my top 10 gift ideas

what to buy each year becomes a dilemma – here is my list of what usually works for most of the family.

1. everyman  cinema vouchers – i get the older one a ritzy cinema membership as she lives in brixton,  2. tate or v & a membership or any gallery subscription – older kids seem to have preferred the Barbican and now you can get the museums association membership that i wrote about a few days ago , 3. ticket to the theatre, maybe somewhere unusual like Wiltons or Sam Wanamaker theatre, 4. daunts book voucher, 5. anything from aesop, ten or beauty mart for those teenage girls, 6.  anything from the wonderful art shop cornelissen 7.  food gifts from la fromagerie, 8.  jewellery from sweet pea or Peppi Taylor, 9.  ceramics from the new craftsmen or fliff carr, 10. candles from cire trudon and one extra that i would love –  a course in ceramics or mandarin or watercolour – there are so many courses on offer at city lit and the neighbouring adult colleges.

Robert and Alfie’s favourite shop for classic  men’s clothes with style,  visit  J.Simons  shop on chiltern street –  it brings together a handpicked selection of American, Continental and British brands, classic loafers, harrington jackets, jeans and even includes a few vintage pieces – perfect if you want to find your male partner or friend a gift.  i love the pendleton shirts!  you go in there wishing that they did the same things in womens sizes.

struggling to find presents for men, go along to the aesop shop in soho – their products are all plant based, high quality and specially made to benefit the skin and absolutely smell beautiful. last year i bought a foaming shaving balm for my husband with a steel dish for him to whip up the foam with his brush – he is very old fashioned and still likes to wet shave.  a lot of men hate bits and pieces, collective memoirs, so finding something to buy them  can become a bit of a challenge.  a guess this means that you have a limited list;   here are a few places that i know robert will always be pleased to receive from  -any products from  kiehls,  scarves and silk handkerchieves frompeckham rye, vintage books and out of print books  from the numerous antiquarian book shops on cecil court, poetry books from  daunts, I still think that they have the best choice of books, and the re issues of classics such as Agatha Christie and Dickens are so beautifully presented that they can be the start of a collection, travel notebooks from smythsons – you can even have your own initials embossed on the beautiful leather covers, margaret howell for vases and accessories, rapha for absolutely anything cycling, brooks for classic cycling bags,chapmans for classic bags.

alfie has now gone from the great basic uniqulo boxers to the supremely quality cotton boxers from sunspel – their cotton is just lovely.  tidy street store has a selection of sunspel items, as well as lots of lovely other gift ideas, including candles by tom dixon.



i am a big advocate for children’s charities – we have always supported a child in bolivia with Plan Uk, in fact, our first child grew up alongside alice and is now over 20 years, so we now support another little one – its a great way to get your children to communicate by letter and with drawings and to be aware of how others live who are not as lucky as yourself.

this week-end there are 2 charities that i have supported, magic breakfast for triyoga in action  and max’s foundation – i have given them both one of my new limited edition books and a print to auction to raise funds – so if you can help, make a bid and help make it a better world for all children.

words for today – share care love and believe



went to see Paterson at the barbican cinema, what a lovely cinema it is and if you are a member of the barbican, you get special early viewings like the one we saw this morning – i actually bought my friend maria a membership at the barbican for a birthday present – which i know that she enjoys.  i bought my son a museum association pass, which was also a success – i actually bought this for his xmas present, but as the website doesn’t allow you to choose the date to start, it commenced the day that I bought it online, it was silly not to give it to him earlier.  this amazing pass gets you free entry into lots of museums, including the tate and the british museum.  there is a reduction for students.

i did like the film, although a little slow, it was a gentle story about love and the everyday;  Paterson is a bus driver, who coincidentally lives in a town called Paterson and is a budding poet – he notices and listens to everything and writes about them in his notebook in all his breaks.  nothing much happens, but its beautifully shot.  my husband did note that i was quite like the female character with all my mad crazes of learning and creativity – i actually found her a little irritating – hmm, maybe i ought to not be so enthusiastically creative, at least i dont have an obsession with black and white……

we took a walk around the barbican – one of my favourite places in london – i finally got to walk around the conservatory garden,  quite like a mini Eden or Kew conservatory,  however you do have to book in advance for afternoon tea.  how lucky we are to have so many wonderful free things to do in london.



curtis stigers

what a lovely intro into xmas – we all know its about to come – how fast has this year flown, it seems to just be here with any notice this year.  we saw the late show at Ronnie Scotts, Curtis Stigers.  he sings beautifully and with so much charm and charisma – has a great sense of humour too.  he did a lot of xmas songs, and a few other classics.  he sings Sinatra, which is a hard act to follow,  perfect for any occasion.


love this frank sinatra song

the way you look tonight.

Some day, when I’m awfully low
When the world is cold
I will feel a glow just thinking of you
And the way you look tonight

Yes you’re lovely, with your smile so warm
And your cheeks so soft
There is nothing for me but to love you
And the way you look tonight

With each word your tenderness grows
Tearing my fear apart

And that laugh that wrinkles your nose
It touches my foolish heart

Lovely, never, ever change
Keep that breathless charm
Won’t you please arrange it?
‘Cause I love you, just the way you look tonight

Mm, mm, mm, mm
Just the way you look tonight



xmas biscuits

a couple of years ago maude helped her friend raise some money for a charity trip to nepal by making these lovely biscuits – they look very intricate to me – lots of bashing of hard boiled sweets with a rolling pin!  perfect idea for to hang from your xmas tree!   she didnt use one recipe, but combined a few to create what she wanted!    its a fun thing to do with little children and you can cut a variety of different shapes.  if you make the hole a little bigger you can thread some thin ribbon through.  loved the first image, so turned it into a xmas card too.


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here is an extract of Robert’s beautiful writing from my book Stolen Glimpses


Maybe it’s because they are doomed that flowers appeal so much to photographers. All flowers are by their very nature fleeting, strictly temporary manifestations of the intricate wonders of nature. They are sexual displays destined to blossom, bloom and beguile then droop and wilt, shed and expire, their flirtatious beauty fading before our very eyes and therefor even more precious to the lens.

An unfolding blossom is essentially a slow firework, an explosive display of colour and form, scent and radiance, lighting up our lives before falling from grace. Designed to tempt and attract it is no surprise they are the eternal tokens of prospective passion, proclaiming our ardour when we are in love, but also lifting our spirits when we are ill, marking our mourning when we are in grief. The great moments of our lives: births, christenings, weddings and funerals, are all marked by elaborate bouquets. But even a solitary stem stuck in a jam jar or a tumbler makes the everyday a better day.

I cannot remember a single day of our time together that there have not been flowers.

available to buy from myself, Paul Smith Mayfair, Circus Brixton Village or Tidy Street Store Brighton.   makes a great xmas gift!