Dressing Up This Christmas: The Best Outfits on the High Street

Well, well, well. Here we are. December the first has been and gone and I popped an advent calendar chocolate for breakfast this morning. It’s well and truly Chriiiiistmaaaas.

This means that you’ve probably been invited to a Christmas party or twain. And that means you have a legitimate excuse to go shopping because you have absolutely nothing to wear and you hate all of your clothes. Woohoo!

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The Revenant: A Film Review

This review comes late, but prompted by the fact that it’s the Oscars soon and I had a half-written piece lying dormant within my laptop, I felt compelled to finish it. Because I loved this film. A few minor gripes aside, it’s the best thing I’ve seen in a long time.

I was ready to hate it, I really was. Word of mouth reviews like ‘I couldn’t wait for it to be over’ and ‘the bear attack goes on for TWENTY MINUTES’ were a bit of a deterrent, but with a large plastic cup full of red wine in hand I readied myself for a gruelling two hours and thirty-six minutes. Continue reading

Why I’m OK with being a Basic Bitch

I’m loving the new series of Peep Show. When I’m feeling especially self-deprecating I sometimes say there’s a touch of the Mark Corrigan about me, although as you don’t know me personally and  may therefore take that literally I won’t say it here. The first episode brought to light something I’ve been thinking a lot about recently. Mark might say he likes watching documentaries about William Morris with his new flatmate, but really he’s just a basic bitch. Jeremy put it scathingly brilliantly:

‘The problem for you is I’m your friend. I know you, Mark. I know you like to pretend that you’re this stuffed shirt who reads incredibly boring books about dead people killing each other with bayonets and typhoid, but I know the truth. I’ve watched Grand Designs with you. That smile when some eco-glass gets delayed on its way from Antwerp and the nice couple gets pushed over budget. That’s the real you. … You’re this pathetic human who likes Twirls and Downton and Bond and burgers, so don’t come the big guy with me because it won’t fucking wash.

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What I’ve Been Listening to this Month (July)

What a strange spring and early summer it has been. The major life events of other people have caused me to look at time and its passing in a different way, reminding me to notice subtle changes like how lush and green this country is in July. Now that I’m getting a little older and the years are speeding up, the change in season is something I want to grasp and hold onto. Summer seemed to last forever when I was little but now it goes by in the blink of an eye. Continue reading

The Lazy Cook’s Dessert: Frangipane Tart

This recipe is all about minimum effort expended for maximum effect. Complicated instructions are all well and good when you have the time or the inclination to use every utensil in the kitchen, but why bother when you can impress with something that is actually dead easy? As a supremely lazy cook (I prefer the term ‘efficient’), frangipane in all its guises has become my fail safe pudding. Anyone I’ve ever cooked for is likely bored to death of these tarts, but they’re so goddamn easy and delicious I can’t stop making them. Here’s how. Continue reading

Musica a Palazzo: A Venetian Opera Review

I’ve only ever been to a handful operas over the course of my life and I have to say, I’m not mad keen. I’ve tried to understand why so many people are moved to tears by the great tragedies but, opera philistine that I am, I just don’t get it.

I couldn’t wait for Mimi to hurry up and die at the end of La Bohème just so it could be over. I nearly walked out of The Marriage of Figaro in the interval due to the cringe factor of this ‘comic’ opera, highlights of which included some crossdressing and lots of hiding in cupboards. Maybe it was funny in 1786. I almost enjoyed Verdi’s Nabucco and an opera adaptation of Il Postino, but the extended periods of ‘recitative style’ (singing with the rhythms of ordinary speech) made me want to claw my own ears off. I’m all for the arias, the duets and the big choruses, but speech which is sung instead of spoken cuts right through me. I’m not into it. Take me to the ballet over the opera any day. Or so I thought. Continue reading

Far Fom the Madding Crowd: A Film Review

There is no one, in my very humble opinion, who writes more beautifully about the world of nature than Thomas Hardy. Some choose books which allow them to escape to fantasy lands across distant galaxies but my preferred location for escapism is the inside of a Hardy novel. Perhaps not Jude the Obscure, but certainly the green, rolling hills and meandering lanes of Wessex, the semi-imaginary county which features in many of his novels. I do love a descriptive passage about nature, me. Especially when the charming landscape clashes so violently with the human tragedy unfolding within it. I read a Hardy novel every summer. He’s my fave. Continue reading