Instagram

Charlotte (@thehomethatmademe)

Right, I’m going to try and avoid sounding like a complete fan girl but frankly I am promising nothing…

Back in 2014 Charlotte (@thehomethatmademe) was one of the very first people I started following when I moved back to East Anglia and started using Instagram. Well, I say started using Instagram, prior to then there had been a couple of photos of my new pjs, my meals and cringeworthy selfies! I want to say ‘I liked Charlotte before she was popular’, like a prize hipster, but the truth is she has always been popular and with very good reason.

initials
One of my favourite features – the initial pictures. People often ask me where I bought them from but no, I made them! Following Charlotte’s wonderful tutorial.

When I joined Insta I was only really looking for interiors inspiration, I’d just moved back to a stunning flat in a converted listed building which frankly was too nice for me. Our hodge podge of furniture and lack of soft furnishings really didn’t do it justice. I was a bit lost, before then my taste had been somewhat questionable and I needed help! I had expected to just join for a little while, cheekily nab some ideas and leave (possibly even flounce off with one of those ‘I’m leaving guys, thanks for everything’ posts.) Well, three years later I’m still here and my love for interiors has snowballed into a home I am now proud of (even though it’s very much a work in progress!)

What I didn’t expect to happen was to make friends, and to get to know the people behind the pictures. Charlotte, along with others, took me under her wing and made me feel a part of the community. Because that’s what Instagram is, it’s a community. Sometimes, as with the ‘real world’ people aren’t quite as nice as you’d hope but we are here to support each other and again, with Charlotte, I feel like I could talk to her about something that was bothering me and she would be helpful and supportive. Just this week she cheered me up when I was feeling a little down about my Instagram.

One of my favourite things about Charlotte is that she is a person, not an account. I have followed people in the past who don’t give much away about themselves, don’t engage with followers and although they might have beautiful homes full of inspiration I have unfollowed them as I don’t feel I’ve got to know much about them. Charlotte is completely different, and that’s not to say she doesn’t have an amazing house because it’s absolutely beautiful, but she’s also so kind, funny and obviously a great mum. She engages with followers and responds to queries with a smile, even though I’m sure she’s been asked some of them 100s of times by now! That’s what makes a good Instagrammer.

I love how Charlotte shares her family life through her Instagram stories – Elsa and Rory are about the cutest kids out there and Joe is a fabulous ‘Insta husband’, and then there’s Mungo. Before I joined Insta I wasn’t really a fan of pets but thanks to Mungo I now have an appreciation for pugs… so much so we chose a pug as one of our very first prints over at Mortlock Onslow. Some people have such perfectly manicured Instagram Stories (I really don’t know how they manage it) but want I really want to see is the reality of hosting foreign students, the magic of childhood and ‘the crack den utility room’ (I just watched that one!)

So basically what I want to say is thank you to Charlotte for being a great Instagrammer (and of course blogger) and an inspirational interior bod, but above all a lovely person and friend.

If in the unlikely event you don’t already follow Charlotte, here’s the link, you’re welcome!

charlotte

Reviews

Review of Le Chameau’s Giverny Jersey Lined Boot, in Cherry

A couple of weeks ago I was having an absolutely terrible day, my car wouldn’t start so I had to take a day off work, it cost me a small fortune to fix and to top it all off I had a banging headache. We’ve all been there, haven’t we?

It’s fair to say that I thought I would have to write the day off when all of a sudden an email from Le Chameau popped into my inbox, asking if I would like test out a pair of their boots. My neighbours could probably hear my screams, of course I would like to test out a pair of boots! Le Chameau is a brand I have admired for years, one that is very popular in the farming and rural community. My current boots are 20+ years old so I was really excited to see if I could find a new pair which fitted my brief – comfy, stylish and durable.

My Instagram followers may have watched my stories last week when I opened the boots, it was like Christmas, I was so excited. On first impression the boots surpassed my expectations, which were already very high for such a well-respected brand. In case you haven’t heard of them before, Le Chameau boots are handcrafted (yes I said HANDcrafted – not many companies can say that nowadays…!) by master bootmakers and made from a secret recipe of natural rubber.

Le Chameau are celebrating their 90th birthday this year. Back in 1927 Charles Chamot started on his journey to create boots they were comfortable and long-lasting, suitable for his customers; fisherman and farmers. I don’t know about you but I’ve been caught out by boots so many times before, I’ve ended up with soggy toes, massive blisters and that feeling like I’ve got my foot stuck in flipping sinking sand; “Mike, my boot is stuck, can you help?” either that or almost breaking your front door trying to manoeuvre yourself out of things! With that in mind I was really keen to put the boots to the test this weekend just gone camping in Norfolk. With muddy conditions and the opportunity for walks it was the perfect conditions to try them out.

I can’t say much more than “wow!” First of all your feet (and calves) just glide into the boots, they are soft and flexible and it feels more like putting on a silk glove than a pair of boots! I was seriously impressed. Sometimes with really practical clothes you have to forgo any sort of style but just look at these, they’re gorgeous! These are the Giverny Jersey lined boot in Cherry but the style also comes in green, blue and black if you want to match your boots to your existing clothes. The boots have a contrasting trim and a timeless tartan lining, and look classy without trying too hard.

I suffer with very sore feet, I can’t even remember a shoe that hasn’t wrecked my feet to date, with the possible exception of my slippers! But nothing with these, I walked, I used them in the rain, I used them on tarmac, nothing – not even the niggle of a blister – that’s really something money can’t buy! To really test them I tried them sans-sock, and do you know what? They felt just as comfortable! Even if you don’t suffer with sore feet you will love the comfort these offer, without compromising on style or practicality. The boots have a anti-fatigue soles! That’s right, anti-fatigue soles, a special shank reinforcement board offers stability and fatigue reducing arch support. The outer sole is also abrasion-resistant so whatever the terrain, you can feel confident in your footwear. Another thing I liked is how light the boots are, I remember as a child walking across a newly ploughed field to see my dad and then attempting to walk back down the cart path feeling like my boots weighed the earth!

Whether you’re considering a pair of boots for business or pleasure then Le Chameau should definitely be your go-to, trying out these boots has completely changed my perception on boots, I will not be purchasing outside of the brand any time soon!  Although at the pricier end of the scale, you aren’t just paying for the name, you are paying for the quality. I can’t recommend these boots enough, even when I just see them sitting innocuously by the back door their jazzy lining makes me smile, I often now just slip them on to water my garden, something I’d never have done with my old boots – meaning I’d opt for Crocs and likely get soaking feet!

If you are in the market for a new pair of you boots, do yourself a favour and give Le Chameau a try, you won’t regret it.

The Women’s Giverny lined boot retails at £100 and can be purchased directly from Le Chameau here. For the full range visit the Le Chameau website.

 

 

Disclaimer: This post was sponsored in the sense I was sent the boots but nothing about my words is exaggerated or untrue, they are just fantastic. Laters, I’m off to wear my boots. To bed. In the bath. In Tesco. Literally anywhere I can get away with it.

Travel

Trains to Europe, is it for you?

Some people think getting a train to the South of France is madness, I mean – a quick hop on a plane (such fun!) and you’re sunning yourself on the French Riviera – right? While that might be true for some people, it’s not everyone’s first choice. Below I will list some of advantages and disadvantages to train travel.


One evening in 2014 we were talking about where we would like to go on holiday that year, to be honest we were probably arguing about it. Mike likely wanted to go somewhere cold and I wanted to go somewhere hot, it’s almost definite I uttered that ever-irritating sentence “but it’s not a holiday if it’s not hot!” Which is pretty weird given I’m more pale than Edward Cullen and every time it gets above 26 degrees I stomp about complaining “it’s too HOT!” I don’t remember how it came about, but I do remember it was in the middle of the night, but we decided it would be fun to go to France on train, not just the Eurostar but the TGV (high speed train) down to Nice.

So we did, and we had a fab holiday in the French sunshine. Skip forward to 2017 and my opinions on holidays have changed – I love holidaying in our wonderful country, I love the varying countryside and the fact you can probably still get a copy of the Radio Times and a bar of Cadbury’s! I’ve also been a bit unlucky with holidays in the last few years – in 2015 we had a beautiful week in the Dominican Republic and I reckon we got a bit cocky. A trans-Europe trip where we flew into Salzburg, trained it to Budapest and then flew back? Of course, got it on lockdown. Until I got food poisoning that very first day. That’s one to forget… then there was last year, the lost trip to America. So I was a bit nervous about going abroad again. Planes have always made me feel a bit ill and that coupled with different foods and temperatures didn’t sound that appealing. Plus to be honest I find being abroad pretty stressful, the heat – the fact I can’t understand anything other than basic words – the traveling on transport systems you’re not used to (water buses ffs!) but there is a lot of value to mixing with other cultures and getting out of your comfort zone so I decided I’d ease myself back into foreign travel going somewhere I’d been before, and that avoided the planes. Below is a little run down of the pros and cons of train travel, specifically to the South of France, hopefully it will help anyone who is considering it – there were a lot of Brits on our trains so it’s obviously quite a popular method despite the fact I don’t know anyone else who has done it! The pros and cons are based on our individual circumstances and do require you to love within travel distance of London.

Pros

  • Location – our local airport is Stansted (31 miles) and the Eurostar goes from St Pancras (67 miles). Surely this is a con? No! St Pancras is easily accessible for anyone with a train station nearby, it’s only a short hop from our ‘home’ London station of Liverpool Street whereas Stansted is a nightmare; no train links, no bus links, we would have needed a lift, using the train we can get from our door in England to our door in France without inconveniencing anyone else. When you arrive in Nice you are in the city centre, no faffing around on the edge of a city trying to make it to your accommodation from the airport.
  • Luggage – there are no restrictions on luggage weight, so if you can carry it – you can take it! We had three suitcases, a rucksack and a handbag, easy enough to handle and meaning we didn’t have to worry about that bottle of Chinzano for Auntie Gertie pushing us over the limit! Oh, and no worrying about your bags getting ‘lost in the system’!
  • Hand luggage – on a similar theme, you are not restricted on what you can take in hand luggage, so you can take through your bottle of water, lotions and potions – no plastic bags in site!
  • No planes – this is only a pro for some people but for a nervous flyer it’s invaluable!
  • The view – the view from a plane is great when you take off, and when you land, but let’s face it most of the time it’s cloud and after you’ve seen one cloud they all start to look a bit samey! Watching the French fields roll by is lovely but the real treat comes when you get to the coast. A lot of the train tracks are just above the beaches, watching places like Cannes and Antibes roll past is a something that’s hard to describe.
  • The time – you only have to check in 30 minutes before your train from London. Of course you must go through security and ‘check in’ but it’s very speedy and you’re only waiting long enough to have a quick browse round the WH Smiths before you’re on the train. Long gone are the days of turning up to the airport three hours before your flight!
  • Stretching your legs – anyone that’s been on a  long flight, or road trip knows it’s very boring sitting for ages but not aboard the TGV – you can get up and have a wander (and nose at other people). There is a massive catering coach which had seats along each edge you can gaze out while you drink your impossibly small espresso.
  • Stay connected – this is only partly true and wifi connectivity is still being rolled our on Eurostar trains and is only available on a small about of TGV routes at the moment but it’s coming!

The cons

  • The time – I know I used it as a plus above but obviously taking a train is slower than a plane. The average journey time from London Stansted to Nice is 2 hours, the train is more like 9 hours. However, when you factor waiting times at the airport, the border control fiasco and collecting your luggage, the difference is more like 2 1/2 hours. So if speed if your number one consideration, this isn’t the method for you.
  • The cost – some people mistakenly think that train travel is cheaper, because it’s not as quick and it’s less ‘exciting’ but that’s not true. Train tickets for two adults to and from London will cost around £300, I found flights with luggage for around £220. But of course this will depend on how far in advance you book your flight and at what time of year you are travelling, we are slap bang in the middle of the summer holidays so undoubtedly paying a premium.

 

It’s certainly not for everyone but if you are after an adventure I’d definitely recommend traveling to the South of France by train. Nice is the end of the line (though you could change trains and continue on to Monaco, or even Italy) so bear in mind other destinations will be much quicker – you can now even take a direct Eurostar from London to Marseille – getting you there in just under 6 1/2 hours! If you have any specific questions about London – Nice train travel feel free to drop me a message using my contact page.