Monday, June 28, 2021

June favourites!

Oh hey there! A very happy Monday to you.

Last month (or maybe it was the month before? Time's slipping by like sand at the moment) I asked what you'd like to see more of around these parts. One of the things that came up a lot was a round-up of weekly/monthly favourites; I thought I'd go down the monthly route so I can make it a bit more girthy for you*! June's picks are a bit of a mixed bag, there are a lot of pieces in there that you can tell I was in a holiday mindset when I picked (is anyone else thinking of beaches and jumping in the sea an inordinate number of times each day?) but I think my favourites have to be: this lovely wee leopard print playsuit, which looks fantastically comfortable, this quirky two piece, this waistcoat (I've been after something like this for so long so was delighted to stumble across this), the cute little floral jeans, which I think would look great with a cropped white blouse, the cross body straw bag and these amazing chunky sandals.

Have a lovely one, I hope the sun's a-shining wherever you are and I'll catch you back here very soon! 

Amy

*I'm just realising now how uncomfortable the word 'girthy' makes me

Sunday, June 20, 2021

AD Road to the Isles - A Scottish Adventure

The Little Magpie Scotland Guide Road to the Isles Mallaig 3

Hello pals! I am DELIGHTED to be back to writing and to be kicking off with a big old travel post. What a joy it is to be able to move more freely around the UK again - I think there was a point last year where we all thought, 'maybe I'll... never see outside of my living room again'; I was one step away from writing a travel post about going to Waitrose. 

We took a trip along the beautiful Road to the Isles (which covers Fort William to Mallaig), a part of Scotland I've never been to before. You might have seen snippets of our travels over on Instagram, but today I thought I'd put together a blog post with more detail on what we got up to, where we stayed and where we ate. As Maria Von Trapp says, let's start from the very beginniiiing...

Day 1 The Little Magpie Scotland Guide Road to the Isles Mallaig (3) The Little Magpie Scotland Guide Road to the Isles Mallaig 1 The Little Magpie Scotland Guide Road to the Isles Mallaig 4

The Little Magpie Scotland Guide Road to the Isles Mallaig 8 The Little Magpie Scotland Guide Road to the Isles Mallaig (2) The Little Magpie Kitri x Jessie Bush The Little Magpie Scotland Guide Road to the Isles Mallaig 6 The Little Magpie Scotland Guide Road to the Isles Mallaig 7

The drive to Mallaig from Glasgow isn't too long - roughly 3.5 hours - and is a beautiful one, so I'd recommend taking your time with it. We were lucky enough to be heading North when Scotland was in the midst of a heatwave (that's the first mention of the heatwave out the way, only 100 more to go), so we stopped off at a few different points throughout the journey to take in the view. One of the places we stopped off at was the Highland Soap Company & Larder in Fort William, which is the perfect place for some lunch and a cake. All the food is made from fresh, locally sourced ingredients and is very, very good - we had a mackerel salad, rosemary & garlic chips and some fantastic coffee cake. There's outdoor as well as indoor seating, we opted for outdoor (because there was a heatwave - did I mention that?) where we could take in the mountain view as we topped up our t-shirt tan. They've also got a fantastic gift shop inside with beautiful soaps and lotions, homewear, books, biscuits... for the first time ever I bought my gifts for everyone at home before the trip had even started. Fed, watered and extremely satisfied, we hit the road again, driving past the Glenfinnan Viaduct - more on that later - and pulling into Mallaig in the late afternoon. The entire Road to the Isles route is breathtaking; think lush green scenery (I'd recommend a dramatic accompanying soundtrack) which then opens up to reveal that first, thrilling sight of blue water. There are lots of little isles you’ll spy all along the way that we’d love to go back and explore more of at a different point in the year - especially after speaking to Gavin and Sine, the amazing owners of the West Highland Hotel, who are so so passionate about the area and everything there is to see.

A little early for check-in, we decided to pick up an ice-cream and go on the one hour scenic walk, starting at the harbour, where you can see right across to Skye at one point. It's not too intense a walk, I only had sandals on, and is one I'd recommend if you have the time. After a wee seat with our books and the view to keep us company, we headed back to the West Highland Hotel to get checked in. We were in a superior king room, which made for the perfect base to come home to each night - comfy bed, tv, kettle, robes and two armchairs (complete with one truly magnificent view of the sea) where we sat each night playing cards and watching the sun go down. We had a really lovely dinner at The Terrace Restaurant in the hotel that night; it's recently been done up and is a great place to sit in the evening as it gets the sun right until the very minute it dips into the sea, it truly felt like being away on holiday (which I exclaimed excitedly every five minutes until Rob was ready to shove prawns in his ears). Along with an obligatory first-night-of-the-holiday-G&T, I had the salmon platter followed by baked haddock and Rob had the scallops with black pudding crumb and crispy pancetta followed by the mussels in white wine and garlic sauce. They were brilliant with allergies and had everything marked clearly on the menu so, if you're a fellow allergy kid, you're in safe hands.

Day 2The Little Magpie Scotland Guide Road to the Isles Mallaig (1) The Little Magpie Scotland Guide Road to the Isles Mallaig (9) The Little Magpie Scotland Guide Road to the Isles Mallaig (8) The Little Magpie Scotland Guide Road to the Isles Mallaig (5) The Little Magpie Scotland Guide Road to the Isles Mallaig (10) The Little Magpie Scotland Guide Road to the Isles Mallaig (4)The Little Magpie Scotland Guide Road to the Isles Mallaig 3 The Little Magpie Scotland Guide Road to the Isles Mallaig 2 The Little Magpie Scotland Guide Road to the Isles Mallaig (7) The Little Magpie Scotland Guide Road to the Isles Mallaig (2) The Little Magpie Scotland Guide Road to the Isles Mallaig (5) The Little Magpie Scotland Guide Road to the Isles Mallaig (3) The Little Magpie Scotland Guide Road to the Isles Mallaig 1 The Little Magpie Scotland Guide Road to the Isles Mallaig (3) The Little Magpie Scotland Guide Road to the Isles Mallaig (4) The Little Magpie Scotland Guide Road to the Isles Mallaig (6) The Little Magpie Scotland Guide Road to the Isles Mallaig (1) The Little Magpie Scotland Guide Road to the Isles Mallaig (2)

We were up bright and early to get Arisaig Marine for 10am to catch the Sheerwater Ferry to Eigg. The ferry takes roughly one hour (there is a wee cafe at the marine if you want to stock up on coffee or tea before you go) and Ronnie, the skipper, has amazing knowledge of the history of the area and is always happy to stop the boat for a better view of the wildlife - we were lucky enough to see minke whales, puffins and seals on our adventure. Or should I say... Eiggventure (a single, reluctant slow clap ensues).

 We started our day on Eigg at the Galmisdale Cafe, which you'll see just as you come onto the island, with a wee hot drink and a breakfast roll for Rob, before heading over to the nearby bike rental hut. The bikes are £15 per person per day including helmet and I'd highly recommend them, it was a great way to see the island! You can also hire kayaks here if you fancy really doubling down on activities. Right next to the bike shed is a wee shop where we stocked up on juice and - more importantly - homemade tablet and set off on our merry way. Just as a little side note, because it really filled me with excitement, the shop is fantastically stocked and has lots of gluten free bits and bobs (bread, cookies etc) as well as TONY'S CHOCOLATE. The chocolatey Romeo to my Juliet. Anyway, let me calm down and get back to the cycle. There's only one road in Eigg, so it's easy to find your way around, and the views all around the island are incredible - especially of An Sgurr (which you can also climb, we definitely would have if we'd had longer). It's worth noting that there are very few cars on the road so if, like me, you're a nervous cyclist you don't need to worry about that. We cycled to Laig Bay, which only took around half an hour, and oh my goodness. It genuinely took my breath away when we were met with turquoise blue water and white powdery sand. It frames Rum perfectly, which is the view you can see above, so we sat ourselves down and, delicious tablet in hand, took it all in. This was followed by a period of cartwheeling and handstands which, I can only assume, was caused by an intense sugar rush.

 For any LOTR fans out there, Tolkien was said to have based the Mountains of Mordor on the fantastically dramatic view of Rum from Eigg, so there's one to keep in your pocket for future pub quizzes. I could easily have stayed here all day - all week, to be honest - but sadly it was time to pack up and head back to the harbour to catch the boat home. We got there a little early thanks to a good downhill boost so we enjoyed a wee pint in the sun at Galmisdale cafe whilst we waited. That night we had dinner at The Crofter's Bar at Arisaig Hotel which I would highly, highly recommend - on a Tuesday night there's live Scottish music on the terrace so there's a great atmosphere. Stuffed full of delicious dessert, we enjoyed a post-dinner stroll along Arisaig Harbour to watch the sunset and then headed home for, you guessed it, some more cards in the room.

Day 3The Little Magpie Scotland Guide Road to the Isles Mallaig (5) The Little Magpie Scotland Guide Road to the Isles Mallaig (4) The Little Magpie Scotland Guide Road to the Isles Mallaig (6) The Little Magpie Scotland Guide Road to the Isles Mallaig (8) The Little Magpie Scotland Guide Road to the Isles Mallaig (7) The Little Magpie Scotland Guide Road to the Isles Mallaig (10) The Little Magpie Scotland Guide Road to the Isles Mallaig (2) The Little Magpie Scotland Guide Road to the Isles Mallaig (9) The Little Magpie Scotland Guide Road to the Isles Mallaig (11) The Little Magpie Scotland Guide Road to the Isles Mallaig (1) The Little Magpie Scotland Guide Road to the Isles Mallaig (1) The Little Magpie Scotland Guide Road to the Isles Mallaig (3) The Little Magpie Scotland Guide Road to the Isles Mallaig (2)

Forgive me, but I am going to have to mention the weather again. On day 3 we woke up and saw it was to be 26 degrees so there was only one thing for it... beach day, baby! We had breakfast, packed our bags - towels, books, water, fruit, SPF, the usual holiday suspects - and headed to the Silver Sands of Morar. Wowee, is all I can say here. That's all I did say to be honest, repeatedly under my breath like a broken furby. It is so, so beautiful - soft white powdery sand, turquoise waters... you'd be forgiven for thinking you'd accidentally wandered into Mexico or Barbados. There were families setting up volleyball nets, people snorkelling and kayaking, people picnic-ing... it was magic. We spent the entire morning in our swimwear, reading our books and living the good life. The clouds started to come in around lunchtime so we set off to explore the surroundings, which in turn became a bit of an impromptu hike. Now, I love an impromptu hike as much as the next person but, when one of you has a bodycon skirt and sandals on and the other one is carrying a Tesco bag for life it's a tragic sight to behold. I think even the sheep were looking on with judgement. Still, despite leaving with less dignity than we arrived with, the great views were worth it.  After our escapades we were all knackered (me, Rob and the bag for life, that is) so we finished up the night with a board game and some tablet in the room with one last beautiful sunset seeing us off. 

Day 4The Little Magpie Scotland Guide Road to the Isles Mallaig (5) The Little Magpie Scotland Guide Road to the Isles Mallaig (4) The Little Magpie Scotland Guide Road to the Isles Mallaig (7) The Little Magpie Scotland Guide Road to the Isles Mallaig (9) The Little Magpie Scotland Guide Road to the Isles Mallaig (8) The Little Magpie Scotland Guide Road to the Isles Mallaig (2) The Little Magpie Scotland Guide Road to the Isles Mallaig (3) The Little Magpie Scotland Guide Road to the Isles Mallaig (1)

And so we reach our last day (let's out a stifled sob). The plan was to head to Loch Morar for an explore so, needing as much energy as possible - read: I wanted some fish and chips - we treated ourselves to one last chippie, which we enjoyed at the harbour to the sound of bagpipes. It doesn't get more Scottish than that, does it? I even had an Irn Bru accompaniment to really set the scene. We ended up only having an hour or so at Loch Morar so I would love to go back a) do the 9 mile walk around it and to learn a bit more about the history and b) to see it in the sunshine, as the clouds were taking centre stage that day. A couple of things I can tell you about it for now, though, is that it's the deepest body of freshwater in Britain and that Lord Lovat, the last man to be publicly beheaded in Britain, was captured here... You're really going to be sorted for your pub quiz now. We popped into the Craft Shed for a browse, where you can find lots of locally made items, paintings, cards and wool - and then, reluctantly, started the drive home. Here's where the Harry Potter music would slowly start creeping in if this were an audio book. That's right, we stopped in at the previously aforementioned Glenfinnan Viaduct. It's somewhere I've always wanted to visit, so I was happy just to see the viaduct in person but, as we got closer, we could see a whole host of people standing around (at which point I said to Rob, 'ah, this must be where the local youths hang out' proving that I am, in fact, 80 years old). Turns out, the train was due to arrive any minute! Where's the calming CBD oil when you need it? Before I had time to even think about passing out with excitement, the Jacobite Steam Train was crossing the bridge before our very eyes and, my goodness, it really is an exciting as you'd imagine. 

...As you can probably tell by my 500 photos.

I hope this was helpful to anyone looking to see more of Scotland and, as always, I'm here if you've any questions! This really only scratches the surface of the area, there is so, so much more to do and see. A few things I'd recommend packing: a rucksack, reusable water bottles, good walking boots, activewear, a raincoat and midge spray. We were lucky as we were there early on but, if you're going in the Summer months, those little guys are killer! Another tip is to make sure to plan ahead: it can get quite busy in the Summer months but, luckily, Scotland is beautiful all year round, and looks totally different each season. We've had just as lovely a trip in Autumn/Winter; you just need a few more layers and a few more hot chocolates. And, it goes without saying but, if you do visit, remember the golden rule: respect, protect, enjoy. Treat it well, be sensible with your parking and make sure to clear up your litter - if you have a barbecue, pop it on a little stand rather than directly on the sand otherwise those lovely silver sands will be silver no more. Oh! And if you have any car trouble whilst you're there - which our little diva of a car did - Morar Motors couldn't be more brilliant. I honestly can't stress how warm and helpful every single person we met on our trip was and it wouldn't have been as special without it. You're in very safe, knowledgeable hands!

Amy

Post in partnership with Road To The Isles

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Wedding Guest Outfit Ideas

 Hello amigos! I hope you're all doing ok - it's a bit of a funny time at the moment having dates for things starting to open up again but, at the same time, not quite feeling like it's real/also being a bit anxious for life returning to normal pace. A time of a million and one emotions! However. one thing that I know is bringing a lot of joy is the return of weddings... Hooray! I pulled together some of my favourite wedding guest looks on Instagram stories over the weekend after a few people had asked for it and then realised - WOAH BETSY - I'd accidentally pulled together over 90 pieces. Far too many for ye olde stories, I think the app might just have completely combusted. So here they are altogether in one big blog post! You might spot a few white/cream dresses in there and think, 'what are you playing at you crazy cat!' but they were too pretty not to include and I thought they might work for events that aren't weddings; say a fancy garden party or... I've forgotten what other events there are it's been so long. To be honest I'll be whapping my fancy dresses out for trips to cafes I'm so excited for normality to resume. It was a total joy to put together so I hope it helps! Stay tuned at the bottom for a list of incredible smaller/independent brands.

I also asked on stories for people to send in their favourite smaller/independent brands for wedding guest ideas and there were some grrrreat suggestions:
- Meadows (genuinely some of the most beautiful dresses I've ever seen)
- Pixie & Bobs (this one came up a lot! Lots of lovely dresses you could wear again and again throughout Summer)
- Sika (SO beautiful and so unique - all handmade in Ghana and each and every piece is incredible. The Billie, Beeko, KC and Justina are all my dream dress come true)
- Seraphina (a treasure chest full of Spring/Summer delights)
- Megan Crosby (all made to order - so many joyous prints and pieces)
- Kitri (I bloody love Kitri! I can't believe I forgot to include them originally)
- Fanm Mon (B-E-A-U-TIFUL dresses)
- The Kemist (The Santiago stripe two piece - YES!)
- Own Studio (these would be especially beautiful for bridesmaids dresses)
- The Pansy Garden (if you're a vintage fan and love a bit of whimsy, you are going to fall in LOVE with The Pansy Garden. The perfect dresses for prancing and twirling in)
- Another Matinee (run by the wonderful Sarah who has an eye for finding some truly spectacular vintage dresses)
- Lisou (makers of some of the best two-pieces and suits in the land)

And there's also the wonderful Vestiaire for second hand clothing (prepare to lose a good few hours on there) and By Rotation, Hurr and Endless Wardrobe where you can rent a huge selection of clothing for a few days/week at a time which is a ruddy great idea. 

Amy x