Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Interview: Abi from The Zutons

Chat with Abi harding from The Zutons

Radio 1 Big Weekend. What an amazing weekend. One of the biggst highlights was getting to meet Abi from The Zutons - who I love. She is amazing...her hair, her style, her effortless chic. Top chick.
She looked amazing in her Diane Von Furstenberg playsuit and Stella McCartney pumps.
BSG: You look amazing as usual, what are you wearing?
AH: DVF and Stella; I love these two designers and I love to wear things that are different. I am a huge fan of the High Street, but to be honest, I have to look elsewhere a lot of the time cos' I like my style to be very individual.
BSG: What do you look for in an outfit?
AH: It has to stand out. No matter what. I like colourful outfits and if I see something that catches my eye I just have to have it.
BSG: Why did you choose this particular outfit today?
AH: Well, I had found this amazing t-shirt in Miss Selfridge that looked exactly like one that Dave wore for every gig. I bought it and thought, yeah I'm gonna wear this and we will match. Lucky I didn't wear it that night: I saw a girl in the front row wearing the very same t-shirt. I was mortified!
This stood out to me and I knew it would be comfy and cool too - it is so hot today!
Thanks Abi, we love you even more.
Here is the link to Cosmopolitan.co.uk - I covered the event for them and had a chat with the likes of Colin Murray and Jo Whiley - when she was pregnant (looking fantastic as ever)


Interview: Lindsey Kelk

Interview with Chic Lit author and beauty mecca blogger, Lindsey Kelk

Well hellllloo...
So I managed to blag an interview with superstar blogger and author of I Heart New York, Lindsey Kelk.
Talk about living the dream - this girl is my hero.
She decided to get pen to paper, wrote her book, won a multiple book deal and is now living in New York a la her lead character.
I love her. The writing is refreshing, honest and pacey. Now, I'm not usually a big fan of Chic Lit, I have always been one of those who would prefer to be reading To Kill a Mockingbird on the beach rather than Daisy does Danny or Fanny's fanny diaries. Nope not me at all.
So, imagine my surprise when I genuinely fell in love with the character and Lindsey's inspirational writing. She rocks and I can't wait for her next installment....

What inspired you to write the I heart series...?

I was in a bit of a general rut and really playing 'anywhere but here'. I was broke after Christmas, stuck in cold, wet London in January with a rubbish boyfriend when I really wanted to be shopping in sunny New York, chasing after hot boys. Since I couldn't up sticks and leave, the only thing I could do was write about it!

How much do you resemble the protagonist Angela?
A lot at the beginning of the book. We have similar jobs, similar relationships, I just never broke anyone's hand or weed in their washbag. As far as they know... But as the book (and now books!) went on, she really started to become her own character. I'd write something and then think, 'no, that's something I'd say, Angela would never say that.' And before I knew it, she had a life of her own.

When writing about Angela's make-overs, did you use your make-up experience to make it as true-to-life as possible?

A lot of people ask if I did a lot of research for the books and by God, did I use the makeover parts as an excuse to shop myself stupid. My credit card is still hurting. I LOVE make up and write a blog, http://beautymecca.blogspot.com, which I started at the same time as I started writing I Heart New York. I didn't want the makeover part to be too over the top so I just wrote in what I would want to read about. I don't know if everyone gets as hot under the collar at the idea of spending hundreds of dollars at MAC as I do but, god, those parts of just as exciting as the sex scenes for me.
And yes, in case you were wondering, I am single. This is why.

How long did it take you to write the books?

I Heart New York was really quick, just six weeks from start to finish on the first draft but I was so bored and really not doing anything with my life at all so it was exciting to come home every night and write it. By the time I came to write Hollywood a year later, things had changed massively - I'd just broken up with my boyfriend, I was going out a lot more, I was busier at work - but once I got into it, I got it out in a couple of months. I write really quickly, I think because I've spent so long writing for my day job, and once I get on a roll, I can't stop. I'm completely knackered today because I was up until one writing I Heart Paris!

Tell us about your career as an editor:

I work in licensed children's books just like Angela, so I write books for brands like Noddy, Fifi and the Flowertots, Shrek and Hello Kitty. It's different to general editorial work because we actually write a lot of the books as well as edit them but that's been great experience. And who can complain about watching kids' TV and movies all day and then writing stories? It's criminal really.

When did you start your blog Beauty Mecca an dhow many followers have you now amassed?

I started BeautyMecca in 2007 at the same time as I started writing I Heart New York. They were both part of my New Year's Resolution to write every day and I'm really proud of both of them. I get about 2000 readers a month but that's going up now the book is out - the pressure is too much!

What are your dreams for the next year?

Well, I'm actually moving to New York in two weeks! I'm moving to the US HarperCollins office to work with their kids team and help develop new brands and series. It's going to be very exciting but super scary too. I need to borrow some of Angela's bravery... and hopefully she'll let me borrow Alex too. I'm going to be living around the corner from him in Williamsburg, so I'm sure she won't mind. I Heart Hollywood is out in January so I really hope that does as well as I Heart New York and (whisper this part) we're at really, really early stages of talking to people about making I Heart New York into a movie or a TV series and I would LOVE that to happen.

And finally...what advice would you give to aspiring writers who feel challenged, downtrodden and lack inspiration for the kick up the bum they need?

Just open your laptop, pick up your notebook and start. Seriously, there's no big secret, no magical inspiration fairy that comes and plants ideas in your head when you're asleep. Think of something that excites you and start writing. For me it was escaping my boring life, getting back to New York oh, and my massive crush on All Boys in Bands, the rest of the story just evolved as I went along. And once you start, don't stop. Don't re-read and then convince yourself it's crap, there are plenty of people out there who will tell you that. You just need to believe in yourself and carry on writing.

Interview: Almost Zara

To celebrate three years of blogging, I am re-posting a few of my fav interviews and articles. Enjoy.

Interview with Almost Zara...

Name: Zara Rabinowicz
Occupation: Freelance Journalist

How did you get started in your career? I’ve been writing ever since I was a little girl and started a school newspaper at 11 year sold, which I made myself, and laboriously photocopied every week. Since then I joined my university paper, interned at almost every magazine in London and sent my Cv to so many people that eventually one of them started paying me on a freelance basis! Perseverance pays off, and you must love what you’re doing, or the rejection will get you down!

What has been your fav career development so far?
I’ve recently gone freelance and still finding my feet around scheduling my work and meetings around working from home. It’s quite a unique experience though and I’m glad I’m trying it- who knows if I’ll go back to a staff job (probably if a dream one came along!) but am currently enjoying the freedom of being my own boss.

Do you hold any qualifications? BA in English and post grad qualification in Magazine Journalism

Advice for anyone breaking into either fashion or journalism?
Start your own blog- if you’re trying to sell yourself on your writing skills, this is a great way of showcasing them. Companies love ‘new media’ expertise so set yourself up on Twitter as well, and be as proactive as you can with applications. If they have no jobs or work experience available ask for a coffee just to discuss options- many people in the industry have been in your position and are more than willing to advise and mentor. Write about what you love and it will be evident in your copy!

Top 5 beauty must haves:
I can’t live without mascara- and am currently loving Avon Extreme Lashes. I’m a big fan of eyeliner and am find MAC do a great pencil that gives a really thick line that can be contoured easily. Sleek MakeUp also do a lovely eyeliner crayon called Kajal which is easily applied. Foundation is a must for me, and I find Clinique foundation really impressive as their range is so huge and they offer such a variety of coverages. Anti Ageing Dewy Smooth would be my favourite! I also love Healthy Sexy Hair Nourish treatment as it really smoothes down the cuticle of flyway hairs and cuts down on my drying time. I’m a big fan of hair straighteners and have a pair of trusty GHD’s but have also discovered a great new brand called Cloudnine which are just as good in my opinion.

Top 5 Wardrobe must haves:
A pair of very impractical shoes which make you feel wonderful- River Island do some great two toned heels, and a dress that always fits no matter how much you’ve eaten. I’d also suggest investing in some tights by Falke- they’re expensive but worth it and will last much longer than the cheaper variety. I’m a big fan of waist belts as they can transform a dull outfit into cinched in glory, and I really love hair accessories, as a beautiful bow or hairband can change your whole look. Not the conventional buy classic shirt and jeans advice, but these ideas work for me.

Top 5 must-read books:
Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham, a must for those who love suspense and intricate character details, Rachel’s Holiday by Marian Keyes for a book that redefines the chick lit genre, The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan for an epic adventure tale that spans continents, anything by Ben Elton if you enjoy laughing out loud on the tube and The Handmaid’s tale by Margaret Atwood for a provocative and challenging tale.

Top 5 must-see films:
I defy anyone not to well up as they watch Boys Don’t Cry- a difficult but moving piece of cinematography, Grease for light entertainment and nostalgia, Sixteen candles for Molly Ringwald, The Matrix for pure adrenalin and Thank you for Smoking for the way it satirises ad men.

Inspirational places:
Thailand makes me feel warm and happy inside, and I always find myself inspired whenever I go to Los Angeles.

Who are your style and beauty icons and why?
I love how Pink and Lily Allen aren’t afraid to experiment with their style and think Madonna is a great icon of a woman who know how to evolve her style through different decades.

Fav places to holiday: I love Los Angles as the beaches are great, the shopping is fab and the people are pretty. However a recent trip to Thailand really opened my eyes to the beauty of the East and how unusual a place can be- it’s great to travel outside your comfort zone, and if you can live through a Thai toilet you can handle anything. I also loved the freedom and the variety of cultures and food that was on offer there.

Do you have any iPhone? If so, what apps do you find indispensable?
Trendtracker was very useful during London Fashion week for the daily updates and schedule, I like the eBay app for browsing on the go, and I love the ChipChick, Sugar and Engadget,
app for my daily dose of tech and lifestyle. I couldn’t live without Google maps and love the Shazam app when I’m trying to identify a song.

Fav magazines to read:
I like Company for the content, Grazia for the pictures and Men’s Health for features. I also really enjoy the Tatler beauty pages and Wired always provides me with inspiration.

Top 5 websites to visit:
Heartlessdoll.com, Bitchbuzz.com, BritishBeautyBlogger.com, Lemondrop.com, and Sephora.com

Music you can't live without:
Anything poppy and funky- like a mixture of Britney, Pink, Tiesto and Ian Van Dahl.

What is your signature dish?
Vegetarian chilli!

What are you working on right now?

Frantically trying to get my copy in for deadline whilst sketching out the draft of my novel.

Where do you hope to be, personal and professionally in five years?
In five years I hope to be happy and living in Los Angeles, writing columns for major web and print nationals and working on my third book.

Friday, 27 May 2011

DIY denim. Yes please

Caught wind of this fabulous new product - so much so, that I may have to purchase for my cousin's 16th birthday. She is a creative little thing, who loves a pair of drainpipes, so expect she will love this.
Brand, Bristols6 have come up with a nifty way of altering and customising your denim to your exacting standards and not that of the 'average' being. Genius.
Tape for measuring, buttons for extension, pencils, pumice, paints, stencils - awesome. You could go to town on almost anything. 
Buy here: www.bristols6.com for about $30


I have to share these with you.
My new Loubou's. Courtesy of the sample sale on Monday.

I don't really have anything else to say...

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

and now Tinie....

Does it get better and better?
The genius team at Hop Farm Festival have announced another sterling act to the line-up for Sunday, July 3. TINIE TEMPAH. 
Yes, you heard right. Not only will Prince be joining Morrissey, The Eagles, Ocean Colour Scene, Death Cab for Cutie, Chrissie Hynde, Lou Reed, Iggy and the Stooges, but the urban outfit Tinie, who recently collaberated with Ellie Golding. Ellie will be performing at another Kent Festival, Lounge on the Farm in July also. Tinie Tempah is notching accolades quicker than footballers' and their super-injunctions, so catch him now, while he rocks with Prince. 
FYI - reported on the Prince tour back in 2007 and having seen some amazing acts in the years I have been reporting, he is by far one of the best. Outstanding. I did not sit down for the whole gig at the 02 and had to hobble onto the river taxi with very achy feet.
Let's hope that happens again! 
Happy dancing!

Lounge on the Farm, Canterbury

Festivals in Kent seem to have had their ups and downs. When I ran the entertainment pages for the Kent Messenger's flagship paper, we were always invited to a plethora of events across the county. I cannot tell you how many Clubclass nights I went to (countless) and how many emerging artists I watched with a cider in hand.
I had a great few years reviewing bands, plays, comedy shows and the like and made some great friends along the way.

There have however, been a couple of howlers that spring to mind. Zoo8 was one of those gems. Mark Ronson and Scroobius Pip were awesome and I interviewed them both - charming. Acts not turning up however, not so charming. Dizzee Rascal was apparently told he wouldn't get a penny and following him, countless other joined the queue.
Electric Garden's debut was short lived in 2006-07 - an old friend worked on this event and it was a fantastic, well executed dance festival that had loads of ravers creeping out of their shells.
Lounge on the Farm rocked up in 2006 and has only got bigger and better.
Lounge on the Farm is an awesome tribute to the sights, sounds, tastes and brilliance of Kent. Featuring up an coming acts making their festival debut, interspersed with established acts like The Super Furry Animals, Mystery Jets and Roots Manuva.
Food comes in the form of locally produced genius and according to the website, suppliers include: Godmersham Game, The Butcher of Brogdale, Hedgers of Canterbury, The Goods Shed Butchery, Griggs of Hythe, Simon the Fish, Ripple Farm Organics, Monkshill Farm, Dumbrells, Hinxden Dairy, Dargate Dairy, Walmestone Growers and many more.......
I was lucky enough to attend in 2007 and 2008 and had the most amazing time. This year promises to be even bigger. The line-up includes: Ellie Golding. Katy B, The Streets, Echo and the Bunnymen, Devlin, The Vaccines, Cast Example, Annie Mac, DJ Zinc and the Scratch Perverts. Around 50 more acts are rocking the stages and with the introduction of a shiny new main stage, Lounge on the Farm can only get bigger.
I am beyond excited.

Castle chic

Castle chic

Leeds and Rochester castle are rocking their chic new images once again this year. Not satisfied with offering a gorgeous place to visit, steeped in gory and spectacular history, their new theme is urban chic. A clever and innovative way of opening their doors to younger generations who may see castles as boring and outdated. Wrong.
When you're a kid castles seem fun and exciting - knights, sword battles, canons, war and a plethora of kings and queens walking through the corridors.
As you hit those self conscious teenage years, the appeal of a castle or anything remotely educational can seem like a bit of a bore and quite frankly, anything that involves being dragged round anything that doesn't involve music, celebrities, fashion, food or films, then it can seem pretty shabby.
On that note, enter the clever bods at Medway Council who introduced the Castle Concerts some years ago. McFly, The Saturdays, Will Young and Status Quo have graced the stage at the castle and rocked away to hundreds of (I suspect) revellers, most under the age of 40.
What clever, coolcats they are. With a fantastic location, with a huge ground to accompany and easy access from the motorway, Rochester is the perfect place to draw people in from around Kent.
The tourism is brings to Rochester and the surrounding area is just as phenomenal. Want antiques? Visit Carters, Fieldstaff or Memories - each stocked with treasures that will leave you in no doubt of Rochester's link with Dickens. fashion is rife in Rochester also - with at least five or six independent fashion boutiques, including Rocket, a favourite with students.
If you're a foodie, fear not, the offering in Rochester is diverse. From brasserie Topes, to Elizabeth's of Eastgate to Raj of India you are spoilt for choice. Sweet shops, craft havens, bakeries and of course Baggins, Britain's largest second hand/rare bookshop. As you enter, it smells beautiful - like a library that has been shut away for years and is finally coming to life. Bliss for a bookworm or vintage hunter.
Don't forget the museums and other attractions - Dicken's World is just down the road.
This year, Peter Andre and N-Dubz will take to the stage, so what are you waiting for?

The same applies to Leeds Castle. What a rocking line-up of events this year. They have applied savvy marketing to a castle that is traditionally associated with weddings, school proms and other events based around the castle. They have slowly introduced theatrical events - like Jane Eyre, a production I covered last year and other plays, like some favourites from Shakespeare. The classical concerts always blow me away - the James Bond classical was immense, with a helicopter and speed boat adding to the drama of the evening.
This year the Leeds has Live at the Castle, a concert filled with the likes of The Wanted, Alexandra Burke, Eliza Doolittle, Aggro Santos, Stacey Soloman and heaps more.
What's more, you can fill up on some literature with performances of Austen's Sense and Sensibility and Shakespeare's A Midsummer night's Dream.
Every year seems to offer something new and exciting and gets bigger and better every year.
Castle Chic is the new word on my radar.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Silvena Rowe

You may have heard of Sivena Rowe. I know I have. She is the chef with the big voice, big chest and even bigger talent for cooking amazing food that leaves you feeling as if you have realised you have fallen in love.
That moment when, as you met your loved one, you cannot help but smile and stare at the ground to hide the excitement in your face as you approach them. The butterflies that grip your stomach with such ferocity, you can hardly breathe.
Silvena Rowe inspires that sort of feeling.
I had the pleasure of meeting her at The Mayfair Hotel last week and was given a tour round her new concept (it can't be called a restaurant, it is far more impressive) which opens tonight.
Quince is a fusion of the "beauty and scents of the Eastern Mediterranean region." and as she described her vision, you could tell she had thought about every aspect of the experience. All material used has a meaning - vintage glass, velvet, smoked mirrors - she wants to customer to be falling into that world - the world where you and your lover exist. No-one else matters. She described it as the place where 'lovers could meet' - delicious, naughty, forbidden and just being taken round the rubble that was Quince in the making, you can see what she is trying to achieve.
A quote from her wikipedia page reads: "The Orange and Orange Blossom Baklava dates back to (1494-1566) and was said to be a favourite of Roxelane, the one-time Harem girl who became the wife of Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent."
Says it all really.
Silvena herself has worked in the industry for almost 20 years and has written six books and is a regular on Saturday Kitchen.
Excited to get tasting and will be back with a review super soon.
PS - she has amazing hair.
Here is an amazing recipe from BBC Food website:

Honey and za'atar-glazed spring lamb with salsify and wild garlic purée


For the za'atar
For the lamb
  • 1 tsp ground cumin

  • 2 tbsp finely grated fresh root ginger

  • 3 tbsp clear honey

  • 4 x 125g/4½oz spring lamb tenderloin, trimmed

  • 4 tbsp butter

For the salsify and wild garlic purée

Preparation method

  1. For the za'atar, mix together all of the za'atar ingredients in a small bowl until well combined.

  2. For the lamb, add the cumin, ginger and honey to the za'atar mixture and mix until well combined. Rub the mixture all over the lamb tenderloin.

  3. Heat the butter in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the lamb and fry for 6-8 minutes on each side (for medium), or until cooked to your liking. Remove the lamb from the pan and set aside to rest on a warm plate. Reserve any cooking juices left behind in the pan.

  4. For the salsify and wild garlic purée, drain the salsify and place into a pan. Pour over the water and milk and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Bring to the boil. Reduce the heat until the mixture is simmering and cook for 20 minutes, or until the salsify is tender. Drain, then place the salsify into a food processor with the butter and cream and blend until smooth.

  5. Heat the oil in a a frying pan until smoking, add the wild garlic leaves and fry for 1-2 minutes, or until just wilted. Stir the wild garlic into the salsify purée and season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

  6. To serve, spoon the salsify and wild garlic purée onto four serving plates. Carve the lamb into thick slices and arrange alongside the purée, drizzling over some of the reserved pan juices.

Doing the rounds

Another site for me to update...maybe I should stick to one and place all in one pot?