The Tea Cake Fairy

Oh dear, it is happening. 
The Tea Cake Fairy has sprung.
I was in Marks and Spencer today doing my usual 'oohs and ahhs' 
and spotted these delectable little morsels....Welsh Cakes.

I picked up, I put down, I picked up and thought...
'wouldn't these taste lovely with cup of tea' and in they went. 
The woman in front of me at the check out marveled over them, 
wondering what they were. 
I said I had no idea but I was about to find out.

At this point I had not checked the back of the package...
you know, the part where it tells you the carbs and sugar levels. 
I did not want to spoil the moment.
I just wanted yet another english tea experience 
and that was my focus.

I am home, I turned over the package 
and... you do not want to know!
I can tell you that the serving instructions say
  "Delicious toasted and generously topped with butter'. 
Need I say more?

Of course I will eat them...
the Tea Cake Fairy has willed me to do so, 
but seriously....this country is not good for my waistline.

Next week to the Lake District,
the land of Beatrix Potter....can't wait. 
All that fresh air, the long walks and of course 
that special treat at the end of the day, 
Devonshire Tea and my favourite clotted cream.

As I said, this country, is not good for my waistline....
but I am loving it!

Seriously, when you have little fairies that look like this, how can you say no?
Which is why I could not resist this either.....

Image of cakes via me and Marks and Spencer
Images of fairies via

Shopping London: Givenchy

You may think that all I like to do in London is may be right!
This is what happens when you sign up for every retail newsletter 
in a 100 mile radius of where you live. I have managed to detect that 
stripes are 'in' this season and if you are so inclined you may want to 
check out Selfridges for Givenchy's Striped Blazer. 
I am thinking on some, it would look fantastic. 
You may be one of them....

Harem pants are another hot item, 
 I had plenty of them in the 80's 
and I plan to leave it at that.
But for others...I say go for it!

As for the Givenchy Nightingale bag
just maybe :)

Images via Selfridges

Shopping London: Anthropolgie

I am a big fan of Anthropologie and love to visit 
the Regent St store when I am in town. 
I was delighted to learn that we now have two stores to choose from. 
Double the fun!

158 Regent Street London 
(Piccadilly and Oxford Circus tube station)

131-141 Kings Road London 
(Sloane Square and South Kensington tube stations)

Images from Anthropologie

The Real Van Gogh

If you have not seen the Vincent Van Gogh exhibit at the Royal Academy of Arts and you live in London or plan to travel here before 18 April then be sure to see this exhibit. 

Just plan to get their early (before it opens) grab a coffee, bring a book (for the wait) and an umbrella (just in case) and prepare to be rewarded for your efforts when you enter the exhibit. 

It is entitled The Real Van Gogh: The Artist and His Letters. The focus of the exhibition is Van Gogh's correspondence which sits alongside his work. 

It opens a door for the viewer that is remarkable and breathtaking. A friend summed it up perfectly. 'The colour is so rich you feel like you are drinking in'. The illustrations and content of his letters are visually absorbing. 

When you go, take note of the colour of the walls in the exhibition area as well. Blue, yellow, green, eggplant...all Van Gogh colours and they are used beautifully as a backdrop to his work. 

Ok, I will stop there. You can tell I am pretty excited but I will let you be the judge when you see it.

Do try, you won't be disappointed!

Images via RA Magazine

A Drive Through The English Countryside

I clipped this article from a 2008 issue of Town and Country magazine. I thought 
it was a great idea and if ever given the chance to visit England it would be a fun weekend.

Linda Dannenberg is an American author who with her husband embarked on this wonderful weekend adventure. 
The highlight is her husband's keen interest in Morgan's. He has been an admirer for years and dreamed of owning one.The next best thing was to drive one thru the English countryside. They drove thru the Cotswolds, staying at Hotel on the Park in Cheltenham with dinner at Lumiere. The next day they stopped for tea at Badger Hall in Gloucestershire with a stop in at Daylesford Organic to complete the weekend. All sounds lovely to me but the highlight would have to be driving in the Morgan with the top down and the wind blowing through your hair. 
What a lovely thought!

The Charming Sam Toft

One can't help being charmed by Sam Tofts whimsical characters. 
I happened upon her work today, picking up a card in a shop 
I turned it over to read the following:

'Meet the Mustards' 
by Sam Toft

"Ernest Hemingway Mustard lives with his dear lady wife Violet, 
and Doris (Her Majesty) their rather grumpy, portly Jack Russell. 
They have a gold fish named Rover 
and can often be seen out with Horace Duck who lives down the way. 
Doris loves to stay in by the fire eating custard with slices of Spam, 
but ventures out when the Mustards' pockets 
are filled with humbugs. 
Mr. Mustard is a kind, simple soul who specialises in tuneless humming
and predicting hurricanes. Mrs. Mustard puts up with her daft husband 
and dreams of MrD'Arcy. 
Sam Toft lives and works in Hove with Sweet Pea Rabbit and Moses Dog. 
She practices and teaches lynegar yoga 
and is a devil for a cafe latte and well turned out cake."

Video clip via You Tube

RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2010

RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2010 

It is coming!

If you are intersested go to 
and order your tickets now!
May 25-28: 8am-8pm
May 29: 8am-5:30pm
Sell off: 4pm
Royal Hospital
Chelsea, London
Images from past events via Google

Making Friends..#expat #england

Whatever your circumstances, whether it is a new town or new country or both, making friends can be daunting. When moving with a family the first order of business is setting up your home, settling the kids into school, finding the essentials ( markets, doctors, tradesmen etc...) and learning the lay of the land.  Finally, with those tasks at hand you start to think about yourself. If you are like me, you may procrastinate over this thought because it can be an overwhelming task especially if you have done it a few times before.

Invariably, expats are always asked..."How long are you here for?" and "Where do you call home?"
My children usually groan when they hear this because they know it is not an easy question for Mom to answer and they know it usually leads to a lengthy answer.

They pity the poor souls that ask. If you have lived in several countries, call each one home, have children spread out wide and far and are uncertain where you be at the end of the journey than I am sure you can relate to this.

So what does an expat do?  I find getting involved in as many things as possible does the trick. First order of business is to check in with the schools and look for volunteer opportunities. One has to remember to be wise on this front as they usually assign the job that no one else wants to the newcomer. If need be, take it, it is a start! 

Secondly, seek out groups that offer an opportunity to meet with like minds. It has been a while since I have joined a woman's group but there is such a wide selection in the London area that I figured, why not?  From here, the calendar will start to fill up quickly.

If you are like me, you may have forgotten a little thing called exercise. I must admit, this always tends to be at the top of my procrastination list. Must remind myself to do it...soon.

Once you have sign up you must attend these gatherings. You soon become a pro at entering rooms where you do not know a soul. If you always hated this you soon learn to get over it. Always enter a room smiling as someone is bound to return the favour.

Think Diane and go from there.

When that smile is returned... the anxiety you walked in with starts to melt away. Another tip if you are meeting someone for the first time in a public place, tell then what you will be wearing. I have been in the position more than once of walking up to people and asking if they are so and so. You start to feel like a blubbering idiot by the second or third one! weary of wearing black, you won't be the only one!

I can't say this is the golden rule to making friends but it works for me.
If you are new to the expat experience, try some of the suggestions above. 
I think you will find your world will soon be a brighter place.

Here a few places to start the ball rolling:

Welcome Clubs International 

American Expats

Expatriate Clubs in the UK

Expate Expert

Images via Google

Return to Collage of Life 

Rural Retreats in Britain and Ireland

We are off to discover the Lake District 
over the Easter Holidays thanks to Rural Retreats
This is one of those 'have dog will travel' trips. 
Our active springer is going to love 
roaming the hillside and riverbanks.
Rural Retreats offers a wide range 
of idyllic english cottages, 
elegant country houses and special places 
to stay throughout Britain and England. 
I have highlighted a few spots
over my morning cup of coffee today.

Forthampton Court in the Cotswalds for the whole gang

Thatch Cottage in the charming

Tregadjack Farmhouse in Cornwall
and it's lovely interior..

Whitby lighthouse 'Galatea' on the High Cliffs 
of the North Yorkshire Coast...
why not?

breathtaking views...

or perhaps...Tawstock Castle in Devon

Whatever your fancy, 
if you are interested in a family holiday
 exploring England and beyond
in a 'home away from home' setting
have a look at Rural Retreats.

Images via Rural Retreats

Jo Malone

If you live in England, go to your nearest Jo Malone 
and ask about their complimentary 
Hand & Arm massage via the Tasting Bar™ for Mother's Day.
You will be walking on air once you sample 
the new Vanilla and Anise Collection, 
'infused with the delicate scent of the rare vanilla orchid'.
Would you expect anything less from Jo Malone?

My favourite shop:
Sloane Street
150 Sloane Street, London SW1X 9BX
 Telephone: +44 (0)870 192 5121

PS..better hurry Mother's Day is one the 14 March!
Image and test via Jo Malone 

Royal Tulips

It is coming...I can feel it, Spring!
I took these photos at Easter last year.
The Queen must love her royal tulips!

Images taken by me along Buckingham Palace