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27-11-2009
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Flowers in my Hair
20 November, 2009

Momentarily inspired by the recent Chanel couture show where fresh faced models bestrode the catwalk in elaborate snow-white twisted turban headdresses I realised my Kirby-gripped scruffy ponytail which can take me from the school run to a black tie do was perhaps a little unambitious if not downright lazy.
I’m not suggesting sculptural garlands for a day at the office but I could definitely do with a little more grown-up grooming. A ballerina bun only means twisting my ponytail in and around itself and pinning loosely and already I feel more poised, more Moneypenny. Even a change of parting or a blunt trim can make all the difference. Accessories help too. Lanvin’s feathers, Louis Vuitton’s oversized bows-or bunny ears, depending on the angle. Yes please.

And then, one rainy Sunday, I got carried away in a rare moment of Blue Peter art-club enthusiasm and decided to make my own party pieces. I started with a piece of deep velvet streaked with battered sequins, and roughly stitched it to a piece of basic broad elastic (embarrassing sewing would be hidden under my hair anyway). It jazzed up the most familiar of little black dresses and in this vein I attacked my boxes of trashy castoffs and long-forgotten treasures in search of similar loot. Stud with faded fabric flowers or twist with lace. They won’t last forever and are far from perfect but that’s not really the point. I’m just looking for a hint of romance and mood-transforming old-school glamour, even when I haven’t got time to change out of my jeans. I’m a little old for ribbons in my hair, but now I’ll hoard them for a rainy day energy burst - I can always pretend I’m helping out with my four-year-old’s gang of princess girlfriends, all so pretty in pink.


Last edited by cosmocat; 27-11-2009 at 05:07 AM.
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27-11-2009
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I love my pyjamas
21 November, 2009
I admit I do like to swan around in a wisp of a silk slip or in vintage cotton nighties, washed until they’re supersoft and almost sheer, especially in summer. In fact, in steamy New York Augusts they served as dresses too, made almost respectable with a skinny belt, or a fine tee over the top. All very Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (or a NY fire escape), but what I really love are pyjamas.

The minute I find myself in a hotel, or home alone when my boyfriend the producer (who doesn’t really approve of anything in my wardrobe other than a couple of Prada little black dresses and definitely not of my pyjamas), is away, out they come; symbolic of time out and bubble baths - without the blackberry precariously balanced on the soapdish.
I even save my favourite cashmere socks for those sacred pyjama-wearing, novel-reading, Entourage-watching, nail-painting moments of solitude. I’m a cheap date; beloved careworn pairs that have that brushed cotton softness that can only come from endless washes come from Gap and Victoria’s Secret. These are my style equivalent of comfort eating - perfectly acceptable from time to time but not really to show off about. Grunge secrets not fit to be seen in public - though admittedly standards have slipped since I had my second baby. These days I’d probably answer the door in a facemask, though I’m not sure if this is through a genuine lack of vanity or simple absentmindedness. For girly movie nights or hotel breakfasts, I dream of the perfect pair of white cotton pyjamas; the kind worn by gentlemen in the movies. My son was given exactly what I want in miniature by Bonpoint for his birthday.
My friend Sydney Finch, Prada’s girl-about-town - who has an encyclopaedic knowledge of all things rare and luxurious - recommends Turnbull and Asser or Budd and Co in the Piccadilly arcade for utterly perfect pyjamas. If staying in is the new going out, then my pre-Christmas splurge will be on my fantasy pjs - and the disappointed boyfriend will be travelling - a lot.

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Couverture And The Garbstore
24 November, 2009

Everyone needs one neighbourhood store they can count on for last minute gifts and treats. Mine is Couverture, owned and collated by Emily Dyson who has the eye of an artist and the kind of style that makes you want to steal everything she wears or at least study her intently. Effortlessly chic, in a grown-up Parisienne kind of way, her store is a true reflection of her enviable taste. I know I’ll find the perfect panicky present with only a minute or two to spare (last week a vintage cake-stand for an impossible foodie friend, a beautiful hand-knitted scarf for my godson, and a stack of elegant notepads for an actress). The tricky part is to escape without treating yourself too.
I’ve managed to resist the dove-grey ankle boots and extra long mittens on three recent visits but my resolve is weakening.
Downstairs is Ian Paley’s equally brilliant The Garbstore for men - and the women who need to shop for them. Both have brilliant websites but those who can make the trip should, as this is shopping at his most inspirational. Chic wrapping too, and smiley helpful service. Small things that make a huge difference, especially when your kids are leaving a trail of Hula Hoops crunched into the floor and patience is wearing thin. Limited editions of exactly what you - and your children - want.
A masterclass in how to be a little bit more like Emily...but in your own unique way, of course…..
COUVERTURE & THE GARBSTORE
188 Kensington Park Rd ,
London W112ES.
0207 229 2178
www.couverture.co.uk
www.garbstore.com

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27-11-2009
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A Week In Shoes
26 November, 2009
Psychoanalysis of a week in the shape of shoes.....

Heaven to come home from a long shoot on Friday to find Cinderella's sparkly Miu Miu heels waiting from me as a gift from a like-minded girlfriend. These are what I should have worn to Solange Azagury Partridge's cocktail screening of a short (naughty, sexy), film staring Thandie Newton and Jason Isaacs, and of course an all-too-tempting haul of her stunning jewellery. Instead, I caressed them, dreamt of dancing nights ahead, and didn't even have time to change out of my beloved, if slightly trashed, white Chanel ankle-boots I'd been kicking around in on set all day. Thandie looked like a goddess in strapless palest pink and Solange's STONED candy-coloured mosaic necklace. I'm trying not to think about the Posy or Skeleton rings. Too perfect. Thandie whispered to me she'd just come off a fortnight of night-shoots. You'd never know. Slightly ashamed of my vintage leopard T-shirt and jeans without anything like such a glamorous excuse...

I wear heels so often I've actually convinced myself I'm a good two or three inches taller than I actually am. Or around six foot in my favourite party shoes by Charlotte Olympia. Even just for a low-key supper at home, these are mood-transforming, and also excellent for winning arguments with tall boyfriends. Beneath my old favourite Helmut Lang mannish black trouser suit (which is my default five second dressing up outfit when a dress just feels too prettied up), you cant even tell how much I'm cheating. Also amuses me that these shoes make my girlfriends crazy (you know who you are) and I have to tell them, time and time again, about clever , Forties movie-star-beautiful Charlotte and where to find her shoes (Dover St Market, Browns, Harvey Nichols...).

I come down to earth on Sunday with my new Church's brogues which take me straight back to my days of regulation school shoes, but in a good way.

Yes. I'm forced to shrink to my true height, but worth it for the air of seriousness they bring to proceedings. I love them with loose shorts and tights and a pretty prim blouse or a cheekily short wisp of a skirt to balance out the severity. I also like them with tiny cut-off denim and extra long dark grey socks...but maybe not for a toddler's birthday brunch? I want to wear them for a quick trip to the Serpentine Gallery en route to the just-opened Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park, but the weather's against me, and I have to fall even further to earth in my trusty Hunter wellies, hot pink Nikes in my bag so I can slip into them for tea at Lucky Seven and cycle home later.

I love my hi-tops, another pair of shoes which take me back to sporty schooldays - when Reebok boots (with fluorescent laces of course), were all my heart desired...

And finally, simply because I can't resist, my favourite shoes in the world, my daughters scuffed-up cool Converse. Long may she only own one pair of shoes. Life would be so much simpler. Maybe.

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11-12-2009
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British Fashion Awards

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Dean Street Townhouse
30 November, 2009

A sleepover on a school night on Monday. Felt so decadent packing my beloved, if very battered, ancient Prada suitcase for one night in Soho. Jumped in a taxi in a cherry-red Temperley London cocktail dress and checked in to the spanking new Dean Street Townhouse.
Danced around my tiny perfect jewel of a room (Number 13), torn between hotfooting it to the bar, or slathering myself in Cowshed lotions and potions in the privacy of my gorgeous black and white bathroom. Loved spying on the smoking chefs and sparring lovers on the Soho streets below. Instant theatre.

When I first moved to London, Soho felt like the centre of the world and Nick Jones’ brilliantly imagined Townhouse captures that rare sense of freedom and endless possibilities, whilst spoiling you rotten in every sense. Even the tiniest bedrooms ache of luxury with definitely one of the most comfortable beds I’ve ever slept in, tiny silver pots of tea and coffee tucked away, and the service that Soho House is famous for: laid-back and ‘anything goes’ but also ultra-professional with an uncanny ability to predict your every move and need.
I savoured my breakfast in the bar the morning after - surrounded by my fellow one-night standers: Roland Mouret, Stephen Fry, Gwyneth Paltrow et al - as fuzzy sunlight filtered through and last nights’ tales emerged over espressos and pain au chocolates, before reluctantly running back to my real world, imagining this dream of a place dissolving in a puff of smoke in my wake. I’ll check its still there and just as good in sober daylight when I book a big shiny red booth at the back for an early festive lunch one of these days.
www.deansttownhouse.com
69-71 Dean St, W1. (020 7434 1775)

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11-12-2009
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December's Best Points
04 December, 2009
Just a few things to guarantee a smile as December falls……
STARTING NEXT YEAR’S DIARY… Grateful for the December advance pages and all the renewed hope and promise I feel in the process of neatly inserting birthdays, phone numbers and plans in my very best handwriting. By mid-January it will all be a sloppy felt-tip blur but I’ll enjoy the brief frisson of colour-coded calm for now; it feels like starting over. I’m usually loyal to Liberty’s beautiful selection but, one recent grey November day, I was irresistibly drawn to a splash of shocking pink in my local Smythson window and thus zoomed in on their perfectly chic ‘Soho Diary’. The endless extra blank pages are perfect for a pathologically punctual girl with time to kill scribbling away whilst I wait for my more fashionably late friends. I love the explosion of optimistic colour when I’m rummaging in my trusty black Chanel handbag, and that’s before its overflowing with snaps and lists and postcards and so many good intentions for 2010.

ICE-SKATING… I find it almost impossible to be in a bad mood in a pair of ice-skates. Even though I have to pretend it’s for the kids it’s actually quite hard to get me off the ice once I’m there. Really bad songs take on a new life when under the influence of a temporary (and probably imagined!) amazing grace. The fairy-lit trees and old-fashioned glow from the carousel at the Natural History Museum add to the rosy-cheeked pure glee of the experience. Incidentally, I can never resist a vaguely Russian-inspired outfit when even just thinking about a trip to the rink. Don’t fight it. Any excuse to score circles in the ice in a Julie Christie/Dr Zhivago fantasy daydream ….

ADVENTURE IN ART… A lone mission east on the first icy December day, duffle coat pulled up to my ears, to one of my favourite secret places in London: Museum 52 on Redchurch St E2, always a source of inspiration and temptation. Thanks (I think) to the brilliant Lucy Chadwick for a new obsession. Still can’t stop thinking about Tom Wood’s raw and heartbreaking photographs in the Now That Everybody’s Here show. Some are from his award-winning Bus Odyssey series, chronicling Liverpool lives in transit - a recurring focus for the artist. Others tell more hedonistic, though still tender stories. If I was rich I’d snap them up. Must be more ambitious/businesslike from now on! The pictures are curated by Wood’s long-term friend and collaborator, the conceptual artist Padraig Timoney. Some are many-layered and painterly, others simple hardcore portraiture, but all take you on a mysterious and seductive journey.
www.museum52.com

Olympian Going Home © Tom Wood 1975, courtesy of Museum 52

Free Peoples © Tom Wood 1975, courtesy of Museum 52
COCOMAYA… I rarely go out to lunch but can’t resist tea once in a while - and now that Cocomaya exists it could easily become a habit. This is the fantasy: steamed-window tearoom of faint childhood memories, injected with modern romance and glamour, not to mention the almost too–beautiful-to-eat chocolates and cakes. Exquisite still life tableaus in lavender and rose and lime. I’m going back just for the one that tastes of the very essence of honey, and the world will just magically slow down for a moment or two…
www.cocomaya.co.uk


BOOKING A BEACH TRIP…. All my best travel memories have sprung last minute on a wing and a prayer and I thank the fashion gods for all my round-the -world surprises (NY tomorrow for a shoot..no problem..oh..I accidently on purpose stayed five years…the Maldives to write…next week…ok...if you insist…) so it’s still a little alien to me to actually think ahead and get organised. (Blame my brand new school holiday schedule), but a long English winter will leave me aching for the sun and I’m dreaming of returning to the Seychelles - or the “Seashells” as my four-year old insists on calling the islands he’s ogled on my show-off computer bursting with snapshots of giant turtles and pirate coves.
www.fregate.com




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11-12-2009
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White Vest Quest
07 December, 2009

Perhaps surprisingly, my wardrobe is pretty minimalist these days - but a spy in my closet would note a few seemingly obsessive compulsive shopping disorders; the most obvious being my white vest fetish. I have piles of them and I haven’t stopped yet. (It could be worse-at least it’s not Manolos.)
I have them extra long for pregnancy and now layered over skinny jeans; shrunken boy-style ones, perfect thrown over a bikini on the beach; racer-back for running; newish crisp ones that aren’t embarrassed to be seen with a suit; and washed-a-thousand-times-ones that are perfect as pyjamas. I wear them all and only I can decipher my system or logic, or lack thereof. I’m fickle and disloyal.
Just as I swear allegiance to American Apparel, along comes Isabel Marant. Stella McCartney competes with teenage Petit Bateau - and my absolute favourites don’t even have a label as they come from a vast pile in a Mexican market and are probably designed for old men! Needless to say, I bought in bulk. The perfect white vest goes with anything and at least three come with me on every trip.
My favourite flared pink Miu Miu mini-skirt which is like a hacked in half ball-dress is designed to be worn with something sparkly or beaded by someone more glamorous but I always end up wearing it with a white vest or two. Likewise my harem trousers, which I can only wear if they feel as comfy as track pants, are equally dressed down with said vest.
Some feel like old friends. They make every day feel like a fresh start, like spring. A pure white vest is my uniform. Even if you see me in my staple vintage flowery frocks, chances are I’ve got a white vest - possibly thermal – on underneath…

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11-12-2009
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Late Night BFA Report
10 December, 2009
Just home from an amazing night celebrating 25 years of British fashion, make-up scrubbed off, hair unravelled and pjs on… Loved my new Roland Mouret egg-yolk yellow minidress(exclusive to Net-A-Porter), brave for a blonde perhaps? I’ve always been a bit afraid of yellow but this was the simplest shift that felt like the easiest, silkiest second skin. A dress to run and dance and laugh in. Lots of old friends dressed to the nines.

I picked up fellow Vogue blogger Jacquetta Wheeler - in the most beautiful Erdem floral print frock – in a taxi en route, and we navigated the circus outside the Royal Courts of Justice on the Strand together, looking out for each other in the crowd. Ran into Karen Elson on the red carpet looking absolutely stunning in a long scarlet dress. She was the one everyone else wished they’d looked like; proper old-school movie-star glamour… though when she slipped off the stage later there was a terrifying silence until she picked herself up and bravely, gracefully got on with the business of presenting an award to the inspirational Grace Coddington. Other killer looks - in my book at least - were Rosamund Pike in pale grey Lanvin and Erin O ‘Connor and Eva Herzigova both in dramatic to-the-floor black.

I presented the award for Best Accessories to the gorgeous and talented Katie Hillier with, amazingly, no mishaps or sudden stage-dives. Sarah Brown battled vertigo (a strange transparent screen separated presenters from audience which created the effect of being on the edge of a mountain, but blinded by lights…) to introduce the evening alongside chairman of the British Fashion Council, Harold Tillman, and Kate Moss was voted most popular British fashion icon, and the room roared in agreement as she took to the stage. Georgia May Jagger was named Model of the Year,and I’m sure the celebrations are still going on as I write. (I blame my naughty nocturnal baby girl for a fear of very late nights for now…). Emotional scenes and promises of new year dinners/shoots/adventures as we all fled into the night. Jax and Charlotte Tilbury jumped in my car and we filled in all the missing pieces and behind-the scenes-stories on the way home. And so to bed…


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13-12-2009
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Thanks for posting Cosmocat!!

I saw her at the Vogue/Chanel Fashion Night Out party in London where she was styling and posing for the photoshoot. Will dig out some photos if I can...

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22-12-2009
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Speed-Freak Beauty
15 December, 2009
This is my slightly breathless got-to-get-the-kids-to-bed-and-be-out-the-door-transformed-in-fifteen-minutes beauty routine…

6.45pm: Shu Uemera black eyeliner pencil (or Bobbi Brown liquid eyeliner in Hunter painted on for cat-eyes if I’m feeling calm…) and Lancome mascara applied whilst singing to the kids in the bath (I like eye make-up a bit sunken in/steamed up so put it on before I shower).
7pm: Baby to bed.
7.15pm: Four year old to bed…
7.17pm: Shower (Aromatherapy Associates De-Stress Oil, a mood-changing camomile and frankincense mix which can be used pre-shower or in the bath) followed by a speedy scrub with Goodworks Good Karma.Three minute mask at the same time (Sisley Radiant Glow Express Mask) if I remember…

7.20pm:Splash face and spritz with NUDE hydrating water.
7.21pm: Becca hydrating primer (miracle product with SPF that is all I use in daylight) over Shu Uemera moisturizer.
7.22pm: Becca Tinted Moisturizer in Camel with a dash of their Opal Shimmer from cheeks to temples (I’ll switch to the stick foundation if facing lights and cameras but don’t usually bother).
7.23pm: Run Realhair’s weightless serum through hair – untangles and adds shine at the same time.
7.25pm:Chanel blush compact (I’ve always used Pink Cloud but it’s now discontinued so I need to find the replacement...) and Shu Uemera lipstick (in a natural nude or Ferrari red depending on my mood) chucked in my handbag to do in the taxi en route…

7.28pm: Spritz of Chanel Beige… grab earrings or a bangle or two.
7.30pm: Babysitter/taxi!
8pm: Dinner with Tom Ford… should anyone be allowed to be that handsome AND that talented…? Grateful for low lighting, my white Stella minidress, good wine, old friends… and my trusty black eyeliner.

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22-12-2009
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Short Shrift
18 December, 2009

Christmas parties with all their expectations of sexy sparkly dresses fill me with slight fashion dread. I’m feeling a touch puritanical, not quite scrooge-like but definitely on the serious side. I’m thinking high necked blouses and skinny sweaters, but mostly I’m thinking about shorts!
I know it’s December (and snowing!) but I love the severity of shorts (with thick tights - maybe ribbed as opposed to this season’s obsession with sheer or patterned) and lace-up heels (by Tabitha Simmons in an ideal world). My alternative “art-student” party outfit.

I loved Stella McCartney’s tiny shorts in her spring/summer 2010 show (above) and yesterday a friend gave me the perfect pair of navy blue crepe de chine Miu Miu shorts for Christmas and insisted I open the parcel immediately rather than surreptitiously as soon as he left. Lucky me.
If I do succumb to the dress it will be in favour of my ancient vintage treasures in timeless prints (or fluorescent flowers and backless if the spirit takes me). I’ll save my splurges for the New Year and pieces I’ll wear forever. Maybe I’m just getting too old for one-night stands - especially with sequins and glitter - and the only diamonds I’ll wear will be in my hair. I think I’d rather be pale and interesting in the corner than the blonde on the stage these days (or nights). Probably just a phase…

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22-12-2009
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Boothnation gets the party started
21 December, 2009
My absolute latest must-have party accessory is not a bag or a pair of shoes or a sparkly hairclip…It’s a portable photo booth!
At a friend’s 40th in the summer the girls were queuing up for the chance to pose with a friend (or four) in a super glammed-up version of the passport-photo machine I use in the tube station.
Once we realised that the prints emerged a minute later as if lit by Mario Testino - and were airbrushed to boot - some of us went back for more...and more. The booth became our very best friend; nothing like a bit of photo-shopped flattery to get the party spirit flowing. A couple of relationships may even have been ignited in its cosy confines - ideal accidently-on-purpose flirting conditions. I still have my party pics from that night -great souvenirs - and the birthday girl gets a double of every single picture of her pals pasted into a keepsake memory book.
That machine worked in colour and the black and white version at my favourite ever Christmas party this weekend was even more addictive. The mini silver airstream parked in the living room enticed hundreds into its velvet-walled den, bringing out the diva in everyone - even the boys! As the night went on there was a natural progression (or deterioration?) from the demure to the debauched and the evidence has either been smuggled away in handbags or politely left behind to amuse our hostess the morning after….
Here’s a few of the early uncensored still-on-best-behaviour shots….
Me, Bella Freud, Caroline Hickman and a couple of intruders…

With my best beloved Josh and Jonathan…

PS - I wore an old favourite stripy Chanel dress and my red Perspex Lulu Guinness Lips bag, a Day-Glo rainbow in a world of über chic little black dresses…

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12-01-2010
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Kilimanjaro Climb
04 January, 2010
As I rejoice in returning to a “room of one’s own”, (yes, even the piles of unopened mail, post-Christmas debris, endless lists, and those dreaded resolutions in all their shapes and forms, secret and otherwise), I have no choice but to confront my multiple personalities as am so surrounded by the evidence of their existence.
My beautiful black Alaia boots (and equally beautiful snow-white ice-skates)and other more sparkly Christmas trinkets lie askew atop an enormous North Face duffle bag which, slightly shockingly, seems to be heading up Kilimanjaro in 27 days time (countdown…)with me attached to it. What was I thinking?
My sane sensible side definitely meant to say no when my friends, the three musketeers, “invited” me. (Can you call a chance to joust with fear and altitude sickness not to mention pure physical agony an invitation?) But I heard the “can’t resist a dare” side of me saying a definite, if faint, “YES”, and there were witnesses…and I am proud… So, yes, I find myself the proud owner of a sackful of synthetic fibres (Pertex?!) and a spanking new pair of Scarpa climbing boots which came with strict instructions to wear in and beat up daily til the trip. Might get a few strange looks on the school run…
I’m fit in a Tenpilates/occasional jog in the park kind of way and I climbed a volcano in Bali once upon a time but this is SERIOUS - and I’m running out of time. Plus, I’m a full-time mother for a month whilst my kids’ gorgeous nanny suns herself in Australia so any exercise for now is going to be simply stomping round town with my little ones. So, when a 6’5” intrepid strapping male friend told me he’d spent an hour a day in an altitude-training chamber in Covent Garden for three months prior to his Kili climb I actually felt a little faint. I try to focus on my magical memories of lone travels in Africa - and the fact that I have definitely said at various points in my life that this is something I REALLY WANT TO DO - and more importantly, the fact that Cheryl Cole and Co did it - and breathe…
I glance at a beloved painting above my desk in my schizophrenic study which calms and inspires me on all kinds of journeys. Gentle footprints in the snow. Towards home.
Happy New Year.

By Amy Gadney, courtesy of the artist

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