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UK Travel | Adventures in York Travel Guide (Part 2)

UK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's Notebook

I have been having so much fun travelling around the UK lately. I’ve just returned from a few days in Penzance, Cornwall, but before I get started on those travel posts, I wanted to share my final day in York with you. We had a brilliant time, and I discovered some fantastic places that I wanted to tell you about.

York Museum Gardens

We started the morning walking up from the station, admiring the gorgeous blossom and daffodils along the way, to the York Museum Gardens, which are set in the surroundings of the picturesque ruins of St. Mary’s Abbey. It was a superb park to visit in the spring, where blossom peeked through the ruined archways. It was so warm that I didn’t need a coat or scarf and could just enjoy my floaty blue dress (another wonderful gift from TOAST, which has already become one of my travel staples, as it’s so comfy and doesn’t crease!).

To my delight, there was a birds of prey show on in the gardens, where you could pay a few pounds to hold any of their birds. I felt a little intimidated by the goshawks (despite being rather fascinated by them ever since reading H is for Hawk), so I picked a snowy little owl that reminded me of Harry Potter’s Hedwig. She was a delight to hold, and I even got to stroke her incredibly soft feathers.

UK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's NotebookUK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's NotebookUK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's Notebook UK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's Notebook UK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's Notebook UK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's NotebookUK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's NotebookUK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's Notebook UK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's Notebook UK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's Notebook UK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's Notebook UK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's Notebook

York Minster

After enjoying our time in the park, we ambled our way towards York Minster and had a thorough rummage through the interesting shops (especially the secondhand bookshop!) and stalls that are clustered near the Minster. The main branch of Bettys  – my favourite Yorkshire tea shop and well worth a visit if you’ve never been – is also very close to York Minster, so we took the opportunity to pick up a few goodies for the train journey back to London.

UK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's NotebookUK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's Notebook UK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's Notebook UK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's Notebook UK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's Notebook UK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's Notebook UK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's Notebook UK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's NotebookUK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's Notebook

York’s Independent Shops and Cafes

By this point, it was definitely time for some lunch, so we wound our way to Fossgate / Walmgate, which are parts of a lovely stretch of road (divided by a pretty little bridge) full of interesting independent shops, bars and restaurants. Unfortunately, being Sunday (remember my point about opening hours outside London?!), most places were closed, but whenever I’m next in York, I’m definitely stopping by The Hairy Fig, a fantastic looking deli, and Paper Pod, which looked like it had beautiful stationery supplies.

UK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's Notebook

We did pop into Spring, which was happily open and is reported to have the best coffee in York. My Mum loves her coffee, and she pronounced her cup delicious!

A Fantastic Wine Bar

Feeling in the mood for something more substantial than a hot drink, though, we continued down the street until we stumbled on a charming little wine bar, Cave du Cochon, which had a very tempting sounding BBQ and glass of wine deal on for lunch. It doesn’t take much to persuade me into a wine bar, and the delicious aroma of a smoky barbecue wafting into the street, coupled with the promise of a cool, crisp glass of wine, had me bounding through the door.

UK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's Notebook UK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's Notebook UK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's Notebook UK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's Notebook UK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's Notebook

As it was such a nice day, we took advantage of the bar’s pretty outside terrace, which we had almost to ourselves. Cave du Cochon has a sister restaurant, Le Cochon Aveugle, which is said to serve delicious French food (another place on my list for when I return!), and this means that great attention to detail and pride in serving delicious food has spilt over to Cave du Cochon, which served up some of the best BBQ I’ve ever had. A perfectly toasted bun was covered in BBQ-ed beef, with toppings of pickled carrots and cucumber and a dollop of well-seasoned crème fraîche.

The wine was excellent too; we were guided by the hugely informative and helpful barman to choose a lovely French white, and he also gave us a little lesson on natural, organic and biodynamic wines, letting us taste a couple, which was fascinating. We enjoyed ourselves so much that we contemplated lingering in the sun over a second glass, but I wanted to explore a little more, so we headed out to take a walk along the city walls instead.

Fantastic Views and Terrific Brownies

UK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's Notebook

The ancient walls are incredibly narrow, so progress is a little slow, as you repeatedly stand aside to let people pass, but that means there’s all the more time to admire the gorgeous view of the city spread out before you. I especially enjoyed getting a glimpse of York Minster towering above the rooftops.

After our walk, we realised we had about an hour to spare before catching our train, so we decided to have a cup of tea and one of the famous brownies from Brew and Brownie.

UK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's Notebook UK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's Notebook

We both went for the triple chocolate brownie, which was just as good as it sounds, and set us up nicely for the journey home!

Have you been to any of the places in York that I enjoyed? Are you planning a trip to the city soon?

P.S. Read my other posts about our York holiday here and here.

UK Travel | Adventures in York Travel Guide (Part 1)

UK Destinations | Adventures in York Travel Guide (Part 1)Travel Style: I’m wearing  trousers (TOAST); jumper (TOAST c/o); striped t-shirt (Laura Ashley c/o – similar here); scarf (TOAST c/o); shoes (TOAST)

I’m increasingly interested in exploring more of the UK, and in particular identifying great destinations that are within easy distance from London. A few weekends ago, Mum and I travelled to York to celebrate my Mum’s best friend’s 60th birthday. Although the celebrations took place in a hotel in a peaceful little village a half hour drive from York, we still managed to spend some time wandering the city on both Saturday and Sunday. The last time I visited York was a few years ago, so it was a real pleasure to be back exploring the beautiful, ancient city.

Our journey from London to York was under 2 hours, so it’s perfectly possible to visit York as a day-trip (or weekend stay) from London. We’d booked an early train from King’s Cross, so we pulled into York station at about 8.30am, feeling a little peckish and on the hunt for a good breakfast spot.

Exploring The Shambles

UK Destinations | Adventures in York Travel Guide (Part 1)

I’d had a suggestion on Instagram that The Flax & Twine cafe would be a good choice for breakfast and a lovely view across The Shambles, an historic (and very picturesque) street in the centre of York that is home to various shops and cafes.

UK Destinations | Adventures in York Travel Guide (Part 1)

Alas, I realised my Londoner’s mindset had entirely overlooked the fact that not everywhere would be open before 9am on a Saturday. The Flax & Twine, and all the other little teashops nearby, were closed until 10am. Still, we took the opportunity to explore the surrounding streets before the masses of tourists arrived (it’s definitely worth arriving early if you’d like some relatively people-free shots of this popular part of the city). Every little alleyway seems to lead somewhere interesting in York, whether to a beautiful timbered building, or an inviting bakery, and there’s also a market at The Shambles (open from 7am everyday) which is fun to explore. I thought of a friend back in London and picked up some Yorkshire fudge for him to enjoy.

UK Destinations | Adventures in York Travel Guide (Part 1)UK Destinations | Adventures in York Travel Guide (Part 1)UK Destinations | Adventures in York Travel Guide (Part 1)

After our walk, my growling stomach was getting harder to ignore, and a little research on my phone told me that No. 8 Bistro was a short walk away and served a highly acclaimed brunch menu.

A Wonderful Breakfast

UK Destinations | Adventures in York Travel Guide (Part 1)

I’ll have to go back to Flax and Twine next time I’m in York, but I’m very glad that on this visit I discovered No. 8 Bistro, as it was the ideal spot to enjoy a tasty brunch on a sunny spring day. The Bistro has a very pretty garden, which is overlooked by the City of York Walls, and was a haven of sunshine, peace and good food. We had the garden almost entirely to ourselves (it seems the city doesn’t really wake up until about 11am on the weekend), and it was a lovely place to relax over a cup of tea before tucking into our Full English breakfasts.

UK Destinations | Adventures in York Travel Guide (Part 1)

We had the full works: eggs, sausage, bacon, fried tomato and mushroom, hash-browns and black pudding, with toast alongside and copious amounts of tea. It was absolutely delicious, and I’d be happy for a visit to York to always start out with breakfast at No.8 first.

York Art Gallery

UK Destinations | Adventures in York Travel Guide (Part 1)

I was very keen to get to York Art Gallery to see The Lumber Room exhibition (ends 7th May 2017) curated by one of my favourite York-based illustrators, Mark Hearld. I’d been on a tour of Mark and Emily’s home and studio when I was last in York, so I was very pleased that this time I was able to catch his exhibition. It was marvellous, so much so that I want to dedicate an entire post to my time at the York Art Gallery alone, so look out for that very soon!

UK Destinations | Adventures in York Travel Guide (Part 1)

After seeing the Gallery’s main exhibitions, we had a little wander around the pretty courtyard next to it, before heading back to the train station (only a 10 minute walk away) to catch a bus to Boroughbridge and celebrate with the birthday girl for the rest of the day.

Some Practical Tips

UK Destinations | Adventures in York Travel Guide (Part 1)

// Pack sensibly. It’s colder up North! I didn’t bring a coat with me, but I was very glad to have layered  a t-shirt, jumper and chunky scarf (I was lucky to be sent the latter items from TOAST, who noticed my love of their clothes from this post). Even though the sun was shining brightly, it was definitely chilly in the shadows.

// If you have extra bags with you, leave them at York Train Station so you don’t have to lug them around with you all day. It cost £7 per bag for the day (but prices may change or vary).

// Check opening times in advance! I’ve been caught out a few times now by having too much of a London mentality. The rest of the UK generally has much shorter opening hours and shops are often closed on Sundays, so be sure to plan ahead.

// If you don’t have a car, it can feel daunting to get out into the countryside. I was impressed by the bus system from York though, which is a tiny fraction of the cost of a taxi, and there are buses to pretty villages in the surrounding countryside, as well as to places of interest like the awe-inspiring Castle Howard. Be warned again though: for the most part, buses run on Saturdays, but often not Sundays! Check York bus times online, or pick up a timetable from the tourist information centre at York Train Station.

Stay tuned for my upcoming York posts, covering the fantastic York Art Gallery and how we spent Sunday in the city.

Have you been to York? What did you enjoy about your visit? Like me, are you keen to explore more of the UK?

P.S. For further inspiration about easy day trips from London, see my posts about Rye (here and here), Hastings, Bath, East Sussex (here and here) and Sissinghurst Castle Gardens.

P.P.S. Read about my Yorkshire adventures from a previous trip here.

5 Step Guide to Building A Capsule Wardrobe

signs of spring – this month’s blog theme – a reminder of our book club title – spring cleaning and sorting -capsule wardrobe guide

Welcome to March! I’m thrilled to see the first few hints of Spring in London; the tree opposite my flat is burgeoning into blossom, and I look out for the golden piles of daffodils at the florist next to my local tube station every morning.

With the start of Spring, there’s always a feeling of freshness and renewal in the air. It’s a time to sweep away the physical, as well as metaphorical, cobwebs; to take stock of your home and fill it with a renewed sense of energy after the inertia of winter. Although I’m no minimalist, I do think March is a good time of year to consider your surroundings and have a thorough declutter. This month’s theme on the blog, then, is devoted to home-making, and you can expect some related posts and podcast episodes centred around domesticity in the weeks to come.

Also, don’t forget this month’s Book Club choice is Longbourn by Jo Baker, which is also in keeping with the domestic theme. Longbourn tells the story of Jane Austen’s fictitious Bennet family from the point of view of their servants. I’ve started it and am thoroughly enjoying it already, so please do read along if you can as I’d love to hear your thoughts on it too.

For the first post of March, I thought I’d offer a guide to starting a capsule wardrobe. It always feels good to have a thorough sorting at the start of Spring, and these are the steps I used myself when I had a huge closet clear-out in January. I hope you find them useful if you’re inspired to take stock of your own wardrobe and make time for a bit of Spring sorting and cleaning.

1/ Make sure a finely-honed wardrobe is what you want.

This is key. If your heart isn’t really in it, then no matter how much you think your closet should be neater, you’ll never be willing to be ruthless in your sorting. Check in with yourself and make sure that a pared down, simpler wardrobe and style is really what you want. It’s ok if you are happier with a lot more choice and a full-to-the-brim closet (we can’t all be Marie Kondo, after all), but then you have to move on and realise a capsule wardrobe probably isn’t for you.

If you feel that a thorough sorting of your clothes is just what’s needed, though, then here are some great resources to get you fired up and reaching for the bin bags:

++The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo. Definitely a little eccentric (I consider it part of the charm!), but I love how Marie Kondo encourages a no-guilt attitude to letting go of your possessions.

++ L’Art de la Simplicite by Dominique Loreau. This book will make you want to make everything in your life a little (or a lot) simpler.

++ Dominique Davis’ e-guide to building a capsule wardrobe. Dominique does a great job holding your hand through what can be quite a traumatic process, and she feels like a friendly big sister by your side, urging you on with practical advice. Of course, you can also listen to my Tea & Tattle interview with Dominique for some capsule wardrobe inspiration as well.

++ Un-fancy blog. This blog is perfect for inspiration on making the most out of every item in your closet and re-mixing and matching pieces to create great looking outfits.

2/ Define your personal style.

Before starting the clear-out, it’s essential that you’ve a clear idea of your personal style and what types of items you want in your capsule wardrobe. It makes the sorting process much easier, as you’ll be far less likely to be tempted to keep clothes that clearly fall outside of your capsule wardrobe parameters.

When refining your personal style, I think it’s a good idea to create a Pinterest board (it doesn’t have to be public – mine is currently private!) and to start to build up a collection of images that match the type of style you’d like to develop. Also key to this process, is to think about your lifestyle: do you realistically ever iron those cotton blouses? How many party dresses do you actually need, or, alternatively, do you in fact use any of your ‘loungewear’? I, for instance, realised that I love to wear comfortable, practical clothing a lot of the time, so I kept a lot of my jumpers, denim shirts, breton tops, jeans and trousers. These are the kinds of clothes I like to wear when I’m working from home, but I also realised that I needed slightly different outfits for when I’m teaching in schools and also for when I attend blog events or go out in the evening. This realisation brings me to the next tip….

3/ Think about the different types of capsule wardrobes you need.

This suggestion was one of the most useful hints I took away from my interview with Dominique. She said to think about having more than one capsule wardrobe, depending on your lifestyle. So, for instance, you may want a capsule wardrobe for work as well as weekend wear (and adjust the size of each according to what you wear most).

As I said, I have 3 capsule wardrobe categories: teaching, home and blog / evening wear. Thinking about the type of clothes I wear and use the most really helped me to be especially strict about not keeping too many clothes, like evening dresses, that I wear only a few times a month. I have to admit, I’m currently not too fussed about sticking to an exact number of items in each capsule collection; I’m just happy that now all seasons of my clothes fit together in my wardrobes and drawers. As long as that continues to be the case, I consider that I have the right amount of clothing for me.

4/ Set aside two whole days and get someone (non-judgemental) to help you.

It’s surprising how long a thorough sorting of your closet can take. Make sure you clear a weekend from any other distractions, and (so you won’t drive yourself insane debating whether you really do need one more black top, or if you’ll regret getting rid of it later) make sure to ask someone close to you to help and who won’t raise any judgemental eyebrows at the number of ballet flats you happen to own (cough).

5/ Plan what to do with the clothes once you’re finished sorting.

It’s to easy to pile everything you don’t want into bags, feeling virtuous at how much you’ve managed to wean out of your closet, but then promptly forget about it all and never quite manage to get to the charity shop for a drop-off. Make sure you don’t fall into this trap by carefully planning how and when you’ll get rid of your discarded clothes and try to clear everything out of your home as quickly as possible.

Will you be doing any Spring cleaning this March? Are you tempted to pare down your closet and create a capsule wardrobe? I’d love to hear how you get on if so!

Some Blog Housekeeping (and Merry Christmas!)

December really ran away from me this year. I was talking with a friend over coffee the other day, and we were both reflecting on the craziness that was 2016 and how quickly time passes. Granted, this is a friend who has children, which made my complaints feel rather small in comparison. I mean, I’m sitting there thinking ‘goodness, I blink, and I’ve missed the time slot for publishing my Christmas gift guide,’ whilst my friend is pondering how she can possibly have a child taking GCSE exams this year. So yes…rather different priorities, and I have to say that I’m pretty thankful that not publishing a Christmas Gift Guide is my biggest concern at the moment.

I must admit, I’m really looking forward to taking a break over the holidays. Much as I’ve loved the start of Tea & Tattle, it does mean I’ve been working flat out, weekends very much included, ever since the launch, trying to juggle teaching and blog and podcast and social life. I have a very large laundry pile.

Blog Contributors

Before I get down to my laundry and also some creative writing (which I’ve woefully neglected of late, but my goal is to finish a short story over the holidays), there are a few things I want to announce that are blog related. I think I was slightly mad thinking I could arrange possible contributors this month. To be honest, I thought maybe only 1 or 2 people would respond, and I was rather overwhelmed by the many emails I received! I’m sorry I haven’t been able to reply to several of you yet; I shall do so in the New Year. Thanks to all those who have expressed an interest. I’m not sure how many contributors I’ll be able to accept, as I want to start this process very slowly on the blog to see how best it suits myself and others, but I’m very grateful to all who contacted, and I shall be in touch asap.

Skype Blog Sessions

Again, I think I was a little mad picking December as my first month to start this! I’m bumping my first session to January, and of course I hated the idea of not picking everyone who responded asking for advice, so instead I’ve chosen you all!  Rather than offering this every month, then, I’ll only announce this offer every 5-6 months and pick 5-6 people who respond each time. Melanie, you’re the first, with a January session! I’ll send you an email to set this up asap. The others selected are: Lauren (for February); Ana (March); Llinos (April); Anika (May). I’ll be in touch with all you ladies in the New Year!

I’ll also publish some #askmiranda videos in January, based on the questions I received, which I can’t wait to tackle!

Book Club

The Miranda’s Notebook Online Book Club is officially launching in January, when I’ll share the first choice of book, which will be discussed in February. I’m really excited about this and hope many of you will be keen to join in! For anyone London-based, would you mind letting me know if you’d be interested in having an in person book group too, where we all get together to discuss the book?

Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year!

Thank you so much to all of you who have read and supported Miranda’s Notebook throughout the past year(s). This online space enhances my life so much, and I’m very grateful to everyone who takes the time to read and comment. I hope you all have a truly fabulous Christmas and a spectacular year ahead of you. I’ll be back blogging on 9th January, and Tea & Tattle will be resuming on 3rd January (with an interview with the gorgeous ballerinas, Victoria Marr and Flik Swan, founders of Sleek Technique). In the meantime, you can keep up to date with me on Instagram.

See you in the New Year!

T&T Episode 4 | Our Lives in Clothes

ourlivesinclothes

It’s Tuesday, which means there’s a new episode up on Tea & Tattle! I think this one could be my favourite episode so far and am so excited to share it with you.

In our first style-centric episode, Sophie and I discuss the important role fashion plays in our lives. We agree that the clothing choices we make often directly impact our experiences. To illustrate this, Sophie and I have chosen outfits from our childhood through to our late 20s that taught us an important life-lesson or gave us a significant insight into our own personality. For instance, I recall the ballet costume I wore that led to my first experience of fat-shaming at 8 years old, and Sophie relates her experiences reconciling her love for feminine dresses with her desire to be taken seriously in a rigorously academic environment.

We’ve shared photos of some of the outfits we mention on the podcast, so make sure you check out the blog post!

Happy Listening! 

Feeling Like a Henry James Heroine

Feeling Like a Henry James Heroine at Kenwood House, Hampstead

Over the weekend, I spent the most marvellous Saturday afternoon in Hampstead. Whenever you’re lucky enough to get a sunny weekend in London, it’s absolutely necessary to take full advantage and to get out of the house. I’ve been reading the marvellous Signe Johansen’s new book, How to Hygge, over the past few days, and in it she discusses the importance of being in nature as much as possible. Her descriptions of picking lily of the valley in the woods near her childhood house in Oslo filled me with wonder and determined me to get outside more. I fear I’ve yet to work my way up to embracing the outdoors in all weathers, and I hardly feel a wander on Hampstead Heath in heels and a long, floaty dress is quite the way to bring out my inner Viking, but baby steps…

I’m wearing
Maxi Dress | Laura Ashley c/o
Clutch Bag | Anthropologie (a lovely birthday gift! Thanks Cat!)
Ankle Boots (similar) | L.K. Bennett

Feeling Like a Henry James Heroine at Kenwood House, Hampstead Feeling Like a Henry James Heroine at Kenwood House, Hampstead Feeling Like a Henry James Heroine at Kenwood House, Hampstead Feeling Like a Henry James Heroine at Kenwood House, Hampstead Feeling Like a Henry James Heroine at Kenwood House, Hampstead Feeling Like a Henry James Heroine at Kenwood House, Hampstead Feeling Like a Henry James Heroine at Kenwood House, HampsteadFeeling Like a Henry James Heroine at Kenwood House, Hampstead

I visited Kenwood House, a beautiful historic house on the Heath, famed for its stunning architecture and wonderful collection of artwork (boasting paintings by Vermeer, Van Dyck, Rembrandt, and Gainsborough, to name a few). If you’ve never been, then do put it on your list next time you’re in North London: entry is free, you’re allowed to take photos and there’s a very nice tearoom. If you’re a fan of the movie Notting Hill, then you’ll be pleased to know that Kenwood House was where they filmed the Henry James scene. I felt rather like a Henry James heroine myself, as I swept through the house and grounds in my long, Victoriana inspired dress.

Feeling Like a Henry James Heroine at Kenwood House, Hampstead Feeling Like a Henry James Heroine at Kenwood House, Hampstead Feeling Like a Henry James Heroine at Kenwood House, Hampstead Feeling Like a Henry James Heroine at Kenwood House, Hampstead Feeling Like a Henry James Heroine at Kenwood House, Hampstead

The library was, predictably, my favourite room in the house. I think you’ll find it easy to see why. Aren’t those ceilings breath-taking? I think we stayed in this room a good 20 minutes, just enjoying being in such a lovely space (and me of course getting a little snap-happy with the camera).

Feeling Like a Henry James Heroine at Kenwood House, Hampstead Feeling Like a Henry James Heroine at Kenwood House, Hampstead Feeling Like a Henry James Heroine at Kenwood House, HampsteadFeeling Like a Henry James Heroine at Kenwood House, Hampstead

I was thrilled to be featured on the Laura Ashley blog yesterday: take a look at the post to read why I love this maxi dress so much and for more pics!

Have you ever been to Kenwood House? If not, have I inspired you to make a trip?

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Autumn in Geneva

Autumn in Geneva | Miranda's Notebook

Throughout my life, I’ve come back to Geneva like a homing pigeon.

Last week, I flew to the beautiful Swiss city to celebrate my 30th Birthday. Having played a significant role in my last 30 years,  Geneva felt the perfect place to welcome this new decade of my life.

Autumn in Geneva | Miranda's Notebook

My parents moved from Canada to a small French town, just over the border from Geneva, when I was only a few weeks old. My first years of school were spent at a French Nursery and then at the downtown branch of the International School of Geneva. It was a big wrench when, at almost 6 years old, I moved with my family to the USA. Within a year, I’d forgotten all the French that I’d spoken so freely with my friends as a child, and my recollections of Europe became increasingly vague. I learnt that millefeuille wasn’t a good thing to order in cafes in the US (it wasn’t anything like the original version); much better to stick to blueberry muffins and chocolate chip cookies. I went trick-or-treating at Halloween, played with neighbours’ children in the cul-de-sac we lived in in suburban California and almost forgot what snow looked like.

Autumn in Geneva | Miranda's Notebook

I still clung to some treasured memories of Europe that had made such a big impression on my very young mind: the muted, grey tones of the buildings; the markets we went to every Sunday morning; the funny shapes of the knobbly branches of Geneva’s plane trees that I loved seeing exposed when they were pruned in the winter. Much as I settled into my life in California and then New York, I still missed the place I’d spent the first few years of my existence.

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I was thrilled, then, when at 15 my Dad took a job that led us back to the French/Swiss border. I still remember that first wave of excitement when I stepped off the plane at Geneva airport and the vague sense of familiarity I had on seeing the beautiful mountains and lake once again. I was enrolled once more at the International School of Geneva (this time at their countryside branch, La Châtaigneraie, near where we lived), where I completed my last three years of high-school and got my International Baccalaureate Diploma. I picked up some shaky French and gloried in being in Europe once again.

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Since moving to London, I’ve been back to Geneva a few times, visiting friends who remained in the area and stocking up on my favourite French pharmacy beauty products, Swiss chocolate and raclette cheese. Much to my joy, my Dad (who has been based in New York for the past 11 years) has returned to Geneva again for a couple years for work, and of course I’m planning numerous trips. It’s lovely having him so close to London, and it was a no-brainer as to where I wanted to spend my birthday this year.

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These photos were taken on a stroll through the city the day after my birthday. I love Geneva in the autumn, when there’s a crispness to the air, but it’s still just warm enough to not require a coat, and the scent of marrons chauds served from street stalls wafts through the air. Rather than chestnuts, though, we settled on macaroons for a snack – always my preference!

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I’m generally not much of an impulse buyer (I tend to obsessively research and weigh up every fashion purchase I make), but I spotted this dress in the H&M window along Geneva’s main shopping strip, and decided that at 25 chf (£15), it was a terrific deal (just a fraction of the price of this very similar Maje dress). I’m so pleased I purchased it, even if it was on a whim!

Autumn in Geneva | Miranda's Notebook

Paired with a thin belt to add more shaping around the waist, an Hermes clutch I borrowed from my Mum and high-heeled ankle boots, I knew the dress would be a great staple this season. The high collar and ruffled sleeves are a nod to the 70s-inspired latest fashion trends, whilst the colour scheme gives the dress a classically autumnal style.

And now I’m already planning what I’ll pack for my next trip to Geneva, hopefully in November.

Have you ever visited Geneva, or would you like to? Do you have particular cities that always feel like home to you?

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My Style | Bardot Dress

My Style | Quiz Clothing Bardot Dress via Miranda's Notebook

September has been an absolute whirlwind for me this year, and I feel rather as though I’ve blinked and missed it. I can’t believe the month is almost over already! Alongside work and blogging, I’ve been busier than usual socially this month, with very few nights at home (I’m craving some hygge time with a blanket, book, cup of hot chocolate and the couch). It’s been fun though, and of course I’ve loved having lots of opportunities to get dressed up! This Bardot dress has become one of my wardrobe heroes already; since receiving it just over a week ago, I’ve worn it to a LFW event, as well as cocktails with friends, and it’s a definite contender for my upcoming 30th birthday celebrations (and, happily, for such a statement dress, it’s incredibly reasonably priced).

I’m Wearing:
Bardot DressQuiz Clothing (c/o) The Black & Taupe colour combo has *already* sold out, but I love this black & leopard print alternative
Bag – Vintage Chanel (but this bag is gorgeous too)
Shoes – All Black (as worn here)
Earrings – Swarovski (similar)
Nail PolishChanel Ballerina

I love an off-the-shoulder cut, so I’m pleased it’s so much in fashion at the moment. A Bardot dress always manages to look elegant as well as sexy, which makes it perfect for so many occasions, from a girls’ night out to seeing a ballet. I snapped these pictures on a stroll through Little Venice before going on for cocktails in the evening.

My Style | Quiz Clothing Bardot Dress via Miranda's Notebook My Style | Quiz Clothing Bardot Dress via Miranda's NotebookMy Style | Quiz Clothing Bardot Dress via Miranda's Notebook My Style | Quiz Clothing Bardot Dress via Miranda's NotebookMy Style | Quiz Clothing Bardot Dress via Miranda's NotebookMy Style | Quiz Clothing Bardot Dress via Miranda's Notebook

The pretty details of the dress certainly belie its price-tag: the back hem scoops lower than the front, creating an attractive silhouette, and I always find the combination of taupe and black easy-to-wear (you can pair it with so many different accessories), and yet sophisticated.

I also appreciate the fact that the stretch material makes this dress very travel friendly as it doesn’t crease much. I can bring it to the gym to change into after one of my weights sessions, and it’ll definitely be in my suitcase when I go to Geneva in a couple of weeks.

My Style | Quiz Clothing Bardot Dress via Miranda's Notebook My Style | Quiz Clothing Bardot Dress via Miranda's NotebookMy Style | Quiz Clothing Bardot Dress via Miranda's NotebookMy Style | Quiz Clothing Bardot Dress via Miranda's Notebook My Style | Quiz Clothing Bardot Dress via Miranda's Notebook

Quiz Clothing is a new-to-me brand, and I’m very pleased to have discovered it, as I’m so impressed by the quality of this dress for the price. It’s such a shame the colour-scheme I chose has sold out already (not that I’m surprised it’s such a favourite!), but I’ve rounded up a selection of their other dresses that are similar, and that I especially like, below (you can also see the full range of evening dresses here):

My Style | Quiz Clothing Bardot Dress via Miranda's Notebook

1/ Black & Red Bardot Dress   2/ Floral Bardot Dress  3/ Leopard Print Bardot Dress

Are you a fan of a Bardot dress? What is your favourite ‘going out’ look?

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** I received this dress courtesy of Quiz Clothing, but all opinions are my own. I am honestly very pleased to have been introduced to this brand as I really love this dress and intend to order a few more for myself!

My Style | Pared Down Simplicity

My Style | Pared Down Simplicity Featuring Larimar Bliss Pendant

Much as I love a pretty pattern, more and more I’m drawn to a pared down, simple style that is easy to pull together in minutes (and let’s face it, needing to go from 0 – party ready in as little time as possible is often the reality of my life). It feels good to have a ‘going out’ uniform that is sleek and sophisticated, yet easy to achieve and suitable for any occasion: a slim fitting dress in a solid colour, comfy heels, a little clutch and a statement necklace that elevates the whole look. I recently wore this outfit for a hen-do, but it’s equally fitting for a blog event or after-work drinks.

// I’m Wearing //

Dress: Lauren by Ralph Lauren (similar styles here, here and here)
Clutch: Vintage Chanel (I like this – on sale – option)
Necklace: Larimar Bliss c/o
Earrings: Otazu (similar)
Heels: All Black (similar)

My Style | Pared Down Simplicity Featuring Larimar Bliss Pendant Hampstead Village | London My Style | Pared Down Simplicity Featuring Larimar Bliss PendantMy Style | Pared Down Simplicity Featuring Larimar Bliss Pendant Hampstead Village | London My Style | Pared Down Simplicity Featuring Larimar Bliss Pendant Hampstead Village | LondonMy Style | Pared Down Simplicity Featuring Larimar Bliss PendantHampstead Village | LondonMy Style | Pared Down Simplicity Featuring Larimar Bliss Pendant

I always think jewellery truly makes an outfit, and a statement necklace is a great way to transition a simple dress from day-to-night wear. When I was contacted by Larimar Bliss and asked to choose a piece from their collection, I immediately went for one of their beautiful pendants. As you know, I adore my florals, so I couldn’t resist one that looks like a beautiful bouquet. This necklace has rapidly become one of my very favourites, as it adds such a feminine, elegant touch to an outfit. I love the Larimar stone, too, which is the most incredible, eye-catching blue and stands out perfectly against a plain solid background (although I also like to pair it with a v-neck dress for some added pizzazz).

My Style | Pared Down Simplicity Featuring Larimar Bliss PendantMy Style | Pared Down Simplicity Featuring Larimar Bliss Pendant

What is your go-to outfit for an elegant, fuss-free look? How do you like to style a statement necklace? 

***

As a side-note, I’ve just realised it’s my 2 year blog anniversary!! I can’t believe all the wonderful things that have happened since I hit ‘publish’ on that very first post, and I have YOU, my lovely readers, to thank for all your support and for encouraging me on this journey. I feel quite emotional thinking about the wonderful people I’ve met through blogging, and for all the new opportunities that have come my way because of this online space. I’m working hard on launching fresh projects over the next few months (based in large part from the feedback you gave me on my survey – thank you again!): a newsletter, a book club, free resources, more videos and something else exciting that I’ll tell you about later in the autumn. It’s my continued aim to make Miranda’s Notebook the best it can be. Thank you for being a part of the last 2 years, and I look forward to sharing many more with you all! 

***

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Wardrobe Stories | Avoca Floral Dress

Wardrobe Stories | Avoca Floral Print Dress‘Wardrobe Stories’ is a series in which I discuss the most beloved items in my closet. They are the pieces I turn to season after season, year after year, and that never go out of style.

The Avoca dress pictured above has been a summer favourite of mine for years. I love the mix of floral patterns (featuring one of my favourite Liberty fabrics), pretty beading around the waistline and the fact that the dress can be worn with flats or heels for a fuss-free day to evening transition. It was warm enough over the weekend to pull the dress out again, ready for exploring the gardens at the Geffrye Museum and drinks in the sunshine.

Several of my favourite summer dresses are in fact by Avoca Clothing. I first discovered the brand years ago on holiday in Jersey, where I stumbled upon a boutique that stocked some pretty Avoca dresses, skirts and their classic ballerina-style wraps. Since then, I’ve been quick to spot their signature floral prints in boutiques in London, and this dress I in fact bought at a shop in Lewes whilst on my way to my first visit to Charleston.

Wardrobe Stories | Avoca Floral DressWardrobe Stories | Avoca Floral Dress

Avoca takes its name from the brand’s location, and I would love to pay a visit to Avoca, Ireland myself sometime, not least to visit the lovely sounding shop and weaving mill, which is apparently the oldest in Ireland. The village looks utterly charming, nestled in a valley alongside the River Avoca. I shall definitely get there one day!

Geffrye Museum Gardens | London Wardrobe Stories | Avoca Floral Dress

In the meantime, visiting some of London’s prettiest gardens is curbing any pangs I have for an escape to the countryside. The Geffrye Museum is one of my favourite places in the city, and it has charming gardens and a leafy courtyard that offer peaceful refuge on a hot day. Devoted to domestic history, the museum is well worth visiting too, with its series of rooms that show the evolution of English living rooms over the last 400 years (my favourite is the 1950s room!). In the summer months, though, I especially enjoy the Geffrye’s gardens.

Geffrye Museum Gardens | LondonWardrobe Stories | Avoca Floral Dress Geffrye Museum Gardens | LondonGeffrye Museum Gardens | London

The gardens at the Geffrye consist of a walled herb garden (with plenty of benches in cosy nooks to read a book or chat to a friend) and several period gardens. The period gardens offer a further insight into British domestic history, as they are based on drawings and recorded plantings of urban middle-class gardens, from the 17th – 20th Century. I particularly delight in the 19th and 20th Century period gardens, with the former featuring a truly Victorian looking greenhouse and the latter a pergola covered in roses (or wisteria, depending on the season). I felt I blended rather nicely into the background in my floral dress!

Geffrye Museum Gardens | London Geffrye Museum Gardens | London Wardrobe Stories | Avoca Floral Dress Geffrye Museum Gardens | London Geffrye Museum Gardens | London Geffrye Museum Gardens | London Wardrobe Stories | Avoca Floral Dress

If you’re in the mood for refreshments (I always seem to be), then it’s worth heading to the cafe for a pot of tea (and perhaps a brownie. Unfortunately, some of the cafe cakes tend towards being rather too dry, but I can report the brownie is gooey and tasty). The cafe is light and airy and overlooks the 20th Century period garden, as well as some bee hives.

Wardrobe Stories | Avoca Floral Dress

There’s also a Mini Moderns pop up shop presently at the Geffrye, where I stopped to pick up some gifts for upcoming birthdays (I’d been to their press release earlier in the week and had to go back for more!). The main shop is very nice too (they stock a particularly good selection of cards – I can never resist picking up one or two!).

Wardrobe Stories | Avoca Floral Dress

If you’re looking for ways to escape the heat in London at the moment, then I definitely recommend throwing on your favourite cotton floral dress and finding a shady spot in the Geffrye Museum gardens!

What are your wardrobe staples for summer? Do you have a dress you pull out every year?

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P.S. More ‘Wardrobe Stories’: my Anna Sui dress and a classic LBD.

P.P.S. THANK YOU so much to everyone who has filled in the Miranda’s Notebook Reader Survey. I have absolutely loved reading all your comments, and I’ve found all the feedback so helpful. I was really touched by how many people bothered to fill it in, and you’ve got me very excited for some plans I intend to start implementing in the Autumn!