Tag Archives: John Lewis

Mid-century modern

1 Apr

Oops well there went March, a month of no blogging. I’m placing my blame solely with my employer, The Bookseller. Despite having worked at the mag for four years, the pre-London Book Fair March-madness, which has squeezed nearly 30,000 words out of me, still takes me by surprise and wipes me out for evening/weekend work.

Here’s how I’ll make it up to you. For those of you who are into the heavier stuff, very shortly you’ll find some of the produce of my blood, sweat and Bookseller tears available here, including an interview with legendary picture book duo Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler (of Gruffalo fame, as illustrated below).

Donaldson and Scheffler, my latest victims

(Picture credit: Amazon.co.uk)

And for the rest of you,  herewith an M-themed blog post to pay tribute to MARCH, the neglected month of my birth.

Design, M-style

(Picture credit: Waterstones.com)

I’ve long been a lover of interior design from the 1950s and 60s (think strong Scandi influences, tonnes of teak and of course G-Plan furniture) but thanks in no small part to “Mad Men”, as well as great titles like the above, the rest of the country seems to have gone wild for it too. Unfortunately, aside from now making me far from original, this resurgence in demand for mid-century modern design has pushed prices through the roof. Take this sideboard (much like the one featured in Sterling Cooper’s offices) that I’ve been craving for sometime, as an example. When I confessed my desire to replace the modern sideboard in my flat with one like this, my Dad couldn’t believe it. Back in the day he’d spent many an afternoon helping his mates throw out their old sideboards straight into the skip, and yet this is a costly £595. But that’s trends for you.  So here’s a quick call to any readers who happen to have one of these stashed up in their loft, who would like to give it a new loving new home for rather a lot less that 500 quid?

(Picture credit: johnnymoustache.shop)

Anyway, with the supply/demand/overpricing situation as it is, you’ll understand my glee when I saw there was a Vintage Furniture Flea, happening down the road from me at York Hall in Bethnal Green last weekend. Battling my standard Sunday hangover, with lucky Steve in tow, I set off for York Hall to sniff out a bargain.

Fun at the fair

York Hall, packed with bargain-hunters

Alas a sideboard was not to be had. There was a fine specimen on show, but with a whopping £1000 plus price tag and only a pair of bikes for transport, it had to stay put. Instead, a delightful duo of West German 1960s ceramic jugs produced by Scheurich and sold by a lovely lady from Retropolitan for an undisclosed sum (my Mum might kill me), made their way home with me. They are now looking pretty on my dining room table, aside some lovely artificial roses purchased by Steve for my birthday. What with Sundays spent pot-shopping and boyfriends buying fake flowers, we might have been mistaken for middle-aged, so afterwards we got ourselves down to Broadway market for some BEERS with the lads.

Best in show


If you fancy heading along to a similar fair, take a look here, and here for some forthcoming dates.

Or if woodworm and mothballs aren’t your thing, there’s plenty of modern interpretations to get your hands on. Here’s a few bits and bobs that have been creeping into my cravings list. WARNING, they don’t come cheap!

(Photo credits: retailer's websites as below)


Where to buy

  1. Grey Ella two-seater, Habitat – £1,100
  2. PS Karljohan side table, Ikea – £50.96
  3. Yellow Dinky sofa, Heals – £1,795
  4. Matthew Hilton Sideboard, John Lewis – £1,450
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The year of skinny

24 Feb

Before I get started on my latest post, here’s a quick update on the ASOS competition I previously blogged about. From my failure to tell you about it before now, I’m guessing you’d all gathered that I hadn’t won (had I done so, I’d definitely have showed off all my new wares!). Following the disappointment, as predicted, I promptly logged onto Asos and bought one of my wishlist items (well I couldn’t let down all those who voted could I?) The item you picked for purchase was the watch, which secured 42% of the vote. Alas, on arrival it had to go straight back to the shop—it was far too big (and I couldn’t be arsed with alterations) and a bit cheap-looking (well I guess it is pretty cheap), plus Asos offers a very easy returns process. So, unexpectedly I overcame the marketing ploy. Are you proud?

Back to the shop: Tortoise-shell watch


With one craving overcome, it’s on to the next set…

So, where on earth did February go? I’m amazed at how quickly a month can fly by these days (these days referring to the fact that I’m currently living out the last month of my mid-twenties. My younger colleagues (Fliss!) unequivocally told me that when I turn 27 I will cross the line into ‘late 20s’. Eek). In contrast, during my teens, even 24 hours could feel like a lifetime, especially if my friends and I were counting down to (and meticulously planning outfits for) the next disco with the local boys school.

Anyhow, the combination of all this reminiscing, rapid time travel and a small age crisis, brings me on to the topic of this post: workout gear. Not an obvious link I agree, but let me take you through my thought process. Back in my youth, I was a bit of an exercise freak, spending hours each week at gymnastics training. However, sessions at the gym were often followed with the reward of a bar of chocolate, packet of crisps and a can of coke (note: fizzy drinks were only allowed once a week by Barbara—head of household rations). The problem is that over the years my love of naughty food hasn’t disappeared but my dedicated fitness regime has. The result = not the four-pack (it never made it to six) I once had.

Every January for the last few years, I’ve said to myself this will be the year I get fit, tone up and return to my pre-university weight. Unsurprisingly, aside from the few months following a rather unpleasant (but very effective) parasitic infection in Peru, this hasn’t been achieved. Until 2011, that is. This, my friends is going to be the year. What’s different you ask? Well there’s three things: I really need to do this before I’m 30 (friends have warned me figure-wise it’s all downhill from there); I’ve signed my life away to a gym, which’ll be taking £52 from my account every month for a year, and I really hate to waste money unless it’s on clothes; and most importantly, I’ve blogged about it now so it’ll be pretty embarrassing if I don’t stick to it.

Thankfully, thus far it’s going well. I’m three weeks and 10 work outs in, which have included aerobics, swimming, running/cycling/rowing, supple strength (yoga without the spiritual stuff), netball, the Ministry of Sound DVD and tonight Zumba! If you haven’t tried it you should give it a go. You feel like a bit of a prat to start with, but are soon shaking your bum like Shakira (in your head at least).

A lager lout no more?

The problem is, I’m currently on a post-exercise high, it’s early days and and my motivation will soon wane (it certainly does post-exercise when I give into my beer and carb carvings). As such, I think I need another driver to keep on track (bikini-time will be here before I know it). And that is where pretty exercise clothes come in.

I’m not sure I’ve every really grown out of the thing I had for branded sportswear when I was a kid. Each year my Christmas and birthday lists would be filled with sportswear from adidas trousers with the luminous green stripes to the latest nike trainers (which when received, would sit pride of place at the end of my bed while I slept—worrying). I try to keep the condition under control now I’m an adult, but it’s really just morphed into American Apparel hoodies and Abercrombie joggers—my staple lounging kit.

Below, I’ve put together a list of session-specific work-out gear that would definitely help keep me on the straight and narrow. Did I mention it’s my birthday next month?

My exercise week, complete with ideal gym kit

Monday: Aerobics

Adidas grey long top (to cover the bum)

Nike black lycra leggings


Wednesday : Netball

Adidas black track top

Nike blue and yellow Livestrong shorts


Thursday: Zumba

Nike black racerback

Abercrombie dark pink trackies


Saturday: Swimming

I’m afraid to say, that despite extensive internet and high street shop research, there is not a single swimming costume designed for big boobs and serious swimming that I deem fit to feature on my blog. It seems that as soon as Speedo add an inner shelf to their costumes, their style goes out of the window.


Sunday: Supple Strength

H&M blue marl sweatshirt

Adidas berry red tank

Adidas petrol grey straight leg pants


Extra bits and bobs

Nike Lunar Eclipse blue/grey running shoes

Black Puma gym bag

The Shock Absorber (essential kit - already purchased)

(Photo credits: retailer’s websites as below)

The shopping list:

  1. Adidas long top, John Lewis – £28
  2. Nike leggings, John Lewis – £45
  3. Adidas jacket, John Lewis – £35
  4. Nike shorts, Pro-direct – £13.49
  5. Nike top, John Lewis – £22
  6. Trackies, Abercrombie & Fitch- £50
  7. Sweatshirt, H&M – £12.99
  8. Adidas top, John Lewis – £23
  9. Adidas trousers, John Lewis – £33
  10. Trainers, Nike – £90
  11. Bag, Puma – Debenhams – £25
  12. Shock Absorber sports bra, Bravissimo – £30

Sorry, that was a bit of a John Lewis overload—they aren’t sponsoring me, promise.

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Christmas shopping commences

28 Nov

It feels like only yesterday that I was excitedly posting about the start of autumn and its potential for new purchases, and yet twice in the last week I’ve been asked if I’ve done my Christmas shopping yet. Are they mad? It’s not even December! Of course, the purpose of this question is purely to provide the person asking with an opportunity to reveal that they’ve already done all theirs with more than a hint of smugness. But, the result has been panic on my part. I tried telling myself that for as long as I can remember I’ve managed to complete the whole gift-buying/wallet-emptying process in two manic days in the week before Christmas, but the damage has been done. The stressful experience will now have to be dragged out over the next month.

I’m currently undertaking stage one: inspiration-seeking research. This has involved scouring some of my favourite mags: Elle Decoration and Stylist, and trawling websites such as Etsy, Bouf and a new design blog I’ve been enjoying called ACHICA Living. Take a look – you’ll soon be sucked in. Although if you can’t be bothered, I’ve been kind enough to share the fruits of my browsing for your perusal below. Feel free to steal my finds, or if you are friends or relatives kind enough to want to buy me a present this Christmas you might like to bear in mind my gift-buying strategy I mentioned in my previous post—I tend to look for things I want myself!

So here goes:

10 present ideas for friends and family – better known as my Christmas list

(Photo credits: retailer websites as listed below)

I decided it was too dangerous to start looking for clothes as gifts at a time when I’ve been wobbling in my no shopping challenge, so I’ve stuck to looking for quirky knick-knacks for the home. Strangely without my realising, the majority of my picks are book and bird related. The first is not hard to understand: the vast amount of books I keep acquiring through my work is making my colour-coded bookshelf hard to manage, as such I’ve been keen to find some new book display methods. But I’ve got no idea what my bird obsession means—read into it what you will. That said, I defy anyone not to find the bird house for storing your keys seriously cute! Unfortunately, Steve told me I wasn’t allowed to spend £10 on a key ring and reminded me it is impossible to put anything up on our concrete walls without a commercial drill and plenty of drama!

Details of my picks and where to buy them are below:

  1. Silver Book Ends, £17.50 – Dutchbydesign.com
  2. Flock of Birds Wall Sticker, £19.99 – Zazous at Bouf.com
  3. Eames House Bird, £109 – Ivor-innes.co.uk
  4. Umbra Conceal Book Shelf, £10 – Exitinteriors.com
  5. Cubic Black Sparrow and House Key Ring, £10 – Exitinteriors.com
  6. FSC Wooden Wine Rack, £85 – Johnlewis.com
  7. The Hound of the Baskervilles Complete Text Poster, £24.99 – Spinelessclassics.com
  8. Illuminated World Globe, £39.95 – Kitsch.co.uk
  9. Wild and Wolf Green Trim Phone, £40 – Heals.co.uk
  10. Orla Kiely 1L Blue Poppy Meadow Storage Jar, £19 – Heals.co.uk

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