About Me

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Loving all stylish and wonderful things in life, fashion and interiors. I am English but living my life in the fabulous city of Melbourne in Australia. Welcome and please read on.... (contact me at sjstubbs19@gmail.com)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Invitation to my new blog

You are all very warmly invited to come over and visit me at my new blog.
Oh, and please follow too if you'd like, but I understand completely if perhaps you'd rather not. A new blog is a time for simplifying things and if you've had enough of my slightly sporadic ramblings maybe this is the opportunity for you to part company with me.  That's fine, and I totally understand.  However those who do decide to follow I promise to come over and follow you (if I don't already).  Maybe 'Semi Expat in Oz' will be resurrected later on next year but for the moment I am blogging as NEUTRAL TERRITORY.

Please click HERE to be taken by the wonders of technology to the new blog... See you there!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Blogging from Blighty

So here I am back again in England and the first 10 days or so have gone by in rather a blur to say the least.  First of all the inevitable and unavoidable jet lag.  Although I do have to admit it wasn't that awful this time - dear Mr SE used a bucket full of his Frequent Flyer points to upgrade me to business class. I know, extremely lucky and I actually enjoyed every moment of the 24 hour flight. A few 'piccie's to follow of my first days in England.  But firstly a big thank you to all who commented on my last post when I told you my news and the fact that I am now going to be living here for the next year - Eleanor, Jane, Janelle, Beth, Jules, Deja Pseu, Coffee Addict, Sydney Shop Girl, Mise, Susie, Pauline W, Natasha in Oz, Young @ heart, Faux Fuchsia, Ms Maple, Ida, Lilac in May, Raisa, Leeann and Belinda - really appreciated hearing from each and every one of you... And can I ask anyone how on EARTH do you put that little REPLY box after each comment so you can reply to each person individually?  Sorry to sound like a bit of a technical twit but I would so love to know... Anyway, back to the photographs and they have come out in no particular order a bit jumbled....
At the market in Marlborough - lots of lovely fresh veggies
Fuchsias - (real, not FAUX!) my parents' garden
Above and below the lovely Wiltshire countryside

Hanging basket - planted by my Father - at their house
Flags - patriotic style - my parents' house 

Daughter on bicycle, last weekend - me walking behind!
Above 2 photos - garden at my parents' home

Look out for my next post where I will give you directions o  how to reach my  NEW ENGLISH blog...  Meanwhile hope you are enjoying the first weekend in September - how quickly this year seems to be going.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

HUGE news and nearly the end of this blog...

I have been blogging as Semi Expat in Oz for just over 3 years now - (yes, I know, how time flies when you're enjoying yourself) but soon I am not going to be in Oz any more and this is the HUGE news I am going to share with you.....


So please, all pack your metaphorical suitcases for  some time in England. I will put up another post on this blog giving you all the details of the new "English Blog" and then if you'd like, please do come over and join me there.  I am leaving next Wednesday evening on the late Cathy Pacific flight out of Melbourne. First stop - Hong Kong - a quick turn around there for a couple of hours and then I'll board the British Airways plane to London. After that I will make my way (via a night at my parents' home) down to deepest, darkest Wiltshire (towards the West of England) - to our dear little cottage.  Ah, dear little cottage; I have missed you so much.
Fireplace at the cottage

The decision to go back to England has been both easy and difficult at the same time.
The easy part was that I really wanted to be in the same country as my daughter to support her and be there for her as she finishes her final year at Durham University. I have felt over the last couple of years that I was not being the kind of mother I wanted to be. Also I so wanted to be nearer to my family and especially my parents again.  It will also be wonderful to catch up and see my friends in England.

Part of the cottage garden

The difficult part of course, is leaving Mr SE here.
We have done this before, this long distance marriage business and we are pretty good at it but it is still hard.  Hopefully, he will have a trip to Europe on the cards in September and he has already booked a week at the beginning of November to come to UK. And then we (my daughter and I) will visit back here for a month, coming to Melbourne over Christmas and New Year. At the moment I am not thinking further than that.  It has been difficult to resign from a job I love (and I hope that there will be a position open to me on my return to Australia next July-ish time - they have said that it would not be a problem).  Leaving dear friends I have made here too will be so very hard.

So, there's lots to organise here and I still have to pack - many lists to be consulted too.  As I said, there will be another post here soon, maybe when I get back to UK and then I will set up the next blog and of course,keep you all in the loop...
For the time being though, it's adieu from this wonderful land and the beautiful city of Melbourne.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Not faded away

Sincere apologies
 My silence does not mean I have faded away completely but I do have to report that I am well on my way to conquering the extra 6.5 kgs I wanted to lose. In fact nearly 5 have gone; (around 10.5 lbs) so I am delighted and feel much better in myself. Weight Watchers has changed since I last went. Much more choice and easy to follow too with each food being assigned a certain number of "propoints" and you are given a alloted amount of daily propoints to stick to. Must be something to do with my 'make up' but if I know I'm stepping on those scales each week and am accountable I stick to what I should be eating. And I know what to do - we all do really - its just applying it daily!! For me basically it has been to cut out (well a glass at weekends) wine, cheese, nibbles etc and to check my portion size and fill up on vegetables, fruit etc. And it's working. Hooray.
Anyway, enough of all that.
Thought I would show you a few photographs from our time away last weekend in beautiful Byron Bay in New South Wales. It's one of our favourite get away destinations and the sun shone the whole time. Pure paradise.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Something's gotta give, or rather - GO!!

And that is to be precise the extra weight that has slowly crept on; mainly AROUND MY MIDDLE!!

This has been a gradual and stealthy creep - almost when I wasn't looking (!)  and by dressing cleverly and covering up in winter layers I can look reasonable and kid myself that no, I don't have to do anything about it, and that life is for living and enjoying myself etc. etc.   See photo above - layers and dressing cleverly = not too bad.  (Or if all else fails place handbag in strategic position for photograph).

My father returned to UK after his wonderful visit here at the beginning of last week.  We had a fabulous time with him - much eating and drinking and merry making too.  Since he left the weather has been pretty miserable though with rain and plummeting temperatures which has necessitated in consoling oneself with hearty meals, red wine and cheese and meetings out with friends for coffees and cakes... OH DEAR.

Anyway, this time I am determined to do something about it and get rid of 6.5 kgs or so, which is around 14 lbs or 1 stone.....  Definitely.

Next week I will post about how my plan of attack will take place and it will probably be by joining Weightwatchers.  Don't laugh.  I have been before - ions ago - at least 15 years or so when I lived in UK.  But by writing about it on the blog it makes it all more real.

There, I have said it now.  No going back.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A card in the post

Look at this lovely card my friend S sent us. Such a nice surprise to see something in our mail box that isn't a bill or junk mail and the fact that it was quite unexpected makes it very special.

She wanted us to be included in the Diamond Jubilee flag waving patriotic fever that has gripped our homeland even though we are far away in Australia.

You are a diamond too dear S, and thank you - so thoughtful!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Autumn picnic

Melbourne is so beautiful at the moment and the trees are particularly lovely - golden and red hues everywhere which makes Autumn my favourite time of the year.

Over last weekend we went up to the Dandenong ranges (about 45 mins from us) and took a picnic. There is something really fun I think about a 'non summer' picnic !! The weather was cool but crisp and sunny and we also have a special visitor from England. My 80 year old father arrived on Friday evening and it's so nice to have him here staying with us.
Here he is having just arrived at Melbourne Airport. Sophie my niece on the left.

Below pics of the picnic - ham rolls and hot soup!

Dad and Mr SE checking out the camera settings.

The view from our picnic table

More of that same view... Just beautiful.

Hope you are enjoying what ever season you are in according to the hemisphere! 
Happy Days!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Loving this new cleanser

This was my preferred cleanser of choice; that was when I bought it duty free or in Europe or when I felt like splashing out..... Worked well, very refreshing and a clear liquid. You use it straight onto a cotton wool pad and wipe gently over the face. Amazing how much grime and dirt always seem to appears on those pads!  


Anyway, lately I have become extremely attached to this cleanser below.  About a third of the price of the Lancome one and works exactly the same.... Clear cleansing liquid onto a cotton pad and then wiped gently over the face. Removes all trace of makeup including eye makeup. It has a very lovely light fragrance and makes my skin feel super smooth and clear.

Definitely recommend this product!! 
               (*Best price I have found for it in Australia is in Chemist Warehouse where it's around $23). 

Have you tried either product?  Or do you have a favourite that you swear by?

A great weekend to everyone.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Mini Makeover - my kitchen in England

My photographs have somehow come out back to front so to see what the kitchen cabinets looked like before you will have to scroll down to the last pic. Sorry!! It's not a huge kitchen - a thin long, galley kitchen but it has some charm and now the makeover has happened I LOVE it. 

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 And if you have done that you will see that they were a nasty sort of orange pine colour. We inherited them when we bought the cottage in England almost 5 years ago before we came to Australia.  Here in Melbourne, if you recall, we rent a property....  the cottage in UK is where my heart is still, I have to admit.
 Also if you remember, I went back to England for 6 weeks last September which was bliss and that was when I organised this mini makeover..... All it took was some paint (and a very talented kitchen man I have to admit -he works freelance for Smallbone and for Mark Wilkinson kitchens in England) and I was fortunate enough to find him. My lucky day.  He did such a great job and put up with me prevaricating over a 1,000 different shades of Farrow and Ball whites. 
 To make it easier for me he painted 5 boards with different shades so I could make up my mind!! It was difficult but in the end I went for a 'Shaded White' .

 The pic above shows the difference between the wall and the cabinets... very subtle but pleasing.

Pic below shows the butlers sink - porcelain - this was in the original kitchen and although a bit worn and scratched I would not change it - love it so much.  Oh and the wooden work surfaces too - they are great.

As you can see from the BEFORE pic above the cabinets were all wood (which seemed too much with the wooden work surfaces) and the other change we made were the handles from those small metal ones shown in the photograph to large ceramic round knobs....

So there we are - my kitchen in England in our little cottage.  Miss it very much... Oh and one more change were the stripey rugs I found at a bargain price on sale in our local carpet place.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Borrowed from the boys

Have always loved this casual 'boy' style. Comfortable and chic.

So, when information from the website YOUNG BRITISH DESIGNERS popped up into my email I sat up and took notice. And the designer is question is 'Studio Nicholson' . See what you think....

Gorgeous pieces don't you think? Perfect 'boy tailoring for girls'. Reminds me of Margaret Howell's great designs.

Information regarding the clothing from the YBD website says:

Studio Nicholson's collection is once again a carefully considered range of shirts, blouses, jackets, trousers and old school jumpers in luxe cashmere. The palette is subtle and feels honest and natural with navy, feminine khakis, softest greys, a bolt of chambray blue, warm creams and textured blacks.

For more info : www.youngbritishdesigners.com

So, I suppose it goes without saying that it's only fair that the boys are allowed to 'borrow' from the girls too in a way which brings me neatly onto Mr SE's new shirt which I er, forced no, persuaded (!) him to buy.......

The 'girlie' part is the floral fabric but I LOVE how he looked in it and I have always wanted him to have a Paul Smith shirt.

Absolutely 'his' colours....

And look at the different fabric lining the cuffs. Gorgeous.

Close up of the pattern. Think I am more excited by it than he is. Best bit of all (and this was after I had picked it up and thought he just 'had' to have it!) - it was less than half price.

So, would you wear boy tailoring? And what do you think of a man in florals? !

Monday, April 9, 2012

Fontaine Antiques, UK

I have blogged before about our friends Stuart and Kiel who own Fontaine Antiques but thought I would show you some shots of their new showroom in Margate, Kent.

When we were back in UK at the end of last year and over New Year we managed to fit in a lightening visit to see them and to check out how their fantastic new space had emerged from a run down neglected building which started life as a school in around 1900. (See above). However, this was a special school to teach the craft of 'laundering' to those girls who wanted to learn the skill in order to enter 'service' in a large household. The kind that appeared in Downton Abbey or Upstairs Downstairs I would imagine!

Anyway, back to the inside of the building which they have totally renovated. Smart dark walls and wooden polished original floors are the backdrop to show off their eclectic, collected wares. All in all - perfection.

Love these old decoy ducks from the beginning of last century.

Fabulous French mirror above this old sign.

Stuart Atkinson/Kiel Shaw. Fontaine Antiques - The Old Laundry, Margate, Kent, UK

Wholesale and Retail - call to make an appointment if you are travelling from afar.