Cave goals

The Candy Files: What’s hot, what’s not and what’s what at my place.

This week:

House Candy = Girl Cave

The BIG school holidays are nearly upon us and I’m going to need somewhere to hide. That’s why I’m attacking my girl cave goals with new urgency.

I’m lucky enough to have an outbuilding in the yard. What was the old wash house still has a functioning butlers sink, a fireplace and beautiful Yorkshire flagstone floors.

With a full on 10 year house restoration programme on the go, this space has never been a priority.  Instead it's existed as a rather lavish dumping ground for bikes, garden toys, tools and general household surplus… until now!

Soon this little corner of my driveway will be My House Candy Cave, in which junk shop finds and pass-me-down furniture will be re-invented as objects of interior lust and desire.  Chalk painting, up-cycling. even the odd bit of re-upholstering will take place here under the guidance of my super talented mum. Now and again we’ll even be inviting you for “Tea and Make”, involving that winning combination of painting workshop and Yorkshire hospitality.
Watch THIS space.


Fine and Candy = Kid Cave

£169.95 www.waltons.co.uk

You can spend a lot of money on getting the kid’s a den. In fact, I’ve heard of some neighbourhoods where kid-cave competition is rife. Personally, I’d prefer to spend the money on my actual house, but look, the need for a blow-the-budget play den may be deep rooted in childhood angst. I get that, so if you’ve got to get it out of your system, a two-storey munchkin magnet complete with picket fence and window boxes should put your past demons to bed …


But we all know, don’t we, that the best fun is make-believe. It’s also free and takes up a good proportion of that abundant school holiday time. And I am ALL for filling that. Clothes airers, old sheets, wooden steps, plastic patio furniture… all these are good foundations for a decent den. Raid the garage, the neighbours garage, the garden shed and challenge the kids to a den making competition. I promise you, it will get the holidays off to a flier.


Candy Pandy = Cafe Cave-Man 

Turns out the primitive diet was a few thousand years ahead of its time. Nuts, berries, the odd skinned rabbit; all perfectly balanced, nutritious and digestive system friendly. To look this good in leopard skin I’m prepared to give it a go. Just don’t come near me with a white chocolate Magnum, OK?


Camp Restival

I’m miles away from Glastonbury. And I’m not just talking door to door. Much as I’d like to imagine myself looking hip in a pair of cut off jeans and designer wellies, I may be forced to admit I’m about 20 years too late to jump on this trend. Image Map

But anyway, after what seems like a whole six months of partying, I’ve got to confess, I'm ready for a rest (#Sadfact) The problem is with all the TV and radio coverage kicking off down in Somerset, I’m feeling a bit left out.  That’s why I made my own pop-up festival scene this morning and I thought I might try and tempt you to do the same. 

You don’t need Worthy Farm to work the Glasto vibe. Just a leafy corner of the garden or even a few square foot of back yard. Turn up Radio 1, pour yourself a shandy and enjoy the added bonus of fully functioning toilet facilities and your own bed at the end of the day. You can even bring the dog. 

So if you too have got a mid-week house candy craving for a pop-up, music fuelled, alfresco chill out zone here’s your super stylish Camp Restival kit: 

1) Radio

A good looking portable radio is your summer BFF. My trusty Roberts follows me everywhere but what I’ve saved on festival tickets, I’d like to invest in a DAB mini version. Not only would this hot pink number look the business, but with £10 of its £129 price tag going to Breast Cancer Awareness, it’s both a fashionable and feel-good buy.

The good old BBC has Glasto all sewn up with the likes of lovely young things Clara Amfo and Greg James on Radio 1 and Lauren Laverne over on 6 music. Click here for the full line up: www.bbc.co.uk 

2) Birdcages

Well OK, not exactly essential, but seen everywhere from Matthew Williamson’s pop-up roof top garden at Kensington boutique hotel Blakes, to this week’s Grazia fashion shoot. Enough said. 

You may have seen my previous posts on the brilliant versatility of birdcages as home accessories. I have them lit up with twinkly fairy lights in the bedroom, smelling sweet with scented candles in the bathroom and looking super glamorous with vintage glass candlesticks in the dining room. But this vintage fabric one is my favourite. 

I’m going to let you into a secret now. And only because I really like you. THE BEST little oasis of vintage cool I have ever come across is hiding out in a little gem of a building, deep in the South Yorkshire mining town of Rotherham. The Button Tin is a gorgeous workshop, owned and managed by artist and (equally gorgeous) Queen of Vintage, Gemma Nemer. I took my mum for a mother’s day treat a couple of year’s ago and came home with these wonderfully unique souvenirs which always make an appearance at parties. 

Birdcage and “lampshade” Gemma Nemer commissions.

3) Fire pit

Sundown is just the beginning for true festival goers. Keep the theatre going well into the night with a great big crackling fire pit. 

Even good old, trusty Argos has got fire pits so there’s no excuse to retire indoors before the headline act. You will need to stump up £79.99 for the cast iron type pictured above, but a steel firebasket comes in at a far more festival friendly £19.98.

4. Pot plants 

Artificial Palm plant, £15 www.ikea.com

Surround yourself with flora and fauna for that full on living-in-a-field experience. No cacti, palms or bamboo plants growing in your corner of the world? Fake it man. Highly portable and re-useable, this is hippy-chic at it’s pop-up best. Ikea has a great range, all brilliantly priced for creating an instant no-maintenance garden oasis.

5. Wellies

This is strictly no-Crocs territory.  Slip on and waterproof yes, but short wellies is where it’s at for this year’s festival circuit. Even if you’re staying at home, a tan line round your calf area sends all the right messages. 

So that’s my Restival VIP area all sorted in time for the main event. If you want me, I’ll be round the back smelling of meat free sausages. Peace xxxx


In the Midst

The Candy Files: What’s hot, what’s not and what’s what at my place.

This week…

House Candy = Midsummer

A time for mystic and magic, fanciful romance and naked moonlit dances round a crackling fire pit…


An opportunity to turn your garden lights on. 

Either way, I dig summer nights. And don’t believe the hype; today is just the beginning. 


Fine and Candy = Midlife

There is life in the old dog yet. I’m finding the midlife point all kinds of inspiring. Look out for new blog collaborations and an exciting My House Candy up-cycling venture coming soon.


Candy Pandy = Midriff

Sit-ups or Cover ups. These days I have only two options. Know what I mean?

Any midsummer or midlife mayhem going on at your place? I’d be only too happy to lend an ear …

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My big fat gypsy lightbulbs

What is it about a string of light bulbs that gives me butterflies? Image Map

I arrive at a party to find it lit up with little twinkly lights and straight away I’m excited. Just me?

They don’t have to be white and sophisticated. In fact these days, I’m all for bright garish colours. Like, if fairground chic was a thing, I’d have some. With whiter teeth if you know what I mean?

This week's house candy craving got the better of me and for good reason. The party venue I’m about to have my big bash at has chosen this week to dig up the pavement.  There are certain things out of a control freak’s remit and evidently roadworks is one of them. So, gutted that my guests will have to dodge traffic cones and roadwork barriers upon arrival, I’m giving them lights. Big fat gypsy lightbulbs to be precise. These babies:

I’m sure you discovered www.coxandcox.co.uk along with me some time ago. They regularly send mail order catalogues to remind you just how to do rustic-luxe. Laid back loveliness for indoors and the kind of outdoor living scenes that have you dreaming of long summer nights and a plentiful supply of Pimms.

Their new festoon lights are connectable which, as I discovered from my experience with Christmas illuminations, makes ALL the difference. It’s all very well having somewhere great to hang them, cute little trees to wrap them around, or great big beams to drape them over, but what about the plugs? With this ingenious invention, you can go as lightbulb bonkers as your budget will allow; connecting string after string until your whole garden is alight with midsummer magic. You simply plug the starter set in and add on each additional string using the water tight connectors. Simps.

I had a play around in the garden and discovered that a few lightbulbs here and there makes ordinary little shrubs suddenly photo-worthy. Take this kid-cave for example. I thought my boys were past den making but on creating this in as much time as it took them to get their PJS on, they were all for bringing out the sleeping bags. And who can blame them?

The extendable festoon lights are selling fast and now on pre-order with more stock expected by Cox and Cox in July. I’m well happy I got mine in time for the party and with any luck will be making future connections over the summer. 

So, it’s my party and thanks to unsightly roadworks, I WILL cry if I want to. But I will be quickly cheered up by a few pretty lights and a well placed pompom (see previous post for details). I’m cool like that.

Fancy a bit of fairground chic in your garden? I would love to hear your thoughts.

Candyfloss anyone? xx


ALL the frills

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Party fever has hit in a big way thanks to a bulk order of coloured paper pompoms.

After 11 years of trains, pirates, superhero and football inspired parties, me and Mr P are throwing a grown-up birthday bash for our fabulous friends.

It’s nothing flash. Just a nice pub, a good DJ and a fine spread as we say up North. 

But know this: there WILL be pom poms. 

Hanging from trees, dangling from beams, adorning the dance floor. I’m going in big, bright and blowsy with these beauties from www.decopompoms.co.uk in all their brightest colours.
It’s £40 for a set of 30, 14inch diameter decorations, but if you ask me they will be worth every eye popping penny, creating instant carnival atmosphere whatever the setting.

Perfect for wedding season, they come in every colour theme possible - From pale and simple...

To loud and lovely…

My pack comes ready to hang with clear string, so it’s a quick “fluff” and they’re good to go. (instructions included)

More of a no frills kinda girl? What about honeycomb for all the fun and less of the flounce? I fell a little bit in love when I visited gorgeous website www.pearlandearl.com which specialises in “happy living and giving”. I mean, even the strap line is swoon-worthy. So of course I had to bag a few bright paper balls to complete the pompom party.

Large red honeycomb ball £7 www.pearlandearl.com

You can even make your own if you’ve got the time: www.youtube.com

So that’s the decorations done. Only got our party outfits to sort out now..

...Well you know I like a theme.

  See you on the dance floor? “I think I found myself a cheerleader..” (insert Pimms here)



Amara Interior Blog Awards Nomination - Best Newcomer

Look, at my age you don’t get called a newcomer very often so excuse me if I milk this one.

Thank you to the lovely followers that took the time to nominate me for this amazingly cool award.

I started this blog back in October last year out of an insatiable need to write and a lifelong love of interiors. I had no idea what it would involve or where it would take me. Neither did I realise that it was the missing piece of my jigsaw. 8 months down the line, I’ve still go so much to learn and such massively high standards to aim for, but I’ve put the text books away and stopped googling quite so much these days. 

My ex boss used to laugh at me when I got a new assignment. She said I’d waste at least a day worrying that I didn’t know what to do. Her response was to send me away to fret and figure it out. She knew that once I’d stopped panicking, I would knuckle down and get the job done. So that’s the panic phase over, now for the hard work.

I’ve also got my mum’s voice in my ear and her ever-ready two letter motivational talk: "If It Is To Be It Is Up To Me” (I know - great isn’t it!) I’m a crippling procrastinator and it’s taken me until now to realise that things aren’t just going to fall in my lap, I have to get out of my comfort zone and go get 'em.

So here I am, little old me - the shrinking violet that was too shy to be a business woman. Here I am bravely baring my soul and going boldly where many brilliant bloggers have gone before. Please, please help me by letting me know what works and what doesn’t. What keeps you coming back and what has you turning off in an instant. What would you like to see and what do you want to go away?

I’m a big girl now, I can take the knocks, so sock it to me and I will do my best to take your comments on board and get this blog worthy of your clicks, ready for when voting opens for the prestigious Amara IBAs in a few weeks time. Please click here for more details: www.interiorblogawards.com

I’m not doing this to blag freebies or to carve out a lucrative career (although both would be happy consequences). I just want to write and to help create a little inspiring environment where together we can make our space, ACE.


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Just A Big Lush

My garden is alive with colour and I awoke this morning with an insatiable urge to bring the outside in. With birthday money in hand, off I popped to the shops to fulfil this week's house candy craving. Here’s what happened.

First I called in at The Range to revisit a fake succulent I was admiring only the other week. Did it bother me that she was void of life? Could I manage a real one? Did she look cheap and nasty compared to the designer ones I have seen recently? NO, NO and NO was my conclusion and so she  came home.

Yucca - £25 The Range

Next I hit B&Q, this time armed with a trolley, which always sparks trouble from a purse strings point of view. Not so much here however, where you can fill your boots (even your car boot) with gorgeous little bedding plants from as little as 20p. 

However, focussed on the indoor variety, I selected these little treats which I have promised faithfully to feed and water and in return they have promised to stay this lovely, fashionable shade of bright green.

Trailing Ivy, £4 B&Q

Glass Jar with 3 mini greens £10

And finally, my pretty orchid was looking lonely in the dining room, so I treated it to a friend. They like  spending the day admiring each other in the big vintage mirror. Vain or what? That’s orchids for you.

Orchid, £8 B&Q

So that’s my big lush plant haul and all my birthday pennies spent. But with any luck, I’ll be enjoying them for many more weeks and months to come.

Stop me talking to my plants will you and drop me a line? I’d love to hear from you xx

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Adventures in Wonderland

The Candy Files - My interior ups and downs

House Candy = Through the Looking Glass

"Who in the world am I?”, said Alice. It’s a quandary I have pondered long and hard, but as I awoke to a new decade in my life - the naughty forties - I suddenly found the answer.

I’m… ah sod it ... I’m me.
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House-wise, this is a big help. I can stop trying to pigeon hole my style… Am I modern rustic? Am I classic contemporary? Am I eclectic enough? I’m just me; and my interior choices only ever feel right when they reflect that. 

So just as I have come to realise that the shorter I cut my hair, the less like girl-crush Emma Willis I become, I have also found that copying someone else’s house style is never going to suit my own home. 

I’m not cured of my magazine addiction… far from it. But suddenly I don’t want what other people have got. I want to admire their style and develop my own, which feels a whole lot more achievable. 

So, I’m beginning this next decade of my life with a whole new level of adventure. As for giving my new found signature style a name? Let’s call it curiouser and curiouser. To mark the discovery, I bought myself this fabulous limited edition moleskine (above) to jot down my inspiration. Get yours here: www.moleskine.com

Fine and Candy = Mad Hatters Tea Party

I’m not the only Mad Hatter celebrating a milestone birthday this year. Alice in Wonderland is 150 years old and has never looked better. Check out The Alice Boutique for everything Alice, including this adorable Tea Set.

Candy Pandy = Cheshire Cat

Beach selfies, family boat trips, drunken gigging - you name it, I’ve posted the photo with a big fat Cheshire Cat grin on my face. It’s smug, it’s nauseating, it’s unbecoming of me. Look away people, I’m hoping there’s more to come.