Where to get your nails done in Wandsworth and Chester

I come from a family of women who religiously get their nails done. Not in a ‘lazy bitch’ kind of way, but in a stoical, 1950s attitude to beauty – ‘I will always be presentable to the outside’ kind of way. Having unpainted fingernails is always noted as the worrying, silent symptom of emotional breakdown.

I am by far the worst at getting my nails done (read into that what you will about my mental state).  Manicures for me happen rarely, but recently I have been getting better and they have been happening more frequently.

I wrote about the benefits of shellac in my wedding survival guide. I discovered shellac a couple of years ago (referred on by my female relatives of course). Shellac has been on the ‘beauty block’ for a while now, but in case it is new to you, it is very hard-wearing, gel-based nail-varnish that  is dried completely in-salon (using UV lighting). Its a great option if, like me, you are  completely incompetent and smudge your manicure the moment you leave the salon (and are then too embarrassed to go back in and ask them to touch it up again…).

Picture of my feet (sorry) with nude manipedi

Nude manipedi selfie

With two weddings and a birthday party in May I decided I needed to pull in the big guns and get a shellac manicure. And to sum up how equally split my affections are between the North West and the South West I got my hands done in Wandsworth and my feet done in Chester…I know…it would have been so much cheaper and less hassle to get both done in one go (there basically wasn’t time).

For a mani-pedi in Wandsworth there is no beating Jo Partridge – the Wandsworth common branch do a really high-quality shellac manipedi for £35 – which I think is really great value.

I got at manicure there right at the start of May (for £25) and my nails are still going strong. As you can see I went for a very nude colour – but that is just because I am pretty bad at taking shellac off when it chips, and nude is less noticeable.

Nailista is a nail salon I discovered in Chester over Christmas, that specialises in manicures, pedicures and eyebrow waxing. Its very friendly, fun and lovely-looking, but also reasonably priced. I got a pedicure there a couple of weeks ago (again in nude to match my fingers) and that was £25. Nailista always tend to be able to fit you in too, which is handy, but you can get a discount booking online, which I really like.

Image of Nailista salon

Nailista is very bright and colourful inside – this image is taken from its website, but I think it actually features the Manchester branch

By the way – as many of my friends have asked me this – to take off shellac you need to wrap your nails in cotton wool soaked in an acetone based nail polish remover and then cover them in tinfoil for about 10 minutes – very space cadet. After that you basically scrape it off with something metal ( fairly distressing).  Once you take shellac off its a good idea to use a treatment oil (I like OPI Nail Envy) and to have a break from shellac for a few weeks to let your nails breathe and repair, to prevent any damage.

Both Jo Patridge and Nailista offer loyalty card schemes – and I am definitely proving myself to be loyal to both in a polygomy kind of way.


Cheshire charm farm food

The thing about bank holidays is that while we crave them like sugar, once they arrive, it is often hard to decide what to do. You want to make the most of precious time off, but you also have to balance this with the wish to chill out and not end up doing something totally random and out of character, like visiting a castle.

I was spending the day with family in the North West, and had already flitted away most of the morning getting a pedicure (crucial use of time). There were rumblings of visiting IKEA or a garden centre (not appealing), so then I had a brainwave. The Hollies Farm Shop in Little Budworth. A place I discovered last summer and have had a soft spot for since.

Picutre of a happy cow outside the Hollies Farm Shop in Little Budworth

The Hollies Farmshop is lots of fun

Now this place is proper Cheshire Life –  I would shop here every day in my dream life. But in reality its once in a blue moon. Largely because I live about 200 miles away, but also because this is proper luxury food porn, and I can’t justify 17 types of jam (yet).

Picture of variety of Cheshire jams and chutneys

Having all of these condiments in my cupboards would make me feel complete as a woman

The farm shop is rammed full of lovely locally sourced products and niche ingredients you read about in great cookbooks but can never find in Sainsbury’s local. They have a fantastic way of presenting things so even the rice looks exciting.

Pictures of Cheshire cheeses

Cheshire cheese – my favourite and not just because this is my home county

The fresh ingredient sections are fantastic – particularly the cheese counter and butchery section. You can’t see in the picture below but they stock lovely chicken dishes marinaded in sauces like mango and white wine. If only more supermarkets in London would stock this type of thing, food shopping would be way more exciting…

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Summer strawbs

Now just to finish off the middle aged theme to this post, there is also a garden centre and a craft store which are both very charming, and fun to walk around. They leave you thinking, yes I really should have more Magnolia plants and witty/inspirational wall signs in my life.

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Sadly, (or perhaps with the mercy of Christ), I managed to resist buying everything at the Hollies (although we did leave with a gorgeous lemon sponge and an AMAZING pre-prepared korma dish.Plus you can buy giant chocolate slabs at half the price of Hotel Chocolate).

It is probably very easy to get carried away in the Hollies. But the place is great for special occasions, times when you’d like to feel like living like a Made in Chelsea heir…or just gifts.

Indeed they do some fantastic hampers with real personality.I once bought the Cheshire Hamper for a schoolfriend. It was lovely to be able to import a a touch of the Cheshire farm shop magic to London. Yes we have Harrods food hall, Partridges and Fortnum & Masons, but this place is a real champion of local suppliers and feels much more welcoming.

That hamper was bought was genuinely the most exciting thing that has ever been delivered to me at work, so I am kind of tempted to buy one for myself…

Easter: Football, family and Welsh lamb

So we traveled up to the North West for Easter and in this part of the world – as I’m sure is the case in many others – the season is all about family, football, chocolate and Welsh lamb.

Image of Easter place settings with rabits and chicks

I am always given the job of setting the table

Football is particularly in focus this year for my family as Liverpool Football Club have edged up the league, with the chance of winning for the first time in my living memory. In my family LFC is like blood. The sound of the male voice choir of football fans chanting – on radio and TV –  was the soundtrack to family weekends for years. Everything stopped for the match today. And even I, who can barely name significant players from the line-up and never catch a game,  paid attention (I think they call us glory supporters?).

Then family came over and lamb was on the menu. Jamie Oliver’s ‘Best Roast Leg of Lamb with garlic and rosemary with hassleback potatoes (the only way to do potatoes in my view). Only yesterday we were admiring all the lambs frolicking in the  hills (always amazes me how many sheep there actually are here in Wales). Bit awkward.

And afterwards was of course desert – a combination of chocolate puddings and Easter eggs so calorific it could have been on Renee Zellweger’s meal plan to put the weight on for Bridget Jones the movie (have always thought that sounded like an amazing work project). But we’ll deal with that and the rest of real life in the morning.

Until then, here are some beautiful reminders we are now into spring…..

Happy Easter x

Cherry blossom is everywhere. So beautiful.

Cherry blossom is everywhere. So beautiful.