Super Snapper - Annamarie Stepney

This weekend is a pretty special one for me.  It marks exactly one year since I vowed to be a best friend and partner in crime; to encourage, inspire and conspire with in mischievousness (yes, that's actually what I promised!), to one person, for the rest of my life. 

Looking through our wedding photos, I was transported back to all of the precious moments of the day and realised how lucky we are to have a collection of photographs that can put butterflies in my tummy and make my heart swell with love and pride in exactly the same way as it did a year ago. 

I could happily make this the laziest post ever and just display all of Annamarie Stepney's incredible photos, as they speak so much louder than words.

They lady herself, however, deserves a little introduction, for any of you who have not yet had the pleasure of meeting her.  "She's a positive force", was how my husband described Anna having met her last summer.  I couldn't agree more.

We were in the process of trying to choose a photographer to capture the day and, luckily for us, Anna made that decision pretty easy.  Not only had we seen her beautiful website but, when we first met, we spent the whole evening laughing and giggling and left feeling like we'd been catching up with an old friend.

A couple of months before the wedding, we caught up with Anna in Brighton for an engagement shoot, which is a fantastic idea if, like us, you're not especially comfortable 'Vogueing' for the camera.

We started off rather awkwardly; me trying to emanate the typical celebrity red carpet pose - hand on hip, one leg in front of the other - and hubby resembling a very keen army cadet.   With some helpful tips and encouragement from Anna, we were soon posing like pros and feeling so relaxed it was almost natural.  As you can see, in some shots, perhaps a little too natural!

It was a brilliantly fun day topped off by Anna’s lovely husband buying some delicious cupcakes to pep us up after the weather turned a bit blustery on the sea front.  The pictures didn’t disappoint either – not only were they stunning, but they captured us as a couple, silliness and all, which is exactly how we wanted to remember the wedding day.

On the day itself Anna did us proud, from helping the boys with their button holes when they were all nervous fingers and thumbs to being a very calming presence amongst the girls rushing around though clouds of hairspray and flourishes of red lipstick. Oh, and she took some pretty awesome photos too!

Here are a few more shots to indulge my happy memories and showcase Anna's talent.

The photos were truly the icing on the wedding cake and then the cherry was popped on top when the gorgeous Annabel featured our wedding on Love My Dress. I had poured over her blog pretty much every day from the moment I got engaged, sourcing inspiration from all the beautiful posts, so it's fair to say that I was more than a little excited.  Even now, I can't resist a sneaky peak at each new wedding post.

So, if you're embarking on the exciting process of wedding planning, may I make a little suggestion: your photographs are your memories and the person who takes them plays a very big part in your day.  Make sure it's someone who you trust, who is a consummate professional and, above all, who you genuinely like and get on with.  I can confirm that Anna is all of the above and we were extremely lucky to have found her. 

All photographs featured in this post were taken by Annamarie Stepney.


Bonnie Gull Seafood Shack

I've never been a big fan of cats.  This marginal aversion has, however, recently intensified to become an active dislike, after a frenzied feline broke my camera. 

I won't bore you with the details but it involved a Greek Island, the perfect vista, the self-timer, and a rogue paw.  I'm resigned to snapping with my iPhone until it's fixed. 

One thing that the moggies and I could form a friendship over is a serious love of seafood and so, upon returning from holiday, it was off to the newly-opened Bonnie Gull to drown my sorrows in shellfish. 

As we ducked under the striped, seaside shack awning we were greeted with a Captain's welcome.

Inside is small but perfectly formed, with some wonderfully nautical touches that almost make you forget that you're somewhere in Fitzrovia rather than on the Cornish coast. 

We kicked off with some Bloody Marys, each of which was topped with a plump and juicy oyster - a pretty inspired touch. 

With our minds firmly fixed on mollusks, we surveyed the 'catch of the day' map to decide which of the British oyster varieties to sample next... and settled on four of each - wild Loch Ryan Natives, Portland Pearls and Mersea Rocks. 

Having consumed our recommended monthly allowance of Zinc, we then plumped for the North Sea haddock and chips and the sea bass with fennel and grapes.  

Sustainable, fresh, British seafood at its best. 

The restaurant is now fully open and you can even pop in for brunch at the weekend.  I reckon 3 or 4 oyster Bloody Marys would cure even the most raging of hangovers or, at the very least, ease the pain of a cat breaking your camera. 


A lunchtime saviour

Nestled in the shadow of Blackfriars railway arches, is my busy-day-lunch saviour.

Flying Fish Sushi is an independent outfit that delivers freshly made sushi, dim sum and other oriental delights to central London locations. Or if, like me, you work around the South Bank area, you can pop by and collect your haul too.

The retail and office spaces under the railway arches are pretty industrial, but I’m always impressed by how the companies that inhabit them turn them into cosy, quirky spots that are full of character.  

Although Flying Fish is predominantly a takeaway, it’s still made an effort with its ‘front of house’ area so that you can pull up one of the eclectic pews and eat in too.


On this occasion I went for:

the pork dumplings, 


Teriyaki salmon salad

crab and mango 
crystal rolls  


chicken Panko
(I was hungry, okay?!)

A crunchy carrot and Chinese radish salad accompanies the dumplings and dipping sauces, wasabi and ginger are all thrown in.

If I'm forced to have a desk-based lunch, I'll order online, specify a collection time (within a 20 minute slot) and pop down to pick up a freshly made, reasonably priced, rainbow of a meal. It beats an insipid canteen sandwich hands down. 


September New Beginnings

September.  New schools, new Uni's, new jobs, new jumpers. 

It's a month for change, for new beginnings and what a perfect month it is.  Much more preferable to starting a new than January, without those feelings of overindulgence-induced guilt followed by collective sacrifice.  

The summer's drawing to a close and the Olympics and Paralympics have sparked dreams of greatness and achievement. With relatively long evenings and sunny mornings to lift the mood, there's no better time to put a bit of effort into chasing your dreams and passions.

Maybe you've finally decided to put the wheels of that business idea in motion, or maybe these are the first steps towards a healthier and happier you. 

Whatever your reasons for a new beginning, here's a little bit of motivation to help you on your way.


Regent's Park Open Air Theatre

We all know Regent's Park. The Royally commissioned, John Nash designed green space in the centre of London, with elegant white stucco terraces of houses lining its periphery.

Grand gates open onto paths laid out in concentric circles that lead to London Zoo and The Regent's Canal through rose gardens and sports fields.       

But did you know that, if you stray slightly off the beaten, circular path, you'll find an enchanting world that plays host to nightly performances of some of the most magical theatre productions ever written. 

The Regent's Park Open Air Theatre celebrated its 80th birthday this year and marked the occasion by releasing a number of tickets at the  equivalent 1932 price of 5 shillings (or 25 pence in new money).  

We were lucky enough to acquire a couple of tickets and made our way down on a somewhat overcast evening. 

Regardless of the weather, you can't help but feel that you've stepped into some kind of wonderland upon entering the grounds of the theatre. 

A lush glade with a canopy of twinkling fairy lights provides the setting for for a pre-show BBQ. 

Having filled our bellies, we made our way into the auditorium to marvel at the set of Ragtime The Musical. 

All of the theatre's sets feel as thought they're an extension of the trees and shrubbery in the park. When watching a Midsummer Night's Dream, you could easily be in that enchanted dell. 

We watched the first half as the sun set and the fireflies came out before heading to the bar for a Pimms interval. 

Although the weather turned, the actors put on a sterling performance and kept going throughout the drizzly evening. 

The audience clearly had that British Bulldog spirit too and shrugged off the rain with a waterproof poncho and a few more glasses of wine. 

The 'stage-moppers' even had to make a cameo at one point.

We all soldiered on through a performance that was so absorbing, we almost forgot about the showers. 

As the cast took their final bow, I admired the glimmering surroundings feeling like I was in the middle of a fairytale.

A beautiful summer's evening at the Open Air Theatre is a must for visitors and Londoners alike.  Do pop along and help them to celebrate 80 years of one of the most innovative theatre experiences in the capital.