Tuesday, 3 December 2013

A Vintage Christmas

If November is all about the Christmas magazines then December is all about Christmas books.

For the last two years I've listened to the audio book of Miracle Regent Street by Ali Harris around this time of year to get me in the mood for all things that are festive and London.

I find an audio book can be easier when you're on the move provided you have good headphones that block some noise- if you're changing trains a lot or the tube is very crowded it can be hard to read. If you're tired sometimes it's nicer to be read to as well. Plus your hands might be busy holding shopping bags at this time of year; or if it's very cold you don't want your hands out of their gloves, exposed to the elements turning pages and getting cold.

Miracle on Regent Street is a great book though and I did read it as a book first- in the comfort of my bed (and bath!) and it a great re- read. Still though sometimes you want something more- and something new. So I was delighted to see Ali Harris has written a novella follow up to Miracle on Regent Street called A Vintage Christmas. It's about the same characters but set a year (or two?) on. I just started reading yesterday evening and I'm already feeling more festive and longing to visit Liberty and Fortnum's, to get my white Winter coat out and do some London Winter activities.

I am only half way through but so far, so good. There are vintage shoes, there is a big London department store (my very favourite kind of shop), there is decorating and there are breaks to the Cotswolds.

The novella is only 99p from the usual online outlets and has been a lovely and inexpensive early present to myself.

Ali Harris also has a lovely vintage Christmas pinterest board here too, if you're feeling pinny. 

(Also dear TV companies, this would make a lovely film or mini series for Yuletide viewing- just saying).

Monday, 18 November 2013

Magazine addiction, the Christmas edition

So it has begun... Christmas for me starts at a different time each year and yesterday was the first day I think. There have been whispers... the first looks at decorations, the re watching of the early Harry Potter films (because they are a great transition between Halloween and Christmas- and because I love them, I know I'm in my thirties but well...).

Yesterday though was real. It all started with Home Alone and then followed googling for Nutcracker tickets and wreath making. As the day progressed the annual 'present ideas' list was begun and National Lampoon's Christmas was watched- and today I had my first listen to my going to work Christmas play list.

I am aware it's November and I don't like to dilute the joy of Christmas but there are some things that you need to start early- like making Christmas cakes, chutneys or sauces (this year I'm going to make my first Cranberry sauce... once I've finished unpacking boxes from moving house... again).

Magazines though. I love magazines and Christmas magazines have become a 'thing' most of them are out now and you really want to be reading them from now on because frankly by just before Christmas it's too late for food, decoration and present ideas.

So I've decided you can start reading Christmas magazines now.. frankly with this many to read (see below) I'd get cracking.

Christmas books too are great for getting you in the mood- I like to start light and work up to the joy of a Christmas Carol- but everyone has their favourites (I also love Miracle on Regent Street), a more recent but much loved discovery.

If you are so inclined you can personalise this Christmas countdown so you don't miss anything.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Coffee- to drink in, to breathe in

Coffee! On Monday mornings a total essential, on Tuesday mornings a life giving force... let's be honest on most mornings the reason for getting up and out!

Coffee has for years been encroaching on the patch of tea in the place of the British work force. For me tea will always be my all round, whatever the time of year, whatever the occasion hot drink but first thing in the morning it now has to be coffee. I go through phases where it's decaf coffee but it never seems to last!

The British love their coffee then- but we don't seem to use coffee in cooking as much as other countries (we like a coffee and walnut cake but aside from that, there's not much from the Brit recipe pile that is coffee based).

Likewise I've always found the lack of coffee perfumes a bit strange- though there are more of them out there than there used to be.

I wrote about my love for Noa by Cacharel back in 2008 (hello I've had a blog for 5 years!). I still like and wear it- though less often now I must say- re reading this post has made me wish I'd grabbed it this morning- it's perfect for days when you want to feel hugged by your perfume.

Other coffee smells I like include Comme des Garcons Wood Coffee - though it's no longer available in shops you can get it on the good old internets- it's really quite gourmand and certainly wouldn't be for all- but if you're trying to go decaf, or you just really really love coffee then look this up.

Jo Malone Black Vetyver Cafe is probably the most obviously coffee scent out there- it sounds like it should be perfect for men- which of course makes me think women should try it! (did anyone read the Sunday Times article in the Style magazine about women wearing men's scent- thought it was very good, though the scent recommendations could have been more adventurous).

In other coffee thoughts... 

Brewed boy does the best coffee in Soho... fact. I was THRILLED to see the Brewed Boy stand at EOTR this year, it was a massive hit and they ran out of coffee by Sunday afternoon!

Macmillan Cancer Support created coffee inspired perfumes for their recent fund raising coffee mornings.
I wish I could have tried them!

Picture of my flat white from  Lantanacafe on Saturday afternoon- a blissful spot for a coffee and catch up on the Saturday papers if you're in the Tottenham Court Road/ Goodge Street area- though watch out for the queues for brunch!

Monday, 9 September 2013

The first day of Autumn: Back to school?

I woke up at 5.30am this morning, I could hear rain hitting the windows and it was the light from street lamps, not the first morning sun, that was breaking through the shutters. As I crept along the floorboards, my arms around me for warmth, I realised I had woken up in Autumn.

I love Summer, particularly English Summer- fleeting and magical it can be- last weekend I danced in the woods of an ancient forest until 6am- my skin pinked by the sun's full golden roar during the day was soothed by the night air. High Summer in London though can also be a kind of madness, life seems to stop while everyone concentrates on the sun actually shining, Soho even drunker than usual on drink, and humidity and wearing sandals for 2 whole months.

Autumn feels like a new start to me- much more than the real new year it's the time of year when a new school years starts and for me- though my studying days are long gone- that will always mean looking at what I've been in the last 'school' year and what I'm going to do in the next one.

I've been told by lots of grown ups... (which I now define as people who are old than me but I used to define as people quite a lot younger than me too...) that your thirties are your best decade- because you know who you are. Well so far that is true of my thirties, I am in many ways more comfortable in my own skin and know what makes me happy far more than I used to. However I don't feel I've really achieved very much this school year- and the blog has certainly suffered. So it's back to school for me and back to school for my blog.

Goodbye Summer and hello Autumn. With a spritz of scent and a gloss of the lips, here I go.

Picture taken at End of the Road Festival in Dorset.

Monday, 1 July 2013


Hotdogs are a thing aren't they? Suddenly popping up (ha ha) everywhere- from the obvious places like independent cinemas (why haven't they always served hotdogs? they are traditional, far less noisy or stinky than most cinema snacks and easy to eat in the dark) to the not so expected- the much lauded Hawksmoor for example.

I have always been a hotdog fan. Perhaps it's having a Mother who spent her formative times nearer to New York than London but they were a treat weekend lunch meal (though we never had onions and I still prefer not to have them personally).

I'm also a big fan of the German style wurst and sauerkraut, in or out of a bun- German food isn't very fashionable, though I'm sure the day will come, but I really like it (though they do need to raise their game vegetables wise- cabbage is not an entire food group).

I've tried to go to bubbledogs on about 3 occasions but the wait, in the queue outside, is always at least an hour. Hotdogs really must be a thing if Londoners, not so used to a queue culture as New Yorkers, are prepared to wait outside- in London weather- for London's finest sausages in buns (or baps for the Welsh).

Timeout's thought on london's best hot dogs

For German style wurst I recommend Fulham's Octoberfest. Or you can go the German deli at Borough market, buy your own and get going, very quick and yummy!

Picture from my products I love Pinterest board- though I do not know where it was first pinned from. Pretty cool though!

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Irish Moss scented candle from Bog Standard

I have been burning this Irish Moss candle from bog standard in our flat since early January, when the nights were dark and there was snow on the ground.

Now that Summer is looking like it might be here and the candle is just about finishing I wanted to write about the scent while it was still strong in my mind.

I sat in the living room last night, with the French doors open and the cool air lapping in- I preferred to put on a sweater and light the candle than close the doors on the Summer ish air.

I don't know what real moss, Irish or otherwise, smells of really- slightly earthy, wet and musty I suppose. The candle doesn't smell like that- it smells green and fresh but slightly musky, in a good way- it's sophisticated and makes the flat smell cosy on cold nights and slightly heady on warm ones. Above all it's comforting, which I think is the most important thing for a home scent.

If I could wear a scent of this I would- and I'd keep smelling my arm constantly.

Friday, 24 May 2013


Eifel tower cheese grater, because it's Friday and it made me smile a huge smile when I walked past Octoupus on Carnaby Street this morning.

There is also a tiny version, for camping maybe? or very chic picnics?

Available from Octopus on Carnaby Street or online from Pylones.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013


I have been thinking about holidays... I have been thinking about holidays a lot.

For some reason what really ignited my interest in away was these Glass igloos in Finland. You can lay in bed looking up at the Northern Lights- coolest thing ever?

I'm normally far more of a hot weather holiday person- part of me really doesn't see the point in going somewhere colder than the UK- and certainly there is no point in going somewhere wetter- though it would perhaps be hard to find such a place.

I think this year I need to not travel too far, partly for personal reasons and partly long haul travel isn't really worth it for less than two weeks in my mind.

So I am thinking lots of mini breaks and for some reason I have also been thinking of a tree house! this one near Glastonbury looks like heaven.

Admittedly it's not cheap, but then how cheap could you expect it to be, it's a deluxe tree house!

 Canopy and Stars has lots of unusual properties, some more tree houses and some unusual yurts and caravans and things for the more adventurous sanitation wise (I'm not very adventurous and will only tolerate outside toilets for festivals- and even then I'd really rather not).

Then for us single types an activity holiday is perhaps better than something solitary (I tend to quite enjoy solitary but that is perhaps why I'm single!!). This yoga holiday on the West Coast of Scotland sounds pretty awesome, ecologically sound but with 'magical hidden hot tubs'.

Or if you want guaranteed heat then, at the other end of the spectrum cost wise perhaps, is a LUX yoga holiday on the Côte D’Azur.

Yes please.

Other ideas:
cookery at an Italian villa
horse riding (always wear a hat!)
or a  reading weekend I, of course, found a scent I loved on my reading weekend in Scotland a few years ago.

I'd also love to go on a perfume holiday but I struggle to find one!

Monday, 29 April 2013

Everywhere else

This Laura Marling interview blew my mind a bit, well that's strong, I was surprised certainly. It made me think about places we live, again.

That a person like Laura Marling could love LA in the way she clearly does was the shock to me- because aside from the hotel I stayed in- which I must say was lovely- I really didn't like LA (beyond thinking the shopping was quite fun and pretending to be in Pretty Woman for the afternoon on Rodeo Drive). You have to get in a taxi to go everywhere, or wait for a bus for a really long time; there are miles and miles of boring roads with traffic jams, life is just films and shops- but not good films, big blockbuster films that they clearly take very seriously. I'm sure my experience shows the difference between being a tourist somewhere and living there, I hear there are great gigs and bars but I didn't find them. I can see the weather would lift the mood- but I even found that a bit relentlessly pleasant.

I have often suspected that what Marling has clearly found to be true though- that we might find a happier or easier version of ourselves somewhere else. Or perhaps more accurately we would be a different person somewhere else. Is it losing the burden of people knowing things about you that makes that so? When you move to University it's a chance to reinvent the you from school, even if you liked that you, it's a chance for change- any kind of move is like that I suppose- be it from East London to West London or London to California.

I occasionally think about moving, I love London and I always knew I wanted to move here as a little girl. For the most part I absolutely love my life here and it would break my heart to have to leave- but I do find more and more when I leave London to go elsewhere in the UK it feels like I'm visiting a different country, I love both countries, or all of them if I'm visiting Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland- but there is an increasing gap. I think finding love anywhere but London is easier, I think you will work less anywhere else. People are very demanding in London in some ways, not considering you to be interesting if you don't have a certain handbag or live in a certain post code on the one hand- then on the other it's perhaps the most tolerant part of the UK and embraces all manner of glorious eccentricities. London is hard but I wouldn't be without it. Sometimes though, I just wonder, what would my life be like somewhere else? What if when I graduated I'd headed off to Brighton, or Scotland- or another country completely.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

The Diary of a nose by Jean-Claude Ellena

The Diary of a Nose: A Year in the Life of a Parfumeur is a delightful publishing anomaly. This gem of a book was penned by Jean-Claude Ellena, a real artist in the world of perfume- in my opinion- and of course the Hermes in house perfumeur/ superstar.

This book isn't new but, as mentioned below, last year was something of a blur. Reading wasn't something I didn't do but I seemed to gravitate towards books I had read before and strangely perhaps to heavier books in terms of tone and content. I have read that the reason that the crime genre is so eternally popular isn't that we all like mystery but that we like the distraction from our own lives- well I certainly read a lot of Agatha Christie.

This book is a different and less intense kind of distraction- an utter delight for a perfume geek certainly- but probably also for anyone who appreciates reading the diary of someone who truly loves and is good at their work.

Ellena shares all kinds of anecdotes, from his early career to what he ate that day. For me it's like visiting a life I'd love to have, if I was a) any good at Chemistry and b) French- it's a pleasure to read.

The English edition comes in a small hardback book with a lovely dusk pink dust jacket that is about as pretty as a book can be- without being too feminine I hasten to add. I read this in virtually one go but I felt so happy and sophisticated having it in my hands on the bus, at the table in the cafe and lastly tucked up in bed.

My favourite Ellena perfume is Eau des Merveilles- and this book is a wonder, to me. 

Published by Penguin in the UK and available from Anthropology on Regent Street in London- and I'm sure other lovely book shops

Poor neglected blog

Despite the odd appearance to write about the odd dress or frivolity or for the occasional tweet I have been very absent online for quite a long time.

People are so lovely and kind online but I think to just announce something bad happened would also be rather strange- and of course it's not just your life you'd be writing about.

Still I have missed being online a lot- and now I hope things have settled enough to be back! I have been fine, continuing to do fun stuff yes but there was also a very difficult time where I worked 12 hours a day and then dashed to hospital every night. Suffice to say I've revised my thoughts on being an only child
and while I still think being an only is wonderful in many ways it is also a responsibility. It can also leave you feeling isolated

So anyway,back to the perfume- and the happy!

Thursday, 28 February 2013

the doing wish list

I have a friend who is going to become an expat in March- leaving us in London behind for a sunnier climate and hopefully a sunshine filled work and private life.

She recently posted on the social network that I wish I wasn't on but still am (!) about what would everyone do if they only had one month left in London. That really got me thinking- leaving London wouldn't be for me anyway- but if I was for whatever reason what would my goodbye things be- and what are the things I've always meant to be but still not managed to in ten years of calling London home.

Well the things I said were a must if you were leaving, however many times you've done them, were Borough Market, Columbia Road market, walking the Southbank from Wesminster to Shad Thames (and stopping all the way for South bank food, for the Globe, Tate Modern, St Paul's, Borough again of course and up into the city past the Tower, Tower Bridge and beyond. I also thought at least one more theatre visit would have to be made and at least one more long park walk followed by a roast if it was Winter or at least one more picnic in the Summer- Kensington Gardens or London Fields are my favourites for different reasons.

The things I haven't yet done, well that's more interesting-I've never been inside the Houses of Parliament, nor have I climbed the Monument, I still haven't had tea or anything else at the Ritz (though frankly I've had pretty much every other tea in London and suspect that I have not missed a huge amount), I haven't ridden in Hyde Park, I haven't used a Boris bike (yes I know). There is an endless list of haven't, which is part of the reason London is never boring- but this year I intend to get on top of the things I haven't done and stop doing the same things, much as I love them ;-)

(As an aside don't get me started on the non London things I haven't done! Cheltenham festival, Goodwood (horses and cars versions), Hay on Wye, all of the Highlands (and islands)... so much to do... I might just have a little rest first.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Nigella's amazing dress

Nigella Lawson is one of my icons. She has made a great career, doing what she is good at and what she loves, do I both admire and rather envy her, in the best possible way.

Nigella is no fairweather or tv only cook, she's extremely knowledgeable, her recipes are easy to follow and work. I enjoy her writing style and what's more I enjoy her outlook on life- she doesn't take things too seriously, she appears to be a great Mother and handled public grief with enormous grace, not that her personal life is any of our business. Yes she probably had a good start in life in many ways, but so did lots of people who don't do anything meaningful with that start.

In my eyes she is going through a particularly fabulous phase- Nigellissima is a great book  for cooking, which might sound silly but lots of cook books are more lifestyle and less cooking. That's not to say I wouldn't enjoy curling up and reading this, I have done so and thoroughly enjoyed it.

She also has some kind of new show in America, which we don't get, though maybe we will?

Anyway the whole point of this post is the billion dollar baby dress.

This seems to be the world's most flattering dress and to be not too cripplingly expensive, compared to say a Roland Mouret number (not that those aren't worth every penny I'm sure). Unfortunately the rest of the UK and north America seems to have noticed how flattering it is, but I still think I will get one and hope that it brings me some of Nigella's publishing success- and perhaps some man success also.

PS. I read the Nigella wears Coco Chanel perfume but I can't remember where I read that, so it's not exactly solid information!

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

What I'm really thinking

I came across the Guardian's What I'm Really Thinking thread for the first time yesterday- and I can't recommend it enough.

These articles are acute little gems of writing, sharp but succint and very very honest.

The first article I read was the single friend and my what an argument that piece is for people writing anonymously. I'm personally not on the same page about never having wanted to meet a Prince but we all know people who have settled and the accuracy, the pain and distain in the author's voice- umcomfortable and compelling writing.

They're not all so on the edge of your seat awkward, there is the quiet sadness of the short man, the interesting take on being a lesbian friend of a straight girl, the to me on the nose description of being a Londoner who sometimes looks down on Provincials.

These articles are exactly the kind of writing that make you cherish newspapers (online or print)- a little oasis of good writing on a lunch break, a sane word on the tube home- writing to make you feel that there is honesty in a world of pretending.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Things to make you cheerful

Pinata Cookies
want to cook these right away!!

The Woman who Went to bed for a Year
a wonderful book for getting into a warm, cosy bed with. Not all light but all so spot on about things I do know about- like wanting to spend time in bed and first days at University- and things I don't, like when your children go to University.

Weekend trips down to Brighton (this time I'm recommending walking from Hove to Brighton and looking at beach huts, the amazing steamer cook ware shop and staying in with friends in their cosy flats). My all time recommendations involve the Pavillion and Parma Violet ice cream eating in the north Laines, but it was too cold for ice cream this time.

Hot water bottles I actually don't know what I'd have done without mine (which looks like a Russian doll) this Winter. It's been so very cold and there's something very cheering knowing you're going to get into a warm bed. I also feel like I'm in a period drama, which can only be a good thing.

Mr Selfridge

Sunday night TV heaven. Sharper than the delightful but dotty Downton Abbey and with added vintage perfume counters.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Before Midnight

I'm so excited about reading Before Midnight is coming out via Cup of Jo that I actually made a yelping noise!

I loved Before Sunrise but Before Sunset is my preferred of the two- it's perfect, so perfect I save it and try not to over watch it.

I didn't know there was definitely a third film- I think I'd decided for myself how the story ended at the end of Before Sunset so I'm interested to see what's happened in the meantime.

By the way, what perfume do you think Celine wears? and/ or what cologne do you think Jesse wears?

With thanks to Cup of Jo- always a reliable source of bliss on cold, dark snowy days