Summer Surf

Summer holidays are one of my favourite times of year.  Anticipation is high, but as a modern (in other words a somewhat fractured) family there isn’t the same level of mixed emotion that comes around with Christmas. So it is with a sigh of relief that I relish making our merry getaway each summer. For the past 3 years we have headed to France –  a happy hotch-potch of a newly reinvented family on a journey of discovery.  Traffic jams aside, France is an easy place to travel to with kids, gentle on the planet and a place where friends can drop in over the holiday even for a few days.

Our choice this year was inspired by Olive’s yearning to go surfing and mine to find some wide open expanses of beach and a big summer sky to share with friends and family.  I am a hippy at heart and I need my yearly fix of communal living. Sleeping under canvas is way up there on our list but this summer I had my eye on a real treat –  The Beachhouse, a 1920s wooden seaside villa in Montalivet in the Medoc. It had its very own idiosyncratic charm and was bursting with an assemblage of vintage curiosities, rattan chairs and embroidered and patchwork fabrics. It was hard to choose my favourite bedroom but I plumped for a floral indigo room that was akin to falling asleep in a rather bonkers vase of flowers. Our kids made a mad dash up to the attic to sleep under the eaves whilst I made a note to myself that I would enjoy several long soaks in the shell encrusted bathroom that had been neatly if rather eccentrically squeezed into a cupboard under the stairs.  It had all we needed and more. It was divided into three charming little houses that we occupied to create our own seaside commune where we waited for friends to arrive and for the bliss to commence.

We made daily trips to the local market to buy fresh produce, ate fresh oysters for lunch and drank wine from a local chateau,  the kids devoured books and freshly baked baguettes, we relaxed in hammocks and deck chairs in the garden, took the kids to their surfing lessons at Frankie’s Surf School (the kids loved him and so did I), picnicked on the beach, encountered the thrilling waves of the atlantic and took it in turns to prepare long-drawn-out suppers on the porch each evening.

What more could we ask for?

My holiday address book:-

The Beachhouse –

Frankie’s Surf School –

You can follow my daily visual diary on Instagram ashlyn_stylist.

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A Day in the Life of a Buying Trip!

We are keeping next summers fabulous collections under wraps until at least January, however we thought we could keep you entertained in the meantime with some snaps of our recent trip to Playtime Paris, our favourite trade show to date………. early start, getting lost on the metro, catching up with friends, sneaky glass of French vino and a nice bag of very British chips on the way home. Lovely day of inspiration and ideas, plenty of work in there too we promise!……now there is just that monster stack of filing to get started on!



































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Kids Department At The Dalston Department Store

My latest thrill has been to join forces with the Dalston Department Store to curate their kids department.  Held in what must be one of the most atmospheric warehouse spaces in East London – DDS has the makings of being one of the coolest shopping events in London.  Selecting the best of British especially for DDS and with a keen eye on what urban parents love my kids selection features Tootsa McGinty, Nixie Clothing, Beau Loves and La Loi.  Adding an element of Scandi cool KoziKidz are making an appearance with my favourite bomber style rain jacket that is simply hard to beat.

The event runs from 11-8 Friday 14th and 11-6 Saturday and Sunday 15 and 16 June at Star House, 2 Richmond Road, Dalston, East London, E8 3HY. In the midst of the coolest spot for vintage shopping and some of the best food in town take some time out and head to East London to discover some of our favourite spots.




The space is available for private hire – so if you are looking for the ultimate venue for a party/wedding where you can exercise you wildest imagination you should stop by to check it out this weekend.  Keep an eye on their website for news of Dalston Department Store dates – a pop up opera – the list is impressive and exciting.



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Lichtenstein: A mini-retrospective at Olive Loves Alfie!

Finally made it to the Roy Lichtenstein retrospective at the Tate Modern, and loved it so much I went twice in the final few days! Although Lichtenstein’s distinctive pop style has been endlessly reproduced, borrowed and copied over the last few decades, the colourful images taken from comic strips, Disney and other artists still pack a powerful punch when face to face with the original paintings. These iconic and well loved images, such as “Whaam!” (1963), are still as fresh and modern today as the day they were conceived. It was also interesting to see Lichtenstein’s take on other artists’ work, notably Picasso and the cubists, Mondrian and Matisse among many others.

Whaam! 1963 by Roy Lichtenstein 1923-1997

However if you didn’t make it before the show closed on 27th May, fear not you can still get your Lichtenstein fill at Olive Loves Alfie, you can find a mini-retrospective in the form of ‘Roy Lichtenstein’s ABC,’ a stylish journey through the alphabet, illustrated with images from his vast collection of work. Young budding artists can be further inspired by the pop art style with Andy Warhol “A Colouring Book; Drawings by Andy Warhol,” a large format colouring book full of his simple but beautiful images to fill in and decorate. Also, with a fab collection of felt pens of all shapes, sizes and colours and finger paints for the true creative free spirit your children can be entertained for hours with some great activity books such as “My Big Photo Activity Book,” “Let’s Make Great Art” and “My Monster Bubble Writer Book.” Inspiring and fun for children of all ages. And dont forget, send us your childrens artwork to pin on our Childrens Pinterest Art Gallery for the chance to win art materials every month.

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Brand Focus – Project Jelly


We couldn’t be prouder to be working with Project Jelly this season. Founder Natalie Collier set out to ‘repackage charity’ in a cool and innovative way, combining the best British children’s design and manufacture, with a big fundraising edge. 25% of profits go directly to Mencap a charity supporting people with a learning disability and their families and carers. “They work to improve services, challenge prejudice and directly support thousands of people to live their lives as they choose”.

We had a little chat with Natalie about setting up Project Jelly as well as some classic Olive Loves Alfie intrepid journalism!…..

So Natalie Collier…. tell us….

Q. Where did you grow up?  A. Lovely Windsor pre 20, then escaped up the train line to London as fast as i could.

Q. Do you have a nickname that you like?  A.  If you ask my toddler Darcy ‘Mama choc’. I wonder why?? Old friends call me Calamighty Jane, no explanation required.

nat 1Q. Describe yourself in 3 words?   A. Have A Go!

Q. When you were a child what did you imagine you would be when you grew up?  A. An illustrator but was packed off for work experience at Windsor Girls to the local OAP hair salon. Inspriring! Careers advisor suggested a window dresser, now it’s my turn to play merchandiser at long last.

Q. Did you have a favourite item of clothing when you were a child?  A. ‘Rainbow bright’ character PJ’s.

Q. What was your first job?  A. 16, Sunday job, selling ice cream on a bike, trussed up like a victorian at Saville Gardens National Trust.  I’d ‘drop’ 2 magnums a shift.

Q. How would you describe your style? A. Recently; barely there, make do-erama. I hope for polished forties siren in the future.

Q. What are you reading?  A. NOT enough, Peppa Pig is interrupting my last purchase Hilary Mantels ‘Bring up the bodies’, but i’ve mostly got my nose in Living etc Vs. Ikea catalogue, recently moved house!

Q. Who is cool?  A. Jo Whiley, Helen Mirren, my daughter, not me!  And of course my man.

lil miss Project Jelly SS13Q. What is cool?  A. Motherhood, humour, charity & ageing gracefully.

Q.What scares you? A. Motorways, a future teenage minime! and back to corporate life.

Q. What inspires you?  A. Helen my sister in law and inspration behind Project Jelly.

Q. What is your idea of a perfect day?  A. FAMILY DAYS! Sleep, eat, explore, sleep, eat, explore. Ideally in the sun.

Q. What do you think makes Project Jelly unique? A.Fundraising is our core!  I only set Project Jelly up as a way to fundraise  and ‘repackage charity’ in a cool way! We need to inspire our children and teach them about charity & giving back.

Well on that note we could not agree more! Check out Project Jelly Raspberry Mivi and Watermelon Rocks  Jelly shoes here.


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Say No To Sainsburys

There is serious talk of Sainsburys moving into Stoke Newington, an area rich and diverse that is an oasis in London for independent retailers, for free thinkers and families.  The A10 slices right though our neighbourhood but we have maintained an interesting and diverse community that we are proud of.

We have a passionately run and growing local chain of  vegetable shops that would rival any anywhere in the country…a master butcher and bakera wine merchant…the only organic farmers market in the country that pops up every Saturday (voted best for food in The Observer Food Awards earlier this year)…an award winning and pioneering book shop as well as a list of businesses that have been here for years serving the local community…and thats before we get to fashion, vintage stores and homewares stores…Why oh why do we need Sainsburys on our doorstep…Its simple…we don’t!

The A10 that connects Stoke Newington to the city is busy enough as it is…the impact of delivery trucks 24/7 would have a huge impact on the environment causing noise pollution and would be a threat to road safety.

We have until April to get as many signatures as we can…I don’t know if it will make a difference but its got to be worth a heroic sprint to the finishing line.

It takes seconds…so please join in and share this link to the petition to Hackney council.

Thank you.


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Dalston Department Store

We are living in the most vibrant area in the country, one  that resonates with creativity and ingenuity.  A walk down Stoke Newington High Street through Dalston to Haggerston is now punctuated with “oooh, another new restaurant!”, “well, just look at that art gallery!”.  Having lived in the neighbourhood for almost 20 years, I am well versed in the long stretch that is the A10.  The frenzied nights in Hoxton and Shoreditch felt much further away than they do now since those wonderful creative folk have been joining up the dots so that the route is one of discovery and surprise.

The latest concept to pop up that shouts out “surprise” and “discovery” is the Dalston Department Store selling a hand-picked selection of wares.  Housed in a warehouse just off the beaten track it has the vibe of  Walter in Antwerp or, dare I say it, the potential to become what Corso Como is to Milan and the fashion community.

The first few pieces of our own collection have just arrived and there couldn’t be a finer place in town to launch it.  “Cerys”, affectionately named after my niece,  is a capacious tweed swing back coat with a playful mix of genuine vintage buttons and bright satin linings.  Its intricate patterned weave is reminiscent of Welsh tweed and already is being heralded as the coat of the season.  Our colourful spin on the iconic desert boot is a rather cheeky little number, trimmed with a fringe kiltie, it has its own distinct character.

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Alongside our cherry picked selection of children’s wear you will find women’s wear from the quirky and humurous Labour Of Love, sartorial style and tailoring for men from DS Dundee, 1940s to 1980s vintage from Retrove’s and highly sought after prints from This Is Rude…and more besides.

The Dalston Department Store is open for business today.  Catch it before it closes at 6pm today and make sure you sign up to their mailing list for news of the next event.

Dalston Department Store

Star House

Unit 2

3 Richmond Road


E8 3HY




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Who Do You Love?

Who do you love?

It’s been the hot topic of conversation at Olive Loves Alfie for the past week.  In our usual style we have focused on the hand-made and the heart-felt rather than the shop bought mass produced messages of love.  Dedicating our window to the question of the moment provoked a level of fascination and a sense of fun as declarations of love came pouring in.  Here are some of our favourite hand written messages of love.





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Pinterest … Children’s Art

Inspired by a sudden memory of my sister having a painting exhibited in the Vision On gallery in the 70’s I  started a new board on Pinterst called CHILDREN’S ART to quite simply celebrate children’s creativity.

We have had some great pins of children’s art and each month we will be picking our favourite and sending our little artist of the month some art materials to encourage more creativity.  You need to email to be added to our list of pinners so please don’t be shy…

email to start pinning.

natacha 4 bertie age 6olive 9minnie age 2



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I was looking for a new board game to buy this Christmas but couldn’t seem to get away from games that revolve around money, fame or world domination.  Then it occured to me that we don’t need a game at all – we can create the best game from our own reality and imagination simply by sharing memories and dreams with each other.  Reflecting with your children on the past year is great fun and offers valuable insights into the things that really made their mark.  Often it is the seemingly small and insignificant things that become the cherished moments of time gone by and there in lies a valuable lesson.

I have a brand new empty book at the ready and a list of questions that I am going to ask everyone who comes to stay with us over Christmas and New Year. At the end of the festive season I am going to pack it away with our decorations until we write in it again next year. I know that this book is going to become a family favourite that will make interesting reading for years to come.

Why don’t you join in and ask your family the same questions and then send them in to us

Our favourite Q&A received before 7th January will receive a £100 gift voucher to spend in our January sale.



Happiest moment…..
Saddest moment…..
Wildest moment……
Magical moment…….
Scariest moment……
Funniest moment……
Proudest moment……



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