Sunday, 28 June 2009

A quiet weekend

So far this weekend has consisted of; muggy heat, recipe reading, lemonade, cooking new things, an enormous storm, catching up on sleep, having my favourite bag pummelled by hail stones (as I stupidly left my window open in the storm), cleaning, washing, ironing and replacing thick, heavy duvets with thin, cool sheets and a lot of dancing around the Michael Jackson songs in tribute to the great man.

We also had one of those amazing experiences you hope for in a city as big as London. Wandering through Liberty on Thursday evening we met two of the most charming and stylish Parisians. They ran a section of the shop where there are 3 large canisters, big enough to stand in, which are actually tunnels to sample perfume. The company is called Editions de Parfums, and my basic understanding is that they invited the top Perfumers in the world and asked them to make their dream perfume regardless of cost or restrictions or others peoples opinion or ideas. To sample the perfume they put a couple of spritzes in a canister and you put your head in, close your eyes and are giving a rundown of what you are smelling by one of the staff. They both have the most beautiful voices, and it is more pleasurable than I imagined being lulled into an almost hypnotised state by the dulcit tones of a beautiful Parisian man running you through what your senses are experiencing.

We spent a while talking to the store manager Peggy and her colleague and got a recommendation for a place in Soho we had never heard of. Unbelievable for us all knowing Londoners. The place is called Bob Bob Ricard and in a strange coincidence Susie Bubble also mentioned it on her blog yesterday. Apparently it is wonderfully French, and it was recommended as somewhere to go to wile away a few hours without the pressure to drink. Both of them commented on how shocked they were to come to London and realise there really were not many places you could go in the evening in London where drinking was not the main activity. I agree with them, and I am looking forward to visiting Bob Bob Ricard soon.

Saturday, 27 June 2009


I am going to do some sharing today.

Or as they call it in my horrible, corporate office where every single word is given a complicated and uninterpretable label (talking and brainstorming = Strategic Thinking, going to the pub = Relationship Building) I am going to do some Knowledge Transfer.

I have a condition called Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (I wonder why it isn't called POS) and in the interest of using the internet for good not evil, and to give anyone else who has just learned they have PCOS an understanding of what it actually means, I am going to tell you what I know about it in my own words rather than Doctor speak.

PCOS apparently affects 5% of women, you will hear lots of other stats but this is the one I have seen regularly used.

I found out I had it when, at 25, I started bombarding my Doctor about cures for my extremely hormonal skin. I had terrible jawline acne, which is known to be hormonal, and after a prescription of Zineryt (which did a great job of getting rid of a really bad bout) I was sent for an ultrasound "just in case". One of the symptoms of PCOS is very bad acne which far outlasts the normal teenage spots most girls get.

As a result of these skins problems I have an almost encyclopedic knowledge of skin products, from high street to high end, and I will share my thoughts on this another time.

At the point of my ultrasound I was fully stocked up on knowledge of what this condition was, which celebrities have it (Victoria Beckham, Louise Redknapp and Jules Oliver) and what it could mean for me.

I didn't feel particularly nervous during the wait between ultrasound and results, and when it was confirmed I had PCOS I recall my first feeling being relief to have an explanation for why my skin had been so bad.

I was immediately put on a different pill (Yasmin) and I started taking B vitamins which were recommended in the book I bought (The Ultimate PCOS Handbook). I am not sure which ones did it, but my skin is now far improved. By no means perfect, but I rarely get breakouts in the aggressive way I did.

I also learned that PCOS sufferers are often obese or overweight, which I am not, and that they find it harder to lose weight than others, which I do. A GI diet is recommended, because it keeps your blood sugar level constant and reduces insulin production. "High insulin is a problem for women with PCOS, because insulin profoundly alters overall hormone balance, and causes your metabolism to go awry." obese Taken from here.

I have done the GI diet (or lifestyle programme as I think they call it) before and would certainly recommend it. Foods are rated by a traffic light system of red for BAD STAY AWAY, amber for Ok But Not Too Much and green for ALL YOU CAN EAT.

You can eat a lot of food (most vegetables are green light), can replace a lot of the bad stuff for good i.e. switching potatoes for sweet potatoes and white bread for wholemeal, and it does actually work.

I was told by my Doctor that they couldn't know how it would affect my fertility and I suspect it is the same for most people.

For some reason I don't feel worried which I know is dangerous to say aloud. I hope my warped mind isn't under the impression that just because the famous PCOS sufferers who I mentioned earlier have all had babies I will be able to, but I suspect it may be!

All the Doctor did say is that I should start thinking about conceiving sooner rather than later, which when I think of it now does scare me a little. I can't even see myself thinking about it until at least 30, the age my mother was when she even began to entertain the idea. The thought that I might need to get going (as it were) sooner, just in case, is not one that fills me with joy. Despite my happy relationship I do feel I would be acting out of fear I may not be able to conceive rather than desire to do so at the time.

PCOS is hereditary and I suspect my Auntie may also be a sufferer; she had the same symptoms as a young woman and has since battled with her weight. I imagine that 30 years ago they didn't even test for it, or perhaps it wasn't even widely known, but it is sad that she wasn't kitted with the same knowledge that I now am and therefore couldn't do so much about it.

I have read lots of quotes from women saying that PCOS takes away your feeling of femininity. I know some sufferers have excess facial hair, are obese, suffer terribly with acne and with the added question mark over whether you are fertile...well it is understandable that sufferers feel this way. For me I found it liberating, simply because I now know what my body needs me to do to keep it how I want it. So many women live trying this diet and that, struggling with different treatments for skin complaints and battling with weird and wonderful "miracle cures" for their personal body challenges.

As a PCOS sufferer at least I am able to turn away from the bombardment of products and quick fixes marketed to me every day. I now know what works for my skin (Yasmin Pill, B Complex vitamins, 2l water every day and a very simple beauty regime of Saaf cleanser and serum). I know how to lose weight (actually doing it is a different matter) and I know there is a reason for the peaks and troughs in my moods.

I may well be lucky because I don't have a lot of the symptoms I just mentioned, but equally I know they could be there, hovering behind me and waiting to pounce. In some ways that keeps me eating as well as I can and looking after myself a bit better than I otherwise might.

I hope some of this information was useful to you, any questions I will do my best to answer. I know there is a support group in London that I have the details of (although I have never been) and I am more than happy to share any other information I have found.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Trick of the light

Of late my eyes have been cast upwards, endlessly hoping for the sun to pop out from behind her thick blanket of clouds. Today, a glorious London day, I was stuck inside with just a window at my left to taunt me as to the beauty of the weather outside. But still, I would far rather the sun had her hat on even if I am stuck indoors.

The longest day on Sunday got me thinking about light, as a budding photographer it is something I give far too much thought to. My favourite images are so often those clean, white shots with just simple day light creating the most natural and gentle effect on the shot. This evening I took a look through my own photos and picked out those which I especially love for the effect of the light on the way they have come out. I know I have a long way to go, and professionals may well say the light in these are all wrong but for me, for now, they are just right.

Snaps of: Edinburgh, Brighton, Whitecross St in London and Queens Park.

Monday, 22 June 2009


"Love me when I least deserve it, because that's when I really need it"

Without swooping into melancholy self-analysis, which I am prone to do, the statement above pretty much sums up how I have felt over the last few weeks.

I have tried doing all the things I can generally rely on to snap me out of it; exercise, reading, looking at pictures of sheep who love elephants, spending hours shopping and necking a lot of booze (thus ending my month off alcohol pre-holiday). Even her arrival hasn't helped as much as anticipated.

None of these have worked, and I have simply succeeded in pushing a lot of people away and getting wound up by those I love the most. But then they are the ones I turn to for help, and with that choice to reach out to people you are suddenly expecting them to know just how to react.

Anyway, I am still trying to pull myself out from this dark cloud of mine. Today the plan includes:

Amusing myself with the battle between Perez Hilton and Will.I.Am on Twitter. Allegedly, (and I use that word for I am a blogger who operates within the law despite my personal distractions) Perez was attacked by Will.I.Am and his "crew" in Canada. Perez decided to take to Twitter to seek protection, and then followed a stream of panicked messages along the line of "get police" "i am scared" "this is where i am, help me". Will.I.Am has now set up his own Twitter account, posted a video denying the accusations and the battle wages on. Gosh...

Seeing my gorgeous friend Katy, eating vegetarian loveliness from Food for Thought and making some plans.

Sorting out the overflowing cupboards in my bedroom including ebaying a load of clothes and finding a nifty storage solution for both my pyjamas and (excess of) "casual wear" - I think this might be known as sweats in the States. Admittedly this will be neither enjoyable or relaxing but I hope the end result will satiate my inner Martha Stewart.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Hello, Love

Oh I know, I know, I will never be happy if I put so much emotional value onto items and clothes and phones and new MAC BOOK PROS. But so what, because I have a MAC BOOK PRO, and I bought it all by myself with my hard earned money. And yes I might soon be jobless and penniless and miserable but I will always have her, and so everything will be alright.

And yes I hate the overuse of capitals, and exclamation marks while we're at it, but today - just today - it is ok.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

The first of many...

As you well know, nothing makes me happier than interspecies love between animals. So it was with much joy that I found these pictures today over at What possessed me.

Happy Wednesday...The Jesusita Fire in Santa Barbara, CA last week caused these two to take shelter together. The fawn is 3 days old and the bobcat about 3 weeks. The fawn came from somewhere in the fire and the bobcat from Carpentaria. They immediately bonded and snuggled together under a desk in the Santa Barbara County Dispatch Office for several hours.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Letter to an idol

Dearest, darling Britney,

Ten years ago, summer 1999, I was a 15 year old hormonal, moody, achingly unconfident girl lusting after an arrogant, self involved moron who I spent my evenings MSN'ing and my school days ignorning.

Said self involved moron, let's call him Tom, also happened to have a girlfriend and absolutely no respect for the boundaries of a relationship.

We had engaged in moments of awkward fumbling at, say, the back of Millenium night club hidden away from our friends and then returning to them, flustered and secretive, to avoid each others eyes for the rest of the night. At 15 I too had no respect for the boundaries of a relationship, something I am not proud of.

The reason I tell you all this Brit Brit is that it was you, and you alone, who got me through. It was early summer, a decade ago, when I sat in the back of my mum's car on a return trip from Bristol and listened to one of your most deep and emotionally astute songs, Email my Heart, on repeat for 3 hours solid. You sang of sitting by the computer, waiting for your scorned lover to connect with you via the relatively new communication tool of email, while begging his forgiveness.

I could connect with you Britney, we were young, single women hoping for love and "the one" and turning to the web to make it happen. Long before My Single Friend and Guardian Soulmates, we knew where it was at.

I digress, for it wasn't just that one song which I was addicted to. I loved you Britney, your amazing body in "I'm a slave for you", your coy sarcasm in "Oops I did it again", I even risked getting ostracised and quite violently condemned by my peers my defending your performance in Crossroads. Britney...I was yours.

And so it was that last Saturday I pulled on my heels, well ok flip flips (but the tube was down and I had to haul over to Waterloo and get the boat), glossed my hair, rouged my lips and spent a sunny day listening to your back catalogue on loop inside my bedroom. All in celebration of the first time I have been lucky enough to get to see you perform.

I loved the New York Circus Brit, particularly the hula hoop girl and the acrobat who did somersaults in the air and landed on the beam held in the air. Quite incredible. I also loved your dancers, the dance medley where they all had a slot to do their own freestyle dance was utterly incredible, they were all so talented and made me want to jump up and dance with them.

But Britney, it kills me to say it, that was the only thing I liked.

You seemed lifeless, like you were going through the motions. I knew you were going to mime, and didn't care one bit (I hope you don't mind me saying but I didn't come for the singing), but the fact that you were not even allowed to speak to the audience apart from the token "Hello London" and "cheer Louder", it was painful. It was like you were not trusted to speak to and engage with your audience.

You didn't even seem to want to dance. At one stage I watched a dancer next to you, a professional I know and doubtless just 20 year old with no kids, but still you are a fantastic dancer and it was as if you couldn't be bothered to move.

The layout of the venue, with a large circular stage in the middle and 2 smaller circles on either side, meant that a lot of the time you were simply walking from one end to the other to make sure everyone got a piece of you. The stage was surrounded by about 200 VIP's who stood around it to give the effect of a Circus, but it meant that those who had paid and who were seated in the normal seats felt the show wasn't really for us at all.

Why were there no screens? We were in a high tier and could barely see you and this simply added to the feeling that our viewing pleasure hadn't been considered. We spent the entire show leaning forward and squinting to make out your glittery costume, how you'd done your make up and what shade of blonde you are now. We wanted details Brit Brit, and all we got was a blurred glimpse at someone who seemed a shadow of her former self.

And I know you are. All we kept saying was "poor Brit". Why are you already back on stage so soon after such a severe breakdown? Because of us, I suppose is the answer, because we were willing to come out in our thousands to see you.

It felt wrong to watch you and although as we came out we heard girls around us braying about how excellent you were, there was a little nagging question mark over their praise about why you weren't allowed, as it seemed, to engage with us.

I suppose I would now be classed as an older fan Brit, and one who has loved you unconditionally through it all. I would like to be allowed to be right by the stage like a VIP, in terms of your career success I suppose I am. My friend Katy and I, who bought every album and know every lyric and sent numerous texts to one another in alarm as you broke down in front of our eyes, we are your VIP's.

We would stand by the stage and by a trick of the light, just like a circus act, we would make you disappear. We would whisk you away for another year or two or twenty, whatever you need. 2 kids, 6 albums, 7 tours, a Justin and a KFed. Since I was in that car, listening to Email my heart, I have had 3 boyfriends, 3 unsatisfying jobs and that is about it! You have given enough of yourself for now Brit Brit, take a little time.

Leave those weird hangers on and take off the glitter and eyelashes and smile and hang with your children and eat some popcorn and watch crap movies. We can gossip about Tom and KFed and leave the show behind, just for a little bit longer.


Sunday, 14 June 2009

Notes on a weekend

I sometimes get talked into thinking I miss out by not living in East London, where I work and where a lot of friends live. But for all it has in trendy hangouts and all night drinking holes, for me it will never compare to West London by day. I have lived west for 5 years now, and this weekend I visited my favourite places in the area. Goldbourne Road (not to be confused with Goldhawk Rd. near Hammersmith) down to Portobello Road and then up to Notting Hill provided a feast of market delights.

If you are visiting Portobello I urge you to make the walk up to Goldbourne Road where you will find a less busy but just as vibrant street crowded with food stalls, and can enjoy a grat view of the iconic Trellick Tower.

I also ventured down to the Westfield Centre today to discuss my new Macbook purchase and walked home via Holland Park where I bought a pair of new flipflops which have since destroyed my feet, and found the most gorgeous dog who'd flattened his body onto the path through the park and was oblivious to the meandering footsteps of the Londoners passing him.

Fun with a camera

The Hungry Caterpillar

I am a huge fan of children's books and particularly the animation that helps to create so many adventures in a child's mind. The Hungry Caterpillar was one of my particular favourites as I grew up and so when I saw this mug for sale in John Lewis recently, as part of the 40 year celebration of the publication of the book, I had to gobble it up (pun absolutely intended - and please read gobble as buy) immediately. I love how the simple image on each side bring back a world of memories, and now it provides a little bit of nostalgia every day as I enjoy my morning coffee.


On Friday evening I took a leisurely walk into town to meet my friend Charlotte for an evening of comedy at the Bath House in Soho. I went via Tottenham Court Road to hunt out the perfect make up bag, which I have spent the last week internet shopping for.

I know to some this will seem an utter waste of time, but for me having the perfect hold all for my new stash of products is of upmost importance! I have already got a selection of about 10, they are one of those things I pick up whenever I visit a Boots or a department store, and that lovely feeling when you empty out an old, grubby make up bag and re-arrange your products in a sparkly new one is certainly worth the lowish price tag. I think in these recession riddled times a girl should always remember the satisfaction of a simple purchase like this.

My internet search took me to Heal's, and this cute little receptacle. But when I went into the store I thought it was a little too small, and not quite worth the near £20 it cost. I went on to Boots and Superdrug but to no avail...all were a little cheap or glittery. I was the Goldilocks ofTottenham Court Road, nothing quite right.

Then to Muji, which I should of thought of all along. I cannot tell you how much I love this gem of a store, everything from its furniture to its clothes to its mini bottles and teeny tiny travel kits.
And there I saw it, the gorgeous grey gingham bag with a structured top so that it keeps its shape and fits far more than it should because it keeps it height.

So there it is, the perfect little hold all for your daily make up. Go buy it now, or alternatively run and never return here to a woman who can wax lyrical for 3 paragraphs about the joys of a case for your cosmetics.

Above are my purchases including a great white and grey striped t-shirt which is thick enough to not reveal the shape or colour of the underwear beneath (a rarity in a t-shirt under £30 I find) and a dark grey soft cardi which is loose enough for a summer evening with a tee underneath but has a great slim fit on the arms and creates a sleek silhouette and feels perfectly soft and snug.
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