Been mining the SD card for travel stuff recently as I’ve had adventures on the brain. This time next Friday I’m off on a brand new adventure, on the road with Anna Calvi! For the next two months I’ll be hitting the road, on 30 or so European dates from Stockholm to Italy, Slovenia, Switzerland and everywhere in between. I’ll be updating the blog with some travel pics, outfits and general diary stuff and you can also see my handiwork on Anna Calvi’s Instagram, so follow her now to see what we get up to. I’m probably a bit long in the tooth to be hitting the road, but the last time I saw Anna Calvi was at End of the Road festival with a cheese board on a rug, so I don’t think it’s going to be too debauched.
It might all sound a bit crazy, but taking on adventures, harebrained schemes and saying yes to things is the reason I went freelance. It’s going to be great fun before I come back and spend the rest of the year learning to be a real grown up (aka learning to drive!) There’ll be a week or so of ‘normal’ content before I go all Euro, so for the next few days it’s still business as usual…
[ETA - All the dates are here, so if you have any must-see, must-eat, must-wear ideas for Stockholm, Zurich, Paris, Turin or any of the dates, then leave me a comment with your tips!]
This is the second part of my Venice flashback, a trip spurred on in part by my sister and I being totally into Jeremy Deller. When I heard one of my favourite artists was in the British Pavilion we were like, ‘let’s go!’ The Biennale was really amazing, it was such a pleasure to be able to see so many really stimulating ideas in one place. I haven’t eeeven put up any pics of the excellent Cindy Sherman curated space, a network of oddities and weirdos that was unmistakeably her. Jeremy Deller was of course excellent, ‘English Magic’ touched on William Blake, the destruction of Land Rovers, David Bowie’s UK tour in the ’70s and also -in true English style- had a tea room and ink-stamping table where you could stamp your own Deller print. Michael Barrymore’s My Kind Of Artwork. Ai Weiwei’s installation of wooden stools in the German pavilion was pretty impressive, but there was also a lot of Bad Art which I didn’t take pictures. Vadim Zakharov’s Danae was a clever and – quite atypically for an artwork- sophisticated view of capitalism.
Ragnar Kjartansson’s SS Hangover, a boat that ferried across a brass band from one pier in the arsenale to the other, was a total thing of beauty. Watch the video below to get the full awe-inspiring effect. Also, I effing love brass bands. Can’t believe I left it ten years before coming back, but then will I ever be able to top Deller?
I started this series to try and stop me from flopping into bed with make up on and waking up with a scarecrow face. It’s not a regular habit, but still, with drawers full of creams it seems stupid not to use them. January is a real doozy of a month, face-wise. Endless grey skies, post-Christmas booze-idues and a blast of parental central heating do nothing for an English Rose. Not to mention a Frirish mongrel, so you need all the creams you can get.
Elemis’ pro-collagen marine cream is great but the price means it’s not something I would buy. I gladly accepted it as a gift a few months ago, I love the dreamy light but hydrating consistency and it feels really gentle.
Just finished Omorovicza’s Radiance Renewal Serum, a light, watery fluid that makes a noticeable difference to skin. I’ve talked before about my hatred of silicone-heavy creams and serums that feel like they just sit, you can also get that awful congealing where it all blobs up on your face. Omorovicza’s serum doesn’t have any of those problems and it layers easily with your regular face cream. I’ll be sad to see it go!
A load of aloe vera gel and other herbal and botanical lovelies gives Dr Lewinn’s Instant Beauty Radiance Booster a really hydrating, gentle feel. Perfect for winter chapped skin. This was another gift, from the lovely Rachael, cheers lad! I had this before and completely forgot how much I loved it.
This is sadly discontinued, but Lily & Spice is a winning Penhaligons scent. Sweet and girly but with enough greeny grassiness and ‘spice’ to keep things interesting. It’s become my way of dressing up my January uniform of jeans and jumper. Honestly don’t think I can ever wear anything else?
There’s definitely been a lot of gentle hydration this month, but who’s kidding, a gal also wants RESULTS. January is the perfect time to try a retinol cream, the lack of sun reduces the potential for irritation and by this time we’re all looking a bit grey and dessicated. Retinols can be damaging but La Roche Posay’s Redermic serum is a real wonder and gentle too. I’ve been using it alternate nights and it has totally plumped out lines and refined the skin. DO make sure you wear a sunscreen when you use any retinol cream, even if you’re in dreary old England.
Lastly, I’ve developed a really bad post-10pm screen habit, you know that page scrolling and you check up to see you’ve done 24 pages and it’s gone midnight? That’s me. Trying to counteract the mole eyes effect with Darphin’s Anti-Fatigue Eye Gel.
January is so the month that everyone just plods through, with gritted teeth and glumly clutching resolutions. Unless you’re one of those charmed people who go to the Caribbean to catch some winter sun, in which case you’re not allowed to read this blog. I’m remembering wearing JUST a t-shirt and jeans, do you know how good that feels? Doing some travel dreaming and I also remembered that I haven’t even shared my Venice September trip, half a year ago!
It was ten years since I’d been to the art Biennale as a student, all plump from six months eating sushi in Japan. I have to dig those pictures out, they’re a hoot. This time around me and my sister went together, both fans of food, sun and Jeremy Deller, a match made in heaven. There’s a ton more, including all the wonderful food we ate but for now just bask in the laptop glow of some late summer fun… Remember SUNTANS?
How are we even halfway through this month? I know that such a mum thing to say and no, I’m not hiding a secret bun in the oven -it’s a food baby- but it seems like a million miles ago when I was invited to Another 8‘s preview event in December. It only took a minute girl, to be bowled over by their streetwear for fashion lads. They’ve really paid attention to price points and quality, using fine leather where it matters -like on their bombers and rucksacks- and opting for PU where it doesn’t. Their marketing manager talked me through the process of choosing a PU fabric which was soft but wouldn’t suffer from backing-pill, it’s a common problem y’know. Wearable (yes THAT word again) pieces like mini skirts, shirts, jackets and slouchy, supersoft t-shirt dresses are made for people who pay attention to the way they dress but don’t have a whole morning to luxuriate in outfit ideas. By the looks of their ‘Coming Soon’ pieces they’ve got plenty more functional/fashion ideas up their sleeves.
Bridge brands are really hitting the spot at the moment and it’s not hard to see why. For median-waged civillians, what’s the point in catwalk lusting and then waiting for a high-street ‘homage’, when for a little more money, you can buy something totally original?
This week has been a blur of meetings, with cakes and on high up in London, lecturing in Birmingham and plotting. Lots of plotting. January is always such a blah month that I like to hibernate a little and make plans for the rest of the year. Lots of recipe ideas up my sleeve, a few harebrained schemes and some plain ol’ getting down to it. What are you lads planning for this year? Oh and I also found the king of the mods in Hampstead Heath’s Kenwood House.
It’s well US but Real Simple’s guide to recordkeeping is a total boon for ‘creative’ types like me.
For anyone on a diet: Jonathan Bailor tells the Cut what I’ve suspected for a long time, ‘eat until you’re full, ignore calories and you’ll lose weight.’ It’s basically saying that short-term calorie cutting doesn’t lead to long-term weight loss. Yup.
Beat The Man yeah? This excellent list on how to live like a king for very little has been doing the rounds and with good reason. I’m not saying quit your jobs and go live in an anarchist co-op (but hey, if that’s what you want to do!), having fun on a little money can be really liberating.
Btw, the picture above? A depiction of the terrible hell that would be equal rights – women drinking! Looks pretty fun for me. Lots more here.
From left: Cos mohair dress, now £48. Henrik Vibskov Crocodile Dress, now $420, Creatures of Comfort. Toast Josie sweater, now £99.
When you go freelance, before you get an accountant, make sure you have savings or declare your self-employed status to the tax man, the first thing you need is a jumper dress. Just kidding, all those things are really important, but jumper dresses are also very necessary. What else can take you from just-about-dressed to important meeting to answering the door to last minute office contract? Jumper dresses are also really warm, important when you’re working from home and being playing a game of chicken to see how long you can last without putting on the heating.
My love of jumper dresses was first cemented with a cosy blue number when I was about 6, it had a big goose on the front and a *real* red ribbon sewn on. I remember the feeling when I put it on: ‘world, I’m cosy, dressed and wearing a goose – come at me!’ Even now, I’m still no power blazer wearer, I like simple comfortable clothes that make me feel secure.
Hands down, the best place to get a jumper dress is Cos. I’m not gonna lie, I’ve heard of a few people (including myself) getting shrinking ~issues~ with their knitwear, but if you can stick to a cold wash and you’ve got a full bottle of softener I’d say jump in and get something from there. A lot of jumper dresses can be really thin or massively synthetic, but Cos always have a nice selection of serious wool dresses. There’s some great ones in the sale, Baukjen’s sweater dress is still available in three colours, Uniqlo also have a cashmere dress in the sale and there’s also a fun Matthew Williamson one on Net a Porter.
I’ll be the first to admit this isn’t exactly fashion that will set the world on fire, but it’s definitely fashion to make getting out of bed a little bit easier, and in January that’s pretty much all we can hope for, right?
From left: Sheepskin slippers, £9.50, eBay. Hershel camo rucksack, £36, Coggles. ASOS Ridley ripped jeans, £32. Cos panelled jumper, now £48. Elizabeth and James ponyskin boots, £158. Muji A5 kraft notebook, 95p. Baukjen perfect legging, now £31.
Resolutions are corny, every year I would see everyone doing a dry January or resolving to get fit and think ‘why on earth would you want to do that in the most miserable month?’ but this year I’m unashamedly joining the self-improvers and going full pelt with trad resolutions. Although if you ever catch me doing the latest fad diet just kill me. Srsly, take me out.
Last year I worked in lots of different wonderful places, drank almost exclusively out of Sporty Ds mugs, cycled the Dunwich Dynamo again, took tons of pics of my feet, learnt evil Scrabble skills and ate a lot of food. A pretty lovely year all in all, but to make 2014 even better I’ve got a few resolutions up my sleeve.
A few months ago I gave up drinking and it was brilliant, better sleep, bigger ideas and generally more of a spring in my step. Now that Christmas is out of the way I’m avoiding the booze once again and really looking forward to it.
I’m going to flex my grown-up skills, starting by learning to drive, as a Londoner it’s just never been a priority but I’m excited to get on the road. Watch out! (no, really.)
Another grown-up skill is to try to sort all those niggly things you just put up with, like getting over anxiety, sorting my hoarder’s wardrobe and just generally shedding light on all the dark corners of my mind. Like, a mental spring clean.
R-word links from around the internet:
If you’re projecting a saintly other into the future, 99u have got some sage advice on getting motivated: give up.
Love getting lulled by an inspirational speech? Benjamin Bratton on the problem with TED talks.
Dwell’s collection of live/work spaces makes me want to revamp my workspace… Or erect one of those fancy office sheds.
This oldie-but-goodie piece by Who What Wear covers what you need to sort your wardrobe, needless to say I am rereading it while flicking through the Pax add-ons on Ikea’s website.
Every Christmas there’s always a winning dish, it’s usually something unassuming that didn’t seem like it would take centre stage. Last year it was the super easy red wine braised lentils that blew everyone away and this year I’m happy to say it was once again a vegetable dish that trumped the meat fest.
This hearty and healthy root vegetable gratin is almost as easy and tastes absolutely amazing. On Boxing day we did a meal for my family and my boyfriend’s family, 10 people, NBD right? I served it with an Earl Grey ham and the flavours went together perfectly, but I’ve since had it with chicken, with green veg and on its own and it works just as well. Oh and check the bonus pic of my CHRISTMAS TABLE, I went on about this so much I thought someone was going to kill me.
It’s basically a combo of celeriac, sweet potato and beetroot, but you can substitute parsnip, carrots and other root veg if you fancy. I wouldn’t compromise on fresh beetroot though as it gives it that addictive flavour. It’s much quicker if you can put it all through a food processor to get those paper thin slices, but even hand slicing it’s then just a case of chucking it in the oven. Cream and parmesan help meld all those flavours together but you could easily go dairy free if you’ve started a New Year health kick – I’m still waiting for mine. I got given some awesome chillis for Christmas, so I added some chipotle to the mix to give it a bit of smokiness and spice.
Continue reading Recipe: root vegetable gratin
It’s around this time of year that I start dreaming of… White sand beaches. I’m remembering incredulously my trip to Mexico two years ago, was everything really that bright and colourful? Every time Christmas comes round I swear I’m going to fly away and spend it getting a tan and eating jerked meats in Jamaica. For now I can but dream. Gucci’s deerskin leather clutch is total dream fodder. Part of their Cruise collection it’s pure LUXURY. It’s Jade Jagger stepping off a plane, it’s Jerry Hall in Rio de Janeiro, it’s Katharine Hepburn on safari. The plaited leather and bamboo fastening is chic detailing par excellence. I can totally picture this with a Studio 54-inspired jumpsuit as part of a high-kicking New Year’s Eve outfit.
Smells are also so good for getting into a summery mood, Hei Poa’s coconut oil is pure holiday, plus it makes your skin smell amazing. I love Votivo candles and I’ll bet that the White Ocean Sands tin candle is good for a bit of mental travel. Last up, a favourite of mine, Penhaligon’s Orange Blossom perfume smells like sun-warmed skin and is the perfect summer dreaming scent.
This post is sponsored by Gucci