Monday, 2 November 2015

Dancing barefoot.....

Back from a winter soujourn in France, I found I had far too many things going on in one week..... why does it always happen like that? Two birthday parties, gigs, a private view, I hit the ground running.....
.....and then I was dancing. Double Patti, can you believe it? First, chatting ..... or flirting frankly... with Andrew O'Hagan about her new book, M Train, and then rocking out the Roundhouse, a blinding gig by anyone's standards let alone at 68. If I have to explain the appeal of Patti Smith then you're never going to get it but if you are unfamiliar then do have some youtube time and enjoy. This week, I shall mainly be lying down.....

Top tip: Take the M Train with Patti Smith and be transported.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Dream on......

As the rain kicks in after a glorious weekend, it does seem to be time to pack away the fitflops and factor fifty. It didn't feel like we had much of a summer, especially as I manged to be away for 'the hottest day of the year'. Unbelievably, the sun actually shone on my birthday this year and as all August babies grow up to know, it is a very changeable month with many a birthday party or picnic or trip to the beach abandoned due to inclement weather, amidst howls of high winds and disgruntled children.

However, this year on my birthday I didn't cry because I didn't want to because the sun shone and we went to Margate. To Dreamlands to be precis, the fabulous, relaunched retro theme park with dodgems and a carousel. And a bar. And it was brilliant.
Here I feel I should declare an interest as it was my great great great grandfather, Lord George Sanger, the Victorian circus entrepreneur, who not only added the 'Lord' to his name and introduced the 3-ring circus but also started the Pleasure Gardens in Margate, which subsequently became Dreamlands.

High on excitement and sticky with candy-floss we walked across the sands in the sunshine to the Turner Contemporary gallery to enjoy the Grayson Perry show before nipping up the cemetery to say Hi to the dead rellies.  A fabulous day out in Margate.

Enjoying the last of the summer sun slightly closer to home this weekend, I went to a vintage fair in Bethnal Green and finally met the fabulous Vix ........ if you are not familiar with her brilliant blog check it out, always a ray of sunshine on even the dullest day.

Top tip: it's all about the conkers now, fill your draws and save your woolies from the moth!!

Monday, 28 September 2015

Getting a life......

The look of horror on my goddaughter's face said it all:
"But why not?" she whispered, confused and saddened at the same time.
All I'd said was, I don't do 'Bake Off'. Or 'Strictly' or 'X Factor'. Or 'Masterchef'.
So now it's out there. It's not that I don't do TV. I love TV. I love 'Nurse Jackie', 'Veep', 'Who Do You Think You Are', Graham Norton ...... Michael Portillo on a train to anywhere. 'Mad Men' could be my specialised subject. However, should I look blank when a friend says:
"Did you see Mary last night?"
I am bombarded with a million reasons why Sue Perkins is saving the human race, one soggy-bottom at a time. It's honestly not a judgement call. I'd fight for the right for you to watch it. I just don't love food shows. Or competitions. But don't get me wrong, I love cake. It's just that watching it makes me hungry.

It's the same with Facebook. I don't do that either and it makes people very mad. And I don't tweet. Or get Linkedin. Until recently that is, when in order to validate myself and prove I existed, so I could join something I subsequently didn't join, I had to link up. Overnight I became connected to hundreds of people, many of which I have never heard of and have nothing in common with.

Last week I went out to a performance at a local gallery. I saw someone I'd met where I'd worked last year. She knew the gallery Director and introduced me. She knew someone she thought I should meet who works in the same area as me. They also know a writer/artist I met a few years ago and really admire who is having a show next month and invited me to the private view.

Top tip: get linked in by going out. 

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Reality bites.........

"I really hope this is being recorder," I screamed, spittle flecking in the phone, "because you need training."

To be fair this was my ...... ooh .... umpteenth call regarding the ongoing plight of my broadband and we hadn't even embarked on what would end as TVgate. I had, Dear Reader, decided to change my provider and yes I can hear the collective sigh and sucking of teeth of those who are wiser than I.

"Seamless?" I screeched, "Seamless..... I have an email and a text telling me I'm 'live' and you're telling me it has a 'hold' put on it but no one knows why? WHY?"

Of course I shall never do anything as rash and stupid again.

Finally, it was sorted and my harridan squawks paid off with months of free bills and financial remuneration (with great age comes ...... great complaining). Now all I have to do is master the remote control.......

"Root Canal!" I gasped, my throat constricting around the words, "Is it cos I am old?"
My wonderful dentist (an Iranian Robert Downey Jnr type....) peered over his mask, batted his long lashes and assured me it wasn't.

"How much?"
I still can't get my head around how much treatment costs despite being on the NHS.
"But it doesn't even hurt." I whispered.
He then issued me with instructions to get it sorted immediately despite my pleas.

"Cost my twice that," said my mate Dave, "and I'd have paid five times that to stop the pain, you're lucky, do it now."

And so, I have saved myself £18 a month by going through the hell of changing my provider but I haven't quite worked how many years it will take for these savings to pay my dentist. Someone up there is mocking me.

Top tip: Modern Family is quite possibly the best comedy show in the world and now I can watch it all day everyday!!

Monday, 3 August 2015

Surreality bites........

Farley Farm, home to Lee Miller and the surrealists.......
For those unfamiliar with Ms. Miller, she was, amongst other things, Man Ray's muse, a top model, a photographer and Vogue's war correspondent. But the whole story is even bigger, I shan't spoil it for you just go visit the intoxicating house and beautiful garden.....

....full of all sorts of interesting things......

... because she married Roland Penrose, the English surrealist painter and poet, and so all sorts of fabulous artists would come and hangout round their kitchen table and eat green chicken and blue mash and talk art.....utterly surreal.

Top tip: oh to be in England...... when the sun shines.

Monday, 1 June 2015

Getting seedy.....

I need to share...... Lindt Excellence dark chocolate with roasted sesame seeds......

obviously not the actual bar, that would be madness .... or impossible.... because it is just so delicious. And good for you. Forget a touch of sea last year..... it's all about the seeds now. Sesame seeds are a good source of  B complex vitamins as well as calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc and well, we all know how good dark chocolate is for us. This is just an antioxidant waiting to happen.

Top tip: substitute pudding with a few squares of dark chocolate as a healthy dietary aid!!

Friday, 15 May 2015

Mindfull....... to over flowing...

'Twas in another life time, when I lived in New York, I would go over to 3rd Avenue to the Kiehl's store where they wore white lab coats and there was a motorbike in the shop and always a line outside. They had a no advertising policy, used brown paper bags and dolled out free samples on request regardless of whether you bought anything or not. Which was very clever because although the freebies were the perfect travel size you invariably did buy something big. And it was such gorgeous product you then told everyone you knew to go there too.

Now bought out by L'Oreal, there seems to be one on every other corner, including mine. It's not the same as it used to be but I do still like their products and they do still have samples, although you have to jump through a few hoops to get them. Anyways, having exhausted several samples.... from various stores... of their BB Cream, and having garnered many compliments of the 'don't you look dewy and fabulous' kind, I finally bought a tube. 

Then I lost it. But I knew it was in my bathroom because I'd used it that morning and discussed it's fabulously dewy affects with a friend I'd met for coffee. So it was in my home. Definitely. But where? With menopausal madness firmly in place , frankly it could be anywhere. I stared at the various tubes and jars in the cabinet where I knew I'd put it. Nothing. I took them all out and put them all back, just in case. Nothing. It's a very small bathroom so I searched it quite quickly. Nothing. The rest of the abode is not much bigger so it didn't take long to search that too. I checked the fridge of course, the freezer naturally, the plates and bowls cupboard, I even went behind the pots of spices and herbs. Absolutely nothing. No one had been in my home since I'd bought it except the son. Surely not, I thought. However, it was nowhere to be found, had I imagined I'd bought it? Had I been robbed by a niche-burglar? I really thought I was loosing my mind, as I emptied the kitchen trash. But I had bought it, it had to be somewhere, where could I possibly have put it? Unless I had gone mad. And then there it was, amongst the lemon peel and tea bags and egg shells. Somehow, I must have knocked it out of the bathroom cabinet and into the bathroom bin which I then emptied into the kitchen trash. The sense of joy and relief at finding my new purchase, along with my mind, caused much excitement and delirium.

Top tip: treat yourself to Kiehl's BB cream for super summer skin......

Friday, 17 April 2015

It starts.....

What weather..... the sun is shining.....
and everything feels a whole lot better. First glass of rose, outside in the warm early evening........ I do hope the summer is going to be sunny.

In other news, I went to a life drawing class for the first time in ooh...... 30 years....... at the suggestion of a friend. When I mentioned this fact to the teacher he was quite surprised...... then I realised he wasn't born the last time I had the charcoal out. I enjoyed it so much am going back next week..... channelling my inner Gustav Klimt. Oddly enough, when I had to do for A level and at Art college I hated it.

Top tip: do something you haven't done for awhile.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

The eyes have it......

'Twas in another lifetime but not quite of toil and blood..... although if you've ever been backstage at a fashion show, well need I say more..... I practised the dark arts of maquillage. These days I like to think the few tricks I learnt in the trade help keep my inner crone at bay but I rarely get worked up about a product ....except when it's an exceptional product.

And so I want to share with you all my new favourite thing: the Surratt smokey eye baton! OK, so here I do need to declare an interest, I know the creator of this line, Troy Surratt, in fact more than that, he has been known to site me as the one who propelled him into the big time but really we need to do that story over a glass or two.

So, back to the baton; it is essentially eye liner and an eye shadow on a's all you need to look fabulous. It goes on with ease and stays there, I love it so much I wore smokey eyes to yoga. There a number of other deliciously gorgeous things in his line, currently on sale in Liberty and I plan to try them all, check it out

Now back to the buns and bunnies and chocolate..... happy Easter.

Top tip: a little bit of new make up can go a long way.

Monday, 23 March 2015

I can see clearly now.....

Many, many years ago, when I first moved to London and was at college, I spent many, many hours hanging out in Covent Garden.....a new and sparkling emporium of shops and eateries the like of which I'd never seen before ..... and where I discovered my first pair of Rayban Wayfarers.

These were the sunglasses of Hollywood movie stars, big and black and quite the most glamorous thing I'd ever tried on and I wanted them. I went back week after week trying them on and trying to justify spending such an enormous amount of money on sunglasses....£27. Back then it was probably a weeks rent. But I really did want them. So I threw caution to the wind ..... and my grant at the problem....and bought them. And dear reader I wore those sunglasses until I was 32 when they finally got nicked in Mexico...... but that's a whole other story. 
 I loved those sunglasses and recently have felt a desperate need to replace them. So, while in New York I popped into Century 21, the downtown discount department store .....or bargain central....and to my joy found the perfect pair. So I threw caution to the wind ..... and my credit card at the problem....and bought them. Clearly, I don't actually need another pair of sunglasses but I really did want them. Or did I really just want to recapture my youth?

Top tip: sometimes a little of what you fancy does you good....

Monday, 16 March 2015

New York...New York.... good they named it twice. I used to live there and haven't been back for......way too long. It was cold....
and wet......
 and snowed.......
 and emotional. At one point, halfway across Central Park, in a blizzard I would have cried except my eyes were too busy being stabbed by the icey snow. As I slid over into a drift, snow blind and searching for the out, I thought I might just disappear, only to be found in the thaw, just by the exit. Like Scott, so close....but not close enough...Then my friend's flight was diverted to Boston and so the great nostalgia fest we had planned was scuppered. And the High line....the only thing I wanted to go on....was closed due to...snow and ice.
 So I went to the diner.....
 and the sun came out....
and the High Line opened and it was ....a perfect day!!

Top tip: it is better to travel with your thermals then never to travel at all.....

Monday, 9 March 2015

Young at Heart is away......

....guess where?

Top tip: One's destination is never a place, but rather a new way of looking at things......Henry Miller

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Full of eastern promise.......

This week I made Spiced Lamb and Apricot Stew....
and it was so utterly delicious I ate it all and forgot to take a picture. So I've taken a picture of the picture in the cook book, Persiana by Sabrina Ghayour. Honestly, it is so simple and so divine, spiced with cinnamon, turmeric and cumin, it cooks itself. And as winter seems to be going nowhere, I shall be eating it a lot more.

Top tip: cut the apricots in half!

Monday, 16 February 2015

The play's the thing.....

I took my mum to see The Hard Problem, the new Top Stoppard play, last week at the delightfully revamped Dorfman Theatre at the National. It's about...... consciousness, I think. What is it?
What's the difference between the mind and the brain? And the answer is..... I don't know. And I'm not sure Tom does but no matter, it was a lot of fun trying to find out. Tom Stoppard's stuff is often very funny and as a friend once said to me after we'd been to see Rock 'n' Roll, you feel more intelligent by osmosis just watching his plays. And although much of the science went over our heads, mum thought it was a great birthday present so job done. 

The other big news is my very own, home grown rhubarb is already ripe and ready here in the rhubarb triangle of north London. Having been given the delicious cook book, Persiana by Sabrina Ghayour, for Christmas I was inspired to create this pudding..... rhubarb with rosewater yogurt and pistachios.

Top tip: try something hard and expand your mind....while you can still remember to do so!!

Monday, 9 February 2015

Die Slowly

He who becomes the slave of habit,
who follows the same routes every day,
who never changes pace,
who does not risk and change the color of his clothes,
who does not speak and does not experience,
dies slowly.

He or she who shuns passion,
who prefers black on white,
dotting ones i’s rather than a bundle of emotions,
the kind that make your eyes glimmer,
that turn a yawn into a smile,
that make the heart pound in the face of mistakes and feelings,
dies slowly.

He or she who does not turn things topsy-turvy,
who is unhappy at work,
who does not risk certainty for uncertainty,
to thus follow a dream,
those who do not forego sound advice at least once in their lives,
die slowly.

He who does not travel, who does not read,
who does not listen to music,
who does not find grace in himself,
she who does not find grace in herself,
dies slowly.

He who slowly destroys his own self-esteem,
who does not allow himself to be helped,
who spends days on end complaining about his own bad luck, about the rain that never stops,
dies slowly.

He or she who abandons a project before starting it, who fails to ask questions on subjects he doesn’t know, he or she who doesn’t reply when they are asked something they do know,
dies slowly.

Let’s try and avoid death in small doses,
reminding oneself that being alive requires an effort far greater than the simple fact of breathing.
Only a burning patience will lead to the attainment of a splendid happiness

By Martha Medeiros

Having happened upon this poem it has become my mantra for getting 
through February ..... and why I've booked a flight!!
Top tip: read more poetry.....

Monday, 2 February 2015

Advertise this.....

With the recent appearance of the aged Joan Didion, Charlotte Rampling and Jessica Lange fronting ad campaigns, Radio 4's Woman's Hour last week asked if it's just a cynical marketing ploy of advertisers to use women of a certain age to sell products or a change in attitudes towards the ageing woman? 

Advertisers cynical? 

All advertising is about making us buy the things they want to sell, none of it is about our health, happiness or wellbeing. It's not about right and wrong it's about shifting product and was ever thus. Romantic love was, as Don Draper, explained, invented by mad men to sell women like us nylons.... and we bought it.  

Honestly, does it really matter why 'old' women are being used in advertising campaigns? Sometimes, I do feel that Woman's Hour, much though I love it, does just like to carp on for the sake of it. They don't like it when young upstarts are used so sell the middle-aged beauty creams so why not just enjoy all the grey hair and wrinkles while it lasts?
Top tip: am currently sleeping with Anjelica Huston, having enjoyed book 1 about her early life, A Story Lately Told, given to me last Christmas, I asked Santa for part 2, Watch Me, this year. What better way to start the year than reading about someone else's insanely glamorous life?

Monday, 26 January 2015

How do I know I'm getting old?

Let me count the ways........

I'm getting old because I like watching Michael Portillo on his train journeys....yes I know!

I'm getting old because I love sleeping in my own bed and have started saying things like, 'It's lovely to be home....'

I'm getting old because I'd rather buy one good bottle of wine than clank home with as many cheapies as I can carry.

I'm getting old because I collect empty jars and am extra happy when I acquire a particularly interestingly shaped one.

I'm getting old because I tut at the radio.

I'm getting old because I tut in general.

I'm getting old because I have a special stick for stirring paint.

Top tip: raclette cheese..... if you don't have the requisite grill just melt it onto a backed potato.... delicious!!

Monday, 19 January 2015

Souper dooper love.....

I may not, like Uncle Monty in Withnail and I, believe the cauliflower more beautiful than the rose, however turning this....

 into this......
has now become my January obsession.

I cannot give credit where it is due for this recipe as I ripped it out of a magazine long ago and have forgotten which, but it is utterly delicious and so, so simple.

Moroccan Spiced Cauliflower and Almond Soup
Fry 1 onion chopped up in olive oil then add 1/2tsp of ground cinnamon, cumin and coriander and 2 tbsp harissa and fry some more for a few minutes. Then add a cauliflower chopped into small florets for several minutes more until almost cooked through. Then add 50 g flaked almonds and stir(at this point you can eat it as a vegetable dish....) then add up to a litre of stock depending how big your cauli is, cover and cook for 20 mins then blend until smooth (I leave it with a little texture). Swirl in a little extra harissa and natural yogurt if you fancy.... so good and so cheap.

Top tip: I don't know why a film about two fairly unpleasant blokes and a load of drumming...repetitive so brilliant it just is, don't miss Whip Lash....

Monday, 12 January 2015

Starry starry night....'s January, it's cold and damp and miserable and the world is now so awful we're all staying in. But help is at hand because Broadchurch is back (ITV 9pm Monday). Just when I'd gotten over getting over the demise of 'Missing'...... although marvellously distressing to watch, frankly the ending was wanting....... Olivia I-love-her Colman has returned and not only has she brought all our old favourites back with her, but Charlotte Rampling too!!
The face of Nars, the love interest in 'The Night Porter', Charlotte-bloody-Rampling, so sexy her name has become a verb..... and now we can all rample, prime time on Monday nights.....

Top tip: don't give up anything in January, especially not alcohol with all those Christmas drinks left over.... the sloe vodka maybe done but with only February to look forward to it's now all about that bottle of essential brandy that didn't make the pudding!!

Monday, 5 January 2015

And so that was Christmas........

.....the tree went up....
and now it's down. The chocolates are all gone and there's just a few Turkish Delight left...... and a little bit of homemade sloe vodka....
....another year over and a new one just begun. Now it's all about the soup. Happy new year!!

Top tip: go see 'Birdman', a cheeky matinee is especially good at blowing away the January blues....