6 March 2015


There are certain people that are an inspiration, who strive to help others and use their voice for those who can't be heard. I'm so happy to have one of these people guest posting on the blog today. Say hi to Penny from Parent Shaped.
Hivic centre, comic relief

For Claudia, Thump, thump, breathe, For Eliafura, thump, thump, breathe, For Joyce thump, thump, breathe.

This was the mantra running round my head last year when I felt ready to give up and walk the last 1k of the 10k run I did for Sport Relief. I hit a physical and emotional wall -  I could do 10k easily now, but last year had no time to train. My Comic Relief journey as a volunteer blogger and fundraiser was coming to it's end. I was in London at the official Sport Relief games, while the Team Honk, the army of bloggers who come together each year to raise money for Comic Relief, were about to deliver the Lands End to John O'Groats relay baton to the very tip of Scotland. At the 5k point I got a call to say the Scottish team were close to making it. I had already cycled the baton 50k, walked it 20k early in the month, I'd not long returned from meeting these incredible women, whose names I was repeating, in Tanzania.  With the help of Comic Relief funded business mentoring they were transforming not just their own lives, but those of other women in Africa. I was overwhelmed the journey was coming to an end. But thinking of them kept me going.

Hovic Girls sewing room for Comic reliefThis year as I attempt six hours of dancing at Wembley with Team Honk, in the Red Nose Day Danceathon, I will think of these ladies, but I will also be thinking of the amazing people I met in Kenya this year with Comic Relief. The women raising HIV negative babies, the girls being mentored to stay in school and gain confidence through football, the women making nutritious porridge that brings income and saves lives, the street children dancing in safety and shelter at HOVIC. Hope for Victoria's Children. Lake Victoria is the largest lake in Africa. The Lakes region is the area of Kenya we travelled to gather material to raise awareness online, of how Comic Relief funds change lives.

My sponsorship always keeps me going too. Thanks to Betfair, who kindly sponsored me £150 to take part. Thanks to all those who have sponsored me, or the whole of Team Honk. It is not too late to sponsor, and no donation is too small. Just £2.50 can buy a mosquito net and save a life.

It is HOVIC I really wanted to show you here on Wild & Grizzly, I know Lori loves design, and Wild & Grizzly is always packed with incredible inspiration. In Kenya, design is changing lives. Annie from Mammasaurus took some lovely photos, and even managed to get me in some. As we approach the danceathon and I need to prepare mentally, I think putting myself in the picture is important.

Team Honk Penny and handmade african jewellery comic reliefHand prints in Hovic room with teamhonk and comic reliefAfter a huge HIV/AIDS epidemic, The Lakes region is only just finding it's feet, it must deal with the legacy of so many orphans and children living on the street. Hovic is a safe space where they can get shelter, food and learn skills. The first thing the children wanted to show us was their incredible beading designs. I came home with a bracelet that says Comic Relief, their patience with such a tricky task amazed me. Beading passes time positively - so many street children turn to glue sniffing - and it also brings income.

The sewing room was a magical place where children practice on paper and then material as they gain skills, and make beautiful clothes and gain qualifications to allow them to gain employment or set up their own business.

Penny from Teamhonk at Hovic with comic reliefDavid Walliams at Hovic with Comic Relief
So many of the teenagers stopped to tell me what they wanted for the future, it was such a contrast from teaching in a UK secondary school, as I once did, where quite often young people just don't feel motivated to learn or think about the future. The UK has its own issues of course, and what I love about Comic Relief is that it tackles them too - you are never more than 30 miles from a project with Comic Relief funding in the UK.

Nancy will be one of the names I run through my head as I try to find my stamina at the Danceathon, she is telling me here how HOVIC changed her life, she rose from having no prospects, to become a seamstress.

When I interviewed David Walliams who was making live appeal videos and doing live TV interviews from Hovic during our stay, I asked him why he chose Comic Relief, his answer was simple. Apart from the perfect match of doing something funny for money, they understand the complex issues surrounding giving money sustainably. Over the weekend the layers peeled back and we got to the heart of lasting change. We started with HIV positive mothers learning how to keep themselves happy and healthy, we met village women making nutritious porridge, from local ingredients which have the power to bring HIV positive patients out of their bed and back to caring for their families and earning income. We met the mentors and football coaches giving girls confidence and self-belief to defend their rights to stay in school, and then HOVIC, healing a whole generation of street children and rebuilding their futures.

teamhonk raising money for comic Relief

Comic Relief know how to create lasting change in the UK and around the world. I will be dancing at Wembley and thinking about the incredible people have met, at projects where I live in Nottingham, and across Africa. It will be a cathartic dance for me. There is lots to celebrate, and lots more still to do.

Thanks to Lori for having me.

Penny blogs at Parentshaped and for Wayfair at A Residence. She has travelled to Africa for the last three years with Comic Relief as part of TeamHonk.org, who live blog, and galvanise social support, digital awareness and fundraising for Comic Relief, via the blogging community.

*Thanks to Penny for sharing this inspiring story and please donate if possible to this amazing cause.

5 March 2015


It's been a few weeks since we returned from our city break in Amsterdam with i-escape – you find part one here – and there is still so much to share with you. Not only do I love the design hotels, culture and coffee,  but I also love the food and shops too.

On waking from our gorgeous loft suite at the Hotel V Fredericksplein, we packed our bags ready to make our way over to our next bolthole, its luxury sister Hotel V Nepslein, just a short tram ride away. As we headed into the centre and wandered down a small cobbled lane filled with colour we found a discreet sign alerting us to our destination, as we stepped through the door a stunning tiered floor to ceiling chandelier greeted us and immediately I knew we were in for a treat.

Click to read more.

4 March 2015


Selfridges Mother day luxury Gift List
Now we're in March my mind turns to thoughts of spring *yay* and my lovely mama as Mother's Day approaches. Since having F, I now understand how important it is to take time and celebrate the mama in your life. From sleepless nights to referee, boo boo fixer, friend and role model, teacher and councillor, you have to wear many hats in this role, and often you don't make time for yourself.  Before I had my kiddo, I didn't realise all the things that my mum did for me growing up, and although I try to show my love day to day, I can certainly see the importance of dedicating 24 hours just to her.

So I've pulled together a little luxury Mother's Day wishlist from Selfridges, one of my favourite stores.

1. This beautiful Vogue Amberley bouquet by Philippa Craddock.
2. Imagine lighting this Trio of Tom Dixon Candles while soaking in the bath.
3. This stunning BVLGARI one band 18ct pink-gold ring would make my mum swoon.
4. A framed photo of you and your mum in this stylish NKUNKU Kiko Copper Glass Frame.
5. Pamper your face with this Estee Lauder Day Wear Cream.
6. A toast to you loved on with Veuve Clicquot Brut Rose Champagne.
7. Give your travel some style with this Aspinal of London Passport Cover.
8. I'm love truffles so a box of Prestat Marc de Champagne truffles would be on my list.

As well as a beautiful boquet of flowers and a box of handmade cookies, I'd love to treat my mum to a spa day for some quality Mother & Daughter time, Plus it would nice for me to be pampered too.

What plans do you have to celebrate Mother's Day?

*This is a collaborative post.

3 March 2015


Children's Book Atlas of Adventure
 Atlas of Adventure, World map, kids book
Atlas of Adventure, Moscow Metro, russia

Recently we were lucky enough to head over to Amsterdam for a fun adventure, for those of you who follow me on Instagram or twitter you probably saw a few snapshots of our trip away. So on our return I was eager to get F a good book, and couldn't help falling in love with this Atlas of Adventure.

From the same authors of Maps, this book is perfect for any mini intrepid explorer, opening up a collection of natural wonders, exciting experiences and fun festivities from the four corners of the globe. Beautifully illustrated, this fantastic book celebrates the diversity of our planet with fab adventures to explore as you travel through its pages.

Canopy Walkway, Atlas of Adventure, kids bookChina's Lantern parade, Atlas in Adventures, kids bookEach continent is mapped out at the beginning of the chapter for a fun overview, before diving into a double page spread full of quirky detailed illustration and fun facts. Ever wondered what it would be like to Dog sled with huskies in Alaska or Dance the Samba at the Rio Carnival? Well now your little ones can glimpse other cultures and use their imagination to bring the world to their living room.

This book is a fantastic read and should be on every child's bookshelf, plus it looks great on a coffee table. So when F asks what it's like for Daddy in Moscow, I'll simply turn to page 25 and Discover a Masterpiece on the Moscow Metro and bring him a little closer to home.

2 March 2015


I'm totally obsessed with lighting at the moment and whether it's a teal cage light or cool architectural floor light, I dont think I could fit more in our lounge if I tried. Two days ago our vintage lamp that we had been using in F's room broke, and not just the bulb it literally fell apart *insert sad face* and although we're going to mend it and maybe move into another room, it gave me an excuse to do some window shopping for one of my favouite things.

So I thought it would be fun to share some lighting interiors that are inspiring me at the moment. There are so many ways to use lighting in the home, these wall mounted lights are a great way to create a cosy corner for reading or a focal point in the room. I'd love to try to make my own concrete light like this one.

I love floor lights and how versatile they are, use them angled down over the edge of a sofa or bed to create a spotlight lighting, or angle up to create atmospheric uplighting. Also by choosing quite an arcitectural style floor light can add a touch of style to your interior. I'm loving this Soho Retro Tripod floor lamp for my bedroom.

These cage lights are still on trend and aren't dissapearing any time soon. This teal colour is perfect for 2015 and with a long coloured wire you can move them anywhere, from a cool centre piece to your dinng table or place on a tray with your book and coffee to snuggle down on the sofa.

Another colour trending this year is peach and aprioct tones. A qucik way to give a room a facelift is to change your ceiling light. Try a new shade to give your room a different feel, or if you love white think about lining the inside of your shade with a grahic pattern.

If you love lighting then you can check out my Pinterest board for more inspiration.

*This is a collaborative post.
**Images via 1/2/3/4/5/6