Varsity Blues

This is definitely a very 'Rosie' outfit - comfy, casual, a nod to nautical and a big chunky necklace.  I feel a bit 'preppy US high school' with my jacket on, like I need to be dating a quarterback jock and eating a corn dog at a drive-in movie or something (I want to do those last two things immediately, kthanx).  I wore this to Redfest last Saturday, I thought it would be kind of awkward wearing dungarees to a festival (hello toilet situation) but actually it was fine, just like wearing shorts really except for making sure your dungaree straps don't trail in something grotty.  Mmm.

I feel like I look about 16 in these pictures - does anyone else wonder whether getting IDed all the time is truly their youthful looks or could in fact be because they walk around looking like a college student (or a giant baby in the case of this outfit)? I got IDed buying cider in Asda on the way to the festival and the woman was so incredulous at my date of birth I thought she was going to get all of her colleagues over for a look at my driving licence. (I'm 29 next week, please don't mass unfollow me for being ancient!) I'm not sure this is what I imagined I'd dress like when I was in my late twenties but I'm not sure anything is how I imagined it'd be at that age, so there we go!

jacket: topshop sale £15 [similar] | necklace: topshop [instore - £16]
t-shirt: urban outfitters [old] | dungarees: primark £12 | flip flops: havaianas
I can't lie, this week has been a particularly stressful one.  I was poorly on Monday and then since then Tom has also been struck down with an almighty bug that's left him completely sofa-ridden (and nearly led to a hospital trip yesterday).  We were hoping to have the conservatory renovation finished for a birthday barbecue with my parents on Saturday but I'm not sure that's going to happen now which is a shame but can't be helped.  Playing nurse and trying to keep on top of chores (along with all the DIY) has meant our house looks like a bomb's hit it and I can't relax when it's that messy! Oh, and we have hardly any food in so my last three dinners have involved toast, which is deeply unsatisfying.  Roll on the weekend!

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Plongée | Win some comfy beachwear

I've mentioned many times on here that I don't really have a set 'style'.  My wardrobe spans from pretty dresses and high heels to hoodies and an extensive trainers collection.  Frankly, some days I want to be pretty and girly, and some days I want to be comfy and slouchy.  A lot of what dictates my outfit choices of course, is lifestyle, and these days I'm found more often going for dog walks at the beach, bike rides in the forest, exploring local seaside towns or grabbing lunch at our favourite café than attending the sorts of occasions that would necessitate floaty dresses and chunky wedges.  This doesn't mean that I'm forever slubbing around in my jogging bottoms, but it does mean that denim shorts, flip flops, cosy hoodies, jeans and t-shirts are getting much more airtime.  My dalliances with channelling a more laid-back style meant that it was somewhat serendipitous when Plongée recently got in touch to tell me about the brand and chat about a collaboration.  With links to French surf culture, their cosy beachwear and varsity inspired classics are the perfect uniform for days at the beach, summer BBQs, camping trips and coastal adventures.

I jumped at the chance to try a couple of items from their current collection and swiftly chose the diamond tee and pasha hoodie.  They kindly offered to give away the same two items to a lucky A Rosie Outlook reader, so read on for how you can win some lovely new clothes!

The hoodie is SO cosy and is my new favourite throw-on item – I know I’m going to get lots of wear out of it in the coming months.  The t-shirt is lovely too – stretchy and perfect with shorts.  This t-shirt was built for sunny days and blue skies, with Biarritz as the brand's spiritual home, surely it's guaranteed to bring the summer sunshine back?

If you’d like to win the same hoody and t-shirt (you can choose the colours and size) just enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.  I’ll pick a winner in ten days and let you know on Twitter and via email.

Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Retro sweets

Sweets would probably make my top ten all time favourite things list.  Maybe top five.  Few things can replace the childhood joy of saving up pocket money and spending it all on pic 'n' mix or ordering treats from the rows of colourful jars lined along shelves in the local sweet shops.  Remember when there was so much trust abound in shopkeepers that you'd fill a paper bag up with sweets in the local One Stop (Circle K anyone?) and the lady behind the counter would just ask 'How much?' (And you'd have no idea, so you'd just guess and then round it down a little bit...)

I can't say I've ever grown out of my love of sweets.  The demise of Woolworth's was a sad day for me; I have lots of happy memories of filling up bags with all manner of sugary treats (except for jelly snakes, they were too heavy and made it too expensive) and then spending the afternoon gorging on them until I felt sick. These days I love a good bag of Haribo or Sour Skittles, but nothing can replace good old fashioned, sweet shop sweets.  Bubblegum bottles, chocolate mice, shrimps, strawberry bon bons, giant strawberries, Wham bars... just thinking about them has my mouth watering! So when The Gobstopper kindly offered me a jar of their retro sweets, I knew just what to choose.  Their click and mix jars come in three different sizes, this small jar costs £9.99* and can be filled with three different choices of sweets.  I chose fish and chips, rosy apples and sour apples.

It arrived a couple of days later in a lovely Kilner Jar, with a sweet little Gobstopper luggage tag tied on with string, full to the brim with my chosen sweeties! (My mouth really was literally watering as I took these photos, I wanted to dig in immediately!)

When it arrived, my first thought was 'That's not going to last long!' but actually the jar holds a deceptive amount.  A week later there are still two or three rosy apples at the bottom of the jar (the fish and chips were the first to go!).  I'm looking forward to cleaning it out once its finished and using it for something else as the jar is so nice (let's face it, it will probably be filled with more sweets!) The jars are great for a movie night in or for giving as a gift (it's my birthday in a couple of weeks, hint hint!)

Overall I'd definitely recommend The Gobstopper - check out their site for lots of other retro sweets, American candy, gift boxes and even wedding favours.

What's your favourite sweet shop sweet?

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Your striped summer dress

I thought I'd share a little workwear outfit today, this is one I wore one day last week.  I'm finding it pretty difficult to dress for the office whilst it's still really warm, especially on days when there's also chance of showers.  I wore this with a blazer but I took the blazer off for the photos as it was so muggy!  The dress itself is really light and airy so perfect for warmer days. Apologies for my dress looking mega crumpled by the way, I took these at the end of the work day when the light was nicer so this is the result of me sitting in an office chair for eight hours...

I like to call this first pose 'inquisitive owl' - you can use it too if you like, it's a good look.

dress: dorothy perkins via voucher codes swap shop | necklace: primark [old]
cutout heels: kat maconie: £129 | watch: michael kors
I picked up this dress at the Voucher Codes Swap Shop last month, I really like the shape, and you probably know by now that I'm a lover of anything with a stripe! I'm also a lover of my new Kat Maconie heels, I bought these in the Spartoo sale a few weeks ago as I had some credit and I've worn them a lot since, they're really comfortable as the heel isn't too high.

Today we're still getting stuck into our project to redo our conservatory.  We're trying to transform it from a horrid place full of junk, blue concrete floor tiles, cobwebs and brick walls to somewhere a bit nicer to spend a summer's evening.  Tom is currently swearing at some laminate flooring which is probably my cue to go and help! Luckily after all this hard graft we have a dinner out tonight to look forward to, not to mention the last episode of The Returned, eek!

Hope you're all having lovely Sundays too,

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Run Rosie, Run

I mentioned in my post about Lovebox Festival that I stayed in London afterwards to prepare for a run the next day.  That run was the National Lottery Anniversary Run - five miles around Olympic Park and then into the Olympic Stadium.  I signed up a few months ago with my friend Nicole.  Back then I was running most days and comfortably running 10ks at the weekend (or at least I did a few times!). Then I went to Greece for a week, then France for three weeks, and before I knew it I hadn't run for almost six weeks, and when I tried again it was hard. This was about three weeks before the run on Sunday, and as much as I tried I couldn't run more than two or three miles without feeling exhausted and getting sore legs.  I started running every day to try and increase my stamina and did even more damage to my legs - before I knew it I was getting pain resonating through my shins and calves just by walking up stairs.  I decided to have a break of a few days before the run itself to try and repair the damage, but it's fair to say I was pretty nervous as I walked into Olympic Park on Sunday, having not run since the Tuesday and not managed much more than half the distance I was running at the event for a couple of months.

I've never run at an organised event before, and the run on the Tuesday before (with a few colleagues from work) was the first time I'd even run with other people.  I didn't know what to expect at all; would I be able to run the whole distance, would there be other people stopping to walk, would I be constantly overtaken, would I be able to keep pace with Nicole - and so on.

We lined up nervously at the start point - I glugged so much water in preparation that I started to really urgently need the loo (TMI?), which was pretty worrying as I knew I wouldn't get to go for about an hour! The run was organised in stages, with the fastest runners going first.  Seeing them all sprinting off the starting line made me even more nervous - most of the people there seemed like professional runners, looking very fit and with all the right running gear (we saw lots of running club vests and people running for charity).  My stomach growled loudly as we moved towards the starting line.  There'd been no shops open to get breakfast and I'd assumed there'd be somewhere to buy a banana or something small in the Park - not so, it was all burgers and ice cream (not top of my wants list at 9am when I'm about to run five miles).

Sir Chris Hoy was at the starting line waving everyone on, and we watched the second wave of runners waving and smiling at the cameras.  Then it was our turn to go - waving as we ran past and grinning at the cameras, hoping Tom would be able to see us on the big video screens from his seat back in the Stadium (he didn't!)

photo courtesy of national lottery

At 10.18 am we were off, jogging into an area inside Olympic Park and round the outskirts of the stadium.  I had my Garmin GPS watch on and noticed rather frustratingly that we were running a very slow pace at the beginning - the sheer volume of people made it impossible to go at much of a pace and some of the areas of the track were so narrow we had to revert to a slow on the spot run!  Luckily this was only in the first mile and the pace picked up a little after that.  Nicole and I found a comfortable pace and happily jogged along.  As we rounded the first corner there was a hill and we wondered why people were shouting and cheering - then we spotted lines and lines of men who'd obviously made the same mistake as me and were all stood peeing into the bushes.  Nice!

The next few miles went by in a bit of a blur.  Along the route there were things to see such as Caribbean bands in tents playing music or stewards cheering you on or giving out water.  Some people were stopping to take photographs of the stadium or the views across London but I'd decided from the start that I didn't care what time I got as long as I ran the whole way and so we trucked on.  The hills were the hardest, I really had to dig deep to keep running up some of the hills, especially when I got a stitch and was finding regular breathing hard.

Then we reached the four mile marker and everything seemed immediately better.  Knowing we were a maximum of about eleven minutes from running into the stadium was pretty motivating.  We then ran into an underground part of the stadium underneath the seating where huge speakers conveyed the sounds of the crowd in the stadium, along with playing Chariots of Fire.  I had to laugh when we ran into the underground section and there was a collective groan as everyone's GPS watches konked out!  I took this photo when we arrived at 8.30am, by the time we ran in all of the seats were packed and the roar of the crowd was immense.

olympic stadium running

With all of the excitement of running into the Olympic Stadium, Nicole and I had just enough energy left for a sprint finish, and legged it to the finish line, grinning and laughing as we ran.  It was such an amazing feeling.

When we walked back to the stadium entrance to come and find Tom, I noticed him peering with great concentration at the running track.  He hadn't seen us run in and was still hoping to spot us! I was a bit disappointed that he didn't see us at the start or the finish but in his defence it was hard trying to spot individuals in the sea of blue t-shirts and vests.

However, when I checked my camera afterwards he had managed to spot Victoria Pendleton running into the stadium...

... and Mel C being interviewed post run....

In our goodie bags we all had medals amongst some other snacks and a bottle of water.  I will treasure mine as a memory of the first event/organised run I've ever done.  And, we didn't walk any of it! At the end of it our time was 53 minutes, which isn't too bad considering the volume of people and narrow tracks made it hard to keep up a good pace at some points.

Here is a very sweaty but chuffed me posing post-race.  I can't say it's the best photo of me that's ever been taken, but hey, I just ran five miles in 23 degree heat, give me a break yeah? :)

Compared to people who can run half-marathons and marathons I know five miles doesn't sound like much but it's definitely a personal milestone for me and one I'm really proud of.  I only started running near the end of last year after about 12 years of not doing any sport at all so I'm pleased with how far I've come in that time and it feels great to have a hobby that I enjoy that also keeps me active and fit.  I know running isn't for everyone (and I never thought it would be for me!) but it really is a great feeling being able to see that progress.  I know that running into the Olympic Stadium to the sound of Chariots of Fire is a memory I will cherish for a long time to come.

Do you run?  Have you ever been to an organised run or run a race or marathon?

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Festival Wishlist

I really don't need another excuse to waste time on the internet (this is me) - between Pinterest, trawling eBay for local bargains, reading blogs and having a constant eye on Tweetdeck I've pretty much got internet based procrastination covered.  But being a relentless shopaholic, a furious bookmarker of wants and someone who likes putting together boards and looks, when I heard about Style In View I knew it was something I wanted to have a play with.  Along with being able to search for items across absolutely tons of brands (including ASOS, Debenhams, New Look and Topshop), you can now also create 'looks' and add items to them along with looking at other collections on the 'Get the Look' page.  It could be a complete outfit or you could use it to bookmark several items for an occasion or wishlist.  As I was at a festival last weekend and will be off to another this afternoon, I've decided to bookmark some of my favourite items for a summer festival.  Once you've created your 'look', you can share it or embed it in a blog post like so;

I'll definitely be coming back to my Summer Festival look come payday and treating myself to a couple of items.  The search facility is really useful and led to me finding my favourite Motel dress (the Penny dress) in another pattern, as well as the Oasis denim skater dress with Peter Pan collar, which must be mine.

Style In View is really easy to use and I'll definitely be using the 'Create a look' function again, I can see it being useful for birthday and Christmas wishlists as well as planning holiday or weekend-away outfits.  Are you an internet procrastinator like me? Have you used Style In View before? 

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Witch Skincare Lovebox Event

On Saturday I caught the train up to London to go to Lovebox Festival with Witch Skincare and some other lovely #flawlessfriends, which is the Witch Skincare blogger gang.  They'd kindly given us VIP wristbands to the festival, meaning we got to flash our wristbands and escape into the VIP area by the stage.  The VIP area was actually really cool - much more chilled out than the main festival area and with its own hammocks, giant deckchairs, a cocktail bar and a barbecue (amongst lots of other things!).  We did a bit of a celeb spotting and clocked Vanessa from the Saturdays, Mutya from the Sugababes and Tinchy Stryder (who also played at the festival, so not entirely unexpected!).

Along with providing us with the VIP tickets, Witch also gave us festival goody bags with lots of essentials stowed inside - sun tan lotion, anti bac gel, Witch face wipes and blemish sticks and floral headbands.  The tote bags were really cute, with camper vans on the front (and also had camper van keyrings inside - you can imagine who yoinked that as soon as he saw it!)

It was a really nice, chilled day - I was only added to the Flawless Friends lineup last month so it was really good to meet the ladies from Witch and some of the other bloggers in the group.  Along with lazing around in the VIP area we also had a yummy lunch (pulled pork burger with pickles and homemade BBQ sauce, hello!), drank some cider and, yep, we did actually see some music too! We caught a bit of Tinchy Stryder on the way in and watched the whole of AlunaGeorge's set, who I really enjoyed.  Sadly I had to head off early to check into my hotel so I missed Plan B who was headlining later that evening.

Nearly all of these photos are pinched from the Witch Facebook as I hardly took any photos - I was having far too much fun!

// l-r  me, helen from witch, sarasarahgemmaclaire

After leaving the festival I then had to catch a couple of different tubes to reach my hotel for the night in Docklands.  You might have seen on Twitter that I ran the National Lottery Anniversary Run on the Sunday, which I'll be blogging about over the next couple of days.  As much as I would have liked to have stayed at the festival, drank more cider and danced to Plan B I was a good girl and tucked myself up in my hotel bed and watched Indiana Jones whilst drinking lots of water instead.  Rock and roll!

// hotel selfie
dress: asos - £28 | necklace: topshop - instore, £16.50
I must admit, as much as I absolutely love festivals, a king-size, freshly made bed, camomile tea and Raiders of the Lost Ark was pretty good too!

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My favourite cocktails

I'm not a great alcohol drinker - I don't really like the taste of any spirits and though I'll drink wine (white or rosé) socially, I don't love it.  I do like really apple-y, scrumpy cider bought at our food festival or farm shops, but my tastes in alcohol would most easily be defined as 'anything that doesn't taste like alcohol'.

What I do love, is cocktails.  Crushed ice, slices of fruit, striped straws and chilled glasses filled with brightly coloured drinks.  On a holiday or a hot day, you just can't beat it.  My favourites are pina coladas and strawberry daiquiris, which I like to think of as a sort of grown up Slush Puppie (which isn't to say that when you're a grown up you have to stop drinking slush puppies, promise!).

When I'm at a bar I love ordering outrageous cocktails that take expert preparation, and watching 'mixologists' throw them all together, but for my homemade cocktails, I like to keep it simple.  Since returning from France Tom and I have been drinking lots of Kirs - cocktails made with blackcurrant liquer (Cassis). Kirs themselves are cassis and white wine, but we've also made Kir Royal (with champagne) and Kir Breton (with Breton cider). All are absolutely delicious.  In France they are usually had as an aperitif before a meal. Here's our bottle of Kir Breton all ready to be served up in jars and bottles with stripey straws (stripey straws are a must for homemade cocktails!)

Another aperitif we were served in France was rosé wine with pink grapefruit syrup.  In France they love their syrups and most supermarkets sell lots of different flavours which are great for adding to cocktails.  You could use fresh grapefruit juice as an alternative - apparently adding strawberry flavoured vodka on top of that is also delicious.

img credit: sheknows.com
I'm probably going to be showing how unimaginative I am with my home 'cocktails' if I tell you that my other favourite home cocktail is a Bucks Fizz.  Buck's Fizz was invented in 1921 at the Buck's Club, a gentlemen's club in London.  Apparently it was invented to provide members with an excuse to start drinking early - we certainly get into the spirit of that at Christmas when one of our family traditions is Bucks Fizz with our breakfast croissants.  I can't say that Bucks Fizz would immediately spring to mind as the signature drink of a gentlemen's club; but if you want to find out what the ingredients for a real man's drink are, then check out this blog post on the '15 Most Manly Drinks' - apparently if you're a man and you order one of my two favourite cocktails (pina colada or strawberry daiquiri) then you have to hand in your 'man card'! Who knew there wasn't equal opportunities in the world of cocktails? I'd better go whip Tom up a Jagerade (jagermeister and gatorade... sounds horrendous to me!)

By the way, if you are a cocktail fan, keep your eyes on my blog over the next week as I have a giveaway going live where you can win some beautiful cocktail glasses and a bottle of a very summer-y spirit! Now where's that sun gone?

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A weekend in Warwick

There were cupcakes, scones, pots of tea, a gingham lined picnic hamper, gazes over a slowly rolling river and walks around a castle grounds.  It sounds like the ingredients for a Famous Five novel, but it was in fact my weekend before last - a trip to Warwick filled with laughter, lovely people, and lots and lots of cake.

The weekend in Warwick was conceived out of a desperate desire to see Sarah's new home, alongside the opportunity to see the Summer Proms at Warwick Castle.  I headed off from work on the Friday, and, after negotiating the winding country roads my sat nav decided to take me in order to find my way out of Christchurch and onto the motorway, which resulted in me getting stuck in a traffic jam caused by a horse sticking its head out into the road, I was on my way and arrived at Sarah's around half past 6.  Myself, Gem and Sarah V arrived around the same time and decided that Nando's was the order of the evening, and so we all piled into Sarah's car and headed into Leamington Spa for plates of chicken (except for me, I only order chips and halloumi).

We stayed up chatting until Char and Alex arrived around midnight - lucky for them we were so full of food from dinner that we hadn't demolished too much of Sarah's amazing spread of sweet treats.  There were homemade scones, mini Victoria Sponge cakes, peanut butter cupcakes, cookies and a chocolate orange marble cake, along with sweets, popcorn and heart shaped marshmallows.  Actual heaven.

We drank tea and did some more gossiping before it really was time to retire to bed for our busy Saturday of castle exploring and picknicking.

The next day we awoke to Sarah's breakfast offering of blueberry muffins and banana loaf cakes.  Seriously, when can I move in? We then went to Warwick for a mooch around (I bought a vintage picnic hamper from a charity shop - to be shared at a later date!), to meet up with the lovely Roisin, and to grab a spot of lunch. We sat, sweltering in a pub beer garden, devouring salads and sandwiches and listening to the bells of St Mary's Church, before heading to M&S to buy all manner of picnick-y foods and drinks.  The Summer Proms is in the grounds of Warwick Castle and you can bring your own picnic so we well and truly raided the salads, crisps, snacks and drinks aisles to prepare for the evening ahead.

Once back at Sarah's we had enough time for a spot of tea and cake and to load our wares into coolbags and picnic hampers before heading to the castle.  Our tickets allowed us an afternoon explore before the proms, so we walked around the grounds and into the main hall.  We were greeted by a rather impressive sandcastle of Warwick Castle, cool eh?

We walked around the great hall and the some of the other rooms and attractions before cooling off with a walk by the river and some ice creams.  I haven't had a Solero for about ten years, but boy, it was good.
photo pinched from alex

After a while we were all flagging in the heat and decided to head back to Sarah's for some shade and a sit down.  Even though it was 5pm by then my iPhone told me it was a balmy 31 degrees! Yikes!

After a little rest we then loaded up Char's car with all of our picnic paraphernalia and headed back to the castle.  As we walked into the grounds a Spitfire was zooming overhead and the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra were playing Dambusters.  Don't say we don't like to make an entrance! We laid out our blankets, cracked open hampers, uncorked bottles of fizz and tucked into our picnics.

I don't think I quite anticipated how busy it was going to be - the fields were full to the brim with people, lounging in camping chairs, drinking wine and enjoying the sunshine and beautiful music.

It was quite a sight to behold to see everyone waving their flags at 'Land of Hope and Glory' - Sarah V gave me an excellent tip which I will now bestow upon your lucky selves, if you don't know the words you can just sing 'Land of hope and glory, land of glory and hope' throughout the song.  Trust me, it fits.  (Got it stuck in your head yet?)

As the sun set, the spotlights strung from the trees were illuminated and we could hear the peacocks calling to each other in the distance.  Sarah is scared of peacocks so we told her it meant they were coming to eat her pesto salad.

For the grand finale they played the can can, and the sky was filled with the most beautiful fireworks.  The whole crowd were dancing and waving flags, wine sloshing everywhere, hats falling off, people gripping onto others' sunburned shoulders.  The faster the crowd sang and danced, the faster the orchestra played.  It was amazing!

Someone posted a video of the finale on Youtube, it's worth a watch though you may not have the dedication to watch the whole seven minutes (I didn't).

At the end of the evening we piled our now empty hampers and cool bags into Char's car and headed back to Sarah's.  The next morning I headed home for Bodhi cuddles and lots of chores - very boring compared to the amazing lunch I saw the other ladies tuck into via instagram! Sadly my life since has not contained any cupcakes, heart shaped dishes, picnic blankets or Soleros.  Life just isn't fair, is it?  I'm not going to gush about how I wish I could spend every weekend laughing and hanging out with as awesome ladies as these as I think it's speaks for itself just how perfect the weekend was (and just how glum I am that it's not a more regular occurence!)

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