An Interview With Personal Trainer Nicola Pybus


In 2015 I was looking on Facebook and I came across a “beach body challenge” –  simple exercises per day to tone the legs, bum & tum area – it was just what I needed and the exercises were fun.  So, I did the challenge, went on holiday, and forgot about it! In 2016 I came across another challenge, this time Legs,Bums & Tums, and I signed up for email sessions too. It wasn’t until after Christmas and New Year, that I realised I wanted to seriously tone up for 2017 and that’s when I received an email about some monthly challenges from the same lady, I signed up and never looked back. Personal trainer and fitness mentor, Nicola Pybus, has certainly inspired me to challenge myself, she has motivated me to tone up and she has made exercising seem fun.  I love her challenges … not always easy, I must say… so I set her a challenge to answer a few questions …welcome Nicola…

Hi! My name is Nicola Pybus, I am a competitive athlete and Level 3 Personal Trainer. I work exclusively with women to motivate, inspire but most of all to make their fitness journey an exciting and sustainable one.

Where did you get inspiration from to start the personal training fitness challenges?

The challenges started as a way to help my friends/family members exercise without having to pay for a Personal trainer by the hour or afford expensive gym memberships. I found that many of my female clients felt very self conscious at gym or couldn’t afford a personal trainer on a long term basis, so it inspired me to create something that ALL women could do in the comfort of their own home, could afford and that would be worthwhile.

I think your fitness challenges online provide a real alternative to traditional personal trainers and mundane workouts in the gym; however, you are also a fitness model & competitor – how do you prefer to work out – in a gym, personal trainer or at home?

I like to make my challenges fun but challenging as I know people tend to get bored with the same workouts over and over again. I think people should still be able to enjoy working out even if they aren’t in a gym setting. I train alone at gym, listening to my music and use that time to focus on my goals. I do , however, also enjoy training with someone or group of friends with the same workout ability as me, as I have found I’ll push myself harder & get a laugh in between sets.

So what do enjoy most about being a personal trainer and fitness mentor? Have you a favourite exercise?

I honestly love it all. I love helping women reclaim their power through exercise and work on developing self love. To give them motivation and strength when they can’t find it. To give them that push when they think they can’t do another rep of an exercise. To see their smiles when they get the results they want, I don’t just see my clients as just another paycheck but I develop a friendship with them and enjoy keeping up with their journeys once they are ready to go out on their own.

My favourite exercise would have to be the Barbell Deadlift. It is such a powerful exercise!

What exercises or aspects of your personal training programme seem to be the most popular with your clients?

I deal specifically with female clients and without fail, they all want to “lose weight” or “Get skinny”. I am not one of those personal trainers that promotes thigh gaps and quick fixes, so I always use this as an opportunity to shift their focus to improving their health overall in a long term aspect rather than quick fixes that only work short term.

What exercise(s) seem to yield most results? What seems to be the least popular – or gets the most groans when you suggest it? (I hate push ups personally – although I am getting better!)

That’s a very loaded question. There are lots of factors that help contribute to results, such as getting your nutrition on point while exercising. All exercises work and will yield results IF you also work on cleaning up your nutrition. The nutrition side of things is the side that women moan and groan about the most I’d say. It’s the cutting out of chocolate and yummy treats that they battle with.

Which famous lady or gent would you love to do a spot of personal training with?

Sara Sigmundsdottir, she is a badass crossfit chick who definitely could teach me a thing or two!

Have you had any funny moments or disasters that you can tell us about whilst trying to video a personal training session?

Disasters more than funny moments I’d say hahaha It would definitely always involve my daughter, you’d be in the middle of filming and she’d start crying, walking into the shot, playing with the camera equipment and we’d then have to start ALL over again or stop filming for the day and resume hours later at her next nap!

You are a Fitness competitor – what inspired you to enter competitions? what is it like competing in competitions such as the Miami Pro European Championships? Is it nerve racking?

I entered because being a competitive athlete is the ultimate challenge. It tests your discipline and willpower. It takes your body, mind and training to a whole new level. Many will attempt the journey to the stage, but many will fail, simply because it requires 100% dedication to your goals. I always need to be growing, working towards a goal and bettering myself and my training.

Competing for me was such an exciting time! Getting up on that stage is the fun and easy part, the hard work has been done and you just have to enjoy it. The nerves definitely kick in but you have to feel the fear and do it anyway. Your legs will shake, your mouth will twitch, you might forget all your poses, but in the end all you can do is just be yourself and let that shine on stage.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

I have a slight obsession with active wear! I love bright coloured racer back tops and strappy, criss cross type sports bras. Leggings for me MUST be squat-proof! There is nothing worse than seeing someone’s thong through their tights while they squat! My gym shoes are either Nikes or Sketchers because I love their range of colours!

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

Nike, Forever 21, Lorna Jane

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

Gymshark sculpt leggings… everyone seems to have them so I want to see what all the fuss is about too

Boots or Shoes?

It really does depend on the weather and occasion. I LOVE boots in winter, but when summer rolls around I wear sandals to keep cool.

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers of the blog can learn more about you & “Fit & Flashy”

Website: www.fitandflashy.co.uk

Instagram : nicolapybus_fitness

Facebook page: fitandflashy

For pinning later

Thanks for chatting to me, Nicola … and now it’s time to tackle today’s challenge!  Ummm…how many pushups in 2 minutes? Here goes…. dear readers, do you go to the gym, have a personal trainer or do you do challenges like me from home?  Do you enjoy exercising? Do share your experiences, I would love to know…

Linda x

Pictures of Nicola have been published with kind permission of Nicola Pybus.

Pinned photo – Linda Hobden

 

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An Interview With Box Ed’s Paper Crafts

When I was a little girl, many moons ago, I used to play with paper dolls with paper clothes.  The  fashion designs could be coloured in or they were already adorned in the colours of the day – I remember mustard yellow, navy blue and baby blue being the predominant ones (this was in the 1970s!) Nowadays, paper toys are a bit more sophisticated but just as much fun to construct. My son has a model that he constructed of Star Wars R2D2 … it now stands pride of place on our window sill…

It gives me great pleasure this week to welcome onto my blog Andrew Dunn, a paper toy designer.  His paper toys cover a vast range from famous name icons to sporting figures to animals with moving heads, to name but a few! Hello Andrew!

Hello I’m Andrew from Torquay in Melbourne, Australia. 25 years living in England, 10 in New Zealand and 5 in Melbourne. Full time husband, full time dad, part-time administrator, part-time illustrator (prioritised in that order ;o))

What inspired you to launch your business, Box Ed’s Paper Crafts?

I started to create paper toys in 2011 as a way to share my passion for drawing and crafting with my two young children. My kids love of Lego and Minecraft inspired me to design paper crafts that children could build to create their own worlds.

What are the benefits of using paper craft figures as opposed to using other materials?

Paper is such a versatile material, easy to manipulate, familiar, cheap and surprisingly sturdy too. My paper crafts activities introduce children to how 2D shapes combine to create 3D shapes. The activity allows children to develop their fine motor skills by cutting, folding and sticking. It teaches them patience and accuracy, how to use and combine materials and gives them a real sense of accomplishment once completed. The inclusion of a blank template in each pack allows the creative freedom to colour-in and design a unique, custom paper toy.

I do so love the “Hipster” and “Donald Trump” paper craft figures. What paper crafts have proved popular with customers so far this season?

The cats and dogs a​re always popular in my Etsy store. I do a few craft markets every year and the tiger and lion are always the favourites because of their flip top heads!​

Out of all the paper crafts, do you have a particular favourite?

I’ve just completed a series of American sports paper toys – basketballers, baseballers etc. and I was particularly happy with the Ice Hockey players getting their sticks, pucks and skates all onto two sheets of paper.

What has been the most unusual paper craft figure you’ve created? Have any been really difficult to reproduce?

I’ve designed a skeleton which I remember agonising over. I think because it was essentially just black and white it was tricky to get much detail and make it fit within my template. I gave that a flip top head though and that seemed to help!

Your collection of paper craft figures is vast… How did you decide what paper craft figures to first introduce? Were your ideas influenced by customer requests, your children’s ideas, or your own observations?

I’ve always designed my paper crafts for everyone and anyone who live anywhere – crafters from 5 to 95 anywhere in the world can cut, fold and stick together a character and have some fun. So cats, dogs and bunnies were the first characters. My kids are always giving me ideas and feedback on what works and doesn’t work which is great to get some constructive criticism.

I also love your sideline products of the tank tops, mugs etc that feature your paper craft figure motifs. My personal favourite is the Ice Hockey mug. What sideline products have proved most popular?

Thanks, actually the ice hockey designs have proved to be the most popular. The designs are pretty much lifted straight from my paper toy designs, with a few tweaks here and there to make it suit the t-shirt or cushion cover or shower curtains they’ll be printed on!

As you are based in Melbourne, Australia, do you ship overseas too?

All my paper crafts can be instantly downloaded wherever you are. The internet has made the world a whole lot smaller and more accessible. I do offer a physical product too so I can send my craft packs wherever people want to get their craft on.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

For the past 5 years I’ve not strayed far from black t-shirts, blue jeans and a pair of Converse Chuck Taylors!

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I love flipping through the sites where I have my online shops Etsy, Redbubble and Society6. People are so creative and crafty and these platforms allow anyone and everyone to express themselves and get their art out to the world. It feels good knowing that I’m supporting artists and creatives just like me.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe/accessory wish list?

Well August and September downunder is coming into spring time and living at the start of the surfcoast road I’ll be stocking up on flip-flops/sandals/thongs and possibly some rad surf-influenced tshirts!

Boots or Shoes? 

Chucks! Simple, comfortable and classic.

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about Box Ed’s Paper Crafts.

Website – www.boxedspapercrafts.com
Instagram – @boxedspapercrafts
Store – www.etsy.com/au/shop/BoxEdsPaperCrafts

Thank you Andrew for chatting to us! Dear readers, did you ever have paper toys as a child?  What do you think of Andrew’s designs? As always, do share your views … I’d love to know!

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission from  Andrew Dunn apart from the R2D2 picture at the top of the post which was taken by me. 

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5 Beauty Products For A Summer Glow

Summer is well and truly here …the sun is shining and temperatures are hovering around the 30 degree centigrade mark (late 80s Fahrenheit) – my make up is dripping off my face through perspiration … in fact it isn’t because I have found some great beauty products that give out a great summer glow.  Oh yes, you can go “au naturel” in summer but there are a couple of things that I’ve discovered now that I have reached the ripe old age of 50 +.

The main thing is that my skin is very dry, I am prone to eczema especially around my eyes, and although I was acne free as a teenager I have an occasional spot or two cropping up when I least expect it.  My skin is fair and in the sun I go red before turning a pale golden tan colour.  In winter, my Leichner moisturiser with a hint of colour is a brilliant cover up but in summer I find foundation too heavy. In summer, if I do wear make up, especially for evenings out, having no foundation base I find that the make up just slides off or goes patchy – I have found an illuminator/primer that is just perfect. Over the last two summers, I have found some products that really do work and I’m going to share my summer saviours with you.

1.  Garnier Moisturiser.  Actually, any moisturiser is a must.  I happen to go a bundle on Garnier Moisture Plus – this tube featured in the picture is actually for normal/combination/dull skin and I personally prefer this one than the equivalent moisturiser for dry skin.  It is a lighter lotion that illuminates and really gives my skin the “drink” it needs, as well as having a sun factor of SPF20.

2. Avon Glow Illuminator.  I have lost count of the number of different primers I have tried over the years, most have been “OK” but not great.  This summer I have “fallen in love” with Avon’s latest make up range, Glow, and especially its primer/illuminator.  First thing, this primer isn’t clear and it is  a cream rather than a gel base. It has a light brown/gold tint to it that blends to your natural colour (whatever shade that may be) once applied to your skin.

The beauty of the illuminator is that you could just use it as a highlighter (think contouring) or apply it all over your face as a primer under foundation or apply it all over your face as an extra moisturiser.

3. L’Oreal Sublime Bronze Fabulous Elixir Self Tanning.  If you like the idea of a tanned face on holiday but you end up like me, with a face red like a beetroot, then why not invest in this elixir.  It says on the bottle that it is for face and body – but I haven’t used it on my body so I cannot vouch for that.  The idea is that you apply the elixir onto your face when moisturising for a few days in a row then you’ll get a gradual tanned face that lasts for at least 2 weeks and the colour intensity depends on how often you use it.  The pros to this is that when you are on holiday, the self tan wears off and not washes off, however many times you jump in the pool; no streaks; no “self tanning” smell.

4. Rimmel Sun Shimmer.   Similar idea to the L’Oreal’s Elixir but this is a “wash off” formula.  I find the sun shimmer great for those days where you’ve got a patch of red sunburn on your shoulders or a red face. It acts like a soothing after sun cream; instant colour so you can see where you are applying it to; leaves your angry red patches looking more bronzed – although  beware of white clothes/sheets/towels, it does rub off – hence I generally use it on my face or bare shoulders if I’m wearing an off the shoulder or strapless outfit.

5. Avon Skin So Soft Enhance & Glow 7 in 1 Body Lotion.  This is a body lotion that you can apply to your legs and depending on how often you apply the lotion, you get a gradual tan developing. This body lotion colour does come off in the bath/ shower/pool. However, this is a lovely body lotion in its own right for lovely soft legs; the colour doesn’t come off onto clothes/sheets; and to just take the tinge off of milk bottle white legs until your legs get used to the open air, this lotion is a godsend.

All the above products are purchases that I have made over the past few months and that I have enjoyed using – none are samples, gifts etc. Have you discovered any beauty products that have piqued your interest this summer? Do share – I’d love to know!

Linda x

All photos by Linda Hobden (apart from my pic which was taken by my son Jack)

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Take 4 ingredients – Frozen Chocolate Bites

I enjoy cooking. I enjoy cooking meals for my large family. Over Christmas and other family occasions I normally cater from around 15 family members.  I love cooking main meals … but when it comes to desserts my repertoire is limited.  I can make apple pie, rhubarb pie, summer fruit pudding and… erm… banana and walnut cake.  Year after year, I churn out the same puddings! Looking at a copy of the Slimming World Magazine I came across a recipe for Gold Bullion Bites. These frozen chocolate-toffee treats looked easy enough to make, so I decided to have a dry run to see if they turn out alright and if they do, I thought that I’d make them for the next family do.

I bought all the ingredients, made the bites and all turned out well. So I decided to experiment a bit more with the recipe, and lo and behold I found a new dessert/snack to add to my repertoire – and the best thing is that you need only 4 ingredients!

So here is my version of the recipe…

Makes 14

Ingredients

  • 45g bar  Dairy Milk Chocolate (I used  Cadburys Dairy Milk), broken into pieces
  • 175g pot of SMOOTH yogurt (I used MullerLight Smooth Toffee, Mullerlight Raspberry & Cranberry, Strawberry)
  • 2 teaspoons cocoa powder
  • Edible gold glitter/ gold cooking spray to decorate
  • Ice Cube trays ( flexible plastic ones that pop out ice cubes easily)

Method

Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Once melted, remove from the heat, stir until smooth and leave to cool for a minute.

Quickly mix in to the chocolate 1 tablespoon of your chosen yogurt, to loosen, then add the rest of the yogurt. Add the cocoa powder and mix well.

Fill the ice cube trays – allow about 2 teaspoons per cube. Gently tap the trays to level the mixture. Put in the freezer for around 3 hours, until set.

When you are ready to serve as a dessert, turn out the chocolates and arrange on a serving dish, sprinkle with cocoa powder and gold glitter or gold spray.

These were so popular that I made several more batches and once frozen I put the chocolate cubes in plastic bags and stored in the freezer. Whenever anybody fancied an iced chocolate snack, they just helped themselves straight from the freezer.

I am hoping to try the recipe using dark chocolate and some new flavours of yogurt, such as Mullerlight’s After Dinner Mint. If I can find orange yogurt, that might go down well too.  Do let me know if you try the recipe and what chocolate/flavour combination did you use!

Linda x

Photos by Linda Hobden

Inspiration by Slimming World.

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An Interview With Jane McAdam Freud


Currently exhibiting her sculptures in the Pasmore Gallery (Harrow School) in London, my interview guest this week is British conceptual sculptor Jane McAdam Freud.  If the name seems familiar, that is because Jane is the daughter of famed artist Lucian Freud and great granddaughter of psychologist Sigmund Freud. It is not surprising, therefore, that Jane’s artwork is highly influenced by her family history – her sculptures explore similar themes that her great-grandfather first explored, including sexuality, the unconscious and the other psychoanalytic theories.  Jane also has an impressive list of awards including being granted the ancient honorary decree on merit of Freedom of the City of London in 1991; and was winner of the 2014 European Trebbia Award for Artistic Achievement.  Without further ado, let’s welcome Jane onto the blog… hello Jane!

Hello, I’m Jane. I am Me. I am very much myself as far as my work and my life are concerned. As such I make works that feel authentic to the situation I am working in and to the context I am living in. By that I mean that everything affects us and we are all conduits for that information. My sculpture may inevitably reflect our times and will certainly reflect my particular circumstance on a personal level. So in short my work is my introduction.

Your biography states that you studied “mosaics” in Ravenna before returning to Italy to study sculpture in Rome. What inspired you to study and become a conceptual sculptor?

I have always drawn and made things and consider my first sculptural experience to have been in the sandpit at nursery school. I loved the feel of things, the feel of sand in water and the feel of chocolate powder on the finger and the feel of silk and satin. Working with different mediums and materials was something I got from my various studies. I loved learning about everything and thinking about everything. The combination of the two means that I make works driven by meaning, which is in shorthand – conceptual sculpture.

As a young girl growing up, had you always shown artistic ability or did you have dreams of following a different career?

I knew nothing else from the beginning as both my parents were artists, although my mother has been my main influence. She studied painting and then fashion at Saint Martins, which explains my love of the feel of silk and satin. I remember pulling the wishbone as a very young child and making the wish that my work would one day be exhibited at the Tate Gallery, so the answer to your question regarding ‘art always’ is yes, yes, yes always and forever and with a vengeance! Making drawings and objects was everything I did and everything I dreamed of. Nothing much else existed for me and I don’t think things have changed much, which sounds terrible but the drive is stronger than I. Luckily I went to nurseries and schools that were focused on art subjects and from aged eight till twelve I attended the Froebel Institute which focused on and encouraged creativity and spontaneity. The founder, Friedrich Froebel, is famous for his radical insight that the first learning experiences of the very young influence their later educational achievements. In his book written in 1826, Education of Man, he argued that “the spontaneous play of the child discloses the future inner life of the man” and that for the child “play at this stage is not trivial; it is highly serious and of deep significance”. This was a revolutionary statement made almost 200 years ago but generally accepted now. I owe so much to my teachers and to my classmates who told me so often that I would be an ‘artist’, which was a sort of constant reinforcement. I did in fact win all the art prizes from the infant school onwards and had my first solo exhibition while taking A-level. The show was organised by my art teacher, Robin Dale and was held in Putney Library. I used my mother’s name throughout that period and right up until I was 33 years old when I was awarded the Freedom of the City of London on merit, due to several institutions in the City, including the BM and the V&A having collected my works. I had these early successes in my mother’s name, which I’m totally proud of. Most importantly it allows me to celebrate success in my own right, a very important fact. I love that my main influences were my mother and paternal grandmother and that they made all the choices for my schooling. It is the power of those early forbears, those strong women that define my life.

You have lectured at Central Saint Martins, Morley College, London’s Royal College of Art and Antwerp’s Royal Academy of Fine Arts. Having attended the Royal College of Art as a student, does it feel strange to return to teach? What do you enjoy most about teaching?

I just love playing with ideas and materials and to participate in the excitement and joy of discovery, so the thing I like most about teaching is engaging with creative individuals and helping them realize their thoughts and ideas through materials. I am currently artist in residence at Harrow School (the famous public school on the Hill – aka Harry Potter’s Hogwarts School). The residency involves some teaching of the younger years and for the same reasons I love exploring ideas with them too, although I would never dream of teaching full-time.

You have a solo exhibition at the Gazelli Art House from 24 November 2017 – 6 January 2018. How long before an exhibition do you decide a theme? Do you exhibit new work specifically for each exhibition or a mixture of both?

The thing evolves really and always depends on where I am in my head ideas wise, what I am doing at the time, but most importantly is the fact that the theme is a developing thing and depends on what I have done immediately prior and what is coming up after. These things are all connected to each other and grow out of each other, kind of laterally. The exhibition at Gazelli in November follows on from a large body of work I made during my residency at Harrow School, so the Gazelli show will no doubt contain some of those works but will also contain the follow up works I make in the meantime, ie between now and November.

If you could visit any place in the world to get inspiration for an exhibition of sculptures, where would you go & why?

I don’t really go looking for inspiration as I find that inspiration is all around in the immediate events of a life and in the immediate field of vision ie in front of our noses. Having said that,  I travel a lot and am looking, for work purposes, to go soon to Rio in Brazil and Timisoara in Romania and also back to Istanbul.

I’m sure every artist has some form of art theme that they just cannot master as well as other themes – some avoid drawing people, others animals etc. What theme of sculpture do you find hardest to recreate?

I don’t really approach my work like that – it is not a question of avoidance but more a question of utilizing the skills one has mastered and of mastering new skills when needed – for example, if a project calls for a video, I have to invest in the kit and learn how to make and edit the video or to make it do what I want it to do. Or alternatively, I might have a go at something new and happen on an accident, which somehow says it all. This way of working can also help in the discovery of new ways of doing old things so as to find new ways of saying ‘said’ things.

Your work has been exhibited around the world – including the Victoria & Albert Museum, National Gallery archives in London, Brooklyn Museum in New York City, British Museum, to name just a few – have you got a favourite venue? Are there any venues/galleries that you haven’t exhibited in yet but are on your bucket list to do so?

This takes me back to my childhood dream, which was to exhibit at the Tate. I also think the National Portrait Gallery could show some of my earlier portrait sculptures. On my bucket list are the following, South London Gallery in Camberwell, Serpentine, Whitechapel, ICA and oh, so many!

When you are not sculpting, do you have any other hobbies?

No…., well reading perhaps if that can be considered a hobby, more a habit I think. Also walking, jogging and a bit of yoga.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

When working I throw on any old comfortable thing and this usually consists of a tunic style dress – often my beloved jeans dress and loose fitting lycra sports slacks with flat shoes or boots. If not working I love feeling tall and I love platforms best. Otherwise I favour my nude colour, pointed mules with a small heel worn with a knee length skirt or dress – for smarter occasions.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

A new wardrobe with loads of summer dresses and really dainty sandals. I think this is a reaction to the recent hot weather but also to the fact that I have been wearing my oldest and dirtiest clothes to make sculpture this last two years.

Boots or Shoes?

I prefer boots but they are so seasonal. Boots feel supportive, can be high and also comfortable and look best under trousers.

For Pinning Later

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers of the blog can learn more about you and your work.

My website

www.janemcadamfreud.com

One video I particularly like is called Memories and Reflections https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Adshlx2oJ8

And this Crane TV one

Also the recent video made in the Harrow School Studio

Great to chat to you Jane – it was fab to know that the female side of your family are just as artistic and were the major influence in your life.  I loved how you were saying that you used to mould objects  whilst in the sandpit as a child …it is amazing how an interest as a child can lead to a similar career choice as you grow older.  My middle son has always been adamant from the age of 6 that he was going to be an animator – he is now 19 and studying animation at university. Dear readers, have you pursued a career in adult life that stems, in a roundabout way,  from your early childhood habits/games? Did you used to have a “Girls World” model head and played with the hair to later become a hairdresser? Did you constantly make mud pies to later become a chef?  Do share your stories, I’d love to know….

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission of Jane McAdam Freud and Gazelli Art Gallery.  Photo Credits: Jane’s picture: Jens Marrot;  Artwork pictures: Ben Westaby.

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Crazy About Shirts

Do you like shirts?  My husband is a fan. I have 4 sons – my eldest lives in football (soccer) shirts; my 2nd son likes his Jack & Jones t shirts; my 3rd son worships his baggy trousers, t shirts and hoodies ….. and my youngest son, well, he is just plain crazy about shirts! So he has agreed to talk about his love of shirts and give us some insight into what is “cool” in the world of shirts today!

Hi! I’m Ethan.  I’m 10 years old and I really love shirts!

What is it about shirts that you really love?

They are airy and cool you down in summer.

Do you prefer long sleeves or short sleeves?

It depends on the time of year – I like long sleeves in winter and short sleeves in summer. I don’t like my sleeves rolled up.

Do you have a favourite shirt?

Yes, my flamingo one. It is summery and cool.  ( I bought this shirt for Ethan from Next )

From Next

Do you have a favourite colour? 

Blue is my favourite colour.  I like wearing all colours apart from black. I do like bright colours.  

From Next

Who is your style icon?

Ricky Wilson (lead singer of the Kaiser Chiefs). He wears cool shirts and waistcoats. I would like to wear a shirt and waistcoat for Sian’s wedding next year.  (Sian is my daughter, Ethan’s sister).

Out of your dad’s shirts, do you have a favourite that he wears?

My dad has a really cool butterfly shirt.

Dad’s butterfly shirt

What outfit do you like to wear when going out somewhere special?

Short sleeve white shirt, skinny blue jeans, and my leather jacket.

Do you like wearing your school uniform?

Yes, because I can wear a white shirt and it makes me look smart.

I notice that you and your friends wear your shirts buttoned right up to the top. Why?

(Shrugs)… I like to look smart and it’s how everybody wears a shirt at school. 

For pinning later

What’s next on your clothes wishlist?

A shirt, of course …. or jeans, skinny not baggy.  

What would you like to do when you are older?

I would like to be an airline pilot.

So, dear readers…. out of the mouth of babes, my youngest child has carved out a fashion style of his own – in stark contrast to his older brothers!  Do you have children who follow different styles?  Do share your observations!

Linda x

All photographs are by Linda Hobden

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Let’s Talk Strawberries!

In the UK it is currently strawberry season (from end May to July) and although the season is relatively short, strawberries feature heavily in the British eating and drinking calendar – from strawberries and cream at Wimbledon to strawberry jam making; from strawberry teas to strawberry cider! 

Famous UK jam and marmalade manufacturers, Wilkin & Sons of Tiptree, are well known globally for their famous Tiptree jams – I have travelled to far flung places and seen pots of Tiptree Little Scarlet Strawberry jam served at breakfast.  They have been jam & marmalade manufacturers, fruit and arable farmers since 1885. I live not far from Tiptree and Wilkins have purchased farms in my village since 1920 to grow strawberries and other fruits for their range of jams, curds and ketchups.  The farms have produced a mixture of fruit crops over the years: large strawberries (as shown in my photo), little scarlets, gooseberries, red & blackcurrants, plums, greengage, damsons & morello cherries – all picked by local village people and seasonal helpers and transported the 3 miles or so to the jam factory at Tiptree.  The factory is a great place to visit – it has an interesting museum, a gift shop/food shop  and a restaurant/tea room. 

Why is the Tollesbury/Tiptree area ideal for strawberry farming? Tollesbury claims, along with Great Wakering, to have the lowest rainfall in Britain, has more than 1600 hours of annual sunshine and regularly claims England’s top temperature (along with Southend) at least once a week during the summer months.  Thunderstorms occur on average 15 – 18 days a year, which can often cause damage to the fruit crops – although sometimes they are just lightning storms and the rain doesn’t materialise – I have experienced severe thunderstorms in Tiptree which have bypassed Tollesbury 10 minute drive away!

Technically, strawberries are not actually fruits because their seeds are on the outside and the fruits are not produced by seeds. Strawberry plants are actually members of the rose (rosaceae) family.  Each strawberry has on average 200 seeds. 

The modern garden strawberry popular in Europe was actually introduced into Europe by a French engineer in 1714, who, on a trip to Chile and Peru, was so impressed by the size of the strawberries in that region, that he brought back plants to cultivate in France.  Historically, strawberries were always considered an aphrodisiac and were often often served at a wedding breakfast with soured cream!

Nutritionally, strawberries are an excellent source of vitamins C and K, as well as providing a good amount of fibre, folic acid and potassium. Strawberry leaves can be eaten raw, cooked or used to make tea.  Once picked though, unlike bananas, they do not ripen any further – so any strawberries that are dull, or have green or yellow patches are probably best avoided.

Medically, they have been used to help with digestive ailments, teeth whitening and skin irritations.  Unfortunately, they are a common allergen – especially if you are already allergic to birch pollen, as you are more than likely to develop an allergy to strawberries.  I do suffer from hay fever caused by birch pollen but thankfully, strawberries haven’t given me a reaction ( although raw tomatoes do!) 

My favourite strawberry recipe is : Strawberries dipped in dark chocolate.  My favourite strawberry sandwich idea:  slice of wholemeal bread generously spread with soft cheese (Philadelphia style) topped with chunky strawberry jam.  Strawberries & Cream lunchbox style. My favourite strawberry based drink:  Iced Strawberry Cider…. cheers!

Do you love strawberries?  Do share your favourite strawberry dishes!

Linda x

All photos are by Linda Hobden

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An Interview With Artist Niyaz Najafov

There is an art exhibition currently showing  until this coming Saturday at the Gazelli Art House  in London by a self-taught artist, Niyaz Najafov.  This is his 2nd exhibition with the Gazelli Art House, and his paintings are in a similar vein to the artist Francis Bacon, who was also self taught.  Drawn towards nature and human/e situations, Niyaz has certainly produced thought provoking work  – in Paris, where he now lives and works,  he started actively painting flowers on found paper and cardboard in 2016/2017 and stuck them on various street corners. He did it so that people walking past could absorb the work, remove from the walls and continue with their journey. To date over 1000 flowers have been painted and distributed.  I was lucky enough to interview Niyaz and ask him some questions about his life and work… Hello Niyaz …

Hello. I’m Niyaz Najafov, born 1968 in Baku, Azerbaijan. I went to school then I joined the Soviet army and worked in police departments. I experienced a darker path with drugs and imprisonment. I  was drawing all this time but mainly as a hobby – I came out of prison in 1998 and in spring 2003 I first started experimenting with canvas, which I still do today.

What inspired you to do the “Absorb, Adhere, Advance” exhibition in London?

I didn’t know this would happen so no particular inspiration but the title, I presume, was picked due to the style and the subject matter in the paintings and the selection that was made. Although this inspiration was on an unconscious level to me, I guess I still influenced the title.

Dog 2016 Oil on Canvas

Your flowers have adorned walls all over Paris. How many flowers were made? What was the reaction of the general public?

The “flowers” exist there alongside the surfaces of the streets/walls.This hasn’t been done all over Paris (yet) – I assume if I will be continuing to do this for another 3 years, it will end up ‘decorating’ the whole of Paris! Probably around 1700 flowers have been put out there so far. Social reaction varies – from tearing it down to having a positive engagement with them. A girl once walked passed flowers that were no longer there (they were torn down) and said that it was a shame they were no longer there (she said this to a shop assistant of a shop that was next door to one of the walls the works were on)…there are various responses – another one was when accidentally I was sticking another work on a wall of a police building and the police asked what I was doing, when I explained to them and immediately asked “…shall I take this down, it is probably illegal…”, they urged me to carry on!

You describe the selection of your colours as “social art”  rather than  “Street art”.  What are the differences?

There is no difference between the two. I deeply dislike intentional work – if I know I am doing something for a specific reason, it automatically loses any purpose or value to me. I work whether for the purpose of a selling exhibition , or to stick it on the walls of the streets, because I have to , because I want to.

Sex at Night 2016 Oil on Canvas

You were raised in Baku, Azerbaijan and trained as a soldier, as well as being a professional sportsman coaching hand-to-hand combat. Did you enjoy that career?

Azerbaijan is a very peaceful international place – even during the Soviet times, we were never paying attention to where people that lived there were from. I was born during the soviet times and yes, the army training set me up to protect rather than attack. I never had a profession out of the martial arts – karate, kyokoshin kai- I never made money out of it or intentionally. Life so happened that I trained.

What made you change your profession and become an artist?

I lost faith in me as someone who can combat – I couldn’t make a living out of it, despite having won 7 medals in competitions. I came back to Baku from Ukraine (where these competitions were held). The drugs interfered with the whole process , with that part of my life. You do not become an artist, you’re probably born one and then become that during your time here on Earth.

Present 2016 Oil on Canvas

If you could visit anywhere in the world to get inspired for the colours , where would you go?

Nowhere – anywhere in the world and any place in that location – be it a toilet cabin, or an airplane – Louvre or Hermitage – a woman, a fight, policemen, museums … anything around can be inspiring.

What subject matter is the most difficult for you to create?

The subject of money! This would be most difficult for me to create or recreate… this might be my next body of work – money from countries that do not exist. It is something I thought of on my way back to Paris from London this time round. I am already going towards that direction with a body of work produced as the ‘attack of the frame’ …

For pinning later

Niyaz’s artworks have been exhibited throughout Europe – London, Paris, Berlin, Moscow and Geneva.  He is currently exhibiting his work in London until Saturday 3rd June 2017 at  the Gazelli Art House, 39 Dover Street, London. W1S 4NN.

www.gazelliarthouse.com

Thank you for time chatting to me Niyaz and I am looking forward to seeing your next body of work.

Linda x

All photographs are copyright of the artist (Niyaz Najafor); courtesy of Gazelli Art House.

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Travel Tag

This week I have been tagged by the gorgeous Jess of Shopgirl Anonymous to take part in a blogging travel tag.  I was delighted to take part, as apart from being a fashion/footwear geek, bookworm, foodie and music fan, I am also a bit of a travel/geography geek  – so this seemed a good a time as any to give this tag a whirl!

What is your favourite place that you have visited?

Start with the hardest questions, why don’t you?!  That is so, so difficult because I do enjoy every place that I have been lucky enough to visit!  OK.. here goes…

  • My favourite UK city outside of London is Bath.  On the day I visited, it rained but it still didn’t dampen the atmosphere of the place. I did try the famous Roman Baths water … ugh! (I needed a glass of Pinot Grigio to take the taste away). I also visited a glass blowing studio – it was fascinating to watch how glass was made.
  • My favourite part of London:  Covent Garden.  Love the market area, the food places, the pubs, the shops… check out Penhaligon’s Perfume Shop 🙂

  • My favourite European city:  Toss up between Amsterdam and Rome.  Both walkable cities, filled with gorgeous buildings – Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and Rome’s Tivoli Fountain area.  Food wise I recommend an Indonesian restaurant for a tapas style meal  in Amsterdam (and chips with mayo) and in Rome, well, food is good wherever you go! I love Italian wine too – red Barolo and white, Pinot Grigio… and for an aperitif, Limoncello.
  • My favourite city outside Europe: Miami.  I liked the vibe. And the tattoo shops (Miami Ink).
  • Favourite Non Europe destination:  Florida Keys.  I tasted the most fabulous Key Lime pie in Key Largo and I enjoyed the tour of Hemingway’s home in Key West. I went in August – it was extremely hot.

  • Favourite Europe  destination:  Madeira.  Loved everything about this island from the rum punch to the mountainous scenery.  Unfortunately we were unable to do the street sledding down the Monte in Funchal as forest fires were raging – but it is a perfect excuse to revisit!
  • Favourite winter destination:  Finland. Yes, it is extremely cold in winter.  However, I went in December to the extreme north west of Finland, over 200 miles north of the Arctic Circle. It was beautiful. You travelled about by skidoo or sleighs pulled by reindeers or husky dogs; the Northern Lights was a fantastic spectacle,  hot chocolate laced with spirit (like brandy) was both warming & welcoming, and if you have children, Father Christmas lives not far away …

If you could visit anywhere tomorrow, where would you go?

Sicily.  I’d trek up Mount Etna, admire the view and then head back down the slopes to Taormina for a well deserved limoncello.

Madeira

Would you rather a city or beach holiday?

I am happiest where there are mountains or volcanoes or sand dunes or hills –  so that is my first criteria usually when booking a destination.  I live in a flat coastal estuary area so being in an upland area makes a pleasant change.  My favourite beach  currently is the Kenyan coast north of Mombasa at Nyali.

My Top 3 Travel Essentials

  • iPhone  – for use as a camera & music station (especially on the flight)
  • Kindle – I make sure I have downloaded plenty of books as I try and read a lot on holiday!
  • Mints/Sweets – I can’t do any journey without them – including my commute into work!

What Is The Most Adventurous Dish You Have Ever Tried From Another Country?

I’ve eaten snails and frog’s legs in France; and Dik Dik Antelope  and Crocodile Steaks in Kenya.  My friend and her family went to Vietnam & Cambodia over Christmas and they ate deep fried tarantula spiders! Even her girls who are 8 & 10!  Having said that, my 10 year old son has happily devoured crunchy crickets and mealworms!

My 4 Essential Travel Footwear.

They are all flat so easy to pack and I DO need 4 pairs:

  • Jewelled thongs
  • denim ballerinas
  • sparkly espadrilles
  • slip on shoes

Thank you Jess for the fun idea! I hope, dear readers, that you enjoyed the tag too. Why not have a go at answering the questions – I’d love to hear about your travel stories and adventures!

Linda x

Photo credits: Linda Hobden

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An Interview With The-Bias-Cut.com

Are you a lady who is 40,50,60,70, 80… and beyond? Are you frustrated trying to find an outfit that wasn’t dowdy/frumpy/boring/unflattering?  Jacynth Bassett’s mother was frustrated and Jacynth became saddened at her mum’s frustration.  So Jacynth launched her own online boutique and blog, the-Bias-Cut.com, for women who know that age shouldn’t limit style.  I caught up with Jacynth recently to find out more. Hi Jacynth and welcome…..

Hi! I’m Jacynth. I’m 24 and the founder of the-Bias-Cut.com – Shopping With Attitude. It’s the first multi-label online premium fashion boutique that truly celebrates style at every age. I founded it straight out of graduating from studying law at Cambridge – where I was also president of the law society – using my minimal savings and some insurance money after my suitcase got stolen off a train with all my belongings in it (including some amazing Emporio Armani sandals that had been recent birthday presents from my mum!!). I developed, built and created the business entirely on my own, and now I’m one year in I can’t believe how much it’s already taken off!

What inspired you to set up “Bias-Cut.com”?

Since I was 14, my intention was to become a lawyer but, by my second year at uni, I realised it wasn’t for me. Instead my mind started to drift to business, and I knew if I were to start up my own one, it would need to be in an area I really loved. So fashion was the obvious answer. I then started thinking about how frustrated and saddened I’d become at seeing women, like my mum, being treated as invisible and irrelevant in the eyes of the fashion industry – largely because of their age and changing shape. My mum and I are very close and for years we would go shopping together, but she’d often end up fed up by a demoralising shopping experience. I began speaking to lots of other similar women, and realised there was a real problem. So that’s when I became determined to create a boutique that actually empowered and celebrated women like my mum as much as everyone else.

Your brand name certainly stands out from the crowd. – but I was wondering, is there a meaning to why you chose “the-Bias-Cut.com”as your brand name?

I wanted the name to have a direct link to fashion, and to ‘cut on the bias’ is the fashion technique where someone cuts diagonal across the grain of fabric rather than along its lines. But equally we’re about cutting through bias and ending prejudice, largely based around age, in the fashion industry. So the name is a double entendre.

I am totally in love with the “Gigi Nude Brogues” – totally gorgeous! What items are proving popular amongst your customers so far this season?

They’re a lot of people’s favourites, and one of our best sellers! This season our new label POM Amsterdam is doing really well – from their fabulous fun scarves, to their jackets lined with the scarf prints. They are cut really well, and they just bring a smile to your face. But also our cashmere and our 100% cotton poplin printed shirts are always a big hit throughout the year.

Out of all the outfits, do you have any favourites?

Personally I’m a little bit obsessed with the sashenka moon midi skirt by Baum Und Pferdgarten. It is such and elegant shape, and it has pockets! And I love a cool print that also incorporates texture. Baum always cuts everything so well, from their trousers to their tops.

Your boutique is for those who like to shop with attitude – where ageism is never in style. On your website your designs are all modelled by normal women – different heights, shapes and sizes. I’m also impressed that you can search on your website for items by your body shape as well as size. Hypothetically speaking though, which famous lady would you love to see as the “face” of “Bias-Cut.Com”?

Thank you! They’re certainly feature that have gone down very well. If I’m honest I don’t see any particular famous lady being ‘the face’ of the-Bias-Cut.com, just because we’re about encouraging our customers to aspire to be the best versions of themselves, rather than someone else. But, with regards to celebrities, it would be an honour to have women such as Emma Thompson, Julie Walters, Kristin Scott Thomas, Viola Davis and Christine Baranski as brand ambassadors. They all have great individual style and fabulous attitude, which is exactly what we’re all about celebrating.

You feature in your online boutique an impressive number of designers, the latest being Cove Cashmere. Are there any other new designers you are hoping to feature this year?

Yes! We have a fabulous Dutch label called Fabienne Capot coming in September with a range of lovely embroidered cotton tees, blouses and an emerald velvet blazer I keep dreaming about. We also have a few other surprises but I don’t want to spoil them all for you!

Looking ahead, what colours/patterns/styles do you predict will be popular next season (Summer or Autumn)?

Constellation map prints are going to be big in Autumn – stars are always popular, and it’s a cool progression from the classic pattern. In fact, space all round is going to be big; there’s going to be quite an intergalactic feel! Plus the other big pattern is going to be lightening bolts. Velvet is still going to be very popular, as are bell sleeves and ruffles. And forest and emerald green is going to be seen a lot, as is red. If you look at the trend reports, there are lots of other looks that are forecast to be popular, as well as lots of contradictions. But, in my opinion and from the research I’ve done, these will be the big ones.

As you are based in London, do you offer worldwide shipping?

Yes we ship to 33 countries, and have lots of happy customers overseas! And at the moment it’s free worldwide shipping on all orders over £50 to celebrate the opening of our first public pop-up shop in Greenwich, London later this month (25th-31st)!

When choosing outfits/designers to add to your collection, do you take into account your own tastes, your customer base, current fashion trends, requests, traditional charm or bits of all those?

I have a set of rules I go by:

  • Everything I select has to be of a flattering cut. In other words, you shouldn’t have to be 6ft or size UK 6 to look good in it. In fact I often use my mum as the fit model as she has a very common apple shape.
  • Everything I select has to be of excellent quality for the price. I’ve spent a lot of time researching fabrics, so I know when it’s good or bad, or when the wrong fabric has been used. Sometimes I come across an awesome piece, but a very impractical fabric has been used, so then I won’t select it. Equally, I make sure to study the technological developments of fabrics, such as polyester, so that I don’t discard it straight away, and can spot the good quality from the poor.
  • Everything has a modern twist combined with a timeless appeal. Our clothes are premium, so they are more of an investment than highstreet. So the last thing I want is for a customer to feel it’s outdated within 6 months. With that in mind, I do consider the trends, but only pick pieces that subtly reference them.
  • I don’t want to wear the clothes, why should my customer? We’re all about celebrating style at every age, so we refuse to sell brands that patronise the older customer, or offer frumpy clothing. So I have to like everything that we sell. But equally, I make sure to keep my customers, their comments and their feedback at the forefront of my mind, so that I never end up choosing something that’s just for me.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

That’s a very good question… I’m quite a style chameleon really and I have a rather excessively extensive wardrobe that reflects that. Every outfit is a reflection of who I am and what I’m feeling that day, but that might mean wearing a girly dress and brogues one day, and on another black jeans, ankle boots and a leather biker jacket. But if I had to define my style generally it’s feminine with a funky edge.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites? (Apart from your own!)

I adore Maje. Their aesthetic is very me – feminine yet cool – and their cuts work well on my figure. And I wear a lot of Whistles too. Designer wise, I love Brand for their quality jeans, and for shoes I wear a lot of Rupert Sanderson and Miu Miu. I also love traditional Moschino; I’m less of a fan of it now since Jeremy Scott has taken over as I find it a bit OTT, but I have a lot of the brand from before him, and still enjoy finding vintage pieces.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

Idealistically, I would love a badass cape and a pair of Malone Souliers heeled sandals. Realistically, it’s a new crop top/sports bra and some Nike trainers for dance class!

Boots or Shoes?

That’s a tough one. It would have to be shoes because there are more varieties, so then I have more excuses to need a new pair. Plus, because I’m short, knee-high and thigh-high boots don’t work on me. But ankle boots trump all shoes for me, because they are so cute and sexy whatever the heel height!

For Pinning Later

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about the-Bias-Cut.Com.

www.the-bias-cut.com

facebook: www.facebook.com/thebiascutcom

facebook forum: www.facebook.com/ageismisneverinstyle

Instagram: @the_bias_cutcom

Twitter: @the_bias_cutcom

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/the_bias_cutcom

Thanks Jacynth … and your galactic prediction sounds mighty fine to me.  Just remember dear readers to look out for those stars and lightning strikes! I am so pleased that all sizes are considered at the-Bias-Cut.com – I am a UK size 10/12 and I find that a lot of companies geared towards the older woman have a starting size of UK12/14. Same goes for shoes – my feet are narrow – and a lot of shoes offered are wide fit, or extra wide. What fashion frustrations do you have, dear readers?

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission of the-Bias-Cut.com

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