Thursday, 31 December 2015

Happy New Year

Long time no blog. Again...!

Here are some pencils I got for Christmas from the White Company. I will be taking their advice in 2016.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Kathy Lette's son Jules on beating the bullies

When the heavenly author Kathy Lette emailed me an animation created by her son Jules on how he overcame bullies, I knew it deserved being shared on here.


Jules has Asperger's, which is on the high functioning end of the autism spectrum. "It's a life long neurological disorder and its chief characteristics are the inability to communicate socialise", writes Kathy in the Sunday Times (August, 2013). Whilst there are things he finds hard, there are plenty of things he can do that he is quite brilliant at.... Kathy says he is so poetic. And now he's an actor - and has made the above animation which will hopefully help many others. 

I adore Kathy and have met her several times. She is described as Ruby Wax's doppelganger and has a way with words that is in a league of its own... Her most recent novel Courting Trouble had me gripped for three solid days. You'd be mad not to read it. 


Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Finding Dory....

Following on from my previous post about falling back in love with the cinema - I am SO unbelievably excited that Finding Dory is being made into an actual film.... coming to our cinemas in 2016. 

I do a very good whale impression - Dory would be impressed. If you haven't seen the Disney masterpiece of "Finding Nemo" then for heaven's sake DO IT - its one of the best. 


She just kept swimming !

See the actual trailer here....

Monday, 23 November 2015

Walking on Sunshine by Rachel Kelly

Local Notting Hill resident Rachel Kelly has just launched her second book "Walking on Sunshine: 52 small steps to happiness" where she shares strategies that have helped her stay calm and happy since overcoming depression. In fact, the book provides nuggets of wisdom that will undoubtedly help anyone feeling gloomy, anxious, depressed, stressed – these things affect us all. 
At the book launch (two weeks ago) we were all asked to raise our hands if we or someone we know had been linked to any of the above and not one person kept their hand down. We were also asked if we rated ourselves as fundamentally happy – and the answer for many is: probably not.

Tips and tricks are provided for every week of a calendar year and as the book is written like a diary the chapters are grouped into Seasons. It also contains wonderful illustrations by Jonathan Pugh. There are also exercises Kelly has found helpful, like: Place your index finger on the side of your nose so you only breathe through one nostril. This instantly slows your breathing and makes you feel calmer in the heat of a stressful moment.
My favourite extract (there are many) is as follows – 
Chapter 13 (page 40-41) – Late May, and one overcast morning, my friend and I make time for a special breakfast. We go to a local restaurant and a waiter cracks a smile and gives us a corner table. The porridge is drizzled with honey and dotted with blueberries and raisins. I feel blessed that we are together and all is well in this moment. In the evening, I reflect on the gratitude I feel for such a pleasurable start to my day. Having suffered from depression in the past, I’ve found it helpful to focus on my mental health rather than my mental illness. Learning to be grateful is a key part of that philosophy. 
The rest of that chapter on gratitude goes onto describe some brilliant techniques and exercises to try – and even one that is great for children – so often we can forget what to be thankful for – and there really is so much. 
It is individuals like Rachel Kelly who bring so much good to the mental health world. Long may her work continue. 
Kelly is carrying out one of her poetry workshops at the School of Life in November – don’t miss it…
*This post has also been published on the Notting Hill Post

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

World Prematurity Day

Apparently it's World Prematurity day - both my sister Ella and I entered this world 9 weeks early (15 years apart) - we remain bonkers but we are also survivors. 

We might not have chosen to enter this world in the dramatic style that we did and we probably still lack maturity (!) but we seem to have been forgiven for that and we thank god for NHS neonatal units...


*I put this photo on Facebook and it received more than 100 "likes" in a few hours (its more than 3 years old but sums our close relationship up rather perfectly) so thought I would share it here too. We don't normally go round with leggings on our heads. I promise.

**15 million babies are born too early each year across the globe. Thats 29 babies every minute. Some are not as lucky as Ella or I. Read more here.  

Monday, 9 November 2015

Burberry's Festive Film 2015

Christmas finally feels like its properly on the way when the clocks have gone back, the lights have been switched on on Oxford Street and the John Lewis Christmas advert appears on our screens.

The other most notable and wonderful festive film is that of Burberry. This year it celebrates 15 years of Billy Elliott and features Sir Elton John and Julie Walters. I am slightly obsessed with that musical / film.

Like last year, Romeo Beckham is the star..... But so is James Cordon !



Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Falling back in Love with..... the Cinema

It's fair to say that I am a theatre addict - I grab a copy of Time Out every Tuesday morning on my way to work and LOVE reading reviews of what is on the stage / going on in London. I always have something lined up to see - I love plays (I never blogged about my magical 4 days in Edinburgh earlier this year where I saw 18 shows in that time).  I do also love comedy and musicals (good ones) and I am longing to see Bend It Like Beckham, which apparently has been a roaring success. 



This year, I seem to have also fallen back in love with the Cinema. I never fell out of love with it but I've never enjoyed watching television - I can't sit still for long enough to enjoy watching a screen. But there have been some great films this year and there are more to follow in the coming weeks which I can't bear to miss.

Earlier this year, I went to see Pitch Perfect 2 with two girlfriends - they showed me the first one the night before so I got the general gist of it. And it was a good thing to do on the weekend - took my mind off the busy and overwhelming week that followed.

Then came SPY featuring Miranda Hart and Melissa McCartney - not to mention Jude Law... It was hilariously funny with such a great cast. I can't wait to get the DVD. It reminded me of a Bond film but with a lot more comedy. 



I was sad to miss out on seeing Amy - a documentary / film about Amy Winehouse. It received mixed reviews and was highly criticised by Amy's own father but apparently it didn't put him in a very good light so its no surprise he didn't like it... I adored Amy Winehouse - her voice and music was like nothing else this world had ever heard. Her battle with addiction meant her life was cut far too short. 

I also missed out on seeing The Intern which featured both Robert de Nero and Anne Hathaway. 

Last week I went to see Sufragette, which might be the most memorable and my favourite of all the films listed here. Everyone (and especially all GIRLS and WOMEN) should make the time to see this - it makes you realise what Emmeline Pankhurst and the other Suffragettes went through to gain women the vote - they really did put their lives on the line. I did cry....! Emmeline Pankhurst lived on my road - there is a smart blue plaque on the front of her house.... The film ends with a list of countries and the year that women were given the right to vote - some were terrifyingly recent.

And this week everyone has been talking about the new James Bond - Spectre - I went to see it yesterday and it really did live up to the hype. I walked past the Royal Albert Hall on Monday evening where the world premier was taking place. The last Bond film Skyfall was very emotional but this one was more heart-pumpingly (is that a word ? It is now) action packed... It was also quite funny in places. 



There are two more noteworthy films which are coming out soon and I will definitely make the time to see them - 

He Named Me Malala - I saw the advert for this film about Malala Yousafzai when I went to see Suffragette and even the 30 second trailer made me teary. If you haven't heard of this girl, then I beg you to open a new tab in your internet browser NOW and read about her. She is one of the most famous and extraordinary faces of the 21st century. In a nutshell, she survived being shot in the head by the Taliban for speaking out on girls' education. The film looks at the events leading up to the Taliban's attack followed by the aftermath and includes her recent speech to the United Nations. 



The Lady In the Van - British legend Dame Maggie Smith is starring in this which is a reason in itself to not miss it. Dame Maggie appeared on a television chat show this week for the first time in 42 years - the audiences rightly gave her a standing ovation and she has a great sense of humour.

Looking ahead to 2016 - the internet has been bursting with excitement about Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie - Edie and Patsy are back. More on that another time.....(although they have already revealed some of the cast - many of whom starred in the TV series: so watch this space!) and a few shots from filming....


Monday, 2 November 2015

Claudia Winkleman's new Make Up

Claudia Winkleman is without doubt one of the funniest women on television at the moment. She's a BBC television and radio presenter - we currently see her every Saturday night co-hosting Strictly Come Dancing with Tess Daley. 


In an interview with Bryony Gordon earlier this year, Bryony writes that despite Claudia having a degree in theology and history of art from Cambridge university, all anyone ever wants to talk about is her fringe, her excessive use of eyeliner and not to mention the fake tan (a Strictly Come Dancing essential?).


It's true - her style is totally unique - nobody else could pull off such a great look. Her hair is gloriously shiny and her aim with eye make up is "more is more" - there's no holding back with that eye liner. 

In this hilarious interview with The Pool, she reveals her new make up range, which is exclusive to M&S and comes out in November with Percy Pigs !!


I can hardly wait....!

Sunday, 1 November 2015

#Equality4MentalHealth

Something huge is about to happen. 

All will be revealed (I think!) on Monday 2nd November. I can hardly breathe with excitement - and am really honoured to have been asked to be involved.

Keep an eye on #Equality4MentalHealth and I will try and post updates here as best I can....


Friday, 30 October 2015

BumBo Bags

I recently discovered BumBo bags and can't get over how glorious they are. And since they are so brilliant - I felt the need to share them with you too!

BumBo bags are a collection of bags, created by Hen Wilson, a London based graduate, who has designed kilim and leather bags, which are assembled in India. What I love about them is that no two bags are the same and there are a fantastic assortment of colours. 




I feel like I could achieve a lot of Christmas shopping and make several people very happy by giving them as presents. It looks like the Totes have been a big hit (not many in stock) but I hear that more are on the way (particularly if demand is expressed for particular colours / patterns). 

You so often see people heading to yoga with their mat under one arm. But to have an actual fun / nice bag to put it in is even better.



Please visit the BumBo bags website for more info - and let me know if you get one ?


Thursday, 29 October 2015

Making time.....to stand and stare

In the early 1900s, William Henry Davies knew something about mindfulness (or a lack of it) ! 

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.

A poor life this is if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare. 

William Henry Davies, 1911


Today, I MADE time to stop and stare....at the autumn leaves that had arrived in Hyde Park. I feel like I have been totally overdoing it lately and stopping for just 30 seconds to observe my surroundings made such a difference. The clocks went back on Saturday night and it feels like the season has really changed. I adore days like this when the sky is bluer than any Ipswich Town shirt I've ever owned and the leaves are golden and crispy. These pics don't really do it justice - 



Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Cara Delevingne - extraordinary beyond words

There are very few people who don't know who Cara Delevingne is. She is the most famous model in the world. And if you don't know her by name, you will know her face. 


I recently watched this interview she did with Rupert Everett. She speaks honestly and boldly about her struggles with mental health. It proves that it doesn't matter how famous, rich or beautiful you are, mental illness can affect anyone. 

I salute her for speaking so frankly - because it's interviews like this, which really help to raise awareness, break down barriers and change people's attitudes. 

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Adele: HELLO

Adele has been somewhat OFF the radar these past few years. She says she isn't friends with ANYONE famous and lives a very private life in Notting Hill (I have never spotted her). 


She exploded back onto the scene on Friday with the launch of her new song: HELLO. The album comes out on 20th November and although this is the only song we've heard on it - both this song and the whole album are already number one worldwide. 


It is am-az-ing.

Click HERE to listen. It's had 30 million hits in 24 hours.

Thursday, 15 October 2015

New Yoghurt from the Collective

I got such an amazing surprise last week when a special delivery arrived in the office for me. It was from the Collective Dairy. You NEED to know about their yoghurt - it is DELICIOUS. Their new Limited Edition is Gingerbread. Its not just ginger flavoured yoghurt - you literally taste gingerbread. 


Their last flavour was COFFEE and that was extraordinary - I don't even like coffee. Ruby Wax and I ate it out of the pot without a spoon - it was that good. The gingerbread delivery came with homemade ginger biscuits too. So spoiling !

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

World Mental Health Day

World Mental Health Day was on Saturday 10th October this year. Its a day that gives much worthy attention to mental health issues and their charities - awareness for something SO COMMON that is still not talked about enough. On this day last year I think last year I walked around London for CLASP charity.

I'm not really sure if these "awareness" days really help - it certainly doesn't bring us any closer to a cure. Even though 1 in 4 people suffer, only 1.36% of this country's public health budget is spent on mental health.  But perhaps by bringing the issues into the limelight, someone who may have been suffering in silence, might be given the confidence to seek help and talk to someone.

I spent the afternoon at the Soho theatre watching Bryony Kimmings perform a piece of theatre with her partner Tim Grayburn about HIS depression. It was called Fake It 'Til You Make It. This show was performed in Edinburgh in the summer and I couldn't get a ticket. I then couldn't get a ticket in London but an extra performance was added and I was finally able to see it. 



It was one of the most compelling and emotional pieces of theatre I have ever seen. Bryony was happily in a relationship with Tim but she discovered by accident after 6 months into the relationship that he suffered from severe depression and anxiety - and he had suicidal thoughts. She needed something out of his gym bag and stumbled upon a packet of antidepressants. 

Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 35 in the UK. Men find it PARTICULARLY difficult to talk about their feelings - especially if they are not ok..  Tim hadn't told anyone. And now the whole world knows because Bryony helped him to open up about it, get help and now they have written and are performing this show. He only agreed to do it with her if he was able to not make eye contact with anyone in the audience. So they performed it and the entire way through he wore sunglasses or a paper bag or a hat made out of cotton wool / or a very large muddled knotted rope (to represent his confused mind / thoughts ? - see below) so that we couldn't see his eyes. It was funny yet managed to address such a serious issue.. there is no doubt that both sufferers and their "other halves" would have come away with something to think about.



But the huge part came at the end when he took his head gear off and he spoke directly to the audience. Bryony is about to have a baby so after this, they might not perform it for a while but look out for possible more dates next summer.... don't miss out like I nearly did.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge played a prominent role in marking the day by attending an event at Harrow College. Its the second time in recent weeks that they have concentrated on mental health work - The Duchess of Cambridge also went to the Anna Freud Centre a couple of weeks ago.



Sunday, 11 October 2015

Simply Nigella.....and some Nutella

Thursday 8th October has been a highlight in my diary for quite some time now. It was the date that Nigella Lawson's much awaited new book Simply Nigella would be published. I got an email on Tuesday saying it had been dispatched and much to my delight, it arrived on Wednesday - 24 hours early. 

I have been full of excitement about this - the build up has been amazing to watch - she would tweet photos of dishes that she had been testing and then other photos of her at the shoot - and it has been a while since her last book so that added to all the anticipation

I got a message from her on Tuesday with some exciting news.... Regular readers might remember that in November last year, I went to see her in conversation with Alain de Botton at the School of Life. And I gave her a jar of personalised Nutella with her name on it (thanks to Selfridges) and guess what ? The jar is in her new book.... The recipe is for Nutella Brownies... I am so happy !




I spent the entire evening leafing through its glorious pages not quite knowing where to start. Every recipe is accompanied by the most beautiful photography. This isn't just another cook book with recipes that we have seen before. You can tell that this book has been created with the same love and hard work that her other books also ooze. The recipes are unfussy / not complicated and don't contain ingredients that seem expensive or impossible to source - i.e. they are achievable, delicious and the end result won't disappoint. I have always admired Nigella's approach to food and eating and we have so much to learn from her. The book is divided into logical chapters and the recipes are easy to follow...

My favourite chapter is called "BREATHE". She writes as though having a conversation with you - and it makes everything much easier to follow and enjoyable to read.

Bravo to Nigella and I can hardly wait to use the book properly - Nutella Brownies are at the top of my list !

Monday, 28 September 2015

Flow Magazine

Since starting a new job with better working hours, I have pledged to do more for myself - especially now that I have more time off in the evenings. This includes going to bed earlier, always taking a good break at lunch time, not feeling guilty every time I buy something for myself (because I AM WORTH IT!), meditating whenever possible, learning to say NO, blogging more....

On the subject of meditation and mindfulness, I am looking to do an 8 week course - there are plenty about but I am just looking for the right one that would be suitable...

I have just discovered FLOW magazine, which sums itself up as -

"Flow, a magazine that takes its time... Celebrating creativity, imperfection and life's little pleasures."


It is actually a Dutch publication that was dreamt up in an attic room several years ago. It's all about positive psychology, mindfulness, creativity and the beauty of imperfection. Just my thing. It is now so popular that they ship it all over the world and it is translated into lots of different languages... I ordered one of their "Special" publications, which was Flow Mindfulness.

It is packed with interviews and quotes from experts in the field including Prof. Mark Williams, John Kabat-Zin and Ruby Wax.

This edition cost £12.24 plus postage, which is not cheap but for something so beautifully put together and so full of information, I think it is well worth it. Am going to subscribe to the others I think.

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Helen Mirren at 70

The last time I blogged about Helen Mirren, it was because she had dyed her hair a wonderful shade of Pink.... 

This photo and quote are equally worth a mention:



* Helen Mirren turned 70 in July and looks utterly sensational....doesn't she ???

PS Think Rahla Xenopoulos alerted me to the above pic so big thanks to her. Itching to blog about Tribe - her latest book - when I can get my hands on a copy!

Friday, 25 September 2015

Courgetti Spaghetti Bolognese like NO OTHER

Since I did graduate with a degree in Nutrition, I OUGHT to write more about healthy, nutritious food but it doesn't often happen ! I'm frequently looking forward to my next Cronut (not always but often!)

Having said that, I could be considered as super boring because I don't smoke or drink (much) and plan every meal around vegetables and protein rather than carbohydrates.... So am actually quite healthy but do eat chocolate and other sugary delights.... 


I live round the corner from the Hummingbird bakery. In the above bag was a Salted Caramel Cupcake. Now in my tummy. I know - The yummiest thing in the world.

I do prefer following Deliciously Stella rather than Deliciously Ella ...!

And having looked back in my blog archive, I have in fact written a lot about food before: e.g. Jamie Oliver tackling sugar or William Leith and Michael Pollan on what makes us full and more....

I got particularly excited the other day when I received an email about the "Bee Free Box". This is a new venture set up by Clinical Nutritionist Angela Beecroft and her daughter Sarah. In their own words:

"The Bee Free Box is free from many of the foods that, evidence suggests, may cause health issues for a large number of the population. Most dietary plans fail because people find it too difficult to stick to them... Bee Free Box aims to take the stress out of following a free from diet and makes it as easy as possible."

My favourite recipe on their website is Courgetti Spaghetti Bolognese.  The spiralizer that turns Courgette into Spaghetti is the best addition to my kitchen. So clever, easy to operate and works with lots of different vegetables... Their website is a wealth of info and the whole concept is such a clever idea. 


Here is the recipe that accompanies the above video. I can confirm it is one of the yummiest things ever. Try it and tweet me a pic ?

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Alice Norman's Glorious Summer Video

If there was ever a way of summing up a glorious summer, then my friend Alice Norman has nailed it firmly on the head. You don't have to know the people in the video for it to make you feel uplifted. I watched the whole thing and couldn't stop smiling. 


Friday, 18 September 2015

I Live HERE

I can't help but feel like the luckiest person in the world.  I live in Notting Hill - the all time greatest corner of London - and I work in Knightsbridge. I have to walk through things like Hyde Park and past things like Kensington Palace to get to work.


My walk to work:


 My walk home:


I walked from home in Notting Hill last weekend all the way to Waterloo and this is the view that greeted me at Waterloo Bridge. Mind blowing. 



Potobello Road is round the corner (non market day):


Every Saturday it gets a little chaotic but I just adore it: 

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

The Global Goals - Tell Everyone - We Have a Plan

There is a large hole in Notting Hill at the moment. Not because someone has dug yet ANOTHER basement.... But because the genius behind Love Actually, Notting Hill, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Comic Relief, Mr Bean, Vicar of Dibley and more has left the 'hood to go and do something quite remarkable in New York with the United Nations - and taken all his family and their pets with him....for a whole year (*sobs*) - I used to pass him on my walk to work and it was the best possible start to my day (right after also spotting the Beckhams). ***

On September 25th 2015, 193 world leaders will commit to 17 Global Goals to achieve 3 extraordinary things in the next 15 years. End extreme poverty. Fight inequality & injustice. Fix climate change. The Global Goals for sustainable development could get these things done. In all countries. For all people.



This might be the shortest film that Richard Curtis has ever made but it is most definitely one of the very best -




Each goal carries equal importance and ALL of them must be achieved in order for the project and mission to work. My two favourites are probably the first two. 

1. No Poverty and 2. Zero Hunger

If the goals are going to work, everyone needs to know about them. You can’t fight for your rights if you don’t know what they are. You can’t convince world leaders to do what needs to be done if you don’t know what you’re convincing them to do. If the goals are famous, they won’t be forgotten.
We can be the first generation to end extreme poverty, the most determined generation in history to end injustice and inequality, and the last generation to be threatened by climate change.
What can we do? Tell everybody. Spread the word. Talk about it at home / work / school. This is something the world needs to hear. 

If you are a football lover like me - do a Dizzy Goal. They are hilariously fun. 

***Emma Freud is writing a hilarious and must-read weekly column in the Telegraph about their adventures. Don't miss it. The first column she wrote explaining why they were leaving was so moving. Her year of saying YES. I said it was their gap year but in fact they will be working harder than ever out there and not really resting at all.... 

For more Global Goals news: visit http://www.globalgoals.org/

Let's help make this incredible / ambitious / genius project a global success.