Cheshire Oaks Designer Outlet

Is it just me who looks for staple pieces they want in their wardrobe for years before actually finding what they want? Cut-off denim shorts, ripped skinny jeans, a boho playsuit….just to name a few! And I have now got all of them after raiding H&M and Primark a few months back. But my ‘Want List’ is a lot longer than that!

I’m at a point with my wardrobe where it needs a serious update. My lack of growth spurts means I haven’t actually grown out of many clothes from my teenage years. But turning 20 in July…it’s probably time I looked my age!

Cue Cheshire Oaks Designer Outlet!

My favourite places to have shopped this year are Liverpool, London and Cheshire Oaks. The Pull & Bear shop and H&M in Liverpool are amazing! And don’t get me started on Appletree Boutique on Portobello Road in London! (Click HERE to read about my trip to London!)

Shopping in Liverpool and London are fairly recent, but I’ve always loved going to Cheshire Oaks. I’m obsessed with Nike high-tops so the Outlet store in Cheshire Oaks is the place I’ll go to get them.

But for this trip I wasn’t really planning on buying anything. That was before I realised the new Ralph Lauren store had opened…

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Exploring Ralph Lauren

I don’t know when my obsession with Ralph Lauren started. Probably from spending the majority of my childhood in Cheshire…it’s like a second home. But regardless, I wander round their newly-built store admiring the brightly coloured, clean-cut designs they’re known for.

From my trip to Appletree Boutique in London I picked up a flowery skater skirt which was pastel in colour. It was too pretty to leave behind, but I realised I haven’t got much to go with it. I had a pale pink chiffon vest top in mind which I managed to find wandering round RL and picked up the shirt above to try on too. Pink and green probably shouldn’t work together…but it does!

Now the price. I felt rather guilty paying £39.99 for a shirt. But then I thought how much I’d end up wearing it, which would probably be a lot! I’ve already got one shirt from RL and it still looks great after a few years. That’s what I mean by those staple pieces for my wardrobe. Things I’ll wear a lot and go with more than one thing in my wardrobe. Things that will last rather than only being ‘on-trend’ for a few months. Timeless pieces are always winners in my eyes.

Joules

Joules Jumper £34.95

Back to my Cheshire roots, Joules was a brand I was around a lot growing up. It’s a brand I remember my Aunty wearing a lot and I adore the vibrant fabrics they create their well-made pieces from. And a Joules jumper has been on my ‘Want List’ for a long time! The way it’s cut makes it extremely comfy and the fabric is soft to touch. Part of ‘maturing’ my wardrobe is going to be sorting through my countless amount of hoodies. This subtle design for a jumper is something I can’t wait to wear on trips to the beach for BBQ’s which I’m hoping to do this Summer. And come Autumn I’ll pair it with my spotty purple Joule’s ankle wellies walking my crazy chocolate Labrador.

Wandering round with Amy we soon ended up back where we started. Quite confused wondering how we got round so quickly. The benefit of going in the week when no school holidays are on I guess!

Some of the other shops we went into included the Yankee Candle shop and Whittard’s Tea. I’ve never been a big drinker of tea, but after getting hooked on Lemon Green Tea a few months back that’s starting to change.

On a table as you walk into the Whittard Tea shop is a display of their Cranberry & Raspberry, Turkish Apple and Dreamtime Tea. I was particularly drawn to the Dream Time tea as it contained Vanilla which I am a big fan of. You could try the other two teas which were both quite sweet to taste, but lovely all the same. After my mini shopping spree I decided I should make up a ‘Birthday List’. Not that I expect anything but it’s always awkward when you get asked what you would like for your birthday and you genuinely have no idea.

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Further into the shop you could also try their Milk Chocolate and White Chocolate flavours of Hot Chocolate. It was heavenly! The White Chocolate took me right back to being a child and eating Milky Bars. The image of the Milky Bar kid instantly popped into my head. Two more things to add to the ‘Birthday List’…

Looking around the Yankee Candle shop was just as fun. Some scents that stood out for me were Sahara Sands and Kilimanjaro Stars. The first one being fresh and a fairly light smell where as the latter had a bit of a stronger scent to it. I resisted from buying any though as I already have Yankee Candles which I received as Christmas presents to use!

All shopped out we headed to ‘Giraffe‘, which celebrates food from around the world. Not wanting anything too heavy on the stomach I went for a ‘Surf’s Up Sarnie’ whilst Amy went for the BBQ Chicken Quesadilla. The food there is so tasty! We also had smoothies and I’ll definitely be trying to re-mae the one I had. The ‘Hippy Hippy Shake’ that consisted of pineapple, passion fruit, mango, banana and pomegranate juice. I will most certainly be going back to ‘Giraffe’ as the relaxed vibe there was perfect to have a long-awaited catch-up with Amy.

So considering I wasn’t planning on buying anything, I would say I had a pretty successful day. One step closer to that ‘Grown-Up’ wardrobe…ha!

 

Opinions. Not Facts.

“The less you care about what other people think, the better life becomes.”

A saying I’ve heard time and time again, but acting on it is another question. Even more so nowadays with the likes of social media allowing people to post their opinions daily.

Opinions.

Not facts.

Which is what many tend to forget.

Instead of accepting someone’s lifestyle, no matter how much it differs to your own.

Everyone is writing their own story. You might be in one chapter of that story or many. But it’s up to them to decide on that.

No matter who passes judgement on where you’ve been or where you’re heading. Family. Friends. People who barely know you at all. The only person who can write your story is you.

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Chaos Causing Four-Legged Friends

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The master of facial expressions!

They bound into our lives and with Jenson? Well he just caused chaos from day one!

‘It’s rather quiet in the house right now….’

‘The dog! Where’s the dog!’

If it went quiet in our house when he was a puppy, you’d instantly know he was up to no good!

Dragging towels into the living room that Mum was trying to put into the washing machine.

Running off with her slippers!

Having tantrums by tipping his toy box all over the floor. There are a million tennis balls in his toy box but he’s always after a certain one!

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Talacre Beach, North Wales

Life is never straight forward when a chocolate Labrador is thrown into the mix.

After a trip to Talacre beach with my brother and the hound I remembered coming with Jenson to the beach when he was a puppy. And realised how much he HASN’T changed!

He still tried to dig to Australia! He still got covered in sand head to toe. The only thing that changed was he swam a bit further out to sea. To retrieve his tennis ball…of course!

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My Joules wellies!

And people still think he’s a puppy…he’s nearly 4! Yet I wouldn’t have him any other way. I hope he never stops knocking everything over around the house with his waggy tail because of how excited he is that everyone is finally home.

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Talacre Beach Lighthouse, North Wales

Our four-legged friends give so much and all they expect is companionship…and in Jenson’s case…food! Lots of food! His brain is constantly thinking about food..ha!

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Simple Pasta

With a new job I can now ride to work again and although it’s not a great distance, I still find myself rather hungry at lunchtime! So the humble ham sandwich no longer makes the cut of filling my tummy!

After wracking my brains for a few weeks of what I could take to work for lunch. Looking at countless recipes on Pinterest and in cookbooks, I decided to keep it simple. So here’s what I came up with:


(For 2 servings a.k.a 2 days worth of lunch!)

– 150g gluten-free pasta (just preference!)

– 500g Sainsbury’s own Italian Passata

– Pinch of Basil

– 1 Red Bell Pepper

Following the instructions on the packet of the pasta, I cooked it for ten minutes, and cut the pepper whilst the pasta was cooking.


Adding in the Italian Passata after draining the water from the pasta, the pepper and basil also got thrown into the mix.

Once it was all warmed through I just needed to split it into two containers ready to take to work!

This is more of an inspiration cooking blog rather than a ‘how to’. I made it up as I went along really! 

Sometimes it’s good to go back to basics and keep it simple!

Lunch With A View

With a failed attempt at making Banana & Oat pancakes and a driving lesson that was a bit more successful out of the way, I decided to head out on my bike and have my lunch en route.

Regardless of the long climb that kicked off my XC type ride, it was going well. I’d reached my first ‘checkpoint’, meaning the first place I’d stop … Ha! I blame the heat…not that I am complaining about that round yellow thing in the sky at the moment!

Now I would be getting onto the trails, although my bars were to wide for the first part so I had to manoeuvre my bike through this narrow section. When finally on the bike I come round the corner to find a smiling golden retriever popping his head out of the bracken. 

Naturally, I stopped! 

Who doesn’t for a cute dog?

It turns out the dog’s owner had only recently adopted him and that he’d previously been locked in a shed for 9 years. 9 years! Yet you couldn’t tell what an awful time this gorgeous dog had been though. Digging. Rolling round getting covered in dirt! Making the most of the freedom he’d never had.

Leaving the retriever to his mischievous ways I carried on along the trails. This little section was actually running really well and I don’t think I’ve ever ridden it when it’s dusty!

Now at the bottom of the valley, it was time for more climbing. Just me, my bike and some hills. I was more than happy. 


The forest I was riding in is pretty quiet. It’s rare that you will bump into anyone. With the trees towering above me and the sun peeking through, all I could hear was the wind and birds. No faint rumble of cars in the distance. No aeroplanes. Nothing. It was ideal.

Climbing up through the forest followed by some singletrack through overgrown bracken, the forest thinned out and a style stopped me in my tracks. With open fields on the other side combined with how high up in the hills I was, the blue skies meant the view was picturesque.


Having always lived where I do now, you start to build up a list of your favourite places to go. And this style was one of them. 

Still with no rumble of traffic, I actually wasn’t all that far from home. Yet it felt like I was miles away.


I thought I was starting to lose my sense of adventure, but I’m definitely not. When life feels like it’s going at 100mph, rides like these help me take a step back and realise how lucky I actually am.

Off through the fields with the sheep staring at me looking quite confused, I would soon be back on some back roads and begin my ride home. But, have you ever been somewhere so peaceful and perfect you genuinely don’t want to leave? 

Why I Love Riding My Bike- By Isobel

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I can first remember really enjoying riding my bike when I was about four when me, my Mum and Dad were at the park and my Dad pushed me and I just went. That was the first time I had ridden without stabilisers! At the time I had a tiny multi-coloured bike with green tyres which was pretty cool.

Then when I was six on Christmas day I came downstairs to find that there was a huge present for me. At first I thought that it was a motorbike so when I tore off the wrapping paper (with the help of my sister) I was so excited to find that it was a purple Giant mountain bike. It was way too big for me as my Dad had seen it half price and bought it anyway, but I was still excited to ride it.

I’ve had some really good times riding my bike. For example last year there was a whole week of biking based in Bewdley called Bewdley Bike Week. This was run by Overspoke Bike Shop in Bewdley. We camped in our campervan and took our bikes on a steam train then rode them back in between the Severn Valley Railway and the River Severn which was really beautiful. We also did a trail in Bewdley, which I did it twice, and there was free cakes. As well as that we went on a smoothie bike (when you rode on the bike it powered the blender) and my Mum tried out a fat bike. We also had a go at a mini 2X race starting out of a race gate which was really cool and we did that for most of the last afternoon we were there. Then just before we left I tried the unrideable bike and I discovered that it really is unrideable! I can’t wait for this year’s event!

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I also ride my bike every day to and from school on my Raleigh. My Giant lives at my Dad’s unfortunately. I have ridden home in very unusual circumstances before like when I rode home in a thunder storm!

I have three bikes. My BMX, Raleigh and then of course my Giant. It’s getting too small for me now, but hopefully it’s not too long until I get a new one. The exact same just bigger! I have two at my Mum’s and my Giant at my Dad’s.

If my sister is at a sleepover when I am at my Dad’s we will go to Sherwood Pines. I love it there because of the varied trails there. There’s a downhill section, a technical section and then just twisty dirt tracks.

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If we are with my Mum we will go to Hick’s Lodge where there is a good blue grade trail… if we can convince my sister that is! If it is hot then it is really enjoyable but if it is cold and starts to get dark like it did when we went last time it is not fun at all!

I am really hoping to go to more trail centres this year. I’d also really like to try entering a race, such as the Summer Classic at Cannock Chase. Developing my biking skills is also on the agenda!

I really hope that you have enjoyed reading this and that it has reminded you of when you were younger and on your bike.

By Isobel Eastwood

British Summer


With my moggy looking at me in disgust because it was raining outside, I wondered if this ride was a good idea. I’ve been a bit of a posh mountain biker lately. With so much going on, being unwell isn’t an option. But I needed to ride my bike. On singletrack.
At first I was riding along back roads. It was damp and misty, but that didn’t seem to hush the birds at all. The leaves were covered in morning dew and a strong green in colour. Along with the humidity, this was the only sign we were actually in British Summer.

Getting onto the trails I felt a little rusty going downhill on my hardtail, but going uphill didn’t feel that bad. Although my commute to work isn’t that long, it must be helping me boost my fitness up. 

It was a bit of a random ride really. More of a ride to scope out possible new routes, which didn’t turn out as well as I’d hoped. I stopped to fuss a few dogs (especially a 9 month old Black Lab…so cute!) and chilled out for a bit. It wasn’t wall to wall sunshine but the ride wasn’t bad at all.

Demo Weekend at Alf Jones Cycles

With their annual road bike demo weekend, it was a busy time for me at Alf Jones Cycles this weekend. But it wasn’t just a case of building bikes or working in the shop, I actually got out on some of the bikes too!


My first time trying a carbon road bike, I quickly grew fond of the Lapierre Sensium 600 I was currently riding. With a full Ultegra set up, I seemed to get on with the bike rather well! The medium size fitted me perfectly and put me in a perfect position to put the power down. And once on a straight piece of road I found it fairly easy to pick up speed. (We were mainly on back roads so didn’t want to go round corners too quickly!)


So the Ultegra parts worked flawlessly and then there’s the saddle…! The Selle Italia X1 Flow Women saddle that comes as standard with the bike. Actually the comfiest saddle I’ve ever sat on! Saying that I’ve never had a women’s specific saddle so there might be no surprise really! I may have to get one of those…


After the Lapierre I turned my head to one of the Giant Liv bikes. A Giant Liv Envie Advanced Pro, which is one of their aero race bikes. I’d never ridden a race bike prior to the Envie so wasn’t too sure what to expect. 

The position you were in whilst riding the Envie wasn’t one I found comfortable. I later found my discomfort could be a result of how stiff they make race bikes instead of absorbing the vibrations from the road. 

One thing that came as a surprise to me was the Di2 gears it had, which I only realised once out on the road. It felt more like a computer than a bike…ha! Despite all that, I could see why it was a race bike. It definitely picked up speed quickly and was extremely light so pedalling was bit easier than normal.


During my two rides out I also tried out some Sealskinz Madeleine Classic gloves. More specific toward road and commuter cyclists you instantly feel it’s a glove that is well thought out. 

Gloves that I am use to wearing always seem a bit bulky to wear and restrict movement. But the Madeleine’s felt incredibly light and extremely soft. Almost silk-like. 


In terms of fit, I used the Medium. On the fingers they had a snug fit which I always prefer from a glove. On the palms they did feel quite big at first, but once riding they seemed to mould to my hand. I didn’t feel like they were restricting me at all, which made changing gear a lot easier to other gloves I’ve used.

I also found out that the gloves are made from water-repellent material so rather than absorb rain straight away, they don’t. I’ve not been able to see how they fair in wet weather yet but no doubt I will get a chance to since Sealskinz gave me the pair I tried out. So I’ll update you all in a few weeks on how I’m finding them!

London

I’d only been in London 2 minutes and David Beckham walked past abandoning his Bentley on the side of one of the many busy roads in London. 


With a fashion sample sale to head to first that took up a lot of the day, but didn’t stop me stumbling across Portobello Road. A road I knew had some significance in London, but I was sure what. Walking along it I could see the attraction. Market stalls and every colour in the rainbow filling the street. And lovely people to match just trying to make their way in the world. The shops were like little hidden gems. Full of unique things I wouldn’t find back at home. Everything from edgy urban styling to the pastel coloured garments I love filling my wardrobe with. Appletree Boutique to be precise. 

After photographing Portobello Road from every possible angle it was time to head to Camden Town. A place I didn’t know much about, but was full of cultures from around the world. And people from around the world too. I rarely heard a British accent. Old London is one way I’d describe it. Aged bricks and mortar that was sky high made bright by the cultural items on sale. I didn’t buy much here but it was good to explore the place and fill the film on my Mum’s Canon EOS 500. 


Then we found ourselves in Regents Park, which sparked up a memory of some writing I did on my first trip to London. I was just sitting on one of the benches with my notebook and pen in hand. I’d always wanted to write, it just took me a few years to write anything worth reading. I even recognised which bench I was sat on as my shy teenage self. Dodgy haircut and fashion sense to match. 


The sun was setting and yet so many people were still out and about. Walking. Running. Socialising face to face and not through a screen. It’s kind of sad these days people spend more time talking via Facebook Messenger rather than face to face. Conversations with people when they’re right in front of you always have more meaning. Work to live and not live to work I suppose. Yes you might be tired after work, but can watching a television screen really have any comparison to seeing friends and family. Or even just being outside? 


There was still the rumble of traffic not to far away but it was still peaceful with the birds chirping away. And it was only at this point I heard numerous British accents. Which was quite odd really.

So London might seem an unsociable place to some, but it’s sparked up my thoughts into wanting to be a bit more sociable rather than keeping in touch by typing a message into my phone.

Building Bikes


Despite some industries, which are mechanical/engineering related, moving in the right direction when it comes to female employees, I still feel incredibly lucky to have a job in a workshop. Gaining valuable experience as I go in what is currently a bicycle workshop.

I’ve not always worked with tools and by that I mean I wasn’t messing around with them when I was younger. But I’ve always been a hands-on type of person I suppose. P.E. , cooking and design technology classes at school were always something I looked forward to. 

But back onto my job, which amongst other things is to build bikes at Alf Jones Cycles. And today was one of those ‘good’ days at work. If those even exist ha!

Not that I mind working with other people but I got into work to find I’d be the only one in the workshop. So Radio 1 it was! I had my list of bikes to build so I could just get on with things. 

There’s something about working with tools (when the job is going smoothly…!) that’s seems to relax me. I just like working with tools and bikes at that. Indexing the gears. Setting up the brakes. I just go into my own little world of setting up bikes whilst listening to them talking about random stuff on Radio 1…ha! So I may not have been riding, but my Sunday wasn’t bad at all!