Ham & Jam Coffee

May 28th 2016
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Cafe culture is big. Whether you drink tea or coffee, eat cake or not, we all love a good gathering and meet up and these social meetings usually start in a local coffee shop.

As a family we love going to Manchester and trying new ones that seem to pop up all the time. It’s not always practical however, hot footing it over there, just for a good cup of coffee in a well thought out environment. Luckily for us a great coffee shop has opened in our home town of Preston. It’s a little off the main street but that actually makes it for me as it’s not too overcrowded and you can sit and chill with a brew and your laptop or a daily newspaper.

Ham & Jam is a family owned and run business in a slowly up and coming area of the city and I fondly remember the location as one of my teen haunts on a weekend. Me and my girl friends could while away the hours in Val Murray’s, ‘Alladins cave of makeup’. (blog preston) It sold everything a young girl could dream of when she was just getting that self conscious, talking about boys stage.


PHSBH0434-Lancaster-Road-Lord-Street-Preston-1984-630x419Val Murray’s | photo courtesy of blog preston

Anyway I could reminisce for hours but I won’t bore you with all that.

We were attending the local BOB event around the corner, in the old Post Office, a couple of months ago when someone mentioned this new coffee shop. Well we had to check it for ourselves so decided to head there the following day. What a lovely surprise! The coffee they sell is by Atkinsons of Lancaster, which is always good, even though I only ever really drink decaf.

Since we discovered it we make any excuse to head there and it’s especially lovely on a glorious, sunny day.

This is, for me, by far the best cafe in our City and I want to support it as much as possible. I love that it’s a family run independent and they are doing lots of things right. The decor is quite unlike anything else in this City, that I call a pretend City due to how we achieved that status. They have used local furniture designers to make the fixtures and fittings and they haven’t done anything too fussy. No dark brown leather sofas or dodgy looking prints of coffee plantations, just well thought out, simple, stylish pieces. The coffee is perfect and there are usually plenty of very lovely sweet and sticky cakes to choose from. The music could do with a little tweaking but they did suggest that we put a spotify play list together and they would happily play it when we came in.

This place would be even more of a little haven for me if the food was a little more on the ‘healthy’ side. I know that’s a very personal preference but as I’m not supposed to eat pastry or cake (I do let it slide on occasions) and I realise a lot of others have intolerances it would just make it easier for me to frequent this lovely establishment a little more. The tarts were delicious but a more interesting lovely green side salad would have been even better. I’m finding folk who own/run cafes and restaurants are slowly starting to take on board that not all people want bread and pastry and are starting to think a little outside the box. I’m hoping as this little hideaway become more popular, that we’ll see a change of this sort here. I’d love someone to bake a cake or serve a desert where the main ingredients weren’t sugar and flour. I’m secretly hoping and praying they make an avocado cheescake sometime soon and then I shall be telling our friends to get there too.

So really there is very little to complain about and a LOT to love about this place. I can see will will become pretty regular fixtures here.

If you want to learn about the ethos behind Ham & Jam then check out their website and you can follow them on IG, FB and twitter.

Having started a little coffee and chat group with North Folk Gather I’m wondering how many people would like to have a meet up in this great little place?

Is there a favourite family run or independent cafe or restaurant near you that you want to share? Who knows… maybe the North Folk could Gather for a coffee and chat!

Have a glorious weekend and see you soon. x



Weekend Frolics

July 3rd 2015
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We had the busiest weekend last weekend and I’ve a lot of photos to show for it! Making, learning, experimenting, participating, meeting and eating… Phew I’m ready for a lie down just thinking about it all!

SATURDAY: This past weekend was such a fun packed one. Our local University hosts a family fun Science Festival each year. We’ve seem BMX bikers do tricks to teach us about gravity and movement and this year we saw how Star Wars was actually real. No, seriously lightsabers will be in shops form next week! Ok slight exaggeration but the technology is in our not too distant future.

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The boy loves anything sciencey and geeky and especially anything Star Wars. So many cool things to do, like robotic dinosaurs (which we kept missing!) and lots of building activities and experiments to partake in. Because it is soooo good it gets busier every year and after lunch it just got a little too busy for our liking. The wee man is going on a cub camping trip in a week so we needed to purchase a few items to make sure he was covered for all weather & activity situations. We ended up driving out to the town we work in and did a little bit of shopping. Whilst we were there we had a couple of birthday items to exchange that he (*read I!) wasn’t keen on. We got a bit of a result and exchanged the tee and sunnies for some funky striped socks and 2 pairs of really cool boots that both he and I liked. They stated £18 on the ticket, so we were going to exchange the gifts and add a bit of money to buy them. At the till they came up as £1.99? Yes you saw it right less than two whole pounds, hence I sent hubs back to get another pair in a bigger size. Had I have been on the ball I would have scooped them all up so he had nice shoes till he was 20!! They are super soft and comfy and have a thinsulate label on them. I do love a bargain but I especially love them when I was prepared to pay full price in the first place!

What’s the best bargain/surprise you’ve ever had?

Anyway whilst we were there we bumped into friends, who also happen to be clients of ours (my hubs has made many a friend from a client, it’s just the kind of nice guy he is). They reminded us of a show we said we wanted to go and see so we headed home for food and caught the bus at 7pm.

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The show is actually called Back of the Bus by Java Dance Company. What a fantastic show to see. I had no idea what it was about, I’d only seen the Mr’s design of the flyer a day or two before and didn’t take much chance to read it. If you hear of it happening near you then I highly recommend going to see it. It was only an hour but the time flew and it was just so funny. It’s always done on the top deck of a bus and three super talented dancers in the show are also brilliant actors. I can’t believehow entertained we were for the whole hour. We made two stops and there was a lot of laughter, cheek, fun, craziness oh and in all the commotion I manage to drop my phone and crack the corner! Thank god it wasn’t the whole screen!

I don’t really want to give too much away but lets just say for the first 10 minutes Lucas was a little afraid, I was very confused and my husband had a large bag of crisps and popcorn dumped all over him! Yes it was really that crazy but it started to make sense as the chaos calmed down. The hour for us turned into 2 as we stayed behind to chat with the dancers who were all the way from New Zealand. I took a lot photos but it was so difficult to capture the essence of the ‘story’ as there was so much movement from the 3 characters. We were told to stay in our seats and not move in the aisle and now I know why!

I know they did the Edinburgh Fringe last year. Apparently it’s slightly different in every venue as they have to figure out a route with two very specific stops where everyone gets off the bus. I’d love to hear if anyone else has seen them.


SUNDAY: I’ve been looking forward to Sunday for two weeks! I went to Blogtacular, held in London on the 13th June, and I met some of my fave blogger ‘friends’. I chat to few via blogging but mostly through social media such as Instagram. I’d been quite nervous about them all in real life but they were ALL just so bloody lovely. I was lucky enough to snag a spare bed in a hostel with 3 very lovely ladies. Two of which I’d already been chatting with for some time and another who I was just so glad to meet on the day. Anyway you can read more on that here. I was saying how lovely it is that have a ‘circle’ of blogger friends down South and that I wish I lived nearer to be able to be a part of that. Sarah-Louise introduced me to the lovely silver haired lady Nina. We chatted and she invited me along to a little IG gathering in Manchester she’d organised. Well this is just what I’ve been after. A chance to meet some bloggers from the North. Not as many as we’d hoped could make it in the end but you gotta start somewhere!

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What an absolutely inspiring and lovely day it was. So nice to catch up with Nina again but also to meet 2 other ladies that we had so much in common with. Sarah is from more over my way and Rachelle lives between Manchester and Leeds. Both Nina and Rachelle had a lot to chat about as they are both relocated from the South to the North.

We met at Picadilly Railway Station at just after 11am and headed to one of my all time fave cafes in the Northern Quarter, Fig & Sparrow. It’s a lovely little shop of scandi and other amazing, ‘I need to purchase something every time I go’, homewares and they does awesome food. After we ate and did some good old getting to know you chatting amongst the 4 of us, we had a little wander around Manchester. We went to the Craft & Design Centre. It was a super hot day for traipsing around with camera, bag, coat etc but shortly after we arrived at the centre the heavens opened and gave us a good old downpour. It cooled us down temporarily but it was very short lived. Now be warned about the centre on a Sunday, not all the little shops are open which was a little dissapointing but to be honest we were too busy scheming and plotting the future… oh yes we were.

There were so many places we would’ve liked to have gone but time was just flying by so we headed to the best place in Manchester that wasn’t too far away… Fred Aldous. It’s got to be the best place to just wander and drool over all the stationary and craft goodness.We spend quite some time in there… again mostly scheming and plotting.

It was so fun to meet three awesome ladies what blog and stuff and we have discovered that we all want to continue this little community and meeting up as often as we can manage. We have been in touch nearly every day since and have been coming up with some plans and ideas that I hope we can share more with you soon. It’s really great to have this little community of local (ish) boggers that really want to share, teach and empower each other and I for one am super excited about the future.

I’d be really interested to hear from any of you who blog from the North of England or can at least get to Manchester with relative ease. Either leave me a comment here or drop me an email and when things start to happen I can get in touch.

I want to thank Nina for making this happen and want to thank Sarah & Rachelle for for just being so friendly and chatty and letting me crash their get together at such late notice. You ladies have totally made my week.  ♡


Oh and I met up with my boys afterwards, who’d had a fun day at MOSI and we headed to HOME for a bite to eat as the traffic didn’t seem to be easing up at 5pm! More about HOME and some of the other wonderful venues we visited in a later post.



Architecture | Preston Bus Station

March 20th 2015
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A couple of weeks ago I got a little nostalgic and decided to drag the whole family to our City Bus Station. Because of where we live, we normally get off the bus at the lower end of the town centre and walk our way up. On this particular day we headed to the City just so I could have a good look around a part of this place I’ve always called home. This fantastic piece of brutalist architecture has been here for over forty years and I probably haven’t stepped foot in it for well over 10!

Photographs are taken with my simple Nikon1 J2.


Preston Bus Station is the central bus station in the city of Preston in Lancashire, England. It was built by Ove Arup and Partners in the Brutalist architectural style between 1968 and 1969, to a design by Keith Ingham and Charles Wilson of Building Design Partnership with E. H. Stazicker. The building was threatened with demolition as part of the City Council’s Tithebarn redevelopment project. After two unsuccessful attempts it was granted Grade II listed building status in September 2013.

Information source: Wikipedia


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Whitworth | Manchester

February 28th 2015
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A rare photo of the 3 of us… good old self timer!

A little late but last Friday whilst it was half term we all took a train and headed to Manchester on a lovely family day out. Picture heavy post? You betcha’.

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Compositions With Horns (Double Flat) – Cornelia Parker

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Gilbert and George


Xmas at home

December 14th 2014
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Only 10 days to go! Yay Christmas will be here before we know it.

I don’t know about anyone else but this year has flown so fast and I’ll be pretty glad to wave bye bye to the studio for a good couple of weeks and put my tired old feet up!

Today has been a day for wrapping presents and cooking New Years eve fodder for our friends. We are going away between Christmas and New Year for a little break to Edinburgh. Christmas is a time for good cheer but also usually involves being asked to lots of get togethers. That’s really nice and all but we only get 8 days off and we want to spend a lot of it just the three of us. We are all different and we make sure we send time with family and friends but time to do ‘our’ thing is so important to us right now. We’ll spend Christmas day with family and News Year Eve with friends.

We’re all dec’d up and ready to go.I always have big ideas about crafting projects and what not for this time of year but the truth is that the studio in December is just about the busiest we can be. Out come the same decs with a couple of new additions. No theme for me… that generally means having to think too much ha! Plenty of twinkly lights and colourful decs on the tree are enough for us for now.

How do you spend the holidays and do you have a Christmas decoration theme or is it just random like mine?

Happy Holidays x



1st Family Festival | Deer Shed 2014

October 4th 2014
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Yay we made it to our first ever family festival. Me and Stephen have been to festivals before we had Lucas but this is the first time we’ve actually taken our little pickle to one. Friends of ours (pictured) have been to this festival almost every year since it’s inception and in a moment of slightly drunken craziness we booked it for what turned out to be probably the hottest weekend in history. like. ever! It was so stupidly hot I nearly passed out. Our tent was like a mini oven and we were fighting to sit under the shade of trees.

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Victoria Baths

July 1st 2014
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Preston Youth Theatre

June 20th 2014
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June 2nd 2014
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SHB  blog Trove 03 SHB  blog Trove_1SHB  blog Trove 04SHB  blog Trove 05SHB  blog Trove 06SHB  blog Trove 07SHB  blog Trove 08SHB  blog Trove_2SHB  blog Trove 09SHB  blog Trove 10SHB  blog Trove 11Whilst in Manchester on Sunday we met up with our good friends who took us over to Trove for a late lunch. This place stood out like a sore thumb in it’s surroundings but was a welcome retreat.

The atmosphere was warm and friendly, the decor was simple and functional yet stylish, the food was A M A Z I N G! albeit no kids menu, thankfully we packed a little picnic for the little man. The staff seemed a little unprepared but on this occasion I’m going to put that down to being understaffed.

I think this little coffee shop has some B I G ideas and I can’t wait to see what they do in the future. Check out their online shop here too.

Happy mid week all x

Weekend antics

May 19th 2014
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So, it’s been a busy weekend, starting on Friday with one of Lucas’s friends birthday party. As a family we have been very lucky to become good friends with 2 of my son’s, school friends, parents… phew did you get that? Right I shall move on :)  So my friend, Juls, was knocked off her motorbike about 4 weeks ago, right before her son’s birthday, so they had no choice but to postpone his party. Just so you know, she’s doing well. The party was rescheduled for Friday and really it was just a great day for catching up with some mummy friends from school and the kids to just have a bit of fun and games. We would have been there all night if we hadn’t invited our cousin for pizza! So after a fruit cider and half a glass of fizz later I was a little tipsy :-P (I really don’t do drinking much so I’m anybodys after a 1!) Being a beautiful evening and also with me being quite merry I decided to have a couple of Jim Beans and coke with my pizza tea! SHOCKING!!!

Saturday was a fun filled day starting with taking a very nervous Lucas to the local drama theatre. Bless him, he really didn’t want to go and I hated leaving him there. Anyone who follows me on IG will know the dilemma I had. I had a couple of hours with the hubs to do as I pleased and the whole time I was thinking about what a state he’d be in. By the time we got back he was absolutely loving it. They were creating and crafting stages for a puppet theatre. He came running over, gave us a big hug and told me he got to use a hacksaw to cut the bamboo, and went back to what he was doing. I’m so happy I resisted going back early to pick him up. I think it will take a few weeks of taking him to become more comfortable but ALL the kids there, ranging from age 10 – about 17 are so inclusive. They don’t leave the little ones out and realise that they are more nervous and make concerted efforts to make them feel welcome. I love this group so much and wish I had this opportunity when I was his age.

We spent the afternoon creating bugs and looking at all the Victorian collections of bugs from the Museum. There are some mighty big scary ones, that I personally would freak out if ever I came face to face with one! Yup I’m a whimp when it comes to bugs what fly!

As we headed out in the morning our other parent friends invited us to a BBQ at their house in the early evening. It was just the three families and our kids, who are all great friends. As I’ve already said, we are very lucky to happen upon these great people at our kids school and all get on well and that all the kids are actual friends too. Bonus is the daddies also get on! It was such a great evening and again I had a little drinky or two… oooer ;) We had to walk the 10 minutes home with Lucas on daddy’s shoulders and happened to pass other friends who were clearly walking home from the local club. Lucas shouted at the top of his voice ‘my mummy and daddy are drunk!’ Yeah thanks son. We didn’t need it broadcasting and in my defense we only told him we were drunk because we didn’t want to drive the car home and his little legs were tired!

Sunday was a day of rest. We headed out on a little walk to pick up the car. We went the long way round to get a little exercise and just to have a little adventure. We were all tired and it was a super hot morning but the breeze in the shade was divine. We headed out for an early tea with my mum and her hubs to a local pub. Food was better than expected but still nothing worth writing home about. A quick stop off at our local club for a cold one and home we went. Such a beautiful weekend. I hope we have many more of these impromptu weekends.

Hope you’ve all had fun and adventures this weekend xxx


*photos are from Sunday as my ruddy SD card decided to bomb on me on Saturday! Lost all the party photos :(

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Photographer :: designer :: blogger :: vintage hunter :: wife to @stecaton :: mama to a funny boy ::

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