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UK Highstreet Summer Sale

Three: Lace Skater Dress £60 //  Four: Organza Crop Tee £15 & Floral Wrap Pencil Skirt £18 //
Five: Crepe Frill  Jumpsuit £30 //Six: Column Maxi Dress £10 //
The Strappy One £19  //  Krete Wedge £22  //

You got to love the end-of-summer sale!
But...you hate sorting through clothes in search of the perfect deal?  Well, I've done the legwork for you, just this once! 
I'm in love with this midnight blue suit from Reiss, can you imagine walking into the office wearing this sharp, tailored beauty? Deal, done!
Oh, and how about the flirty red jumpsuit, for those nights on the rooftop of Radio? And the red long dress for a tenner? Just what you need for those hot days in the city, grab an oversized hat and transport yourself to Nice, tout de suite!
I'll admit that the lace skater dress is not on sale, but it was too good not to share! x

A romantic English-Scottish wedding, by Lake Windermere

What a lovely weekend! I haven't enjoyed a wedding that much, in a long time. And yet, when it came to writing about it, I found it so unforeseeably difficult.
How can a write-up do justice to such a wonderful occasion, where two good friends promised to look after each other, for life?

Silverholme on the shores of Lake Windermere

Well, for starters, I can share with you that I cried through the entire wedding ceremony, due to the lovely words spoken by both the bride's and the groom's mothers.
There is nothing more touching, than sincere words of pride and love from your parents, especially as you grow older. 

The weekend was full of events: drinks with the groom on Friday evening at the Swan in Newby Bridge, the wedding at Silverholme on Saturday and School Sports Day with a Picnic by Lake Windermere on Sunday.
The Swan Hotel, Newby Bridge
After a horrendous 7-hour drive up from London, we made it to the Swan just in time for last dinner orders.
All of the pubs & restaurants stop serving food around 9-9:30 in the villages around the Lake District, so be prepared.
As much as we were rushing though, arriving at Newby Bridge made us slow down to take in the wonderful landscape.
As the name suggests, there is a very narrow bridge involved, crossing river Leven, that empties Lake Windermere into the sea.
At the other side of the bridge stands The Swan hotel with Weeping Golden Willow trees dipping their branches in River Leven; white and pink chairs and tables were set up under the trees on the riverside and lovely people were sipping on their pints lazily.
We turned down the music and drove really slowly over the bridge, trying to avoid the cliché of being the loud tourists that turned up and disturbed everybody.
The sun was just setting at 9:30 and a purple aura covered the hills and the trees around, very soothing after 7 hours stuck on the M6.

We met all of the wedding party here for drinks and bought the groom a pint for Dutch courage.
If you are looking for a place to stay, Newby Bridge is a good location, right at the bottom of lake Windermere, with easy access to the peninsulas and the seaside.
The Swan has it's own indoors pool too, which looked rather attractive after our long drive, but we were not staying here, we had another 20 minutes to go!
The Wedding at Silverholme, Graythwaite

Even the weather consented to have a lovely outdoors wedding.
In case you haven't heard, it rains quite a lot around the Lake District and although there was a storm in the morning, half an hour before the wedding ceremony, the clouds cleared up and we had sunshine throughout the afternoon all the way to sunset. What a privilege! 

The front lawn at Silverholme overlooking the lake, where the ceremony & drinks reception took place

The wedding ceremony took part on the front lawn of Silverholme, overlooking Lake Windermere and I got goose bumps as my dear friend walked down the green grass isle, while Scottish pipes were playing. The decorations were kept to a minimum, all-white and it felt like we were part of a painting, surrounded by all shades of green and blue.
One of the core ingredients for a fun wedding, is making sure your guests are mingling and feeling comfortable. Good food and flowing drinks also help, off course. So our dear friends,  made sure of just that, although they planned the wedding all the way from Singapore!
By the end of the weekend, we had made a dozen new friends and met some very interesting people.

How did hey do it? Little things really, that added up to feeling well taken care of.

For example, although traditional dinner was served early-ish, around 6 o'clock, there were little nibbles available all the way through the end of the evening.
The wedding cake was made entirely out of cheese and it was cut after dinner hence, there was cheese and crackers available around 9ish, just in time for the first signs of feeling peckish after all the dancing.
Then just before breaking off  around midnight, bacon sandwiches made an appearance, to the joy of all ceilidh participants!

Oh the ceilidh! What a revelation! And so much fun!
Our place-cards had space on the back to mark down your dancing partner for all the traditional Scottish dances. So old-fashioned!
By nature, ceilidh dances encourage mingling and changing-over of partners, so by the end of the night, I think that everybody had danced with everybody.
The "Dashing White Sergeant" for example,  has you starting off in groups of 3, only to dance your way around to meeting with all other groups of 3.

And my absolute favourite "Orcadian Strip the Willow" came at the end of the night, with a hint of my childhood nursery rhyme "ta papakia" (the little ducklings song), where you lock arms and skip around, moving down the line at the same time.
I got so carried away that at the end I told my husband: this is great, we should do it at home!
There was even a hanging spot for headgear! How thoughtful!
On Sunday we all gathered again, slightly hangover and puffy eyed, for a "school sports day".
But first, we were armed with generous picnic baskets filled with exciting nibbles; scotch eggs, fluffy pâté, potato salad, coleslaw, creamy coronation chicken, salted beef, asparagus quiche, green salad , prawns in butter & garlic and the customary baguette.
Take notice if you are planning a picnic, nobody was left unhappy with this spread!
How we got to participate in the sports competitions afterwards, is off course a whole different matter.
Half-way through the skipping and potato-sack racing, an ice-cream cart made its' appearance and that was it! Caramel and chocolate please and let's take a walk down to the shores of the lake.
We were told of a secret beach, by the big marquee, so we followed the fence and the whimsical lights and got to the shores of Lake Windermere...so peaceful!

Cuckoo Brow Inn, Far Sawrey
After our dinner & drinks at the Swan on Friday night, we finally made it to our hotel at 23:30 to check in. The girl at the Cuckoo Brow Inn's bar was very helpful, checked us in, showed us to our room and made us velvety hot chocolate spiked with Baileys, for a nightcap. We felt quite happily at home.

Next morning we could examine the Inn a bit better in daylight, but first Cumbrian breakfast by the window, with local bacon, eggs, black pudding and sausages. Black pudding is normally dry and not so apetising, but this one was quite soft and fluffy.
I usually don't feel that hungry in the morning, but I was looking forward to this breakfast because I knew that everything would be fresh and delicious.

The Inn has some very old, original pieces of furniture scattered around, with a nice fireplace and cosy corners to lounge around.
The guest rooms on the other hand have been renovated recently, in light greens and greys and the super-king beds are very comfortable.
We had a family room, because it was the only one left and although we don't have kids I appreciated how the small wall divider would allow parents some privacy and the munchkins would snuggle in a bunk bed right next to a mini Beatrix Potter library, to keep them happy.
Far Sawrey, where the Inn is located, doesn't have any shops or restaurants so the Inn's front lawn is a meeting point for locals and passer-bys.

As a matter of fact the whole west side of lake Windermere is quitter and wilder. If you are coming up here for a wedding I'd recommend to book your room as early as possible to avoid having to settle for accommodation far away from the festivities and drive down country lanes in the middle of the night. Don't forget that the little villages around here only offer a hotel or an Inn at the most, so they fill up very quickly.

Oh! And don't forget to tell your hotel that you'll be coming back at the early hours of the morning, because you'll find yourself locked out, just like we did!

The Taming of the Shrew at Hall Barn, Beaconsfield

Grab your picnic baskets and head to Hall Barn, in the old town of Beaconsfield.
Well, the setting is gorgeous, to start with!
Hall Barn is part of one of the largest private estates in UK. It is not very commercialised  other than the Chiltern Shakespeare Company's summer performances, every year. 
Plus, if you are newly married, you get to rethink the forever-going power struggle between you and your new-ish partner, through the eyes of Shakespeare nonetheless!

You only come across the estate's big iron gate once you venture out of the Old Town for a walk but you soon realise that the estate actually spreads on both sides of the M40, all the way  down to Burnham Beeches forest. In this  expansion of gardens and trees you'll find the Chiltern Shakespear Company setting up camp for two months every summer to perform one of Shakespear's plays. This year they put on The Taming of the Shrew, a comedy, set in Italy.
The scene was perfectly set amongst actual trees and colourful structures resembling Padua. Existing garden features, like a little pavilion, formed part of the stage and were incorporated into the scenery. A nice touch was that before the performance and during the break, an actual musician was playing the violin, while children played and chased each other, alongside couples who strolled around medieval Padua.
Katherina was positively unbearable, screaming, shouting and even attacking her suitors, her sister and the whole world, for that matter. A misunderstood maiden? 
The actress who played Katherina, made the perfect grimaces to suit her "not so wife-suitable" character.

Then came Petruchio, utterly mad, with a twinkle in his eye. He was vibrant and energetic, equally mad and flustered at times!
He even got his shirt off, to put his colourful and ridiculous wedding clothes on, in an attempt to outsmart Katherina's temper. One for the cheap seats! Hurray!
Just joking, it was laughs and excitement, all in a lively and very green setting.

Half way through the performance it started drizzling down with rain, the spectator seats were covered but the stage wasn't, nobody flinched, the show went on! The rain passed and we were left with this wonderful earthy smell and vibrant green background.

In the end came Katherina's speech, all tamed and agreeable. She spoke of respect and blind commitment, of how she belonged to her husband and how she would run to his every command...hmmm, what just happened? 
I was actually a bit angry at Shakespeare after that speech, how could he speak of such absolute power of one partner over the other?

Ancient Greeks used to say that good theatre puts spectators through the process of "katharsis", cleansing in other words;
it's supposed to make you think and feel so strongly, that you absolutely must express your feelings at the end of it - well, I certainly wouldn't shut up afterwards;
I was excited with the outdoors setting, furious with Shakespeare's misogynistic views and amused with this funny and wonderfully put-together performance. 
© Life Love London

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