What I Wore to British Pie Weekend

When the invite dropped into my inbox I couldn’t believe it – was this really for me? Perhaps there’d been a mistake somewhere? Of course, I’d have to put an outfit together.

I thought about wearing a fancy frock, or a specially made outfit… was theming going too far?

In the end I opted for the classic pie weekend look – dark glasses and an elasticated waistband.

We arrived fashionably late (there had been a mix up with our booking) clutching knife and fork in hand. Everything felt so ‘British’ – Rolls Royces lined up outside (there was a wedding show going on next door) and a gentle drizzle began to fall. I’ll admit now to coming away with a full belly and a rash, and skirt over this later.

We were ushered to our seats, ready for three courses of pie. Pie, pie and more pie. First up, pork pie. Then a pie that wasn’t a pie – so avant-garde. You can see it in my polaroid pictures. A jaunty cobbler with seasonal vegetables. On trend.

Pudding time: pecan pie – game changer, peach pie – rash maker.

I didn’t get any outfit photos as my Go Pro, Olympus Pen and Instamax were all out of battery (and I had gravy in my hair).

No sooner had we begun than we had finished. They say that time flies when you are having fun, also, I am a fast eater.

Style notes:

Blackbird brooch: Rachel Jackson, The Museum (gift)
Beret: Cheap tat from eBay.
Sunglasses: Marni ME102S in brown and black, from Shade Station. (gift)
Watch: The Williamsburg, from Wanderlust Watches. (gift)
Tote bag / Card holder / Pouch: All Hills and West. (gift)
Shirt dress: Uniqlo.
Cutlery and ability to overeat: models own (gift)

Did you see me at London Fashion Week? Get the goss here.


Thank you to Squires Restaurant at Bedford Lodge Hotel for the lovely lunch invitation. As always my opinions and ability to eat are my own.

These Recent Things (Eggs, Noodles & London Fashion Week)

It’s spring isn’t it? I saw three daffodils this afternoon and Adam brought me a bag of Mini Eggs. The chickens have started laying again (kind of) and I’ve been out exploring in the sunshine.

I’m looking forward to the lighter evenings. The lighter mornings are already making me realise we need thicker curtain lining.

Up at my brother’s house the snowdrops were trying to break their way through the dark earth, watched over by the big heavy boughs of trees. I wanted to show you this cashmere dune robe that I was given, so I hung it in the woods. Blair witch style.

I also wanted to show you this beautiful cup that my sister-in-law made, and I am glad I took the time to photograph it, because Adam snapped the handle off about two hours later!


We had a great time with my niece and nephew. Sam asked me if anything had grabbed my foot under the dinner table, and told me that where the light casts a shadow and hits the wall it can come out and touch you. Later Jocey told me ‘they will all die, and in the morning you will be the only one left’. I love them.

Sometimes I think it might be more useful to tell you more about what’s coming up, rather than just what has passed, so…

I’ll be speaking at the University of Northampton this month, reviewing portfolios at The Photographers Gallery with the lovely Shutter Hub team for Accumul8, and I’ll be at FORMAT International Photography Festival giving portfolio reviews and presenting an award, on a stage, with an audience, and a microphone.

Heaven help them all!

I judged the South Holland Open Exhibition again this year, the standard was really high, so high that there were no paintings of wonky tigers. I don’t think I will go back next year if they can’t fulfil my wonky tiger quota.

The same day (well, night) I managed to make it down to Roast in Borough Market for an event with UKBA. Shutter Hub is shortlisted for Best Photography Blog, so I joined the judges and fellow contestants for canapés and drinks and stuff.

I also had a great (should I put that in capitals? It was VERY good!) lunch at Yuu Kitchen with Monica Martins, the director of WomenBeing, an international organisation celebrating and showcasing work done by women in the creative industries, entrepreneurship and research.

The plan was to talk about collaborations and the talk I’ll be giving at their conference in Glasgow later this year, and we did, but it was hard not to be distracted by all the tasty food… that calamari, those ribs, that bubble tea, ahhh! I loved it so much I wrote about it over on Surf 4 – you can have a read here, if you’d like.

We’ve been testing out lots of Foodie Finds for a new series over on Surf 4. If you want to read about chocolate pills that will supposedly make you beautiful, or cordials that taste like sophisticated cherry Tunes or lime Fruit Pastilles, then pop over for a look. But, if you want to read about noodles that come in a pot, from a vending machine, and are also healthy and gluten free, then stay here. I couldn’t believe it either. Sadly I don’t have a noodle dispensing device in my own home, so after making Mr Lee’s Noodles in the cup I transferred them to a bowl and ate them with chopsticks. What a mess! Tasty mess though, I’m impressed.

When I wasn’t dropping noodles down my shirt and spraying tai chi chicken sauce in my eyes, I was trotting around at London Fashion Week shutting models in lift doors and lusting after fur slide-ons with chicken drumstick decals. You have to read about it! Well, you don’t have to, but I think you might enjoy it.

It still seems a bit surreal to me, chubby little Harvey Hotdog, running around at London Fashion Week, having an opinion, writing about it on Huffington Post, being a grown up… well, kind of!

London Fashion Week with Park and James

I’d never been to London Fashion Week before, I had no idea what to expect (and if I’d gone on what I’d seen on so many blogs I would have thought it just meant getting the train into London and standing around looking hopeful in massive shoes) so I was pleased to be able to join Park and James for their LFW debut, and get some backstage and front row action.

In my research (late night blog surfing from under the duvet) I’d seen many posts on ‘What I Wore to London Fashion Week’ and, although tempted to bore you with the details of my vintage Nike’s and my big pocketed coat, I know this is not the time to talk about me and my bag-lady finesse – so we’ll save the ‘What I Wore’ post for British Pie Week.

Backstage I was assistant dresser, cape holder, and champagne hustler. I also accidentally closed the lift door on a model, and once two men had prised him free, I, for some reason of honesty or stupidity, turned to him and said, straight faced and stern, ‘I did that to you.’

I didn’t get to walk the runway, I didn’t get a goody bag, I did have a model ask me if I had a bandaid though. I must look like a mum, or like I’m packing a load of utility belts under my dress.

I tried to send my pal Zoe a message to say I’d been a total fashion show gangster, but auto-correct changed it to hamster. It was probably right.

Park and James’ slogan is ‘The Flat Shoe Revolution’ and I’m all for that (especially since that hip-hop dance injury of mine). They showcased six pairs of shoes from their new collection, all handmade in Italy from a mixture of unusual, luxury leathers.

Backstage I spoke to Dusica, the designer behind PRiK, the unusually named but beautifully presented label. Beautiful, beautiful tailoring, and really elegant lines, so chic and timeless, I loved everything. In contrast I also came across a pair of fantastic Schmiley Mo slide-ons with knitted chicken drumstick detail which I will now covet and talk about regularly. (Later I discovered the concept was based around a chicken called Henry… sold!)

Earlier in the day I’d popped along to meet some of the designers at the London Designers Collective Pop Up. Jac from Park and James was there showcasing their full range, and I was introduced to several new brands.

I attended the Rein presentation – not really my thing, the situation was just a bit weird for me and I was more intrigued by the building outside, the dilapidated paintwork and quirks.

If you ever invite me along to see your handmade Italian shoes on display, don’t look away for a moment, I will sneak off with your shoe and balance it precariously over an inaccessible drop whilst delighting at the aesthetic of it all.

I bombarded the designers with questions, I swooned over Tramp in Disguise’s quilted culottes and had in-depth conversations with Veronica from Petriiski who was wearing a coat from her own collection. I stroked all the sleeves of les 100 ciels cashmere jumpers, and gasped with delight as Valentina from Storytailors showed me their wonderful collection, their multi-way items, their structured jackets made from cork. But, my absolute favourite of all was Conflict of Ego. I adored the mixture of thoughtful and fun, luxury fabrics and contemporary prints, and the coolest blouse I have ever seen, really. The print, kind of reminiscent of a Gustav Klimt life sketch (if you’ve seen them, you’ll know what I mean!) layered on sophisticated cream silk – perfection in distinction.

I’ve not suddenly become uber chic or fashionable, but I am looking forward to bringing you more stories of my work with Park and James. They even got a mention on Vogue, so I’m thinking this might not be the last you hear of them!

These Recent Things (Frost, Flowers & Thoughts)

2016-12-29-upwell-cemetery-05

It’s been a month full of ups and downs. (Yes, I fell over again, this time into my own car, punching the doorframe as I went.)

I turned down a trip to Italy. I said yes to an exciting exhibition opportunity with the University of Cambridge. I held back a car, that had been left without it’s handbrake on, while a boy-man got a wheelie bin to use as a stopper. (I left a note on the windscreen incase they moved the bin and got run over by their own car, like that chap from East 17 who ate too many jacket potatoes.)

2017 02 05 chickens 12

IMG_0613

I ate lunch at a pub called the Dabbling Duck with Rachel. The location was lovely, but I wasn’t best pleased with the plum crumble. Who deconstructs a crumble?! After complaining that it had nuts hidden in it, I exclaimed ‘Feel the wrath of Karen!’ and weakly attempted to tip the table over and steal the books off their shelves.

The chickens came to live in the conservatory, inside their new house from Omlet. It’s wheely, we can wheel it around, it reminds me of a gypsy caravan and they love it. (Well, Patty Slipper isn’t sure about it, but the others think it’s fab.)

2017 02 05 chickens 14

2017 01 22 liv orange organic soap 01

Last month I ate a weird pudding made of sea buckthorn berry and carrots, and this month my friend Andrea from Liv gave me this lovely sea buckthorn and orange soap, which was much better because I didn’t have to eat it out of politeness.

After our trip to Amsterdam I wrote  ‘How Making the Most of Work Trips can be Good for Your Health and Career’ for the Huffington Post, and then also for Surf 4 – it reached 600,000 people in less than 10 days! You say what?! I know, I don’t think that everything I have ever done in my entire life has reached that many people!

I took some photographs of my friend Jac for her to use in her London Fashion Week promotion. She’s the designer behind Park and James and the ‘flat shoe revolution’. We ate cake and got thrown out of a hotel.

IMG_0653

FullSizeRender

IMG_0788

We had to say goodbye to our dear old furry man cat friend MoJo. We miss him. There’s an echo in the house. Where sound used to be absorbed into his soft food filled body, it now bounces lonelily from wall to wall. This is not the time or the place for this sadness, I’m not good with sympathy or loss.

IMG_0795

2017 02 10 youre gorgeous mug valentines 04

I kept my head down, got on with some serious business, and then I wrote this: 6 Valentine’s Gifts You Can Give For Free. I’m not a fan of Valentine’s day, but I used it as an excuse to drink tea from under the duvet.

Lady Hens on Lockdown / Bird Flu – What To Do

2017 02 05 chickens 08

I love my chickens, you might already know that. I want them to be well and happy, and safe. Normally they run free and forage in the garden (and when Sandra was around she would run free down the road, tapping on doors and visiting neighbours for snacks) but since the beginning of December, after an outbreak of bird flu in the UK and the DEFRA instruction to keep all poultry housed and separate from wild birds, the girls have been on high security lockdown in their back garden prison, Cell Block H style. They didn’t seem too bothered at first, patrolling their wire fenced yard, occasionally fighting over a scrap of gruel, but as the winter weather took it’s toll their conditions got less and less ideal.

Enter the New Eglu Cube from Omlet. Ta da! Wooooooo, and thank you very much you dear, kind, clever people. This is the house of the Beverley Hills chicken, the chicken who has everything, the Gucci girl chicken. I mean, it’s not swarovski crystal encrusted, but it could be if they wanted. Fully insulated walls, a special nesting box area, brilliant easy-clean sleeping quarters, safely attached mesh run, and you can pick it up and wheel it around – so we did… straight into the conservatory!

2016 01 30 omlet chicken house 15

The other day there was a knock at the back door, it was a parcel delivery, Gemma the courier is terrified of birds, I normally have to meet her at the gate or throw some food in the grass to keep the hens busy while she rushes in and out. They’d never hurt her, but she doesn’t know that, they think the package in her hand is a big tasty sandwich and they just want to share it with her.

Gemma seemed quite pleased to see them all penned up behind glass and bars, ‘This looks nice!’ she said, nodding towards them. It was only then that I realised it might look a bit weird to be keeping chickens in the house, so I was quick to try and explain. Gemma was cool with it, her friend used to bring a Shetland pony called Peanut round for sleepovers, they’d give it a bath and then blow dry it’s hair in front of the tele.

2017 02 05 chickens 02

2016 01 30 omlet chicken house 14

2017 02 05 chickens 01

I’ve heard all sorts of theories on why, or why not, we should be keeping our hens in – there seems to have been a lot of uncertainty about what to do, and I thought I might be able to help a little, with a few ideas, from my perspective.

Avian Flu is not airborne (I’m sure there’s a bad joke in there somewhere) but aside from being carried by wild birds it can be carried on people, other animals and on things that have come into contact with the virus. The disease spreads from direct contact between birds, and from contamination through bodily fluids and faeces. Nice.

Currently (at the date of publication) there’s a legal requirement in the UK to keep all poultry housed, or as far away from wild birds as possible.

I’ve heard of chickens seeking respite in sheds and greenhouses, lean-tos, caravans and even an indoor bathroom, and while none of the solutions might seem ideal it’s got to be better than not doing anything at all.

2017 02 05 chickens 03

2017 02 05 chickens 04

2017 02 05 chickens 06

If you can’t bring your chickens indoors then keep them covered, you need to keep wild birds away from your chickens water, food, and living space.

Cover their house and run so that no water or anything else can fall in, you don’t want wild birds hanging around or dropping a dropping in on their way by. Cover any sides or gaps that are open to stop small wild birds getting through, and do what you can to control vermin.

Do you remember when it was lucky to be poo’ed on by a bird? Those were the days. I remember walking down the road one sunny afternoon having just collected my GCSE certificates from school. I reached inside the brown paper envelope and pulled out the glorious documents, as soon as they saw daylight they got a huge seal of approval from a passing bird. Magical.

2016 01 30 omlet chicken house 05

2016 01 30 omlet chicken house 07

Keep your chickens water clean and fresh, and keep the food tidy (with extra grit if they’re not able to scrap about for their own).

Keep chickens busy with toys and distractions. Our hens will spend hours working away on a slice of watermelon or pecking at anything shiny or reflective. I’m going to get them a swing for their pen next!

Don’t move your birds around – in the garden, or further afield. It’s also important to reduce the movement of people to and from your chicken run, and disinfect shoes at the point of entry if you go inside your hens home.

It’s serious, and you could be prosecuted for not keeping your birds in.

2017 02 05 chickens 13

2017 02 05 chickens 14

I often turn to my friend Ruth for advice on all things chicken, she breeds, and keeps, rare native breeds (our Marsh Daisy came from her, we named it Baby Ruth Sultana in her honour) and she’ll always tell me if I am being daft, overthinking things, or not doing enough. When I asked Ruth (the human) for her thoughts she told me,

“It is up to each and every poultry keeper, no matter how large or small their flocks, to play their part in protecting everyones’ birds. Personally, I would be devastated to lose any of my birds, most of them being rare breed status and representing many years of careful breeding. We also have to consider the potential impact on the commercial poultry industry which could be extremely costly.”

Ruth keeps a close eye on DEFRA and APHA and uses her common sense and imagination when it comes to looking after her birds. We could all take a leaf out of her book and be just a little bit more vigilant.

If you don’t keep birds but know someone who does, please take the opportunity to share this with them. There are bird keepers out there who might have missed the news, or might not know where to look for support, and between us we might be able to make a bit of a difference.

2016 01 30 omlet chicken house 02

2016 01 30 omlet chicken house 09

2016 01 30 omlet chicken house 08

Need to know more?

Latest update from DEFRA on Winter 2016/2017 Avian Flu.

Read this DEFRA factsheet on how to keep your birds safe.

Sign up to the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) Alerts Service to keep up to date with the latest news on exotic notifiable animal disease outbreaks in Great Britain.

For advice and guidance on what to do if you keep poultry, or to report suspicion of disease in animals, call the DEFRA Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301

Members of the public are encouraged to report dead wild waterfowl (swans, geese or ducks), or other dead wild birds such as gulls or birds of prey, to the DEFRA helpline on 03459 33 55 77

2017 02 05 chickens 09

Thank you to the awesome chaps at Omlet for helping me and my lady hens out in their time of need by providing them with a safe new home. As always,  my opinions are my own, I say what I think, share what I like, and I do all my own chicken chasing. Hooray! This is not a sponsored post. This post may contain PR samples and affiliate links.

Welcome to the World of Karen Harvey: photographer, writer, creative consultant… self proclaimed cat whisperer, chicken wrangler and chief cake taster!