Running wild: My Sonny Jim making the most of the road being closed
FOR a few hours on Saturday afternoon I felt like I’d stepped back in time.
Our road was closed for a royal wedding street party. There was bunting. Chalk drawings on the floor. Kids running wild up and down the avenue. Neighbours sitting on curbs in the sunshine, sipping beers and prosecco.
It was blooming lovely.
I was never allowed to play out as a child. But even if I had been, it wouldn’t have been as charming in the Nineties as it was for my Sonny Jim on Saturday. He literally had the time of his life. He ate his tea in the street, chased his aunties (and his football) up and down the road for hours and by the time bedtime came around, he had two grazed knees, dirt all over his face and was a sweaty, sticky mess of sunshine in toddler form. Continue reading
Sometimes with a toddler, a husband, a job, a blog, a dog, and an endless to-do and should-do list, it can be a bit difficult finding a bit of time to just be me.
To get a bit giggly, to have a glass – or three – of prosecco, to chatter about stuff that isn’t important, but just interesting.
And it appears I’m not alone with this.
Which is why the Amazing Club came about.
Set up by two make-up artists (who happen to be sisters-in-law) its aim is to be somewhere women can escape, chat and rediscover themselves. To stop feeling like a watered down version of yourself. To meet new people. A reason to make time for you. It’s not just for mummies. Or business women. It’s for all women. A supportive group. A grown-up gang. A tribe. Continue reading
Leigh-on-Sea’s Amy Kirkwood is one half of Beech House Property Renovation (www.beechhousedesign.co.uk.) She reveals why it’s important to get to know your home, how to speedily update your living space and reveals what inspires her…
Q How did you get into interior design and property renovation?
A I am first and foremost an artist and designer, with a passion for colour and pattern. But, I have always carried a flame for beautiful interiors, and more so after travelling extensively and owning my own properties that I have renovated as well. It seemed only natural, when the time was right, to revisit my love for interior design and fuse it, now, with my studio practice and our family property renovation business. I also make bespoke lampshades and create abstract paintings for interiors.
Q What’s the biggest project you’ve ever taken on?
A I have project managed a new build home, with Dave building it, where I worked with the client to design and style the interior. We are currently planning, designing and project managing the total overhaul of a Thirties’ bungalow on the coast of Essex into a two-storey beach house. Continue reading
From renovated sofas to bright colours on your wall, Leigh-based House of Lovely Stuff’s Jo Bolter tells why it pays to be bold when it comes to interior design…
Q How did House of Lovely Stuff come about?
A I grew up in a house sewing, designing, drawing, cooking, making and creating. But like most families I had no idea that normal people did this as a job, so I left school and started working in a local bank. I met my husband who was a graphic designer and art director and we’ve always enjoyed a shared interest in photography, going to the cinema, gigs, galleries and decorating (the designing bit) our home.
But the catalyst came one day when our youngest daughter came in from school moaning about her homework. It was Eighties week and she had to design an Eighties outfit. I happily explained to her that when I was her age (in the Eighties) I spent hours and hours designing clothes and occasionally making them for fun. My husband said, “Really? You designed and made your own clothes? Why did you stop?”
The answer was sad but simple. The school system/syllabus doesn’t value creativity so when it came to choosing my options I could only choose one creative subject. I loved cooking and I loved textiles. I chose home economics and then as I concentrated on passing my exams.
A couple of weeks later my mum decided to buy a new sewing machine. She asked if I wanted her old one, it was a bit tired but could do a job. I made a cushion. It went okay. I made another one. I started to match fabrics together, playing about with angles, prints and textures. I was happiest experimenting and making. Friends started to take notice. Then I was asked if my cushions were for sale. Sure, I said. And before I knew it a few more friends and friends of friends were interested. Continue reading
Vegan: From kitchens to salons
IN the past decade, the number of people who consider themselves vegan has rocketed from 150,00 in 2006 to 542,000, according to the Vegan Society and PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals).
And it’s also becoming a growing trend among our celebrities, with the likes of comedian Russell Brand saying “I don’t see why someone should lose their life just so you can have a snack”. A vegetarian since the age of 14, he went vegan in 2011.
It’s no surprise then, that veganism is now stretching from our kitchen tables to our beauty regimes.
Superdrug’s budget B Beauty vegan range has just launched and the Body Shop, Odylique and Hourglass are just a few of the brands with entirely vegan make-up ranges.
Now Essex’s Beauty Shop is among a handful of the county’s businesses capitalising on the trend, by offering a unique vegan beauty treatment menu.
So how did the idea for the menu come about, I ask salon owner, 26-year-old Courtney Smith? Continue reading
Nee-naws: My Sonny Jim in one of his terrific me&i T-shirts
When I was about 18, Ann Summers parties were a big thing. Cocktails and smutty chatter were the main thrust of the night. I actually know a girl who bought THREE rampant rabbits.
Fast-forward a decade, a few of us had our own mortgaged places, a few were married, a few even had a baby or two, and Jamie Oliver bashes were the way to spend an evening, a glass of wine in hand. I once spent an RIDIKULOUS amount of money on a squirrel-shaped nutcracker – that broke the first time I attempted to crack a nut with it.
Now a mama to the most darling of little lads, I think I truly realised that I’d entered another era when I threw my own me&i party. It was a lunchtime affair. With tea and coffee and cakes. And babies crawling around our feet. And the most LOVELY clothes for little ones (and, er, mums.) Continue reading
Essex girl: Bestselling author, Martina Cole (c) Charlotte Murphy
She has been writing bestsellers for 25 years and has achieved sales of over fourteen million in the UK alone. Here Martina Cole chats Essex girls, cockle sheds and loving bad boys…
WHAT IS YOUR SECRET VICE?
Emmerdale! On my life I have to watch Emmerdale, because of Cain Dingle. I’m trying to get up an online petition that he has to take his shirt off in every episode. Whether it will happen we don’t know but we can only hope. My other secret vice is I go to Leigh cockle sheds some times. When my daughter was very little I used to take her down the cockle sheds – she was six months old when she had her first jellied eel. And I still love it down there.
WHEN ARE YOU AT YOUR HAPPIEST?
I think when I’m with my grandchildren probably now, coz I’m getting on a bit. I do travel extensively though.
WHERE’S YOUR FAVOURITE PLACE IN ESSEX?
There’s so many to choose from, but one of my favourite places is the Boatyard in Leigh. It’s beautiful. Great food. I used to live on Benfleet Road. It was beautiful. It was like a footballer’s wife’s house. Had an indoor swimming pool, the lot. I loved it. When I moved over to Kent my daughter thought we’d gone poor. She said to me, Mummy have we gone poor, and I said not really, no! Continue reading