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Why hello there June 13, 2011

Posted by Lauren Cooke in Life, Chatter & Politics, Photos.
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Well, it has been a while hasn’t it?! Funny how time bunches together and stretches out sometimes – one day time is creeping by, and the next you are a week down the line seemingly without blinking.

So, what have I been up to since I last popped up to post macabre but fascinating quotes?

Well, I suppose first off I have been working. I have been dragging my sorry arse out of the bed each and every morning, and struggling bleary eyed into work with a sickly feeling deep down in the pit of my stomach. It is nothing as bad as many people have been going through in the stresses of the past few turbulent years, but work for the past couple of weeks has been increasingly stressful, full of unhappy people who’s faces fall further and further as the stress builds. Fingers crossed we are past the worst of it, becasue I wouldn’t wish more days like these on any of my friends and workmates!

Things have picked up through the stresses of last week though. I have been off exploring Wales, with the luck of the weather on my side to make it all the more fun. I enjoyed BBQs on the beach, lazing in the (surprisingly strong) Welsh sunshine, and watching the sun set towards the horizon. I have been winding through the mountains on narrow gauge steam trains, watching newborn calves and lambs in the fields, and admiring vistas that make everything all right. It has been a weekend of utter relaxation, just what the doctor ordered!

Some photos…

Barmouth wales

Fighting of the clouds

Caernarfon Castle

Caernarfon Castle

The setting sun

Watching the sun set

The dunes

Hiding in the dunes

Dramatic clouds

Dramatic clouds

The little steam train!

The little steam train!

Of castle bars and Jaguars June 6, 2011

Posted by Lauren Cooke in Life, Chatter & Politics, Photos.
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Wow, what a weekend.

Friday night I got to trawl around the wonders of IKEA, a destination that always has a hint of magic to me. Growing up IKEA was such a rarity (you can’t really have an antique dealer dad and admit to a love of flat pack furniture and dodgy quality Swedish design…), and that now I am an adult the occasional trips to the huge multi-story blue boxes full of artfully decorated rooms and endless cushions hold a mystique usually saved in adult life for the religious or the arcane. Instead, there I am, wandering around stroking things and pretending that the rooms are mine.

The View from the Castle Inn, Edgehill

What a view!

The Castle Inn, Edgehill

Drinking in a castle!

After enjoying my meatballs on the Friday (not a word, dodgy minded friends!), Saturday started off on a slightly crapper footing, mainly because the vintage fair I was at was so desperately dull. The stall numbers were really limited, and for whatever reason the footfall wasn’t great. I made one sale all day, and spent the rest of it chatting with other stall holders and starting drinking early. Y’know, as ya do. Still, that meant it could easily get better, and get better it did. Skip to the evening, and I was being driven around gorgeous rural Warwickshire in a rather delicious looking Jag, and even better I was wearing an outfit that worked perfectly with it! Couldn’t have planned it better myself!

Matching 60s fashion with the Jaguar E-type

So beautifully coordinating!

Sunday was pretty awesome too as it happens, mainly because the day was full of amazing quantities of gorgeous cars, and more Mustangs than I could shake a stick at. I don’t half desperately love those beautiful muscular cars, there is just something rugged and sublimely beautiful about them. One small car-starting-issue later and we were back on the highway heading to see the X Men: First Class, a wonderful (and veyr enjoyable) end to a fabulous weekend.

Of course, I am now on a bit of a predicable downer. I’m feeling very headachey, tired, and work is stressful at the moment, so the memories of happy weekends are disappearing fast. I just need to keep telling myself that tonight I am seeing the Darkness play in Leamington, and I also get to go for a long overdue Swim & Sauna, so it really isn’t all bad. The stresses will all melt away in no time at all.

On painting and passion May 26, 2011

Posted by Lauren Cooke in Art, Family, Photos.
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Peony Painting

Been paintin'

My mum has always said that I need a creative outlet. I need some form of self-expression that gets the gremlins out of my head, that pauses the whirring thoughts and ever-twisting cogs, letting me calm down, relax, stay as the me I know and love.

You see, I’m naturally quite a creative person, and yet at the same time I have a rather large side to my personality that is built on logic. The stubborn side, the realistic side, the part of me that doesn’t like getting carried away with my whimsical Piscean ways! The two sides, although obviously both pretty large components of my personality, can clash, and when that happens I can mentally work myself to the bone, with neither time to breathe nor recharge.

The only was to fix this fragile frame of mind is to make sure I give myself a release. I can do lots of exercise, I can write a story, or as was the case last night, I can sit up late into the night and paint until my heart’s content. Hence the painting above, a peony, for a particular someone in my life (who I doubt will mind it ending up on my blog first). And you know what? After sitting and painting until way past my bed time, I had the best nights sleep I have had in months.

It just goes to show – mothers are always right.

Spring, Strolls and Summer Dresses March 13, 2011

Posted by Lauren Cooke in Inspiration, Life, Chatter & Politics, Photos, What I Wore.
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The First Buds of Spring

The First Buds of Spring

Winter can be a long and difficult time. The deep cold nights lead into days that slip by in a dull and dismal blink, the chill bites into your bones and lingers in your veins. Chores that would be easy in the light of a summer afternoon become a tiresome drudgery. We fight through the season year after year, but come March the desire for spring and sunshine never fails to dominate our thoughts.

It is with some relief, therefore, to finally witness the true arrival of spring. Not just the gradual arrival of watery light before and after work, or even the bobbing heads of snowdrops, but real signs that mean it is finally here.

Sunshine that warms as well as illuminates. Gambolling lambs. Swathes of daffodils and primroses dappled in shadow, tree boughs heavy with fragrant blossom. The arrival of beautifully delicate buds, green folds unfurling like butterfly’s wings fresh from the chrysalis. Life suddenly bursting from ground that before seemed dull and dead.

This weekend has seen such a transformation. It has been warm, and blisteringly sunny, the perfect weather for strolls around town, and even for ice creams in the park. The sunlight has shocked the trees into action, and seemingly from nowhere the season has switched, and plants seem desperate to put forth flowers and leaves. Bees have been buzzing from bouquet to bouquet, and families have been playing football in the park.

I sat on a bench today, scribbling this post down, and taking photos to chronicle the arrival of a new juncture. I also immersed myself in a little book of Thomas Hardy poems, and watched the play and chatter of the people who strolled around the gardens. Yesterday, having drifted around town, I posted the most over-the-top status on Facebook, so saturated was I by the magic that has been in the air this weekend:

Can I randomly say something? Life is amazing. I all too often forget, but as I wandered around town today, in the sunshine and nothing more glamorous than my own company, it all came rushing back to me. Life? Life is damn good, and I’m so glad I get to enjoy it.

Beautiful Bold Spring Flowers

Beautiful Bold Spring Flowers

Beautiful Bold Spring Flowers Up Close

Up Close!

What I Wore Dressed for Spring

And my spring outfit!

Finally, because I felt so happy with what I wore, a little outfit shot. My new favourite hold-ups from Jonathan Aston, and a cute little navy summer dress that I picked up in a charity shop. Which, for the benefit of all those who know how important this is, has pockets. I felt spring like and glamorous, and it was so nice to be able to get the sunglasses out!

Larking it up in the Lakes March 8, 2011

Posted by Lauren Cooke in Family, Life, Chatter & Politics, Photos.
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Well, I have just had the most wonderful birthday weekend.

Usually I am a bit of a bummer about birthdays. I wine, and complain, and generally end up being disappointed. However, this year in the spirit of actually having adventures and doing things that make me happy, I arrange with some of my nearest and dearest to take a long weekend away in a cottage in the Lakes, and lo and behold it actually came to fruition! And so, with some minor problems getting our rental car (read: debit card eaten by angry ATM machine, resulting in tears and fisticuffs before dawn), we finally got on the road heading up to the tiny little hamlet of Butterwick, near Ullswater in the Lake District.

And what a fabulous time was had by all. Friday night was, if I am completely honest, spent in a drunken fuzz that was so bad I put myself to bed relatively early – the only way to spend the first night of your holiday wind down! Thankfully there was no hangover the next day, but instead there was a walk around Penrith, clambering the castle, visiting a somewhat disappointing market, and then settling at home with enchiladas and much drink. In fact, thanks to my cousin’s fabulous drinking game, we all managed to party and laugh into the wee hours.

Sunday was a more sedate experience, strolling out to Haweswater to sit by the lake and snack on yet more sugary foods, before waiting for our lift back. We even got to know the local Red Cross, as poor Jasmine tumbled from a stone wall, and needed an ice pack to nurse her old skiing injury back to something resembling a normal limb. Still, despite the problems we all managed to enjoy a fabulous day, with a big pork roast (with all the trimmings, and probably some extra!), Chinese lanterns, and a sky full of the most magical amount of stars. It was amazing, utterly calming, and brilliantly romantic. I just wanted to lie out on the grass, watching the stars twinkling above, tracing constellations in the air.

Of course, beautiful things like this have to end, and so it is with some reluctance that I have returned home. As I type I am wishing that I could be back in that calm place, with nothing but the sound of water trickling, birds singing, and the occasional sheep bleating in the background. I miss it, and the people I was with, desperately, and hope that an equally wonderful weekend was had by all.

And for your viewing pleasure, some photos…

Playing Whack-A-Mole may have kept us far too entertained, and made us far too violent...

Unfortunately I didn't actually get to see any red squirrels...

My new hair, for those who enquired...

The view of gorgeous Haweswater

And, finally, Ullswater herself, now my favourite lake!

Ribbit Ribbit February 18, 2011

Posted by Lauren Cooke in Photos.
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OK, so I sense this may be the only London Zoo post I get around to writing…

Poison Dart Frog

Poison Dart Frog

A little bit of painting… January 23, 2011

Posted by Lauren Cooke in Art, Photos.
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My painting of waves and sky

Been doodling..

The clouds

The clouds

I’ve been painting this week. I actually sat down to attempt to come up with a tattoo design for my second tattoo, which I hope will be a beautiful way to incorporate my favourite Bell X 1 lyrics onto my body so that they will always remind me that life is worth living. However, as always happens when I sit down to paint something specific, I found my paintbrush wandering, and before I knew it strange blue/green waves were creeping across the canvas. After a little blinking at it I realised it seemed to want to be an ocean, and so soon enough that was what it became. An angry ocean deserved an angry sky, and I am particularly pleased with my tempestuous clouds marching across the horizon.

On another note, I have booked a session for my tattoo, two Saturdays from now. I am terrified, of course, but really excited too. Bring on the inking!


Total Tattoo Crush January 12, 2011

Posted by Lauren Cooke in Photos.
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Wow. Does this girl not have the most spectacular body in the world?! I have a total tattoo crush on her, especially that cute bow tattoo. Stunning. Just stunning!
stunning girl with tattoos


Dressember Days 22 and 24 December 24, 2010

Posted by Lauren Cooke in Dressember, Fashion, Foodiness, Photos, What I Wore.
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Yes, you get a photo for the day I worked from home, but not from yesterday! The reason, or the excuse, is that I got straight in yesterday evening and proceeded to work my way manically through a gargantuan (isn’t that a nice word?! I should endeavour to use it more!) to do list the size of my right forearm. Not my left. Packed, tidied and generally exhausted, I fell into my fresh (clean!) sheets and slept like a baby until my 6AM alarm this morning.

Dressember Day 22

Day 22

Dressember Day 24 What I Wore

Day 24

 Day 22 was boring (pretty much just lounging around under fleeces, if I am brutally honest), but today was a day of travelling. You will all be glad to know that I made it down to Devon not only in one piece, but I actually arrived early. Thank you oh wonderful railway companies (and it isn’t often you will hear me say that!), you really did me proud as part of me had become resigned to the option of spending Christmas cold and alone!

Now, however, I am sat in front of a hot blazing winter fire, sipping the most spectacular Sloe Gin I have ever made. Cheers to that!

Sloe gin in front of the fire

Sloe gin in front of the fire

White Icing December 20, 2010

Posted by Lauren Cooke in Photos.
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As promised, a snowy montage for you. I know bloggers everywhere are doing the same, but I don’t care – those stunning crystallised flakes of beautiful snowy have such a transformative effect on the world that I can’t help but share!

Snowy Holly Bush


Puppy in the snow

Cute pup I met!

Snow and Graffiti

Quite a contrast

The Icy Canal

The canal

Duck on the icy canal


Snow in the park in Leamington

In the park

Mulled Wine

Mmm, mulled wine

Snowy soldier statue

A serious soldier

Leamington Jephson Gardens River Leam

The gardens