Friday, 30 December 2011

2012 and all that

I'm generally not one for New Year's resolutions.  It just seems like setting yourself up for failure and recrimination. I mean if you haven't lost weight etc in the previous year, you're not going to do it in the coming year simply because it's a New Year's resolution.

Having said that, I was touched and inspired by this post by the lovely Ines of 'All I am - a redhead'.  

A few years ago, my wonderful father was killed in horrific circumstances and my life & the lives of all those who loved him were changed forever.  In amongst the turmoil, the terror and grief of the aftermath I came to the conclusion that life is a fragile, fleeting, beautiful thing and we all have a duty to enjoy our lives to the fullest.  

Enjoyment is a different thing for everyone so it's impossible to lay down ground rules but I'll say this... 

Let those around you know how much they mean to you.  
Don't be too sensible.  If you really want those eyewateringly expensive shoes, buy them.  When you're 95 and looking back over your life, what will you remember, how you conscientiously paid the gas bill or how much pleasure you got from your lovely shoes?  Remember to be responsible though.
Take time to appreciate the small things in life - a breathtaking sunset, a delicious meal.
You can never laugh too much.

Happy New Year everyone!  I hope 2012 brings you everything you want and more.  x 

Saturday, 24 December 2011

The Great South London Christmas Tree Hunt

I think we all have a picture in our heads of how the perfect Christmas should be.  I know I do.

A couple of days ago, I decided that my lodger, my boyfriend and myself would spend an evening decorating our Christmas tree.  I had a vague scene playing in my head with the three of us sipping Gluhwein/Baileys, nibbling on mince pies with festive music playing softly in the background and regaling heart warming & amusing Christmas related stories from our pasts whilst placing the decorations on the tree in an aesthetically pleasing manner.

Well, the Christmas music was located on my iPod and the Baileys & mince pies were duly bought so all that remained was to get the Christmas tree.  My living room's not very big so I needed a Christmas tree that could sit on the table and allow us to use the table at the same time.  A tree that was no more than 2 foot high.  Last year we managed to get one without any problem.

We started off at the smaller branch of Sainsburys near the flat - only big trees. Waitrose - again the trees were too big.  Lidl - nothing. We looked in the markets/florists/street sellers nearby - all their trees were enormous.

I was still confident at this point that we'd find one pretty quickly. It's about a mile's walk to the next tube station with lots of shops along the way and I was positive that we'd find one somewhere along that road.  Rapidly it became clear that we weren't to have any luck and I started to panic silently.  My lodger was relying to us to find a tree to decorate!  Of course she wouldn't have minded at all if we'd gone home and told her we'd have to do it another day because we couldn't find a tree but I'd succumbed to the traditional pressure to Have a Perfect Christmas.

Mentally I started to consider alternatives.

A plastic palm tree!  Why not, Jesus was from the Middle East after all so it'd be more ya' know, authentic!  I'm sure my Christmas decorations would look fine on it.

A vaguely Islamic looking sculpture!  Yay for multiculturism!

A yucca plant!  Hey, I'm an alternative kinda gal!

Buy a huge Christmas tree, re-arrange the living room and store the furniture in the bedroom!  Sounds fine!  Gotta have Christmas spirit!

Tape a Magic Tree air freshener to a stick!  At least the living room'd smell nice!

By the time we reached the big Sainsburys near the next tube station, I was ready to try anything.  They were selling fir branches & my boyfriend suggested taping two branches together to create a kind of cloven hooved, two trunk tree, then putting it in a flower pot with loads of soil.  I wasn't quite desperate enough yet to have a dual trunk tree but I certainly put it on the short list.  Then I found a little 6 inch high tree.  It was the sort of thing that office workers would put on their computers but frankly, as far as I was concerned it was The Answer.  Slightly short but it was a Christmas tree nonetheless!  Luckily my boyfriend convinced me that my 2 inch high Christmas angel would just crush it.  He was right of course.

But we still had no tree.

We started off back home and I must admit I was staring wild eyed down all the side streets hoping to see a hitherto undiscovered market stall specialising in small Christmas trees.

You've guessed it.  There was nothing.  What was it about south London and their enormous living rooms with gigantic Christmas trees?

We were nearly home when I spotted a newsagents selling small plastic Christmas trees and I nearly cried with relief.  So I bought myself a slightly rusted tree-like structure covered in green plastic 'leaves'.  Christmas was saved!

Ladies and gentlemen, without any further ado, here it is...  our bent, rusty, plastic Christmas tree!  It's not perfect but it's ours and we had a great time decorating it in spite of everything.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, don't stress too much over the details.  Just relax and enjoy the time with your loved ones.  That's far more important than perfection.  

Happy Christmas everyone! xxx

Thursday, 22 December 2011

My new perfume - Miller Harris 'La Pluie'

I am bad.  I went out to buy Christmas presents and came back with a bottle of perfume for myself.  In my defence, however, it is La Pluie by Miller Harris which I defy anyone to resist.

A few months ago I was given a free sample of La Pluie and I knew immediately that I'd be buying it.  It was just a matter of when.  

I love it because it's a such distinctive and natural fragrance.  So many perfumes, especially the cheaper ones, smell as if the notes have been chemically created.  Let's be honest, no matter how well it's made, chemically created lavender/citrus etc will never smell as good as actual lavender or citrus.

It's also nice to wear something that no one else recognises.  Much as I like perfumes like Rive Gauche, Poison and ck one, they are pretty ubiquitous.  And who wants to be ubiquitous?  

Tuesday, 20 December 2011


I know it's a cliche, but Christmas really is one of my favourite times of year.

I love the cold weather and bundling up with colourful knitware.  I love the bright lights of Christmas decorations and how they cheer up a dark grey day.  I love the thrill of hunting down the perfect present for a loved one.

I did my last job of the year yesterday, (I freelance) so it's nice to slow down and spend some quality time with friends and family and of course my wonderful boyfriend.

My cousin and his wife are coming round to my place for Christmas Day and my boyfriend & I are going to cook.  No one really likes turkey so we're going to (try and) roast a salmon.  I'm a little nervous but the way I figure it is, if we stock up on booze, no one will be that bothered if the cooking is a little less than perfect.

What will you be doing for Christmas?

Friday, 9 December 2011

Object of Desire - The Kooples Puffer Jacket with Sheepskin

I've been lusting after this Puffer Jacket with sheepskin from the French brand The Kooples for a while now.

During winter it's too easy to sacrifice style for warmth and end up looking like your grandma.  

I love this jacket because the sheepskin panel elevates what could be a very run of the mill puffa jacket into something rather special.  You just have to look at it to know that you'd withstand the worst that the weather could throw at you when you're wearing this jacket.

I'd wear it with black skinny jeans, a grey or beige top and either biker boots or killer heels depending on how icy the pavements were.

And it's only £460 *sobs silently* 

Please let it be on sale soon.  For at least 80 percent off. 

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

The Rules of Eating Alone

I was out shopping recently when I overheard a thirty something man having the following conversation on his mobile...

"Oh, yes!  Yes, I'd love to come to dinner.

I haven't eaten a proper meal for weeks.  There's something so pathetic about cooking a proper meal when you're on your own.

Usually just toast...  With Marmite..." 

I actually stopped dead in disbelief when I heard this. Needless to say, I completely disagree with him so in honour of that sad, lonely man waiting for his life to start, here are my Rules for Eating Alone.

  1. Remember if you are eating alone, this is a special time.  It's your time to reflect on the day and make plans without any distractions.
  2. Listen to music.  My favourite is Classic FM.
  3. Cook simple, tasty, nutritious food.  Food that you enjoy.  Endless slices of Marmite toast implies a sense of disregard for your own wellbeing.  One of my favourite meals is fresh filled pasta with olive oil and gruyere cheese grated on top.  So simple and easy to prepare but healthy and filling.
  4. Sit down at the table and clear things like laptops away.  I love eating at my dining table.  It's in the corner of the living room and I can watch the sunset over the treetops.  I always lay the table properly with a place mat.  Personally I feel that if you eat on your lap in front of the TV, not only will you not appreciate your food, you'll invariably end up overeating because you're distracted.  Never eat standing up over the kitchen sink.
  5. Try not to take phone calls whilst you're eating.  There's plenty of time for that later.  

Monday, 28 November 2011

Nanoblur - yes or no?

You can't fault the marketers of Nanoblur for confidence.

To say that their product will make you look '10 years younger in 40 seconds' is a bold statement to say the least.

The basis of their claim is that Nanoblur creates an optical illusion with light reflecting particles which essentially airbrushes away the signs of ageing - wrinkles, dark spots, sagging etc.  The nerd part of me was intrigued by this premise so when I spotted it in Boots in Newcastle, I had to give it a go.

My first impression on application was that it seemed to slightly dull the complexion.  This is no bad thing - it toned down the ruddier areas & mattified the shinier ones and overall my skin tone was more even.  Besides that, I couldn't see much of a difference.

When I wore it out in public however, the reaction was interesting.  My boyfriend commented quite spontaneously on how amazing I looked.  My brother, who is blunt in the way only a sibling can get away with, told me that I was looking good.  I had a lot more lingering glances than usual from gentlemen.  

I wasn't complaining...

I probably will buy this again although I'm not sure how long the product will be around.  I think customers will be irritated by the outrageous claim which can never be fulfilled and won't buy a second tube.

A few notes about application.  If you have dry skin, it's advised on the blurb to mix it in with your moisturiser.  I have very dry, sensitive skin and personally I found it better to apply moisturiser, wait a few seconds and then apply Nanoblur.  It has a tightening effect but I didn't suffer any adverse reactions.  

It's also advised to apply Nanoblur on top of foundation.  Don't.  When I tried this, I had to wipe off my foundation and start again. It just mixes the foundation into a goopy mess.  I don't think you need Nanoblur if you have the right foundation.

In the U.K. you can buy it from Boots here for £19.99 and elsewhere in the world here

Friday, 25 November 2011

Something to make you smile - Jesus Christ in Richmond Park

I'm not a great fan of re-posting other people's stuff but this was far too funny not to share...

That poor man.  Tee hee!

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Travels with my work

It's been an exhausting couple of weeks.  I've been on the road for work.  Don't get me wrong - I love travelling with my work but nothing beats being at home.

I've been to Manchester, Newcastle and Glasgow.

I saw very little of Manchester unfortunately.  Newcastle was lovely.  It's a very beautiful (and cold) city.  The Tyne River runs through the centre of it.  It's a narrow river with steep banks which makes for a very dramatic vista.

Glasgow?  Well Glasgow's Glasgow.  If you've been there, you'll know what I mean.  Raw, exciting, friendly.  And rough.

I've been to all of these cities before but I do enjoy returning because every visit throws up something new.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Lest we forget

'In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.'
  We are free because of their sacrifices.  
Armistice Day 

Sunday, 6 November 2011

A feline vistor

I'd love to have a pet.  Cat or dog, I'm not fussy.  Unfortunately my lifestyle just wouldn't allow it.  I work unsociable hours and I'm often away from home.

So I was very pleased when a neighbourhood cat decided to adopt me. We've named her 'Zero' as in Cat Zero, the first cat in our home, (yes, we're nerds).

A visit from Zero is like a state visit from the Queen.  She walks in, announcing herself with a little 'meow' then proceeds to investigate every room, climbing into cupboards and onto surfaces, rubbing herself against the furniture and sniffing everything.  She never accepts food so it really does seem like the only reason she comes visiting is to be sociable.  When she's here, I find myself trying to make things as comfortable as possible for her like switching on the heating.  Is that sad of me?  Very probably.

I'll leave you with a picture of her looking at the tree outside the living room window.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Object of desire - Chanel Peridot nail varnish

A couple of days ago I saw a girl on the tube with the most incredible nails.  It looked like her nails were beautiful, shimmering gold leaf.  I don't usually talk to people on public transport but I had to ask her what nail varnish she was wearing.  It turned out to be Chanel Peridot.

Image from

I will have to treat myself to a bottle as well as a professional manicure.  Something this lovely deserves more than my usual inept smeared efforts.

This needs to be the focus of a look, I think, so I'll keeping the rest of my outfit quite plain.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Halloween - turnip carving vs. pumpkin carving

I've never celebrated Halloween.  Growing up in Africa, Halloween didn't mean anything.

This year, however, I wanted to join in the fun and try my hand at carving a jack o'lantern out of a pumpkin.  When I mentioned this to my boyfriend he said that he was only going to carve a turnip because that's what they did up north (of England).  I'm afraid to say that I laughed at him.  I assumed that the only reason they carved turnips was poverty because turnips are so much cheaper than pumpkins.

Well, it turns out that the last laugh was on me.  It turns out that the carving of turnips for Halloween or All Saints Eve is a very ancient Celtic tradition dating back pre Christ. According to Wikipedia, Samhain was the final harvest of the Celtic year, falling on October 31st.  

It was believed that at Samhain, the wall between the living and the spiritual world was very thin, allowing evil spirits to cross into the world of the living.  Faces were carved out of turnips and lit with embers from the fire to confuse the evil spirits and prevent them from entering the dwelling.

Image is from Wikipedia.  This shows a traditional Irish carved turnip from the Museum of Country Life in Ireland.

With the arrival of Christianity, Samhain became All Hallows Eve but many of the traditions remained.  When the Irish settlers went to north America, they took their traditions with them but turnips weren't, as yet, readily available so they choose the next best thing - pumpkins, which grew locally.  Pumpkins are bigger and far, far easier to carve so began the tradition of pumpkin carving. 

Anyway, here are our efforts...

I was rather pleased with the results.  A nice mixture of old and new, I felt.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Hero beauty product - Eau Thermale Avene Cleanance K Cream-gel

I have a very spotty forehead.  It's actually quite disgusting.  When I was handed a few tubes of Eau Thermale Avene's Cleanance K Cream-gel as a free gift, I thought I'd use it on my forehead as an exfoliator.
After all it says 'exfoliating, hydrating' on the packaging.

The first use was rather disappointing.  The product didn't contain any of the granules that you'd expect with an exfoliant.  It didn't leave my skin feeling smooth to the touch as per normal after using a scrub.  My forehead just felt slightly warm.

But I kept using it for some reason and it became part of my routine.  After about a month I noticed that my forehead was significantly less spotty.  Like about 70% less spotty.  In my books that's a major result.

I think that calling it an exfoliant is a misnomer because it actually contains AHA's and BHA's which have a gentle peeling effect on the skin.

I'm definitely going to continue buying this.

*Update 1/1/12*
I ran out of the tester so stopped using Cleanance K for a bit and the spots on my forehead came back with a vengeance.  Once I started using it again, they disappeared after about a week.

I've also found it's quite useful if you get a single spot, just apply it to the spot and it dries up nicely.  Be careful though not to get it on to the surrounding skin.  I have sensitive skin and I got a zinger of a spot on my face.  The Cleanance K worked very well helping to reduce it but if any of the Cleanance K touched (the non spot) part of my face, it really stung.  A cotton bud worked well for applying it.

As I said before, I don't know why it's called an exfoliant.  Just ignore that bit.  Apply it to the areas you need, rub it in and leave it.  The instructions say to use once a day but I found that twice a day was good for me.  I have dry, sensitive skin with oily areas that are prone to spots and blackheads.  I had no problems at all using it on the oily areas.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Hearing Dogs for the Deaf

I'd like to share an amazing charity with you - Hearing Dogs for Deaf People.  I only came across them recently and I think they're wonderful.  

I'd heard of guide dogs for the blind but I didn't realise that dogs can be trained to provide similar services for the deaf and disabled.  There are a lot of incredible stories about how these dogs had literally saved lives.  One that particularly stuck in my mind was about a woman with a crippling condition of which deafness was one of the symptoms, (I can't remember the name of the condition).  She was struck by a stroke one day and just before she passed out she managed to press the alarm button in her home to alert the emergency services.  Her hearing dog nudged her into the recovery position!  When the emergency services arrived, her dog led them directly to her.  If her dog hadn't put her in the recovery position, she would have died.

These dogs provide independence, companionship & security for some very vulnerable people.  Just to add to the wonderfulness of it all, the dogs are rescue dogs.  Yea, the dogs are rescued from neglectful or abusive positions and trained to be hearing dogs.  So everyone wins.

I know that money's tight for everyone at the moment but if you do have a little to spare, they're definitely a charity worth donating to.

Monday, 24 October 2011

When will this recession end?

You know when you're just so angry with the world that you don't actually know what to do?

I received a letter from one of my clients this morning asking me to accept a CVA.  A CVA is a Company Voluntary Agreement - a company realises that they're in trouble and asks their debtors to agree to a repayment schedule.  Except in this case they're asking me to accept 30%, yup, that's thirty percent of the money they owe me, repaid over 6 months.  That will work out at a grand sum of about £20 a month.  I'm the only private individual on the list - all the rest of the debtors are big companies.  A company is in a much better position to absorb losses than a person.  The person who introduced me to the company has been paid in full (and isn't answering my phone calls).

The worst thing is - I had serious misgivings about them right from the start.  During the site visit they confused metres with feet and gave me the stage measurements in metres so consequently I hired equipment commensurate with the measurements in metres.  Talk about over doing it!!

Note to self - follow your instincts.  If it feels wrong, it usually is.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Forgotten London - Metropolitan Drinking Fountain and Cattle Trough Association

One of the many things I love about living in London is finding the abandoned relics of a bygone age standing forgotten and un-noticed in the urban landscape.

This is just outside Clapham Common tube station.

A quick internet search reveals that, during the 19th century, clean safe free drinking water for all was very scare.  The Metropolitan Free Drinking Fountain was set up in 1859 to provide free drinking water for London's general populace.  The foundation set up drinking fountains and troughs like this all over London which immediately became not only very popular but vital for a healthy population.  As the infrastructure increased and drinking water became available inside the home, these fountains fell into disuse.

As for me, I wish there were still horses and cattle in London to stop and take a long cool drink at troughs like these.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

"Midnight in Paris" - a review.

Things haven't been going that well recently and I've been in a bit of a slump so I decided to indulge in unabashed escapism & see the new Woody Allen film, 'Midnight in Paris'.

I've always been in two minds about Woody Allen.  He's invariably struck me as rambling & self-indulgent but Paris is one of my best loved cities in the world and the luminous Marion Cotillard, who's one of the stars, is my favourite actress so I decided to give the film a go.

It turned out to be a very good decision on my part - 'Midnight in Paris' is wonderful.

To summarise briefly, it's about Gil, an American writer played by Owen Wilson, visiting Paris with his fiancee Inez, played perfectly by Rachel McAdams, and her very Republican parents.  Gil is a romanticist, a dreamer who'd love to move to Paris & write a novel whilst Inez is more self absorbed & dreams of owning €18,000.00 antique chairs to put in a brand new Malibu beach house.  It's obvious from the start that they're completely unsuited but they stumble along unhappily.

One night Gil decides to take a walk through the streets of Paris on his own.  He's picked up by an antique taxi and transported back to a time he's always dreamed about, the golden age of Paris, the Jazz Age, where amongst many people, he encounters his idols Scott & Zelda Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Picasso, Dali and Gertrude Stein who gives him advice on his novel.  Most importantly of all he meets Adriana, (Marion Cotillard) the *fictional* lover of Picasso.  She's a dreamer too who yearns for La Belle Epoque.  I know the time travel aspect sounds dubious but it's testament to Woody Allen's skill as a film maker that, not only does it work, but he subtly suggests it's a manifestation of Gil's unhappiness as he tries to work out a solution to his problems.

There was also a great cameo by Carla Bruni, Sarkozy's missus and the first lady of France.

I won't say too much more about the plot because I wouldn't want ruin the film for you but the film left me on a high.  It's about the nature of love, about nostalgia, about yearning for something better.

The clothes, both in the present day and in the 1920's were breathtaking.

At times I found my breath catching at the exquisite detail on the 1920's clothing.  

In many ways though, Paris was the real star of the show.  It was clearly the Paris that only really exists in tourist brochures but no matter, it was beautifully & sumptuously shot and left my heart singing at the sheer beauty of it all.  Shots of grim banlieues would clearly have just ruined it.

After the film, I walked back through the park and watched the sunset.  A perfect end to a perfect afternoon.

You can't really see the sunset in this picture because my iPhone couldn't quite capture it.

Friday, 21 October 2011

I am a bad blogger

I know.  I haven't posted in ages.  It's been a combination of things; (paid) work, illness (nothing too serious), but mainly a feeling that blogging is difficult.

Let me explain...

Obviously, I want to write the best possible posts.  Witty, entertaining, personal.  My favourite blogs are like that.  I love reading them because they bring a different dimension to the way I look at things, they entertain me and they're thought provoking.  I've written drafts for posts but haven't posted them because I just feel that they don't live up to those standards.

Must try harder...

Sunday, 10 July 2011

A lazy Sunday on the Southbank.

The weather has been topsy turvy recently so I was very glad that I'd booked tickets for a talk today with Victor Gregg, hosted by Rick Stroud.

Victor Gregg is a 92 year old ordinary Londoner who just happens to have led a most extraordinary life.  He joined the British Army at the age of 19 and was present at the Battle of El Alamein.  Victor volunteered for the Parachute Regiment after his experiences in north Africa.  After landing in eastern Germany, he was captured by the Nazis.  During his time as a prisoner of war, he was sent to Dresden.  Whilst he was in Dresden, the city was carpeted bombed by the British and Americans, (something which is now widely considered to be a war crime).  This event, in his own words, 'ruined his life for the next forty years' because nothing he'd experienced in the theatre of war prepared him for the horrors which he saw during this event.  He became a pacifist as a result and ultimately joined the Communist Party.

After the war he became a painter and decorator and ironically helped to build the Southbank Centre where today's talk was held.  Becoming tired of this he got a job as a driver for the head of a large Soviet bank in London.  This was of course, during the Cold War, and he was approached by British military intelligence to become an agent which he did.  He was a keen motor cyclist & attended many motor cycle rallies behind the Iron Curtain.  It was during one of these rallies that he accidentally bumped into the German officer who'd arrested him in eastern Germany and they became friends.  He spent a lot of time in Hungary and became one of the first people to physically cut the barbed wire that served as the Iron Curtain.

Phew!  Did you get all that?

He was a likeable old man with a very salty, particularly London turn of phrase that I found very endearing - describing the operation that ultimately lead to his capture as a prisoner of war, 'It was a cock up.  A complete balls up.  Them officers didn't know what the b****y hell they were doing.'

By the time the talk had ended, the weather had taken a turn for the better so I decided to take a wander along the Southbank.  Monstrous concrete architecture aside, it's one of my favourite parts of London.

I love the weekend book market underneath the railway arches.

I once found a 1902 edition of Thomas de Quincy's 'Confessions of an English Opium Eater' there for £10.

And then there's the graffitied arches below the Southbank where skateboarders gather to show off their skills...
I tried very hard to capture the boarders in motion but they were just too fast for me.

I was surprised and bemused by the graffiti artists' unexpected social statements...

There was a food market on. 

It's safe to say that I'm addicted to food markets.  

I had a wonderful hog roast and apple sauce sandwich followed by the most delicious chocolate brownie I have ever had.  Sitting in the sun eating good food makes me very happy.

It really was a perfect day.  What's your ideal way to spend a Sunday?


My return. With broadband.

I'm back!  And I have broadband.  

Following the advice of friends, I switched my broadband account from the Post Office, (which was dreadful) to Plusnet which, so far has been very good.  The signal has been consistently strong & fast and I haven't lost it once which was a real problem with the Post Office.  Plusnet customer service has been excellent, with emails at every step informing me of what's happening with my account.

A very big thumbs up from me.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

The one where I still find myself with no internet

So here I am, still with no internet after a month.

In many ways, I am enjoying rediscovering retro pastimes like reading and actually meeting up with friends.  When I do need internet access I go down to my local bistro (who do have free wifi), sit in a window seat, drink coffee, tap on my computer and watch the world go by.  There is a certain romantic air to it but it's getting to the point now where it's just irritating not being in contact with the modern world.

I'm being told that I'll be connected within 5-7 days.  We'll see...

Until then, good bye.  I must get back to my latte.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Very exciting news...

I adore Fever London's exquisite, lady-like dresses so when I was asked to review them, I leapt at the chance.

You can read part one of my review here.

Whilst you're on the site, do take the chance to have a look at the products.  They're truly beautiful.

Apologies yet again

Once again, I'm apologizing for my lack of posting.  Yet again, it's down to my broadband problems.  It's shocking, the shoddy standards of the ISP companies in this country.  I'm having horrendous broadband problems chiefly due to the fact that my provider thinks it's acceptable to take my money and not have to provide a service, my boyfriend is having problems with his ISP and so are at least two of my friends.

Gap in the market...  Any takers?

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Hero beauty product - Neal's Yard Remedies Rejuvenating Frankincence Firming Neck Cream

As you grow older everything starts to sag and crease.  

I've noticed recently that my neck was starting to resemble this, so I was on the look out for a good neck cream.  I've always liked the organic ethos as well as the gorgeous smells of Neal's Yard Remedies, so when I spotted the Rejuvenating Frankincence Firming Neck Cream, I decided to give it a try.

My first impression?  It smelt gorgeous!  

I applied it to the neck and decollectage region twice a day and after about two weeks, I started to notice a difference.  I'm forty five so sadly my complexion will never look like this but there was a noticeable increase in hydration and a slight increase in firmness.  At my age, even a slight increase is good enough for me!

Buy here for £38.80 and in the USA here for $65.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

The Royal Wedding - A Londoner's perspective

I do love a good wedding.  I love the romance, the chance for a good knees up, the general loveliness of it all.  So I was rather excited about the Royal Wedding.

Most Londoners, myself included, steer well of central London during major events but I was rather touched by the response of ordinary Londoners, far away from the media glare, to the wedding...  My local shisha bar offering free shishas to anyone called William or Kate; the Caribbean restaurant just down the road inventing a plethora of new cocktails for the occasion including 'Kiss me Kate' and my personal favourite, 'Westminster Sinner'; the phalanx of little girls walking regally down the High Road dressed as princesses, complete with tiaras.

My flatmate and myself decided to mark the occasion by dressing in our poshest frocks, drinking Earl Grey tea from a beautiful hand painted tea set left to me by my mum and eating Victoria Sponge cake whilst we watched it all unfold on the BBC.  Darling, how very British!

The moment which really brought the enormity of the occasion home to me was, when they kissed on the balcony at the palace, we could actually hear the roar of the crowd. I only live about five or six miles away from central London and I think the wind must have been right.  Most astonishing.

I'm not going to add anything more to the online cacophony about The Dress, The Kiss and The Body Language because far, far more knowledgeable, experienced people than myself have already analyzed them so all I will say is, I thought Kate looked beautiful - classic and timeless - and I think that they're genuinely in love.  I was rather touched by William's protective body language towards her throughout the ceremony.

Amongst all the excitement and romance, I couldn't, however, help feeling a sense of unease at such a display. So much (taxpayer's) money spent, yet I was still stepping over homeless people on The Strand on my way to work. The Strand is about quarter of a mile from Westminster Abbey.  I do realise that  social problems like homelessness are far more complex to solve than just throwing money at them but still...

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Easter weekend in London

I do hope all my lovely readers had as great Easter weekend as I did.  We spent it in London.  Personally I love London on Bank Holidays.  There's none of the manic rushing that happens during the working week.  Just people who really enjoy London.

Unfortunately I did have to work Friday and Saturday but the double time was extremely welcome.

As it was such a gorgeous day on Sunday, my boyfriend and I decided to go up to Hampstead Heath and enjoy the weather.  I adore everything about Hampstead - the beautiful unspoiled village with it's boutiques & fantastic pubs, the wild, vast untamed heath...

We wandered through the Heath for a while

then retired to The Holly Bush, a beautiful little pub just off the high street, that dates back to the nineteenth century, for a couple of glasses of rose and a very nice roast dinner.  After The Holly Bush, we were in no mood to end the evening so continued on to The Flask, another of my favourite pubs in the area for another glass of rose and a game of Trivial Pursuit, ( I lost!)

We woke up late-ish on Monday and decided to go and see 'Submarine'.  It's a strange, quirky little film but I loved it.  It's coming-of-age film about a teenage boy in Wales trying to loose his virginity & cope with the potential break up of his parents marriage.  Sounds run of the mill but the style is not.  It's divided into slightly dramatic sections like a book but it works because it's the way teenagers see life.  Well, it's the way I saw things when I was fifteen!  Disaster strikes!  The break up!  Definitely a recommendation from me.

Thursday, 21 April 2011


Once again, I need to apologise for the break in blogging.

I've been caught up in estate agent hell which has taken me a very long time to sort out.  I wish I could elaborate but sadly I can't.  All I can say is - I don't know how they can sleep at night.  They've looked me straight in the eye, smiled and told lie after lie after lie, knowing that their actions will badly damage me.  Not good people.

Anyway, on to far more pleasant matters.  Firstly I do need to thank the lovely Ines of All I Am - a redhead for the perfume samples I won in a give away on her blog and the eternally stylish Looking Fab in your forties of Looking Fab at Any Age for the very sexy Playtex lingerie set which I won in a give away on her site.  I'll be bringing you the lowdown on the lingerie set very soon.

Last but on least, I have some very exciting projects in the pipeline.  Watch this space...

Saturday, 12 February 2011

What a beautiful day

Today was the first day this year that I was able to switch off the heating and open all the doors & windows.  Yes, I know it's a little early in the year but it really felt like spring was on it's way.  

I can't wait for warmer days so I can wear beautiful floaty dresses in gorgeous bright colours and not have to bother with coats.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Object of desire - Chloe pleated silk-satin blouse

I just love this Chloe blouse.

I could see myself wearing it with cream wide-legged trousers and some strappy sandals for lunch in a beautiful restaurant like The Roof Gardens.  

All I need now is to find the £515 to pay for it.  And get the life style to go with it.

You can buy it in the UK here and the US here.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Happy Birthday to me!

Today is my birthday.  

I'm 45.  Forty five!  I can scarcely believe it.  The whole thing has an air of the surreal about it.  Surely I can't be five years off... gulp, half a century?  I mean, I still feel like a hip, trendy young thing who spends every night out in the latest bar/club/pub.  

Actually, who am I trying to kid - I feel a bit knackered and really rather enjoy quiet nights in with Classic FM & a good book.  And a nice cup of cocoa.  

Instead of relentlessly following the latest fashion whether or not it suits me, I now hunt down quality investment pieces that flatter my body type and I have a newfound appreciation of good tailoring.  

I'd rather spend quality time with good friends than hanging out in the latest hip nightspot with people I hardly know.  In fact I'm quite fond of regaling young people with my clubbing stories in a smug 'been there, done that' kind of way.  I was put rather firmly in my place the other day when I was telling some beautiful young things a story about clubbing at The Hacienda.  I was in full flow, convinced of my own coolness when a gorgeous boy sighed wistfully and said, 'That sounds amazing.  I wish I'd been alive in the olden days'.  That was me well and truly told.  I'll get back to my cocoa.

All in all, it's not that bad growing old.  Granted you have a few wrinkles and grey hairs but you have a real confidence and self assuredness that I wouldn't swap for anything. When you're young and life throws you a few knocks, you're convinced that it's the end, your life is ruined and you'll never be able to recover from it but as you get a few life experiences under your belt, you realize that it'll pass and you'll survive.  So much less tiring than teenage angst. 

I have my amazing boyfriend, my wonderful family and great friends.  That's all I need really.    

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

The Kings Speech - a review

I was in desperate need of mental and cultural stimulation today after spending the whole day yesterday on Facebook/Twitter & watching some truly woeful TV so I took myself off to see 'The Kings Speech'.

It was a very smart move on my part.  It's an amazing film. Colin Firth was magnificent.  Not in a hot-Mr-Darcy-emerging-from-the-lake kind of way.  In a strong, intelligent actor at the height of his powers kind of way.  Geoffrey Rush was as great as ever and it was good to see Helena Bonham-Carter going back to her roots & playing an English gentlewoman.

For those of you not in the know, it's about Bertie, the reluctant prince who overcame a crippling stammer with the help of an unorthodox Australian speech therapist and became King George VI.  During World War II, King George VI played a very important part in boosting British morale and became a symbol of the British spirit.  I actually found myself welling up at times as they both overcame obstacles in their lives and became the unlikeliest of friends.  Dare I whisper the hackneyed phrase 'life affirming'?

Definitely a recommendation from me.

Monday, 31 January 2011

Charity shop find - mother of pearl evening bag

I'm so happy with this gorgeous little evening bag which I found in a charity shop on the Kings Road for a whole £10.

It's versatile enough to dress down with black skinny jeans, biker boots and a band t shirt or up with a LBD & heels.  And I just love the mother of pearl buttons.

Best of all it reminds me of this beautiful Angel Jackson satchel which retails at a cool £221 so I feel I've saved £210 - right?

Image via

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Things that are making me happy today

It's icily cold here in London today and I'm struggling to complete my tax return in time.

Here are a few things that are keeping my spirits up

Daffodils to remind me that spring is just around the corner.

Freshly sliced kiwi fruit.

Good chocolate.

How do you keep your spirits up?  x

Friday, 28 January 2011

In Bruges, with lots of chocolate but no sign of Colin Farrell

The first stop on the trip that I mentioned here was Bruges, in Belgium.  

Bruges gets a bad press as a boring, provincial town. During the film 'In Bruges' Colin Farrell says to Ray Winstone, 'If I had grown up on a farm, and was retarded, Bruges might impress me. But I didn't, so it doesn't.'  Harsh, I feel.  I thought it was a charming, pretty little town. 

We saw beautiful medieval architecture

and sweet little homes

There were rather endearing examples of mistranslation or misunderstanding of English.  This was a posh gentleman's outfitters. We could only assume that they were thinking of horse and carriage here. 

Maybe 'Bras' means something else in Flemish but it amused us in a puerile way.  It was a restaurant.

There was unexpected humour in staid public places

You have to look carefully at this but there are two sculptural figures on that balcony.  They look like a couple who've just had an argument.

and quirky sculpture in private places.  I think this was meant to be a teradactyl. 

We ate the most delicious Flemish stew here.

and marveled at the amount of chocolate shops everywhere.  

As far as I'm concerned, a town that has a shop selling real artisanial chocolate around practically every corner can't be boring.  We found a wonderful little shop - Chocolaterie de Burg, Marleen Maenhout Burg 15, 8000 Bruges, (it doesn't have a website) - that sold the strangest and most wonderful flavours of chocolate I've ever come across;
  • coriander chocolate (didn't work)
  • rose & black pepper (worked)
  • wild mint (didn't work)
  • basil (worked)
  • and all the standard flavours, praline, chilli, vanilla etc. which were lovely.
After a hard days eating chocolate, sightseeing, we needed to sit down with a hot drink.  The Boyfriend spotted Koets 27b, a beautiful tea & dining room way off the very well beaten tourist trail.  I loved it as soon as I walked in. Decor-wise, it combined rustic with refined.  It was a converted coach house with a conservatory that overlooked an old walled garden.  The only thing I didn't like was the fact that the toilets were up a very steep flight of stairs - practically a ladder.  I wouldn't like to negotiate them after a drink or two.

There were 52 varieties of tea on the menu.  I had wood flavour which tasted of raspberries.  Nice but not woody.

All in all, I loved Bruges and I'd thoroughly recommend it for an weekend away.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

The return

I'm returned from my trip!  

It was great in the way that France & Belgium always are.  I have a very important job interview tomorrow, then I'll be back with some more posts.

Crossing fingers for the interview tomorrow.

Friday, 14 January 2011

In which I go to hospital in an ambulance

We were planning on leaving for France today but I woke up early this morning with an agonizing pain in my chest, unable to breathe.  It was absolutely bloody terrifying. Every breath I took made it worse and every movement was excruciating.  I pride myself on being quite tough but that was like nothing I'd felt before.  

The Boyfriend dialed 999 and the ambulance was there within minutes.  Seriously.  He barely had time to put his shoes on. Fifteen minutes later I was in the hospital having tests.  It was absolutely awe inspiring.  There's a lot of criticism of the NHS but I've experienced it at the sharp end and I can tell you I was so grateful and so humbled by the professionalism, the efficiency and the decency of every single person I encountered.  And I didn't pay a single penny.  Forget everything else - in my mind, the mark of civilization is free, effective health care.

And the prognosis?  They think it's gall stones.  Glamorous, I know.  The doctor feels I'll be ok to go to France so I've been given painkillers the size of horse pills, I'm resting today and we're hoping to leave for France tomorrow.  When I return, I'll have to have stomach scans for gall stones and we'll take it from there.


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