Archive for the 'lifestyle' Category

Vintage at Goodwood review

Vintage at Goodwood is a three-day festival dedicated to music, fashion, film and design from the ‘40s to the present day.  This year’s extravanganza, held at the weekend, was the first of what is to be an annual event on the beautifully situated Goodwood estate. I went along (with my family) on Saturday.

You probably wont be surprised to read that the festival is as middle class as it is nostalgic. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing. It’s just slightly odd to walk into a field and come face to face with a John Lewis store in the purpose-built vintage Market Place. I didn’t go in so I have no idea what they were selling (presumably not washing machines or sofas) but I’m pretty sure that being ‘never knowingly undersold’ was a festival first.

I headed instead for what was billed as the largest vintage fashion bazaar in Europe, with over 320 fashion and accessories stalls of dressing up delights.  This was also the perfect place to people watch – and it’s the wonderfully attired punters that made Goodwood special.

So many (and hopefully everyone in future) had arrived dressed in vintage finery and the result was glamour everywhere you looked. Meanwhile the Vintage Goodwood beauty parlour was doing a roaring trade in retro makeovers – ‘natural’ didn’t get a look in.

Mr AM  amused himself by looking at the vintage cinema bus (showing Joe Strummer movies), watching new bands in the woods and trying to find the beer tent. It turned out that the bars were situated the soul, rock n roll and dance music ‘clubs’ – (don’t ask me who was playing – this is a beauty blog, not the NME) – well away from the second hand frocks.

Time for  a cream tea (because you always have one at a festival, right?) . The bunting festooned outdoor cafes were a stone’s throw away from the soul stage so I enjoyed a cuppa and a nibble of home made scone while tapping a toe to ‘Move On Up’ – I bet Curtis Mayfield often did the same, way back in vintage times.

With a nod to our rock and roll aristocracy, ever so posh auction house Bonhams were showing off some rock star memorabilia before an auction on Sunday. Lots included rock star portraits and a tatty old piano – from Abbey Road studios – that was apparently worth £150,000. No doubt someone very rich has now taken it home and I expect their cleaner will secretly shake her head in disbelief as she wipes the rock star finger prints off the keys.

Having consumed some very middle class organic hot dogs (like normal hot dogs, but way more expensive) we headed for the main stage. Here, we enjoyed the outdoor bar (at last!) and The Noisettes who played a wonderfully glitzy set as the sun went down and a crescent moon rose. As we left – tired, happy, and planning what to wear next year – the walkways were illuminated with twinkling fairy lights. I expect you can buy a similar set at John Lewis.

Whatsabouttown: thinking outside the jewellery box

“I’m having a coffee morning and  jewellery sale!” is the sort of invitation that usually has me instantly feigning an acute allergy to nickel and homemade biscuits.

However once a year my neighbour Sally hosts a get together where Sam Park showcases her Whatsabouttown jewellery collection to a select group of friends, and wild horses wont keep me (or my credit card) away. And its not just for the flapjacks (although they are very good).

Truth is, Sam doesn’t really do coffee mornings either  – she’s too busy (along with five staff) running Whatsabouttown  – a jewellery website that currently attracts up to 1500 unique hits a day, with customers snapping up her totally on-trend celebrity-led and ever-changing selection of gorgeous bangles, beads and baubles and RIST watches. Its no wonder style mags are calling in samples right, left and centre.

She’s also currently designing a handbag and dress line, with a shoe collection in the pipeline.

Not bad for someone aged 22.

Sam went into business when she was 15 with a £100 investment. She’s dyslexic and university wasn’t for her so instead she’s worked her bejeweled socks off and built an empire on bling. She puts her success down to loving what she does and staying constantly up to date with who’s wearing what and the latest trends.

I can’t help but notice that, like many people who are dyslexic, she is also blessed with a highly creative outside-the-box way of thinking and a charming ability to get on with people (Jamie Oliver is another example of the same). Add that other often over-looked essential – confidence – and  there lies a recipe for success.

‘I would 100% agree that confidence is more important than qualifications’ says Sam. ‘Business is about coming up with fresh ideas. I used to hold back in case someone laughed at me but now I kind of have the attitude that I’m doing my own thing and I’ve got over worrying about what other people think…”

follow Sam at twitter@SamanthaParkWAT

jewellery photography: Paul Mitchell

The Desperate Housewives of Mountain Biking

I took up mountain biking  six years ago. With  some of the best riding in southern England on my doorstep, the temptation to get out there and give it a go just got too much. I joined up with an existing group of  local riders – all, like me, working mums – and proceeded to fall off a lot.

Six years of regular riding later, and I am fitter, stronger and very grateful to be part of a fabulously supportive group of friends.

We have encouraged each other to ‘have a go’ as we peer over the edge of sheer drops, pulled each other out of bushes when it has all gone horribly wrong, shared in the elation of conquering a difficult climb or tricky descent, and kidded ourselves that ‘the ground’s a bit slippy today’ when we’ve messed it up. We’ve raced each other uphill, snaked through singletrack and flown downhill at alarming speeds. We have come home unusually muddy for women of our age, and eaten a lot of post-ride cake. And we have talked – we’re very good at that.

In fact, when it comes to chat we are the Desperate Housewives of mountain biking. The combination of being together in the great outdoors, awash with exercise induced feel-good endorphins means there are few holds barred when it comes to subject matter. From divorce to down-hill technique, from shopping to gear shifts – we’ve panted our way through it all.

We’ve also laughed until we’ve cried, listened, learnt and supported each other through all manner of dilemmas and difficulties, both bike-related and personal.

What’s said in the woods has to stay in the woods (I’m a loyal sort of friend so no divulging secrets), but for me, mountain biking with my friends has been the best therapy you could ask for.

Calling all real women – whatever your size, shape, height, or age essentials magazine needs you!  If you would like to appear in a glossy womens lifestyle magazine this is your chance to shine!  Simply visit for further details on how to enter, and follow the campaign on our Facebook and Twitter pages…we can’t wait to hear from you.

Real women who have inspired me.…

The team at Essentials magazine has asked me to write about real women who have inspired me. Here goes…

Sometimes the biggest inspiration comes from a small piece of advice given by a friend. That it happens to come at the ‘right place, right time’ in your life is what makes the difference.

When I experienced writer’s block my friend Rosie (classical musician and mum) gently reminded me how important it was to ‘practice’ everyday – even if only for a few minutes – and not to worry about how well or what I wrote. Just doing was enough. Her simple advice, shared over a cup of coffee in her kitchen, really helped me to work my way out of my creative crisis.

In fact, it is acknowledged that regular practice is the key to ‘shining’ at almost everything, from marathon running or playing the piano to pedicures and blog writing. Apparently, it takes 10,000 hours of practice to really excel. With this in mind, I suggest you practice something you particularly enjoy.

Rosie also recommended the book ‘Women Who Run with the Wolves’ by Jungian psychoanalyst Clarissa Pinkola Estes. For someone who is at her most content when idly thumbing through a glossy magazines, reading a 500 page book described as ‘a lexicon for the female pysche’ was a daunting task – but it turned out to be as close to life changing as any book has ever come. It is all about personal empowerment, and talks to women of all ages, sizes and backgrounds. I have given this book to many  of my friends, as my way to inspire them.

Calling all real women – whatever your size, shape, height, or age essentials magazine needs you!  If you would like to appear in a glossy womens lifestyle magazine this is your chance to shine!  Simply visit for further details on how to enter, and follow the campaign on our Facebook and Twitter pages…we can’t wait to hear from you.

Picture posed by model.

Elegy to the photo shoot Polaroid

Before digital photography usurped film, every photographer, stylist, make up artist and model had a Polaroid collection – a personal set of photographic trophies gathered from photo shoots and kept in ordered notebooks, pinned on the studio wall or in the back of a portfolio.

Polaroid was the workhorse used to check lighting, composition, and hair and make up before shooting film.  It was far from perfect, being fragile and expensive to use, and it had an unmistakable chemical smell that never faded as well as a tendency to make everything look a bit too green. But it was always kind of cool and is the only type of film considered worthy of its own dance move, thanks to Outkast’s ‘Shake it like a Polaroid picture’ line in Hey Ya!. It is also still uniquely beautiful.

These images were taken in Miami, on a trip to shoot beauty pictures for Just 17. We were meant, officially, to be using Polaroid for behind the scenes shots. Unofficially we used it to record the fact that we were a crew that couldn’t quite believe our luck. Miami was hot, sunny and photogenic with fabulous light and model agencies on the beach – and we were, for a few days, part of it. These ethereal images are a visual reminder that such heady moments are precious and fleeting. It is something that a technically precise digital image on a laptop screen will never convey quite so eloquently.

From a blog written for Mat Dolphin


This tasted as good as it looks. That’s all!

Photo: Paul Mitchell

best beach bag ever?

I was once told – by a French person, no less – that it is easy to spot a Brit on the beach because we tend to carry our sandwiches (and presumably, a knotted handkerchief) in – quelle horreur – a supermarket plastic bag. Meanwhile our continental cousins stroll effortlessly across the sand with a chic little beach bag slung effortlessly over their sun-kissed shoulders.

I however will be carrying one of recycle-recycle’s fabulously funky and very practical bags to the beach (and wherever else I venture). And this range is not just great to look at. Each is made in Cambodia from recycled rice bags and every sale supports a Cambodian fair trade project that aims to improve the makers’ quality of life.  From notonthehighstreet (search recycle-recycle).


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