Cosmic eggs, velvet hearts & a snapshot of Spring at the M&S Press show…

Spring is in the air dear readers, spring is very definitely in the air!

Ok, perhaps my sunny optimism is a little premature given that we seem to be enduring the tail end of one vintagely named storm after another – Gertrude & Henry anyone? – but I could be forgiven for thinking warmer, prettier days were just round the corner at the recent M&S Spring Press Show with this wall of heady-scented, velvet-petalled roses…

Beautifully laid out in the charming period space of One Horse Guards Avenue on the banks of the Thames, this was the perfect spot in which to lay out room after room of trends to see you through the next few months of seasonal events so, in the words of Nat King Cole, let there be love…

For those who mark it, Valentine’s Day can be tricky to get right. Forecourt bouquets reeking of their tell-tale petrol lineage…giant cards littered with bears clutching alarmingly oversized hearts…sheesh, if ever there was a time of year that tat was rolled out on a scale of frankly frightening enormity, this is it. Take heart though Casanovas everywhere because it doesn’t have to be this way.

Using a colour palette that is modern, luxurious & dreamy, this year’s Valentine’s range has something for every depth of wallet and emotion; a deep crimson velvet heart opens up to reveal dozens of marbled, shimmering chocolates within while a slate laid out with row after row of limited edition, fresh West Country cream truffles left fingers subtly glimmered and dusty with cocoa…

Rosette lollies and hash-tagged metallic hearts offered the most 21st century take on love and for those looking to cook up a storm of romance come February 14th, M&S has taken the hard work out of dessert at least with a hidden heart Madeira cake, soft & light under buttery frosting, and raspberry & prosecco spheres, sweet & tart & undeniably delicious.

Moving at a pace that would give Zsa Zsa Gabor cause to stop and applaud, the next stop after Valentine’s was a peek into the loveliest of Spring wedding options. Bang on trend with glamourous place settings, sweet pastel decorations and towering cakes tumbling with flawless sugared roses this was a room destined to invoke day-dreams of lace gowns, vintage glassware and timeless elegance.

Stepping into a display of hot floral gift boxes, over flowing hampers and china teacups, there was an array of some of the most delightful, cheeky & simple cards to be found on the high street. From ‘gift voucher stickers’ for mum on March 3rd to tiny gold anchors for dad as June 19th rolls round and appreciatively chic lettering for the one you love, if you’ve never bought a card from M&S you’ll be amazed by the sheer offer of stylish products and I guarantee you’ll be converted as you pick up this one and ooh, this one and wow, definitely that one…

Skipping down into the last and largest space within the bright, warm & flooded-with-light venue and we’ve sped through the next few months to arrive finally at Easter.

Vintage bird print chairs, ribboned jars of buttery daffodils, glass dishes of rainbow foiled eggs and, my personal favourite, bunny cushions complete with tails fluffy enough to please Beatrix Potter were just a few of the fresh & cheery homeware pieces on show…

…whilst white-washed, wooden trestle tables were piled high with the colourful and imaginative bounty of a smart & innovative food business.

Showstopping Collections eggs sat proudly atop podiums splashed with the same floral graphics that adorn the new 2016 gifting lines, each one even more dazzling and astonishing than the one before. Gold lattice eggs sat next to giant, inky blue cosmic eggs, a theme of space and beauty that was echoed in the brushed gold ringed Saturn egg…

…and continued in the constellation of assorted eggs whose flavours ranged from tart raspberry to rich dark chocolate and beyond. The passion-fruit ganache eggs were the ultimate in adult sweet treats – the Creme Egg hath very definitely come of age.

If you prefer your Easter sweet treats in baked form, take delight in 7 types of hot cross bun this year including the faithfully fabulous mini luxury – my favourite because they’re clearly far better for me than regular sized buns, yes even when I have 4 at a time – and the marvelously fruity berries & cherries. Those searching for a gentle caffeine fix will love the mini mocha while this year’s new kid on the bun block St. Clements, is light & zesty.

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Simnel cake appears in both round & bar format with marzipan layers squidging gorgeously between fruit cake slabs, baby cupcakes & chocolate nests are perfect for tiny fingers come Easter Sunday and carrot cake gets beautified with finely created white chocolate rabbits poking out of a silky cream cheese frosted garden. The Collections Easter nest cake is the ultimate in decadence though – damp, dark & squidgy to the point of perfection, it’s everything a chocolate cake should be and an absolute dream to eat one greedy forkful at a time.

While Christmas food may be all about puddings and pies, Easter fare has to be chocolate and this year’s range of character eggs is bright, spirited and in possession of a bold, fun personality that kids small & not-so-small will adore. From tiny bubbly bunnies to candy coated mini eggs and tiny jelly carrots, small treats are well catered for as are those who require dairy free with scrumptious milk and dark eggs on offer.

The world’s favourite pig returns but this time he’s not alone; that’s right kids, Percy has finally met someone special and her name is Penny. Decorating your own to take away and save – or more likely scoff on the tube home – was a fun way of jazzing up the sweetest couple in the room and having the suppliers on hand to chat to is always great if you have an interest in learning how your must-have treats make it to your basket.

Chirpy Charlie Chick was my favourite – I simply loved his primary coloured, chocolate plumpness which is eye-catching and confidently simple. A giant chocolate orange carrot, a milk chocolate apple complete with Colin Caterpillars poking out, a Frozen castle, a chocolate R2D2, the biggest of bunnies…there’s nobody you won’t find an egg for this Easter but be warned, the Beehive Honeycomb Egg is too delicious to share so don’t even both trying. Seriously. Just resign yourself to the fact that you need one to yourself and move on.

After the unabashed glamour & decadence of Christmas and the stringently enforced detox of both body & bank balance in January, it’s always lovely to look ahead to the coming days of sunshine, blossom and freshness so pick a treat, indulge yourself, celebrate the ones you love and have a glorious start to the new year!

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