Operation Double digit Darcey

Operation Double Digit DarceyIf you follow me on Instagram or Facebook you’ll have seen a few posts about Operation Double Digit Darcey. My little daughterling Darcey turned 10 on 1st August and it was to be the very first time she was away from home on her birthday. She was at cub camp. This I found was a bigger problem for me than for her. She thought it was totally amusing that I was upset and that I wouldn’t see her at all on her birthday – taking great pleasure in telling me that the first thing she would see when she woke up was one of her besties Esme’s face. They knew they’d be sharing a tent at camp and couldn’t wait.

Now not being a pushy mum or even that over protective – quite the opposite if I’m completely honest – I was having none of it so I hatched a plan.

The cunning plan: Operation Double Digit Darcey

I asked the Cub leaders if I could come up and surprise Darcey with a party on her birthday and they all thought it was great idea. The only problem- she was going to be in Dorset – a long 3 ½ hour journey away from Kent. For just one night! Not a problem at all I thought.

My thinking was to take Beau and my nephew, Asher (Darcey and Asher are inseparable to the extent that we call them Dasher!) but my sister wanted to come along too. Instant party in a car!

Decorating a mess tentTalking Tables accessories

When the cub leaders told me to get to the Cub campsite at 4.30 as the cubs would all be out on activities and the coast would be clear to set up the mess tent  I admit I didn’t really know what to expect. As it turns out the Mess tent is where the cub leaders set up tables for all the cooking burners and tables with benches. It was basically a marquee/dining room.

As I shoot for Talking Tables I thought this would be a great time to make use of their tropical decorations. They very kindly provided me with enough bunting, plates, cups and honeycomb pineapples to create a riot of colour in an otherwise plain tent. Darcey loves a splash of bright colours and these ranges seemed perfect 

Styling it out – cub styleOperation Double Digit Darcey

Being an interior stylist I had big ideas on how the space would look once I’d decorated it. Beautiful bunting filling the roof, fan decorations hanging at every possible point. Pineapple decorations filling the tables. But in reality I was faced with a massively wide tent with a very damp atmosphere. From about an hour away from Dorset on our drive up it started to drizzle which very quickly turned into a downpour that just wouldn’t stop. The front of the marque was open and it was cold and wet.

We all got to work hanging decorations – all the time expecting the cubs to return at any moment. Half the cubs were doing archery and half – including Darcey were kayaking- in the rain. They could have finished early at any point. We needed to be quick.

I did a quick Facebook live video of what the mess tent looked like to share with the other cub mums who hadn’t seen their kids in days.


Once the tables had been set with crisps and sweets and all the decs had been hung we hid in the gazebo next door. It had sides and the cubs weren’t going anywhere near it. They headed straight into the mess tent – ready for dinner without a clue that we were right there!

As soon as Darcey arrived we pounced! “Surprise” we yelled. She was completely gobsmacked! She couldn’t believe we were there. It was only then she realised why the cub leaders had kept her birthday so low key – so that this moment would be all the more special. It took her a moment or two to realise what was going on and once she was over the sheer embarrassment of your mum being on camp she was thrilled and got totally over excited. One of the cub leaders had arranged for everyone to sign a card for her without her even noticing.

Operation Double Digit Darcey

When Beau asked her what the best part of camp was she replied “My party” and that was magic to my ears.

The Birthday cake

Operation Double Digit Darcey

As always, I made her a birthday cake (I have a cake blog incase you didn’t already know that) and I wanted to make something quick and easy. When will I ever learn that cakes are NEVER quick and easy.

To start with I forgot to add the baking powder! The deep, light and fluffy cake became a bit of a dense chocolate pancake. I filled and smothered it with chocolate buttercream thinking that at least the cubs would enjoy it and went for a tie dye effect with the royal icing.

If you meet Darcey she will always say “Namaste” with hands together as she bows her head. I don’t know where she got it from but she does it all the time. If you ask her a question “Namaste” . If you ask her to get her shoes on or brush her teeth “Namaste” . It’s really funny. She is also permanently upside down. She is the cartwheel queen. In the supermarket, in any car park, on the pavement on the way home from school. Anywhere there’s a bit of open space she’ll be there twirling around upside down. So I made a cartwheeling Darcey model for the cake. Lastly, I put her name and a nice big ’10’ on the board and cake.

I think it was a winner by the look on her face!

So in all after a very wet night (we stayed overnight in our pop up tent at a campsite nearby in the continuously pouring rain) we left a very happy Darcey and some well fed campers

Operation Double Digit Darcey


Disclaimer: Massive thanks go to Talking Tables for providing me with enough party decorations to transform a boring old mess tent into a Darcey worthy party marque. She loved it and so did the rest of the cubs. x



Shooting outdoors indoors: Behind the scenes on my Poundland Summer 2016 outdoor shoot


Shooting outdoors indoors: Behind the scenes on my Poundland Summer 2016 shoot

Now the sun is shining it’s hard to look back to March when I headed off to Halifax to shoot the Summer garden range for Poundland. This was the first Summer shoot for them and as the weather was – well lets just say a bit iffy at that time of year so it made sence to use a studio.

Prodoto is where we shot Christmas last year and it is a fantastic set up. As usual after a meeting with the Poundland team to see the products and to discuss the shots required I go away and draw how I think the shots should look – from furniture and accessories to food and flowers. Prodoto get sent the drawing and then make the set to match. Exactly. We chose colours for fences and used as many of the Poundland products as we could.

Shooting the outdoors lawn – kinda!

Our set was huge. On one side we had a lawn with green fencing and a small flower bed edged with a mini Poundland fence. No matter how many plants you buy you always need more. We had to keep moving them around to fill each shot – even though we spent a few hundred quid on planting. As it was so early in the year it was hard to find plants with leaves let alone flowers. The huge bamboo proved very useful – especially when it came to shooting solar powered lights. I think I still have some of those leaves in my car – boy did that think molt.

The Set IMG_1570

As you can see from my shot above there were foam boards placed behind the fencing. The blue skies and trees were added afterwards digitally. It’s amazing what can be done in post production.

Controlling the sunshine is a major win when shooting outdoors for this kind of feature. Our fab photographer Paul Young went the extra mile – quite literally to make the sun shine naturally. IMG_1572 (1)



Why shooting outdoor solar lights is trickyShooting Alfresco indoors with Poundland

The solar lights are so effective that we had to tape up the solar panels to trick them into thinking it was night time. Since shooting them these light bulb solar lights have been flying off the shelves. They’re so cute. I’ve got one hanging in my garden and it’s really cute and effective – especially when you have a few hanging together.Shooting_Outdoors_INDOORS.jpgShooting Alfresco indoors with Poundland

Garden accessories

There are some really fab garden accessories this year. We shot these on an old set of steps I picked up at a boot sale (best place to go propping in my books). The studio looks really dark in my shot but as you can see below the end result was anything but gloomy.IMG_1597

Shooting_Outdoors_INDOORSA few other shots

I can’t finish this post without sharing just a few other shots. I was very proud of my scaffolding board bench which I made with my own fair hands, and the marketing manager liked so much she took it home for her garden. Love these herb pots. Shooting_Outdoors_INDOORS Shooting_Outdoors_INDOORS.jpgShooting_Outdoors_INDOORS Shooting_Outdoors_INDOORS Shooting_Outdoors_INDOORS

It’s always great to style shoots for Poundland. Apart from the amazement of the standard and quality of the products  “How much is this? It can’t be a £1” is heard on every shoot by people who are on the set, but the team is an absolute pleasure to work with. Laughter all the way – even when we’re up against it with time and delivery schedules.

So, what are you waiting for? Get down to Poundland and get gardening!

EmmaMT x


Stationery love with Hema

Stationery Love

Stationery love with Hema

My daughterlings have a thing for stationery. Pens, rubbers, notebooks and rulers (how many rulers does one kid really need? Fifteen in the case of Darcey!) You name it – if it’s stationary they love it, so that was the very big hint I should have adhered to and left them at home when I went to buy some from new office stationary from Hema for myself.

Hema – in case you haven’t discovered it yet is the fantastic shop from the Netherlands. It’s packed full of beautiful homewares, kids toys and clothes, crafting accessories and my absolute favourite MARZIPAN! All clean, crisp designs and modern styles. It also has a terrific array of gorgeous stationary – the kind you want to put in your home office and just look at it – not touch! Just look.

They’re on line but there are shops opening up all over the country. At the moment there’s Bromley, Kingston, Victoria, Birmingham and Stanstead airport but watch this space.

Stationary Love with Hema

Beau style

You may remember me mentioning that Beau chose the whole scheme for her bedroom based on a Hema notebook, well that seems to have become a whole style ethic. As soon as we walked into Hema she headed right for the stationary. The same notebook is still available so I bought a couple for Darcey and me. I’ve painted diagonal stripes on the chimney breast in Beau’s room and she now has a handy shelf edged with grey ribbon – the perfect place to keep all her pens and pencils. That original notebook takes pride of place.

Stationary Love with Hema

When I say my girls have a deep love of stationary I know exactly where they get it from. When I get a new notebook, or ream of printer paper I just want to sit it on the desk and leave it there all neat and new. Not touched or used. It’s the same with brand new pencils. When Beau asked for pencils in the shop I thought ‘yeah that’s a good idea’ and then I saw them. A pack of twelve immaculately white pencils all with the longest sharpest tips. I got the grey mug to place them in for her shelf and they look great. Ever the interior Stylist – I didn’t want her to mix those pencils up with anything else. They just look so good on the shelf on their own, don’t you think? And yes we couldn’t resist buying two packs to really fill that mug.

I may or may not have a matching mug full of pencils too!

Mint green

Hema has a great range of tableware but I don’t think the fab mini bowls are really designed with drawing pin storage in mind, but they look so good in there and it has to be done. Anything mint green is seen as a ‘great accessory for my bedroom’  now including the cute purses.

We loved all the fun paper clips but the speech bubbles won out. Stationary Love with Hema

Illustrators dream

There are two things that I continuously head into Hema for, one is the chocolate covered marzipan and the other is their packs of pens. Their fine nib pens are my absolute favourite to the point that I buy them then hide them, only allowing myself to take one out of the pack at a time. I savour them. No kids allowed!

When I get commissioned to style a press launch or photo shoot I draw out my ideas for the client to visualise. These are the only pens I use. They have just the right thickness of nib and are lightand flow easily. Lately I’ve been adding touches of colour to my drawings to bring out themes more clearly. Stationary_love_with_Hema

What about Darcey?

I hear you cry. Well fear not, she got a fair stash of stationary too – mainly in the form of Washi tapes. Six tapes for £2 and at 8m long I think you’ll struggle to find a better deal. But it was the cute wash bag that really caught her eye. She’s a nine year old who I am so going to have to curb the make up when she’s ….. well I was going to say older but let’s face it, I’m already having to stop her wearing makeup to school! This bag is just the right size to stash a weekend getaway’s worth of beauty treatments. Stationary Love with Hema

So after our little sprint to Hema I cam away with a few office supplies and two very happy kids.



Disclaimer: Thanks to Hema for supplying all the stationery and accessories for this post. All thoughts and ramblings are my own.