a room for london

was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to stay in the unique ‘a room for london’, moored on the roof of the queen elizabeth hall on busy south bank – it was one of those experiences of a lifetime.  it was a bright, breezy evening and the view was just amazing.  the best time was at 5am – when the light was dawning, the lights still twinkling and london as quiet as it can ever get.   it really was like staying in a boat, but without the sea sickness and rocking, but you can hear the wind billowing, the boats steaming past, the laughter of passerbys and the music of venues close by.  we ate dinner at the oxo tower – it was my 2nd time, but after a delicious starter, the main course was disappointing, but the desserts worth waiting for.  quite pricey though ! for breakfast robert went to the local le pain quotidian for croissants which we enjoyed in our cabin – its definitely one of those stays that makes a unique celebration.  living architecture have a few of these unusual places, a couple in dungeoness, another one of my favourite places and one near blakeney.

incidentally, this was my vintage skirt purchase from POP vintage

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wyck gardens

discovered another inner london stable yesterday – tucked just behind brixton tube – ebony stables – what a wonderful thing for the local community – situated next to wyck gardens, it offers local children an opportunity to ride horses, see how to look after them right in the city centre.   its so important to keep these open green spaces for the community – god help us if these all get destroyed for more luxury apartments!  we are already losing libraries, fire stations, town halls – if they were turned into social housing it wouldn’t be so bad, but lets not lose our green inner city spaces.   its what makes london so unique and a great city.

yesterday was an open day of fun for the community run projects in the area – one of them being Baytree, which my daughter introduced me to .  all these projects are amazing additions for the community – baytree helps women and children with extra after school studios, mentoring to enlighten and encourage the minds of the girls – the message being that you can do anything in life no matter what your background.   all these projects are only possible by the help of volunteers,  you only need to commit to an hour a week, so if you want to make a little difference, there are lots of projects in all areas that need volunteers.    yesterday the girls spent a happy day rock climbing, boxing, riding horses, decorating cup cakes and face painting – fortunately the weather remained dry and its such a pleasure to see smiling faces enjoying outdoor activities.   i was very touched to hear the names of some of the children –  ‘goodness’, ‘favour’  – such simply beautiful names…..

hampstead ponds

i cant believe that after 30 years of living in london that i have just made it to hampstead ladies ponds – of course with all this warm weather, everyone is there enjoying the water and the sun, but luckily this morning, it was only our group of friends.  its Jac’s birthday today and this was her request that a group of friends came swimming with her, followed by a picnic on the grass –  Jac is amazingly lion hearted and swims all year round, almost every day, come rain, sun or snow.   now i can’t wait for my next swim……

hampstead is an oasis in the middle of a city that offers peace and tranquility – it spreads so far from parliament hill and southhill park to highgate that you can always find a peaceful spot.   robert and I like to go for early breakfast at Kenwood House  – one of my favourite places to enjoy a cup of tea and cake – and cooked breakfast is surprisingly good for a self service restaurant. i have to admit i do wish that they would sometimes do table service, all that queuing and sorting out your tray takes away the relaxing part of having breakfast out.   loved the henry moore sculptures dotted in the beautiful landscape.

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easter eggs

love these eggs that talented artist Mary Mathieson,made for our ilovegorgeous shoot.

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Easter is a Christian festival and for Christians the custom of giving eggs at Easter celebrates new life. The first eggs given at Easter were birds eggs. These eggs were painted in bright colours to give them further meaning as a gift. We still paint bird eggs today but usually only chicken eggs.  my daughter loves to paint eggs, but you do have to be really gentle or they will easily break.    you need to pierce a hole at either end blow out all the liquid inside the egg, use for scrambled eggs, or bake a cake!  then perch your egg on a barbecue stick or on a chopstick and paint with acrylic paints.  you can always thread pretty ribbon through the holes and hang them – they look pretty cute.  i really like the tree that maude painted on this egg.

if you are in padstow, on easter sunday there is the annual easter egg rolling down the street – bring your own hard boiled egg – its fun to watch everyone dress up, roll their eggs and raise money for their favourite charity.

international women’s day

its seems apt to post another one of my guest writers today – as its international women’s day, who can be more inspiring than my friend Debra Bourne – as she quietly goes through her days challenging and progressing the rights, needs and feelings of the female, she is forever dividing her time, spirit and good sense amongst all her family and colleagues.  deservingly she has just been publicly rewarded – read her fine words.

IWD

If there’s one day to celebrate the arc of female accomplishment, it’s surely today. Wednesday March 8th 2017. The 118th anniversary of International Women’s Day. Although technically speaking, Woman’s Day didn’t become an international affair until 1911. Inspired by the prior activities of American socialists, this was the first time that over a million women from Austria, Demark, Germany, Switzerland amongst other nations, signed up to the strategy to promote equal rights for women, including suffrage. Having participated in London’s spirited Women’s March earlier this year, even after a hundred years of activism, there’s still a whole heap of issues for us to address and improve upon.

I love and respect men, but I deeply love being a woman. Equality and the respect for difference have always been incredibly close to my heart and as a founder of All Walks Beyond the Catwalk (www.allwalks.org), which challenges the industry’s dependency on unachievable body and beauty ideals by promoting diversity in fashion;these values remain pretty central to my life today.

So that said, before any further ado, please may I encourage you, whether you are male or female to sit back, relax and grab a cup of tea before taking a moment to truly appreciate either yourself or any of the wonderful women in your life: Mothers, sisters, friends, daughters, grandmothers, role models or simply generous strangers. Let’s give it up for the multitude of acts; big, small, heroic or tedious, (in my book, tedium particularly warrants some love), that have touched your life over the year.

At this point, I’d like to share my appreciation for my dear and longstanding friend, Christina, who as the creative energy behind this gorgeous blog invited me to write this piece. In addition to both working in creative-led industries and sharing a mutual love of modernism, design, ceramics and photography, we’ve been close friends since our children; Maude and Johnny were three years old. Now, with our kids in their eighteenth year, I continue to admire Christina’s tremendous thoughtfulness, generosity, many talents and impressive time-management, juggling skills. Thank you Christina for your love and friendship.

The qualities of friendship, solidarity and feminism strike me as both distinct and somewhat interwoven. Love, trust, harmony and respect; all values at the heart of true friendship are core to the spirit of solidarity, albeit that the context is societal, rather than personal. So how do we express our values as women in society? In our many roles? And in return, how does society value us?

These questions are clearly too big to fully answer here, but they flag an invitation to share one of rules that I personally try to live by. I respect that you may not share my belief here, but taking a lead from the classic proverb, “charity begins at home“ which points to a person’s first responsibility is to the needs of ones own family and friends”, I feel its crucial that the first celebratory pit-stop on the road to a fulfilled womanhood begins with a responsibility to meet my own needs and find time to celebrate myself.

To know ourselves. Trust ourselves. Love, accept, pleasure and respect ourselves, as women, whether that be physically, emotionally or mentally, may sound like a simple and vain task, but in reality it’s a frame for a lifelong, conscious commitment.

Valuing ourselves as women is a serious business. If we don’t take ourselves seriously, then who will? Let’s not dismiss our dreams as dizzy ideas, but pursue them doggedly. To practice a path of self-love passionately, might even safeguard our bank balance. Given that some say that today’s psychologically astute society willfully targets and exploits female vulnerability for immense commercial gain. L’Oreal Paris was ranked the worlds number one in 2016, worth a record breaking, $13.69 billion. Not exactly small fry.

Rather than fear aging, our years of accumulative experience contributes to a reassuring sense of self-knowing. When we arrive at a place of true female maturity, our secret gift is not a puerile self-absorption but a wise liberation and deeply sustaining self-confidence that removes or significantly reduces the need for other people in our life, to be holding an affirming mirror up and this is immensely empowering. Each of us has the potential to become a well for our own wise-womanhood. We just have to willingly choose to drink its water.

Through my work in education or campaigning, I am often faced with younger generations of women who’ve feel inadequate and anxious. They have mistakenly given the responsibility for their self worth, fulfillment and general happiness, over another entity, whether that be a significant other, a partner, a job or a powerful cultural force like celebrities the fashion world or pornography. In addition to its’ role in marketing and selling clothing, fashion is a powerful carrier of messages about our bodies, our identity and self- esteem. An area of wider impact that it’s not generally keen to take responsibility for. As a global authority on appearance and taste, the fashion industry has the power to seduce way too many young women, particularly those intent on relating to such a reductive and literally superficial version of their womanhood, by prioritising appearance and an external sense of self. Without any attention to the beauty of inner growth, it’s no wonder that the fear of ageing, even in ones twenties can be the cause of such consternation.

I can’t help feeling protective over our young women. I want them to give them an helpful pointer. Having psychologically dethroned their mothers, as most of us did, during the required separation space of adolescence, many teenagers will step out into the world looking to become their very own ‘different from their mum’ woman. Disguising their financial interest in these adolescent consumers, fashion brands are particularly sophisticated at shape-shifting, morphing itself continually and pertaining to be the oracle of female happiness. “Come over here and we will tell you what it means to be a woman.” Aside from the occasional editorial gems, freely giving valuable insights, conditions generally apply; namely economic ones. And whilst the promise of happiness and attraction is proffered, It is essentially available if you are willing to endlessly subscribe to: do, buy, groom, eat, not eat, change and wear the following…and this list is the short version.

Compliance with dedication might buy a short shot of feel-good female status but not for too long. It’s in the commercial self-interest of these self acclaimed authorities on womanhood aka the fashion, beauty, diet, or even fitness industries, to swiftly adopt ever-changing trends and enthusiastically re-instruct you with new and improved rules that potentially bind you in dependently maintaining a lifetime of perfecting femininity.

Don’t get me wrong, I can love fashion, it was my industry for over 25 years and I know its power to magnificently adorn the female form. Fashion can be fun. However, it’s not fun when it’s at the expense of ones’ autonomy. Fashion can be a great tool for self-expression, but again, it’s a concern for the emotional vulnerable among us; Those who ask the wrong stranger for directions and whilst seeking self-validation, unconsciously fall prey to its’ demands. This is why, amongst other reasons, I enjoy spending my time, in whole-heartedly encouraging women to not give their power away and walk tall and savvy.

So without wishing to deny International Women’s Day of any of its’ valiant remit, whether that be female empowerment, international protest, political activism or addressing other global urgencies that touch all our hearts and lives in some way or another; I invite any women who have graciously stayed with me to the bottom of this page, to take a quality chunk of this 118th, IWD day, to stop, value and deeply appreciate the woman under your own nose. She is unquestionably worth it and not because a billion dollar brand says so. Use International Women’s Day, to begin an intimate relationship with our best friend – Yourself. Once your well is full, sure, go conquer the world and stand in solidarity, but please, do not advance from Go, without taking a deliberate dose of self-loving kindness to quench the thirst of your own being. In the name of solidarity, please offer a drink to a sister. Then, my friend, the world is most definitely yours.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

hand of fatima

throughout andalucia, you can see the hand symbol on the doorknobs of houses – usually referred to as the hand of fatima, but also known as the hamsa. the hamsa is an ancient Middle Eastern amulet symbolizing the Hand of God. In all faiths it is a protective sign and brings happiness to the holder. the holder of the Hamsa expects to be protected from all negative energies. the most common negative energy being envious glares from people wishing you no good.

so of course we put one on our front door in spain.

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