A big thank you to Becky Histed for doing my hairs, Jane Marie for putting makeup on my face (Lord knows I can’t!), Craig Matthews for being such a patient photographer, Hotel du Vin Tunbridge Wells for letting us take over their hotel all afternoon, my amazing business partner, Hanna Sorrell, for always being by my side and being the yin to my yang, and to SO Tunbridge Wells for putting me, a potty-mouthed American, in your magazine. It was a blast and an absolute honour. ✨
I was talking to a friend of a friend works as a civil servant before seeing Fleabag on Thursday and now I’m feeling really nervous about Brexit. There were six of us sitting in an alcove in a stylish members club, drinking wine that was somehow both reasonably priced and truly delicious, and catching each other up on our lives since we last saw each other. I was the newbie in the group, picking up the anecdotes the other women were sharing, and piecing them all together like a jigsaw in my mind. Oh, so you’re the friend dating the French guy! Got it.
As it always does, Brexit came up, and we all started talking about the availability of things we love– Wine, olive oil, anchovies, etc.– and the ways that our leaving the EU will change this country, and diminish its diversity. The woman who works for the government got very serious during this discussion, and with the same stern tone of Gandalf telling the hobbits to leave the shire, she told us to:
Stock up on pulped paper products like toilet paper and cat litter.
Fill our [Barbie-sized or otherwise-sized] freezers with as much veg as possible.
Transfer all our savings to a foreign currency, if possible. (lololol what are savings???)
I’ve absolutely not done the second two things on the list, but the morning after our meeting I did place an order for a top-up of WGAC loo roll + tissues. I may get scurvy after Brexit, but my ass will be wiped! Hopefully 48 rolls is enough to get us to a new deal…
Other things I bought into this week that aren’t Brexit-related (thank god):
This interview with Margaret Atwood in The Times– but I think I like the photos even more???
Fleabag LIVE! I saw the show on Thursday and while it was so good, it was also a little like seeing a friend relapse into old bad habits. And while I’ve loved everything about Fleabag these past few years, I’m now ready and excited to see what FWB does next. Her career is going to be such a joy to follow and I hope it spans oh-so-many decades.
A truly lovely dinner + delicious wine at The Laughing Heart. The restaurant is great, the bottle shop is superb, the party space looks fun, and I’m already looking forward to my next visit.
The B&B I’m staying at in Sardinia, which has a turtle that lives in/near the pool (unclear exactly where it resides– I’ll report back), which I’m so excited to swim with later this week! I bought a new suit just for the occasion. But seriously, do we think the turtle is pooping in the pool???? Or how is this working, exactly?
The Pasta – after hitting my limit month-after-month, this Alison Roman recipe was the straw the broke the camel’s back and made me finally subscribe to the NYT. Excuse me while I read literally everything. No, seriously. Please excuse me… BYE!
I’m so damn proud that this hard-working, generous, and BRILLIANT mermaid-haired wine-slinger has been shortlisted for The Julian Brind Memorial Trophy for Outstanding Achievement in the Wine Industry. Sula deserves every success that comes her way and I’m so glad that I get to clap and scream her name from the top of my lungs as she slays your way through life.
Sula, thank you for letting me take these photos of you and thank you for being a friend. 🖤💫
Hanna and I have had such a fun time working with Phipps and Wines of Germany UK on their flagship tasting event, The Big G. Check it out to learn what we did for them + to read the insanely nice things the Phipps team said about working with us. (Spoiler Alert: it literally made me weep a little bit.)
Over the summer, my Norfolk Island Pine (above, photographed in March of this year when I moved the sofa to mop and lunged at the opportunity to have a blank wall to photograph her against) lost a lot of little limbs. Not entire arms, thank god!, but little… fingers? I don’t know what to call them, I’m not a botanist, but trust when I say that Ms. NIP is now thinner and ganglier than ever, yet she’s still absolutely thriving.
Every time another fingery branch started the process of slowly yellowing and then dropping, my heart sank. It was like I was losing a piece of myself and like the seven years we’d spent together were slowly drying up and dropping away, too. Look, I know she’s a plant, but the two of us have been through a lot together. And I guess this is a good reminder that sometimes we need to let go in order to keep on growing. Or something. Idk.
And with that, here’s a round-up of some of the stuff I’ve kept open in tabs for way too long/have recently come across and haven’t yet forgotten about while on blog hiatus.
I want to go to this adorable wine bar in upstate NY. And then never ever leave.
When I got married, I joked (it wasn’t a joke though) that I wanted a new wedding ring every 5 years. Well! It’s been 7 and a half, and though I swap out what I wear on my ring finger on the regular, I think it’s high time that I actually invest in something a bit special as my next Official 2.0 Wedding Ring. Something by Grace Lee, perhaps? I’d love a little stack like this one. (Related: I finally feel old enough for diamonds. Tell your friends!)
I really enjoyed this article about influencers turning into unfluencers in The Cut. Who hasn’t been there?? I know it’s harsh, but every time someone I follow but don’t actually know announces a pregnancy, that there’s a 95% chance that I’ll unfollow them within a year.
Happy recent pub date to Get Together! I can’t wait to get my hands on this when I’m in the States in October.
Don’t tell my mom, but my best friend and I are thinking about/probably/for sure going to get something like this but not this inked when we’re in Florida together. I honestly didn’t think finding something to get permanently drawn on my body would be such a process, but it’s been really difficult to settle on something… I just keep thinking I’ll know when I find it, so I’m keeping my eyes open for something beautiful and delicate.
“Clutter is the country’s way of life, and buying the most luxurious version of a thing you don’t really need doesn’t make it more useful.” I loved Amanda Mull on the Goop life for The Atlantic. Bonus quote: “In an era when many people take the idea of “voting with their wallet” quite seriously, it’s no wonder that self-care, a concept first articulated by the radical poet and civil-rights activist Audre Lorde, was commodified into a righteous cry for fancy bath products. Goop, with its $3,000 dresses and $95 drinkable skin care, is the company you get when people believe that having nice things and being a good person are achieved through the same means.”
I bought this Drag Queen Adult Therapy Coloring Book as soon as I knew of its existence and am already planning a colouring day with my friend Ed. The book kindly includes TWO pictures of each featured Queen, which means we won’t have to fight over who gets to colour Katya. Win!
Another way I’m self-soothing these days (I know! It’s almost like i didn’t read the Amanda Mull article!) is with a Shakti Mat. I’ve only had it a few weeks, but when I actually remember to use it, I’ve noticed a really big reduction in the tension I carry in my neck and back. David likes it too. Once I make using it a regular habit, I might share more about it.
With so many of my regular listens going on summer holiday, I was forced to discover some new podcasts. My latest favourite? This Is Uncomfortable. Host Reema Khrais makes the best I’m listening/empathising/feeling you noises in all of radio, even when she’s discussing some of the trickiest money stories. Listen!
Speaking of listening, I love the new Lana. Duh! I also love the new Taylor. Just wanted to let you know. 💘
And lastly, I finally made the switch to wireless earphones and am already stressing out about how I’m going to cope with having to charge these things while on long trips. I mean, they’re great. But did I really need something else to have to remember to charge??????? (They are really great for running though.)
Okay, enough. Too much? Whatever. I’m fresh out of fucks forever. Or just for now. BYE. HAPPY SEPTEMBER.
I let this delightful Weingut Judith Beck number that I picked up at Unwined Waterloo tap dance over my tongue while making big plates of sausage and tomato pasta (topped, of course, with a heavy sprinkling of Alison Roman’s garlic breadcrumbs— is there any other way?) and listening to Who? Weekly’s You’ve Got Mail commentary. (I didn’t even have to watch along, I know the movie so well.)
10/10, would recommend, would do it all again ✨
Adding to the list of glowing reviews for Three Women by Lisa Taddeo. These stories of desire, the search for fulfilment, and the need to be truly seen are beautifully written and expertly unfurled, making this a non-fiction page-turner that keeps you reading well into the night. I finished it a week and a half ago and have thought about these women every day since- their stories have a way of getting into your bones.
Look Alive Out There is a perfect collection of essays if you need validation for:
Deeply resenting your loud and obnoxious neighbours that you also obsessively spy on
Declining every hike you’ve ever been invited to go on
Feeling conflicted about people who talk about their enneagram all the damn time
While I definitely don’t think there’s a perfect time to start doing anything (whether it’s having a baby, quitting your job, building a house, etc.), I will say that I feel this week was a particularly terrible time to start back on my exercise bullshit. I’m generally the first to roll my eyes when a Brit announces they’re “boiling” in the summer heat, but reader, on my runs this week, I was boiling. My head turned a very fiery shade of gazpacho red and I was sweating in places that I didn’t know I had sweat glands. But it wasn’t the heat from exercise that really caused me a problem, it was the fact that it was nearly impossible to cool down. In a country that only needs air conditioning for, like, 10 days max out of the year, it’s really damn hard to find a place to chill– literally. Luckily a cold shower + super cold shower wine does, eventually, do the trick.
Anyway! Here are some things that are hot in a Paris Hilton way and not a temperature way from this week:
I think I found my autumn 2019 kick-around sneakers???
I honestly don’t know why I haven’t shared this before (have I? I should put a search function on here, even though I’m 100% the only person who will ever use it) but I’ve been eating a super lot of Kim Kong Kimchi lately, rather than just a moderate lot. So much, in fact, that I’m contemplating buying a 4kg container. But that would be a bit overkill, right? I don’t think my UK Barbie fridge could accommodate.
My plants are thriving in this UK summer jungle and just as I lust after much prettier flats than my own, I’m also lusting after H for Hannah’s Jupiter Pots, which will be available in September, to re-home some of my plant babies. The colours! 😍
Hey, you know what? My computer is too hot. Much like the British men walking the High Street without shirts, my MacBook Pro is positively boiling. Its little fan is blowing as fast as it can and my fingers feel like they’re typing on lava, so I’m gonna call this a day. Have a great week and stay hydrated out there, kids!
Eat your heart out, Draco. 💜
While I don’t mind heights, I’m not especially comfortable with throwing my body off something relatively high – a diving platform, the top railing of a boat, a rocky cliff overlooking water that is “totally deep enough to dive in”. But I do it! Eventually. After a few agonising minutes of pacing, catastrophic thinking, and psyching myself up, my mind goes blank and I let my physicality 100% take over. Though truth be told, it’s not the you-can-do-it mental refrain that gets me over the edge, it’s the claustrophobic feeling of indecision that eventually makes me think fuck it and then lo and behold it’s over the edge and into the water I go, one big uncoordinated splash.
These pre-jump jitters are all-consuming. And they’re proving to be a pretty big problem in life right now.
For the past couple months, I’ve been pacing back and forth along the edge of something big, feeling a little sick with nerves and knowing that once I decide to throw myself over the precipice, some things are going to change and I’ll have to deal with that change. I’ve been going back over my 2019 goals to psych myself up for the free-fall and the impact, but it’s taking longer than I expected it to. That said, the jump is coming. It has to. But I just need a few more minutes to panic before I’m ready, okay?
Here are some things that aren’t freaking me out quite so much!
My brilliant blue cicada arrived from Provence and has found a home on my pale pink wall. I love it.
I nodded along to Dolly Alderton’s column in The Sunday Times Style Magazine this week. "I think one of the hardest things to accept about getting older is that there is so rarely a definitively right or disastrously wrong way to live — just hundreds of choices that could take your life in lots of different directions. The deeply unsatisfying fact is that you’d probably find a way to be fine in all of them. It’s almost unbearable to think about with any degree of analysis." VERY ON BRAND FOR HOW I’M FEELING RIGHT NOW, NO?
To keep my cat from using my air plants as floss, I’ve been on the look-out for hanging air plant holders and really like the look of these. Shall I pull the trigger?
A friend told me about a new kombucha company called Boo Chi last week and I’m definitely going to add a scoby to an order of a mixed pack later this week so I can sip some of theirs but also brew my own. 💪🏼
My friend Ed got me into Blown Away on Netflix this week - a competitive reality show about Canadian glass blowers. It’s pretty low-stakes and low production but I’m really enjoying it!
I also binged Season 4 of Queer Eye and Season 3 of The Bold Type this past week (pacing along the edge of proverbial cliff = procrastinating by watching TV) and reader, I cried in every single episode. Good balm for the soul! Now, if I could just have Kat’s entire wardrobe and could renovate my living room/kitchen to look more like the QE loft, I’d be happy as a clam.
And on that note, I’m going to procrastinate a bit more before launching into the week ahead. Good luck and don’t fuck it up, everyone!
The new Francis and the Lights single, Do u Need Love? passed me by last month, but don’t worry, I’ve found it. It’s been almost a year since I saw him solo at the Islington Assembly Hall and was told to “go back to where you came from” by a group of spatially clueless lads standing in front of me. But he was so good, their behaviour didn’t even ruin the show!
You know what really gets my gears going? (Is this a phrase?) People who insist you put stemware on a coaster. You guys!! The base of the stemware is the coaster!!! As long as you’re not a monster who drips wine (or whatever you’re drinking out of said stemware) everywhere, you shouldn’t need a coaster. I don’t care what surface you’re putting your drink on, you 100% do not need a coaster if you’re using stemware. I will die on this hill if I have to.
Moving on to more interesting/less controversial topics:
I’m on the look-out for a beautiful ceramic butter keeper like this one but ideally made closer to home. Know of a UK or mainland Europe-based potter who makes something similar? Hit. Me. Up. (The toast isn’t going to butter itself!!)
I (finally) finished Rachel Cusk’s trilogy and felt so completely satisfied when I read the last page and closed the book. I’ve found great joy in the pedestrian conversations of her passer-by characters, and found that reading these one-sided stories was almost as good as having an actual conversation whilst I was burrowed down deep in my hermitage/recovering from tonsillitis. The trilogy is such an interesting commentary on conversation and gender and reminded me of a spring day in London a few years ago when I decided not to step out of the way when walking toward men on the sidewalk and almost dislocated my shoulder. 👍🏼
Look, I’m morally opposed to unironic hashtags 99% of the time, but included in the 1% I deem admissible are book and author hashtags because 1) I like to know what other people think of the books I’ve read – it’s like an impromptu and totally impersonal instagram bookclub – and 2) I like looking at pictures of books. And while cruising the #RachelCusk hashtag, I stumbled upon this book-tastic account and I can’t tell what I’m more into: how much this woman freaking reads, or how charming her photography is.
Changing gears to television, I was shooketh to my core reading Tara Isabella Burton’s thoughtful and theological take on Fleabag. We’re all looking for meaning in this jimble-jamble life, and by god you gotta live it if you want to start being able to make sense of it, can I get an amen!?
I loved this interview with Lauren Morelli in Vulture. It’s so overwhelming/scary/exciting to confront who you are when you already thought you were a full-grown and fully-formed adult, and reading about how she truly connected with her sexuality, found a beautiful new love, and is constantly learning (and putting that learning into practice) is wildly inspiring. I guess I really need to watch Tales of the City now, huh.
I always thought that if I can lean over without making guy-in-Amélie-putting-on-his-slippers noises when I’m 37, I’d be happy, but after watching Roger Federer play such beautiful tennis (despite losing the Championship!) at 37, I’m thinking about raising my standards. What a match! What amazing athletes! What a reminder that, like the electoral college, in tennis you can win the most points overall but still lose the whole thing. Let’s overthrow everything! (Congratulations, Novak.)
And on that note, I’m off to think about maybe exercising at some point this week, but will probably just watch slow-mo videos of Roger Federer killing it on a grass court instead….
I enjoyed- and savoured- every page of M.F.K. Fisher’s The Gastronomical Me. Her observations are sensuous, witty and sharp, and the way she writes about love- both found and lost- cuts right to the heart. I wish I could’ve shared a meal (or at least a plate of oysters) with her, together exploring the measure of our powers. 🖤
Because it’s been a while, here are a few other things I’ve been obsessed with lately:
GENTLEMAN JACK. Oh, my god. I’m obsessed with Suranne Jones as Anne Lister. It’s borderline unhealthy.
My heart broke – and soared – reading this Vanity Fair piece on Selma Blair’s struggle with MS. She’s such an inspiration and I adore the idea of her and Parker Posey cackling together over bougie LA lunches. Please please invite me, ladies…
I’m a big fan, HUGE, of Trixie Mattel and Katya Zamolodchikova’s Youtube show, UNHhhh. I need to hold myself back from sending episodes to all my friends because honestly, is there anything more stressful then being sent a 20 minute clip of something from a friend like oh my god, Janet, do you really think I have time to spend watching this trash????? I have a life!!
I bought a pair of Freedom Moses sandals in Mykonos blue and would like to tell you that they are GOOD. I feel like it’s been ages since I had a pair of shitty kick-around sandals (I’m morally opposed to flip-flops sorry/not sorry) and these fit the bill perfectly.
Though I don’t want to call myself a creative person, per se, I’m desperate to make my own little infographic of my daily routine à la this list of Daily Routines of Creative People. But honestly, if we could make a list featuring modern day badass female creatives, I’d be much much more interested. Who wants to make that happen?
WIMBLEDON. Obviously. Wimbledon season is my favourite season and while it’s a cruel joke that I got tonsillitis for, like, the entirety of the first week of play, I’m doing my best this week to soak up as much tennis as possible. I know it’s sooooo boring but I’d love to see Federer and Serena both win another one. 🤞🏼
And other than wanting to propose to Megan Rapinoe, that’s about all for now! Now that I’m done galavanting around the globe (lol Minnesota and France being “the globe”), and being sick (fingers crossed!), I’ll be spending more time here. How exciting!
I know it came out a few years ago, but Bedroom by Litany will 100% be the song of Provence/Summer 2019 for me. All of us with our arms out the windows of the Polo, wind whipping through our hair as we mouthed the words and let the French countryside roll past, so beautiful that we eventually stopped commenting on it, and instead took from the landscape what we each wanted, locking it in our memories as the electronic melody echoed in our ears.
I took this picture last May in a wild rhododendron forest in Sevenoaks, Kent. Just like the blooms that come each and every spring, life can also have a funny way of repeating itself.
I have good news, and bad news. The good news is that I found some time to read an actual fucking book this week (!!!), but the bad news is that I’m still camped out in the centre of a client chaos cyclone that only feels like it’s picking up speed and is 100% going to end in mass destruction. It’s bleak. I’m wrapping all my valuables in cellophane, boarding up my windows and bracing for the worst.
But in the spirit of looking on the bright side, here are some things I stumbled across this week that made me feel like life isn’t all bleak:
I read M.F.K. Fisher’s Consider The Oyster and you guys, reading this book without a very cold bottle of Chablis and at least a dozen oysters should 100% be illegal. I was panting like a chocolate lab in the August sun while reading it, so desperate for some refreshing oyster liquor and icy cold wine*. I also wish I could write about anything as emphatically as M.F.K. Fisher wrote about oysters, bc damn, she really makes you feel it in the soul and stomach. Anyway! I gobbled this book up in a single sitting and cannot wait to add more of her writing to my bookshelf (why is it not there already? TRAGEDY!). I’m also looking for someone (anyone!) who might like to join me on a cookbook tour of this book. Oyster stews, Oyster Stuffing, and Oyster Loaves all sound amazing and like something I will definitely need to share with oyster-loving friends. Who’s in?
On August 7, 2001, my life changed. My mother drove me to our local Target and I used my babysitting money** to buy Usher’s ICONIC album 8701. I was 13 years old, horny as hell (without really knowing what horny was), and had Usher pumping through my Walkman’s foamy over-ear headphones every chance I could get, v awkwardly grooving along to R&B anthems like Twerk It Out and U Got It Bad (which I may or may not have called in to my local Top 40 radio station to dedicate to my boyfriend while at a sleepover with other equally awkward and horny tweenagers) and bangers like U Remind Me***, I Can’t Let U Go, U-Turn, and my 13 year-old personal favourite, If I Want To.
What’s the point of this story? Well, I was powering through a design job earlier this week and listening to an artist radio station on Spotify - I don’t remember which one - when Lykke Li’s cover of U Got It Bad came on and reader, I was SHOOKETH TO MY CORE. It’s so good and combines two things I truly love: Usher’s 8701 and Swedish songstress Lykke Li. BANGER. Already can’t wait to make the DJ play it at my brother’s wedding in a few week’s time.
I can’t stop laughing at this clip of Jinkx Monsoon calling Miss Vanjie the DMX of Drag. It’s so pure and so spot-on. (DMX: Another artist who was hugely influential when I was a horndog baby teen!)
And speaking of horniness, the animals in Chernobyl seem really good at reproducing. And, like, pretty good at living in a super toxic environment, too! (Shoutout to all my ladies who can 100% deffo relate 🙌!). Did you know about this? Because I didn’t until I cried my eyes out through all 8 episodes of Our Planet and was then given the teeny-tiniest glimmer of hope that even if we wipe out our own species through irresponsible environmental practices, there still might be a bit of hope for some of the animals we fuck over in the process. MAYBE.
Okay, let’s end on that precariously hopeful note. Yes, we may be fucking up everything – both on a personal and global level – but at least there’s hope that something will be able to thrive in the wake of our destruction. Doesn’t that make you feel better?!?
Yeah, me neither. 💔
*Though, tbf, the bottle of norm-core Chablis that I bought at my friendly neighbourhood M&S Petrol Station did a pretty good job of stymieing some of my cravings.
**Yes, they used to let 13 year-old children babysit other children when I was a tween. Isn’t that horrifying/sweet? It was a different time.
***That dance in the rain? Tween me didn’t know what to do with that, folks.