Category Archives: Interview

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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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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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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An Interview With Coruu Silicone Jewellery

Finland bound this week – Coruu Silicone Jewellery is a Finnish women powered company whose exquisite jewellery pieces are designed by three talented Finland based designers: Satsuki Hata, Tessa Ojala and Sara Tuuli.  Coruu Design Finland is owned by Mrs. Sari Jokinen and Mrs. Maarit Fellman. Not having come across silicone jewellery before, I was intrigued to find out more …. so I put some questions to the owners & entrepreneurs Maarit and Sari.  Welcome ladies….

What was behind your choice to concentrate on silicone jewellery?

The story of Coruu goes back to 2014, we were long-time colleagues and decided that it was time to give entrepreneurship a go.Our focus was on training in marketing and ecommerce, but at the same time we decided to start an online store of our own.
Silicone jewellery came to mind. For a shop on the Internet, Coruu products are ideal, as they are easy and cheap to ship, including internationally. No massive amount of storage space is needed, either. We found three Finland-based designers, who were excited to jump at the new kind of opportunity. The selection has recently expanded with a range of Moomin characters. With the license to sell Moomin jewellery, now we are hoping to enter Asian markets and UK. Now Coruu has one full-time employee looking after the online store and a few part-time staff members.

Hypothetically speaking, what famous lady (dead or alive) would you love to see as the “Face” of Coruu Silicone Jewellery?

We would like to see Marilyn Monroe as the face of Coruu.

I love the “Flowery Necklace”in both black & white; and the “Studded Necklace” in white. To date, what has been your most popular jewellery item?

Our popular necklace is black Flowery and black Feather earrings.

What’s your most favourite item in your collection?

Our favourite earrings are Feathers in all colours and Studded necklace.

Each piece is so lovely and unique – where do the designers (Satsuki Hata, Tessa Ocala and Sara Tuuli) get their inspiration from for their collections?

Our designers seek inspiration from the natural world and graphic patterns. Only the best and most showy design will be included in the Coruu selection – the genuine statement pieces!

Are you introducing any new items to add to your collection into for 2017?

All the time we are designing new items. At the next summer, we launch couple of new bracelets necklaces and earrings. For example, Aster bracelet and necklace.

As Coruu Silicone Jewellery is based in Finland, are your pieces available to purchase worldwide?

Our webshop is worldwide and we have free shipping to all countries.

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

Maarit like jeans and high heels. Sari like jeans also and colourful clothes but wear comfortable shoes.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Maarit like sailing so her favourite shop is www.pellepetterson.fi. Sari loves dogs her favourite shop is www.zooplus.fi.

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

Maarit is planning to buy new sailing coat from Pelle Petterson shop. Sari will buy a new shirt from Design by Pias.

Boots or Shoes? 

High Heels 

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc so that readers can find out more about Coruu Silicone Jewellery.

http://www.siliconejewelryshop.com/
https://www.facebook.com/CoruuSiliconeJewelry/
Instagram: @coruu_jewelry

Thank you for enlightening me about silicone jewellery – the pieces are certainly exquisite.  Dear readers,  I have used my native tongue spelling of “jewellery” throughout this post (I am a Brit after all!) but please note that the company links spell it the American English way.   So, dear readers, do you wear silicone jewellery? What type of jewellery do you like wearing? Do share your views, I’d love to know!

Linda x

All photographs have been printed with kind permission of Coruu Design Finland.

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Going Teal

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month in the USA with its trademark teal ribbon worn by supporters.  My guest today, nurse and blogger Mandi, has gone that step further by dyeing her hair teal. Mandi shares with me today her reasons for making her teal blue hair change and why she wholeheartedly supports Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Welcome to the blog Mandi….

My name is Mandi and I am a mother of three wonderful kids, a pediatric nurse, writer and professional hugger. I also happen to be a survivor of rape that happened when I was seventeen.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month in the USA and the colour teal is the colour of sexual violence prevention. What made you decide to go a step further with the teal and dye your hair? (It looks great, btw)

I started the tradition of dyeing my hair teal for Sexual Assault Awareness Month last year. It is symbolic to me of the fact that sexual assault survivors, like myself, carry the impact of the assault with them everywhere that they go, much like we carry our hair with us always. Many times those who are not survivors seem to have the idea that after the initial hard times immediately following the assault have passed, that a survivor’s life goes back to normal. The truth is that sexual assault changes a person in very profound and personal ways and we are never, ever the same after. We carry the impact of the assault with us twenty-four hours per day for the rest of our lives, it changes us right down to our DNA.

Mandi at 17

The theme of the month this year is that “Prevention is possible” – promoting safe behaviour, thoughtful policies, healthy relationships. What steps do you feel somebody can take to prevent a person from being a victim of sexual assault?

This is a sticky question for me in many ways. After my assault, the questions that were asked to me by both professionals (nurses, police officers, etc) and by laypeople were directed at what I, the survivor, had done. What had I been wearing? Had I been drinking? I want to be very clear in the fact that there is nothing that a victim could have done to have made the rape or assault their fault. We live in a culture that places the burden of sexual assault on the victim and that needs to change. I think that we must continue talking about consent and rape culture in hopes of someday not having a society that seems very accepting of sexual assault in many ways. It isn’t the actions of potential victims that needs to change, it is the actions of the perpetrators that must change. This is why I made the very hard decision of coming out publicly as a survivor of rape last year when I wrote a piece for the Huffington Post entitled ‘A Thank You Letter to My Rapist’. It was honestly one of the hardest and most vulnerable action that I’ve ever taken. After that piece went live, I was shocked by the deluge of messages and e-mails from fellow survivors who wanted to thank me for writing it and wanted to tell me their own stories(many of them telling someone about their rape for the first time). There are so very many survivors in the world, many more than people realize. If we can have public conversations about rape and about how profoundly it impacts those who survive it,I believe that it creates tiny ripples of change and possibly prevents future assaults.

Being a nurse as well as a blogger, what reaction has your hair received being dyed teal? Has it led to some meaningful discussions?

I was actually quite nervous about dying my hair teal because I was worried that it would look unprofessional. I do work in a non-traditional nursing environment as I am a public health nurse who goes into the homes of low-income families to provide support and education so the reaction may be different for me now than it would have been when I worked in a hospital. The population that I work with is very accepting of those who may not subscribe to societal norms, so they have been very accepting and, in fact, one client who was unsure of accepting my services said that she allowed me into her home because of the teal hair which signaled to her that I might be someone that wouldn’t judge her for the ways that she didn’t fit in to society. I have not talked to my clients about why I dyed my hair teal as that would take the focus off of them and onto me and that would be inappropriate. However, in my personal life I have had many conversations with complete strangers so far this month and that has made it very worth the trouble. I also had a co-worker share that she also is a sexual assault survivor and I don’t think that we would have been able to have such an intimate conversation had my hair not triggered the discussion.

Sexual Assault is a public health issue as it ultimately affects women, men children, families and communities. What short term or long term consequences do victims of sexual assault tend to experience and the knock on effect to the people around them?

Before I answer this question I want to take a moment to address that many survivors loathe the term victim and don’t like to use it. I honor that stance and most often use the term survivor. However, I also embrace the term victim for the very reasoning that it was a violent act that changed my life forever. Each survivor will have their own unique experience in the aftermath of their assault. I often think of rape as the a ripple in a pond. That ripple in the water will continue to spread outward farther then we will ever know and impact the survivor and those around them for many years to come. In the immediate aftermath of my own rape the week of my seventeenth birthday, I experienced deep depression, PTSD (I still have mild PTSD symptoms today, 21 years later) and suicidality. I attempted to take my own life multiple times and the last attempt was nearly successful. I was in so much pain that I truly wanted to die. There is no way to describe in words how dramatically the assault impacted my life. The girl that I was before the rape and the girl that I was after were two completely different people.

Donald Trump himself during his election campaign was alleged to have sexually assaulted over 15 women – although he has denied the allegations. Do you think his appointment to presidency and the allegations against him has helped or hindered the work of the Sexual Assault Awareness Month campaigners and supporters?

This is such a tough question. I think that it has both helped and hindered the work of changing rape culture. On one hand, I’ve seen public conversations about sexual assault on a level that I’ve never before seen in my life. On the other hand, I do think that there are some that will have heard the audio tapes of our now president bragging about sexually assaulting women and still being voted in as president and will believe that it must be okay if so many believe that a man, who in his own words bragged about grabbing women’s genitals without consent, can be our nation’s leader. It is a very confusing time to be a survivor. I had very close family members that defended Donald Trump’s words about sexual assault in social media posts that showed up in my feed. It was sickening to realize that they posted those knowing that survivors would see these posts and it would hurt them. Rape culture in many ways is so ingrained that I fear it will be hard to turn the tide and change the way that people think about sexual assault. This election and it’s aftermath has distanced me from family members and friends who I never before would have realized had such ugly beliefs about sexual assault and humanity in general. I have to believe that the ugliness that is being brought forward now is being brought to the surface so that it can be healed. We can not heal, as a nation and as a world, what we do not recognize exists. We are now seeing,in a very public way, just how deep sexual assault stigma and rape culture is. It is now our job to counter that darkness with light and awareness.

Although your hair has been dyed teal for this April campaign, will you keep the colour beyond April? Have you any other hair colour preferences?

The reason for placing the teal in my hair was not for beauty but I’ve found that I absolutely love it. It brings out the blue in my eyes! I am an introvert that doesn’t generally like to call attention to myself, so I doubt that I will keep it but haven’t yet decided. I’m the type of gal that trusts her stylist(Lisa Klein of Hair House in Pleasant Hill, Iowa) so much that I always just plop myself into her chair and tell her to do what she likes, so we shall see what the next color is!

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

Do scrubs count? Ha! Sometimes on non-work days I think about wearing my nurse scrubs simply so that I don’t have to think about what to wear! I love shirts with inspirational messages and funky, retro headbands and sunglasses but otherwise don’t have too many fashion preferences. I’m an easygoing kind of girl!

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I love sites that give to charities when you buy from them. Some of my favorites include Headbands of Hope, Sevenly, Toms and Krochet Kids International.

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

A bathing suit for summer that I won’t be embarrassed to wear in public. I think buying a swimsuit each year is my most challenging fashion purchase each year!

Boots or Shoes?

I pretty much live in either my nursing clogs or flip-flops. This may be the worst answer to this question that you’ve ever had! I call shoes “foot prisons” and would actually live in my bare feet if it were socially acceptable.

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Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers of the blog can learn more about your blog & Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

I hope that anyone reading this who may be a survivor that is struggling will head over to RAINN to learn more and seek out help, if needed. I want to tell you that you may be suffering now, but there is hope on the other side of this pain. Never stop seeking out the help that you need. You are needed in the world. So much love to all of those in the world who are struggling through this right now.

Here is a link to the article in the Huffington Post that I referenced earlier. Don’t let the title scare you- it isn’t really a thank you letter to my rapist, it’s a thank you letter to myself for the finding the strength to survive. In the immediate days after assault it can feel as though the pain will never end. If you are in the midst of the excruciation aftermath of assault, please know that it does get so much better.

Here is my humble blog(http://thezenrn.blogspot.com/). I love to connect with others that may be survivors or are doing work for prevention and awareness of sexual assault. My readers remind me that the world can be a beautiful place, even though terrible things happen to many of us daily. I’m also very active on my facebook page and, as an introvert, love to connect with others while sitting on my own couch(https://www.facebook.com/thezenrnblog/)!

Thank you Mandi for giving us an account of your experiences and for showing how people can get behind the sexual assault awareness campaign to make a big difference.  Dear readers, have you ever done anything to highlight a campaign you believe in so deeply? Have you dyed your hair like Mandi or sky jumped for charity?  Do share your stories, I’ll love to know…..

Linda x

Photos of Mandi have been published with permission of Mandi Redhead.

The Pinterest photo was taken by Linda Hobden and is an exhibit from the Musee de l’insolite, in Sauliac-sur-Cele in France.

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An Interview With Living Streets

May is National Walking Month in the UK and there couldn’t be a better time to keep fit than to enjoy walking and doing those 10,000 steps in the Spring sunshine, with our fitbits synchronised.  In fact, the Fitbit has become so popular over the last year or so and closing those “circles” or getting the 10,000 steps fireworks  a day can become rather addictive.  And what a good addiction to have!  Living Streets is a UK charity championing everyday walking and I was lucky enough to interview Tanya Braun from the charity about walking …. welcome Tanya!

Hi! I’m Tanya Braun and I’m the media and communications manager at Living Streets which means I’m in charge of promoting walking, why it’s great and how we can help people do more of it!

Living Streets is a UK charity championing everyday walking. When was the charity founded? What are the aims of the charity?

We were first set up back in 1929 when we were known as the Pedestrians’ Association. In the early days our campaigning led to the UK’s first zebra crossing and the introduction of speed limits. Today we face new challenges, but our work is as important as ever.We want to create a walking nation, free from congested roads and pollution, reducing the risk of preventable illness and social isolation and making walking the natural choice. We believe that a walking nation means progress for everyone. Our ambition is to get people of all generations to enjoy the benefits that this simple act brings and to ensure all our streets are fit for walking.

May is National Walking Month and Living Streets are urging the public to “Try20” – encouraging people to walk 20 minutes every day throughout May & to observe the big differences small steps can make. What are the those differences?

Physical activity is important to stay healthy, and walking is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to get active, it’s also really easy to fit into our everyday lives – walking to the shops, skipping a stop on public transport or taking a lunchtime walk. Walking helps to prevent weight gain; chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer; and has been shown to reduce depression. Plus with more people walking their short everyday journeys, there are fewer cars on our roads which reduces congestion and harmful levels of air pollution. We first ran Try20 for National Walking Month in 2016, over 7000 people pledged to take part and we had stories back of people feeling fitter, losing weight, saving money and seeing more people – lots of big differences from small steps!

There is walking and walking! Solid quick walking obviously would increase fitness but what benefits would walking on the school run reap?

The Chief Medical Officer recommends that adults are active for 150 minutes per week, in bouts of 10 minutes or more, to stay healthy. Many people don’t realise that walking counts and so choosing to walk some – or all – of the way to school is an easy way to get these minutes adding up. It doesn’t have to be a race; to make the most of the health benefits of walking, we should be walking at a speed at which our breathing rate and heartbeat increases but we can still carry on a conversation – perfect walk to school pace.

For 2017 Living Streets have commissioned an extensive survey to find the best cities for walking judged on a range of criteria, including safety, air pollution and street clutter. Has a winner been announced yet? If not, who is in the running?

In the running are the top 10 largest UK cities by population: Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Manchester, London, Liverpool and Sheffield. We’ll be announcing the winner in May so watch this space!

When I was in Rome I walked everywhere in the city centre – it is a compact city. For UK, I was quite impressed with Bath – I walked everywhere there too, mainly because the traffic jams were horrendous and it was quicker to walk to my destination than take the bus! Which cities inside & outside of the UK do you think are pretty walkable?

I always like an excuse to take a trip to our Edinburgh office because it’s so easy to get around there on foot and the views are amazing when you do. The public transport links are great and they’ve recently introduced 20mph limits in built up areas so it all feels a lot safer – hiring a car when I’m up there never has to cross my mind! Melbourne in Australia has been classed as one of the world’s most liveable cities. They’ve had a ‘Local Connectivity Plan’ since 2014 which aims to build a network of neighbourhoods with access to social, leisure and retail facilities within a 20 minute walk of people’s home. I’ve not been myself but my colleague has and she loved how easy it was to get around on foot and how accessible everything was. I was lucky enough to hear Janette Sadik-Khan speak recently, she was New York City’s transportation commissioner and oversaw some historic changes to the city’s streets to make them more people-friendly, including closing Broadway to cars in Times Square. There’s lots of great stuff going on around the world which we can learn from to help us put people before vehicles in our cities.

Although the whole of May is dedicated to walking, which key events will be held to help fundraise for future walking projects etc?

Tuesday 16th May is Happy Shoesday! On the Tuesday of Walk to School Week in May each year, primary school pupils, parents and teachers across the country raise money for our walking projects, by wearing their happy shoes and donating £1. Shiny, decorated, colourful, cartoon, gorilla feet – whatever brings that smile on their walk to school. We’re more than happy for anyone to take part and join in on social media #HappyShoesday – I’ll certainly be wearing my Happy Shoes to work! You can find out how to join the fun on our website: https://www.livingstreets.org.uk/happyshoesday

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing when off for your 20 minute walk?

Lots of people say they can be put off walking by the weather but I always say, it’s not about the weather; it’s about what you wear! So, if rain is forecast I make sure I’m prepared and it’ll usually be a pair of boots – a simple pair of black leather boots, normally.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

For the High Street, I love Zara – and I’m a bit of an asos-fiend. The great thing about being based in East London is that on my way to the station, I pass a range of independent shops where I can always pick up something a bit different.

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

Jimmy Choos – if/when I become a millionaire! Until then, the nicer weather is as much of an excuse as I need to pick up a few new bits when I get inspired. I’ve got a couple of friends’ weddings coming up so I’m on the look-out for some nice dresses.

Boots or Shoes?

I definitely own more boots so it’ll have to be boots.

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers of the blog can learn more about Living Streets & National Walking Month.

www.livingstreets.org.uk/nationalwalkingmonth
Follow us on Twitter @livingstreets or join in the conversation with #Try20

Thanks Tanya for the great tips to get everybody motivated and walking, wherever you are in the world!  I do love walking around the seawall that surrounds my village although it is a walk I don’t really do often enough – my husband puts me to shame as he does the 5+ mile walk on a daily basis! Dear readers, do you love walking? Have you got any favourite walking spots? Do share your views, I’d love to know.

Linda x

All main photos are published with kind permission from Living Streets. The Fitbit pin picture was taken by myself.

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An Interview With Ruth Emily Davey (RED Shoes)

From Machynlleth in Wales, my guest this week is the lovely shoemaker Ruth Emily Davey who has been making handcrafted shoes designed to last for over 12 years. She began shoemaking when she was apprenticed to designer shoemaker Alan James Raddon – she still makes Alan’s designs under licence as well as having a range of her own designs too. In 2016 she travelled to Mexico and Japan to investigate the passing down of shoemaking techniques between master and apprentice; in 2013 she won a QEST scholarship to study more about tweed on the Isle of Lewis; plus she has trained to be a reflexologist so she really does know how to create shoes that benefit your feet.  I caught up with Ruth recently to find out more. Hi Ruth….

Hi! My name is Ruth Emily Davey. I am a Shoemaker, trading under my label Ruth Emily Davey or RED Shoes. I make footwear for people from all walks of life from my shop in Machynlleth, Wales which I opened in May 2016. My shoes are made to the unique shape of your feet, so they are broad in the toe box, narrow under the arch and flat, which is much better for your body. They are made from bespoke Italian leathers which last for years and years and are repairable too.

What was the inspiration behind your venture into shoemaking?

I am from an art based background, so I had just finished 3 years of Art college and was a bit unsure of what to do next, lots of my friends were going on to university and I felt like I wanted to do something much more creative and hands on instead of spending hours writing about conceptual art projects. It’s all about who you know in Wales and Alan was a friend of a friend and my mum had heard he was looking for an apprentice. I went to see him, we clicked and it began as an informal apprenticeship which developed into a 5 yeas of learning how to make shoes and also how to run a business (Alan left his successful career in advertising to begin life in Wales in the 1970s). This was 12 years ago so I have been making shoes independently of Alan for 7 years. I have won several awards for my work which has really helped boost my business. I am a Balvenie Young master of craft, a QEST Scholar and a WCMT fellow and I have been on judging panels with Kevin McCloud, all of which has helped me on my way.

You still produce shoemaker Alan James Raddon’s designs under licence as well as having your own range of designs. What styles are popular requests?

So I had the need to breathe individuality into my work as well as continue the legacy of Alan’s designs after I had finished my apprenticeship and so I made a range of boots which are really popular amongst my own age group. The Shandals®, which are Alan’s creation are timeless and people of all ages wear them all over the world as they are so unique looking and really good for the feet.

Have you got a favourite style from your collection?

I have been busy making a collection of footwear using handwoven cloth from my travels and I love the combinations of leather and fabrics together, I am greatly inspired by colour.

Early in 2016 you were awarded the Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship which enabled you to visit both Mexico & Japan to investigate the passing down of techniques between master & apprentice. What were the most interesting/ surprising things that you learnt whilst in Mexico & Japan? Do you use any techniques/ideas that you learnt whilst abroad in your shoemaking nowadays?

The trip was one of the best times of my life. I got to visit small indigenous weavers in Mexico and amazing craftspeople all over Japan that continue the work of their ancestors. I learned so much about what craftsmen and women put into their work and it reaffirmed the reason why I believe making things are such an important part of our skills as human beings. I also learned a lot about the passing on of skills and how important it is to bring forward the work of our past. Like here in the UK, for example, we have a kind of devotion to the handmade product but there is masses of infrastructure to encourage us to bring workmanship from abroad instead of employing the hands of people here. It means there are thousands of young people with no skill sets and as time goes on people are becoming emptyhanded and a bit depressed. Skills are becoming lost or forgotten and I think that is criminal. There needs to be way more support for individual apprenticeships to bring back the revival of cottage industry. Children need to be taught hands on skills and creative education needs to be brought back into education to bring forward a new generation of makers and creative thinkers.

Which famous person would you love to see as the “face” of RED?

That’s a good question! Hmm Natalie Portman because she has nice feet! And I always wanted to get a power woman like Alex Polizzi in my shoes, I always see so many celebrities teetering around in high heels and their feet are so squashed it must be excruciating! I always think they would look so much better in shoes that are the right shape for their feet and COMFORTABLE so they can feel grounded and powerful and their toes would look so much better!

Looking ahead to Spring/Summer 2017 – what new colours/styles do you hope to introduce?

I can make shoes in pretty much any colour and I love seeing outside inspirations coming through people’s choices, so someone can walk into the shop and choose combinations that I would never have expected to go together or they might have always dreamed about a pair of scarlet brogues or sapphire blue suedes and it’s an amazing feeling to be able to fulfil that inner desire. I recently made a pair of bright red/yellow/green brogues for a woman in her 60s who was determined to turn heads as she walks down the high-street. I love making shoes for men and and women of all ages, from all sorts of backgrounds.

Although you are based in Wales, are your shoes & boots available to purchase overseas?

I am based in Wales but have a postal order service so you can send your measurements and I post you a fitting. This means you can order my shoes from anywhere in the world. I have several customers in the USA and Australia and all over Europe. It’s always nice to meet the person you are making shoes for though and this week a lady from Sweden came all the way to my workshop to order her shoes in person.

You won a QEST scholarship in 2013 which helped you to study more about tweed on the Isle of Lewis and also enabled you to train as a reflexologist. How important was it to you that you trained in reflexology and how has it helped with your shoe designing?

I think Reflexology is such a fascinating and deeply ancient practise, I wanted to learn more about the feet from a holistic perspective and the course has been great at really understanding how important the feet are and how many ailments can be targeted through reflexes in the feet. We so often bundle the feet into shoes that are totally immovable; we have lost the connection we should have to the earth and as a result SO many problems begin with the feet. You only have to walk barefoot in grass for 10 minutes a day to feel the benefits and although I am a shoemaker I tend to be barefoot as much as possible!

With travel on my mind, if you could visit any other place to study footwear/shoemaking or just to gain inspiration – where would it be and why?

So many places… I would love to go back and spend 6 months solidly learning how to make traditional Huarches in Mexico (one day..) and in terms of fabrics there is some really interesting places all over the middle east, India and Africa. One day I will have made shoes from fabrics from every continent in celebration of the work of craftspeople all over the world.

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

I can normally be found wearing boring black suede ankle boots despite having access to literally any shade of any colour under the sun.. but I love unusual designers and cuts in clothing that are really original so you know you are the only one wearing it.

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

My friend Haley Trezise is a great designer with unique style, see www.raggedyrags.co.uk

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

I only wear my own shoes, I have tried other shoe designs that I like but it just feels wrong! I love quite understated but unusual clothes but often don’t have time to search for them. I am 8 months pregnant right now so all I am looking for are nice stretchy clothes at the second!

Boots or Shoes?

I find a short ankle boot goes with nearly everything. I also have a pair of gold brogues which I love wearing at the moment.

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc so that readers can find out more about you & your footwear.

www.ruthemilydavey.co.uk

www.facebook.com/ruthemilydavey

www.instagram.com/ruthemilydavey

http://twitter.com/RuthEmilyDavey

PHOTO TO PIN LATER:

 

Thank you Ruth for joining me on the blog today and I hope all goes well with the birth.  I love the bright colours and I do so love the Shandal … in fact I would like all the shoes in your photos! 🙂 So, dear readers, what colour combinations would you go for? For me, a combination of turquoise, teal & cobalt blue would be my choice.  What about you? Do share your thoughts, I’d love to know!

Linda x

All photos published with kind permission of Ruth Emily Davey.

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An Interview With Henrik Jeppesen

I love travelling. I am an avid armchair traveller too – watching documentaries about far away places, reading travel blogs and magazines like National Geographic. As a child I used to look at my globe and atlas for hours on end. Maps fascinated me – still do.  So this week I’m pleased to welcome onto the blog somebody whose Facebook page fills me with delight when a new photo or update is posted. He has made being a traveller a profession.  He has visited every single country in the world.  He has lots of stories to tell.  And he has taken time out of his busy schedule to chat to me! Welcome to the blog, Henrik Jeppesen! ….

On the island of Socotra

Hi! I’m Henrik, 28 years old. I’ve spent 3,000+ days to visit every country in the world.

From 2006 to 2016 you have visited every country in the world. What made you decide that you wanted to do that?

Inspired by watching TV and foreign films about the different countries around the world. Then I set a goal of visiting 50 countries and then 100 countries. I decided to go for all of them as I became more comfortable travelling.

I was a geography geek as a child (still am) with my head in an atlas or in a guidebook – I’m quite happy being an armchair traveller (reading & watching TV programmes) as well as exploring the world for myself. Did you have a fascination with countries as a small child?

Don’t remember exactly when it started, but might have been my early teenage years. Liked geography in school as it was one of the few things I liked about going to school.

You grew up in Denmark, so apart from your own country, what was the first country you visited?

Must have been a short trip to Germany. The first big trip on my own was to Egypt when I was 17.

Have you got any favourite destinations and why are they specifically at the top of your list?

Many favourites for different reasons. South Africa, New Zealand and Italy are three. South Africa as it has so much to offer. New Zealand for the beautiful nature and Italy for the food.

What place is your least favourite and why?

My driver went to prison in South Sudan for taking a photo of me in front of a building. They wanted to throw me into prison as well, but after they checked my camera, they let me go.

Corinthia Hotel Khartoum, Sudan 2013

We all have preconceived ideas of what a country will be like – what country totally took you by surprise and was totally opposite of what you thought it would be?

There are many, but Rwanda would be one of them. I had very low expectations, but it’s a surprisingly great country that feels well organised. In that part of the world you normally have a bad infrastructure and a lot of problems to deal with as a traveller, but not in Rwanda. It’s such a beautiful country as well. Paying 5 dollars for a bus ticket across the country is one of the best things you can do.

Your current aim is to visit every territory in the world – are you rattling through them at a pace?

No, I am taking it slowly like I did with every country. 3,000 days of travel is a lot and it will take me some time to visit every territory as well.

Rwanda 2013

I love travelling & flying but I hate airports! What’s your favourite and least favourite airports?

Tel Aviv Ben Gurion International Airport, Israel is the worst airport experience. First, I joined the queue for foreigners where they asked me questions that no other airport in the world has asked me. They wanted to see my Eritrea visa, hotel reservation in Eritrea and it just felt like they didn’t believe a word of what I was saying. Horrible and other travellers have had similar experiences. The questions are one thing, but the security is the worst experience I have ever had at an airport. They don’t treat you like a human being and they make you feel so uncomfortable you don’t want to ever visit Israel again. They are searching every single little piece of your bag like no other airport. They are touching you like no other airport is touching you. They wouldn’t allow my brand new Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge (a gift from my father), to be in its case for security and as a result, I got scratches on the screen. I complained, but the staff screamed at me and there was nothing to do. If you ever want to visit Israel, make sure you are at the airport three hours before on the way out and prepare for at least a couple of hours of absolute horror.
Favourite: Not sure. I also don’t like airports.

Henrik’s only car accident that happened near Cite Soleil in Haiti, the most dangerous place in the world.

Do you have a favourite mode of travel?

By car in the countryside of countries I like.

Some places are notoriously difficult to enter or are normally closed to outsiders, eg North Korea, Syria, Afghanistan. Which place was the most difficult to enter & how did you manage it? Which place scared you or made you feel most uncomfortable/unsafe?

There are different requirements for visiting the different countries around the world. Equatorial Guinea was really hard but managed to get my visa in Lagos (Nigeria) after writing about myself on a piece of paper. Saudi Arabia is very difficult for tourism so went on a business visa and had Radisson Blu sponsoring it.

North Korea

Let’s talk food. Which country, in your opinion, has the best cuisine so far? And the worst?

Best are Italy and France for sure. Worst was North Korea. I didn’t eat much there as it was just horrible. Thought I couldn’t go wrong with icecream but it was terrible as well.

Has it all been plain sailing or do you have any memorable disasters?

Food poisoning in the Andaman Islands, India. In a destination without luxury hotels, Ixzire (with a Tripadvisor rating of 5) was one of the best options in the Andaman Islands, located between the Indian mainland and Thailand. While the property was fine, the dinner on the first evening was the beginning of the worst six months of my life. A fish curry made me seriously sick where I couldn’t breathe properly. After three days I tried to fly back to the mainland, but it was the worst flight of my life. The cabin crew gave me oxygen and asked for a doctor. I had to lay down for the entire flight. I couldn’t even sit up for landing. I arrived in Chennai, and it took me a week before I was able to fly again. The problems with my breathing ability came back multiple times over the coming months. Lesson learned. Be very careful about what you eat.

Interviewed By Yemen Today

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing when in travelling aeroplane mode?

I travel very light. Jeans, shirt and everyday-use shoes.

Do you go shopping for clothes/accessories whilst travelling? If so, which country was shopping a pleasant or otherwise experience?

I live minimalistic. Everything I own can be in a small backpack. Life for me is not about owning things, but experiences.

Bonaire in the Caribbean, 2013

What items of clothing/footwear/accessories are your “essentials” when travelling?

I try to avoid travelling places where I would need a jacket so I don’t need to travel with much clothes.

Boots or Shoes?  

Shoes. Lightest weight 🙂

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers of the blog can follow your adventures

You can follow Henrik’s travels and get his tips on Facebook,Twitter, Instagram and his blog.

At the time of this publication, Henrik is currently exploring South Georgia Island – catch his beautiful photos of the island and its beautiful penguin inhabitants.  It certainly is an island that has captured his heart.  Dear readers, what destination is number 1 on your bucket list? Do share your dreams….

PIN FOR LATER: 

Linda’s travels – Madeira 2016

Linda x

All photos (apart from the pin later photo) have been published with kind permission of Henrik Jeppesen. Photo Credits: HenrikTravel.com;  Pin Later Photo: Linda Hobden 

 

 

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