Category Archives: Everyday Life

X Jewellery

Did you ever have popper beads when you were a kid? I remember getting some in my Christmas stocking (actually, it was a pillow case, we didn’t have stockings) and under torchlight I unwrapped them with glee. I asked Father Christmas for a torch every year, so that the ‘click’ of my bedside lamp and the glow of the light wouldn’t wake anyone else up – I hadn’t considered that the rustling of paper could not be fully deadened by the cover of duvet, or that nobody would mind. Had I known that, I could have saved much time from the careful groping of wrapped gifts whilst trying to work out which one felt most torch-like.

Anyway.

When I came across X Jewellery I was reminded of popper beads – the way you can mix and match, swap things about, make a necklace into a bracelet and back again. Fun, but also slightly edgy – the chunky matt chain, the bronze toned clasps and links.

According to X Jewellery ‘strong women need strong jewellery’ (I’m weaker that I look) that reflects who they are and the unique path they’ve travelled’ (If I took that too literally mine would be covered in grass and chicken poop) and ‘it’s all about you putting your bold personal stamp on each and every day’ (Oh yes, I can totally get behind that sentiment).

I don’t own a lot of jewellery, I like the odd thing (occasional, and literal) and most of the time I just don’t want to get tangled up. Like a cat in a tree with a stretchy collar, I’m very much okay with wearing a soft breakable chain around my neck.

X Jewellery have a plan, (I love it when a plan comes together) to invest 10% of the company’s annual profits in women who need financial support to achieve their dreams. They’re already supporting great projects like More Than Me – an organisation that uses education as a catalyst for transformative social change for every girl in Liberia, and later this year they’ll accept another round of applications to their fund.

‘Whatever their dream may be, if that woman is staring an obstacle in the face and needs a little financial support to achieve their dream, we want to help.’

(I dream of deep-fried coconut ice-cream filled bao buns.)

Thank you X Jewellery – for the lovely jewellery, the chance to reminisce about Christmas pillow cases and popper beads, and for doing something that helps other people too.

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)

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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.)

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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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.