Last weekend I was invited to stay at a beautiful 18th Century Country Home in Lurgan along with some of my fellow Northern Irish-based bloggers. It had been over a year since we had a blogger sleepover so I jumped at the chance of a good girly catch-up with Rosanna of Silver Brogues, Megan-Cáitlin of VENT Threads, Bex of Faeri Wood and Carolyn of Forever Scarlet.
A night a Glenmore Manor where we’d be cooked dinner by a professional chef, sip wine in a jacuzzi and natter about life and blogging? Yep, Glenmore Manor organised the perfect stay for us. And the best bit? We didn’t have to travel very far to enjoy a bit of luxury. For me it was just over a half an hour drive from Belfast.
Upon arrival Glenmore Manor’s owner Eileen greeted me and it wasn’t long until the rest of the girls arrived and we got shown around the vast house. We were taken around all six bedrooms, the lovely big country kitchen, and most excitedly for us – the room where the heated swimming pool, jacuzzi and sauna were. The owners have stayed very true to the home’s history and the place is decorated very traditionally with lots of sumptuous reds and golds and statement ornamentals.
How nice to leave behind a busy week at work and unwind at Glenmore Manor. As we waited on dinner being served (it was a delicious Indian meal) we opened up our wine and nibbled on crisps. After dinner we got into our swimsuits and headed for the jacuzzi. Bliss! We chatted away until the early hours before we all went to the different bedrooms we had chosen.
Carolyn made friends with Glenmore Manor cat Eddie.
A rather grainy photo of Carolyn and I enjoying the jacuzzi.
The next morning we helped ourselves to breakfast before taking a walk around the impressive grounds. The owners Eileen and Pat turned the house into a Holiday Let just a few years ago and it’s easy to see why they have no problems filling the place up with groups of visitors. I think it would be a fab retreat for hen parties and family get-togethers. It would even be a fabulous wedding location.
Exploring the beautiful grounds with Carolyn, Bex and Megan-Cáitlin.
Megan-Cáitlin and I in our big cozy scarves and black loafers
Check out Glenmore Manor for yourself.
So the spooky season is here. It’s time to give your home a spooktacular make-over! At Willow Lane HQ Phill and I are throwing our first Halloween party and we’ve gone all out to impress our guests. This is Phill’s favourite time of year. He loves all things horror related so no cutesy decorations are in sight!
Here are our top Halloween decorating tips…
1. FAUX COBWEBS AND SKULLS MAKE EVERYTHING LOOK SPOOKTACULAR
You don’t need to shell out big money to give your home a haunting makeover. Buy a ton of faux cobwebs and stock up on skulls and you’re halfway there! For extra creepiness buy a bag of plastic spiders and stick them into the cobwebs. Black netting also looks great draped over furniture.
2. GREET YOUR GUESTS (IN)APPROPRIATELY
Stock up on fun cheap signage from your local supermarket or discount store. I picked up the Haunted House sign from Asda Living and the gruesome food menu sign from Home Bargains.
3. A WREATH & SMALL LIGHTING AREN’T JUST FOR CHRISTMAS
You don’t think twice about putting lights up during the festive period so Halloween should be no different. Small skull lights like these set the mood and inject some Halloween fun into your home.
Phill made his own Halloween wreath this year. He bought a cheap wreath from Amazon, glued small skulls and Halloween salad tongs (!) to it, spray painted it all in matte black and then added lights…and viola!
4. ADD EERINESS WITH FLOATING WITCHES HATS & FLYING BATS
Take three of the cheapest black witches hats, add invisible thread and a bit of tape and you’ve got an entry hall that will send the chills up the spines of your guests.
And to make flying bats all you need is black card, scissors, bluetac, a bat template and you’re good to go!
5. DON’T FORGET THE PUMPKINS!
Pumpkins placed outside always look great, whether you carve them or not. Add a broomstick and a lantern (our one is from Ikea) for extra Halloween effect!
6. AND FOR ADDED SCARINESS…
Get some ghostly creatures and skeletons to creep your visitors out even more. We picked up the hanging Reaper decoration and the skeleton parts (buy similar) from B&M Bargains.
Belfast Fashion Week kicked off last week and the one show I was really keen to go to was the Excel Clothing catwalk show. I’ve been a fan of Northern Ireland based Excel Clothing for a while now and was delighted to hear that not only would this be their first year taking part in Belfast Fashion Week but that they would have an entire show to themselves. This latter point is unsurprising considering the wealth of brands they sell in their shops and on their online store. From Almost Famous to Vivienne Westwood they stock leading designer brands, catering for men, women and children.
The star of the Excel Clothing Show was by far the coats. If like me you have coats on the brain at the minute then do check out Excel’s offerings. I bought a gorgeous burgundy French Connection coat just last month and was eyeing up another FCUK blue coat (as seen in the top image) and a Maison Scotch pink coat (see picture below) at the show. And I was also impressed with Millie Mackintosh’s new clothing line, which featured as part of the show. There was a pretty patterned shift dress with a glitzy vintage vibe that really took my eye. A good party dress for Christmas perhaps?
Hugo Boss orange coat
Millie Mackintosh pink patterned shift dress
Pinko dress & Michael Kors tote bag
Maison Scotch pink coat & checked scarf
Almost Famous powder blue coat with faux fur collar
I attended the Excel Clothing show with my good friend Heidi. We fought through torrential rain and awful traffic to get to the show. The things you do for pretty clothes, eh?
I wore a black H&M jumpsuit & H&M burgundy jacket. Heidi wore a Warehouse maxi dress & All Saints leather jacket.
You can’t beat a crisp Autumn day, can you? The sun shining bright, a chill in the air, beautiful auburn leaves and the conkers on the ground. If I could I’d name my first born Autumn, but I highly doubt Phill would let me.
For my Autumn walk at the weekend I put on my new Target Dry Georgia Parka, my Replay Hyperflex jeans and Jessica Simpson booties (find similar here). I was super comfy and toasty warm. I love that this outfit is practical, but stylish too. I can go for a nice country walk and then on to do a spot of shopping without having to change what I’m wearing.
I was ready for the rain to descend at any moment with my waterproof jacket (thankfully there was no downpour), which is from Belfast-based retailer Target Dry. The colour combo of olive green and raspberry pink/red is a favourite of mine, and I love the fur trim hood (which is detachable). I like that I can cinch the waist of the coat in to give me more shape as the one thing I often don’t like about outdoor coats is that they can be bulky and shapeless.
My jeans are from the new Hyperflex range from Replay (I’m wearing the ‘Luz’ skinny fit) - a fabulous blend of stretch and support, almost like a jean with spandex! You feel sucked in and supported but your movement isn’t restricted. They are definitely the best quality jeans I’ve had in my wardrobe for a long time and I love the classy dark denim wash and detailed stitching (I like to think the red ‘R’ stitched into the back pocket stands for Ruth!).
And finishing off my look are my Jessica Simpson ankle boots. I bought these in TK Maxx a few months ago and they’ve barely been off my feet. They go with so much in my wardrobe. If I could get them in black I’d be delighted!