Thursday, 28 April 2016

Photo shoot shots!

I know that it's been a while and that one or two people are wondering whether I've actually finished the Marathon yet or whether I'm still en route, so I thought that I would share with you what I've been up to this week. I plan to do a "post Marathon" post when I have a little more time but for now...

For now, I've been having fun on a photo shoot. It's always lovely when the chance comes along to be in a shoot rather than styling it and having your make-up applied by a professional make-up artist is a fabulous experience. Mind you, I'm rubbish at the more serious shots. I can't help laughing and now that I have lines whatever my expression, I would rather have a smile to accompany them.

I'm allowed to share the clothes but not details of the campaign just yet.  And given that there's a sale on, I thought that I would crack on in case anyone fancied trying this navy Warehouse jumpsuit (£58). With the code TREAT20 it has 20% off. I loved wearing this but I should share that when it comes to sizing, it's quite short in the body so I went up to a 10, which also gives a bit more room in the boob department too. 

I also chose to wear these Snake print Stan Smith trainers from Schuh (£72). I'm such a trainer girl these days. But I do like the mix of smart and casual and of course lots of styles of shoe would work with this jumpsuit, from block heel to stilettos and wedges too.

 If I hadn't just bought the Baukjen jumpsuit that I featured a few weeks ago, I could well be tempted with this one...

Hope that everything is good with all you lovely readers and I plan to be back soon. Thank you for your patience and concern x

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Style Guile Sale Part 2!

It's been a while since I've said "hello" so I thought that it was about time that I made a brief (and somewhat slightly scruffy) appearance.

I may have a sewn monkey hanging behind my head (that's the browny thing in the background) but at least I've swept up, changed the door mat and planted up the pots so I feel a little more organised....sort of.

Thank you to all of you who emailed me about my blog sale for Coram. Almost everything has been sold now but the good news is that I've just uploaded some more pieces, which you can find on my "Style Guile Sale" page above. Thank you so much. I promise that your money is going to a wonderful cause and you get a lovely new item for your wardrobe too so it's a win win!

Outfit: Gap boyfriend jeans, Zara denim shirt, Jigsaw boots

My answer to everything: wear a blouse with a bow. It just makes you feel glam even when nothing could be further from the truth. Life looking out from the pink front door is great.

Looking in however - it's a big old mess. But look at our lovely loo. Great colour huh?!

Monday, 11 April 2016

There's a new addition to the blog - a sale page!

There's an exciting new addition to the blog that I wanted to tell you about - A "Style Guile Sale" page, where I'm selling some of my much loved pieces - many of which have barely been worn.

The page can be found on the full version of the blog in the pages header under "Style Guile Sale" and on the mobile version, in the drop down menu at the top of the screen. But here's a link just to make it a little easier: Style Guile Sale

All proceeds will go to Coram, the charity I'm fundraising for in the London Marathon. (I should be out training now but it's too wet so I'm going to do some Joe Wicks in front of Coronation Street shortly. Bet that's what all the Olympians do too!!)

So please do take a look and let me know if there's anything that you would like. Thank you!

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Renovations update....

So I know it's been a while but I thought that I would give you all a bit of a renovations update. Sorry for those who aren't remotely interested in these things but if you're anything like me - a fan of Grand Designs, or Ugly House to Lovely House, then you might just like to take a peek.

This is how the house looked before we started...

It's looking rather naked at the moment - but I'm not sure that it suits it!

It's fair to say that the back of the house is pretty much ripped to pieces. Although thinking about it the front isn't much better, what with the portaloo and skip on the drive. The portaloo is a very nice shade of turquoise though.

The gap on the left is the back of the kitchen, the gap on the right was a playroom/study but they have been knocked through.

The steels have gone in and it's also possible to see the perimeter of the new room. The roof will be going on this week. Yippeee.

This is from the back of the right hand gap, looking out.

And this is looking through now that the adjoining wall has been knocked down. The floors have also been levelled and the concrete has now been poured, ready for the under floor heating.

A view from above...

And one of the best bits of all? Let me introduce you to the new utility room. Doesn't it look amazing? Well no of course it doesn't but hopefully it will do in a few weeks. The false wall at the end of it is the back of the kitchen where it's been partitioned off. I can't wait for it to come down. At the moment I can't quite imagine how it will be when it's all opened up. 

And this is the wallpaper that I've chosen to go in the utility room behind a glass splash back. I don't know why but I've just fallen in love with it...

Nordic houses wallpaper from John Lewis (£19). I mean, it's not as though there are 101 big decisions to be made so what do I do? Go and choose some wallpaper. Nice one.

Monday, 4 April 2016

An outfit for a spring wedding....

It's been such a long time since I've blogged and I'm so sorry. The time that I usually devote to blogging is generally taken up these days with wiping away the brick dust that settles each evening. That and keeping tidy and organised the small downstairs space that we're living in at the moment.

Before I kick off with the wedding outfit, I wanted to thank all of you who entered the M&S competition. I'm sorry that I haven't been able to get back to all of you who sent through such lovely emails but I will try to do so over the next few weeks. The winner has now been notified so sorry if you weren't lucky this time :(

Baukjen woodley jumpsuit (£109) - I bought this a couple of weeks ago and tried on the morning of the wedding. I quite often leave important outfits to the last minute. I actually find it less stressful. Bizarre I know!

Don't you just love how your kids always have their phones glued to them and always have plenty of storage or capacity for what they need to do but as soon as a snap is required, oh dear, the storage suddenly seems to be full? Hence the rubbish photo with the shadow and not terribly flattering pose but hey ho, that's what this blog is all about! And really it's my fault for leaving my bag and phone somewhere else.

But anyway. I really enjoyed wearing this outfit for the day. True, my husband had to check with the eldest that the trousers were meant to be the length that they were but then I'm used to that kind of thing. It was soooo comfortable, I could layer a vest underneath it, it was long enough in the body plus I can wear it again to another wedding in May, a wedding party in June and an 80th birthday party in June - so I will get plenty of wear out of it, which isn't always the case with wedding outfits.

These Topshop metallic slingback shoes (£48) are the closest to the shoes that I wore on the day. It was the first time that I had worn them and I wore them all day without the slightest problem. I'm avoiding heels at the moment and so this block heel was a perfect height for me.

And I know that I keep banging on about the Marathon but I'm going to include the link to my donations page, just in case anyone would like to donate to Coram, the Children's charity I'm running for. Thank you x  Oh and I'll be back soon with a renovations update post for those who have asked!

Friday, 25 March 2016

Diamonds are a girl's best to win some whilst supporting a fabulous charity

As many of you will know, in four weeks' time I will be running the London Marathon. I am raising money for Coram, the oldest Children's Charity in the UK and I have a target of £1750 to raise.

Coram are such a well respected charity by many professionals and they do so much with disadvantaged and underprivileged children. Some of the services that they offer include running an independent adoption service, using a variety of creative therapies to help children from complex and traumatic backgrounds, supporting parents who are having difficulties in caring for their children and offering health, well-being and drug education in schools.

We all have demands on our resources all of the time and there are so many fantastic causes, so I hope that you don't mind my plea for help. However in return I hope that I am able to offer something that may bring a little happiness to you, or a loved one, or another charitable cause. So here goes...

Back in February of 2014, I entered a competition to win a gift card for £1000 to spend at 77 diamonds, who are recent winners of the 2016 UK Wedding Awards. I had to blog about what made my best friend so special.

Diamond Studs - oooh yes please!

For anyone who is interested, you can read the post here. Anyway, incredibly, I won and I've decided to put the £1000 Gift Card up as a competition prize, hoping that along the way I can raise money for Coram.

Eternity Rings - rings are definitely some of my favourite things

So, this is how it will work:
  1. Please make a donation to my page  (obviously it can be as little or as much as anyone would like to donate and  I promise that the money isn't for my private shoe fund, but for Coram);
  2. Please email me at and your name will be put into my metaphorical hat (which is seeing a lot of action at the moment)!
  3. The competition will be open until midnight on 31st May 2016, with the winner being notified by email on 1 June 2016;
  4. The winner will be put directly in touch with 77 diamonds who will arrange for the £1000 Gift Card to be sent to the winner;
  5. For anyone entering, if you felt able to mention the competition on your social media sites, or if you could spread the word amongst your friends and work colleagues, I should be so grateful. 
And that's it really. Hopefully many of you will see it as a great opportunity to win a fantastic prize whilst at the same time supporting an incredible charity. Ultimately I would love it if, between us, we could use that £1000 gift card as a competition prize time and time again to raise as much money as possible for as many charities as possible. There are so many wonderful causes to raise money for and with a bit of teamwork I think that it might be able to rustle up a few pennies for a few different charities. 

Engagement Rings -  do we hear the sound of wedding bell(e)s?

On the other hand if whoever won the Gift Card fancied treating themselves, or if a someone was about to make a marriage proposal and this enabled them to get a wonderful engagement ring, or if it was used to celebrate a long standing anniversary, how fabulous would that be too?  We all love a feel-good story. It would be great to share on here how that Gift Voucher is spent, or where it ends up.

Before I sign off, I would like to thank 77 diamonds for their support in helping me to use the Gift Card to run the competition in this way. It is very much appreciated - thank you. And Good Luck to everyone who enters!  

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Last chance to enter the M&S competition for a day out at the new Longbridge store....

For those of you who haven't yet entered the fabulous competition that I am hosting with Marks & Spencer, you have until mid-night on 24th March to do so. Don't miss out on what promises to be a brilliant day out with a friend at the new M&S store in Longbridge complete with lunch, a personal shopping experience, make-up with the beauty team, brows or nails at the nail bar PLUS a £100 gift voucher for both you and a friend to spend in store. 

For anyone who would like to enter, please email me at and I will put your name into my metaphorical hat. I will notify the winner before close of play on Good Friday. Good luck to everyone! 

Beth x

Sunday, 20 March 2016

So how do you run 24 miles? (If I couldn't do it with a friend, I wouldn't do it at all!)

But before I start.....

I didn't manage to get a place in the ballot for the London Marathon, which means that I am fundraising for Coram, who do amazing work with vulnerable and underprivileged children. I feel really uncomfortable asking for donations from people, so instead I will shortly be posting about a fabulous competition that I am going to run on here to help reach my target. Do keep your eyes open! 

Twenty four miles is the most that my friend and I have run whilst training for the London Marathon. "How do you do it?" is a question that I've been asked a lot recently.  Compared to some, I've run very little. Many others have run much further than this and much more frequently too.  But the one thing that I do remember is being in the position, not so long ago, where I would look at others and think "How on earth do you do that? How is it physically possible?"

On reading this I really DID ask myself "how is that physically possible?" The author is an ultra-marathon runner. 50 miles, 100 miles - it's no problem to him!

The answer is you build up to it slowly. It's not as if you just wake up one day and think to yourself "Oh I know, today I'll go and run 24 miles." Having completed the Birmingham half marathon last October, my friend and I ran the half marathon distance possibly once a month until Christmas. The day after Boxing Day we did 13 miles, the week later 16 miles, then 18 miles, 20 miles, 22 miles and then 24 miles. So like anything, if you build up little by little, it's not so much of a shock to the body.

The day before, and the day of, a long run preparation is key. We do our long runs on a Friday afternoon and we do shorter sessions, and hill and sprint work, either together, or alone, or with other super lovely friends who run, during the week.

I don't do too much exercise the day before. On a Friday morning I eat a lightish breakfast, have a mid-morning nutri-bullet and an early lunch. Then, when the running watch starts charging, together with the FitBit, and the phone - when the bum bag gets loaded up, when the key and cash get stashed in the phone holder that I wear on my arm - that's when the adrenaline kicks in.

Unlocking the key to the success of the Kenyans in distance running. 

I wouldn't want anyone to be under the illusion that we run 24 miles non-stop. After five or so miles we'll have a quick stop. Out comes the M&S chocolate flapjack, the elderflower water, the Love Hearts, Twix - you name it, we've got it. In fact, if we're honest we probably spend most of our run working out when we can next stop to eat something delicious and sweet.  We could do with a Mrs Overall style trolley for our three course meal that we take with us. And thereafter we'll stop every 40 minutes or so to top up as once you've gone past the point of no return, you really know about it.

And as for passing the time? Well we go in phases. Mostly we chat - a lot. In fact a friend of mine said the other day that she heard us coming before she saw us, which was impressive as we were wearing huge amounts of pink lycra.

We talk about our children, work, schools, things we've read and how we're going to run on the day. What if one is faster than the other? What if one needs a loo stop? What techniques are we going to use to motivate ourselves through the tricky spots? And most importantly, how are we going to communicate given that, for once, we won't actually be talking? We un-pack things that need unpacking and when the going gets tough, which is does, we try to re-set one another's brains by the use of distraction, or pretending that we've only just started and that we're full of beans, whereas really we're at mile 18 and just want to go home.

Occasionally we'll just plod along in silence - but that's usually only when we're going up hill and we're breathing too hard to talk. Then one of us will say "I'll talk at the top" and on we plod until we've made it and normal chatting is resumed.

We have run in all weathers and sometimes the harshest weather makes it more fun. Blizzards, hail, snow, rain, wind (my least favourite) - it all helps with the stamina. I think that our greatest difficulty will be if it's too warm as that is something that we're not used to at all.

And crikey sometimes we're laughing so much that we have to stop running. We've been known to balance precariously over canal locks when the tow paths have been closed. We've clambered over, under, through and around barriers of no-go areas. We've run through the industrial backwaters of Birmingham, under the M5 bridges and under railway bridges with their huge concrete supports, expecting (in my case) to find a dead body at any moment.

And then, when we run up one of the hills to get us home, sometimes we get that fourth, fifth or sixth wind and it no longer hurts. It feels as though we're flying. Not out of breath, not aching just powering up towards the traffic lights that signal home. And then we stop. And then we can't move again because everything hurts and those seconds of pure joy have passed. But still we keep on chatting...

So my tips - none of which are revolutionary or revelatory because if you're training for a distance this will have all be covered in a training plan/manual somewhere:

  • If I couldn't do it with a friend I wouldn't do it at all. Of that I'm sure!
  • Whilst some people love them, I'm suspicious of the gels and would rather eat proper food, even if on the day I carry little bits and nibble it slowly - so flapjack, Naked bars - it's all good stuff. And sweets really do give you that sugar kick just when you need it;
  • On a long run avoid looking your watch too often. It's like going on a long plane journey - you just have to switch off and let the hours wash over you;
  • The long runs for us are to get used to the miles and to build stamina - not really for the speed, although we do wear running watches so that we know how we're doing. It's the other training - the hills and the sprint work that will help with the speed and a bit like baking a cake, hopefully it will come together on the day;
  • I find that core and leg work also help with strength, although it may just be psychological;
  • I love reading books about runners - Running with the Kenyans, Eat and Run, Running Like a Girl, books about Ultra Marathon runners - all of them have the page corners turned down at places where I find something helpful or inspiring;
  • Running is as much psychological as it is physical. Next on my reading list is "the Runner's Brain". If you can accept that it's normal to want to stop, then you're half way to keeping on going! 
  • What works for one doesn't necessarily work for another. You may prefer to run alone, to listen to music or listen to podcasts, to re-fuel with gels - it's all just trial and error really. But the one thing that I am sure of is that never once have felt worse after a run than before. 

Thursday, 17 March 2016

The Oasis Lexi coat is back on the rails...

I bought my Lexi sleeveless coat from Oasis (£80) last autumn and whenever I post it on instagram, I'm always asked where it's from, so I was delighted (literally - I know, I'm easy to please) to see that it has been re-issued for the spring. 

This time it is a lighter colour to the one that I have but other than that it's exactly the same. I've loved wearing mine - it's a gorgeously soft fabric and great for those times when you just want to feel a little smarter (parent's evening, school concerts etc) but when a full on smart coat isn't needed. At £80 I realise that it's not cheap but it feels far more expensive than that. The sizing is quite generous so there's no need to go up and if anything, you might want to go down a size. 

Here are a couple of ways that I've worn mine. I know, it's not rocket science but sometimes seeing a piece of clothing on a person helps with identifying how it could work. 

This was my outfit this morning. Just before this was taken I asked our youngest why it was that I thought that it was a good idea to wear shorter boots with trainer socks (hence flashing my ankles) when clearly it was still cold enough to wear my fur scarf. Neither of us could fathom that one out. Spring on the feet - middle of winter around the neck. Hmmm.

Here I wore the coat with a pussy bow blouse. The v-neckline offers a nice shape for those with a curvier bust and the absence of a collar means that you can also add interest in other ways. I swapped the belt for a studded Topshop one.

And whilst I'm about it, I thought that I would share a couple of other gems. This Oasis fur gilet was £55. It was then reduced to £40, then £30 and it now has a further 20% off, making it £24. For anyone on the look out for a fur gilet, this is a fabulous option.

I'm also loving the blush coatigan (reduced from £55 to £25 plus there's a further 20% discount) which also comes in grey, as I've shown below.

Did anyone hear the article on the radio recently about the signs that show that we're turning into our Mothers? I couldn't think of anything in particular until I took this. And then all became crystal clear. My Mum loves birds and we love our Mr Robin who sits outside the bedroom window and sings....but I don't think that I will be having a perm any time soon :) x

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Today I was stalked by....Bardot tops

One of the best things about my job is having the legitimate excuse of spending a few hours every so often walking around the shops to see what's out there.  Whizzing from one store to the next in quick succession is a great way of spotting the trends. And today I felt that I was being stalked by blue Bardot tops. Shop after shop had them on their rails. Take a look to see what I mean....

The Bardot striped top from Whistles (£85), which also comes in white.

Zara blue and white off the shoulder striped top (£29.99) 

GAP tencel off the shoulder top (£34.95)

H&M blue off the shoulder blouse - £7.99. This one is 100% cotton and it's from the H&M conscious range.

So is anyone tempted to jump on the Bardot bandwagon, or are you more likely to give them a miss, knowing that the rest of the world could, quite possibly, be wearing them too?!!

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Jam Jar Lights - Lighting the way....

I was so excited to drive past Jam Jar Lights  on Sunday as I recognised it as having fitted out one of our local coffee shops with the coolest lights. Today I had an opportunity to go in and to chat to Kate, one of the founders of Jam Jar.

The idea for Jam Jar arose after she and a friend had been travelling. On returning to Birmingham they weren't terribly excited about stepping back into the real world and so started renovating their flat instead. Unable to find lighting that they liked, they started to experiment with different ideas until one night Kate turned a Jam Jar into a light and Jam Jar lights was born.

Customers can design their own lights, selecting the individual components, all of which are made in Birmingham. 

 These are the individual Jam Jar lights...

And here's a selection that have been clustered together, all with differing coloured cables...

Loving the fairground lights that can be powder coated in any colour. Surprise surprise, I love this pink one and how lucky are we to have a girl with a name beginning with "M"?! 

The wall of cables is a work of art in its own right. 

And with all things copper being such a huge trend, who fancies one of these lights?!

This is Jam Jar's take on a chandelier...

And these are examples of the different lighting systems that have been created with piping

Kate said that she fancied trying different colours on the metal work, hence the gold and rose gold below. 

And finally, this is the shop fit. The corrugated iron came from Kate's cousin's back garden and had to be scrubbed to remove what the birds had left behind on it.  And Kate and her partner went skip surfing for the wood. All of which is so in keeping with the feel of the brand.

This is my favourite - I love this combination.

 Having spent a little time looking a lighting recently, it is all quite "samey" but this is totally different. Jam Jar have even made a light from an old water tank, so if you're thinking of ripping anything out, it could be possible to upcycle it into a really fab piece of lighting.

And this letter "F" is for my lovely Flossie who is away from home this week and I miss her :( (but she is having fun) :) x