Pia Östlund & London Craft Week

Alice went to hear Printmaker Pia Östlund talk during London Craft Week.

London Craft Week ran from 9th-13th May this year, and there was a plethora of exhibitions, talks and activities taking place all over London. You could design your own loafers with TOD's, make a Turkish Iznik tile at the Yunus Emre Institute, watch a demonstration by the Little Globe Company (they make little globes), and even visit a Georgian-inspired kitchen designed by HOWE and Plain English. There was so much making taking place.A number of events caught my eye, and I was sad to miss out on glassmaker Jochen Holz talking at about his exhibition Superficies at Flow Gallery; and Michael Ruh talking about his collaboration 'Edition' with Another Country - take a look at their beautiful 'Cob Decanter' (I have a thing for hand-blown glass, it is just so incredible).Another event I was intrigued by was Dan Cox and The Room Service, in which he spoke about the ceramics he has made for his new restaurant Crocadon (they are super, Paul Mossman made the ceramics, and Dan Cox created the glaze).  And I am now just so so very excited about the launch of The Room Service - essentially an online platform which sells the beautiful items you often spot in hotels and restaurants - and having gone home and hunted high and low for on the inter web, can never ever find. The Room Service may well have them, go and have a look.One event I really wanted to go to, was a talk and demonstration by printmaker Pia Östlund, all about her journey into the lost art of nature printing. It took place on Friday evening, and I got rather a lot of friendly disbelief (you are going to a nature printing workshop and not straight to the pub with us?!).However I stood firm, and at 6.30pm last Friday, found myself on the top floor of Daylesford on the Pimlico Road, surrounded by a number of ladies of a certain age, who had all been enjoying a day out in London, and who happen to be incredibly keen on printing.And I am just so pleased that I went along.Pia, who is Swedish, was wonderful. She was so warm and friendly, and after everyone had finally got the correct cup of tea, gotten over the confusion of what exactly the talk was to be about (nature printing, not flower pressing) and taken a seat - she began.Pia is a printmaker and graphic designer, and has spent 3 years developing her own version of nature printing. She had discovered a book in the Chelsea Physic Garden library containing prints using a process she did not recognise. Delving deeper, she made her way back to the Victorian era and to Bradbury Wilkinson and Company who had used this specific method of printing (having acquired it from Vienna). At that date it had been used extensively for the printing of plants - the Victorians were super keen on their ferns. However, other than this history and the book she had, there was very little further information on the actual printing process itself.So Pia set out to try and recreate this process. She spent two years working with lead, with numerous visits to lead factories. She even went on a trip with The British Pteridological Society, to collect ferns to work with. Eventually finding lead just too soft a material, she ventured to Vienna, where, amazingly, someone dug up some uncategorised copper plates in the Botanic Library - which turned out to be the very ones used to make the prints in the book from the Chelsea Physic Garden. So she turned to copper, and after a period trying out all sorts of processes using metals, has since been producing incredibly beautiful prints of foliage and flora.I really enjoyed Pia's talk, and fear I haven't really done it justice (she has written a book with Simon Prett if you want more detailed info). It was amazing to hear her talk about her journey into re-discovering this lost art of nature printing, her love for her work, the ups and the downs, and her perseverance with it.After the talk, and another cup of tea, we all had a go at a earlier form of printing, recreating the finest details of leaves in oil paint. It was incredibly satisfying, and so easy to do, once you have the right materials.It was such a fun evening, and I am so happy to have spent my Friday learning all about nature printing.Thank you Pia!Alice xxx

Collect 2018, Luxury British Craft

Alice went to Collect, to see all things handmade and collectable at the Saatchi Gallery.

I had a lovely time at Collect again this year. Held at the Saatchi Gallery, and organised by the Crafts Council, it calls itself 'The International Art Fair for Contemporary Objects'. 40 galleries from 4 continents display the latest work by their 'makers'.  I really like this fair as there are all sorts of works, ranging from beautiful yet simple ceramics to entirely bizarre metalwork, handmade by contemporary makers.High end craft is quite a thing at the moment, we seem to be hankering after unique (often unattainably expensive) handmade works, in a rejection of the mass produced and machine-made, often cheaper stuff.There is also a very blurry line between what is 'craft' and what is 'art'. Some people define it by the materials used - textiles, ceramics and glass, versus pencil and paint; or the use of the object - craft often has a more practical use, art is to be displayed and admired. Possibly it is the way a maker or artist has learnt their skill, or maybe it is merely their intention when making a work, art is usually obliged to express something, craft is free of this prerequisite.But perhaps the rise of craft to a higher level - no longer is the skilled craftsman just replicating the templates of the designer, the craftsman is now also the designer - means that there does not need to be a distinction.Craft or art, or both, I very much like the objects on display at Collect. This year I went straight upstairs to see the exhibits in Collect Open, 'exploratory and risk' taking work by both established and emerging designers, chosen this year by Jay Osgerby, and was delighted with what I found.I will admit I was on a bit of a ceramics hunt, I have such a love for handmade ceramics, and this year I flitted through the rooms at a quicker pace, recognising some favourites from last year (ceramics by Valeria Nascimento and Domitilla Biondi's bas-reliefs carved into paper).However my absolute favourite display was Jilly Edwards' hand-woven tapestry. In a array of beautiful colours, she had chosen to display it on a plinth rather than the wall, to allow the viewer to engage with and explore the work further. Perhaps it was partly meeting Jilly that made this work even more special, but it really was captivating, I had to come back upstairs a second time to see it again.

Below I are my 5 top works by British makers at Collect, and I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

Alice xxx

Jilly Edwards

It was so lovely to meet Jilly, and speak with her about her work. The way she weaves the different colours to create a painterly effect is absolutely amazing, and I love the arrangement of this work, with bright reds and yellows placed next to creamy whites and strong blacks.  She draws and paints her designs first, and then hand-weaves them. She also keeps every thread she uses, with the off-cuts being turned into incredibly satisfying small scale square tapestries. I loved this piece so much, the detail and the colour combinations, and it made me think about weaving in a completely new light.

 

Amy Douglas

Amy Douglas' works are super fun. She produces and re-configures 19th Century Staffordshire ceramics under the name 'The Art of Salmagundi'. Salmagundi is an old French and middle English word relating to a 'hodgepodge' of things - a mixture or variety of ingredients. Each of the Staffordshire figures she works with has a unique break or loss in the body, and Amy restores them with a twist, often using old folk tales and modern mythologies as inspiration. I love this work, and I love it's Title possibly even more.

Sue Doggett

I love the beautiful colours of this book cover. In Henry Holland's original drawings for the 'Hunting of the Snark', the ocean chart used by the 'sailors' was famously blank. Inspired by this, Sue Doggett has represented each of these 10 'sailors' by a directionless compass. The book is leather bound, using a three part construction. Natural goatskin has been dyed and painted with acrylic, and the boards and spine have been machine embroidered.  The paper doublures are hand-painted, and the end-papers are both painted and machine embroidered.

Lucie Rie

This tea set by Lucy Rie is part of the 'Masters of British Studio Pottery' display - co-created with the Fitzwilliam Museum - the aim of which is to recognise and celebrate the rise of collectable modern and contemporary ceramics.  I absolutely love Lucie Rie's work, she was primarily concerned with producing practical and functional wares, and her works feature 's'graffito' - inlaid lines - and thick textures applied with a course brush, coating very delicate pieces. This tea set is wonderful with it's washed finish in a white glaze and l love the curved shape to each piece and darker coloured edges. So beautiful!

Anna Barlow

I love this so much, a stack of incredibly real looking sweet treats made from earthenware and porcelain - the detail is amazing.  Anna Barlow combines different materials and techniques to create 'visual edibility' - capturing the way certain foods melt and ooze - with high-fired porcelain for the wafers and ice cream cones;  and opaque earthenware glaze for dripping ice cream.

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Everything I Avo Wanted

Emily discovers something incredibly exciting at the end of her garden...

They say money doesn't grow on trees - and I used to believe them. That was until I discovered the millennial equivalent of a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow ...

An avocado tree in my West London garden. Yes, you heard me, an actual avocado tree.

My bedroom looks onto the garden and occasionally I would see these green, pear shaped objects rocketing to the ground. At first I ignored them, assuming they were some weird urban fruit (I'm not from London). Then I took a closer look and assumed some extravagant Gatsby living above us was showing off his financial prowess by tossing these princely fruits at the proletariat. And then I completely forgot about it.

Since Tim Gurner's 'wise' observation that if all of us youths just stopped gorging on avocado toast for brunch, then we would be able to buy a house (FYI that is roughly 24,499 portions) my relationship with avocados has been particularly tense. Not to mention their extortionate retail price - and the roulette you play with ripeness (nothing worse than a disappointing avocado - I hear ya!)However, after venturing out last week, as the weather teased us with the promise of Spring,  I saw my mottled green friends lying listlessly on the paving stones once again, and this time I was determined to complete my avo-quest. The temptation of an avocado mine, glory and riches was too much to ignore.

I broached the subject with my housemates, who didn't seem particularly bothered by my exciting revelation, and seemed slightly concerned for my mental well being. Classic avo-haters. Undeterred by their unbelieving - I decided to turn to the experts.

Enter: Sarah Bray - expert horticulturalist, plant enthusiast and my mother. Your family have to at least to pretend to be interested in your mad capers - so I knew I would get some help here.

I ventured into the garden, found a suspected avo - cut it in half and sent my family Whatsapp group a pic. (I'm convinced if Poirot was real and in his 20s today - he would have done the same thing).

rhs2

Needless to say the avocado was extremely hard and having had no confirmation that it actually was an avocado - I wasn't willing to sacrifice my poor stomach ...

rhs3

She was very keen for me to eat one - however I still wasn't convinced.

rhs4-1.png

A number of useful suggestions! Deciding that the plant fans were more likely to be on Twitter than Instagram - I took to the latter platform and got in touch with the Royal Horticultural Society:

RHS

And low and behold! They replied, CONFIRMING that is was in fact an avocado. Miracles do happen!

RHSa

So there you have it. I have an avocado tree in my garden. If anyone has suggestions regarding how to ripen the fruit in the harsh, polluted London climate - please let me know. In the meantime I will be sitting in my garden getting smashed on avocado.

But the good news is now I can stop spending all my money on avocado toast and save up for a house instead.

avo and out,

Emily x

Designers to Watch, London Fashion Week 2018

London Fashion Week has started today, and I am always so excited to see the marvellous creations sauntering down the catwalk each season.  Below I have chosen my favourite looks from SS18 – some are big names, others just starting out, and all of them are featuring in London over the next couple of days.  I am always drawn to bright colours, clean cut patterns and clothes I might actually wear - I can rarely get on board with creations that are just so obviously never meant to be worn by anyone.I am particularly excited for the shows of Tata Naka - last season they created snappy dresses in bold prints; Emilio De La Morena - last season his collection was just SO fun, bright colours with a Clueless touch; Merchant Archive with their incredible gowns; Harman Grubisa for their colour clashing contrasts, Baia bags as they are just so beautiful (purple suede, yes please), Sevda’s butterfly print  leather backpacks, Lui Mei and their wonderful pastel outfits and of course Jamie Wei Huang’s colour popping pompom accessories :-D. And I haven’t included some of my favourites, Rejina Pyo, Sophia Webster, Fyodor Golan and Peter Pilotto but can’t wait to see what they have in store this season.Below are some outfits which I think are fun, and wearable, and a few that have been styled so well that even if you wouldn’t wear them every day, they are super outfit inspirations 😊.

Alice xxx

                            

The February Issue

Happy February!

We have made it here at last, I feel it has been a particularly never ending, rather blue January, and I was so happy to see sunshine, real almost-warm sunshine this morning 🌞It is also over two years now since I started the blog, and it seems to be growing steadily, or at least more people are arriving on the blog in search of something.I am forever being asked, 'What are your stats like?', although I never answer this question, as first of all it's very nosy (I dislike people who pry) and secondly I currently have quite a resentment towards the dopamine fuelled social media numbers game, the way in which a photo on Instagram or a blog post is classed as 'good' or 'bad' purely by the number of 'likes' it has received. Of course I check my blog stats, and it's nice to see a post has been viewed by a lot of people. But it's always nicer and more rewarding to hear just one person say they really enjoyed reading a certain piece.For me the blog has never been a way of gaining followers quickly. It was initially more of a personal journey, first as a way of documenting my activities and interests, and of sharing other peoples ventures, and more recently it has become a platform of sorts, on which other people can share their stories, knowledge and experience.It is constantly evolving, 'growing organically' as someone (who loves a good buzz word 😉) put it, and at the moment I see it as a bit of an experimental space, a place to try projects out (I loved our Millennial Mega Babe photo shoot), where others can share their interests (Sarah Cape's piece on artist Alicia Gradon), one in which they can be creative (I am a big fan of Olivia Dueser's illustrations), and one in which they can share their experiences (Flo Wollstonecraft's piece on life in Cairo).  And of course I am still writing lots, I am thoroughly enjoying interviewing people, and will be doing more, a particular highlight recently was speaking with Natasha Hulse.

And from March I will be mixing it up ever so slightly, with a bit more energy, and more content so do keep tuned in.

Below I have also shared a few things I have learnt about blogging over the last two years.

I hope you enjoy all the February posts and see you in March!

Alice xxx 💕👧

Blogging Realities

1.It is possible that for the first year, the only people who read your blog are you parents, your boyfriend, your dog and the boy who fancied you at high school but has never let on.

2.Some people will never understand why you are writing a blog (half of them think you are writing an open online diary, the other half haven't got the faintest idea what a blog is).

3. Some of your friends will never read it.

4.A lot of people you know will think it's just a silly phase.

5. Your Granny will however ask you regularly if you have done a blog this week, even though she can't see a computer screen anymore. This enthusiasm is worth all the silence.

6. It is incredibly easy to set up a Wordpress account and type out a few heart-felt posts. It's much much harder to keep up the momentum over a long period of time.

7. Blogging regularly is time consuming, particularly when you are fitting it around a full time job.

8. Having a blog plan is imperative,

9. And so is sticking to what you believe in.

10. The most reliable of people can be incredibly unreliable (best to move on), but the people who do take it seriously and share in your project make it completely worth it.

11. It is totally understandable that it is not the top priority on other peoples lists, although it is at the top of yours - you are constantly planning, reviewing, reassessing and moving forward with the next part of the plan.

12. Your friends will never accept that you can't come to the pub because you are 'blogging', best to say your at yoga or caring for your sick goldfish.

13. People don't 'just give you free stuff', you have to ask for it. If you are deemed 'too small' (too few followers) a lot of companies won't give it to you.

14. But then again, you're not writing a blog for 'the free stuff', this is not 1997.

15. Some people will however be incredibly kind, will help you out and will offer useful advice when they don't need too.

16. You will have many many blog crises, Why am I doing this? Why I am spending my time doing this? Why am I still looking at a computer screen once I've left work? Is it turning my brain to mush? When did I last read a book, do people even read books anymore?! Shouldn't I be moving offline completely? Isn't the internet an evil place?!

But then you will remember that really it's very enjoyable and really quite satisfying, and leads to many new and exciting people and opportunities.

And so I shall keep blogging for another year 💕😍

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The painting in the header is by Annabel Ridley

British Brands We're Loving Right Now

Alice takes a look at some British brands, and recommends her favourite pieces.

Blessed London

I love everything by Blessed London, jewellery in bright colours and fun designs, all hand made in London. 10% of every online sale goes to Caudwell Children, a UK charity that provides family support services, equipment and therapies for disabled children.  I love these Queen Bee Tassel Earrings, they are really light making them easy to wear all evening.

Octo Chocolate

I was very kindly given a box of these Craft Raw Coconut Chocolate Covered Hazelnuts recently, and have to admit the idea didn't hugely appeal. However when the cupboard was bare of all types of unhealthy chocolate, my eyes turned to these (a chocolate fix is a chocolate fix, after all), and I have to say I was more than pleasantly surprised, they are quite delicious. So much so, that I can't wait to get my hands on another box. It turns out 'healthy' chocolate can taste good too - YES Octo Chocolate.

William Waterhouse

I am still totally in love with William Waterhouse's mobiles, he now makes a range of combinations, and I have this one very happily hanging from my (just about still living) palm plant.  They are rather magical, although Max assures me he could knock one up in about 10 minutes, I have yet to witness this. So for now, I may be buying another one to add to my collection... and do also have a look at Louisa Loakes' super designs once you've finished perusing mobiles.

Sarah Fennell

I really like Sarah Fennell's designs, beautiful bold brushstrokes of colours, I particularly like her lampshades, perfect for brightening up a room. Each lampshade is first stencilled and then screen printed onto linen using water based inks, and each one is completely unique.  So happy making, I really like this Melba Lampshade, her cushions are fun too.

Milk Tops

Now this isn't something I am currently needing (no babies on the way), but lots of my friends are producing offspring at a rapid rate and Milk Tops does exactly what it says kind of... Essentially they make nice clothes, clothes you actually want to wear, clothes you can wear and look tidy in, when you are breastfeeding. The designs are really nice, I really like their skater dress.

Joanna Cave

Always earrings. I love Joanna Cave's whimsical jewellery, I like that her pieces are often big, with very intricate, delicate looking designs. They remind me of Jan Pienkowski's silhouettes from his book 'The Necklace of Raindrops' - they would definitely be worn by a princess in a fairy take. I like these, Kalysta B, but she does all sorts, necklaces and rings too, do go have a look.

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Serial Flake?

Emily explores a widespread epidemic, the symptoms, effects and a possible cure. 

Imagine this.

It’s some time in the late 1950s. Doris and Bertha have (over the LANDLINE) arranged to meet at a trendy Soho spot for after-work drinks on Thursday to gossip and generally chew the fat. But when Thursday comes, Doris can’t be arsed - because she got a little crazy on Wednesday with Cynthia in Accounts and is hungover and wants to go to bed. BUT she can’t just whack Bertha a Whatsapp to lie about having terrible period pains to get out of the drinks. If she doesn’t show, Bertha will be left hanging, all tarted up with nowhere to go. And she can’t just call or message her - because A. mobile phones don’t exist yet and B. Bertha is out at meetings all day and therefore couldn’t be contacted on the landline - even if she wanted to be. So guess what? Doris has to go, hangover and all because she has no other choice. So she shows up and the two of them actually have a really great time.

What a dreamy state of affairs? People make plans and actually stick to them.

However today sadly the concept of reliability is so alien I bet Charlie Brooker makes an episode of Black Mirror about it.

As usual technology is to blame. Out constant state of connectivity means that we can formulate and cancel plans in the blink of an eye. Nothing is set in stone (or even in pen) and this has lead to the acceptance of serial cancellations. Our digital lives have made everything more informal, more detached. Where once one would receive and RSVP to a party invitation on paper, now we compulsively click ‘attending’ on Facebook events, with no intention of actually going. We speculatively make plans with friends weeks in advance, with no thought as to how we will feel at the time: perhaps we will be tired, or busy at work? But because we know that we have the option of changing plans last minute - we don’t consider the future.

This is what has lead to the emergence of THE  SERIAL FLAKES.

Flaking is a dangerous game, if done infrequently it can be fine, but like most things if done in excess - it can have disastrous consequences. Chronic flakiness breeds resentment and even if unintended can come across as exceptionally rude. It assumes that the flaker takes you for granted, and doesn’t value your time or friendship. Our time is precious and when frittered away by an inconsiderate flaker can cause trouble.

CAVEAT

(I’ll admit that my own flakiness record isn’t exactly pristine. I’ve flaked many times on some of my nearest and dearest for a plethora of legitimate, such as norovirus, and non-legitimate, reasons aka I was tired and wanted to spend time alone watching Netflix. But I always try to manage the expectations of my friends and respect their time.)

From my perception of Flakers in the wild, I have discovered four prevalent types:

The Tired Flake

Our mentality is very much ‘work hard, play hard.’ This means that we are expected to give 100% to both our work life and our social life. So we plan, and we feel like if we don’t plan then we are somehow missing out. I have friends who I have tried to organise plans with and they don’t have any space in their diary for at least a month in advance?!  Extracurriculars are admirable and can be important for personal development - but that is just silly. But with our diaries choc-full of drinks, dinners, cinema trips, tennis lessons, volunteering, dates etc we eventually burn-out and that is when the ‘Tired Flaker’ comes into play. This is usually someone who has taken on too much and is so exhausted from their constant parade of engagements that they just need a break. They will be honest in their flakiness, they will give you fair warning, apologize profusely and rearrange (maybe more than once).

The Legitimate Flake

You can tell a legitimate flaker by the totally unexpected nature of the flake. Usually reliable in their organisation, they themselves will be just as surprised as you are by the flaking. It will rarely happen but when it does, be down to illness, work or a family commitment.

The Scatty Flake

You should never bother to make plans with the scatty flake. They rarely know if they are coming or going. They will probably have double booked you, turn up on the wrong day and if they do arrive, they will be late. They have no concept of time, or the importance of other peoples. If you do make plans with the scatty flake - make them at your own home so when they do cancel, it doesn’t matter.

The Distance Related Flake

Do you have friends who do their best to avoid travelling any distance out of their way? Who you always find yourself moving mountains to go an visit and yet there is no way they would ever return the favour? Those that fall into this category usually have a desperate phobia of leaving Zones 1&2. If you make plans with them outside their comfort zone(s) they will devise chronic lies to avoid travelling any distance. Best to meet them in Sloane Square.

The Lying Flake

This is the worst and most devious type of Flaker. They are the ones who will always wait until the last minute to flake. They text just a couple of minutes before you arrive for a drink to say they aren’t coming, or ruin a seating plan by cancelling at the last possible second before a dinner party. They will have a repertoire of excuses: ‘I had Zumba with my Granny’ or ‘I had to take my dog to the masseuse.’ You always know they are lying, either because they got a better offer, or they just can’t be bothered, but either way it is no way to behave. When making plans with The Liar - ensure it’s in groups of more than two, so they can’t totally ruin your plans.

Flaking is a vicious circle. In the worst possible way, I find myself feeling less and less bad about about flaking on my flaky friends. Which, I imagine leads them to flaking on me. And so round and round it goes, chipping away at friendships until there is nothing left except for a resentful mess.

Worse still is that flaking is now affecting bodies like the NHS - with missed appointments costing the health service nearly 1bn a year! It’s one thing to flake on drinks with Araminta at The Sloaney Pony on a Friday, but to flake on a GP that you have presumably booked an appointment with because you had some medical concerns - is in my (hypochondriacal) mind, totally obscene.

I was speaking to someone very wise about the flaking epidemic last week and he said that what we really need to do is:

Plan less and show up more.

And I am in total agreement.

Illustration Olivia Dueser

Words Emily Bray

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The January Issue

Happy 2018!

As it's January and we are feeling decidedly fatter, definitely poorer and our livers are crying out for a break, we thought we would share some fairly wholesome things we will be doing this month 😘.

Alice

Drying Out January

I know it a cliché, but I have done dry January for the last two years, and there is something rather refreshing about just saying no.  I did find it hard to start with, the hardest part being the cry of 'why don't you just have one glass' from friends who cannot comprehend your presence at the pub sans alcohol.  However, I urge you to resist and to push through - you will feel a little better for it, and certainly very smug when everyone is moaning about their horrific hangovers in the morning and you've already run 5K.  The major downside is the lack of interesting drinking alternatives, I'm not a big fizzy drink drinker, nor do I much like the nasty orange juice from concentrate pubs serve. Instead I tend to go for a nice pint of soda water mixed with cranberry juice and a dash of lime.  A little bit weird, but at least it keeps you hydrated, and hangover free. Already feeling a little smug.

Running a Half Marathon

All three of us have signed up for the Hampton Court Half Marathon in February (do join us or cheer us on, we need all the support we can get, and any training tips are very welcome). Olivia is also doing the London Marathon in April, so we are all running around like crazy.

This time last year I ran a 5K for the first time in a very long time, I'm not even sure that I had ever run that far before. For some reason at school I got lumbered with running the 1500 metres in athletics, but the idea of running a whole 5 kilometres felt like madness. However, I dug out my trainers (still full of sand from those occasional runs I took along the beach in St Andrews) and off I ran around Battersea Park and it really wasn't that bad. So now, a year later, I'm doing a half marathon, probably not a fast one, but I'm excited all the same.

Sending More Postcards

This is just fun, and second class stamps only cost 56p, so really we should be posting letters to each other all the time.  I'm all for the hand made card, and I am eyeing up a number of ink stamps from the English Stamp Company, all I need now is lots of white card.  Perhaps for lent I shall give up Whatsapp and only converse via postcard - if you want a letter in the post, just let me know 😍.

Olivia

Sweating out Your Indulgences and Sins

Whilst you cannot undo anything you consumed this holidays, you can certainly sweat out some of the toxins. I will be heading down to Southbank's latest installation Finnish Rooftop Sauna - a Finnish themed sauna, decked with beautiful decorations and views overlooking the river and the London skyline - the ultimate way to start a new you in the New Year!

Reading a Book

'You Do You' by Sarah Knight - this life guru's latest book couldn't be more fitting for that “new you” you're planning on focusing on. She helps shake off the ridiculous expectation you give yourself and teaches you to say f**k perfect. Covering a range of topics from relationships to finances to health - Sarah reminds us that there are no rules when it comes to your life.

Taking a Day Trip from London

It’s very important to get a good dose of fresh, clean air - especially when living in London. I will be heading out of London and becoming one with Nature venturing on one of the Long Man Walks from Lewes - just over hour from London by train, and perfect for Sunday hiking.

Emily

Having a Board Game Evening

I will be inviting all my pals round for an evening of board game entertainment. Starting the newbies on Monopoly, and upgrading to Risk when I think they are mentally prepared.

Visiting a Gallery

The Newport Street Gallery is in a fun building, all the exhibitions are free and it's even south of the river, situated happily between Vauxhall and Lambeth. I am excited to get stuck into the current exhibition Dan Colen: Sweet Liberty.

Going for a Bike Ride

I will be going for more bike rides (hire a Boris Bike, it's very simple, and excellent for the gluteus maximus) -  and cycling along Regent's Canal towpath in north London is very pleasant, definitely include a stop for fish and chips at the Broadway Fish Bar, on Broadway Market.

...and writing things down

This is partly because I (Alice 🙋) am obsessed with diaries and note books and list making, and my very favourite is kikki. K's 365 Journal, one beautiful blank page for every day of the year. So happy making, buy one now, it will make you feel better.

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A Christian Christmas in 21st Century Britain

Lawrence Smyth ruminates on the meaning of a Christian Christmas for Millennials in the 21st Century.

Christmas is probably the only time of year many of us will step inside a church. Carol services and Midnight Masses are usually jolly affairs, even atheists love belting out carols such as O Come all ye Faithful, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing and Away in a Manger! Although churches on 25th December are likely to be full (or at least more so than usual), and there will be much good cheer around, it can’t be ignored that Britain is increasingly becoming a post-Christian society with fewer and fewer people self-identifying as Christian. Where does this leave Christmas - Christ’s Mass (Cristes maesse in Old English)? What is it ultimately all about? In between the carols the priest normally gives a ten minute sermon in which he waffles on about how a Jewish fellow was born 2,000 years ago, and how this was a very significant and important event. The Scripture readings remind us of the Angel Gabriel, the Virgin Birth, the Three Shepherds and the Three Wisemen. Many in our cynical and postmodern age have little time for these charming details, and will likely doze off/joke around whilst waiting to sing the next carol. Can’t we sing songs and be merry in December without all the stuff about the baby Jesus? Isn’t Christmas just a Christian appropriation of a pagan winter festival anyway? Amidst the mince pies, the turkey, the presents, the Christmas pudding, does the religious aspect of this festival have any significance anymore? What does Christmas mean for the dwindling band of young Brits who self-identify as Christian? And what does it mean to be a Millennial Christian in irreligious Britain today?

Christmas - a Pagan Festival Appropriated by Christians?

The internet has enabled the spread of much useful and valuable information. However, it has also led to an increase in fake news, conspiracy theories, and propaganda dressed up as fact. It is impossible to log onto social media at Christmas or Easter without seeing ‘posts’ triumphantly asserting that the celebrations are actually pagan festivals which ‘evil’ Christians stole from ‘wise and tolerant’ pagans. Even the trusted Encyclopaedia Britannica alludes to this in its entry for Christmas. Many ancient civilisations held celebrations between 17th December and 1st January; the period of course coincides with the Winter Solstice in the northern hemisphere, when the year’s shortest day and longest night occur. The Romans held the festival of Saturnalia on 17th December, a time of merrymaking and exchange of gifts. The Persians celebrated the mystery god Mithra's birthday on 25th December and the late Romans also celebrated the birthday of their sun god Sol on the same date. We obviously have some remarkable coincidences here, primarily connected with ancient agricultural and solar observances at mid-winter. So did Christians just jump on the bandwagon and decide to celebrate their ‘god’ at the same time as other gods?In fact the reason Christians celebrate Jesus’s birth on 25th December is more intriguing. The celebration of Christmas is closely linked with the date of 25th March, exactly nine months earlier. Christianity is obviously an offshoot of Judaism. In the old Jewish calendar the Passover festival was celebrated on 14 Nisan, which is the equivalent 25th March in the Roman calendar. According to the New Testament Jesus was crucified on this date. Consequently the early Christians believed he was conceived on 25th March as well, the traditional date of the feast of the Annunciation (it was apt that a great person’s life should begin and end on the same date). 25th December is exactly nine months after 25th March! It is strangely fitting that these dates collide. The Winter Solstice marks the point in the year after which ‘light triumphs over darkness,’ when the amount of daylight increases. The Gospel of St John describes Jesus as the “true Light, which lighteth every man that come into the world” and Jesus later tells listeners “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness but shall have the light of life.” This may be all well and good, poetic even! But what’s the significance of this man’s birth, this man who described himself as the “light of the world”?

Christmas - The Incarnation and the Redemption

Modern Christianity in the West has become very bland, tepid and wishy-washy. Nowadays people think of Jesus only as a holy man who urged that we should be “nice.” They think Christianity is simply about following his teachings. Those not completely under the influence of Richard Dawkins / Christopher Hitchens (‘Ditchkins’) may even acknowledge that Jesus taught some noble things. Traditionally, however, Christians have not thought of Jesus as a mere holy man. After all, there have been many great holy men and prophets in history, such as Judaism’s Moses, Islam’s Prophet Muhammad and the Buddha. If Jesus was no more than a holy man who taught some ethics, Christianity is a pointless, false and idolatrous religion. From the beginning the early Christians thought of Jesus as the key to all human history, as the God-man, who won victory over death and allowed Man to return to the Garden of Eden - from which Man has been exiled. To understand the importance of Christmas, one must understand the Judeo-Christian view of man’s spiritual history.The human story begins with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. The name “Adam” simply means “man” in Hebrew. Adam and Eve are the mythical/symbolic ancestors of the entire human race. In Eden they disobey God’s command, eat the forbidden fruit and become self-conscious, ashamed and fearful. Their ignorant bliss is ended and resultantly Mankind is condemned to exile from God. Mankind now has to contend with pain, suffering, man-made evil, alienation and death. “God created the human being for incorruptibility and an image of his own eternity; but by the envy of the devil, death entered into the world.”However, God makes a covenant with Abraham and the Jewish people. This marks the beginning of God’s redemptive journey for mankind. God promises Abraham he will “establish my covenant between me and thee, and between thy seed after thee in their generations, by a perpetual covenant: to be a God to thee, and to thy seed after thee.” God later promises the Prophet Jeremiah “Behold the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel…After those days saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.The birth of Jesus heralds the New Covenant. The Biblical Old Testament is about God’s Old Covenant with the Israelites. The New Testament is about the establishment of God’s New Covenant. This is for all the nations and to last until the end of the world. The Eternal God achieves this by sending his Eternal Son, born before all the ages and consubstantial (of the same substance and essence) with the Father, to ‘dwell among us,’ as a flesh-and-blood man. This is the miracle of the Incarnation. Jesus becomes the meeting place between God and man. It is through Jesus, the second ‘Adam’ that God’s true nature is revealed to us. Jesus is ‘the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature’ and ‘the brightness of [God’s] glory, and the express image of his person.’ Mankind fell because of Adam and Eve’s disobedience. Mankind rises again through the selfless example of Jesus. St Paul writes ‘For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.’ “Adam’ is the old man, Christ is the new. Thanks to Jesus ‘as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God.’ Through the miracle of Jesus’s Resurrection, death is defeated:‘The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death…Death is swallowed up in victory. O death where is thy sting? O grave where is thy victory?’Quite a story! It is because of the Incarnation’s believed significance nevertheless that Christmas has always been such a joyful time of year for Christians. It is the moment in history when the Eternal Living All-Powerful God became finite, corruptible man, dwelt among us, suffered with us, won victory over death and thereby ennobled us. ‘All things of [Jesus’s] divine power which appertain to life and godliness, are given us, through the knowledge of him who hath called us by his own proper glory and virtue. By whom he hath given us most great and precious promises: that by these you may be made partakers of the divine nature: flying the corruption of that cupiscence which is in the world.’ Why did the Eternal Transcendent Living God become man? Only God can save corrupted, fallen man. Man does not have the power to save himself. Man is born, suffers and dies. However, the universe is God’s creation and the Book of Genesis tells us “God saw everything he made and, behold, it was very good.’ The New Testament tells us that ‘God is love’ and that at the end of time ‘all things shall be subdued unto God…so that God may be all in all.Thus, since God is love, is happy with his creation, and wants us to return to Him, how does He steer us onto the right path? At first in the Old Testament the steering is done through Divine commands and the Mosaic Law. However, via the Incarnation the steering is done through God sharing in our humanity and establishing personal relationship. Can we love an Eternal Spirit that only issues commands? An Eternal Spirit with whom we cannot form any personal relationship? A loving relationship can only be a reciprocal one; God arbitrarily commanding obedience cannot be the basis of a loving relationship. Therefore, it is through Jesus, God as man, - full of compassion, mercy and self-sacrifice for humanity - that ‘the Spirit and the bride [of God] say: Come. And he that heareth, let him say: Come. And he that thirsteth, let him come: and he that will, let him take the water of life, freely.’

Being a Millennial Christian Today

What does it mean to be a young British Christian today? Since the year 597, when Pope Gregory the Great sent the monk Augustine of Canterbury to England to convert the Anglo-Saxons, being a Christian in Britain has been fairly unremarkable. Not so today. The media, who ultimately play a large role in dictating cultural altitudes, mostly subscribe to “progressive” ideology. This involves a constant struggle against “reactionary” forces and an unceasing fight for “victims,” real or imagined. Christianity is deemed a force of “reaction” and therefore is attacked. Christians are increasingly portrayed negatively in the media. The two favourite caricatures are of the naive, happy-clappy “I love you Jesus” odd-ball and the cold misogynistic hypocritical bigot who hates women, LGBT people, sex etc.Western Christians have not made a very positive case for their religion over the past 50 years either, which has contributed to the increasingly non- and anti-Christian attitudes that prevail today. They have presented Jesus as a sort of wise man hippy who helps people feel better when they’re feeling a little blue. What an uninspiring vision! It is no surprise that with such a modest vision people have abandoned Christianity in large numbers. If we’re looking for something to help us with stress or to find some kind of temporary inner peace, why not just go to Waterstones and buy a book by the latest Buddhist spiritual guru, or a book on mindfulness, or a self-help book on how to boost our self-esteem? Why bother with what some Jewish guy said in Israel two millennia ago?Despite the increasingly anti-Christian attitudes that abound today, and the lack of interest Millennials have in the religion, being a Christian in 2017 is no different from what it was in the year 117, or 517, or 1017, or 1517. “You are great, Lord, and highly to be praised: great is your power and your wisdom is immeasurable…our heart is restless until it rests in you,” thus wrote St Augustine at the beginning of his Confessions in 387. To be a Christian is to believe that Man is a “borderland creature.” On the one hand he is obviously a mammal who needs to eat, sleep and reproduce. He is of the earth and must play a part in human social life. However he is also a rational animal with a mind capable of sensing the “transcendent,” the “beyond.” When people say they are “spiritual not religious” what they mean is they are dimly aware of forces beyond the normal physical world, but can’t be bothered to investigate any further. For the Christian the sense of the “transcendent”, of the “beyond,” is the sense of God and His transcendent reality. For the Christian, true eternal happiness can only be found in God; the goal of life is the Beatific vision, when we shall see God ‘face to face.’ The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us: ‘Those who are united with Christ will form the community of the redeemed, ‘the holy city’ of God, the ‘Bride, the wife of the Lamb.’ She will not be wounded any longer by sin, stains, self-love, that destroy or wound the earthly community. The Beatific vision, in which God opens himself in an inexhaustible way to the elect, will be the ever-flowing well-spring of happiness, peace and mutual communion.’So what does one do to reach the Heavenly Jerusalem? Christians believe Jesus, the God-man, showed us the way. Being a Christian is not easy; from a worldly perspective Jesus’s life ended in failure and rejection. Christianity is not supposed to bring any material rewards in this life; ‘If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.’ There is no correlation between being ‘good’ and receiving ‘good fortune’, for ‘God maketh his sun to rise upon the good and bad, and raineth upon the just and the unjust.’  In any case life is only a ‘vapour which appeareth for a little while, and afterwards shall vanish away.However, Christians are always called to do good and what is right, not for their own sake, but for others, in imitation of Jesus’s example. Consulting the earliest Christian writings is as good a way as any to show us the right path. As the anonymous 2nd Century Christian text The Epistle to Diognetus says: ‘How will you love him [Christ] who so loved you first? Why, in loving him you will be an imitator of his kindness. And do not marvel that a man can imitate God. By the will of God he can. True happiness consists not in exercise of power over one’s neighbours, nor in wishing to get the better of one’s weaker fellows, nor in riches, nor in using force on one’s inferiors. It is not in such things that a man can imitate God. No, such things are outside God’s magnificence. But any man who takes upon himself his neighbour’s load, who is willing to use his superiority to benefit one who is worse off, who supplies to the needy the possessions he has as a gift from God and thus becomes a god to his beneficiaries - such a man is an imitator of God. Then though actually on earth you will see that God has his commonwealth in heaven; then you will begin to speak the mysteries of God.’ Surely true and great words!

Merry Christmas!

Lawrence Smyth is a contributor to The Wanderer, a blog on diverse subjects with a religious focus.

And some further reading:

Mere Christianity by CS Lewis - a classical introduction to Christianity.

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Christmas Ads - WHO EVEN CARES ANYMORE?

Emily Bray shares her musings on this years crop of Christmas Ads.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year and that means the festive floodgates have inevitably opened, unleashing a pyroclastic-flow of nauseating Christmas adverts. They come every year like an uncontrollable weepy, kitschy, festive flu that just won’t quit. Really John Lewis is to blame for this commercial pandemic - as the fervour kicked off circa 2011 with this #toocute spot. Perhaps I wasn’t paying enough attention to the ad scene pre 2010, but I’m pretty sure no one gave a monkeys about Christmas ads before. However, since this Merry D-Day of advertising each year brings the Battle of the Brands, in which big names pump an obscene amount of money into creating ‘feel good’ moments, to persuade you to buy your Granny a lamp or a phone contract or something else she really doesn’t want. Sorry if I sound like the Grinch - I really do like some of them, but I think the whole thing has got slightly out of hand. Losing sight of what Christmas is really about, the yearly stand off has lead to brands pumping cash into trying to outdo each other - rather than work that is really authentic.

Sainsburys

The biggest culprit is Sainsburys with their heinous black and white sing-a-long creation, complete with bouncing sprout (WTF?) The whole thing is atrocious - did no one tell them that user generated content is SO 2015? This ad is not only painful to watch, but exceptionally tacky and their chosen sing-a-long tune isn’t even catchy. It is a far cry from their elegant and profound First World War piece from a couple of years ago. Their change of agency has had a clear impact - and it is definitely not a good one.

Very

Next on my list is online retailer Very. Does anyone remember any work that Very has ever produced? No. Now don’t get me wrong, I respect that they have thrown their hat in the ring and tried to run with the big boys - but the result is a misplaced, if beautiful, mess. Their piece takes place in a CGI Winter Wonderland with a girl who wouldn’t look out of place in Frozen, desperate to gift those on her extensive list. Now, aside from the fact that this is clearly ripped off from John Lewis’ ‘The Long Wait’ (see above on JL’s 2011 spot) - it has nothing linking it back to the brand, no product and nothing to build on their brand identity. It is a bold piece of work - but feels like they are simply trying to keep up, rather than creating anything that is actually on brand, or speaks to their customers.

John Lewis

These guys are a victim of their own success. Having sat fat and happy at the top of the Christmas ad hierarchy for the last few years, it appears that they are slowly losing their sparkle. Nothing good can last forever and Moz seems much more forced than his predecessors - and he’s not even that cute. The soundtrack isn’t memorable, the story doesn’t tug on the heart strings (and probably not the purse strings), sadly it doesn't have the pizzazz of adverts past. It might be time for a change in direction.

Anyway - enough of my rant.

Here are some spots that you should actually take some time to have a peek at (if you can find time in between scoffing mince pies and downing mulled wine):

Age UK

Weepy - but not because it’s cute. Age UK draws attention to the forgotten at Christmas time, reminding us that everything is not merry for the thousands of elderly who are alone on Christmas. You probably won’t enjoy it - but it’s a powerful piece of work.

BBC

This stop motion beauty doesn’t try too hard. A young girl rehearses for a Christmas talent show, while her dad busy with work doesn’t pay any attention. Totally charming.

M&S

Aside from the fact that M&S are obviously jumping on the Paddington bandwagon as a means to their own ends - I can’t help but love it’s twist on Father Christmas. Anything with this little bear gets a thumbs up from me.

Debenhams

A modern day fairy tale - with Ewan McGregor. What’s not to like? It’s glossy and festive - a great job.

McDonald’s

Ok, I am totally biased - but McDonald’s have done a very clever thing here. Rather than focusing on their glorious menu, they have made their ad all about one girl’s quest to find carrots for Father Christmas’s reindeer - cementing the brand as a go-to for anything and everything over the festive period. Sweet without being saccharine, it places brand at the heart.So there you have it - now we can all get on and enjoy Christmas, without having it rammed down our throats.If you really want to see what a Christmas ad should look like, in my humble opinion, watch this flawless 90s spot from Yellow Pages,  no muss, no fuss - a simple idea, well executed with product front and centre and not an animal, CGI or otherwise, in sight.

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The Museum Gift Shop

I have a thing for museum gift shops.  They are full of such wonderful delights, you never know quite what you might find in these treasure troves. I always enjoy a quick unplanned pop into a favourite shop, and I often come away with an unexpected gem.  I like that books on far ranging topics sit alongside silly nik naks artfully inscribed with a museum's name, and that there is always an excellent selection of postcards.  I am a great appreciator of exhibition themed objects, am often tempted by a print or a pretty ceramic, and really love a designer collaboration printed scarf or pair of earrings.

I also think museum gift shop shoppers are a friendlier type, the shops tend to be calmer, less bustle, more quiet browsers.Most museum websites are looking pretty smart these days too and are very enjoyable to peruse.  I often think working for one of these sites would be the perfect combination of old and new - discovering, choosing and commissioning exciting art related products for these venerable museums and galleries, whilst delving into the intricacies of ecommerce and analytics.Recently I admired a fantastic pair of earrings, which were made up of one white pearl drop and one black pearl drop. It turns out they are from the Metropolitan Museum's shop in New York, and are after Rubens's painting of Venus, in which she is wearing one white pearl earring and another 'black' pearl earring that can be seen reflected in a mirror. It is likely Rubens painted the pearl darker to show it in shadow, but I love the concept and I love the earrings, there is just so much scope for art themed gifts.Museum shops are also the perfect place to find all manner of Christmas related things - that advent calendar not yet bought, a Christmas decoration for a God child, or a interesting book for a cousin.  So below are my Christmas present museum gift shop finds, just click on the images to find out more.

Alice xxx

Dulwich Picture Gallery

Dulwich Picture Gallery is one of my favourites, partly because Dulwich is very nice, and I love the setting of the gallery, but also because they always have interesting and fun collaborations.  The Tove Jansson exhibition is currently showing, and the shop is happily full of all sorts of Moomin creations.

Tate

The Tate has it all, I particularly like the shop in the Turbine Hall of the Tate Modern, nice and spacious.

The V&A

A big favourite, great cards and great jewellery and the shop is located just off the sculpture gallery, so you can easily come back when you've seen enough of Canova and decided what you want.  Their Winnie-the-Pooh exhibition opens on 9th December, so even more of a reason to visit.

Royal Academy

I have to admit, I don't know if you can get into this shop without viewing an exhibition, but do go see Dali / Duchamp, it is on until 3rd Jan, and buy some postcards after, they always have good postcards.

The National Gallery

It's all about the shop on the ground floor of the Sainsbury Wing. While your there, nip up to the gallery to see the very distinguished Doge Leonardo Loredan by Giovanni Bellini who lives a couple of floors above. 

The British Library

There are two shops here, to your right is current exhibition curiosities, to your left is the book shop, it's bigger than it looks, keep going.  And go see the exhibition, it's just up the stairs and is currently 'Harry Potter: A History of Magic'  - what more could you want.

National Portrait Gallery

I like the shop in the basement, there rarely ever seems to be anyone in there, lots of time for happy browsing and situated right next to the cafe. And Cézanne and his Portraits are currently on show, a must visit.

The Wallace Collection

Situated right next to the Armoury Collection, ensure you have a wander around this museum first, there is a whole room of full of Venice paintings by Canaletto and Guardi, it's such a super place. Shop is small but good, there are two parts, so don't be disappointed if you don't find something in the first room, keep going!

Soane Museum

I haven't been here for a quite a while but they have a shop, and if you haven't been to this museum you really ought to. It's close to Holborn and so fun, wind your way through this town house and Sir John Soane's absolutely incredible collection of so many things.

Art UK

Online only, you can buy both prints and books, as well as image licenses of the UK's national art collection.  The best place to find an interesting lesser known print for that perfect Christmas present.

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The December Issue

Some Christmas fun now it's December.

Alice, Olivia and Emily xxx

The Advent Calendar

Ora Singers

Even if you haven't yet gorged yourself on all the chocolates in your advent calendar, the Ora Advent Calendar is absolutely the best calendar you will be opening this December. Every day this month you can listen to a brand new choral composition by this a cappella group, starting with Suzi's Carol by John Rutter.

The Wreath

Studio Smudge

This year Studio Smudge's beautiful wreath is designed with Christmas foliage, pink flowers, rose hips and gold flourishes - set the trend and adorn your door with this pretty in pink Christmas must have.

The Tree

Pines & Needles

Sam and Josh Lyle have been selling Christmas tree since the age of 13. If you need a tree, and you do, it's Christmas, a real one is essential, Pines & Needles is the place to get one, and a Nordmann fir is the one you want.

The Decoration

Liberty London

Liberty has the very best Christmas shop and of course wonderful Christmas tree decorations. We love this glamorous peacock.

The Cracker

Meri Meri

These are festive and fun and not trying too hard - a hat, a toy and a joke, all you need.

The Pudding

Nanna's Christmas Pudding

A pudding is important at Christmas time, and this handmade pudding comes wrapped in a festive tea towel.

The Stocking

Aeske

If choosing lots of little presents to go in a stocking is too much, Aeske have done it for you - they have one for Her and one for Him. I'm not convinced by the actual stocking itself, white linen isn't quite in the spirit, but the things inside are very nice indeed.

 The Chocolates

Amelia Rope

You could buy a tin of Celebrations, or even some Roses, or you could instead buy some of Amelia Rope's delicious creations. I am big into passion fruit and chocolate at the mo, and these are amazing.

The DressRixo

A dress is necessary and this year it's needs to be a Rixo dress. Pick from any one of their wondrous creations, I like this one, and I also love their new cosmic range.

The Jumper

hush

It's not lurid but it does sparkle, it's super cosy and nice and warm and you can wear it all year. Perfect.

The TrousersM & S

It turns out 13-14 year olds are quite big - yes these star print velvet leggings are from the kids range, they are SO GREAT, and yes I own them. Probably not for you if you are tall, I am 5ft4 and they fit wonderfully. SO HAPPY.

The Shoes

Boden

These are very very fun indeed, and flat shoes are always a good idea round Christmas time - all those carol services and drinks parties, so much standing up, and these will cheer any outfit up.  They also come as a pair of ankle boots, possibly even better.

The Present for You

Verheyen London

This is the one I am after, such a stunning colour, just perfect for cold wintry days.

The Thank You Letter Notecards

Angela Harding

Very important, I like Angela Harding's Winter Notecards.

And even more important..

The Sherry for Father Christmas

Berry Bros. & Rudd

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A Day in the Life Of...

...a Russell & Bromley Tassel Loafer

7:30am ah that must be the morning bell! Octavia’s up and rushing to the shower before you can say “Rise and Shine!”

Speaking of shine, how fly do I look today?

What a quick shower - must be a personal best. Ha! She beat the rest of those Sleepy Susans to it.

Uniform on, hair perfectly blow dried, tie straightened and she slips me on to complete the look. There never was a more chic Head Girl.

Down to breakfast. Out of the way you stupid First Formers - urgh they are so cocky these days - didn’t even bother to hold the door open!

Yasssss! It’s Friday and that means MUFFIN DAY - her fave. I wish they wouldn’t drop bits on the floor though - very squishy ewwww.

Off to the first lesson - photography. Obviously Octavia is top of the class, her Andy Warhol inspired self-portraits are SO original.

Textiles up next. Corset dress nearly complete, and the look is finished off with me - edgy but classic. Srsly she is the next Vivienne Westwood.

Free period! Thank God. Sooo much O.C to catch up on. It’s been SUCH a busy morning, poor darling needs a rest.

Lunch - hmmmm. Nothing suitable on the menu so Octavia and Podge order a pizza from Dominoes and eat it behind the Cookery Hut. SO naughty! Not much fun for me, it’s a bit gritty round the back here - and my soles are a bit sensitive to rough surfaces. I was designed for the Kings Road, not THIS.

Maths - urgh who needs it. Especially when Daddy owns a bank - surely everyone has other people to do their maths for them?

Quick ciggie break behind the Sports Hall - What a thrill! Not enjoying the mud though, and traipsing through years of cigarette butts is v nasty.

Finally a sports lesson! And today we are watching Wimbledon to learn how to play tennis - how heavenly.

Dash to Tuck Shop to get a packet of Discos and Diet Coke to see her through until supper time. What an array of footwear the younger girls wear these days - surely Doc Martins aren’t classed as school shoes … ?

Spending the evening working on the old UCAS application - but Octavia will probably get into Oxford anyway, when Daddy donates a library.

Another perfect day in boarding school paradise.

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Words Emily Bray, Illustration Olivia Dueser 

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