All posts by Linda

An Interview With Anne Welsh

Living with an invisible disability is difficult as people and businesses are often unaware of the chronic pain a person may be suffering. Sickle cell anemia sufferer Anne Welsh has written an interesting book about overcoming chronic pain through management, lifestyle and diet choices. This book is an interesting mix – Anne tells her own frank personal story about her life living with sickle cell anemia – warts ‘n’ all. From being a small child, how her parents coped, teenage years, university, work life, boyfriends, married life, pregnancy. Intertwined with the chapters are Anne’s honest look at the decisions made and what she advises to help make the life of someone suffering with chronic pain easier and advice for family and friends too. How to stay positive is her mantra. Although her advice can help all those living with chronic pain, she is adamant to spread the word about sickle cell disease, which is actually the most common genetic disease in the world, but people are not necessarily aware of it. I really enjoyed reading Anne’s book,” Pain-less “- she has a lovely chatty style – and I highly recommend it. You don’t need to suffer chronic pain to understand and devour her book – although she does give invaluable advice! I caught up with Anne recently and asked her a few questions….!! Hi Anne!

Hi! I would say that Anne Welsh is an internationally recognised author, entrepreneur and philanthropist.  Most importantly I am a married mother of two and finds great joy in being close to family and friends.  I have recently launched my memoir, Pain-less to inspire people who, like myself, live with sickle cell and work hard to find a path-way to a gratifying life while living with pain.  It is a book that will motivate the reader to act and overcome challenges in life. 

Through this book I am using my voice to help others by speaking on many radio and television spots, such as the BBC and London live, and in front of decision makers and parliamentary political leaders in the UK or in countries around the world where sickle cell is a serious health issue.   

I have a degree in Accounting and Finance and an MSc in Investment Management and broke barriers as an investment banker with Lehman Brothers, by establishing workplace practices for ethnic minorities and people with disability.   I now run my own consultancy firm based in London, England and is an expert in bringing business opportunities to investors around the globe.

Your book, “Pain-Less” is truly inspirational  – but what made you decide to write “Pain-Less” in the first place? 

I decided to write my book Pain-Less as I felt it was time to finally share my story with the world. It was truly a struggle growing up.   I was constantly in hospital and each time I would lose hope that I would be better or would I just be burden on my family and society for the rest of my life.  

As I broke away from the negativity that surrounded my life, I knew that I could make a positive difference to others with invisible illnesses, who were going through  similar experiences to me.   By sharing my story I could help them to overcome their fears, live life to the fullest and being able to achieve their life long aspirations. 


I enjoyed reading the book from start to finish. I liked how you wrote the book – the mix of your personal story, your struggle to overcome chronic pain and your sound advice. Fortunately, I don’t suffer from a chronic complaint but I do know people who do, so it was an eye opening insight for me to understand what it is like living with an invisible disease. I really appreciated the advice you gave in the book to family, friends, peers and employers on how to handle someone with an invisible disability. What changes do you feel that employers/businesses should think about to help those with an invisible disability?

People with an invisible illness are prone to the same emotions as everyone else.   They often don’t ask for special treatment, but they do ask for an understanding of the invisible illness you have.  Sometimes negative reactions from your colleagues are amplified because you don’t look sick or have a visible physical disability that accompanies empathy that is often demonstrated by people you may be working with.  

Therefore, awareness is key.  As a person with an illness you must make your employer aware that you have an invisible disease.  Employers should take the time to put in place suitable infrastructure where necessary to make the lives of those living with an invisible illness can perform without restrictions. I can tell you the moment my employers were able to give me the help I needed; I saw an improvement in my performance  and my contribution to the team was immediately recognised. 

What was, for you, the hardest part(s) to write about in “Pain-less”? 

Overcoming the fact that I was putting myself out to the world to scrutinise.  A memoir is more than just your life highlights – to do it well you must make the point of including those things that make you the person you are at a moment in life.  It creates a personal tension within yourself and forces to analyse your true feelings about many subjects that you had not really considered before.  This can be a very mentally demanding task. 


I had heard about Sickle Cell Anaemia, mostly through a novel I recently read written by a Nigerian author who mentioned it in passing as one of the characters was a mum whose children died of sickle cell at toddler age – but I had no idea of the symptoms of sickle cell, how some people are carriers and some get the full blown disease, and that it doesn’t automatically carry a death sentence.  Neither did I realise that Sickle Cell disease is the most common genetic disease in the world. Being an Ambassador for Raising Awareness Of Sickle Cell Disease, what are your main aims & tasks? What are the main misconceptions about sickle cell?   

My aim is to ensure that proper attention is paid to this disease.  Often it helps to have those difficult conversations with decision makers and influencers, and I will use my network to have as many as I can.  

A huge misconception about sickle cell is that it is a life sentence that and those who suffer from it cannot lead a truly fulfilling life.  True it drastically reduces the life span of individuals in areas where basic pain management and health care is not readily available; however, this capacity for care continues to improve worldwide. 

Finally, the struggle is as much a mental struggle as a physical one. The disease’s negative impact on a person must be viewed in its totality.  Depression, loneliness, difficulty in securing a job are all issues that need to be addressed by the individual and society in general.  

In your book you describe your ways of helping to manage your pain via lifestyle choices, diet and medication.  I liked the frank way you described your experiences and that there was a lot of trial and error involved along the way as you tried to make your way as a schoolgirl, as a teenager, as a university student, as a girlfriend, as a wife, as a mother too.  As an adult, it is easier to make sensible choices re lifestyle & diet; how was it trying to stay positive and manage your disease as a youngster? 

As a youngster, I could not fully comprehend why I was different other than the pain was terrible, and I could not do the things my sisters and friends could do.  I felt isolated and I truly relied on my parents to survive.  I just knew I had to survive.  It is not more complex than that. 

As a mum myself, I know how stressful it is going through pregnancy and eventual childbirth.  Knowing that you also had the added risk of passing on the genetic disease to your unborn child; the pain of giving birth on top of your chronic pain; yet your desire for children  – must have made it a tough decision for you and your husband to make!  What worried you most whilst pregnant? 

Actually, passing on the genetic disease was luckily not an issue.  My husband was Caucasian with European  lineage so the passing on of the disease on was not a worry. 

Everything else on the journey to motherhood was stress filled. Getting to the finish line and having a healthy child pop out was always in my thoughts.  Both children were born five weeks and the care regime I was placed under helped me reduce the anxiety greatly. I cannot thank the team of doctors and nurses that helped me along the way.

Being stressed doesn’t help anybody, let alone somebody with sickle cell anemia – so what do you do to relax and de-stress? 

I constantly monitor the health of my body.  I realise when I need to rest and when I need to reduce the work-load I am under.  I just enjoy hanging out with my family, sisters and their families and friends.  

Following the correct eating plan and doing exercise plays a very important role in achieving the relaxation and a I less stressed environment. 

Is “Pain-Less” available to purchase worldwide?

The book can be purchased directly from the publisher SilverWood Books or it  an be found on Amazon. https://www.silverwoodbooks.co.uk/product/9781781329047/pain-less-hardback

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

I love the classic mixed with modern look. Now we are in autumn you will find me wearing lots of sweaters dresses, ankle length boots in a variety of colours, always accented by the appropriate sunglasses.  

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

Zara and Net-a-porter

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

A new Trench coat from Burberry and the Jimmy Choo white boots. 

Boots or Shoes?

When it is cold and raining,  definitely boots.   Boots, keep me warm and this prevents a sickle cell crisis from  coming on quickly. 

For Pinning Later


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

www.annewelsh.com

Instagram: @ladyannewelsh

Facebook: ladyannewelsh

Twitter: @ladyannewelsh

YouTube: annewelsh

It has been a real pleasure chatting to you Anne and I wish your book every success. Your tips are truly invaluable and I am sure that many readers will appreciate your honest advice.

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Anne Welsh.

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An Interview With Concrete & Wax

Suffolk duo, Mr Concrete & Mrs Wax (aka Alex and Laura) are gracing my blog this week – Mr Concrete makes modular, stackable candle holders from hand poured concrete; and Mrs Wax makes the most delightful scented soy wax candles …or non scented beeswax candles (with a slight natural aroma of honey) to match. Coming actually from a fashion background, they decided to launch Concrete & Wax In November 2018. I caught up with them recently to find out more about their delightful products ….

Hi! We are married design duo Alex Sommer and Laura Keller. We live in a sixteenth century cottage with our 6 year old Marley and slobber-dog Boadiin the Suffolk countryside. We worked for over two decades in the fashion industry, the last 15 of which through our creative consultancy 2Som Studio, designing and providing trend forecasts to many casual and sportswear brands. In 2018 we decided to combine our creativity with a new focus and, after many months of development, launched CONCRETE & WAX, a collection of concrete holders and natural wax pillar candles, all hand poured in our Suffolk workshop.

After a background in fashion including the running of a trend and forecast magazine – what inspired you to start your company, CONCRETE & WAX?

After Marley was born we knew that we needed a shift in career so that we travelled less. We batted around a few ideas over the years but never both felt equally passionate about one in particular. A close family illness at the start of 2018 meant Laura was away for long periods of time and in the evenings Alex distracted himself by tinkering with concrete. This inspired Laura, when at home, to experiment with wax, believing that the two contrasting materials would work beautifully together. It was like a ‘POW’ moment for us – we knew this was what we wanted to do. Alex suddenly became Mr Concrete and Laura became Mrs Wax! Alex’s love for modular, intelligent design in clothing transferred easily into the stackable, interchangeable collection of holders and candles that we have today. We love to think that our customers can put together their candle arrangement depending on their mood, in the same way they might pull together an outfit from their wardrobe.

I am amazed at the colour versatility of the modular, stackable concrete candle holders – and the Wax candle essence range, especially the unusual “tobacco & oak”. To date, what has been the most popular colour candle holder & popular wax candle fragrance?

Our customers seem to love the monochrome colours the best: Grey, white, black and, for the more adventurous, a little snocam camouflage paired with our white soy wax candles. Lime, Basil and Mandarin is the number one fragrance for women and Tobacco and Oak for men. It always amazes us to see how our customers style the products they’ve chosen to light there space.

What’s your most favourite item(s) in your collection?

It’s hard to pick favourites really, because they all have such unique personalities even though they really are very simple in design. But, our favourite thing by far is the fact they are modular and so can be stacked in many different ways. During the design process it was critical that we created product that would stand the test of time. Knowing the concrete would outlast the candles, and not wanting our customers eternally restricted to buying candles from us, the fact each holder has been designed to fit any standard tealight is a design element we are very proud of. 

Mrs Wax, when deciding fragrances to add to your soy wax candle collections, do you select by what has proved popular with other candle makers, current trends, customer requests, personal preferences or all of those things?

It’s absolutely been about personal preferences. I’ve worn Lime, Basil and Mandarin perfume for most of my adult life so naturally this was my first development. The other fragrances I’ve added for the simple reason that I like them. There is nothing too sweet or overpowering because I don’t like to walk into a room and feel overwhelmed by a fragrance. 

We’re not quite at the personal request stage just yet in terms of our customers contacting me to ask, but I am completely open to that idea, so if anyone has a favourite they’d like me to look into then please get in touch.

I love that you are bringing to life candle holders using hand poured concrete – I love the smooth texture, the colours, the sheen & the fact that no two holders will ever look the same!  – they all look fantastic! Mr Concrete, how long does it take on average to make a concrete candle holder? Which part of the process gives you the most satisfaction?

Thank you. After pouring the concrete, it sits in its mould for 2-3 days, before I remove it – which is the best moment because it’s only at this point that I can see the unique characteristics of each piece, due to tiny air bubbles forming during the initial drying process. The concrete is then left to cure for two weeks before I add our branded cork foot to the base and apply a natural waxed oil protective coating. It goes back on the shelf for another week. Then it’s good to go. The camouflage concrete is always the most fun to pour because Mrs Wax helps me with this, as it is a two-person job. As there is no exact science to our pouring technique, no two pieces are ever the same and we love that fact.

Mrs Wax, can you tell us more about the different types of wax candles you make? What are the properties of the different type of waxes used?

I use only natural wax for our candles. The fragranced white candles are a blend I developed combining soy wax with a sprinkling of beeswax. The beeswax is important to add strength to the pillar candles because soy wax is a much softer wax, hence the reason it is usually used for container candles. And the yellow candles are natural beeswax. I just love the subtle honey aroma they throw out.

As CONCRETE & WAX is based in the UK, are your products on the website available to purchase worldwide? 

Yes – we ship internationally, but as we make concrete, it is a heavy product to ship and some countries are absolutely weight dependent in terms of shipping costs. This has an impact on the price we have to charge for shipping and we fully appreciate that many customers are not prepared to pay for that. All we can say is, as we get bigger and ship bigger quantities we’ll have more negotiating power with the shipping companies and then the costs will come down.

Are there any new products or candle fragrances in the pipeline for 2019/2020?

Yes, we have three new colours in concrete in a tranquil, calming palette. They are lovely. And we’re also working on a couple of new candle fragrances. It’s a little early to specify exactly what yet because many are still in early testing phase, but Mediterranean fragrances are the inspiration, such as fig, orange, rosemary and basil.

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

L: Jeans, a casual top and easy footwear. As I’m a working Mum to a 6 year old it’s mostly about throwing it on in the morning to get breakfast, hair style and tooth brushing sorted in time for the school run (all of those things for her by the way, not me). Once that’s done I’d love to say I come home and glam up, but I usually jump straight on to the computer or into candle making.

A: A rather more masculine version of what Laura wears! Or camouflage overalls when I’m in the workshop.


Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

L: When I have an hour or two to spare I love a good hunt through the rails at TK Maxx as invariably you can find something special at a great price. 

A: Goodhood or End Clothing are my go-to sites.


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

L: Something glamorous for the Christmas season.  

A: I’m on the hunt for a vintage quilted leather jacket. 

Boots or Shoes?

We hate to admit it, but usually trainers. After working for so many years in the sportswear industry, it’s a tough style choice to shift because there are just so many great ones out there – and you just can’t beat the comfort. 

L: Although saying that I have been wearing a cute pair of pale grey suede Chelsea boots quite a lot recently.

For Pinning Later


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

www.concreteandwax.com

Facebook & Instagram: @concreteandwax

I hope your business continues to burn brightly – I really am amazed at the colour variations available for concrete!

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of CONCRETE & WAX

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An Interview With Koket

Luxury with a capital “L” this week on my blog as I am pleased to welcome the delightful Janet Morais, founder of luxury bespoke furniture brand KOKET. Each piece is lovingly handmade and to order – sumptuous velvets, luxury metallics, vibrant jewel colours, exotic peacock feathers, sensual shapes – every design caters for fulfilling the wildest desires for the home. Janet is comfortable with taking risks and turning heads, like her pieces of furniture and she has uniqueness down to an art form. I caught up with Janet recently to find out more… Hi Janet!

Hello! My name is Janet Morais and I am the founder and CEO of the luxury decor brand KOKET, along with a luxury lifestyle magazine called Love Happens and the brand agency DeMorais International.

KOKET’s designs are empowering statement pieces that are handcrafted by master artisans in Portugal. Our collections consist of dramatic case goods, luscious upholstery, exquisite lighting, and decadent furs. Our pieces often incorporate exotic and bold materials such as gemstones, metallics, and natural feathers. Each piece is meant to lure in the viewer and seduce with its beauty.

What inspired the founding of the brand, Koket?

I began my career in the design world as an interior designer and have always had a passion for beautiful home décor products. Working as a designer I found I was constantly challenged in finding décor pieces that truly spoke to me. So in 2010 as I sat in a New York City lounge a chair sketch came about and I instantly wanted to bring it to life. This moment and desire to possess that chair and create more pieces with the same empowerment began my journey.

Mandy Sofa

I am particularly fond of your furniture pieces  – the Mandy Sofa is gorgeous.To date, what has been the most popular furniture item or product from your range?

The Chandra Chair.

What’s your most favourite item in your collection?

The Divine Armoire – I love everything about this piece, from the pull inspired by a little girl’s ribbon, to the exotic feathers and the antique mirror interior!

The Divine Armoire

When picking items to add to your collections, do you select by what has proved popular in the past, current trends, customer requests, personal preferences or all of those things?

KOKET’s designs are rooted in my love for taking risks and turning heads. Our designs are not about trends or fulfilling design voids. They are rather a highly edited curation of décor inspired by experiences, simple pleasures, passions and life events that have shaped me.

I love that you are using textures, such as velvet, as well as using vibrant colours, pattern & shapes – and using materials such as exotic peacock feathers. As all your pieces are made to order, what was the hardest or the most unusual bespoke item to create? 

The hardest piece for us to create was our Tabu cocktail table. It needed to match the curves of the client who had accentuated hips and a very distinct derriere.

Tabu Cocktail Table

Can you tell us more about the more unusual materials you have sourced and used?

I love finding unusual materials! The more unusual the better. The natural feathers have been one of my favorites. But I love our use of mother of pearl on the Camila and the agate stones in our Vivre and Brlliance lighting.

As Koket is based in the USA, are your products available to purchase and order worldwide?

Yes, our HQ’s are in the USA, however, our products are made in Portugal and we ship all over the world.

Hypothetically speaking, if you were able to visit any place in the world to get inspiration for a new design collection, where would you go and why?

India, for the exceptional details in the jewelry, metalwork, and architecture.

Have you always wanted to be a furniture designer, or did you have ambitions elsewhere?

I have always loved beautiful things and in particular the world of furniture and interior design. However, in college, I studied foreign languages. I always loved fashion so I worked as a personal shopper for some time. I then decided to follow my passion for interior design and furniture, returning to school and working in the profession. I quickly learned sourcing for truly unique designs was hard, so this is when I began to imagine having my own furniture line. Once I began this venture I fell in love with it!

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

Leather, fur and show-stopping shoes.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Love Net-a-Porter.

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

100% as many shoes as I can get from Luis Onofre’s FW2019 collection.

Boots or Shoes?

Over-the-knee boots. Love the look and that they keep my legs warm.

For Pinning Later

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

www.bykoket.com

www.lovehappensmag.com (This is KOKET’s publication)

@janetlakoket

@bykoket

Thanks for talking to us Janet – I adore your exquisite designs especially the colours and the sumptuous velvets. The Tabu table is amazing and I do need the Divine Armoire in my life too….

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Janet Morais/KOKET.

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An Interview With Village Leathers

Established in 1974 by Tony & Angie, Village Leathers is a small family-based business based in London that specialises in a wide range of belts, bags and accessories for both men and women. They began as street traders, growing to stores in Covent Garden, now online too. Although a lot of their styles are classics, their latest accessory ranges are very colourful and very much on trend. I caught up with Verity, part of “Team Village Leathers” to find out more about the very swish bags that she and the team make! Hi Verity!

Hi! I’m Verity from Village Leathers, I’ve been working here for years and I’m part of the team who hand make our leather goods. Village Leathers is a family owned business which started out by selling handmade leather belts from a suitcase on the streets of London in 1974. Since then we’ve grown to have two small shops in Covent Garden’s Jubilee Market and more recently set up a website too. We’re still a small team with just 10 of us in total split between the shops and the studio where we produce leathers belts and accessories in small batches by hand.

Starting life as street traders, progressing to shops in London’s Covent Garden (one of my favourite London spots) and now online – what challenges have you had to face (business or personal) in each selling arena, eg adapting to selling from a market stall to a shop environment or adapting to online technology etc?

When we started selling online it was a big learning curve for us. We do all the photography and website maintenance in house so we had to learn a whole new skillset as well as keep up with the production of goods. It was challenging but such a brilliant experience. The other issue we face, which I know many small independent business’ struggle with, is online exposure. We’re a small fish in a big pond so competing with bigger brands was a little tricky at first, luckily our customers soon found us and valued our ethos. They recognise the craftsmanship and quality of materials we’ve sourced for our range of handmade goods. This means our customers can buy better products, fewer times, supporting the growing number of people trying to reign in overconsuming tendencies.

As for our shops we’re having lots of fun at the moment redesigning the layout ready for a refit next year. As we are based in small shops offering a wide range of products and colourways showcasing all our designs is really important for us but can look a bit overwhelming to shop visitors. To make it a pleasure to shop with us we’ll be implementing sections and adding much more signage throughout the shop that communicates everything you’ll need to know about our leathers, sizing and collections. It’s quite an undertaking but it will make such a difference as I think it’s been about 15 years since the last one!

I love the brightly coloured Leather Belt Bag – a sophisticated version of the bumbag/fanny pack! Your latest ranges, Chroma and Roam collections, are available in a stunning range of bright colours- Yellow, Red, Green, Sky Blue, Tangerine Orange – they are all simply gorgeous! However, what bags are proving popular amongst your customers so far this season? Is there a difference between the popularity stakes of items purchased from your shop and those purchased online?

I’m so glad you like the Belt Bag, it’s new territory for us as we haven’t entered that market before but it was so nice to design such a contemporary product and the response so far has been really positive. Over this season we’ve definitely seen customers both instore and online being drawn to the more fruity and vibrant colours like the sunny yellow of the Chroma Shoulder Bag, zesty Orange Roam Clutch Bag and now that we’re entering Autumn we’re seeing the Tan, Olive and Grey colourways come into their own. In terms of bag design I think the Chroma Shoulder Bag has pipped it this season, it’s such a nifty little bag, ideal for days out and it looks stunning. With a simple silhouette and secure turnlock it means you can pair it with every outfit effortlessly. 

In the shops we have a lot of people come in looking for a special gift to take back from London for their friends and family at home, that usually takes the form of something like a Roam Clutch Bag and matching zip purse. It’s so nice to see people really thinking about which colour or design their loved one will treasure the most. It’s only right they treat themselves to something as well for being so considerate! 

Have you got any personal favourites?

So, one of my favourite products we make sounds so basic but I get really excited telling people about it so here goes. It’s our Classic Black 1 1/4 Belt, the reason I love it is because it is the epitome of a wardrobe staple. I think everyone should own one. It’s made from delicious, thick Italian vegetable tanned leather. This kind of leather is made in the most eco friendly and natural ways by using tannins found in some plants and bark. It’s a very old artisanal process and only a small percentage of leather goods produced worldwide use veg tanned leather because it is slow to produce, therefore more expensive per foot. But, the quality of the leather is so high, rich in colour, supple and ages beautifully. We actually guarantee our Classic belts for 25 years, that’s how good it is, and what’s more is that at the end of it’s like the leather is biodegradable! The other great thing about this belt is that you can swap the buckles really easily to suit your outfit. And yes I have a favourite buckle – Westend Silver, its solid brass!

Your company also offers a bespoke service. Have you had any bizarre bespoke requests?

That’s such a great question! We’re often asked to tweak designs or emboss a meaningful date or name onto pieces to make them extra special. We once individually monogrammed some belts for a group of Groomsmen and one of their nicknames was ‘Snake’, I didn’t ask how he got that!

We work closely with the theatre a lot too and we once had a project that required us to make a bumbag which could hold a cabbage…

As you are based in London, are your products available to purchase overseas?

Yes! Absolutely, we send our goods worldwide. It’s amazing to think there are people all over the world enjoying our products that were made in our little workshop. Recently we had a customer send us a picture of a Bag she’d picked up from us in Covent Garden in 1988, she’s been using it daily in Australia since then!

When designing/producing products to add to your collections, do you take into account your own tastes, your customer base, current fashion trends, requests, vintage quality or bits of all those?

All our designs must first meet our values; affordability and handcrafted quality married with classic and practical design. We have a core range of products which have remained practically unchanged for years and years. The idea is they are classic wardrobe staples that can be paired with lots of outfits, the perfect balance between form and function. We make them using highly efficient, time-tested leather crafting techniques so they can last and build patina as they are worn and used, this means the designs are  timeless, reasonably priced and of unparalleled quality. 

Having this core range of classic products allows us to flex our creativity by designing small batches of seasonal products that consider customer needs and micro trends. A good example of this would be our Belt Bag or Hair on Hide Leopard Bag strap, as we manufacture the products ourselves we can make near instant tweaks based on customer feedback such as swapping a popper closure for a push lock on the Belt Bag. This means the customer gets exactly what they need and the design process is more collaborative. 

When you are not making & selling bags and belts, what do you enjoy doing in your leisure time?

Well, as you can imagine we love to make stuff in our spare time but not always from leather. At the moment two of us are making patterns for some dungarees we’re hoping to have done by next summer if we can find the time. If we’re not working on craft projects we like to ride our bikes or enjoy some of the amazing exhibitions that are always going on in London. We love organising staff outings too as an excuse to enjoy some of the great restaurants around Covent Garden, most recently we went to Padella in London Bridge where we ordered two rounds of food.

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

I opt for practical shoes that will protect my toes from any dropped tools or hammers in the workshop, that being said I want to feel chic and stylish at the same time so I’m usually rocking a pair of 1461 Doc Martens. We’re all big fans of Luck and Yak trousers and dungarees which are so comfy to wear at home or work and made in an ethical way. Outside the workshop, when we’re not going to get filthy and covered in thread or leather we really like to dress up and wear our own creations. I go for minimal, comfortable silhouettes made from organic cotton and linen. At the moment my favourite colours are rust and cobalt blue, I’m lusting after a lot of L.F Markey designs at the moment. Obviously all our outfits are accessorised with Village Leathers bags and belts.

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

As a fan of timeless designs I really love having a look around Labour and Wait in London. They offer amazingly curated homewares, I don’t know how they’ve found them but they stock loads of independent makers from all over who make beautiful and functional items that bring me joy. When I’m thinking of adventuring I like to browse Patagonia, I really relate to their brand values and the latest “Black Hole’ collection of bags is amazing as its made from recycled bottles. Online I love looking at Cool Machine Shop for their brilliantly fun, contemporary  and colourful offerings. Locally to me in Crystal Palace you’ll always find me in Lowie or Elkins for their gorgeous womenswear, books and homeware. 

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

I’m saving up for a Rust corduroy Boilersuit I’ve got my eye on. Effortless, chic and functional, what more do you need? 

Boots or Shoes?

Shoes – simply because I’m too impatient to bother undoing the laces on boots and nearly cause myself an injury pulling them on and off.

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

https://www.villageleathers.com

@villageleathers on Instagram 

http://instagram.com/villageleathers

https://facebook.com/villageleathers

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Thank you Verity for your fabulous insight into the company you work for. I love the quality of your products and your small Aladdin’s Cave of a shop in Covent Garden is certainly worth checking out!

Linda x

All photographs are published with kind permission of Village Leathers.

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5 Ways To Be A Sustainable Fashion Consumer

I know it isn’t New Year, the traditional time to make resolutions, but sometimes resolutions need to be made straightaway and now is as good a time as any! I’m talking about a resolution to help make fashion sustainable. When you go shopping, do you enjoy seeing an array of clothing collections and do you like it when the range for sale changes regularly? I admit, I have done in the past – especially when I was a teenager in the 1980s, shopping for new, cheap outfits every weekend and rarely wearing the same outfit twice. It came as no surprise to me that the concept of “Fast Fashion” was conceived in the 1980s – regular new collections at often cheap prices and not so great workmanship to meet the demands of the consumer. The concept sounded fantastic at the time, but nowadays the latest data has shown that an estimated £140 million pounds worth of wearable but discarded clothing goes into landfill each year! That is mind -boggling! Making fashion sustainable is crucial – to save the planet and to save the clothing industry too. As a consumer, buying habits and clothing attitudes need to change also. Not as daunting as it sounds though – here’s my 5 easy ways to become a sustainable fashion consumer:

BUY CLOTHES MADE OF NATURAL MATERIALS

Become a material snob! I was shocked to discover that 63% of clothing is now made from plastic derived manmade materials, such as polyester and acrylic. Every time you wash an item made from plastic, invisible microplastic fibres are released, it has been estimated that over 700,000 microplastic fibres are released in a typical 6kg wash – water that will eventually make its way into the oceans. Choosing natural materials – such as wool, sheepskin, cotton and linen – is the way to go because the materials last longer and they do not pollute the environment due to the fact that natural materials decompose safely. Further reading on sustainable fashion choices: http://bootsshoesandfashion.com/an-interview-with-made-with-respect/

A dress made from natural cork spotted in a boutique in Funchal, Madeira. Photo credit: Linda Hobden

BUY GARMENTS THAT ARE DESIGNED TO LAST

It is a sure thing that if you pay peanuts for an item, then possibly it will be poorly made and doesn’t last long. Price doesn’t always mean that an item is shoddy, but you can feel how well an item has been made and often it is worth paying slightly more for an item that has been well made and has been designed to last more than one wearing. Buying brand new isn’t the only way – well designed and well made garments are in abundance at “preloved” boutiques too – timeless classic designs that can bring joy to more than one owner – and are an affordable way to add some variety into your wardrobe. Further reading on garments designed to last: http://bootsshoesandfashion.com/an-interview-with-coral-turner-couture/

Me, wearing my favourite Jasmine Guinness designer dress that I bought a few years back and still is a wardrobe staple of mine!

LOOK AFTER THE CLOTHES YOU ALREADY HAVE

Basically, follow the instructions on the label on how to wash, dry and store your clothes! I learnt the hard way after shrinking t shirts in a tumble dryer (label said to line dry); misshaped a cardigan after putting it in a hot wash instead of the 30° wash as directed; hung up a wool jumper in my wardrobe and ended up with two permanent lumps on the shoulders (always fold knitwear); and I’ve used a hot iron on a dress with light voile sleeves … and yes, the sleeves came away from the dress and stuck to the iron, which ruined both the iron and dress and upset me no end as the dress was one of my favourites! I do try to stick to machine washable items, but my Jasmine Guinness dress, shown above, is dry clean only and I do adhere to that guideline and the dress has lasted for years. Lastly, if your wool jumper starts to go bobbly (pilling), it is not due to inferior quality as popular belief often states, but quite simply the natural reaction to material rubbing together, which is why the pilling often occurs under the arms. Regular de-pilling using a comb or an electric de-will help keep the bobbling under control. Further reading on clothing storage solutions: http://bootsshoesandfashion.com/an-interview-with-vault-couture/

RENT CLOTHING FOR SPECIAL EVENTS

Years ago, I was invited to a really posh evening function at the Dorchester Hotel in London, and I went into a mini-flap! Despite having a pretty substantial wardrobe, I really didn’t have anything suitable to wear nor did I have the financial means to buy a dress that I had envisaged wearing, nor could I really justify spending £1000 on a dress that I would realistically ever only wear for a few hours. I discovered a local dress agency where I could hire a luxurious designer dress for the weekend – it was the perfect solution – the rental charge was the amount I would have realistically spent on a dress normally, it gave me a chance to feel like a million dollars in my dream dress, and I didn’t have to worry about it languishing at the back of my wardrobe after the event. Renting outfits for special events – weddings, proms, social events, weekend parties – is such a great idea. Further reading about a dress agency: http://bootsshoesandfashion.com/an-interview-with-dress-code-nine/

A dress from Dress Code Nine. Photo credit: Dress Code Nine

SHOP YOUR WARDROBE

When I was preparing to move house, one of my most dreaded “jobs” to do beforehand was to declutter and downsize my wardrobe. The job wasn’t as daunting as I had thought – in fact it was very therapeutic and eye-opening! There were some outfits that I had literally forgot that I had and some outfits I was able to bring up-to-date with some well chosen accessories. Your wardrobe can be a revelation – have another look! If you are good at needlework, you could revamp your jeans, skirts, tops, shorts and dresses with beading, lacing … I found a stall at my local Steampunk fair that had made skirts out of jeans, shorts out of jeans and handbags out of jeans! Also, a company like Wingz sells “sleeves” so you could easily adapt those vest tops and sleeveless dresses. Further reading about Wingz: http://bootsshoesandfashion.com/an-interview-with-wingz/

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I hope that the 5 tips have helped in your aim of being a more sustainable fashion consumer. For more details on Fast Fashion and its cost to our planet, check out the excellent article by Celtic & Co. The facts and figures are mind blowing… https://www.celticandco.com/celtic/fast-fashion/

Linda x

Post copyright © LindaHobden.

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An Interview With Jay Mullings

Gracing my blog this week is award winning writer/director Jay Mullings. This man is certainly a busy bee – he is the author of The Thought Book series; founder & owner of Written Mirror Ltd – a bespoke content creation business; a fellow blogger; he writes poetry & music; and he has launched his debut feature film, The Jam. Is there simply no end to his awesome talent? Let’s find out… Hi Jay & welcome!

Hi! I’m Jay Mullings, London born Jamaican bred multiple international award winning Writer/Director. On top of that I am an author namely: The Thought Book & The Thought Book 2 and I also founded Written Mirror Ltd which is a content creation company + media publisher.

What was the inspiration behind launching Written Mirror Ltd?

Having something to call my own. A space where no one could tell me what to do and I would be allowed to fully realise my creative potential. In short it was to be a space where I could practice what I preach: Truthful Fearless Creativity…

Have you always enjoyed writing/ being a storyteller as a child? When did you discover you have a talent for writing?

I knew I had a way with words, language and logic from an early age. I could hold my own with adults in a debate, trip up teachers if they were trying to hide that they didn’t know something and I could even prove my innocence if wrongfully accused of things at home/school etc. I knew I was made to tell stories from early. My teachers would often share some of my stories which were either rib tickling comedy or pushing the envelope in terms of what a youngster should be writing about in school. I read a lot as a child and even then I fancied myself to be able to do the same if given half a chance.

Your “The Thought Book” series is a unique self help title. The series encourages the reader to adopt the mindset necessary for realising their goals. Why did you choose to write a self-help series? Was it an easy road to write and publish your books or was it harder than you thought?

Yes… The Thought Book Series, have you read the books? What did you think? I like to think of the books as unhindered self development books. I took out my ego, my bravado or whatever which way you’d like to sum it up and allowed the reader to place themselves in the book. I don’t think too many improvement books allow that to happen. I chose this style to help people in the most uncomplicated manner possible. Anyone who follows my doings knows that the message in both books is exactly what I use to armour myself against doubt, small mindedness and fear… 
It wasn’t hard at all. The books were a piece of cake; it was all the red tape and pirates looking to feast on your flesh that got draining. People have tried to steal my book from under me, overcharge me only to deliver inferior results and worst of all they have tried to pass the buck whenever they could not manipulate me. The books were the best part of it but the processes of working with greedy and unscrupulous people was not rewarding at all…

What genre of books do you tend to read?

I read when I have time to. Sometimes there is a lot of reading taking place and others little to none. That is the life of a content creator unfortunately. When I do read I like books that are very well written; by that I mean I don’t like wasted pages, filler or having to feel anger at just how large the holes in terms of logic are. The main reason for that is whatever, I start reading no matter how bad I have to finish it. I only try to read books that reward my work rate. Any genre any style would interest me so long as it is written well…

Have you always wanted to be a writer/director or did you have any other career in mind?

Centre forward for the mighty Arsenal! I wanted to replace Ian Wright…

Oh Jay, things were going so well !! I’m a Spurs supporter, your rival football fan! 😂… Let’s talk music instead! What were your musical influences growing up?

I was lucky to be born in the sweet spot for music. I had the best of the old and newer school growing up. My music knowledge often surprises people as it is very eclectic. We’re talking Fleetwood Mac to Bob Marley, Bowie to Gladys Knight and so on and so forth. You name it if it sounds good or has complexity to it I’m involved!

Writing poetry or writing songs? Do you have a preference?

Poetry can feed into songs so poetry! 

What genre of music do you personally listen to? What was the last concert you attended?

Dancehall/Reggae/Hip Hop/RnB/Classical and Soundtracks. The last concert I went to was in Brixton I saw Common’s band.

Imagine you are driving – what song would be top of your list to croon to whilst playing car karaoke?

Some Bob Marley or Missy Elliott to be honest!

Let’s talk about your debut feature film, The JAM (2019), that has already received 9 official selections since hitting the film festival circuit in April. How exciting! Can you give my readers a little summary of what The JAM is all about? 

The JAM is a feature length documentary that is centred on my life, my creative process, my family and friends’ reaction to my career choice as well as their hopes for my future. It’s the story that my community needs but not the one it has necessarily known it wanted. I wrote, edited and shot it myself. Oh yeah I wrote and recorded the Soundtrack too as Wicked Penman…

Congratulations on your latest award from the East Europe International Film Festival. Does that indicate that in 2020 you have other film plans or will you be concentrating on writing books or your music or will you be juggling all avenues? 😜

I can’t say too much but yes of course more content, more energy and more life.

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

I’m a practical dresser. I like being able to move and feel free. So I normally dress tactical. Joggers/Shorts Tees/Hoodies. Usually Written Mirror specials.

Do you have any favourite websites? (Apart from your own!)

Youtube! No doubt! So much helpful and funny content.

Boots or Shoes?

Boots! They’re made for walking! Seriously though I like Chelsea Boots they’re formidable and functional but very stylish simultaneously.

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

www.writtenmirror.com/blog

www.youtube.com/writtenmirror

www.twitter.com/writtenmirror

www.instagram.com/writtenmirror

https://open.spotify.com/artist/4dacYcT36TnsY1CbcPkmTY?si=_E2b2b5fQb6u-YjAY-HcZg

It has been great chatting to you,

Jay – I’m glad I’m not the only one who has to read a book, once started until the very end, regardless of how bad it is! Well, I did break that rule once when I read a book about the solo travels of a guy who trekked the Himalayas …. Anyhow, I’m looking forward to seeing The Jam and I wish you every success in all your ventures.

Linda x

All photographs are published with kind permission of Jay Mullings.

Article copyright © LindaHobden.

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Review: Ecopanda Reusable Make Up Remover Pads

DISCLAIMER ALERT: The make up remover pads have been supplied by Ecopanda for the purpose of this review however all opinions expressed are 100% mine.

This week I’m looking at make up remover pads. How do you take off your make up? Hands up those who, like me, use wipes to remove your makeup! Or do you use tissues/cotton wool balls to use with your cleanser/toner? I was approached by Ecopanda to try their reusable makeup remover pads…

Ecopanda are a small UK brand that have only just been established this year. They are determined to stop the madness of the disposable use of reusable products – a habit that a lot of people are guilty of. Ecopanda supports the deliberate exchange of plastic for sustainable products made from renewable raw materials. I’m always up for a challenge and so I’ve been using the reusable pads and here’s my opinion:

The Product

When you order the product you get 18 good sized fairly thick cotton pads (you can use both sides) in a pretty cute and handy storage box with a mesh bag. The pads are meant just for removing make up and not for exfoliating… I read one review on Amazon from a customer who bemoaned the fact that the pads were not exfoliating. The pads are dry – you need to add the cleanser/toner – unlike makeup wipes that are already moistened. The pads were soft and removed my makeup adequately. They do the job they were meant to do….. 10/10

Are they convenient/reusable/habit breaking?

Are they convenient? It depends: if you use cleansing lotion/ toners on a regular basis and usually use tissues/cotton wool then the answer is yes. I would use them for home use. Personally, for travelling, I would vouch for the make up wipes – no added baggage and I try to travel as light as possible. I am also aware that wipes are not environmentally friendly – these pads tick the environmentally friendly box. Hard to score. 7/10

The Wash tests

After removing make up, when using wipes, the dirty wipes are then chucked into the bin. With these reusable pads – well they need cleaning. The company admits that after washing, the pads are not snowy white but are clean enough to be reused. The company guidelines are to wash, in the bag provided, in a 60° machine wash, and any stubborn mascara marks, hand wash first. So, I conducted 4 washing tests: machine wash 40° ; handwashed using washing up liquid; handwashed using liquid soap; boiled water machine wash 60°. I decided to try other washing methods because I rarely use a 60° wash on my washing machine and, in this day and age, a lower temperature wash is encouraged. However, I did do a boiled wash test. I used 4 separate clean pads and used to take off my make up on 4 separate days:

Test 1: Machine Wash 40°

Test 2 – Handwashed – washing up liquid

Test 3 – Handwashed – liquid soap

Test 4 – boiled wash 60°

So, I found that hand washing with washing up liquid produced the cleaner result. Although the other washing results produced similar results. I didn’t use vanish, ace or other in wash washing machine stain removers – I imagine using a pre wash stain wash would produce better results. Personally, I would reuse the pads because the stains are very slight and the stains don’t affect the work of the pad in any way. However, if you have sensitive skin, think about washing powder/soap reaction from the pads once washed. They don’t look particularly clean either after washing, although they are, so it is a matter of personal taste whether you’d be happy reusing them. 7/10

CONCLUSION

I’m liking these pads the more I’m using them – they are better than using dry tissue or cotton wools. These will be used at home. For travelling though, I think I’d be sticking to the disposable wipes (sorry!) – but never say never! The box they come in is very cute and looks great on the bathroom shelf or dressing table. Price wise – they are not cheap however as you do get 18 pads and you use both sides, that is 36 days…and then a machine wash and use them again… And they are definitely a big nod towards the non disposable idea. Overall score: 8/10

For Pinning Later

Ecopanda pads are available from Amazon:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07NHYB1BN

Thank you to Ecopanda for giving me the opportunity to try your reusable make up pads. I do endeavour to break the disposable habit!

Linda x

All photographs are by Linda Hobden.

Photos and Article copyright © LindaHobden.

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Art London

I do so love art and I do so love my city of London, where I was born & bred, so you can imagine my excitement at being given the privilege of reading a preview of the fantastic book “Art London” – a guide book with a twist. It’s a book every art lover should have on their coffee table – but used like any other well thumbed guide book. It is a guide to places, artists and events – author Hettie Judah has sniffed out some hidden gems in back streets and in otherwise non descript buildings; has given information on the more well known galleries and museums; found some enticing galleries to add a picture or two to your collection; and details on every event to fill your diary. But, the book is so much more. It is jam packed with stories and historical data on everything art, including but not limited to, the artists, galleries, statues, architecture, public artwork as seen in the subways of the London Underground, as well as the general art scene. The book is a little mine of information! It has renewed my enthusiasm to revisit forgotten galleries and discover new places – adventures I hope to write about in future blogposts. Oh, and I mustn’t forget about the innovative photography in the book by Alex Schneideman! Superb! In the meantime though, I caught up with art critic and author of “Art London”, Hettie Judah …. hi Hettie!

Photographer Alex Schneideman

Hi! I’m Hettie. I’m an art critic and writer – chief art critic for the British daily newspaper The I, and a regular contributor to The Guardian, Frieze, Vogue International, Art Quarterly and lots of other publications with ‘art’ in the title. I talk about art at events in galleries and museums.

“Art London” is a guide book extraordinaire – I was enthralled to read the history of some places that I had previously walked past eg the statues of Parliament Square and the building above St James Park Station, and not really taken much notice – and now I have my “tourist goggles” on ! What made you decide to write “Art London” in the first place?

Most Saturdays when I’m in London I spend the afternoon catching up on exhibitions in small commercial galleries clustered around a particular area. I was relying on a few mapping apps to locate the galleries, but realised that I was missing a lot – unbelievably there was no one app, book or website that offered anything close to a definitive list or guide to London’s small galleries. There also wasn’t much information about their history – I walked past the amazing Autograph gallery for years without realising that it was the gallery of the Association of Black Photographers, and that it had a very important history. One thing that’s fascinating about London is that it has such a diverse population and history – it was important to me with the book that I represented that as best I could, offering a set of parallel art histories for the city. I wanted Art London to be a friendly paperback rather than a glossy coffee table book: I’m hoping people will find it approachable, informative and entertaining, and most of all be able to get out there and use it.

I liked how you wrote the book – I enjoyed reading about the established galleries I visited as a child – such as William Morris Gallery and the V & A Museum Of Childhood in Bethnal Green;  I can’t wait to explore the new modern art galleries and hidden gems; I was fascinated to read the mini biographies of artists of old and new – the book is packed to the rafters – how long did the book take you to write? What was the hardest part(s) to write about ?

Thank you! I’m guessing you must be a North East Londoner? I really enjoyed researching Art London – there was a lot of reading, and exploration – I hope that comes through in the writing. The book has taken about a year from start to finish, though I was drawing on knowledge that I have built up over a long career writing about art: there are stories such as the Tradescants’ Ark, or the husband and wife team behind Kelpra, that I have had in mind for years. The hardest part was knowing when to stop – the book could have been ten times the length – there are no end of fascinating stories. Every few days now I come across something or someone that I wish I’d had space to include – in June I interviewed Penny Slinger, who is a wonderful artist who was active in London in the 1960s. She is an ardent feminist, very sexually liberated: some of the stories she told would have been wonderful for Art London. Who knows, maybe I’ll do an expanded edition in a few years?

photographed by Alex Schneideman

Oh you guessed right Hettie! I was born in Stratford & brought up in the Leyton/Leytonstone area of East London; I went to college in Tottenham in North London – so yes, the north east corner of London was definitely my childhood “stomping ground” 😊 Have you got a favourite art gallery or museum?  Whilst researching your book, what were the hidden gems that surprised you the most? 

There are some very special art spaces in London – I love Dilston Grove in Southwark Park, an atmospheric space in an old church building. I’m great fans of 6A Architects who converted the new South London Gallery building in an old fire station: their buildings always feel airy and welcoming, full of natural light and a sense of the space beyond the walls. I’m ashamed to say that didn’t know about the Jean Cocteau murals in Notre Dame de France before I started researching the book: they really are hidden gems. We all move so fast in this city: sometimes we need to be reminded to look up and pause. I don’t think I’d taken in the Henry Moore carvings on the Time Life building until a curator friend posted them on Instagram – I’d been walking past the building on Bond Street for years without looking at them properly.

I loved discovering new artists and learning about their historical background, such as Mary Beale, Britain’s first female professional portraitist. Have you got any favourite artists?

So many! Hogarth has a special place in my heart. He was a great observer of raw human nature – drunk, lusty, ambitious, destitute – but I think he appreciated simple everyday pleasures around him too. Gwen John’s paintings are exquisite – there are a couple in Tate Britain’s collection that are definitely on my ‘would steal’ list (sorry Tate…) ditto sculptures by the Geometry of Fear generation: Lynn Chadwick and Bernard Meadows. I don’t think I’d fit Phyllida Barlow’s work into my house, but her recent show at the Royal Academy was glorious. And our cover star Gillian Wearing has done so much great work – and with such wit.

 “Art London” isn’t your first book – and you have written about art in many top name publications.Have you always enjoyed writing? Are there any genres you would like to have a go at, but haven’t as yet?

I’m afraid I was that cliché as a kid: a bookworm and a daydreamer. I’ve not changed much. I enjoy research, and I don’t have a natural flair for plots, so non fiction is probably my natural home. I have written all kinds of things in the past, from poetry to scripts for short films. Even comedy sketches. And like most writers I have an unfinished novel lurking in a bottom drawer…

Are there any new writing plans in the pipeline?

Funny you should ask! I’m just back from a research trip in Mexico City for a short biography of Frida Kahlo – unknotting biographical fact from fiction has been fascinating, she was a great teller of tall tales. Frida will be coming out this time next year with Laurence King.

Knowing you’re a bookworm … what is your favourite genre and/or authors? Kindle or actual book? 

I buy a huge number of second hand books – I get through hundreds and hundreds in my line of work. As a result  I don’t get much chance to indulge in fiction – perhaps only one or two books a year, depending on whether I get the chance to take a holiday. If I do manage to squeeze in some holiday reading I try to reset my brain with something totally different, usually science fiction: China Miéville, Stanislav Lem, Ursula K Le Guin ….

Is “Art London” available to purchase worldwide?

Yes! And please order it through local bookshops if you can, they need our support.

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

Always flat shoes – Converse or Supergas – art critics spend a lot of time on their feet. I’m usually in a dress: my frocks start life as evening wear and slowly filter down into my everyday wardrobe and then my dog walking and gardening outfits over the course of a decade or so. Like many in the art world I struggle with an unshakeable attraction to black clothing.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Vintage costume jewellery from eBay.

Boots or Shoes?

A solid pair of boots – I’m on my feet for hours every day.

For Pinning Later

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

My personal Instagram account it @hettiejudah – artworks from the exhibitions I visit, and very occasionally a picture of my dog.I started a separate Instagram account for Art London. For practical reasons we couldn’t show all the artworks and artists mentioned in the book – it would have been thousands of pages long – so @artlondon_book is a picture gallery for curious readers.

Thank you Hettie – it has been such a pleasure chatting to you and it was such a privilege to read and thumb through the preview of “Art London”. I’m so excited to check out some new venues! I’m also looking forward to reading your biography of Frida Kahlo – sounds really interesting.

Linda x

Photos: All photos (apart from the last one for Pinterest) are by Alex Schneideman and have been published with kind permission from Hettie Judah and photographer Alex Schneideman. The Pinterest photo was taken by myself, Linda Hobden – Street Art at a Market in Shoreditch, close to Liverpool Street Station.

“Art London” was published by ACC Art Books.

Photos and Article copyright © LindaHobden.

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Review: Rydale Boots

DISCLAIMER ALERT: The boots have been supplied by Rydale for the purpose of this review however all opinions expressed are 100% mine.

September! The start of my favourite season of the year – Autumn. Living in the south east of England, I love the warm, sunny days and the cooler nights; I love the changing colours of the countryside; but I think my favourite reason of all is that it heralds the start of “boot” season! I love my boots but I never feel comfortable wearing boots in summer – I do have an open toe heeled pair of boots but it isn’t the same. I like to wear my thick tights or socks with a pair of comfortable boots. So, I was so excited to receive a pair of uber cool suede chelsea style boots to review from outdoor country clothing and footwear company, Rydale.

Ladies Kirby II Heeled Suede Chelsea Boots in Brown/Plum

Rydale is a family company established in 1954 by John Nichols and now it is in the 3rd generation, still based in the heart of Yorkshire. John Nichols was inspired by a true passion for the country lifestyle and today Rydale’s ranges of outdoor country clothing, footwear and accessories for men, women and children are truly impressive. Their website features traditional wax jackets, tweed coats, flat caps, jodhpurs, riding boots alongside skinny jeans and, my favourite, the Chelsea Boot. Rydale has invested heavily into waste management and recycling. To offset their small carbon footprint, Rydale have created a woodland and have so far planted over 10,000 trees. All Rydale’s products are inspired and designed in Yorkshire – with an emphasis on quality, reliability and style…. so did the Chelsea Boots live up to the hype??

What a silly question! They were all that I hoped and more! Let’s look more closely at Rydale’s claims…

  1. Quality. These boots are made of the finest soft suede leather fabric and the comfortable faux leather padded interior gave the boots an almost slipper feel. I took the boots for a day and night continuous “road test” – walking around villages and fields during the day and a restaurant meal in the evening. As the heel is only low, it came as no surprise that my feet didn’t ache. What really impressed me was that they felt like slippers and weren’t clunky or cumbersome; they didn’t rub my heel nor squashed my toes; and the boot has a slightly narrow fit which suits me as I have narrow feet and am forever slipping and sliding in standard/wider footwear. 10/10

2. Reliability. Obviously they are suede boots so not suitable for wearing in wet or snowy conditions. Rydale recommend cleaning with a suede protector spray. The boots have a rubber sole – I can only presume that they will be ok on an icy surface – but temperatures here are hovering around 25°C at the moment it was hard to road test the slipability factor.

3. Style. These boots definitely have the style X factor! These boots are an updated version of the original Kirby boots – which are also pretty stylish – and the colourways on offer are pretty scrumptious. My pair are in brown/plum; the other colours in the Kirby II style are Dark Green/Plum and Navy/Plum. I do so love the contrasting elasticated panel – the Plum colour is so on trend this year. 10/10

WEAR WITH…..

I like to wear mine with skinny jeans – in denim of all colours. Rydale do a range of skinny jeans – “Portia” – in a variety of colours from navy denim to berry. I particularly liked the Chelsea boots with Rydale’s dark brown jodhpurs – made a refreshing change from wearing them with traditional riding boots. Don’t be scared of pairing these boots with thick tights and a short tweed skirt; or embrace the current boho trend and wear with a long flowing 1970s style dress …. the possibilities are endless.

Like the boots?

Check out Rydale’s website and feast your eyes on some lovely footwear and clothing. https://www.rydale.com

Delivery of items are quick and postage costs are pretty reasonable too – I especially appreciate the fast delivery option of 1-2 working days – I get impatient waiting for goods!! The good news for my international friends is that Rydale ship to a wide range of destinations in Europe, America and beyond.

For pinning later

Thank you Rydale for introducing me to your gorgeous footwear range! I’m in love!!

Linda x

All photographs are by Linda Hobden.

Photos and Article copyright © LindaHobden.

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Steampunk Day At Bressingham

In July, my husband, myself and our teenage sons went on a day trip to Bressingham – a sort of steam railway/museum/gardens centre near Diss, in Norfolk. Finding a place that would amuse us all as a family, avoiding theme parks, is becoming harder now my boys are teenagers. Having not been to Bressingham before, and we all like steam trains, it seemed an ideal place to visit. The added attraction was that it was “Steampunk Weekend” too – but I was unaware of this until we arrived ….

Bressingham

So, what is Steampunk? According to the Oxford dictionary it is “A style of design and fashion that combines historical elements with anachronistic technological features inspired by science fiction”… According to Wikipedia, “Steampunk is a sub genre of science fiction or science fantasy that incorporates technology and aesthetic designs inspired by 19th century industrial steam-powered machinery.” I first noticed as we arrived at 10am glamorous women in Victorian lace up boots and long corset style gothic/Victoriana style dresses… men in dapper jackets … top hats and goggles . I thought they must be members of staff …. I thought Bressingham was just about steam railways ….but then I realised they were members of the public mingling in the queue alongside those in bog standard shorts and t shirts. I did feel underdressed!

My 14 year old son Jack was hooked – he immediately purchased a top hat that was customised for him whilst we looked around Bressingham and we was able to pick it up later. My youngest son settled for some groovy goggles. I enjoyed looking at the beautiful bodices being sold on the stalls … and I enjoyed admiring the gorgeous outfits being worn.

Bressingham itself is a great place to visit, with or without a special event going on, but the Steampunk event certainly added a special air to the place. Bressingham consists of many parts: Bressingham Rides, Bressingham Gardens, Bressingham Museum.

Bressingham Rides

We were lucky because on the day we visited all 3 railway lines with their impressive steam locomotives were running . The railway lines covered the woodland area, around the gardens and around the perimeter of the site. The working locomotives were all different and the journey times were longer than the usual miniature railway ride.

However, the large Victorian steam galloper occupies a prominent position near the entrance, and although my youngest son had his leg strapped up as he had broken his foot, with a bit of help, he was able to ride on the horse alongside his dad and brother. In fact, him and his brother had quite a few gos over the course of the day. I must admit, the merry-go-round looked lovely but it made me feel dizzy just watching let alone riding on it. I stayed at the side, holding Ethan’s crutches and taking photos.

There was an old fashioned fairground full of penny machines, hoopla stalls and other attractions of the Victorian age. A small crazy golf course was a lot of laughs and at £2 per person provided a good half hour’s entertainment as we battled it out between ourselves to see who would become the family champion …. my husband came first, I came 2nd…

Bressingham Gardens

The gardens are renowned worldwide for their horticultural excellence – there are four linking gardens displaying over 8,000 species and varieties within its 17 acres. The gardens are privately owned by the, appropriately named, Bloom family. Adrian Bloom and his father, Alan, have each created a 6 acre garden : The Dell and Foggy Bottom. Unfortunately we only managed to view the gardens from the garden railway train journey and didn’t have enough time to wander through the 17 acres as well. I will definitely head for the gardens on my next visit, perhaps in Spring when the gardens are in full bloom.

The Bressingham Museum

In fact there are 2 museums ….

The Locomotive Sheds were full of trains and carriages from yesteryear – bringing the glory of steam engineering up close. You couldn’t actually step inside the locomotives or carriages but there were especially built platforms along the sides so you can have a good old peek through the windows . The royal carriages were really fascinating. The old posters dotted around the walls were interesting too – the old away day trips by train I can remember well as a young girl – I remember one day railway trip we made as a family around 1974 was from London to Blackpool via Preston ( we didn’t have long there as a day trip and it rained all day!)

National Dad’s Army Collection – based on the popular TV series, Dad’s Army, you wander through the fictional “Walmington On Sea” with the original props and vehicles from the series.

Other Facilities

There is a gift shop and a cafe with indoor and outdoor seating that served the biggest slices of chocolate cake I have ever seen and picnic areas. Warranting a special mention are the toilet facilities for both men and women. They are both sparkling clean – hard to achieve in a public place – but the floors, toilets, sinks were spotless even by mid afternoon.

There were extra shops and stalls as part of the Steampunk event.

Recommend?

Oh yes, definitely.

If you are into gardens, then Bressingham gardens would delight. Steam train/train enthusiasts would enjoy. Ideal family day out – for babies the gardens would be ideal pram pushing area, for older children and adults the merry go round, crazy golf, & trains would delight. Not sure there was enough to please a toddler though.

For Pinning Later

Linda x

All photographs are by Linda Hobden.

For more details about Bressingham check out their website: www.bressingham.co.uk

Photos and Article copyright © LindaHobden.

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