Category Archives: Books

Slim Mind

Keeping healthy and maintaining a healthy weight is not an easy feat, but it is not impossible to do  –  I believe you really just need to be in the right frame of mind, otherwise your attempts to exercise and/or eat the right foods will just fritter away.  I was really pleased to come across a book called “Slim Mind” which helped to reinforce my “mind over matter” belief as its aims are to develop the reader’s long term skills & motivation to think, act and stay slim; therefore liberating you from weighing scales, low fat foods and yo yo dieting.  The author, health psychologist Dr Catherine Sykes, has spent a long time researching health behaviour change and I was lucky enough to interview Catherine about her work and her book.  Hi Catherine…

Hi! I’m Dr Catherine Sykes, a psychologist who develops mindsets that promote life-long success, health and happiness. I do this through therapy, coaching and consultancy. I’m a working mother of 2 children.

Congratulations on publishing your book, “Slim Mind”. What inspired you to put pen to paper?

I’ve worked with lots of people who want to lose weight and one thing that struck me was that people wanted quick and easy methods to lose weight and had tried so many methods in the process. These methods were always contrary to what the evidence in psychological research found was needed. Firstly, weight lost is not quick and easy and the overuse of willpower does not work, in fact it backfires, keeping people in a pattern of yo-yo dieting pattern and self blame. I wanted to bring the psychological evidence to a wider audience and to simplify the techniques as much as possible so that people could try them in a self-help format.

The book is a series of psychological techniques, including cognitive behaviour therapy, to help you understand your eating behaviours, helps you to develop long term skills and motivation to think, act and stay slim. Written from your own private practice experiences and scientific world discoveries – what is the main objectives of the book?

The main objective is to inform people that weight loss is not quick and easy. It takes a long-term sustained approach. This book aims to empower people to take control of their weight loss journey without self-blame and with realistic expectations of what is needed to lose weight.

One bit of advice I gained from the book is “Eat when you are hungry, not when you have a craving”. If you have to pass on one piece of wisdom or advice to a person, what would be that pearl of wisdom?

Restricting certain foods with willpower does not work. Evidence suggests that if we suppress thoughts about certain things then we are more likely to think about it. So if you tell yourself not to think about the chocolate cake in the fridge, you are actually increasing the likelihood that you will think about it and eventually reach for it.

Although you live in the UK, is your book available to purchase overseas?

Yes, it can be purchased on Amazon.com

Are you looking at writing other books in the future? What topics would you like to cover?

Slim Mind is the first book in the Zenitude Coaching series which aims to bring easy to follow solutions to promote life long success, happiness and health. Other books to come:
The Juggling Act. Returning to Work Following Maternity Leave.
Zestful Ageing.
Confidence at Work
Positive to Return to Work Following and Illness

What sort of book genre do you like reading? Favourite books or authors?

I love reading lots of genres including mystery and espionage, history and bibliography, suspense, travel. I can always read an Ian McEwan book.

You are a health psychologist. Growing up though, did you inspire to go into the medical world or did you have other ambitions?

I had other ambitions. I’ve always been increased in jobs that relate to promoting a better society. When I was young, my mum’s friend was studying sociology. I picked up one of her books and could not put it down. Although, I did not know exactly what it was but back then, I wanted to be a sociologist.

You are particularly concerned about the global growing obesity epidemic. What do you feel are the reasons behind this epidemic?

Availability of unhealthy foods.
Sedentary lifestyles.
Emotional eating and inability to understand and name one’s emotions.

When you’re not working, what hobbies/past times do you enjoy?

Cooking and eating with friends, reading, country walks.

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

For work, I tend to go for comfortable elegant clothes. At the weekends, I can be found in Sweaty Betty gear.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I do love clothes from Joseph. I love the fabrics and style. I also like Reiss.

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

I’m looking for an elegant winter dress.

Boots or Shoes?

Both – depends what I’m wearing. Currently I seem to be wearing my Russell and Bromley black suede ankle boots with everything.

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 book.

twitter – drcsykes1
Facebook:
https://m.facebook.com/drslimmind (on mobile device)
https://facebook.com/drslimmind (on pc)

Lovely to talk to you Catherine and I personally found your book very inspirational.  Funnily enough, I studied sociology at school and at college – I loved the subject as well!  Well, dear readers, do you have a slim mind?  How do you get into a healthy mindset?  Do share your thoughts, I’d love to know,

Linda x

All photographs have been  published with kind permission of Dr Catherine Sykes.

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The Mystery Of You

Revealing the mystery of you – my guest this week is engineer, entrepreneur, personal trainer and author, John Ferris, who has just written a potentially life-changing book “The Yo(u)niverse Paradox: Revealing The Mystery Of You”.  Written from John’s own life and discoveries, plus merging spirituality and science; John attempts to guide the reader to reveal their uniqueness and to start building the life of their dreams.   John also has a passion for personal training and sport, even using his engineering capabilities to design and manufacture his own home gym equipment.  I caught up with John recently to find out more …. Hi John …

Hi, my name is John and I was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland at the beginning of the troubles. My initial experiences were groomed on a Belfast estate later moving to the suburbs. I left school with little qualifications, but under my mother’s influence I attended college and then university, graduating in mechanical engineering. I initially worked in the aerospace industry, but from the outset I knew for me, fulfilment would always be out of reach; being such a small cog in a big wheel. In conjunction with my full-time job, I set up a small part-time business manufacturing my own unique exercise equipment. Alas it transpired I was probably a decade too early, at least here in the U.K. Either that or my ideas were rubbish! In saying that it acted as a stepping stone, turning my hobby as a fitness enthusiast into my current profession as a Personal Trainer. I opened Northern Ireland’s first personal training studio and was very content with my life through my fortieth year.

Congratulations on publishing your book, “The Yo(u)niverse Paradox: Revealing The Mystery Of You”. What was the catalyst that in effect changed your life?

Thank you. Just prior to my forty-first birthday my mother passed away. Terrible times most of us have to endure, but inevitable in the general sequence of events. What happened next brought me face to face with my worst nightmare. Three weeks after my mother’s passing on my 41st birthday, my wife and I were informed our six-year-old daughter Robyn had an incurable brain tumour (from western medical point of view). That moment changed everything. It was the catalyst for my spiritual awakening. The beginning of seeing the world through new eyes. The gradual removing of the veils that hide the truth. Everything I thought I knew about the world was turned upside down, back to front and inside out.

The book promotes a model of reality using the fundamental principle of nature overlooked by the mainstream view which merges science and spirituality into an all-inclusive model -allowing for everything, omitting nothing. Written from your own life experiences and discoveries – What inspired you to put pen to paper?

A catalyst is easily definable. Inspiration on the other hand can quite often come from numerous experiences. I guess after seven years of reading, researching and most importantly meditating on the question of “when you die is that it or is there anything I can do to in my lifetime to change the past and experience my daughter growing up?” I amassed an incredible amount of information and felt the urge to put pen to paper to create some space in my mind. As I was writing I could see a repeatable pattern that combined the inner self with the outer experience of the world. I applied the latest scientific discoveries with the esoteric wisdom (spirituality) hidden within every religion to show a pattern that connects everything. This pattern is the key to reality. At times I was blown away by the clarity that was evolving. I was writing off the cuff and didn’t follow any writing protocols or techniques especially since I had never written a book before, but to my surprise it all seemed to fall into place. I realised so much throughout the process. It is a very liberating experience!

If you have to pass on one piece of wisdom or advice to a person, what would be that pearl of wisdom?

You are not an insignificant being living on an insignificant speck in an infinite universe. You are imbued with the most powerful gift of the universe – the power of choice! Use it wisely by letting go of being the victim and take full responsibility.

Although you live in the UK, is your book available to purchase overseas?

Yes,  my book is published by Balboa press based in the States so can be purchased through their or my website (revealthemystery.com) and also around the world on Amazon.com.

Are you looking at writing other books in the future? What topics would you like to cover?

Yes,  I would imagine myself writing some more. Probably similar in nature, but also might link into the health and fitness industry from a functional everyday perspective.

What sort of book genre do you like reading? Favourite books or authors?

I don’t think it will come as any surprise that’s its books based on ‘What is reality?’  Conversations with God book 1 by Neale Donald Walsh was a mind blower. Various books by Deepak Chopra, Gregg Braden and Bruce Lipton on the relationship of science and spirituality. Fred Alan Wolf’s Mind into Matter and The Yoga Of Time Travel are very good and of course The Secret by Rhonda Byrne. In the distant past I would have mainly read sporting autobiographies.

You are an engineer and entrepreneur by trade – you have designed and manufactured home gym equipment. Growing up though, did you inspire to go into the engineering field or did you have other ambitions?

Not at all. I ended up in the engineering sector purely as a result of the U.K. educational system and like most teenagers feeling somewhat lost on where my future lay. I, like a lot of kids, liked the idea of being a fireman until I remembered I had a fear of heights. When I was 17 and learning to drive, on one of the few occasions my mother braved a lesson, I do remember she asked me what my ambitions were for making a living. I told her one day I’d like to own a gym. Months earlier I had purchased a home gym barbell set which initially ignited my passion. Ironically the advice I recently gave my son was to ‘find his passion and put it into action’ because you are a long time working.

You are currently involved in an unique global soccer initiative called Circular Soccer. Could you explain a bit about that project?

About 4 years ago a retired client (the father of Mr. Grey himself – Jamie Dornan) told me of the idea he first had 50 years previous, when he was a teenage boy, playing one versus one football around a central goal (hence circular) which removed the need for a goalkeeper. As young kids few want to play as the goalkeeper. He asked me to go away and develop it. I came back with the idea of a pop up three-sided triangular net which we named the tri-goal, a no play zone and cones for restarting game. Rules were drawn up and after years of prototypes and a number of FIFA trials conducted in Japan, Barbados and at the FIFA headquarters in Switzerland we finally got to market. There are five core members of the team who have worked extremely hard to get this far and time will tell how successful Circular Soccer will become. The game itself has expanded and can cater for up to 10 players and is being used at numerous football clubs to develop players skill set, but can also be purchased for kids to play in the street, back garden or park. Our website is circularsoccer.com.

When you’re not working, what hobbies/past times do you enjoy?

I still play football most Sundays and still get the same thrill scoring a goal as I did when I was a kid. We men never grow up! I love the Marvel movies which bring me back to my childhood reading the comics. I also enjoy eating out in nice restaurants and occasionally have been known to partake in the Belfast pub culture. My body is a temple, but only for part of the week and there are those who would say my body reflects that! I firmly believe life is about balance. Did I mention coffee shops?

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

My daywear reflects my job so no interest there. I love Ant and Dec bomber style jackets. I call them that as during each year watching the television programme – “I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here” – I drive my wife crazy pointing out all the bomber jackets that look cool. My “go to” look I guess would be a nice crisp white shirt with black or denim jeans transported on a Ted Baker brogue.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Not particularly, but thinking about it I do seem to have accumulated a fair amount of Ted Baker/Guess labels and the odd Primark.

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

A new white shirt……seriously!

Boots or Shoes?

Back in the day it was definitely boots. They ranged from Dr Martens to Chelsea boots with the Cowboy boots or ‘Cowbs’ as they affectionately became known somewhere in the mix. I still have them in the hope that one day they will come back into fashion. My wife has just informed me they never were in fashion!

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 book.

My book webpage is revealthemystery.com
On Facebook my book page is also revealthemystery
Also check out circularsoccer.com

Great chatting to you John – it has been a pleasure to have you on the blog.  Your book is  certainly interesting and you’re truly an inspiration.  I love the advice you gave your son: find your passion, put it into action.  That’s the kind of advice I offer my children too. Dear readers, what was the best advice you’ve received?  What advice have you given to your offspring? As always, do share  – I’d love to know your thoughts…

Linda x

Photos published with kind permission of John Ferris.

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An Interview With Mo Endfield

Being the wife of a celebrated film director (Cy Endfield – who directed Zulu, amongst others) and a model in her own right, I’m so excited to welcome onto my blog Mo Endfield.  I wanted  to know all about her new book about being a film director’s wife, her uber glam life as a model in 1950s, her marriage to Cy and what her fashion tastes are like today …. And I’m sure you’d love to find out too! Hi Mo & welcome!

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Hi!  I’m Mo Endfield.  My interests now are my family, friends, films, theatre (especially musicals) long walks and reading. Also I must start exercising more. A few things that happened in my life I would change – wouldn’t we all?

I was lucky enough to read a preview copy, thank you, of your book, “The Film Director’s Wife” – a tell-all autobiography of your life, how you and Cy met, and your life together.  What attracted you most about Cy?

I met Cy in January 1952 because he was dating my best friend Peggy Priest for several months. Through Cy I met Jack Berry and Chan Canasta. We didn’t “get together” until1954. Cy fascinated me
because he was like a guy from another planet. ( ” The Film Director’s Wife” p46:  ‘I had never met someone like him. I had never met such a sophisticated charmer. He made me feel very, very nervous and tongue-tied. I instructed Priest, “Don’t ever leave me alone in a room with him.” I was bewildered by his sneaky verbal assaults and sly digs. He laughed at my acquired Roedean accent. Cy liked to lounge on my bed with Priest, and goad me, smiling his silly smile.)

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Although your parents refused to attend your wedding to Cy, you had a happy 40 year partnership.  Did your parents decision make your early married years difficult? Did they accept Cy in the end?

My father died just 2 weeks after we returned from our honeymoon in France and Italy – a brain tumour, he was only 54. My mother had lost both her daughter and her husband. I remained close to her, she lived with us for the last 10 years of her life. Her relationship with Cy was always politely cool. Dying aged 87 she said to Cy, “Take care of her for me, Cy” which was the closest she came to acceptance.

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As a child what books did you enjoy reading? What genre of books do you enjoy reading now?

My favourite book was Dombey and Son, everything by Charles Dickens. Also Snow White, when I was 11 I tried to set up a play (with me playing Snow White) but it proved a bit difficult to find 7 dwarfs in Menston. I have belonged to a book club since 2007, we meet once a month for several hours, all contributing hot food
and wine (very lively!) We choose a book in turn, the last two were Little Boy Lost by Marghanita Laski and a memoir of Irene Nemirovsky by her daughter – both great reads.

As a former model you rubbed shoulders with many celebrities including Christian Dior, Terence Stamp, Jean Shrimpton and Michael Caine. Who was your style icon at the time?

My style icon was the American model Suzy Parker (my daughter Suzannah was named after her.) Also meeting the model Barbara Goalen ( foot size 2 ) and Fiona Campbell-Walter.

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Out of all the things you’ve experienced as a wife of a film director – what experience did you enjoy the most and what was a nightmare experience?

My most enjoyable experience – when Cy received the accolades he deserved after ZULU :
“Three times I’ve had to remake my life,” declared Cy Endfield, who’s now on top of the heap as director of Zulu, one of the biggest grossers in British film history.” New York Herald Tribune.
A nightmare experience – Cy struggling to find work in England 1952/62 – as he was unable to make films as America would
not accept any film directed by anyone named on the Blacklist.

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Hypothetically speaking, if “The Film Director’s Wife” was made into a film, what actors would you pick to be the main characters playing yourself and your husband?

Peter Sellers and Anouk Aimee.

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

I’m happiest in trousers and loafers, Adidas and Nike. Like to get tarted up occasionally in a posh frock. I love shoes – currently I’m wearing Chanel, Ferragamo, Cardin, Russell and Bromley and Prada. Never heels.

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Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?  Do you have a clothes/shoes wishlist?

Never. I don’t want to be tempted ! When I was a model, I was often given clothes, or at much reduced prices. The result is I cannot pay full price for anything. For years I would trudge around sales, now I tend to buy from catalogues – current favourites WALL, PURE and ARTIGIANO.

Boots Or Shoes?

Boots in winter, shoes all year. I am wearing Emma Hope and Robert Clergerie. My favourite ankle boots I bought a long time ago in the Harrods sale. They cost me £3 ! I don’t like the current fashion for clumpy boots with short skirts, but I guess that’s an age thing.

Links you would like to share:

Copies of The Film Director’s Wife can be purchased from The Book Guild, here: http://www.bookguild.co.uk/bookshop-collection/biography/film-directors-wife/
The book is also available from any good bookshop.

It’s been fabulous chatting to you Mo and like you, I do like a good bargain – ankle boots from Harrods at £3! – one of my favourite bargains was a brand new NEXT dress that was handed in to a local jumble sale, tags intact, for sale for 50p – I was so pleased it was my size.  I had seen the dress in NEXT a week or so prior to the sale priced up at £40 or so!  Dear readers, have you got any bargains you’ve picked up over the years in your wardrobes?  Do share!

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission from Mo Endfield.

 

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An Interview With Afrika Presents

On the blog today is Mara Menzies, Kenyan-Scottish storyteller and founder of Afrika Presents.  Afrika Presents draws inspiration from Africa’s rich stories and vibrant cultures when designing its products.  I was particularly drawn to their “The African Fashion Design Sketchbook”, a book that combines the history and beauty of African fashion textiles to children, with the aim of inspiring children to want to learn more about the amazing continent. I caught up with Mara recently to find out more…. Hi Mara and welcome….

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Hi, I’m Mara, a storyteller, founder of Afrika Presents, mother of 2 incredible children, dreamer, dancer, reader and traveller.

“The African Fashion Design Sketchbook” is a book that brings together the incredible history & beauty of fashion textiles from Africa to children. So what was the inspiration behind writing & compiling this book?

I returned home from Kenya and wanted a gift for my daughter and bought a fashion book where she could design a model and I found myself wishing that there was an African version of that so she could create, imagine and explore the things she loved but learn about her African heritage at the same time. Then I thought I’m going to do that and I did! African fashions and textiles are so beautiful and their histories are so intertwined with other cultures around the world but we never hear about that so I took the approach to make sure it was fun but informative too.

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You are a Kenyan Scottish storyteller – so how come you decided to start up your company, Afrika Presents?

Once the idea of the fashion book was born, there was so much else to explore that it made sense to form the company and think of what direction it could go. Being a storyteller is a real privilege as you share some very personal moments with small groups of people. I felt that there were so many stories to be told, so many other ways to explore such a vast and vibrant continent that it was impossible to do it just by myself. Through Afrika Presents, I have been able to work with a wider range of people – artists, designers, people experienced with the business side of things, and so many more.

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Africa has many rich stories – do you have a particular favourite tale?

There are so many to choose from but I do love an Ethiopian story about a woman who innocently throws a bone out of the window which is fought over by 2 dogs, which results in 2 boys fighting, then 2 women fighting, then 2 men fighting, then 2 villages fighting until suddenly the whole thing has spiralled out of control. Finally they realise that everyone involved could have stopped it before it reached that terrible point. Sacrifices are made and peace does return but the moral is that we must always think before throwing our bones out of the window. Of course the bone is symbolic of so many things in our lives but I love sharing this story because everyone gets caught up in the ruckus without realising where the story is heading and then suddenly BAM, they get it, and it is a wonderful feeling to take people on that rollercoaster.

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You are currently developing an app that will bring the pages of the book alive. That project sounds totally awesome, I must say. What parts of the app do you think will particularly grab a child’s attention in more ways than the book?

Yes, we’re really excited about it. There are videos, games and quizzes and we plan to continually upgrade the content too. I think the children (and adults) will really like the interactive elements as they can then test themselves and we live in a digital age so it is amazing to able to fuse pen, paper and the digital world.

What books did you enjoy reading as a child? What genre of books do you enjoy reading now?

I grew up in Kenya and my diet consisted of Roald Dahl, Enid Blyton, The Famous Five, The Nancy Drew mysteries, a series of books about twins from various cultures, and we always had National Geographic magazines around the house. I also loved the books where you had to choose which page to go to to change the path of the story. Nowadays, we are lucky to have access to authors from all over the world. I love Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Muthoni Garland as well as random books that I stumble upon, often with a traditional folktale structure. I’m currently reading The Book of Lost Things which turns folktales on their heads and is hugely enjoyable and thought provoking and I love books about Scottish mythology and mystical creatures. Scotland tells a great story.

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I have been to Kenya myself and was captivated by the beauty of the country – Mt Kilimanjaro was a particular favourite spot of mine. Have you got a favourite part of Africa? Any part of Africa you haven’t yet visited but is on your bucket list?

One of my favourite memories was at our farm in Kenya which is on the side of a valley. there was a silver river snaking its way at the bottom and quartz in the ground always twinkled at sunset. On one evening, somebody somewhere was playing a reed flute and it was just so beautiful. That is now my favourite place. I’d love to visit Botswana and Namibia and I love Malian music so will hopefully get there too.

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

I am seasonal in the sense that winter I close shop and wear boots, jeans and thick chunky jumpers and go for comfort over fashion. But in the summer I adore bright colours and patterns. I like shoes with small  heels. I can’t wear very high heels but I’ve always loved the grandeur of Victorian fashion and so the shorter, curvier heels make me feel part of that!

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I love raiding the charity shops and then tweaking what I find at home. I also find treasures in vintage shops. I do visit Zanjoo.com every now and again as they have some fantastic skirts and often match colours successfully that really shouldn’t work but always do. As I go to Kenya every year, I always find stunning fabrics and I have a tailor who makes beautiful clothes so I go with a wishlist. Otherwise I buy basics on the high street.

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

Now we’re heading for winter, it’s time for my annual boot splurge. I would love to own good quality boots in a vibrant red but they are hard to find! I sometimes find incredible boots for my 9 year old that I want in my size!

Boots or Shoes?

Flat boots for everyday comfort and lovely shoes or high heeled boots when I’m trying to impress:)

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

Visit the website at www.afrikapresents.com and we’re at https://www.facebook.com/Afrikapresents

Thank you Mara for introducing your fab company! I have always been fascinated with the continent of Africa and my youngest son has the continent in the number one slot of his bucket travel list – he loves animals and the vast outdoors.  Like you I grew up with the stories of Raold Dahl and Enid Blyton; I read the National Geographic Magazine from cover to cover – and my children have grown up surrounded by the same … along with modern technology.  One African story I liked was about the baobab tree that I heard whilst in Kenya – it is known as the upside down tree as its branches don’t have leaves and they look like tree roots!  Dear readers, are you fascinated by Africa? Would you like to visit? Or have you travelled there already? Do you have an African story to tell? As always, do share – I’d love to know!

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Mara Menzies.

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Revisiting Buckso Dhillon Woolley

Way back, almost exactly 2 years ago, on 7 November 2014, I interviewed actress/singer Buckso Dhillon Woolley (read original interview HERE) who had just starred in a UK countrywide advert for frozen food company, Iceland, alongside heart throb Peter Andre.  Buckso was looking forward to auditioning for a part in the West End stage show, Bend It Like Beckham.  So now, two years on, did Buckso  get a role in Bend It Like Beckham?  Is she still singing? I caught up with Buckso recently to find the answers to those questions and more…. Welcome back onto the blog Buckso!

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Hi there! I’m Buckso DHILLON-WOOLLEY and I’m an actor/speaker just finalising my 1st eBook on RESILIENCE as I make a segway into the speaking arena!

I was fortunate enough to interview you in November 2014 …. so, what made you want to become an actress in the first place?

Yes you did! And my what a journey these last few months have been! I’d say the very first time I knew the entertainment industry was the only way for me, was after I’d discovered I had a voice singing the theme tune to Why Don’t You back when I was a young teen. After that, I as bitten by the bug!

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Congratulations on your appearance in the West End production of “Bend It Like Beckham” as Auntiji ( Aunty G) for the 2015 run! Being picked for a West End show is such an achievement in itself… and a role you was hoping to get when I last interviewed you too! What was it like being in such a fabulous West End production? Any memorable moments that stand out?

Yes, it was something I finally nailed after auditioning for it 3yrs on the trot, and it was such a relief to get a yes! The thrill of a live audience was fantastic as I’d never experienced theatre before so wasn’t sure what to expect, which was good in some ways as I was going in with no expectations and I have to say it was phenomenal to be in such a well received show..with 5 star ratings and brilliant reviews I was a tad spoilt you might say! Most memorable moment would be the press night party..seeing something like that in such a scale was lovely and the fact my sister and husband had the chance to share it with me made it even more special considering I’d been mugged at gunpoint the night before. Maybe that’s the most memorable part actually!

As you revealed in 2014, you have a love for films … So I was dead chuffed to hear that you’ve been filming a new feature film written & directed by Andrew Hulme called “The Devil Outside”. Can you reveal what the film is about and the part that you play?

Oh yes I’m a big fan of films and SO pleased my first one was based and filmed in and around an area I live near. In short, I play the mum to the young lad and it’s a sort of coming of age film, set in Nottingham about religion, madness and repressed sexuality, and that’s all I can say! You have a lot to look forward to as Andrew Hulme has a great eye for shots and capturing a story with ability for fine detail.

In 2014, you met THE man himself, Peter Andre, whilst filming the Iceland advert. So as you’ve forayed since then into the world of theatre and movies, who have you encountered that have made a lasting impression on you?

You know I’ve yet to meet someone who has had a lasting impression on me as I’m really not that in awe of anyone as such. It’s more about how a person makes me feel by what they say after they’ve gone. If I’m still pondering what they’ve said more than 24hrs later then I know they’ve left their mark.

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In 2014, you hoped to release an album or set of songs based on the Bond films… depending on whether you got the “Bend It Like Beckham” role or not! As we all know, you did get the role – but did you manage to do a Bond set or is it still on the back burner? Do you still get to do any singing?

Ah I’m still waiting to do that! It’s on the back burner right now but most definitely something I want to do in my life. I’ve sang at a couple of charity dos this October but there was a point after the show finished where I thought I’d never sing again as my voice totally decided to leave me for a few months! At that point I realised just how important it is for me to sing, whether it’s paid or not, as it feeds my soul.

Looking ahead to 2017 – any plans in the pipeline that you can reveal to us?

Well one thing I can definitely say is happening will be the release of my new ebook which should be out at the end of November. I’m booking now for talks and speaking gigs for networking groups and schools so should be rolling that out next year alongside my acting etc. The book itself is called “The Resilience Queen: 7.5 Steps to finding your own”. It gives motivation and guidance to finding and maintaining your resilience in times of adversity and uncertainty. This is with a view to following it up with another book that talks more in depth about each chapter with examples of times in my life I’ve had to be resilient and continue to overcome any and all obstacles! Also recently started to work with a fantastic new skincare and cosmetics company, MAELLE, which launched in October and you can visit my website below for more info or email me direct.

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

Weellll,  I’m a die-hard Primark fan but even I’ve noticed lately I’m choosing more of the Marks and Spencer gear – it’s actually quite appealing to me and I’m shocked! I guess my taste is becoming more refined as I age but I’ve always maintained I’d never do designer stuff and I stand by that still. I’m not knocking those who do, I just choose to spend my dollar elsewhere. Shoes wise,  I’m again going for the comfy foot glove range from Marks & Spencer. More so because, since April this year, I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis which thankfully is under control now, but if my feet are squished in a shoe, they ain’t happy!

Do you have any favourite designers?

Not as such but when I buy from QVC (yep still a big fan!) I do love Dennis Basso for coats and Nina Leonard, Attitudes by Renee, Anything Design, Chelsea Muse and BIBA for clothes, as they’re so unique!

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

I’m now on a bit of a mission to get some gorge autumn/winter boots that are faux fur lined, like the EMU boots range that come in a host of fabulous colours.

Boots or Shoes?

Boots win hands down!

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can learn more you & follow your career.

Instagram : @buckso_
Twitter : @bucksodw
Facebook : https://m.facebook.com/bucksodw
www.myelle.co.uk
www.resiliencequeen.com

It has been fantastic to catch up with you, Buckso, and am so glad you have so many things in the pipeline and plenty for us to look forward to! Glad your auditioning perseverance on stage with Bend It Like Beckham paid off, although being mugged at gunpoint is not an experience I would like to have! So, dear readers,  Buckso has admitted that her shopping preferences have changed as she’s got older – finding herself being attracted to M & S whereas previously Primark was her main go to shop –  have you found yourself drifting away from your favourite shop as you’ve got older? Drop me a comment… I’d love to know…

Linda x

All photographs published with kind permission from Buckso Dhillon-Woolley.

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Hidden Mind

I came across an interesting book recently talking about the connection between the sub conscious and the mind/body, known as “bio energy”. It was called Hidden Mind: A Journey of Reconnection by Tom Griffin and Dr Nuala Bent.  Bio-energy therapy treatment is used in the special needs area of health, such as dyslexia, ADHD, ADD and Autistic Spectrum Disorder; and in some cases, for depression and anxiety too.  Tom Griffin developed the Hidden Mind/Bio- Energy and Corrective Sound Programme  – which is included in its entirety in the book; and Dr Nuala Bent is a Senior Research Fellow (Rehab Medicine) at the University of Leeds, a Plexus Bio Energy Therapist, Registered Reflexologist & Reiki Master.  I was lucky enough to catch up with Dr Nuala Bent to find out more ….and we talked about clothes too…. Hi Nuala!

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Hello. My name is Nuala and my passion is to inform people about the body’s natural ability to heal itself given the right circumstances and environment. I am originally from Ireland but have lived in Lancashire, UK for the past thirty years. My background was in Academia where most of my work was research based.

Congratulations on publishing your book, “Hidden Mind: A Journey of Reconnection” – a powerful collaboration between yourself and Tom Griffin – a book that invites readers to re-ignite their mind/body connection and thrive. What inspired you to put pen to paper?

I have always been a people person and realised a long time ago that we are not islands in our ability to communicate with one another. While maintaining our uniqueness we all have an integral part to play which impacts on the whole of humanity. Working on long term research projects gave me an insight into people’s lives which went way beyond the masks we all tend to wear in the public arena. I became aware of the possibility of a connection between health state, lifestyle and the outer and immediate personal environments. I also became aware of the importance of personal responsibility in a world which seemed to be dominated by pockets of control. This of course is down to conditioning and the set-up of the institutions which we encounter in our daily living. I realised that there was a need to remind people that they have an innate knowledge which needs to be accessed which is a powerhouse of information as to what the body needs to maintain optimal health. The meaning of the word ’education’ is ‘to lead out’. This implies that knowledge is already present to be accessed.

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The book includes the entire programme, as well as its foundation, of the Hidden Mind/Bio-Energy and Corrective Sound Programme as developed by Tom Griffin. As a qualified Bio-Energy therapist yourself, in what circumstances would you recommend bio-energy therapy?

Bio-energy is a rebalancing of the body’s own energy system by removing blockages which contribute to illness. It can be used in all circumstances, from the very young to the very old. It is about looking beyond the symptoms to try and establish the cause of the problems. Within our clinics, the primary aim of the therapist is to rebalance the energy system which in turn will unlock the natural healing process within the patient’s body. Only when the energy has been balanced can the body begin the process of returning to full health. Treatment is carried out over four consecutive days for approximately an hour a day. On the fourth day of treatment the therapist will go through an educational programme explaining any changes that need to be made regarding visualisation, diet, exercise, rest etc. This is an essential part of the programme and together with the balancing of the energy the correct environment is being created which will allow the body return to better health. The aim is to engage clients in a process that gives them an element of control over their own health. These treatments are the first steps on the journey to better health and patients must be willing to give the therapy time to work

What attracted you to start studying and practising complementary and natural healthcare?

A natural curiosity as to how I might help people to cope with life’s traumas and where possible to help people to look beyond life’s knocks and realise their own potential. I was also influenced by the many eminent people I met who had stood out against the established opinion and practically sacrificed career opportunities in order to tell the truth. I refer in particular to the late Professor Jan deVries whose commitment to the people in his care was awe inspiring. However, the final steps towards bio- energy training came as a result of ill health and surgery for a brain tumour after which I was much depleted of my usual zest for life and a friend suggested I go to Ireland for bio-energy treatment. I had not heard of it previously but after treatment over four consecutive days I was so impressed with how I felt that I began to enquire and read up more about all aspects of energy medicine. However, I did return on two other occasions for bio-energy over a period of several months after which I decided to train in the Plexus system. It was during this time that I met Tom Griffin, Co-founder of the Plexus system with Michael O’Doherty and current founder of the HiddenMind and Corrective sound and Bio-energy training Programme.Tom’s work inspired me towards the many discussions related to my passion to raise awareness for a new model of medicine which resulted in Tom giving me the opportunity to begin by writing our book so that the message would get out to the wider world.

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Although you live in the UK, is your book available to purchase overseas?

The book is available in Ireland through Tom’s website and people in the UK can contact myself. It is available on Amazon (kindle edition only) and it has also been recently translated into German because of the interest from Tom’s clinics in Germany.It is currently being translated into Polish. Tom runs clinics in Ireland, Canada, Germany, Poland, and recently in South Africa.

Are you looking at writing other books in the future? What topics would you like to cover?

I did a lot of research for our current book and therefore realised what a fount of knowledge I have gathered for this work. I have a big interest in the symptoms of heavy metal toxicity in the body which is an area of medicine which is virtually unknown and is seldom looked at as the possible basis of unexplained symptoms. There is also the complication that blood tests will only show toxicity if it is present and happening on the day of the test, but it remains in the tissues and takes a long time to remove. I also have a huge interest in ‘bodymind’ medicine and the new science of Epigenetics.

What sort of book genre do you like reading? Favourite books or authors?

In contrast to my work and my associated reading I like to have a novel on the go. I don’t like to travel without a book in my luggage. In particular authors who seem to have an insight into human relationships. I have a few favourites. Not surprisingly they include the late Maeve Binchy, Santa Montifiore, Kathy Kelly, Lesley Pearse, Barbara Kingsolver and others of a similar ilk.

You have worked many years as Panel Manager of a longitudinal study researching into cognitive ageing at the University of Manchester; and later as Senior Research Fellow (Rehab Medicine) at the University of Leeds. You are also a Plexus Bio Energy Therapist, Registered Reflexologist and Reiki Master. Growing up though, did you inspire to go into the medical/research field or did you have other ambitions?

Growing up I had many ambitions all of which presented themselves in accordance with what was the dominant theme of the time. However I was very lucky to find myself in a small boarding school in Southern Ireland with the Killeshandra Sisters who were an order of nuns who worked abroad on many of the world’s mission fields. I got to know many of these amazing woman who worked in situations which demanded courage and commitment to help people less fortunate. The friendships built up over the years in ‘CastleShanahan’ as the school was called were very important to me and gave me a confidence which supported me throughout my life’s journey. I still have contact with some of them to this day. I realised early on in my academic learning that I was drawn to research which probably fitted in with my curiosity about people and the life situations which impinged on them.

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Your passion is to raise awareness of the need for an integrated model of healthcare. What specific areas of healthcare do you feel is most in need of this integrated model? What hurdles are you coming across to prevent that happening?

Mostly related to the status quo opinion that health is an area that needs to be managed by a body of Professionals and that the ‘ordinary’ person has no control over how health manifests for them. A person needs to be central to the working out of the best possible way to deal with illness/disease. People need to be reminded or informed that there is a capacity for healing within each of us that needs input from ourselves as well as from our Physicians. The body knows, and often tells us but is just as often ignored in favour of lifestyle choices. If we are present to the needs of our bodies, this remind the cells to switch on the mechanism of healing. Good health is not about alternative medicine, rather it is about complementary medicine which can work alongside the medical physicians to bring about the homeostasis required to maintain a state of wellness. The dominant model of medicine does not take into account social factors or individual differences and so also excludes prevention of disease as a role in healthcare. In fact it has been described in the literature as a relationship of compliance based on prescribing.

When you’re not working, what hobbies/past times do you enjoy?

I love to travel. I also enjoy sharing a meal with friends and eating out from time to time. I also have a large network of friends whom I keep in contact with. My friends are important to me and many of them live in Ireland. I have a friend Anne from my school days who also lives in Bolton with whom I meet up to discuss old and new interests. I enjoy being with like-minded people.I also travel to Ireland several times a year to catch up with my family. I have a son and daughter and three grandchildren who live in Southern Ireland. I did my Bio training in Ireland and I enjoy networking with my colleagues. I hope to help Tom with teaching ‘HiddenMind Bio’ in the UK later this year.

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

I have a love of clothes but they need to suit how I like to look. I like outfits to flow rather than the eye having to stop and start – I suppose I would describe it as all seen in one photo rather than needing to fit many photos together to get the picture, if you know what I mean. If I am wearing a skirt or trousers the top / tunic needs to be longer than waist level.I also am a jacket person but again, I don’t like short jackets on myself. And I like to include a gilet as part of an outfit (everyday wear).I like to have a mixture of shoes which include a basic flat pair for colder weather, casualtrainer type pairs, dressy heels and sandals to wear with more dressy outfits.My main problem is trying to make a decision not to bring more than two pairs with me when travelling.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I prefer to shop in person and I like to look around several shops until an item ‘speaks’ to me.

Boots or Shoes?

I am a shoe person. I only wear boots when the weather dictates as I feel confined in boots and I always tend to notice nice shoes on people.

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 book.

I have a website ‘Nualatherapies.com’ and Tom’s website is ‘www.hiddenmind.ie’.
I am also listed on the Plexushealthcare.ie website (Bio-energy) as a Therapist.

Thanks so much for coming onto the blog today, Nuala.  It is such an interesting therapy and I hope my readers found it of interest too.  I must pick on your shoe thought though – it amused me to find that when travelling you find it hard to limit yourself to packing less than two pairs of shoes.  I have the same problem … BUT do you find after packing say 3 pairs of footwear, that you ended up just wearing only the one pair for the fortnight after all? Or is it just me?  Dear readers, what are your thoughts? I’d love to know!

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission of Dr Nuala Bent. 

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White Sorrow

This week’s guest has an amazing tale to tell – of one woman’s mistake, downfall, abuse and subsequent strength.  My guest is the lovely Andrea Aviet, author of the book “White Sorrow”  … her story about domestic violence, emotional and mental abuse, starvation and what amounts to modern day slavery …  Andrea has published her book and spoken out  in an effort to motivate women stuck in similar positions to get out and to get their lives back on track. I caught up with this brave lady recently to talk about her book and her life now…. Hi Andrea….

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Hi! I am Andrea Aviet, I am 34, a mum to two girls and have written a book called White Sorrow.

“White Sorrow” is a true story of 5 years abuse you endured at the hands of your 20 stone husband & his family. What inspired you to open up and write about your experience?

I felt I must have endured the nightmare for a reason and wanted to make something positive out of it – I thought if I could inspire others to understand that domestic abuse of any form is not right, and should not be endured, then I would have put my nightmare to good use.

It must have been quite an emotional rollercoaster to write about your experiences – from being estranged from your own kin, forced into sexual encounters, suffering from emotional & physical abuse. What was the hardest part, you feel, about recalling/writing your experiences?

Writing the bits about my children. When recalling those parts of the books, even from being pregnant the first time, it often reduced me to tears. Even now I can’t read out the parts about my children without cracking a little. I recently did a reading that was being recorded for a video, and I had to stop, regroup and start again  – I was so overtaken by emotion.

Your subsequent strength shown after managing to leave your abusive relationship behind is commendable – managing to take control of your own life and making sure your two daughters are having a life filled with hobbies, laughter & love. What advice would you be giving to your own daughters when they grow up and have relationships of their own?

Have your eyes open. Don’t get swept along by romantic notion. Always have some financial independence. And if at any point you aren’t being treated right, get out.

You travelled the world a lot as a child – including time spent in India. What country impressed you most? What place is number one on your travel bucket list?

I absolutely love Australia – it was where I wanted to go when I met Mark and married him instead of going. That is still on my bucket list. I also recently visited the North East of England on business. I am determined to take my children there for a family holiday now as the coast is so beautiful.

As a child what books did you enjoy reading? What genre of books do you enjoy reading now?

I loved reading as a child and still do. I would read anything. I then studied political science at university so my reading was around my studies. Now I read good books, with strong stories. And novels, but only when I get chance around working, promoting my book and being a single mum.

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Hypothethically speaking, if “White Sorrow” was made into a film, which actress would portray you?

I would love to play myself to be honest – not because I aspire to be an actress but because it is about me. I think a young, dark haired actress would be good….someone like Selena Gomez. She would be good because she would act well but she would also appeal to younger generations and they would heed the warnings the book talks about.

The charity Refuge is close to your heart and you have spent a lot of time fund raising. There are many ways to fund raise -what is the wackiest fundraiser idea you’ve come across? Have you any favourite fundraising ideas?

To be honest my fundraising will all be done through book sales. I read about people doing crazy things all the time, and whilst I admire them, that is just not me! I wouldn’t want to ski down a mountain in a bikini or jump out of a plane. I have survived my own challenge already and am happy just donating proceeds.

Is your book, “White Sorrow”, available to purchase worldwide?

Yes, online. It is available on Amazon and other platforms.

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

I usually wear smart casual. Maybe jeans or leggings but with nice tops and jackets. Things that go from day into night, but that I am comfortable in for travelling or playing with my children. I usually wear boots but sandals come out in the summer. I am only small so heels are good, but I can’t walk far in them!!

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Not really. For so long I didn’t have a disposable income or even money for food, so fashion took a backseat. I wore hand me downs that didn’t fit. Previous to my marriage I wore a lot of designer clothing and good makes of shoes. I don’t think I have quite got the bug back yet, and am too busy promoting the book and looking after my kids to do much personal shopping!

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

I want to take my children on holiday, and the summer seems to be coming, so I will be investing in a sun wardrobe!

Boots or Shoes? 

Boots – I don’t drive so I walk a lot. Boots just protect your feet more, are more comfortable and practical yet can look stylish and trendy.

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

My website is www.whitesorrow.com and you can find me on facebook.com/whitesorrow1

Thank you so much for coming on the blog and telling us about your book and life.  Your book has a powerful message – whether male or female – domestic abuse of this nature is just unacceptable.  I wish you every success with your book, and all the best in life from now on.  

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission from Andrea Aviet.

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An Interview With Photographer Michel Haddi

Global celebrity photographer, Michel Haddi, is on my blog this week.  Michel has photographed many high profile celebrities including David Bowie, Johnny Depp, Keanu Reeves, Angelina Jolie, Janet Jackson, Jennifer Lopez.  He has published a few photographic coffee table books … And his latest is “David Bowie The Legend”.  Seeing as David Bowie was my all time favourite performer,  I just couldn’t wait to ask Michel about his book, his photography, and what it is like meeting these iconic celebrities…. Welcome Michel…

What made you want to pursue a career as a photographer?

I always wanted to be an artist. My first love is movie making/films but I didn’t know anyone in the film industry, but I did in photography – I suppose it was a short cut!

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Your current “David Bowie The Legend” book of unseen David Bowie pictures has aroused a lot of interest – he was my favourite musician – what was the background to the book & the reason behind creating the book?

I have a publishing house too and I thought it was a good idea to do a book on David Bowie , like I will do one on Blondie or Liza Minelli. I decided to launch a new collection called The Legend.

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Your work has appeared in many famous magazines such as the British, French & Italian editions of Vogue America as well as I lived there for 14 years and many advertising campaigns for companies such as Saks New York, Armani, Yves Saint Laurent, etc. What has been the most unusual photoshoot request you’ve had ?

Maybe a shoot I did for American Esquire in the desert in Las Vegas having a trapeze artist from the Cirque du Soleil flying in the middle of nowhere.

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What has been your favourite photoshoot to date?

All of them. I don’t have a special one, always the last one. I worked with Emmanuelle Seigne,  the wife of Roman Polanski for a magazine called The Collective (it’s a magazine from the London designer Osman). I really loved that shoot as Emmanuelle is a great actor and a great looking girl.

You have photographed many high profile celebrities, including David Bowie, Johnny Depp, Angelina Jolie etc among others. If you were given the chance, who would you love to photograph that you haven’t already?

I did a shoot at Paisley Park – I was supposed to work with Prince and his band. I worked with the band but Prince didn’t show up. This is a regret.

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You’ve published a quite a few fashion & beauty books – have you got a preferred location for fashion shoots?

Not really, depends what I have in mind. The new one is called The Blue Hour – it was shot in Paris and it’s all about Paris.

I’ve seen & admired your fashion shots, model shots, and celebrity shots, so, what style of photography is your absolute favourite? When you are not working, do you do photography for fun?

Thank you! I only like it when images look like snips of a film. In fact when I tell a story now, if I don’t shoot I write screen plays.

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

I have a tailor in London,  Anthony Sinclair,  so everything comes from my tailor.  I wear a Crombie with maybe a tight fit sweate,  pin stripe trousers, black gloves and black Adidas footwear.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

None  –  my only pleasure is to see my tailor and be pampered.

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

Maybe another 3 piece suit – dark blue pinstripe – very 70s! Anthony Sinclair used to make the suits for Sean Connery in the James Bond films. I like this flavour, as being tall the style does suit me perfectly.

Boots or Shoes?

I used to wear boots like bikers boots but I am much more into the Adidas black label to cut the strict look of a suit nowadays.

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 Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc for more information about you and your book “David Bowie The Legend”.

http://davidbowiethelegend.co.uk/

www.michelhaddistudio.com

www.mhspublishing.com

Oh wow Michel, Blondie is also another favourite of mine – as a teenager in the 80s I tried to style myself on Debbie Harry’s look – just wish I had her voice to go with the ensemble! 🙂 Well, dear readers,  who in your eyes was or is a “Legend”?  Who was your style icon as a teen?  As always, do tell, I love reading your comments!

Linda x

All photos have been published with the kind permission of Michel Haddi. 

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An Interview With Tony Porter

I am honoured to have on the blog this week one of the people who spearheaded British Fashion Week – now known as London Fashion Week – the gallant gentleman, Tony Porter.  I caught up with Tony recently to find out more about his unique life spent at the forefront of fashion, the swinging ’60s scene in London, the high fashion Kensington store Biba, and his gripping new memoir “Whatever Next?”….. Welcome Tony …

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Hello, I’m Tony Porter. Born 12/6/35

You certainly have lived a fascinating and unique life in the forefront of fashion – but, what was the inspiration behind picking up your pen and writing your gripping memoir, “Whatever Next?” What’s the story behind the title?

In 1986 B and I left the world of Fashion and bought tiny Burgh Island with its tired but lovely Art Deco Hotel. After spending 16 years on its restoration, we moved on, and I immediately wrote our story in “The Great White Palace”, published in 2002. Since then, it has sold 23,700 copies, and very many readers have asked me how I spent the rest of my life. I was finally persuaded, and the book was finally published on 28 February 2016. I spoke about it at my 80th Birthday party, after which I was approached by two guests, suggesting that, following my seven careers, I should make a film about them. That was when I collapsed in an arm chair muttering ‘Whatever next?’. These are the last two words of the book, but seemed an obvious title as well.

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You started your career selling paint for ICI – spending many years with ICI in Africa – before returning to London to sell high fashion for the Kensington store, Biba, founded by your sister-in-law, Barbara Hulanicki. Did you have an interest in fashion at that time, or was it something that grew on you as you sold the outfits?

No, it grew on me. Till then a dress was a dress and a skirt a skirt, but Barbara’s were different. As I became steeped in the selling and even the manufacture of her unique and inexpensive designs, I came to love the look, especially on those ’60s “Dolly Birds”  who daily thronged the Biba shop in Kensington.

The scene in London during the swinging 60s must have been exciting – especially as many famous starlets flocked to Biba – Twiggy, Marianne Faithful, Mia Farrow, Cilla Black & Yoko Ono to name just a few. I’m sure you kept a cool head when you served them – but did anyone actually make you go weak at the knees (starstruck mode)? Who would have made you go a-quiver if they had entered Biba?

That has to be Bardot, although she doesn’t exactly answer your question, because she actually walked in one day to go shopping. She was prepared to try things on in the communal changing room, but Barbara’s husband, Fitz, offered her the passageway outside his office. I did glimpse her as she made her way there with an armful of clothes. She did make me weak at the knees, but that was all. Fitz did better though, by standing on a chair, so that he could peep through the glass over his office door!

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T427 IM 4CBW 26-18

You were one of the people who spearheaded British Fashion Week – now known as London Fashion Week. What was the inspiration and original aims of the Week? Are you surprised the idea is still going strong and is one of the most important dates in the Fashion calendar?

When I left Biba and started my own Fashion PR business, I did really well getting lots of coverage for the twelve accounts I came to represent. It was so frustrating though that twice a year the whole of our Press corps disappeared to Paris, then Milan, to report on their designs for the coming season. We had wonderful designers, some established and others fresh out of our marvellous colleges. I couldn’t see why there was no such event here, and resolved to do something about it. That was exactly forty years ago, and in the book I relate how I went about it with such success that it became established on the world fashion stage. Obviously I am thrilled that our Fashion Week has long since become known as one of the big three in Europe, but cannot help thinking that the numbers are now too big, and the organisation is not so special as in my day.

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T310 IM 5-9

After leaving Biba, you ran your own successful fashion PR business in London’s West End, helped by your wife Beatrice. What made you decide to go from sales to PR?

As I’ve said already, I came to love fashion and the way it evolved, but I knew I would never aspire to being a designer, and I tired of selling. However, I had come to meet and help a few influential journalists, and came to realise that, in return for showing them the right selection, they were able to feature photographs of certain items which fitted their fashion story of the day. Obviously I didn’t have the name of Biba with which to conjure, but I chose well and quickly gained the confidence of most of the major writers. I also found that I could make much more doing this, so the decision to move on proved right in many ways.

Can you tell us about the beautiful Burgh Island and the Art Deco hotel you lovingly restored (and have since sold)? What attracted you to buy the island & its hotel? What was your favourite feature of the island/hotel?

When we bought our second hand yacht and cruised along the south coast of Devon and Cornwall, we fell in love with their rivers and little harbours, so, when we decided on another change, it was there that we looked. After several possibilities fell through, we heard that this tiny (26 acres) island was for sale, complete with its ART DECO hotel, we went for it. The huge risk and years of scary experiences are described in detail in my first book ( it is also included more briefly in this new one. How could I leave 16 whole years out of my autobiography!) We finally sold it to a couple who claimed to love art deco as much as us, in 2001. Without doubt our favourite feature was, and still is (except we are banned !) the Palm Court, with its original stained glass ceiling, which we restored.

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You are now concentrating on your new career as a writer – your gripping memoir, “Whatever Next?” was published in Feb 2016. Have you got any other plans to write other works? Is there any other writing genre you would like to dabble in?

Yes. Children’s  books. I have written them before for my grandchildren who did the illustrations for me, and they loved them.

When you are not writing, what hobbies or past times do you enjoy?

Sailing (other people’s yachts), opera (Hearing, not singing!) golf (badly), walking the Devon lanes, travel (but not long haul now).

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about you and where to buy your memoir “Whatever Next?”

Website: tonyporter.co.uk

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Whatever-Next-748983758567899/?=ts

Twitter: @TPorterAuthor

It has been an absolute pleasure to have you on my blog, Tony, and I haven’t yet stopped giggling at the picture you’ve given of Barbara’s husband Fitz trying to glimpse Bardot! Must admit, Bardot is one of my style icons from those days.  The other being Debbie Harry of Blondie in the 70s/80s.  Dear readers, have you got a favourite style icon? Do tell, I’d love to know…

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission of Tony Porter.

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Pot Luck

Author Jennifer Bell is under the spotlight this week, telling the tale of leaving her life in London to go west to Cornwall to set up a pottery venture.  Not just any pottery venture. Her and her husband’s pots were so successful they were sold beyond the UK to Europe, USA, Japan, Australia and South Africa.  Now retired and living in a riverside cottage, I caught up with Jennifer to talk about her books, her pots and her love of Cornwall…

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Hello! I’m Jennifer.  I am well retired – to the point of not counting birthdays anymore. Living beside a river on the south coast of Cornwall and still, compulsively, it might be said, obsessively, writing stories for children.

“Pot Luck” is the tale of your move from London to the wilds of Cornwall, where you had set up an internationally successful pottery company. So what gave you the inspiration to move from the city to deepest Cornwall and to write a book about it?

From childhood, growing up in a Manchester suburb, I dreamed of a country cottage and a rural life-style – you know the idea, an orchard, chickens, rosy- cheeked children ….I was fortunate to meet a man who shared my dream and who had also studied pottery at Oxford Art School before going on to do music at the R.C.M. We both knew Cornwall slightly from childhood. It really is a different country. You feel it as soon as you cross the Tamar. It’s an ancient landscape, somehow history is nearer the surface, evident in the windswept cliffs, deep lanes, Celtic saint names, old stone crosses ….

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You originally trained as a nurse – so how come you decided to get involved in running a pottery company?

I enjoyed nursing very much – looking after people, ill and often apprehensive – and I liked being able to make a difference but the lure of taking charge of your own life, living to the full, experiencing both excitements and disasters was irresistable. No cheque at the end of the month but many adventures. I think our two sons also benefitted from seeing the self-discipline needed in running your own business and both have successful careers.

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You’ve also just written a delightful children’s story “Jem The Fowey Pirate”, set in the Cornish town of Fowey. How fun was it to write a children’s story? What was the inspiration behind this tale?

Our granddaughters love coming down to Cornwall (from London) and have a special song that they sing when crossing the Tamar bridge – this can cause a little surprise when travelling by train. We live by a river ( Kenneth Graham’s inspiration for ‘The Wind in the Willows). The girls love walking and making camps in the old, oak woods and are always asking for a story ….

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As much as you like writing children’s books, is there any genre you would like to dabble in that you haven’t yet tried?

I’ve always written and love setting myself challenges – a short story starting and finishing with the same sentence, another – a bleak railway halt and the most unlikely person to alight from a train ( it turnes out to be a London prostitute!). Most of all though, I love telling stories to children – seeing the world through their eyes.

What books did you enjoy reading as a child? What genre of books do you enjoy reading now?

I was lucky as a child that my grandparents lived in Snowdonia – very beautiful but wet, wet, wet! On those days I would hide in my grandfather’s study, behind his tatty, leather armchair and read to exhaustion. He didn’t have any children’s books beyond a complete set of Arthur Mee’s Children’s encyclopaedias – but he had Shakespeare’s plays which I was lucky to read before anyone told me they were difficult.  He also had bound copies of Punch through the 1920s and 30s. Fascinating! Nowadays, I particularly enjoy 19th century Russians. I have just watched  the TV drama ‘War and Peace’ – lovely Sunday evening stuff – but that novel has always been my default holiday reading so now the story is spoilt! I may have to find something else. I love the quirkiness of Annie le Proux and have just enjoyed ( and always enjoy) Anne Tyler’s ‘A Spool of Blue Thread’.

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Having run your own businesses – pottery, a B & B establishment and a smallholding on a wilder part of Dartmoor – you are now retired and an author – so, when you are not writing what other hobbies/past times do you enjoy?

Our garden is part of The National Garden Scheme which raises money for charity, so it’s a fairly full time job keeping our acre up to a good standard for visitors. I do have an escape clause though, in a phrase that I have adopted from Prince Charles. I heard him describe Highgrove once as ‘ never weed free but exuberantly planted’. A good description of a garden. I also love dress- making both for myself and for my granddaughters. We also have a small motor boat which we pootle around in. Malcolm fishes and we sometimes, when tide and a lovely evening coincide, go down river for supper in Fowey and Golant.

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

I would love to say that I am “au fait” with the latest designers, but I’m afraid our uniform down here is mainly Barbours and wellies. For special occasions though we have two really interesting shops – casual clothing in beautiful, natural fabrics – Bridget Foley in Tavistock and Mount’s Bay Trading in Truro. I also have a pair of black, knee-length boots, bought in Italy, which I cherish.

“Pot Luck” is published by Jennifer Bell in conjunction with WRITERSWORLD, and is produced entirely in the UK. It is available to order from most bookshops in the United Kingdom, and is also globally available via UK based Internet book retailers.

It was so lovely to have you on the blog, Jennifer. Your grandfather’s study sounds delightful – I’m a bookworm and my idea of a heavenly room is a snug room lined with books and a big comfortable armchair to curl up in.   Dear readers, what would be your ideal room? Would it be a walled garden, a verandah overlooking a river bank, an airy conservatory, or a walk in wardrobe?  Do share your views – I’d love to know!

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission from Jennifer Bell.

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