An Interview With Sally Morgan

September 26th, 2014

Embarking on her Autumn UK tour,  I managed to catch up with Sally Morgan, better known as TV’s Psychic Sally… you may have seen the lovely, bubbly Sally  in her TV series “Star Psychic, in Psychic Sally Big Fat Operation, in Sky Living’s Psychic Sally On The Road, as well as appearances on Channel 4’s Come Dine With Me Halloween Special and Big Brother’s Bit On the Side with Rylan Clark.  Sally has a big passion for fa shion too, so a big warm welcome to the blog….image

Hi, I am Sally Morgan aka Psychic Sally. I am often referred to as an ordinary woman with an extraordinary gift…I believe that I can connect with people on the other side. I am currently touring theatres in the UK with my interactive show Psychic Sally On The Road, I am also the star of several TV shows and an author. When I am not working my most favourite hobby is shopping! Shoes and bags are my biggest obsession!

Congratulations on being recognised as one of the top 5 psychics in the world after being tested by Professor Gary Schwartz, a Harvard University Ph D graduate. What sort of tests did you go through as part of his experiment?

There were lots of different tests often referred to as ‘blind on blind’ wheimagere I give information about a person that I have not met. It was a fascinating project to be involved in and I think I left a lot of people speechless with the information I gave. The validation given would have been difficult for even the biggest skeptic to pull apart.

You had your first psychic experience with an appearance of a ghost at around the age of 4. Were you not frightened at such a tender age? When did you first realise you had this psychic ability?

My ability has always been something that is just within me, I have never known any different. When I was 4 I had no idea what it was. I just remember one day being told off at nursery when I asked if my grandad could stay. The teachers said no and I pointed at another older gentleman in the room and shouted that it wasn’t fair that another little girl could have her Grandad there. What I didn’t realise is that this man did not exist in real life. Only I could see him!

In your 20s you used your psychic abilities as a sort of party piece but soon your excellent reputation attracted an extensive client list including celebrities and royalty – reading for Princess Diana for 4 years. Did you realise that your psychic abilities would shape your career or as a child did you yearn to follow a different career path?

imageIf I am honest I had no idea that I would end up working as a medium full time. (I use the word medium as someone who is in touch with spirit but a more generic term is psychic.) When I was about 15 my mother took me to a spiritualist church where a very famous psychic of that time told me that I would go on to do great things with my ability. I honestly had no idea at that time that I would use it as any more then a party piece. I got a job as a dental nurse in my 20’s which I loved but outside of work I was starting to build up a client base. I had people from all different walks of life wanting to see me, and soon people started coming to my house for readings. It grew very organically, at one point I was known as ‘London’s best-kept secret’. In my early 30’s I realised that I had enough demand to work as a medium full time and so that is what I did. I set up my own practice at my home and took bookings all day long. I haven’t looked back since! If I hadn’t of developed naturally into working as a full time medium my dream job would have been to be a fashion or interior designer. I have a real eye and passion for fabrics, textures and colours.

imageLaunching in the TV spotlight in 2007 with your TV series Star Psychic, you went on to star in other TV programmes & documentaries such as Psychic Sally Big Fat Operation, a fly on the wall documentary showing your life changing weight loss operation. What were the main differences you noticed, other than weight loss obviously, after the operation compared to Sally before the op? Did people’s attitudes change or have you more stamina to get through your gruelling tour schedule?

The biggest change for me was that at the end of a 2-hour show I could still stand! Seriously, before the operation my feet and ankles use to swell and I would be in agony at the end of an evening. This may sound silly but it was something really simple that really made me stop and recognise the change. I was walking down my stairs at home and when I got to the bottom step I sprung off it, like I was as light as a feather. I hadn’t done that for years! I know wear clothes that I never thought I would, jeans, dresses etc. People are often staggered at my weight loss, when you compare pictures of my before and after, it is like looking at someone different. Like anything in life you have to take the bad with the good. Most people are very supportive but there are always those they feel you have changed as a person because you are thinner and perhaps put more value on how you look. But the truth is I am still the same old Sally. Even when I was bigger I still loved fashion – I always dressed in bright colours and wanted the latest trends. It really was a health decisions. After suffering a mild heart attack I was told by the doctors that I had to lose weight – it was literally a life or death decision.

imageYour successful Sky Living series Psychic Sally on the Road provided an unique insight on your hectic tour schedule and home life. You have toured the UK for over 7 years performing over 120 shows a year – and are just about to tour the UK again ( I will be putting your tour dates in the article) You have also taken your interactive show to Australia, with a hope to tour there again in 2015. What do you most enjoy about touring? Any secrets on how you keep your stamina going that you can share?

There are two main things I love about touring 1. Is meeting so many amazing people all with an interest in the afterlife and 2. Learning more about spirit and how they interact. Since being on tour I have taken my understanding of  the spirit world to the next level, really developing my knowledge of what happens when we pass, the signs spirit give us and how they interact with one another. You will often hear me say that ‘spirit orchestrates the evening’, this is completely true. I never know what is going to happen on any night, I put all my trust in spirit and that the messages will get to the right people. I have always been a bubbly and energetic person and I am lucky to have a great support network around me, which makes life on the road much easier. I always stock up on bananas for energy and make sure I drink plenty of fluids…and of course the odd cup of tea!

You are an author too of 4 books – My Psychic Life, Healing Spirits, Life After Death, My Heavenly Truth, and you are currently writing your 5th book, Call Me Psychic, due out early 2015. Do you find writing therapeutic? What sort of book genre do you like reading? Favourite books or authors?

I love reading  motivational books and one of my favourite authors has to be Deepak Chopra. I have always enjoyed writing and it was always a dream of mine to write a book. I can’t believe I am now writing my 5th! It is very therapeutic and for me, taking the time to reflect on my life and work is very rewarding to me.

imageYou won Channel 4’s Come Dine With Me Halloween Special, beating various celebs including Robert Englund (aka Freddie Kreuger). Did you enjoy the experience?

We had so much fun making the show. I am a bit of an entertainer so I put a lot of effort into the evening – hiring a local dance school to perform their version of Michael Jackson’s Thriller. I also had a couple of friends dressed as Zombies, which certainly gave the neighbours a fright! I really tried to push the boundaries and created completely new recipes for the night…this could have been a disaster but luckily the food turned out brilliantly. I was gobsmacked when they announced me as the winner but it was great being able to give the winnings to my chose charity.

You also appeared on Big Brother’s Bit On The Side With Rylan Clark, sharing your views on the Big Brother 2014 housemates. Did you enjoy that experience? Did you get any psychic experiences relating to the housemates?

I love Rylan, he is such a down-to-earth person with lots of endearing qualities. We have become quite good friends since, as he has always been a big fan of mine. The 2014 Big Brother housemates were certainly unique…I picked up on their true characteristics straight away…I think I will leave that there!! Ha ha

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

On stage I always wear heels, normally from Russell & Bromley as they are so comfy! I wear black trousers and then either a bright or sparkly jacket, which I get specially made. I love a bit of glitz and glamour!  In the day I will often be seen in M&S jeans, flats and a t-shirt or jumper…very casual.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

I love high street brands Zara, Whistles and Weekend Max Mara.
I also love asos.com for online shopping. So much selection and quick delivery – very convenient!

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

I have my eye on a pair of brogues from Russell and Bromley. I would also really love a Burberry Mac!! Ha ha

Boots or Shoes?

Shoes – I find it hard to get boots that fit me as I have big calves so I definitely have more shoes then boots.

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

Facebook: www.facebook.com/sallymorgantv
Twitter: @SallyMorganTV
Website: www.sallymorgan.tv

Thank you very much Sally for taking time out of your busy schedule for a chat – I hope your tour continues to be a success.  So, dear readers, for the list of tour dates for the rest of October and November, press HERE. So if Sally’s in your town , why not pop along and say hello… she may have a message for you! How fab would that be?

Linda x

Photo Credits: All photos have been published with kind permission from Sally Morgan

An Interview With Jane Goodchild Handbags

September 19th, 2014

This week I’m talking bags with the lovely Jane Goodchild who, after years working with and alongside famous brand names including Calvin Klein, Mulberry, Jimmy Choo, Joseph, Julien MacDonald, to name but a few, launched her own glam brand collection of bags and leather accessories in 2011.  Welcome Jane …image

Hi! I’m Jane Goodchild – I’m getting married in 3 weeks to the love of my life. The other ‘loves of my life’ are handbags, boots, sparkly things, laughter, champagne and my gorgeous cat Monty Grayson!

After graduating from Ravensbourne College with a degree in fashion & textiles you were selected to join Calvin Klein in New York City, where I imagine you gained a wealth of knowledge as you experimented with designing ladies wear, CK Shoes and Collection Handbags. Whilst at College did you always veer towards handbag designing or was the love for handbag/accessory designing cemented whilst at Calvin Klein?

I always wanted to design accessories but my degree was in fashion & textiles. When I went to work at Calvin Klein I saw there was an opportunity to work in this area so I applied for a position in CK Shoes started straight away. Within a week I was shipped off to a shoe factory in Brazil and the rest as they say is history!

Returning back later to the UK as a Freelance Accessories Designer for some of the biggest global brands such as Mulberry, Jimmy Choo, Joseph, Notting Hill Design, Julien MacDonald & Loewe … as well as for High Street collections labels including French Connection and Next. What made you decide that the time was right in 2011 to put your own name to your own collection of bags and leather accessories?

I had always wanted to have my own label, but I was happy working for other designers and continued to learn my craft. After the holiday to Cuba, I felt so inspired that I knew in my heart it was the right time to follow my dream and create my own brand.

imageAfter being mesmerised by the graphics and culture of Cuba following your trip to Havana, the Star logo and medal chain that features on all your bags was born. What was it about Cuba that really captured your imagination & inspired your first collection?

There was a sense of freedom and contentment amongst the people. They were so friendly and happy that it created a very relaxed yet vibrant atmosphere. The colours and revolution graphics were a huge influence on my creative process and formed the foundation for my first collection.

I am absolutely head over heels in love with the stunning metallic orange leather Studded Charm Lamarr bag. To date, what has been your most imagepopular bag ordered from your online site?

I’m glad you love this bag! This bag has been very popular and sold out within weeks this season. The Zulu Loren has been our best seller to date. It’s practical, functional yet still makes a statement in the gold python!

Having stockists in the UK, what bags seem to be more popular in the stores? Have you noticed any differences between fashion tastes in UK & designing for the US market?

I think the UK market is adventurous and likes to be different. They have a very eclectic style and like mixing labels and trends to create a very unique look. The US market is a little more classic and conservative, but like interesting details and good quality.

imageOut of all the handbags that you’ve designed, what is or has been your favourite?

My favourite bag I’ve designed is the Mansfield Tote. It’s a huge bag which I love as I carry everything around with me. I love the black hair calf we have detailed this season, so tactile!

If you had the chance to design a handbag for any famous lady in the world (living or dead) who would you like to see flaunting your handbag?

I think it would have to be a Hollywood Film star. All our bags are named after old Hollywood film stars so it would have to be either Marilyn Monroe or Audrey Hepburn.

What colours are going to dominate your collection this season, and looking ahead to SS15, what do you hope or foresee as being the trendy colours or styles?

For AW’14 we have a lot of black, gold and ruby red. For next season we are looking at vintage blue, a metallic grey/silver, hot pink and tan.
A varied, but very vibrant pallet.

imageWe’ve already established that Cuba was a source of inspiration, are there any other locations that have also given you inspiration? Are there any cities/locations/countries you wouldn’t mind visiting for inspiration for future ranges?

I would love to spend more time in the Far East and Asia. Shanghai, Beijing and Tokyo are all on my list. I also love South America so would love to explore more the culture and traditions of this part of the world.

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

I can always be found in skinny jeans, tunic top/shirt and boots or Haviannas. I always have a statement piece of jewellery on too to jazz up any outfit, either a bold necklace or ring – I do love costume jewellery and hope to design my own collection one day.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I love COS and Zara for high street shopping. My go to online sites would be Net-a -Porter or The Outnet for a designer bargain!

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

On my wish list this season is a pair of Marni boots and a new winter coat from Malene Birger. I love her collections, always so many great shapes and fabrics.

Boots or Shoes? 

Boots Always. I love them! They are so versatile and just go with every outfit. I have loads of pairs, my favorite being a pair of Pierre hardy knee high leather boots with an amazing cantilever heel.

Links you would like to share e.g. website/Facebook etc. so that readers can find out more about Jane Goodchild Handbags.

www.janegoodchild.com
Facebook: Jane Goodchild Handbags
Twitter: JaneGoodchildBags@Jane_Goodchild
Instagram: Janegoodchildhandbags

Thank you Jane, your bags are an absolute delight and I love the fact that you’re a “boot” girl too! I hope your wedding goes splendidly and I wish you a long and happy married life :)  So readers,  what glam bag took your fancy? Do tell….

Linda x

Photo Credits:  Photos have been published with kind permission from Jane Goodchild

An Interview With La Esmeralda

September 12th, 2014

Mainland Europe is the destination of the blog this week to chat in the hauntingly beautiful area of North Germany to the equally hauntingly beautiful alternative gothic model, La Esmeralda.  This gorgeous dark haired beauty – who loves fairytales, gothic, burlesque, cosplay and animals according to her website profile – not only has a stunning face and figure, but she is a talented photographer and dressmaker too.  A big warm welcome Esmeralda:image

Hello! My name is Esmeralda and I am a 25 year old alternative model from Kiel, Germany.

You started modelling in 2009 and as well as posing you often do your own make up, design and create your own fairytale dresses and take self-portraits, too. Also you have a full time job as a media designer and product photographer. What a busy bee! So, when you were a child, did you hope to be a model or photographer or fashion designer or make up artist …?

No, I never planned to do that. I had always been a very creative person, was interested in crafting and drawing and many other things but actually planned to become a latin teacher. I started taking photos with my friends just for fun and soon I also started modeling in a bit more professional way. Still, I had never expected anything like this to happen because I just did what I liked.

imageWhat inspired you to try your hand at modelling? Why did you choose the fab brand name of La Esmeralda to launch your modelling career?

I can’t really say what inspired me to start. I wanted to take some photos with my horse (I was riding until I was 18), dressed up as a gothic princess and went to the forest to take some photos with a friend. I loved it so much and really soon I started to do more and more shoots. Esmeralda was just the name that I always used for my video game characters and similar stuff. When I wanted to create an account at deviantArt Esmeralda was already chosen by someone else so I put the “La” in front of it… and then I kept this name as I had no better idea. Today I think that it was a pretty good choice as many people always compared me to this character anyway.

You are a beautiful alternative gothic model that has achieved (I think!) the perfect balance between the dark broody gothic/rock chick look with the romantic fairytale princess feminine edge and with a spluttering of respectable yet sultry sexiness . Knowing that you don’t do any nude or fetish photoshoots, have you been on any unusual or strange modelling locations? Have you had any strange/unusual/bizarre modelling experiences?

Hmm no, I don’t think so.

imageTo date, what has been your most favourite photoshoot?

At the end of 2013 I had a wonderful shoot at Wildtierhilfe Fiel, not far from my town. They take care of wild animals that have got hurt and they were all so lovely and fluffy, I could cuddle them all day. It was just amazing. I will just share our behind the scenes video with you:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CccfWzSwiuY
By the way, they are always happy about donations, in fact they need that to survive. I am the godmother of Lotta the otter baby from the video, so to speak, and donate some money for her each month :)

Is there any style of photoshoot /modelling / famous photographer that you would like to try that you haven’t yet experienced?

I am sure there are some but at the moment can’t think of anything I really want to do that I haven’t done or planned yet. When I started modeling I was a huge fan of Annie Bertram, Silent View and Viona Art – I was so happy when I had had the chance to work with these talented photograhers. In fact I worked with Annie for several times already and always love meeting her.

imageYou have a passion for make up that started when you were a young girl – what make up items are your favourite essentials? Have you a favourite brand or two?

I am afraid I don’t have any favourites. I just take care to only buy products that are cruelty free and I also buy drugstore products. At the moment I use a lot of make-up from KIKO because I like the quality, the price and that they do not test on animals.

You’re well known for wearing lots of gorgeous corsets and having a gorgeous hourglass figure and a naturally tiny waist, you must be a godsend to corset makers! Do you do any special exercises/workouts to maintain your waistline? What do you feel are the advantages/disadvantages/differences between made-to-measure corsets and cheaper ready made corsets?

No, actually I don’t. I am very lucky that I have this figure and must admit that I am a bit lazy when it comes to doing workouts but eat a lot of chocolate instead. I love dancing and do some different things every now and then. Some years ago I also did bellydancing but at the moment I don’t have the time for that, even though I would like to start again.
The differences between a made-to-measure corset and a cheaper ready made one are GIANT. Made-to-measure corsets are way more comfortable, you can wear them all day long without any pain and you can reduce your waist a lot better. I also started with buying some cheap ones and still have some but these days I would always prefer to spend more money on a made-to-measure and unique corset than buying a cheap one and damage my body.

imageAnother favourite past time of yours is sewing – you have made many of your beautiful dresses that you model in? What was the first item of clothing you’ve ever made? Have you had any sewing failures? What’s your favourite item that you’ve made?

Oh I had so many failures already, I bet everyone has! The first dress I made was one of them: it was from panne velvet and I never wore it because the fabric was so horrible. But it was cheap so I guess that is okay 😀 My second dress however was a medieval dress that I still like a lot. About favourites – I think I have two favourite dresses. A red / black velvet dress that I created for last years WGT and a green/black one that I made for Father Sebastiaan’s vampire ball in Berlin.

imageYou have a personal interest in photography – as reflected in both your job as a media designer and product photographer as well as some of your modelling self portraits. Apart from those fields, what photographs do you enjoy taking for pleasure?

Sadly there is not much time left for taking any other photos as I work most of the time.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing when not modelling?

Comfortable things that are preferably black, band shirts or geeky stuff, as well as some very elegant goth things with a touch of fantasy. And while I never would wear jeans for photo shoots I do wear them in real life.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Ebay 😉

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

That is quite a long list. At the moment I am planning to sew three or four new dresses for different upcoming events, I hope I get them done in time.

Boots or Shoes?

Fun fact: I hate shoes, except for sparkling high heels. If I go to a shop because I need new “normal” shoes I get super frustrated and leave after 5 minutes because I don’t like anything.

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

https://www.facebook.com/Alternative.Model.La.Esmeralda
http://modellaesmeralda.blogspot.de/
http://la-esmeralda.deviantart.com/
http://model-la-esmeralda.tumblr.com/
http://instagram.com/modellaesmeralda

Thank you very much Esmeralda for chatting to me this evening –  it’s been a real pleasure and a delight to view those wonderful dresses!  

Linda x

CREDITS:

PHOTOGRAPHERS: Hanny Honeymoon; Ashtray Arts Photography; La Esmeralda; Alex Blyg; Annie Bertram

CO-MODEL: Lobo/Wildtierhilfe Fiel

HEADDRESS: Jumeira Creations; Elegant Curiosities

DRESSES: La Esmeralda; Royal Black; Johanna Macht

NECKLACES: Von-Uebel Design; Gothic Elegance

CORSET: Royal Black

An Interview With Carol E Wyer

September 5th, 2014

Bucket lists – have you ever made one?  A list of things you hope to see or do before you reach a certain age or before you die, perhaps?  I haven’t personally but my younger sons had preprinted bucket lists from the National Trust, I think it was, detailing a list of activities to achieve by the age of 11….including rolling down a hill, climb a tree, play pooh sticks, skim stones, etc My sons were chuffed that they had crossed off most of the things on the list.  Perhaps you’ve seen the articles on subjects such as 100 places to see before you die … a wishlist that would be nice to fill out… ; some bucket lists are a lot more challenging, thought provoking, and life changing.  I’ve been chatting to the lovely author Carol E Wyer  this week, whose 7th humorous book, Three Little Birds, was published by Safkhet Publishing on 15th August about this very subject…. a big warm welcome Carol:image

Hello! I’m Carol E. Wyer (no I won’t tell you what the E stands for) AKA Facing 50 although I am facing it from the wrong direction now. I write humorous books aimed at helping people to grow old disgracefully and hopefully make them laugh. Recently I took a crash course in stand up and now tour the UK and France with my comedy talk Smile While You Still Have Teeth – phew! Are you still reading or have I bored you yet?

Your 7th humorous novel, Three Little Birds, published by Safkhet Publishing was launched on the 15th August. Your book is based on two female best friends, one who has struggled after her daughter’s death and her divorce; the other coping with life after a riding accident left her paralysed. On New Year’s Eve, after consuming much wine, they write bucket lists that test their friendship and strengths. For the launch of this book you decided to undertake four of the featured in the book life-affirming challenges plus a bonus challenge – zipwire, belly dancing, bushtucker trial, indoor skydive and zorbing. Where did you get inspiration from to write this novel?

imageInspiration always comes from many sources and indeed takes considerable time to be structured into a novel. There were a few reasons I wrote the book. Firstly, I am one of those irritatingly cheerful people who thinks that no matter how old you are or what life has thrown at you, you can change certain elements by being brave and having a go at different things – whether that be changing your job, taking up a hobby or, as in the case of this book, writing a ‘carpe diem’ list. When I was in my late teens and early twenties I suffered from spinal problems that meant I spent far too much time in hospital and later after an invasive procedure, had a period of time when I was paralysed myself. Fortunately it was a temporary paralysis but it made me appreciate my life more thereafter. I wrote a list out in my forties and tried to complete all the physically challenging things on it as I have osteoarthritis, and at some point I’ll be struggling again, so best to get these things in while you can. Inspiration for some of the characters came from real people, including a lady called Priscilla who writes a blog called The Wheelchair Mommy who impressed me hugely with her vivacity and positive attitude in spite of her disability. Like Mercedes in the book she is a paraplegic. Charlie Blunkett, a hospital radio presenter for Coastway Radio became the inspiration for Charlie the radio presenter although she is only the inspiration and nothing like Charlie in the book and even Bert the mischievous parrot is an online friend! It is also intended to motivate others into having a go at challenges, after all, you have no idea where they make take you. There’s a list of 100 possibilities at the end of the book.

I hear you are a bit of a daredevil, having already learnt to fly a helicopter; driven a quad bike up a mountainside; swum with dolphins; took kickboxing classes; experienced working abroad; took a crash course in comedy…. so, with the extra “launch” challenges… which challenges have you enjoyed the most?

Haha! Not really a daredevil. These are quite tame compared to some of the possibilities available. I enjoyed them all although I kept getting the quad bike stuck on raised mounds. The biggest thrill was flying. There is not really much to compare to the adrenaline rush you get when you take off for the first time flying solo in a Robinson 22.

Your career started in teaching English in an American language school in Casablanca, Morocco before moving back to the UK to teach English as a foreign language in a private school. I guess both experiences have given you a lot of inspiration when writing. What are your fondest memories of teaching?image

I loved teaching. I taught all ages from small children to grown adults. The best memory though was at the American Language School where I taught three classes of children aged 8-14. At the end of the year all the teachers and classes had to sing a popular song. I am the world’s worst at singing but hey ho! It was my job so I chose something fun. My classes sang the Frog Chorus – We All Stand Together by Paul McCartney. They spent the afternoon making frog masks and sang it perfectly. At the end they all cheered like mad and applauded me until I felt like some sort of superstar. The ambience was terrific. All the proud parents kept thanking me and the students kept hugging me. It was very special.

You have written a series of educational yet amusing books for children, and since 2010 you turned your attention to the adult market. What made you realise that you wanted to write books? What impact did teaching make to your new career path?

I have been writing short stories since those days when I was stuck on hospital wards. I started writing then about the funny side of being on a ward. I sent all the stories to my friends and family who thought they were hilarious. Eventually, I got better, finished my degree and moved abroad. Morocco was the perfect place for inspiration. I would drive home on my velosolex motorbike, avoiding donkeys and come up with stories for children, then write them when I got home. They had titles like Humphrey the Camel and the Dustbin Cats. Teaching languages clearly influenced my writing because I then moved into stories, still with amusing animal themes, that taught French to young children aged 3 upwards and even had a series of songs produced to accompany them. They got used in schools with much success. It was when I was facing 50 myself that I decided there wasn’t enough humorous material for women my age. Chick Lit was for younger women, historical romances weren’t my cup of tea and I wanted to read books that had heroines and real characters in them that had lived life. My books aren’t so much ‘they all live happy ever after’ as ‘they started off happy ever after…now what?’ I decided that I would take my brand of observational humour and weave it into books and novels aimed at women (and men) over 40.

imageLast year you did a crash course in stand-up comedy and performed your comedy talk Smile While You Still Have Teeth to audiences in Lichfield and in October you will be on main stage at the Isle of Wight Literary festival along with celebrities Alan Titchmarsh, Katie Price, Sheila Hancock and novelist Katie Fford. Did you take to performing on stage like a duck to water or do you experience nerves before stepping into the spotlight?

I am such a media whore it is untrue! I can’t get enough of standing up in front of people and making them laugh. It’s a drug. I think teaching helped though. After all, once you’ve faced a class of six foot recalcitrant teenagers and attempted to teach them grammar, anything is easy. It helps too that I can’t see very well and my hearing is failing. I have no idea who is in the front row or if they have nodded off, or indeed, if they are heckling me.

You are currently writing a series of novels and articles aimed at the ‘older’ man and woman. Can you tell us a bit more about the topics you’ll be covering?

I often write about relationships, friendships, ageing process, dealing with retirement, coping with teenagers, grandchildren, enjoying life while you can and generally laughing at the banality of it all. Does it matter if we are getting on? No! What matters is that we make the most of what we have.

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

I read anything and everything but I mostly enjoy thrillers, especially dark psychological thrillers with twists or something amusing like Terry Pratchett or Ben Elton. I am not keen on lengthy novels about Victorian women or war stories. I did English and French Literature at university so now and then I get an urge to go and read Camus or Proust or Chaucer. I really must get that under control.

As much as you like to attempt different challenges, is there any “challenge” or “experience” that would really freak you out or would be a definite no no?

I’d have to draw the line under those challenges that would be too demanding in a physical sense. I would not, for instance, leap out of a plane and parachute down in case I landed incorrectly. I wouldn’t want to spend another five years in hospital getting my spine stuck together again. Wingwalking would be on my list of ‘no ways’ along with anything to do with spiders.

Hospital Radio features in Three Little Birds as well as featuring in a chunk of your life when you were younger and spent 11 weeks flat on your back after undergoing spinal surgery. What songs did you request or enjoy listening to or was it the friendly banter that gave you some respite from being in pain as well as being bored? How important was it to you that in your novel you included the work of the hospital radio?

I remembering requesting Magic Fly by Space, Ma Baker by Boney M and 2-4-6-8 Motorway by Tom Robinson’s Band among others. My msic taste is as eclectic as my reading tastes. The music was important as it is with all teenagers but in truth, it was the presenters who made it all the more interesting and I listened to them all day every day. wanted people to be aware of the importance of hospital radio stations to those stuck in bed and I hope the book succeeds in doing that. I have been lucky to have been on many radio shows and lots of the BBC presenters started life in hospital radio and remember it with a deep fondness. It has given many an apprenticeship in radio and more importantly the radio stations connect those who are unwell and in hospital with life outside and keep them entertained.

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

Always something bright. I don’t do subtle. You’ll invariably find me in red, orange or bright blue trousers or with a bright scarf and very bright earrings. My shoes must match my outfit so today I have orange trousers and orange and red strap sandals. I wear a lot of trousers and jackets or jumpers. My favourite makes are Marc Cain and Paul Smith and I have a few pieces by both.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I don’t do online shopping for clothes but I go to my favourite shop in Solihull called Katherine Draisey that specialises in individual outfits. A couple of Times a year I head off to Germany to Hamburg or Munich and buy Brax trousers and fashionable blouses or jumpers. They always have styles, colours and sizes that fit me.

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

I desperately want a pair of Christian Louboutin boots. Ever since I saw Celia Sawyer on the show Four Rooms, I have wanted a pair. They are so me!

Boots or Shoes? 

Boots. Every time. I have twice as many boots as shoes. I can’t explain why but I feel much more comfortable in boots during autumn and winter than in sandals in summer. It’s probably because I have such big feet and I feel they look smaller in boots.

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 novels.

BLOG http://facing50withhumour.com/
WEBSITE http://www.carolewyer.co.uk/
SAFKEHT PUBLISHING http://www.safkhetpublishing.com/authors/Carol_E_Wyer.htm
FACEBOOK https://www.facebook.com/pages/Carol-E-Wyer/221149241263847
TWITTER https://twitter.com/carolewyer
GOOGLE PLUS https://plus.google.com/u/0/117914391843880994511/about
PINTEREST http://www.pinterest.com/carolewyer/
LINKEDIN https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=116225863&trk
GOODREADS https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5061207.Carol_E_Wyer

Thank you Carol, I’ve really enjoyed chatting to you and I wish your novel every success!  Umm, I wonder, what would be on your Bucket List? …

Linda x

Photo credits: All photos have been published with kind permission from Carol E Wyer. 

Seven Spots – Return Of The Burgundy

August 29th, 2014

imageFor this week’s “seven spots” feature I’m worshipping the return of the gorgeous colour that is burgundy.  Like the fine wine itself, burgundy the colour is enjoying a bit of a renaissance this Autumn.  The colour can be teamed with colours such as black, silver grey, pale pink, white, denim blue and for a real taste of the 1970s/1980s, ochre yellow and forest green.  When it comes to boots, burgundy makes a welcome change from black or tan of the last couple of years.  Beauty wise, the darker red lipstick and black eyeliner take to the stage; and rich burgundy hair colour … ah, yes, a welcome return indeed!  To whet your appetite, here are my seven favourite burgundy spots this week:

Clarks Artisan Ciera Pier Pumps.  These fab shoes feature a perforated leather trim along the edges and as well as being ever so trendy they are ever so comfortable – they have an ortholite sheet footbed.  Ideal work shoes. image Lulu Guinness Pollyanna Burgundy Medium Tote Bag.  You’ve got your work shoes, now here’s the must have bag.  Just perfect for whatever your doing, day or night.image French Connection Red Encrusted Lace Dress.  I hate to mention it, but before long the party season will be upon us… and this dress is worth looking at. It is in stretch cotton with an encrusted lace central panel, cap sleeves and a scallop edged neckline.image Forever 21 Zippered Woven Shorts.  Being young and trendy means that you can get away with wearing shorts all year round… this Autumn dress these up with some black fishnets or fashion opaque tights and some Doc Martens.image Torn By Ronny Kobo Midi Skirt.  I’m not always a fan of skirts, but I do love this one with its sculptural pleats, bold ruching, asymmetrical hem and covered elastic waist.  A versatile skirt for day or night, worn with boots or shoes.image Nasty Gal Red Bud Stud Skirt.  Another skirt that I adore this year! It is knee length with a tapered silhouette, front slit, a burgundy floral crochet overlay with a hot pink layer underneath, to form a partial lining.  Certainly a head turner!image Office Red Gaze Two Part Court.  Another ideal work shoe or smart shoe .. a lovely fresh look with a sensible height heel (never thought I’d say that!)  and for an evening out you could dance all night in these without complaining! image There you go, are you ready for the burgundy invasion?

Linda x

Photo Credits:  Header Photo & MUA Emma Brooks, model: Sian Berry;  Other photos: Lyst.

Seven Spots – Polka Dots

August 22nd, 2014

imageI adore polka dots!  Polka dots are fun and flirty – from the 1950s style vintage dresses through to the sexy tights like the Pamela Mann tights featured in my header photo (part of a dotty collection available from hosiery store Essex’ee Legs). Here are 6 more spots featuring polka dots that I spotted recently:

 

 

1. Herschel Supply Co Khaki Polka Dot Settlement Backpack.  An ideal back-to-college bag or for that late Summer festival. Either way, this cute backpack has a nylon laptop sleeve and media pocket with a pass through port for headphones.image 2. A.L.C. Green Deirdre Polka Dot Sweater.  This jumper would certainly brighten up even the dullest winter day, with its apt colour description being black/highlighter!  It is also pretty warm, being made from 100% wool with the lining made up of 43% alpaca, 43% polyester and 14% water soluable.  Just add jeans!image 3. Michael Kors Ankle Strap Platform Sandals.  A cute combo of canvas, leather and cork with a black/white polka dot and that late 70s/early 80s fab feature, the thin ankle strap. Divine.image 4. Scout & Catalogue Tonala Media clutch. A gorgeous bag in natural nude leather with an unusual varied polka dot pattern and a velvety nubuck interior.  Goes with practically everything!image 5. Free People Black “LInda” Love Lace Up.  Oh how I wish I could say this shoe was named after me!!! I do love it and honoured that a pretty shoe is my namesake.  Really pretty statement flats in a printed pony with exposed sides and with a super duper cushioned leather footbed.image 6. Emanuel Ungaro Black Asymmetric Polka Dot Jacket.  Ideal for the cooler Autumn evenings, this black/white lightweight jacket is truly scrumptious from its buckle fastening belt waist to its padded shoulders.image Go on, go dotty for polka dots….

Linda x

Photo Credits: Essex’ee Legs; Lyst

Seven Spots – Mellow Yellow

August 15th, 2014

imageThis year the colour yellow has enjoyed a bit of a revival and I’m so pleased it has – the colour just oozes sunshine, looks cool teamed with white, and it is a colour that suits every hair colour making it extremely versatile. I remember wearing yellow in the early 1980s – I owned wide yellow belts, yellow handbags, and one of my favourite ensembles was a yellow lace bodysuit/leotard worn with black wet look leggings topped with a yellow/black baggy kimono style shirt!  The fashion colour briefly returned in the early 2000s – short sleeved polo neck knit tops teamed with white loose leg linen trousers; and now, in the last year or so, yellow has been mixed with other colours such as fuchsia pink (as in my dress in the photo above) or with traditional white, such as this simple stripy vest top from La Redoute’s Spring/Summer collection 2014.image

Without further ado, here are my seven top spots of this week – all in mellow yellow…

1. Diesel Yellow Denim Trousers.  I just love Diesel jeans.. they fit well and  last well. These yellow skinny jeans make a pleasant change from denim, having a lovely coated fabric effect finish and a side slit hemline.  Ideal for summer worn with sandals or ballet pumps; for Autumn with Dr Martens and a baggy hooded sweatshirt; for winter, with black biker ankle boots and a chunky roll neck tunic sweater; and then Spring, with a delicate floral blouse and heeled courts.image

2. ASOS Yellow Midi Strapless Dress. Maybe a bit too revealing for a wedding, but for a posher social do this stretch cotton rich blend strapless dress could look stunning – especially if you’ve got that holiday tan or naturally dark toned skin. image

3. Ted Baker Yellow Small Bow Tote Bag. This miniature tote with its large central bow just oozes summer sophistication.image

4. Napapijri Yellow T Shirt. Ideal for late summer/autumn days, this sunny  casual tee looks great with jeans, denim shorts or skirt.image

5. Red Valentino Yellow T Shirt. This tee with its cute frilly cap sleeves is versatile enough to wear with jeans during the day or can be smartened up with a pair of capri pants and some kitten heel slingbacks.image

6. Adia Kibur Yellow Chain and Stone Necklace.  A very elegant piece of jewellery to add a little “je ne sais pas” to your Little Black Dress.image

7. Rag & Bone Yellow Sloane Floral Print Suede Sandals.  I could not end this post without featuring footwear and these sandals are simply divine. Although fairly high, at approx 5 inches, the stacked heel gives ample walking support and the pretty floral print suede is complimented with the brown leather trim.image

Have a mellow yellow late summer moment….

Linda x

Photo Credits: Linda Hobden, Lyst

An Interview With Richard Barnard

August 8th, 2014

One of my passionate pastimes is reading – I enjoy most genres but I do like thrillers, murder mysteries and such like as well as the English literature classics, like The Great Gatsby.   I came across “Danny’s Boys, An East End Tale”, a gangland thriller based on an East London criminal gang of kids from Walthamstow in the 1980s, by author Richard Barnard – not only did it tick boxes for me genre-wise, but having been a teenager myself in that era and area I was looking forward to reading about the places I knew.  So, this week I’m pleased to welcome onto the blog the author, Richard Barnard, to chat about “Danny’s Boys”, his Walthamstow memories and past lifestyle, his life now as a published author … and about his fashion tastes too! Hi Richard….image

Hello my name is Richard Barnard, author of Danny’s Boys, An East End Tale and expert analysis in high level criminality.

Congratulations on publishing your debut gangland thriller, “Danny’s Boys, An East End Tale”, the first book in your proposed “The East End Series”. How does it feel to be a published author?

imageTo me it feels strange my clairvoyant aunt predicted my writing career when I was just a small boy and at that time I had no interest in literature or school for that matter.

Your book is based on an East London criminal gang of kids from Walthamstow and their rise to the top during the boom of the 1980s cocaine era – obviously coming from and being brought up in Waltham Forest in the same era myself there are lots of memories I can relate to in the book – but non East Enders would still enjoy the thriller too!How much of your book (and the series) relates to your own life experience?

The trilogy is a fictional story based on how I grew up. It’s no secret I was a career criminal, stealing at infant stages, then progressed on to being the principle organiser of a major cocaine importation at the turn of the Millennium. Oh,and anyone can relate to the story, I get a lot of people from outside London, places like Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and even abroad praising the originality and realism of the skullduggery. It’s also nice to get an email from the ladies who appreciate a good love or sex scene. I’ve been told they’d had a few late night pillow scrunching moments, that’s keeping it mild!

imageHave you always enjoyed the written word, books and story writing as a child?

Going back to your second question, when my aunt told me I’d one day become a successful writer it saddened me because I thought, how boring. She said if my brother followed his true path he would become a movie star. I’m now grown enough to know without writers there would be no actors, movies or singers of music for that matter.

What made you realise that you wanted to write a book? What impact did meeting Jeffrey Archer whilst you were both serving time in prison make to your new career path? Did he offer any helpful hints and tips?

imageJeffery Archer, now there’s a character. I have no doubt, our brief encounter during the year 2001 was fate. The funny thing was at the time he was more intrigued about my life and mind than I was his. I couldn’t help questioning him in detail about the world’s corrupt governments, the Bush administration, Maggie Thatcher, cover ups and David Icke style conspiracy theories. Lord Archer said to me, if I were a writer my work would make for interesting reading. I do feel his statement got my mind’s literary cogs turning and ready to move through the gears. After a four month long court battle my fate was sealed, I received a 20 year sentence and needed something to occupy my time. My defending QC Stephen Solly, one of the most respected, said I was a man of remarkable intelligence. Coming from him I took that as a huge compliment. He was the junior barrister defending the high profile eighties Marijuana and hashish smuggler, Howard Marks (Mr Nice). He actually said myself and Mr Marks had similar traits, that particular observation put a smile on my face during some bleak, testing and troublesome times I have to say. After a while you get bored of other prisoners’ stories – them telling you how many they’ve killed, how much precious stones they’d heisted abroad or how many tons of cocaine they’ve shipped in from Columbia. If truth be known you get sick of hearing it! My daughter inspired me to give up smoking and I became a fitness fanatic, running half marathons around the exercise field. I began reading familiar best-selling crime novels and without being too big headed, I felt I had something to offer. I’d criticise a book, how they’d got the ending wrong, inconsistencies and regularly work out the plot. I grew up in the East End and some of the fictional character leading gangsters in stories would have got laughed off the manor. I can remember one morning waking up in my cell seriously thinking my writing career has begun. As the months went on I began making notes, then giving out chapters of Danny’s Boys to other inmates. There was no better place to have your crime novel criticised, Whitemoor Prison is Europe’s highest security prison housing the world’s top level sophisticated and most dangerous individuals. I continuously used the education department’s printer giving out a few chapters to major cocaine traffickers, armed robbers, hit men and IRA terrorists. The thing was no one had any negative pointers, I would often say, forget us being friends, I need the truth but they had nothing but praise saying they love that genre and it’s the most real they’d read. I’d often try to trick them, saying the text was written by a top author. They didn’t doubt it and most could tell it was written by a man who experienced it first hand. That was it, their words set the wheels in motion, I knew my destiny.

imageIn one of your interviews you quoted that “there is no fairytale ending in a gangster lifestyle. It just brings misery, prison and people getting killed”. Never a truer word spoken, Richard – so is that really the moral of “Danny’s Boys”?  How hard was it to turn your life around?

Linda, I’ve said it a million times, there is no fairy tale ending in that life, it ends in jail misery or death. Even the ones that stop after accumulating mass wealth, they’re never out of the woods, they still worry about someone plotting their demise. They know when you’re on top of your game, the authorities are the least of your problems. I was more worried about the desperado’s flying in from abroad, they’d done their homework and knew who was flush or making large amounts of cash at the time. If they simply took your wealth and went on their way that wouldn’t be so bad but these guys play by different rules such as torturing family members including children until they’re satisfied you’ve given and signed over all you have.

imageNow that your debut book has been published and receiving rave reviews – I’ve downloaded the book and am enjoying it myself (not finished yet) – you are busy with the second installment. When is the second book due out?

The second installment realistically will be with us by the Spring of 2015. I’ve been touched by the public’s response to Danny’s Boys but in my opinion if they think that was good the sequel will be a phenomenon. The buzz I’m getting from the characters fills me with a tremendous energy, a feeling it has already been made into a hit movie. I actually believe the epic story is happening, the vibe of the novel is that strong.

Is it harder to write a follow up book or now that the juices are flowing, are your ideas/thoughts tumbling out?

Now the East End series has begun I can’t hold myself back Linda. Having lived the life makes it effortless, I have so much original knowledge. One old gangster I left at HMP Whitemoor, never to be released once pointed out “Son, who better to write an East End gangland thriller than a boy who lived and breathed it? Go on son, get out and make it happen for yourself, just send me a copy” he laughed. He was once a well loved fence but got put into a situation and being incarcerated indefinitely was the outcome.

Apart from the East End series, are you hoping to write more books in the future? If so, would you stick to the same format or would you try a different genre?

Whilst in prison I wrote an amazing first draft story, the basis being reincarnation. God forbid, but when your body dies your spirit will enter the fetus of a female just conceived and life goes on and on and on, a continuous cycle. In another life, Linda, you could have been my father or lover and our souls continuously meet in new lives we live, that type of thing. The thing is,  I have a secret amazing addition to add to this life cycle concept I truly believe in. It’s in first draft stages at the moment but when I get it right, the right film producers will have a block-buster on their hands. I get an amazing buzz and often smile and even laugh when scenes pop into my mind and I file them. What intrigues me most is where do all the inspirational, creative thoughts and ideas come from. It often makes me feel I never chose to become a writer, I feel more like I’ve been chosen, if you can make sense of that.

On your cover of “Danny’s Boys” you have the picture of the old Walthamstow Dog Stadium, which has now sadly been pulled down although the sign remains. I have had many enjoyable nights there, both as a child and an adult! What places in E17 hold sweet memories for you?

Most sweetest memories in Walthamstow – I’d have to say the Market as a kid hustling, stealing, robbing, making money. I grew up poor and treats were few and far between in our neighbourhood. I speak for many around the world when I say “There is no better feeling than earning readies”.  I love the memories of our local Stoneydown Park, off Blackhorse, kicking football and meeting up with friends to go out on the “thief”- sorry but for me those were the sweetest times for me in our E 17. I felt cursed as a child but now realise being deprived was a blessing, it gave me the backbone and made me the man I am today. I look in the mirror each morning and feel proud.

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

I like smart and casual clothing, Italian and French design Armani, Replay, Chevignon, that type of stuff. I often send a pair of boots I like the style of to Thailand to have them copied in a crocodile or snakeskin, other than that a nice trendy pair of Nike or Adidas trainers will do.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Yes, I shop online for Oakley sunglasses, my favourite.

Links you would like to share so that readers of the blog can learn more about “Danny’s Boys”:

www.facebook.com/dannysboys

www.richard-barnard.com

@RichardBarnard4

Thank you Richard…so, dear readers, if you are looking for a thrilling read whilst reclining on your sunlounger this Summer, get your copy now…

Happy Reading!

Linda x

Photo Credits:  All photos have been published with kind permission of Richard Barnard.

An Interview With La Redoute

August 1st, 2014

imageI had my first “catalogue” shopping experience in the mid 1980s when a friend of mine was an agent for  Freemans or Grattans – I enjoyed looking at the book and I remember buying a skirt.  However, my mum wasn’t (and still isn’t) a fan of catalogues and I carried on accompanying my mum to Walthamstow market to buy my attire for the weekend disco nights!  In the mid 1990s,  a catalogue advert appeared in a magazine and I sent off for it.  It seemed exciting, different … and I was a mum of 2 … and the little girls clothes were divine and so so chic .. that catalogue was the first winter edition of  La Redoute.  From that day onwards I have been a loyal customer, buying clothes for my children (the 2 eventually became 5) and for myself. Every season fills me with desire as I would love to buy most of the items in the book…. and don’t get me started on their shoes! So I’m really thrilled to interview La Redoute on my blog this week….so welcome…

imageMy favourites from your collection this season include the Soft Grey set of 5 beaded bracelets;the Shopping Prix Softly draping printed vest top with cowl neckline; and the La Redoute Creation high-heeled ankle strap sandals. What outfits are proving popular in the UK amongst your customers so far this season?

Our top 3 best selling products in the Spring Summer 2014 season were Flowing Asymmetric Vest Top with Polka Dots and Back Bow, Printed Softly Draping Short-Sleeved Belted Dress and Fitted Long-Sleeved Printed Cotton Voile Shirt.

imageGuest designers have appeared in La Redoute collections since 1969 and include names such as Terence Conran(1993); Karl Lagerfeld (1994); Azzedine Alaia (1995); Yves Saint Laurent (1996); Jean-Paul Gautier (2005); Christian La Croix (2008); Antik Batik (2012)… to name but a few. What designer(s) collection for La Redoute have been a runaway success with customers in the UK?

The most popular designer collection in Spring-Summer 2014 has been Paul & Joe Sister. From smart suits to cat print T-shirts this collection has proven a success with La Redoute customers. This was closely followed by our summer designer collaboration Brigitte Bardot which embraces the must have bohemian trend.

imageI only discovered fairly recently that the word “Denim” came from the French town of Nimes, where the famous fabric originates. So, it was no surprise that the French wardrobe style staples include jeans, often paired with a crisp white shirt. Personally, I’m favouring my skinnies at the moment which I wear with high leg lace up boots. What jean style is proving the trend this season?

La Redoute UK customers have really embraced the slim fit jean this season. Since these can be teamed with almost anything it’s no surprise this style is the most popular with our customers.

Simplicity is the key to effortless French chic style – from the Little Black Dress to the cobalt blue maxi dress … with pastels, florals, metallics, and a splash of brightness inbetween. What colour(s) are you personally leaning towards this season?

imageOur colour picks for the Autumn-Winter season are Aurora Reds, Royal Blue and Moss Green.

Looking ahead to Autumn/Winter 2014 – what styles/ colours / era do you hope to see being worn?

Our new Autumn-Winter collection includes some of the hottest trends seen on the catwalk. These include prints, collarless coats, 50’s glam, leopard print and of course embellishments which are a must have in the Autumn-Winter season.

Ballerina Shoes are a French wardrobe staple that are so practical and yet oozes the smartness that the French insist upon… I still have in my wardrobe a pair of Mellow Yellow ballerinas in grey/yellow that I bought from La Redoute in the late 1990s. They still look good! What shoe colours are proving popular this year?
image
The top 3 most popular shoe colours in Spring-Summer were Black, Beige and Silver.

I am a fan of bright colours and I love the way La Redoute’s own mini prix and Soft Grey collections offer such an array of basics in such a variety of colours for you to mix & match. I also like the sandals in the same tempting array of colours to co ordinate with the rest of the outfits. I discovered the lure of wearing dusky pink with olive/khaki; turquoise with navy; coral with gold… What has been the colour palettes that have created a storm with customers in the UK?

imageWith our relaxed French style the two most popular colour palettes in SS14 have been the classic Black and White. La Redoute customers have also fully embraced prints this season.

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

http://www.laredoute.co.uk/

 

 

 

 

https://www.facebook.com/LaRedouteUK

https://twitter.com/LaRedouteUK

https://twitter.com/LaRedouteUK

http://fashionfamily.laredoute.co.uk/

imageMy tip for Autumn/winter…. I’ve spotted some fabulous burgundy brogue ankle boots… and some fab black biker ankle boots too! Decisions, decisions!

LInda x

Photo Credits: Linda Hobden.

An Interview With Must Love Festivals

July 25th, 2014

We are currently in the middle of festival season – music, the arts, lazy hazy summer days – although I don’t go a-bundle on the camping aspect! Europe is buzzing with festivals and so I’m delighted to get an interview this week with  Abi who is one of the people involved in the fantastic digital storytelling project, Must Love Festivals, that is covering Europe’s 40 most unique festivals spanning 11 countries…. a big, warm welcome Abi…image

Hi, I’m Abi. I’m a travel writer and photographer with a love for all things digital and in my past life I used to work as a hospital doctor.

The “Must Love Festivals” project is the brainchild of Kash Bhattacharya, the award winning creator of the Budget Traveller Website. So what is the project exactly?

“Must Love Festivals” takes 16 bloggers (or digital storytellers as the phrase is now) and spreads them out across Europe this summer to cover some of the continent’s quirkiest festivals. We’ll be taking on 40 festivals in 11 countries, reporting back in real time and then spending some time huddled behind a screen to write up articles, photo essays and videos.

How did you first become involved in this project yourself? What Festival will you be covering?

Ah, well my secret confession is that I first said no since I did think that most festivals were all about mud, crowds and music. And while I like the third of those, I’ve never been such a fan of the first two. Kash convinced me to open my eyes and give it a go since Europe has such a range of festivals – from folk to fashion to food…and even to things that don’t begin with F 😉

I’m lucky to be covering a few. I’ll kick off with Bardentreffen in Nuremberg. It’s awash with music but as this year’s festival coincides with the 100 year declaration of war by Germany in WWI, they’ve chosen the theme of War and Peace to mark the occasion. Performers from around the world will use their music to explore the theme of reconciliation and dealing with conflict. Next up will be a colourful folk festival in Italy’s sunny Puglia. I head to Barcelona for the Festival de Gracia, a free street festival of decorations, food and art. Then it’s to Dublin to catch up with some books and fashion and finally I’ll travel to the islands of Malta to soak up their Birgu candle festival.

imageFestivals are not all about music, mud and fashion – as the project hopes to show – so what is the most unusual festival you’ve been to?

In my youth, I went to the Tomatina in Spain where the world descends on a picturesque hamlet one day to pelt rotten tomatoes at one another. It sounded harmless at first but those flying pips and pelted pulp really can sting after a while…Plus, they get everywhere.

What has been your favourite Festival to date?

Ah, that’s tricky. I think one of the best is one that’s actually close to home: the Bristol balloon festival. There’s something so hauntingly beautiful about seeing so many hot air balloons hovering in the air at once.

If you were given the chance, what Festival would you love to attend that you haven’t been to?

I’d love to visit the Midnight Sun Festival In Finland. It’s just gone and one of our team made a beautiful video about it.

imagePersonal now – what outfits would you be packing for your Festival expedition?

Ah, now. Well, Spain and Italy don’t have quite the casual dress code we have here so I’m looking for long cotton trousers and skirts with some smart but lightweight tops. The aim is to look polished but not overheat or burn! And there’s not much place for a big floppy hat in a crowd unfortunately!

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

I love the bright colours and designs of Desigual. And for accessories, I always check out Etsy to see if there’s anything handmade and original that suits.

What footwear do you favour when attending festivals?

You need something casual but resilient as you could be on your feet all day long…I have a pair of black Fit Flops that I love as the sole is so thick that those atmospheric cobblestones don’t bother me. Yet,
they have a hint of sparkle too which is perfect for when the sun goes down.

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc

You can find all the Must Love Festival goings on at http://mustlovefestivals.com/ and across Twitter and Facebook through the hashtag #MustLoveFestivals. As for me, I blog over at Inside the Travel Lab (www.insidethetravellab.com) and will be covering my summer of festivals across Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. Hope to see you there!

Links for the social media networks mentioned above:

http://www.facebook.com/InsidetheTravelLab
http://twitter.com/Insidetravellab
http://www.pinterest.com/insidetravellab/
http://instagram.com/insidetravellab

Wow! Thanks Abi for taking the time to chat to us about what seems to me, at any rate, an exciting project.  I wish you safe journeys and I look forward to readings your blogs!

Linda x

Photo Credits:  All photographs have been published with kind permission of Abigail King.

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