazing specialities online, I think it would have to be renamed "All the Donuts In my Mouth" if i got within 25 metres of it. 

 I love this idea of using a suspended branch to display Noah's zoo animals

I love this idea of using a suspended branch to display Noah's zoo animals

Emma and I share another love beside donuts: Ryan Gosling.  Although, Emma would complete her celebrity threesome by inviting Hugh Jackman to join her and Ryan, whereas I would be asking the Gosling to budge up to make room for Lovejoy.  Give me a dubious mullet and a penchant for fencing Ming Vases over all those werewolf issues any day. Although Hugh would find himself out in the cold if Emma's other celebrity male crush came rocking into town.  Yep, it turns out that having once sold merchandise at his concerts, Emma also has a little soft spot for thigh slapping guitar wielding country music star Garth Brooks.  A man with a mullet even Lovejoy could not compete with.  On that bombshell I will leave you to go follow Emma's instagram or read her blog  for further peeks inside her gorgeous home (and slightly dodgy CD collection).

Malmo & Moss Meets: Lucy Whitehouse

I was thrilled when my husband agreed to a last minute holiday to Cornwall this Easter. First and foremost because it is one of my favourite places in the world but secondly because it meant I could sneak in a visit to the home of Lucy Whitehouse on the way down.  Her modern Scandi inspired house in Wells is one of my absolute Instagram favourites.  New to the blogging game I was hoping to turn up on Lucy’s doorstep rocking a cool, creative and vaguely Parisian vibe.  Unfortunately the M4 had other plans and after spending 2 hours in a traffic jam in a car with three small children I turned up instead desperate for the loo and rocking a look that was much more frazzled mum than French ingénue.  I also realised when I took off my shoes that in my haste to get out of the house, I had mistakenly pulled on some novelty socks my mum got me for Christmas that had flying pigs all over them.  So far so not Juliet Binoche.  Luckily Lucy was a lovely as her house so I will stop talking about my bladder and bad socks and introduce you to her gorgeous home instead.

After growing up in Edinburgh, going to University in Newcastle and moving to London as a graduate surveyor, Lucy ended up in Wells after meeting husband Paul at an army ball in Middle Wallop whilst he was both dressed as a woman (it was a Halloween Ball I should point out at this stage.) and wearing the same dress as the friend that Lucy was with that evening. Paul is excitingly a helicopter pilot, the kind of profession that action movies starring Tom Cruise get made about as opposed to banking law (my husband's chosen profession) which is more BBC4 documentary about the collapse of Enron territory.   

Their current home was built in the 1930s and used to be a farmhouse to a Dairy but had been badly redeveloped around the Millenium by owners with a penchant for mustard shagpile, peach wallpaper and vertical blinds.  Despite being initially put off by a weird layout and 1970s porn movie set decor, a combination of light spacious rooms and a location staggering distance from Well's city centre won the day and Lucy and Paul moved in just days after the birth of their second daughter.   

 All traces of mustard shagpile removed, only "The IG Rug" from LaRedoute to sink toes into now

All traces of mustard shagpile removed, only "The IG Rug" from LaRedoute to sink toes into now

 I loved the way Lucy had mixed the texture and patterns of her cushions

I loved the way Lucy had mixed the texture and patterns of her cushions

They quickly set to work renovating the place to produce a more family friendly contemporary open plan layout. During this process the name Fred and the date 1887 was discovered etched into one of the walls and, despite raised eyebrows from the builders,  Lucy has left it exposed to create a talking point in the downstairs loo.  I have to confess i didn't notice it when I burst in there to relieve my traffic jam bladder but that is probably because I was staring in horror at my airbound porcine novelty socks (note to self to ask Hexham branch of Fatface not to admit my mother during the sale as the socks join some cut price fingerless gloves I was also gifted which make me look like an alpine cross between Michael Jackson and Fagin).

 The Ercolesque kitchen bench was one of my favourite features of Lucy's home

The Ercolesque kitchen bench was one of my favourite features of Lucy's home

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Despite the Victorian toilet graffiti, the house otherwise lacked period features so Lucy and Paul decided to embrace this and go for a light, modern Scandi look with white walls, pale floors and lots of light flooding in through the huge bi-fold doors in the kitchen/living space. The doors provide access to a lovely big deck and garden which is perfect for their two daughters Mariella (4) and Beatrice (2) to run around in.  Alas for Wells, Lucy has put her student streaking days behind her and whilst at one time she was regularly to be found sprinting starkers down Jesmond High Street after a night on the toon, these days she keeps her Middle Wallop firmly under wraps when out in the garden.   Growing up in the North-East I never managed a streak of Jesmond High Street but did nearly catch hypothermia of the fanny wearing an indecently short miniskirt on a night aboard the Tuxedo Princess in December.

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Putting a brief flirtation with Shabby Chic behind her (well in the garage to be precise) these days Lucy is firmly a Scandi gal at heart with not a distressed pastel coloured piece of furniture in sight.  It is Scandi with a vintage/industrial edge though with e-bay and flea market finds looking right at home alongside the cool, calm nordic colours.  Inspired by an episode of Grand Designs that featured a house with climbing walls, secret passage ways and hidden passages ways for the kids, Lucy has tried to incorporate some of those fun touches into her house, with Beatrice getting a secret reading nook in her bedroom and Mariella a secret fairy kingdom under the stairs.   Although apparently Lucy's west country builders hadn't caught that episode of Grand Designs because the request for the reading nook met with the kind of reaction I would reserve for someone asking me to nail sanitary pads to their front door.  Lucy must have a better #KellyHoppenRestingBitchFace than me because she duly got her reading nook which makes Beatrice's bedroom a brilliantly fun space.

Lucy's favourite places to shop include La Redoute, Maisons du Monde, H&M Home, Rockett St George, Bath & West Flea Market, charity shops, Ikea, Ebay and MonPote Home in Bristol.  I think the Scandi gods must like Lucy because she seems to have managed to track down some really great Ikea finds which I swear have never graced the aisles of my Edmonton local. Although that was the store where someone lost their shit trying to bag a £50 leather sofa on opening day and stabbed another customer so maybe they dare not stock the instagram cat nip weaved baskets for fear of a shoot out.  

 I need to find somewhere in my house to have this gorgeous hummingbird wallpaper. am wondering if pencilling footballs onto the beaks of the birds would mean i could sneak it into the boys bedroom

I need to find somewhere in my house to have this gorgeous hummingbird wallpaper. am wondering if pencilling footballs onto the beaks of the birds would mean i could sneak it into the boys bedroom

Whilst I was trying to look like Mario Testino (sans the camera skills, close relationship with the Royal Family and Peruvian accent of course) I asked Lucy to tell me a bit about her home city of Wells.  Pub quiz fact to be stored away, Wells is in fact England's smallest city  but instead of tower blocks and inexplicably complicated one way systems it has a beautiful Cathedral and a Palace with a Moat surrounding it. It was also the backdrop of the film comedy Hot Fuzz.  A term which I discovered when researching this piece that you should be very careful about googling unless you are keenly interested in the pubic hair of Brazilian porn stars as well as the cinematic back catalogue of Simon Pegg.  As the wife of a huge Hot Fuzz fan (to clarify am talking about the film rather than the Brazilian Porn Star pubes now)  I decided to keep this information under my hat so that our brief time in Wells was not spent trying to track down places where Simon Pegg duelled with murderdous village busybodies.   If we had been visiting in Summer I much preferred the sound of the openair cinema and theare events staged at the Bishops Palace.  

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 Oh hello parquet flooring of my dreams

Oh hello parquet flooring of my dreams

Food wise, Lucy recommended a great sounding industrial style dive bar called Subhouse that has both great atmosphere and great burgers and helps her to feel like there is a little slice of London in her corner of the West Country.  I also liked the sound of  Da Luciano in Wells which is family owned and includes a welcome from Nonna with your Pizza.  It also apparently serves deep-fried dough balls, a dish which would almost certainly cause Deliciously Ella to have a gluten induced meltdown but which sound right up my quinoa averse street.  

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Further afield Chez Bruce in Wandsworth is one of Lucy's favourites (it used to also feature on my friend's restaurant top 5 until her husband fell sleep mid meal when she was berating him about not putting enough effort into their marriage) and she also loves a pre-dinner martini in Dukes, the Mayfair bar where Ian Fleming allegedly decided James Bond would be a Martini Man.  Before children (BC) when Lucy was being romanced by husband Paul, Clos Maggiore in Covent Garden also used to be a firm favourite for French food in a magical setting full of trees and twinkly fairly lights.  It is also just around the corner from the Royal Opera House should you, unlike me, be able to sit through one without 2 minutes in wishing it was in English and about 2 hours shorter.

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Lucy's bedroom style makes great use of a statement wallpaper and since I visited a new bed has arrived in the spare room so things are looking even more stylish.  Her dream holiday destinations when she can tear herself away from these lovely rooms include Cape Cod, Malyasia and Singapore with the Andaman on the Island of Langkawi being Lucy's absolute favourite hotel.  Having googled it I think it could become my favourite hotel too if I can just persuade Mr Malmo that a long haul flight with 3 young children would be an enjoyable experience instead of right up there with pulling his pubic hair out with tweezers as something he would like to do. 

Having popped my house tour cherry with the very lovely Lucy I said goodbye and went off to find the boys, wondering if I could get away with reprogramming the SatNav to detour past Bristol Ikea on the way to Bodmin without Mr Malmo noticing.

Malmo & Moss Meets: Tania Morris

When I was trying to decide which of my neighbours to feature as a house tour on my blog, my first thought was obviously George, the octogenarian jehovah's witness from number 11 who still has an outside toilet, net curtains and, collected in his backyard, everything made of wood or cardboard that we have left out for recycling over the last 7 years.  Unfortunately George was busy taking his beloved K reg Vauxhall Vectra out for it's annual spin around the block so I was forced to go with Tania and Andrew's place instead,  starting with their gorgeous, sultry Abigail Ahern inspired sitting room.  

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Malmo & Moss Meets: Belinda Fulton

When I was growing up I used to want to be a vet.  This was despite the fact that bovine animals kind of freak me out and so having to put my hand up their anus would probably cause me to have the kind of panic attack that Lawrence Lywellyn Bowen would suffer if you asked him to decorate a room without using any flocked fabric.  With that dream dead in the water I moved on to environmental law where ironically my first case involved defending a rogue meat renderer (aka the people who turn dead cows into dog food/soap/cleaning products). My real (bovine free) dream is, however, to open my own interiors shop selling Scandi/Vintage items against a backdrop of soothing whites and greys somewhere by the sea (not Skegness just to clarify). Bar the absence of ocean, Belinda Fulton’s shop Of Special Interest in Crouch End, London, pretty much sums up my dream.  Belinda agreeing to let me come and look round her house for my blog was, therefore, on a par with Ryan Gosling turning up on my doorstep and offering to give me a naked footrub (to clarify he would be the naked one in that scenario as not sure I would be able to enjoy said footrub if I was worrying what Ryan might be thinking of my overgrown lady garden and mum tum).

Gallery Wall
Hallway

Since discovering OFSI 5 years ago, I think I have spent, on average, about 33% of my monthly salary in there. When on maternity leave, I seriously considered asking Belinda to erect an electric fence around the entrance to prevent me from frittering my meagre statutory maternity pay away on candle holders and gloriously realistic yet still reasonably priced faux foliage instead of nappies and baby wipes.

Gallery Wall
Living Room

Belinda started off life in Malpas in Cheshire but has been a city dweller ever since leaving home at 18.  She is, like me, more of a gastro pub and café than fields and sheep kind of lady.  I start to get sweaty when I am more than 5 miles away from a café with a filament bulb, bare brick wall and flat white (I don’t actually drink them, I just like to know I am somewhere urban enough to serve them).  After studying textile design at Leicester (whilst secretly really wanting to do Fine Art), Belinda moved to North London with her then husband buying a flat and opening the shop together. It started off life as a junk shop selling a mix of auction house finds and their own possessions.  If I had sold my possesions age 24 it would essentially have been a shop full of Ikea crockery, posters of Kurt Cobain and Bob Marley (RIP Kurt and Bob) and a CD collection that lent heavily upon the work of 90s Indie Bands. Despite divorcing they still run the business together today, a fact I marvel at.   Running a business with my significant ex boyfriend would almost certainly have ended in me wanting to run over him in a tractor (as it was he was lucky to escape with my best friend just using his tooth brush to clean the toilet when we parted ways). Though, to be fair, it sounds as though Belinda has been tempted to reach for the tractor keys herself a few times over the years.  

Kitchen, Dark Interiors
Kitchen, Dark Interiors
Kitchen Shelfie

These days she is happily married to husband Lewis (who, along with daughter Mack (18) she describes as the love of her life).  She spotted him in a bar over twenty years ago and plucked up the courage to ask him out, figuring she would be unlikely to be returning to that bar again so had nothing to lose.  Luckily he said yes and turned out not only to be a great cook but also a builder too.  He has carried out pretty much all of the renovation work on their house himself and is currently in the process of building them a studio in the garden.  Am thinking that I need to persuade Mr Malmo to swap professions if I want to progress my own Grand Design dreams.  Working in banking law he could whip me up a great loan finance agreement if I wanted to buy a shopping centre in Grimsby but a studio in the garden not so much. 

Kitchen lighting
Candelabra
Open Plan Kitchen

Belinda was living in a one bedroom flat in Tottenham at the time and managed to persuade Hampstead boy Lewis to leave the Heath behind and come and join her.  When Lewis was away on a work trip to Greece, a pregnant Belinda spotted their current house and loved the garden so much she put in an offer that day. She therefore met Lewis from the station slightly nervous about telling him that a) she had bought them a house and b) that said house was opposite the slightly notorious Broadwater Farm estate.  Luckily he took the news well and they have never looked back, loving living sandwiched between two beautiful parks and surrounded by warm, friendly people from all walks of life.  In fact I am wondering if I can borrow Belinda’s West Indian neighbour Hyacyinth who brings her a bottle of wine if she has had a bad day (unlike my octogenarian Jeovah’s witness neighbour George, who is more likely to pop round with a copy of the Watchtower and tell me that the world is about to end). 

 

Living Room
Button Back Sofa
Original artwork

Like all good wives skilled in the art of “Renovation Deception”, Belinda promised Lewis when he viewed the house that they would wait until after the baby was born and they had lived in the house a while before embarking upon any major renovation work.  Needless to say Belinda was still pregnant when she set started removing doors and demolishing a polysterene mock brick fireplace.  Over time a loft extension was added which is now Mack’s domain and, when Lewis finishes the garden studio, Belinda is looking forward to having somewhere to paint again.

Picture Shelf

What I loved so much about Belinda’s house is that whilst it is ridiculously stylish it is also most definitely a family home, with the stunning gallery walls that line the stairs mainly featuring daughter Mack’s artwork from age 3 onwards (Mack seems to be far handier in the art department than me though, a gallery wall featuring my early and, if I am honest, current artwork, might look like Morph had been let loose with a crayon after one too many Barcardi Breezers). Throughout the house there is a great sense of light and space as doors have been removed so that as you step into the hallway you can see straight through to the garden beyond and clever tricks like a glass panel on the stairs keep the light flowing through the rest of the house.

Button Back Bed
Study
Fireplace, Buddha

Although Belinda can never see them leaving Tottenham, if they were to move it would be down to their little place in St Ives (insert link)  which they head to whenever it is not rented out or perhaps to a warehouse in the Jewellery Quarter of Birmingham with it’s vibrant mix of old buildings and beautiful metal cladded armadillo type modern architecture. I feel like I should give Birmingham another chance as Belinda is not the only person to sing its praises to me.  I just have terrible memories of the environmental consultants conference I was forced to attend there 5 years ago where, inbetween talks about the latest developments in contaminated land identification (pointers it smells bad and your hair stands on end when you step on it) I was forced to watch two balding middle aged men called Colin and Andrew put on a medieval jousting display. 3 hours of my life I will never get back and the image of paunch straining to escape chainmail is still seared on to my retina.

Of Special Interest Gallery Wall

Over the years Of Special Interest Interiors has grown from a junk shop into the interiors gem it is today, taking over two neighbouring shops as their owners moved on and then the annex behind when it came up to rent. Lewis has also joined the business, taking on many roles, including, on occasion that of Judge Judy if the Of Special Interest Exes are locking horns.  In the shop, Belinda is inspired by the Dutch look of muted colours mixed with gorgeous natural textures but I love the fact that nothing is too regimented and it is very much not the kind of shop where entering with a buggy causes the owner to pull a face at you like they have just accidentally chewed a 3 year old piece of bubble gum. 

Loft Conversion

As a fan of concept stores that mix interiors with fashion, gardening and other lifestyle products such as Daylesford Organic, Belinda would love, if she had the space, to be able to offer something similar in Of Special Interest Interiors (although without the hefty price tags found at Daylesford along with hordes of chauffeur driven Range Rovers and women called Clarissa Fortesque-Bowles-De Montfort-Hedges). Having fallen in love with some gorgeous Spanish jewellery at a recent Trade Show, Belinda may yet dip a toe into Daylesford waters or, alternatively, if it doesn’t sell, be turning up at work like Crouch End’s answer to Mr T (if Mr T favoured delicate Catalan crafted jewellery in muted colours).  When she is not in the shop, Belinda loves both Instagram and Pinterest and enjoys following both interiors and artists accounts.  Favourites include Cornish Artists like Kurt Jackson and Gareth Edwards, the interiors photographer Paul Massey (whose holiday home in Mousehole I have a stonking insta crush on), Hans Blomquist and Sally Denning (whose other account Black Shorestyle is also one of my all time favourites).

 

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Local places Belinda likes to eat out include the Banc Café in Downhills Park minutes from their house.  Our kids love this park as it has a mini roadway for scooters and bikes that they can zip around whilst you tuck into Union Coffee, big breakfasts and roast lunches. Although Belinda is a veggie (having grown up as the daughter of a butcher and being put off meat by early encounters with offal and other dubious offcuts) if Lewis is missing meat they go to The Westbury in Turnpike Lane or The Maynard in Crouch End, both of which do great burgers.  Down in St Ives favourites include it’s Porthmeor Beach Cafe,The Alba and Porthminster Kitchen.

Outdoor Space
Outdoor Space

As well as letting me look round her amazing home, I must also take this opportunity to thank Belinda for having introduced me to the wonders of Primark pleather leggings. I spotted her wearing some on a previous visit to her shop and was delighted to discover they were £6 from Wood Green Primarni rather than £600 from Armani. Their ability to make me feel a little bit like Chrissie Hynde whilst also being wipe clean have made them a “Rock Mum” wardrobe staple (even if my husband never fails to ask if my legs have been abducted by Doreen from Birds of a Feather when I wear them).

Whilst it may yet be a few years before I am Open All Hours (as a shopkeeper that is) drinking tea and chatting with Belinda in her lovely garden has helped keep my dream alive.  I now just need to convince Richard Branson instead of spending billions trying to fly Clarissa Fortesque-Bowles-De Montfort-Hedges and pals into space he should, instead, be investing his cash in my coastal modern rustic interiors empire.  Failing that, maybe the shop will have to be in Skegness rather than Salcombe.