A Residence Blog

Travel and adventure taking, memory and home making, parenting and play shaking, never faking, tales of family life.

A Residence Blog

Travel and adventure taking, memory and home making, parenting and play shaking, never faking, tales of family life.

House Fantasy: Cavendish Hotel Style

House Fantasy Cavendish Hotel Lounge

We’ve just returned from an amazing trip to London as a family, while I sift through my photos and form some posts about all that I thought a house fantasy would be fun. Regular readers will know I like to pretend I live in other places. I am really pleased with how the photos turned out here, as you could quite easily imagine us living here in the lounge of the Cavendish Hotel in central London, I think, Miss L made herself very at home.

There was lots to like here and lots of great ideas to borrow. Being a hotel the inspiration was travel and, judging from the pictures and Budda sculpture, I am thinking India.

The staff at the hotel are so attentive, and General Manager Neil Braude, apart from sending us a welcome card, also left a lovely comment below explaining the design inspiration which I am quoting here:

The inspiration behind our interiors is travel and really a generic take from many countries that represent calm. The Lounge is used by many as an extension of their rooms, although we serve Afternoon Tea to many in this area it is equally used for rest, relaxing, catching up with friends, informal meetings and so on. So the calm open space is airy, light and calm to suit all occasions.

The colours are very important to us, we like to reflect the reds, yellow, browns of nature enhanced by the floral and foliage in our artwork. As our hotel is located right next to Piccadilly this is to bring a feeling of escape from the busy and bustling streets of London with it’s honking horns and frenetic crowds. Our restaurant is called Petrichor, which you may have noticed, and the name describes the scent of the earth after rain has just fallen – another reference to bringing a calm and natural feeling into the hotel.

I love the way the lounge is a big open plan space, but it uses shelves filled with vases and statues to create dividers. I have always wanted to do this in our house, knock down as many walls as possible in our Victorian home and create a gigantic open plan space.

I love the rich colours here too, warm browns and deep plummy reds, lifted by yellow, by light and by flowers.  I love the crackled silver upholstery on these chairs and the single yellow flower mirroring the flowers in the art work.

house fantasy cavendish hotel 2

I couldn’t take my eyes off the glass table lamps, or Miss L the stunning chandelier. I liked the arrangement of these pictures and the use of colour and shape to create an impact without being too distracting.

I love the idea of our home reflecting our travels, it is something I have been working on, especially since we cruised the Med taking in Greece, Turkey and Italy. I’ve yet to visit Morocco, but it really inspired this room.

Here’s some ideas I picked out from Wayfair to complement this lounge look:

House Fantasy Cavendish Wayfair

The pendant light is from Dar Lighting, the Carlotta armchair is by Andreu World. The Budda and African vase are both great value, as is the Budda wall art. The table lamp borrows from the glass lamp and colour scheme, but there were also some more industrial brick lights if you prefer something less dainty. I think though, the Indian Hub reclaimed bookcase is my favourite find today at Wayfair.

The Cavendish Hotel is a really lovely four star hotel, ideally located, just behind Fortnum and Mason, on the stylish side street Jermyn Street.

Champagne Afternoon Tea Offer

The Cavendish Hotel was a great base after a busy day sightseeing, do read more about our experience of staying as a family. A Residence readers can book champagne afternoon tea in the amazing lounge for only £20, normally £30. A perfect way to escape the hustle and bustle of shopping around Picadilly Circus, or to enjoy a break from sightseeing this summer. Just quote A Residence on booking, call 0207 930 2111 or tweet @Cavendish_Hotel and @AResidence.

Favourite Cookbook Shelfie


I am finding myself inspired to cook lots more again, which is a real joy as amid the chaos of daily life, cooking and I fell out of love. I need some help here though, and I find the best way to do it is to ask for inspiration. Please will you tell me about your favourite cook books?

I have been vegetarian since I was ten, so my kids were raised vegetarian. When they started school they began to eat meat and fish. It wasn’t an easy decision, but given my husband eats meat I felt they should be able to choose. I don’t cook any meat, but do the bulk of the cooking, so we look for easy, fail proof cook books that give us both great results, whether meat or veggie.

Some are veggie, some are a mix, hope you like them and I look forward to hearing yours! This is a linky, so do feel free to join up your favourite cookbook shelfie below, I’ve tagged some folks, but please don’t wait to be tagged.

The Bridge Street Vegetarian Cookbook a ringbinder of veggie recipes made for me when I left home, by my Mum, probably my most used cook book to date. Spag bol, chilli, birthday cake, plus how to boil an egg from my Food Scientist Dad, how to make pancakes from my brother, flapjacks from my Aunt, Greek honey cakes from my Greek Aunt and my Grandma’s treacle toffee and pikelets.

Delia’s Vegetarian collection – a bit fiddly, and lots of ingredients, but if you have the time or a special occasion, worth every minute. The cakes are also amazing. Roast veggies, marinaded in a bag is the recipe I go back to every Christmas and for Winter Sunday lunches. The Goats Cheese topped Lentil Shepherd’s Pie is incredible too.

How to be a Domestic Goddess – Mr A bought me this when we first moved in together in Brighton. I assumed it was a joke then, but it really has brought me lots of happy times. I love baking and I love reading Nigella’s books. There’s so much love, of food, friends and family in them. Its grown with me, from making pies for when our friends came over to making nostalgic cupcakes for my kids.

Innocent’s Hungry? – This was bought for Mr A, now that the kids eat meat and fish it is down to him to cook for them when they do. There are some great veggie recipes in here though, which are simple and easy and packed with taste. They really are family friendly recipes.

National Trust Tea Time Treats – I have a penchant for Scones. They are so easy to bake and so satisfying, what more is there to say.

Vegetarian Step by Step – I haven’t used this much, but I think given it is so visual, with images of each step, it would be a great one to work with with kids. I trying to wean mine off baking and onto cooking.

The Soup Bible – Dad bought me this one and it is often found in discount stores, it is an amazing book to have. It is a brilliant way to use up whatever veg we have leftover, or to make use of seasonal veg in new ways.

Sainsburys Vegetarian Cookery – Sarah Brown – This is a bit dated now, Mum bought it in the 80s, but some recipes, like the Nut Roast have stood the test of time. Sarah Brown is an  amazing vegetarian cook.

Jaime Oliver (this one is not as veggie friendly but the first one was better!) – Great for a mixed meat and vegetarian household, Mr A uses his fail proof recipes for meat dishes and I love the veggie side dishes and mezze dishes.

The Wharf Street Vegetarian Cook Book – I think the cafe was in Leeds, its a real wholefood, old school vegetarian cook book, but I love it. Lentil Dahl is a fave.

River Cafe Cook Book Easy – Dad bought us this and it really is a great intro to making simple ingredients taste amazing both for veggies and non veggies.  River Cafe Cook Book Green is perfect for cooking veggies seasonally.

How to Eat – Nigella again! I just love to read this, with sections on everything from dinner parties to weaning and cutting back and dieting, its a great resource.

I would love to see your recipe book shelfie, so I am tagging Emily from A Mummy Too, Becky from A Beautiful Space, Amanda from The Ana Mum Diary, Jen from Love Chic Living, Helen from Actually Mummy, Katie from Mummy and Daddy and Me Makes Three, Alison from Not Another Mummy Blog, Rebecca from Amuse Your Bouche, Annie from Manneskjur and Tanya from Mummy Barrow. Plus anyone else who fancies it!

How to join in

Non bloggers – Please share your #cookbookshelfie with me on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram and I will share them in a post here, (I am @AResidence)

Bloggers – Please link your shelfie up here so we can all get inspired and here, if you fancy is the code for a badge for your post, please tag some more people and let them know they can link them up here:

Badge code:
<a href="http://wayfair.co.uk/aresidence/2014/07/25/cook-book-shelfie" target="_blank"><img alt="#CookBookShelfie" src="http://www.wayfair.co.uk/aresidence/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/my-favourite-cookbook-badge.jpg" border="0" /></a>


How to make S’mores, on the fire pit

how to make s'mores

British sustainable fire wood supplier Certainly Wood sent me a fire starter kit and challenged me to learn how to make S’mores. I have to admit, I am a bit rubbish and always let Mr A build fires, but I love campfire treats, so I figured it was about time I became the fire starter in the family.

I also had had my eye on this Harlin fire pit from Wayfair, I like the idea we could both cook and keep warm with it. I delegated the building though, I can totally do flatpack, but Miss L wanted to bake marble chocolate and lemon cakes and that was more appealing. So the boys put it together, it was an easy job.


Certainly Wood sent me a special kit, with logs and kindling which are dried in a solar powered kiln, and natural firelighters, plus the ingredients for S’mores. It couldn’t be easier to do. Flamers natural firelighters are untreated, wax dipped fine wood shavings. I loved them because they are natural, odourless, easy to light and burn for a longer time.

fire starter kit

I followed the instructions, but I am not sure this is quite what was meant. Mr A promised to remain tight lipped on his fire building secrets as I wanted to do this myself. I should have watched Certainly Wood’s how to light a fire video.

how to make a fire

In the end, with some twiddling I got there, a raging fire. I had some real campfire cooking successes, so I will do another post on what is in the tinfoil and just say that the corn on the cob should have been too – I will know next time!

firepit from wayfair

While the fire pit cooked our main course they played in the garden and I drank cocktails I watched over it. Although, actually, the beauty of fire pit cooking is you can just leave it to get on with it, rather than all the hassle of a BBQ. More on that next post, pudding first!

I love this fire pit, the lid makes it a stylish and safer than an open fire. The removable grill means it is essentially just an outdoor cooker. Its going to be a wonderful way to live outdoors and to elongate the summer!



Rumour has it these were invented by Girl Guides and s’mores is an abbreviation of ‘some more’, because they are so moreish! S’mores are a US/Canadian tradition and August 10th is National S’mores Day in the US!

Ingredients – Biscuits, chocolate, (or chocolate biscuits are a great shortcut) marshmallows (You can get veggie marshmallows these days too).

S’mores are best made when the fire has died back and the embers are still hot. Its so easy, just toast a marshmallow ’til its really gooey, which is why you want the fire to have died back.

Then sandwich the marshmallow between two choccie biccies or between two biscuits and some squares of chocolate, like a big sandwich.


Enjoy! We certainly did.


You can add fruit, like banana, raspberry or strawberry or peanut butter or cinnamon, the s’more is your oyster!

Why not build a S’mores station, with a pot of marshmallows on sticks, a tray of biscuits and fruit?

So there you have it, how to make s’mores! Savoury recipes to follow. What do you like to cook on a campfire?

More info

Certainly Wood makes sure the firewood they source is sustainable, British wood. They fell only the weakest trees in their forests, meaning the other trees can grow stronger and they are constantly replanting trees that then absorb carbon dioxide. All of their electricity is produced using solar panels and biomass, so all of their processing equipment is powered using renewable energy and they burn all their wood waste to create heat to dry the logs. Burning firewood is one way of ensuring we look after the environment. Not only is it carbon-neutral, but all the wood they produce comes from forests within a 100 mile radius.

Firepits come in all shapes and sizes and even include gel fire pits. Wayfair have dining, cocktail and coffee sized tables with fire pits as well as a simple free standing fire bowl.

The one above is the Wayfair Harlin Small Firepit £149.99. See the full range of fire pits here.

Disclosure – This blog is part of Wayfair, the fire pit and fire kit were supplied for review, all opinions my own.

Great Family Garden Ideas

Screen Shot 2014-07-14 at 12.30.30

I’ve been making some films for Netmums, for the #MumsTalk series, in this one three mums, Becky from A Beautiful Space Jen from Love Chic Living and I talk about how our gardens grow. There are some great family garden ideas, from gardening with kids, decorating your garden, to creating a grown up sanctuary and kids play area to welcoming wildlife.

It was really lovely to be able to spend some time in other people’s gardens and I came away with lots of simple and actionable ideas. I love Becky’s sanctuary and Jen’s veg garden painted tiles are gorgeous.

What are your favourite family garden ideas? What makes your garden a great space for grown ups and for children?

Linking up with…


iCandy – Pushchairs for the Cool Kids

icandy puchchair design

Chances are if you and your home are stylish, then style is going to factor in your choice of pushchair too. iCandy is the make favoured by new parents looking to drive their own sense of style into the mode of transport they will spend the next few years pushing. iCandy understand style, it’s in their blood, brothers Bradley and Warren Appel absorbed their manufacturing knowledge from their grandfather Charles who founded a fashion company in 1933.

It’s a strange feeling when you finally say goodbye to the pushchair, it becomes such a part of your daily routine, it’s with you nearly every time you leave the house, it’s how you move, it’s where you store things, it’s how you organise life. And most importantly it’s where your baby sleeps, eats, plays and watches the world go by on the move. iCandy uses aeronautical engineering, its designs are streamlined to make its performance effortless.

icandy baby

iCandy is favoured by some of the coolest kids, everyone from Giovanna and Tom Fletcher of McFly, to my good friend J, an old University friend who I met up with recently in Clumber Park.

I asked J for her honest feelings about her iCandy pushchair:

‘It’s lovely looking and very comfy for baby and you feel that yummy mummy pride that you’ve got the ‘it’ pushchair everyone wanted’.

Looking back I remember those days well, why shouldn’t you feel stylish still? I was immediately impressed with J’s red ICandy.  I wished pushchairs had been so cool when It was my turn. It elevates little ones up high, switches round to let them see you or the road and the huge amount of easily accessible storage space in a pushchair that doesn’t take up much pavement space is impressive.

i candy red pushchair

Out and about in parks and on pavements the iCandy seemed to work brilliantly. J’s downside will be familiar to pushchair users: ‘It can be a bit wide for shopping, the back wheels can get stuck in cafes and shops.’ 

However given this is a birth to toddler pushchair, that’s to be expected. You can add a carrycot to this, but when you take it away at 6 months, it is still a lightweight pushchair. Only 8kgs and foldable with one hand.  The price is reasonable too, £110 for a piece of style and functionality.

On another note, while researching this I really enjoyed stumbling on some fascinating stats about Prince George whose birthday was yesterday, and rediscovered the Fletcher’s Buzz to Bump video, so just in case you haven’t seen it, do, it’s lovely!

Have you tried iCandy?

Picture credits: iCandy. Collaborative post.

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