Jewellery and Jubilee fever

The Summer Opening at Buckingham Palace is always a not-to-be-missed occasion, a one-off opportunity to explore the magnificent Royal collections whether art, family momentos or, as is the case this year, some of the fabulous royal jewels.

Of course, 2022 is a very special year, being Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee at royal residences. So we are in for an extraordinary treat and get to ogle a selection of exquisite pieces, created by some of the biggest names in the industry. Also on display will be the Queen’s Coronation Dress and robe by Sir Norman Hartnell in 1953. These include heritage pieces handed down through the centuries, and items collected by the Queen that will no doubt be passed on throughout history.

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Italian Fashion Brand: Max Mara Art Prize For Women

The biannual Max Mara Art Prize for Women makes me wish I was talented artistically. Not only does the winner get to spend time in Reggio Emilia, Catania and Rome, researching classical mythology, but also explore textile craftsmanship, permaculture and the myriad historic sites and institutions. Having minored in Classical Studies at University, six months spent in this way sounds to me like the quintessential gift from the gods.

Emma Talbot is the winner of the 8th Max Mara Prize which began in 2005 and supports UK-based female artists, and specifically those who have not previously had a major solo show. The award presents the opportunity for a fully-funded, bespoke Italian residency, followed by a solo exhibition of a new body of work, both in the UK and Italy.

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SS2022: preowned, preloved and very appealing

I have always been an avid jumble sale and charity shop enthusiast. There’s a thrill in the hunt for quality pieces and best-loved brands. With spring in the air (despite the unseasonal below-freezing temperatures as I write) I have been checking out the new collections, and subsequently scouring some favourite places for inspired pre-loved items to work into my wardrobe for fresh looks. I’ve been mooching around around Hampshire and Sussex and have so far found some lovely items to make a start to my spring/summer wardrobe.

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A visit to an Extraordinary Doll’s House

Motifs in Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen’s three-act play, A Doll’s House (premiered 1879), include appearances, the power of money, and women’s place in a patriarchal society. A work of its time, there is a clear divide between those who lived upstairs and the servants living below. Actual doll’s houses, those little microcosms of everyday life, dating back to the 16th century and reflecting similar societal values, were created not as toys but often as a teaching aid, to instruct a future lady of a grand house on the running of the establishment. Think Downton Abbey with its defined rules of behaviour both below and above stairs.

The Uppark doll’s house is one of only a handful that have survived from the 18th-century in amazingly good condition. The little four-poster beds alone are around 300 years old.

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Product review: BOXD nutritional powders

For the past two years, I’ve been optimising my diet. No faddy dieting, but rather good solid nutrition. Like most of us, I’m concerned that the quality of food available generally has deteriorated over the years. Finding an egg or a carrot, for instance, that actually has any flavour is a challenge. I had been cruising along, a happy vegetarian for over 40 years, and feeling pretty smug in all honesty that I had it right. But our bodies and our nutritional needs change throughout our lives. For one thing, we need more (class A) protein as we (ahem) mature. There are only so many times you can eat eggs, cheese or meat in a day, and I’ve been searching for a tasty ready mix to supplement my protein intake.

BOXD ‘natural wellness’ shakes are formulated to specifically meet the nutritional needs of women. I’ve been blending like crazy recently to put these to the test. Read more to find out how I got on in the kitchen.

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Review. Extraordinary Everyday: The Art & Design of Eric Ravilious and Turn and Return by Dierdre Wood

Maybe it’s the non-stop disturbing news from around the world, or the long dark winter and the recent wild storms (including Storm Eunice which carried a Red Alert warning) but I just haven’t been feeling the love. The year has felt slow in getting started.

This week I visited a new exhibition at The Arc in the historic city of Winchester, to explore the work of Eric Ravilious. It is the first time I have experienced Ravilious’ work up close. A display of stunning woven textiles by weaver, Deirdre Wood outside The Gallery was an added bonus. The intensity of colourful art proved inspirational and I’m back at my laptop with the first blog in a few weeks.

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New Year’s Resolution: Honesty Group founder, Romilla Arber, says no to dieting!

Romilla Arber began thinking seriously about a bread making business without any experience in food production. Arber began The Honesty Group in 2014 with the aim of producing fresh food ethically and, here’s the thing, while remaining a profitable business. With multiple coffee shops, a farm shop, two country pubs (one with rooms), a bakery and a cookery school, it is certainly a success story. In an unsettled world, does she still hold to her founding principles and what goals has Arber set for 2022?

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Bye Bye 2021 (Waving)

Well, what did you think of 2021? It’s been a mixed bag with a slight improvement on the previous year (it’s all relative) although, generally and personally, not in the top ten.

But as I scroll through my photo archives and clippings’ folder for the past year, transferring key dates to the new year’s diary adding anything new (who am I kidding), I’m surprised at how much I’ve managed to cram in. Despite the restrictions we’ve all been experiencing in the past almost-two-years, as a freelance writer reliant on travel opportunities, I’ve managed to keep busy exploring my little corner of Britain, making new discoveries and sharing them with you. December [ dih-sem-ber ]. Proper Noun: a time to reflect.

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Christmas Around The World: England

With only 12 days to go until the big day, ‘are you all set for Christmas?’ Whether you are planning a family affair, or a day in bed with a cuppa and a tin of Quality Street, in an uncertain world, and despite the marketing hype, remember, there are no rules.

In the last of the series exploring the Festive Holiday around the world, two expat Instagrammers share their Christmas plans. First up, an Italian working and living in London and secondly, a Yorkshireman returning home from Spain for the first time in more than a year of travelling.

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Christmas Around The World: Norway

As we move into December this week, the marketing machine cranks up to yet another level with endless advertising. There’s social media ‘sponsored posts’, texts, leaflets through the letterbox and banners at the supermarket. And, of course, there’s the battle for the ‘best festive TV advert’.

It can be hard to resist feeling like the odd-one-out if you’re not in a frenzy of anxiety yet. And if the only date in your calendar is the holiday bin collection service, it can feel as though everyone else is out partying every night, except you.

But here’s the thing, Christmas is a personal choice. There are no rules. Push the boat out or spend the day in bed, you decide.

This week we visit Bergen for the fifth in the series where I invite Instagram pals from around the globe to share their stories on how they spend Christmas.

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