Thursday, 27 August 2009

Keep Calm and have lunch

Available from Sammo's etsy shop. Found via Divine Caroline's FounditLovedit newsletter.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Pyrrha jewellery

Of course I don't need jewellery- but I always want it and my latest discovery is Pyrrha jewellery; jewelley made with seals that would have been laid into wax to seal letters many years ago- when people still sent handwritten letters, by courier, a courier on a horse. I love the idea of using the seals, the connection with words and the phrases they have chosen. You know you want something when you can't stop thinking about it don't you?

Leaf necklace: seal reads "I change only in death" (in French)

R necklace: R for Rose of course

Monday, 24 August 2009


StellaNude, the new scent from Stella McCartney, arrived in the shops this weekend. The name controversy asideI am long time admirer of Stella's original eponymous scent so I have been looking forward to trying this- which doesn't mean I don't sympathise with the naming issue- but I want to stay away from it here.

So. I think the original Stella will probably become a classic scent in years to come- either that or it will come to smell very much of it's time.

I quite admire that Stella McCartney hasn't rushed to bring out another scent and like Narciso Rodgriguez she has allowed her one very good scent to stand alone- albeit with yearly summer special editions and Stella In Two which is a kind of breaking down of the original smell.

I had thought StellaNude would be a truly new scent but having smelt it and then done a little more research I realise it is in the same Stella family. StellaNude to me is basically Stella with grapefruit. Initially in the top notes the grapefruit is very dominant but the amber, rose and peony that are so familiar from Stella are still there- as is a milky note that I couldn't pin down.

In the dry down StellaNude is much closer to the original Stella scent but the grapefruit continues to be present. In the dry down the grapefruit does add a complexity to the perfume and perhaps cutting some of the rose makes this a more universally appealing scent- because rose is quite a love or hate scent. Given how popular Stella is I'm not sure they need to make a more accessible version of it so I suspect the grapefruit is there for difference, freshness and possibly to appeal to younger buyers.

I think it's interesting that the StellaNude bottle is the same as the original scents' flagon. I suppose this may be to reinforce the fact the perfumes share a signature smell, or it may be that they have decided to have uniform bottles for the line- except the Stella in Two scents. I have always thought the Stella bottle to be very pleasing and I think the blush, skin colour of the nude bottle is as covetable as the purple we know so well.

StellaNude is certainly one of the nicest of the mainstream releases I have tried recently- but to be fair perhaps that is because it is so like the tried and trusted original. Still I can see that a bottle of the linen spray might find it's way home with me- and that a whole bottle might follow at some time.

Picture courtesy of Escentual

Friday, 21 August 2009

Never let me go

As summer has ebbed and flowed in recent weeks I have been reading Kazuo Ishiguro's beautiful novel Never let me go- a book that is suited to the evenings when the chill is starting to develop after a hot summer's day and also to the days of endless rain that have been a feature of this summer.

I am a long time fan of Ishiguro's book The Remains of the Day and an even greater admire of the film adapatation by Merchant Ivory.

I'm not sure why I have never read anymore of Ishiguro's work. I think I probably felt that it wouldn't be possible to repeat the haunting, melancholy of the atmosphere of the earlier novel and didn't want to be dissapointed.

I had been dancing around Never let me go in bookshops for some time, picking it up, thinking it sounded very interesting and then leaving it unbought.

I am so pleased I finally carried it home. The subject matter is not easy, a story about a group of teenagers attending what seems initially to be a normal boarding school which we come to realise is preparing the characters for a different life to the one we would expect.

One scene which really affected me as a reader and the characters in the novel centres around a song, also called Never let me go. The only lyric we know from the song is in the chorus line ‘baby never let me go’. As I read the passage I found myself wanting to hear the song and then trying to create a tune for myself.

I now read that Never let me go is being adapted into a film, which means they are going to have to create the song to be sung during this scene. I am desperate to know if they are going to record the whole song and if it will be available on the soundtrack. I hope they will make it resonate as much as the idea of it does in the book. It’s unusual with a film but I can’t wait to hear it rather than see it.

Picture courtesy of

Leona Edmiston

I'm very taken with my new find Leona Edmiston, an Australian designer of mainly lovely frocks but also a small range of great shoes, bags and hosiery.

I found Leona at Westfield which is a bit of a guilty pleasure for me at the moment. On tired days when I can sit on one bus from my home all the way there it does seem like a marvellous place, although I don't want to affect my beloved central London boutiques and shops.

I like that these dresses are quirkly and colourful and would work on different body shapes. I will be trying some on as potential wedding guest frocks!

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Moomin land

I'm a big fan of the blog A Novice Novelist and Jayne's post on The Moomins is a lovely read. The Moomins are so touching, they are possibly more so now that I'm older, not because I'm nostalgic for my childhood as is the case with some books and characters I look back on but because I think I get the Moomins more now.

I've been a bit obsessed with the Moomin china they sell at Skandium and Cloudberry living for quite a long time.

I always think I shouldn't buy china with characters on it now that I'm a grown up but today I've realised that's nonsense. The Moomins don't have an age limit. So I'm ordering the limited edition Christmas mug above as my very first Christmas present purchase of the year- to myself!

All mugs and pictures from here.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

The ones that got away: the things I wish I'd bought, but didn't

Are you ever haunted by something you wanted to buy but resisted- only to realise that it wasn't self indulgent and you should have bought it?

Although I often get infatuated with things I do try not to buy things I don't need- because of financial and space constraints.

Still there are times when you leave something on the shelf and forever after it periodically pops into your mind and you know you made a mistake. For me these are often shoes- the navy and white vaguely nautical, perfect for Deauville heels I didn't buy from Loewe because they were too expensive that I think about every summer (we are now five years on); the bright pink Louboutins that were 75% off that I told myself were impractical and that i constantly dream of livening up little black dresses; the Arthur Rackham exhibition catalogue I didn't buy for £20 because I was being good that is now £200 second hand and that I still want.

It's strange how sometimes the mind tricks us into thinking we don't want something when really we do- and how long a memory we can have for something very beautiful.

Monday, 17 August 2009

The perfectly dressed wedding guest

I need the help of the blogosphere to find the wedding guest dress of my dreams.

A couple of very dear friends are getting married in September and I need an outfit.

Of course I have known about the wedding for around a year but only now have I really turned my attention to the perfect frock.

Over the months and weeks I’ve seen nice dresses, some lovely dresses and some stunning dresses but of course I always thought something better would come along.

This weekend I went to the shops and they are full of winters black and grey and only a few sales rails are left with hints of the summer that might have been.

I don’t do black, white, overtly sexy or bejeweled for weddings.

What I really want is some kind of fantastic vintage, floral number but I am blessed with a chest whose proportions don’t really fit in vintage dresses (or actually very many dresses at all) and I don’t think I’ve really got time to get a dress maker to make alterations.

I don’t want to have anything that looks like I’m a) going clubbing later b) an actual bridesmaid c) appearing on strictly come dancing.

Does anyone have any hidden gem houses/ shops who stock dress sizes above a 10? The budget is fairly generous because they are great friends.

Any suggestions for a really special wedding present within a reasonable budget would be wonderful as well. I want to go off list if I can but they don't like clutter or anything overly sentimental.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Little kindnesses: the bus driver and the laden lady

The lady was round like an apple and bobbed from side to side as she walked- as if she had been dropped in water not on a pavement.

She was laden with heavy shopping bags over filled with ingredients for that night's dinner. She was struggling with the weight of the bags, the bags were struggling with the weight of the food and altogether they were making slow progress down Fulham Palace Road.

The bus raced onwards, trying to take advantage of a relative break in the eternal car park that is the route to Hammersmith. The road ahead was clear and I expected the bus to roar on like a horse in full gallop. Then the unexpected happened, we slowed and the bus driver tooted. To whom we thought? For once there was no traffic, no bike in the middle of the lane, no car trying to cheekily turn right.

He was slowing and tooting at the lady as she meandered along, moving from left to right but seemingly barely moving forward. He was stopping to let her on the bus. We were no where near a stop and she hadn't run after him or shouted and pleaded to be allowed on as we all do. This was a very strange occurrence.

She smiled the biggest, truest smile I have seen all week- the whitest teeth on the darkest skin- a smile of warmth. She shook her head and said no she didn't need the bus she was nearly at her door. She waved, the bus driver waved and we sped onwards to Hammersmith- and I think everyone on the bus may have been twenty seconds later and a great deal happier than they expected to be when they got on the bus.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Laura Marling and friends

Last night it was to the Southbank centre for Laura Marling and friends- a mille feuille of indie- folky- cool music.

I love the sweaty, standing around, not knowing what to do with your extra layers that are covered in beer, atmosphere of many gigs- but there was something lovely about strolling up the south bank knowing I was going to have a seat in the Royal festival hall and listen to music that was guaranteed to be fantastic.

And it was- like watching on at an enormous jamming session within the hallowed walls of the festival hall (the inspiration for many a Star Wars and Star Trek set surely)- everyone knew each other, played with each other and inspired each other.

I am always in awe of anyone who can play one musical instrument well but so many of the artists last night could play three or four better than most other musicians play their one.

Laura Marling is perhaps the most well known of the artists- hence it was her and her friends- but I am a great admirer of Mumford and Sons having recently discovered them at the i- tunes festival.

Most of Mumford and Sons make up Laura’s band the two sounds compliment each other beautifully- Marcus Mumford and Laura Marling have two of the most wonderful voices I have heard for emoting what they are saying- you can hear their happiness, their sadness, their anger, their worry.

The nearly three hours of music flew by and I could have stayed for hours. I was reminded again of how much I love the revamp of the southbank centre too. It’s such a great place and I like that they have all kinds of music, dance and everything for all kinds of people. The Southbank itself was so busy you could hardly move last night and getting any food or drinks anyway required patience and a bit of sneaky local knowledge- but I am happy that it’s so full and so busy on a random Tuesday when everyone is meant to be away or staying in to save pennies. I think London’s heart is beating at it’s fastest all the way along the southern side of the river and it’s always a brilliant place to be.

Laura Marling picture from The Independent here.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Coco avant Chanel

Sundays go with cinema like crumpets go with butter- Sundays are good without a trip to the cinema and cinemas are nice everyday of the week but the combination of the two is greater than the sum of their parts.

So on Sunday I had a date booked with Ben, Jerry and Coco Avant Chanel. Although as a female I obviously adore Chanel I wasn't totally looking forward to this. You know the feeling when you want something to be really wonderful and you aren't sure if it will be- and you'd almost rather not see it, try it or go there. Well that's what I felt about Coco Avant Chanel.

I had read reviews that didn't seem totally smitten with this view of the life of Gabrielle Chanel before she lived in the public eye. I don't agree with them. Audrey Tautou quite inhabits Coco and as the film goes on- and Coco finds herself more and more- Audrey is more and more Coco.

But it was the men in Coco's life I was as taken with as the clothes and the look of Chanel (although I was taken with those too, I long to run around Paris in those pyjama's in Mary Jane's!).

BenoƮt Poelvoorde has a vocabulary in little glances and nuances that would rival Stephen Fry's in words. I was quite smitten with him and wondered how an actor of this subtlety is not more widely known.

I was on his side and willing Coco to learn to love him- and then Alessandro Nivola appeared on the screen and I, like Coco, had my head well and truly turned. I have always been fond of Nivola, he is so perfectly handsome.

The film ends with you wanting more- more Coco, more fashion, more Paris and in my case a glimpse of some perfume. I wonder if they might make another film about Coco's later years? For this is affordable Chanel and made me take Chanel to my heart. What an amazing woman, truly an individual and the epitome of modern at any time.

Picture courtesy of here

Friday, 7 August 2009

Scents for women that I'd like to smell on men

Writing this post about Philosykos got me thinking about scents that I like on myself, or other women, that I would love to smell on a man. I don't mean a man I have made try it against their will but just a man in a lift or in a queue for coffee whose scent I happened to notice.

Luca Turin is a great advocate for men wearing florals and whatever takes their fancy, whether it seems like a male scent or not- and you can read the ten best feminines for men he and Tania Sanchez came up with for Perfumes the guide here (or in the book!). However Luca Turin is a wonderful exception to the rule and lots of men do seem to feel constrained by the pour homme or femme on the bottle in a way that women don't.

Here's my top ten scents most men would never dare to wear- but I think they should!

1) Philosykos by Diptyque- for the freshness of the fig, the sexiness of the creamy/ coconut note and because I don't think men wear enough green scents that aren't fougeres.

2) Jicky by Guerlain- I know quite a few discerning men do wear this and that Luca and Tania recommend it for men but I still have to include it here because to me this is one of the best scents of all for the discerning gentleman.

3) Hermes Eau De Marveilles- I know this is quite close to Terre De Hermes but this is more sensual and the saltines is more heady to me. I like all salt scents but there is something about the cashmere jumper that's been on the beach all day in this scent that I think would be sublime on a man- and would tempt endless nuzzling!

4) L'Artisan Parfumeur Voleur de Roses- I love Rosine Pour Homme and Penhaligon's Hammam and am a firm believer in men wearing rose scents. This one is strange, dark and quite broody which would suit a certain type of man perfectly when applied sparingly.

5) Bois de iles- again already worn by some men I believe but it should be worn by more. Come on boys don't let the girls have it all their own way with this treasure- okay it's slightly less hidden now but it's still vastly unsung outside the perfume aficionado world. Always like by every man I have ever asked to smell it- on me or on themselves.

6) Chanel Cuir De Russie As above really, although perhaps an even more obvious choice for men. For some reason it's always made me thing of Dr. Zhivago type images and men wearing military coats in the snow.

7) Miller Harris Fleur De Bois The mint note would be very fresh on a man and the rosemary would be interesting without being at all girly- could be excellent on a man and would smell very contemporary if a man wanted something daring but to stay away from the classics.

8) 10 Corso Como- this is really because I love this but it's just too much sandalwood on my skin. I think a man could pull of the intensity very well and it could be rather devastating.

9) Acqua Di Parma Iris Nobile- we know that Acqua Di Parma is a wonderful classic but timeless scent for men but I was amazed to realise Iris Nobile is too. A man once put it on by mistake in a department store and it smelt wonderful and kept smelling wonderful for hours. It just goes to show you should test everything.

10) Elizabeth Arden Green Tea- I realise this isn't really a bottle a man would want but there is something about the mixture of the basenotes that makes this more earthy than other green tea scents- so it's fresh but with a bit of sexy bite as well. It's also extremely good value so can be spritzed liberally- I quite like too much scent on a man in a way I can't stand it on a woman!

What masculines do you, or would you, like to smell on a man?

Tom Hardy as Heathcliff picture from here

Thursday, 6 August 2009


First thing in the morning I like to sit down with a strong coffee and catch up on my blogroll. I find reading and looking at the beautiful, funny and cool words and images everyone posts very calming first thing and it means my day starts in a positive way. This morning I read with happiness that Tea For Joy has given birth to a stationary shop called {Papermash} which is filled with treasure.

Tea For Joy has a competition today to win a year's worth of stationary if you comment of blog about {Papermash} but that's not why I decided to write about it (although I would love to win of course). I decided to post because I genuinely want the typewriter tape, the I heart lists paper and that lovely little notebook- and I know one of the things I love most about blogs is finding unusual items to buy on the internet that sadly I just can't find anymore in most shops.

Good stationary also inspires lust in me- the only other things that are in the same category are vintage jewellery and perfume (obviously!)- but let's be honest here, stationary is much cheaper to indulge in!

I often read articles and posts about the art of letter writing and how it mustn't be lost, agree and then don't write a letter from one month to the next. Letters are like bookshops, I don't want to reach a time in my life where they don't exist but I don't practically do enough to make sure that time won't come. I write little thank you cards of course and leave little notes around the house but I need to start sitting down and writing letters of more than a paragraph and I need to start buying more than the occasional paperback at my favourite bookshops.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Diptyque Philosykos

I thought it was probably time for a perfume review around here as it's been a while!

With the never ending trail of new scents to try it can be easy to undervalue the treasure on our dressers and I realised today that I don't talk about Diptyque Philosykos very much at all- which is strange because the perfume world it is my equivalent of a sophisticated friend I can have fun anywhere with.

My love for philosykos wasn't instant, it gradually worked it's way into my consciousness while I was obsessing about it's more melancholy sister L'Ombre Dans L'Eau and others in the family. I would always spritz Philosykos, think it was very good but somehow not for me and then move on.

Then one very hot day in London I spritzed some as I walked past a Diptyque counter and I knew I had to have a bottle before the scent had touched my skin.

On me all the green, creamy lack of sweetness of Philosykos works best at the height of summer when it blooms.

The scent of a fig or fig tree is nothing like any of the natural summer smells of England but this perfume has worked it's way into my consciousness so much that it is now summer in a bottle to me; although it's never summer in the sense of suntan lotion and coconut oil but something more far away and even otherworldly than that.

It is a scent I always found to be worn by people with extremely good taste and seems to inspire fierce loyalty. Although I tend to wear it in the summer I can see why for some it becomes their signature scent and the only thing they want to smell of. It is constantly interesting, satisfyingly unexpected, contemplative but with a joyful heart, it at once a scent I could imagine on a classical God or Goddess and utterly modern.

When I bought my first bottle of Philosykos, the day I realised it's beauty, I clutched it tightly with pleasure as the first sprays dried into my skin and hugged it to me. I still give it a little hug sometimes as I apply it, it fills me with happiness that such a scent exists and I can wear it all summer long.

Picture from the Space NK website here

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Ironing out who I am

The questions I am probably asked most in my life are ‘London paper/ London Lite?’, ‘would you like a blueberry muffin with that?’ and ‘have you ever had your hair straightened?’

The first two I answer without difficulty- to the first person who asks me about a paper it’s likely to be yes, to the ten people who subsequently ask it’s a ‘no thank you’- I would like to say ‘why would I need two?’ but it can’t be the most fun job. To the second question it’s usually a ‘no’, even when they ask me three times (it’s not like I’m going to think about it at 8.05 and 30 seconds and think no I’m not hungry/ going to ditch the healthy eating this early in the day but at 8.05 and 45 seconds I’m going to go sack it all, I’m starving I’ll have 2 blueberry muffins and a side of fruit toast with lashings of butter and jam- but I guess they have to try).

The third question makes my blood boil far more than the first two. I’m afraid the implication is usually that straight hair is by far the more superior type of hair to be born with and it would be a life changing event if I suddenly became enslaved to a pair of straighteners and many different kinds of solution.

The truthful answer is yes of course I have had my hair straightened, it generally takes one hairdresser about an hour of back breaking blow drying and a whole bottle of heat protector but it can be done- and I do get it done periodically when I feel like a change or have a special occasion.

I also sometimes wear my hair straight at the top and wavy at the bottom- and I quite often wear it curly. Now my hair does have the potential to look like Monica’s in that episode of friends where the humidity factor is 100% but when I wear it curly it’s mostly in ringlets with some Frizz ease (unless I’ve been caught in a sauna).

When you look at celebrities working the red carpet or on your TV screen you do actually see plenty of people with wavy or even curly hair- but out in the real world of the UK Summer 09 the prevailing hairstyle is still the ironed straight look which has ruled since GHD’s became available everywhere.

I resent the constant implication that I haven’t noticed that my hair is curly and that if I straightened it I would morph into a goddess overnight. I like curly hair and it’s part of who I am. Carrie Bradshaw, a modern curly haired heroine, talks about her curls when she discusses why she and Big didn’t work out in series 2 of Sex and the City- and thinks about not being able to be tamed or turned into the sort of clean but slightly less interesting perfection that Natasha, who he is marrying, embodies. Taking the curls away from me would change who I am, sure I can pretend to have straight hair sometimes the way I can pretend to be brown by loading on the fake tan- but it isn’t who I am and sometimes I want to have curly hair and let the ringlets tumble down freely because I’m lucky to have them. So there!

Monica with frizz picture courtesy of here

Carrie picture courtesy of HBO