Sunday, 29 September 2013

Only in England: Photographs by Tony Ray-Jones and Martin Parr

Beauty Contenstants, Southport, Merseyside, 1967 by Tony Ray-Jones copyright National Media Museum, Bradford

Only In England: Photographs by Tony Ray-Jones and Martin Parr.

I love Martin Parr's photography and never fail to get to an exhibition when I can (and they are few and far between sadly). I have never come across Tony Ray-Jones but as he is definitely of the same ilk I will be sure to get as much enjoyment from his work as Martin Parr's. It's exciting that this exhibition has some early black and white photographs not seen before from Martin Parr and taken in the 1970's but also feature some 55 previously unseen works from Tony Ray-Jones too, and it is his first major London exhibition.

This all reminds me of my childhood and is testimony to the fact that for most the 1970's were pretty grim. When I hear a false nostalgia around Glam Rock and the like I have to get out my photo albums just to reassure myself that it was more about brown nylon and bad hair that wild parties. Well for most of us anyway.

These photographs look to have captured the time perfectly, from English institutions and cultural events to the small things that make up people's lives, both photographers bring to life the humour and humanity to be found in the ordinary. Don't miss this exhibition which sits alongside Universal Everything and You.

Only in England runs from 21 September 2013 - 16th March 2013 at the Media Space, Science Museum. Admission is £8, Concessions £5 (including a donation). It will also be at the National Media Museum, Bradford from 22nd March 2014 until 29th June 2014.

Blackpool, 1968 by Tony Ray-Jones copyright National Media Museum, Bradford
Tony Ray-Jones was born in Somerset in 1941 and studied graphic design at the London School of Printing before leaving the UK in 1961 to study at Yale University. He stayed in New York and was highly influenced by US art director Alexey Brodovitch and became friends with Joel Meyerowitz and Garry Winogrand. In 1966 he returned to the UK to find a country divided by class and tradition.

Martin Parr is from Epsom in Surrey and graduated from Manchester Polytechnic in 1974. He moved to Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire and established the Albert Street Workshop. He is an internationally reknowned photographer and is best known for his portrayals in highly saturated colour of modern life and real people.

Media Space is a collaboration between the Science Museum (London) and the National
Media Museum (Bradford), home of the National Photography Collection. Offering a programme of exhibitions and events, Media Space will draw on the National Photography Collection and the broader Science Museum Collections. Bringing together photographers, artists, curators and the creative industries Media Space will explore relationships between, and lesser-known histories of, photography, science, art and technology.

Notes to Editors
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Saturday, 28 September 2013

Universal Everything and You Exhibition at The Science Museum

Visit the Science Museum from 21 September 2013 to 7th February 2014 and you will experience a large audio-visual artwork which has been created collaboratively through a smart phone app. On display for the first time at Media Space, the new galleries opening in the Science Museum London.

Universal Everything are an art and design collective who were commissioned to create this two-part installation. Matt Pyke, the founder of Universal Everything, has created two parts, 1000 hands and Presence which originate from simple line drawings and are united in the gallery space through sound and light. Sponsored by Hyundai Motor UK this is the first installation in the Virgin Media Studio.

1000 Hands will be created through public contributions via the smart phone app and will take the form of a circular projection onto multiple screens, each screen showing an individual user-generated artwork. There is an evolving soundtrack which gets louder and softer depending on the movements of the works on screen..

The clever bit is that the smart phone app will generate a simple line drawing that will grow into an elaborate form and shape.

Presence will be a circular four screen video installation occupying the space around 1000 hands. These screens will show moving shapes against a black background which will reveal a human presence all created by motion captured from dancers dancing.

This all sounds amazingly abstract but the mash up of apps, public involvement and technology in a new space does intrigue me and I am sure will be a hit.

Matt Pyke says, ‘Our approach stems from our background and ongoing study of
drawing, painting and sculpture. The exploration of a living presence is central to the
studio’s practice, and through working with anthropomorphism, we strive to create
deeper empathetic connections with the viewer.

Media Space, the new photography and art gallery in the Science Museum is a
collaboration between the Science Museum (London) and the National Media Museum
(Bradford). Offering a programme of exhibitions and events, Media Space will draw on
the National Photography Collection and the broader Science Museum Collections.

Bringing together photographers, artists, curators and the creative industries Media
Space will explore relationships between, and lesser-known histories of, photography,
science, art and technology. Universal Everything & You will be shown alongside the
major exhibition Only in England: Photographs by Tony Ray-Jones and Martin Parr
which will run until 16 March 2014.

For further information visit the Science Museum website.

1000 Hands app:

To download for iOS visit

To download for Android visit

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Thursday, 26 September 2013

Do you wax or leave alone? Project Bush is a pro-choice campaign...

I don't need to explain this much but Project Bush is to promote choice when it comes to what and how much we all wax our pubic hair. It seems to me that young girls don't seem to see it as a matter of choice but more that it is expected which is not how things should be! So this is a rather interesting campaign and you may like to take part, whether black, white, red, waxed or as nature intended!

Next Thursday 3rd October, creative agency Mother London is launching Project Bush which calls on women to stand up to the pressures of modern society and the ideas around the norm. If you are interested in getting involved the invitation is below....

To book a slot for photography email

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Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Fashion designer Jorgen Simonsen works magic on Osiris glasses range

It's been at least five years since I last had my eyes tested. I know I'm short-sighted as I need glasses for driving, watching TV and going to the cinema but recently I have noticed that reading the small print on bottles and threading a needle is becoming a bit of a hit-and-miss affair. So I was re-energised to get myself down to SpecSavers for an eye exam by the glorious new designer range of Osiris glasses that were being showcased (once again) at our London Fashion Week suite.

Bear with me - not another shameless plug I promise, I am like any blogger in that I only write about things I like irrespective of who I come across during my day job; this range has been really sharpened up (a bit like my eyesight as you will hear).

So first off, Paris-based fashion designer Jorgen Simonsen who is normally seen designing for the likes of Madonna, Nicole Kid man and Elizabeth Taylor, was tasked with coming up with a range of 60 pieces of eyewear that would be aspirational, wearable but with loads of personality. Because he has come to the range with a powerful sense of design rather than any experience in eyewear design, the new Osiris range is vibrant, modern and allows the wearer to make a statement without feeling that their glasses are taking over. I was really impressed with what is basically three key collections in the range. Colour Pop draws inspiration from European holidays, think the Amalfi Coast, Italian cars, movies and accentuated colours. Frosted Hi-Tech takes us to Scandinavia with its big skies, icy white, ash greys and 'urban warrior vibe'. It's refined, minimalistic and easy to wear. Super Translucent has bold shapes and polished, glossy surfaces and Jorgen pays more than a passing nod to Phillipe Starck style modernism.

So I was apprehensive about my eye exam but excited to see the new range in-situ and to get myself updated at the same time. What I love about SpecSavers is how high-tech it all is - no reading off cards just reading through a machine, well three machines in total, each highly calibrated to give as accurate a reading as possible in terms of getting me the absolutely perfect prescription. The bad news is that I am both short and long sighted so need two pairs of glasses now (I didn't opt for varifocals as I can't see me getting on with them), but the good news is I now have a swanky new pair of Osiris glasses in gleaming tortoiseshell so I don't mind too much.

Currently there is a two-for-one offer where two complete pairs from the Osiris range are available for £125 from Specsavers.

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Saturday, 21 September 2013

Easy chinese slow-cooker recipe for pork with plums

Quickly fry ingredients to seal meat
This is much healthier than your normal take-away and cooks brilliantly in a slow cooker. Everyone was really impressed as it did taste, well, just like chinese food, and we love both chinese and thai in our house! You can serve with rice or noodles but I prefer rice (jasmine is my favourite). It's good enough for entertaining friends or for family meals.

Ingredients for four people

600g pork shoulder cut into chunks
2.5 tbsp each of rice wine and soy sauce
thumb sized piece of ginger
2 garlic cloves crushed
1 tbsp olive oil
chopped onion
half cinnamon stick
1 red chilli
1 star annise
1tsp chinese five spice powder
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp tomato puree
9 fl oz chicken stock
3 ripe plums halved and stoned

Marinade the pork with the rice wine and soy and half the ginger, garlic and chilli for at least one hour. Fry all the other ingredients (not the plums) then add the pork so the meat is sealed but not browned. Transfer to slow cooker for at least 6 hours (you can skim off any fat half way through). Add plums about an hour before you finish. You may need to reduce the juice down before serving but I didn't need to. Delicious with rice.

Delicious after 7/8 hours in the slow-cooker

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Dole Live Right bars are the perfect, healthy snack


Right, I am a snacker by nature so I thought I'd tell you about my latest snacking obsession. No not Popchips (though they still come a close second), I have discovered the joys of Dole Live Right bars which are made solely from nuts, seeds and fruits. So they have loads of protein, fibre and magnesium and release energy slowly so really help when I find myself flagging (which is as I type this if honest).

This stops me wanting to eat chocolate or biscuits and they are really, really tasty. They come in a wide range of flavours and three snacking options so there's no need to get bored.

The Dole Live Right Blueberry Almond Mini Crunch has fruit and nut clusters which contain almonds, seeds and blueberries (£2.99 for a pack of five bars).

 The Dole Live Right Trio Bars have three types of nuts, seed and fruit and come in three flavours - cranberry, strawberry and blueberry (£2.19 for a pack of three bars).

The Dole Live Right Cranberry Almond Crunch has cashews, almonds and cranberries and a little natural syrup (£1.59 each).

Dole Live Right has been endorsed by HEART UK as being heart healthy and helping to lower cholesterol for more informaiton visit Dole.

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Wednesday, 18 September 2013

TV last night - Fabulous Fashionistas

I don't tend to review TV as I watch too much of it anyway but it's been a long time since I watched something so uplifting and life-affirming as Fabulous Fashionistas on Channel 4 last night.

Taking the stories of 6 women whose average age was a simply amazing 80, this film could have been patronising and dipping it's toe into tokenism. Instead we met 6 very diverse women who were sharp, full of personality and life, independent and inspiring. This should be shown at all schools and universities, as it not only gives a voice to the idea that life doesn't just stop when you get past 50 and that old people have not just something to say but lots to contribute.

It is all part of the brilliant Cutting Edge series and award-winning director, Sue Bourne deals with sensitive issues like body image, sex and fashion with sympathy and clarity. We meet Bridget, Daphne, Jean, Gillian, Sue and Lady Trumpington who are all determined to just keep going while looking fabulous and having fun. No botox, fillers, plastic surgery (well there was a knee replacement but that was about it), and not much in the way of hair dye either, this documentary explored their amazing stories and expectations and you cannot fail to come away with a renewed vigour and an understanding that life is for living and that you should never just give up and wear beige.

Watch it on catch up, show your daughters, sons and husbands, everyone should see this documentary no matter your age or sex there's a lot to be learned about appreciating what you have and not being afraid to live.

Meet some of the ladies

Bridget Sojourner is 75 and is an ageism campaigner.

"People stop me everyday in the street, amazed that I look so stylish at my age.  The insidious ageism in our society says that you become invisible as you get older and that’s what I’m fighting against visually with my clothes. It’s great to see women like Mary Berry and Mary Beard on television but it’s tokenism when you remember that Anna Ford and Moira Stewart had to disappear because of their age.

Jean Woods is 75 and works in a boutique gift shop. She wears Doc Martens with everything and says 
"Five years ago my husband died suddenly. I was in a terrible state and was going to get a job in a charity shop to take my mind off it. Then my son suggested that I apply to Gap instead. I thought it was a ridiculous idea because nobody over 21 goes into that shop but I went in anyway and they gave me the job immediately.

Daphne Selfe is an amazing 85 and still makes a good living as a model. She has worked in the fashion industry for over 60 years and her bone structure is to die-for. She has appeared in The Guardian, Italian Vogue and is the face of Tk Maxx.

Lady Trumpington became a YouTube sensation when she flipped a V at a fellow member of the House of Lords. She is 91 and a Conservative life peer and is addicted to catalogues. She is incredibly sharp with a dry sense of humour - we are lucky to have her like in parliament.

What have I learned from these amazing women?
I won't be giving up some form of work until I am completely bedridden - it's the best way of keeping a foothold in modern life
I won't be dictated to about 'age appropriate' clothes - if I still fit skinnies when I'm 90 I will still be wearing them
I won't be afraid to say what I think - damn the consequences (although I will always take other people's feelings into account, that is hard-wired into my psyche)
I will make sure I have a reason to keep on living
I will just get on with things and appreciate every day as being special and a gift
I can't expect others to be responsible for my happiness - that has to come from within
You can wear a rainbow of colours and still look FABULOUS

Photos and quotes from The Radio Times
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Monday, 16 September 2013

Anna Lou jewellery is on my Christmas list!

Anna Lou at our Handpicked Media Suite

Anyone who regularly reads my blog knows I have a penchant for jewellery both fine and costume and I am never without a necklace, earrings or bracelet. So I was excited to meet Anna Lou of Anna Lou jewellery at our suite for London Fashion Week. I have fallen a little in love and will be ordering several pieces in anticipation of Christmas. hand-made gold plated, rose gold plated and silver pieces come in a wide variety of designs and most can be engraved which makes them truly unique and special. There are also some beautiful enamels and solid gold pieces for extra special gifts and treats.

Here are some of my favourites....

Who can resist a hashtag - especially when you are gorgeous... Anna Lou Hashtag necklace £48

Choose your own initials and make up this fantastic Anna Lou Monogram Necklace, £65

Celebrate your loved ones with an engraved necklace, Anna Lou name disc necklace, £65

Buy singly or to spell out a message, Anna Lou personalised stackable rings, £65 each

Anddon't forget the stones... there is a small but beautifully formed collection including these Anna Lou Jade earrings, £25

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Sunday, 15 September 2013

Treats from the London Marshmallow Company

I'm not actually a fan of marshmallows. In terms of sweet treats I prefer something that's a little less, er, sweet.... and a bit less wishy washy. Even though they have been quietly replacing cupcakes as THE chic sweet I still have never felt the desire to search them out. And then, at our Handpicked Media fashion suite, I was introduced to the amazing little bags of loveliness from The London Marshmallow Company.

These marshmallows are like nothing you have ever tasted before. They are more cake-like than marshmallow and have the most amazing flavours. And they look amazing - I can imagine serving them instead of petit fours after dinner with coffee they are that good. Sophisticated little cubes of gorgeousness I need to stay away really or I will become a bit addicted.

The London Marshmallow Company marshmallows are handcrafted and reflect London in their use of flavours from the city. No, not grime and garbage, we are talking exotic spices and Sicilian lemons alongside nuts and other fruits. They try to source from local suppliers and use free-range pasteurised egg whites, British beat sugar and natural real fruit. All flavours are natural and hell do they look good!

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Saturday, 14 September 2013

Nivea Soft and Giles Deacon Competition

It's been a bit of a struggle getting everything done since the return from the hols as I went back into the fabulous weekend that opens London Fashion Week. We hosted a suite at One Aldwych for the great and good of the blogging world to come for some R&R between shows and that meant that lots of brands wanted to be there too to meet and greet and get them to trial their products.

Boy it was busy but it's always great so see so many people and the hotel were fantastic too - even sending us up a complementary Charlie and the Chocolate Factory High Tea with champagne (reserve your place for this it's quite amazing).

One of my favourite beauty products for years now if Nivea Soft - it's a greatly unsung moisturiser to my mind, so it was really nice to see it make a fresh appearance with a set of three, limited edition pots designed by Giles Deacon. Just what every fashion clad body needs especially now we are entering into centrally heated hell which plays havoc with skin for the next 6 months at least.

Giles has created the Catwalk Pot, the Backstage Pot and the Photoshoot Pot and to celebrate the launch Nivea are giving us all the opportunity to win a styling session in London with Giles Deacon and a night at a hotel. They are also including £200 spending money. There are also 60 Deacon cosmetics bags, each featuring an exclusive design, to giveaway to runners up.

Fancy it? All you need to do is take an outfit of the day shot on your phone and send to Twitter or Instagram with #niveasoft. Those outfits that get the most votes by 2nd Oct will win the styling session with Giles and Nivea will be picking 'outfits of the day' throughout the campaign to win the cosmetic bags. Best entries will also be uploaded to the Nivea page on Instagram! So go on get snapping, all entries need to go live by September 25th - you'll find all the details here...

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Friday, 13 September 2013

Swimming with Stingrays in Antigua

You can't really mention stingrays without thinking of the death of Steve Urwin who died by a stingray barb to the chest while filming. Untimely, unfair and completely freakish, this death has managed to make us far more afraid of stingrays than we should be. Even knowing this it took some courage for us all to go out to Stingray City in Antigua and get up close and personal with the stingrays in their natural habitat.

This is one of the most popular things to do on Antigua but as we were out of season we found ourselves being the only ones (so four of us) on this particular trip. Feeling like celebrities having a special trip to Selfridges, we were taken by fast boat about a mile out from land to a reef where you can swim with both stingrays and a myriad of other fish in water that is only a few feet deep (well waist height).

Surrounding this coral reef is a huge drop to the seafloor so you really are on a large underwater platform out at sea. The boats come in to two floating platforms where you disembark, and the stingrays, like Pavlov's Dogs, come in from the open water when they see the boats as they know they are getting a free feed.

I didn't realise there would be quite so many of them. My pictures are misleading as they were taken after their lunch when many had gone out to sea. At one point when we were feeding them by hand (they suck up whole squid from your loosely clenched fist) we were surrounded by 30-40 huge individuals. Stepping into the water in bare feet for the first time is beyond daunting but the expert guides from Stingray City tell you how to place your feet, hold them and what to do if they bump into you which they invariably do. After a few minutes (and a bit of shreeking) we were completely at ease with these amazing animals who are a bit like inquisitive dogs.

These are amongst the most amazing creatures on our planet. They are fish (closely related to sharks) but give birth to live young. They are naturally curious, and here in particular, not at all wary of humans. One large female even sucked my daughters bikini bottom tie causing it to be undone!

We didn't want to leave realising that we had experienced something really special and just amazing - there aren't many other places which allow you to swim with so many out to sea in this way.
If you go to Antigua make sure you go to Stingray City, it's worth every penny!

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Thursday, 12 September 2013

Antigua - beautiful Caribbean island worth a visit

The Beach at The Verandah Resort and Spa, Antigua

I know I'm spoilt. Edinburgh, South of France... and now Antigua. But honestly it's not always like this and they have all been short breaks (honest). Antigua is our main family holiday. Having both the girls at university for the vast majority of the year it is nice for us all to just hang out for a week. Amazingly they are both happy to do this and happy to come away outside of the school holiday season (oh the joy of being free from the tyranny of the school term) when it's much cheaper. Of course they aren't stupid and have realised that we can afford to go to far more exotic locations once the prices have tumbled. Hence Antigua in September.

We stayed at The Verandah Resort and Spa on the East Coast of the island. This all-inclusive resort is spread out around a couple of pretty bays with sandy beaches and the rooms are in self-contained units. We didn't pay extra for a sea-view but if we had I can see that it would be amazing! The whole development is set within the national park so the planting (think huge palm trees, banana and coconut trees and amazing flowers) is exceptional, even for the Caribbean. The two beaches are safe and the water is calm and only waist deep so perfect for families with very young children.

It is an all-inclusive resort - again it was surprising to find that this included all brand drinks (so gin and tonic was made with Bombay Sapphire rather than a cheap local alternative). Food was mainly buffet and pretty good and the steak in particular was exceptional.

The rooms weren't as luxurious as many we have had for a similar standard of property but they were large, clean and comfortable. The beds are quite firm - though I immediately ordered a mattress topper which sorted out that problem for us all!

All in all this hotel is great value for money and a tip to the wise don't book through a company like Virgin but take a look at Let's Go To. We booked through them and everything worked like clockwork plus we saved around £800 for the 4 of us across the whole package when compared with Virgin - and we still had Virgin flights (more on that in another post).

Anyway enough rambling and here are some of our lovely shots....

View from the resort

The pool at The Verandah

Half Moon Cove, Antigua

Long Bay, Antigua

English Harbour, Antigua
Devil's Bridge

At the bar!

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Monday, 2 September 2013

Taking a break....

Just a week - but it's family holiday time! See you back here next week...

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Summer's Not Over! Funny Feet are making a comeback...

Wow - I'm about as happy as can be to see the return of this old favourite to your shelves this week! Walls created a Facebook campaign to find out which confectionery we'd all like to see make a comeback and this strawberry flavoured ice-cream on a stick which was taken off our shelves in the '90's, was the outright winner!

It got me thinking about what I would personally like to see return... here are a few of my faves.

The Aztec bar was a bit like a Mars bar but with raisins and I remember being so disappointed when they were no longer produced... You could only buy them from 1968 until 1977 so that really does give away my age!

Again culled in the '90's (what was wrong with all these sweets anyway?) I remember the Bar Six which was just like a Kit-Kat but with better wrapping...

Yum yum Icebreaker had bits of crunchy mint in the chocolate...

You can still get Milk Tray but who remembers getting all the different chocolates in just one bar! Well I do for one...

What happened at Cadbury's do you think? What have they brought out in return? I would love to see them do a similar thing to Walls and vote for your favourite to make a welcome appearance on our sweetshop shelves once again. What do you think and what are your favourites?

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