Paston Way’s new signage offers chance to explore what’s on along the Trail this Bank Holiday Weekend

With new signage along Paston Way set to be fully in place by this Bank Holiday Weekend (Sat 23rd-Mon 25th Aug), why not take the opportunity to explore what’s on offer along the picturesque trail which runs between Cromer and North Walsham?

The trail has been rerouted in some points to make it more accessible and new way-marking discs have been added to help guide walkers as well as new bespoke posts installed to point people to nearby places of interest. The new signage has been erected using funding from the COOL tourism project.

Although best known for its beautiful medieval churches, quiet lanes, and charming towns and villages, Paston Way also offers an abundance of pubs, cafés and places to explore.

Combined with a leisurely walk, the following are all well worth checking out along the trail this Bank Holiday Weekend …

The Cromer Pier Show, Saturday 23 & Sunday 24 August

 Cromer Pier, built between 1900 and 1901, marks the start of Paston Way. As well as being of historical and architectural interest, it’s also home to North Norfolk’s world-famous all singing, all dancing Cromer Pier Show. With performances throughout the Saturday and Sunday of the Bank Holiday Weekend, the show presents the very best in live variety and an all new cast. Expect an eclectic blend of great pop music, breath taking West End ballads, speciality acts and humour from top comedians. Tickets start from £10.

www.cromer-pier.com

Live band performance at The Ship Inn, Sunday 24 August

 Take a short 4-mile walk along Paston Way from Mundesley to Paston and you’ll reach The Ship Inn, believed to be one of the oldest pubs in Norfolk at nearly 300 years old. As well as stunning views of the Norfolk coast (which means a chance to spot Harbour porpoises offshore) and a menu of locally-sourced food, this Bank Holiday Sunday they’ll be hosting a live band. Having performed last year with great success, five-piece rock covers group ‘Almost Angels’ are returning to put on a show not to be missed.

www.mundesley-ship.co.uk

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Bacton Garden Opening, Saturday 23 – Monday 25 August

Also along the Mundesley to Paston section of Paston Way, you’ll come across the little coastal village of Bacton. There a ¼ acre exotic garden opening is taking place this Bank Holiday weekend as part of the National Garden Scheme. Suil Na Mara in North Walsham Rd incorporates more than 200 plant varieties set in a series of garden rooms. Often described as a ‘Tardis’ of a garden, it also has a small photographic and Art Studio with photos and artwork featuring the beautiful North Norfolk Coast. It’s open from 11am to 5pm throughout the weekend with admission just £3.50 for adults and children going free. Light refreshments will be available.

www.ngs.org.uk

The Aylsham Show, Monday 25 August

At the very end of Paston Way in North Walsham, the trail joins up with Weaver’s Way, which will be the next trail to benefit from new signage. From there the trail will guide you straight to Alysham, where this Bank Holiday Monday the Aylsham Show is taking place. A traditional one-day agricultural show, it is set in Blickling Park, a National Trust Estate known as one of the most beautiful sites in Norfolk. Expect a fun day out packed with showing classes for cattle, sheep, horses, goats and poultry, as well as show jumping, cookery demonstrations, food and farming marquees, a rural craft area, and much, much more! Adults go for £15, while children go free with discounted tickets available online.

www.theaylshamshow.co.uk

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Photo from northnorfolknews.co.uk

Also in Cromer, the organisers at the annual Crab and Lobster Festival are inviting crabbing enthusiasts to join them for what’s set to be an unmissable fun family day this bank holiday Sunday. Market and craft stalls will open and more than 60 ‘Bootiful Boat’ planters will be on display from around 10am. Bid for your favourite and you may be lucky enough to take home a unique piece of art, with all proceeds going to local good causes. Alongside the auction, the World Pier Crabbing Championships lets you register as a team or individual competitor, go to your assigned pitch and try to catch the most crabs. Kicking off at 11am, trophies and prizes will go to the ultimate crabbing champs!

www.crabandlobsterfestival.co.uk

Read more about the best places to crab in Norfolk & Suffolk

 

 

Norfolk Trails

 

Managed by Norfolk County Council (NCC), the Norfolk Trails network brings together over 1,200 miles of long and short walks, cycle and bridle routes throughout Norfolk. Extending across the county, stretching from the coastline of north Norfolk, to the vast Breckland forests in the in the south and west, to the Norfolk Broads in the east, the Norfolk Trails provide the opportunity to discover a diverse and picturesque landscape of unique market towns, rich wildlife and fascinating heritage.

NCC has secured £550,000 of funding for projects to develop and promote the Norfolk Trails and the new England Coast Path to bring more walkers to the rural communities along the coastal corridor between Cromer and Great Yarmouth, and generate vital jobs in these areas over the next three years. This includes European funding for the COOL Tourism project and UK Government Coastal Community Funding for the Explore More Coast scheme.

Find out more at www.norfolktrails.co.uk

COOL Tourism

COOL Tourism is a Europe-wide project that aims to use the environment as an asset to promote experiential tourism, helping rural destinations to compete in the global tourism market. Norfolk County Council is one of 11 local authorities and organisations in the east and south of England and north-west France involved in the partnership campaign. The project has been selected by the European INTERREG IV A France (Channel) – England Cross-border Cooperation Programme and has been co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund.

 

 

 

 

 

Children’s book classics and the food they inspire

Books we love as children can date and grow out of kilter with our modern mores and beliefs – we still enjoy them, albeit with a more knowing heart and mind. We haven’t checked the Law of Books as to what delineates a classic as of late but these are some of our candidates- both niche and mainstream, for kids/young adult books to own and read forever. To add in some fun, we have included some recipes and food ideas taken from the books themselves or inspired by them. Bon appetit!

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Bread and Jam for Frances by Russell Hoban

The moral of this story is “Be careful what you wish for.” Frances loves bread and jam so much she wants to eat it every day. Frances is a fussy eater too. She won’t touch her squishy soft-boiled egg. She trades away her chicken-salad sandwich at lunch. She turns up her nose at boring veal cutlets. Unless Mother can come up with a plan, Frances just might go on eating bread and jam forever! Mum Badger in her infinite parental wisdom knows the best way to deal with this is to let Frances learn that some things are made less special by over familiarity. Adventures with food and fussy eating is addressed with a light non moralising hand as Frances learns to try new things to eat and more importantly, works this out for herself. Richly descriptive in word and illustration, Hoban creates a prose masterpiece about a childhood life experience.

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Green Eggs and Ham by Doctor Seuss

“Not in a box. 
Not with a fox. 
Not in a house. 
Not with a mouse. 
I would not eat them here or there. 
I would not eat them anywhere. 
I would not eat green eggs and ham. 
I do not like them, Sam-I-am”

(From Green Eggs and Ham by Doctor Seuss)

Do you like green eggs and ham?” asks Sam-I-am  and Sam keeps asking persistently (like very young child we have ever met). With distinctive characters and unmistakable rhymes, Dr. Seuss’s beloved books have earned a place in the cannon of children’s classics. Growing cumulatively longer and longer, the list of places to enjoy green eggs and ham, and friends to enjoy them with, grows. Follow Sam-I-am as he insists that this unusual treat is indeed a delectable snack to be savored everywhere and in every way then cook Nigella’s famous riff on the meal. Your children (and big kids) will be delighted.

Green Eggs & Ham by Nigella Lawson

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Photo from JustPutzingAround.com

The Queen let another drop fall from her bottle on to the snow, and instantly there appeared a round box, tied with green silk ribbon, which, when opened, turned out to contain several pounds of the best Turkish Delight. Each piece was sweet and light to the very centre and Edmund had never tasted anything more delicious. He was quite warm now, and very comfortable.

(From The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ by CS Lewis)

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Edmund trying the delectable Turkish Delight

 

Now this is the food description that tantalised, confused and ultimately disappointed me the most when I finally got to try it for myself. Bouncy, jellified and perfumed, the texture and taste of Turkish Delight was so far removed from the candy of my imagination that to this day I wonder if CS Lewis actually muddled it with some other, more lovely candy. The magical description allied itself with a magical world during my childhood- a time when I so very desperately needed to be taken out of my own unloving and bleak home.

When Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy took their first steps into the world behind the magic wardrobe, little do they realise what adventures are about to unfold. And as the story of Narnia unfolds, so too does a classic tale that has enchanted readers of all ages for over fifty years. A subtle novel, the book does not build its story around the didactic expression of its beliefs but instead incorporates its Christian ideology into the telling of a story. Whether you are Christian or not, the morality of decency and doing what is right and good, is pretty universal we feel and not confined to religious belief. 

How to make Turkish Delight

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Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi & Ron Barratt

Once upon a time there was a town called Chewandswallow, devoid of grocery stores. Food is provided by the weather and comes three times a day. It snows mashed potatoes, has split pea soup fog, and rains orange juice. It begins to storm and flood making the food become giant. This forces residents to build boats made out of bread and sail away in search of a safer place. Imagine super sized donuts rolling down the streets and wondering if a pancake could really be bigger than a house? It’s a great story that opens up questions about the weather and how fun the imagination can be, facilitating mind bending feats of creative thought. Read this with your children then get them drawing their own imaginary foods. 

Click here for some surreal Cloudy inspired recipes.

Matron: “You are suffering from Midnight Feast Illness! Aha! You needn’t pretend to me! If you will feast on pork-pies and sardines, chocolate and ginger-beer in the middle of the night, you can expect a dose of medicine from me the next day.” (From the Malory Towers series of books)

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One of my very favourite things to read as a child was any of the Enid Blyton boarding school tales from the cliff top Malory Towers to the less striking St Claires, attended by the O’Sullivan twins. Despite being set in the war time, we and the characters were insulated from the vagaries of both this and any other time and place- indeed Clive of India was one of the only historical figures I recall being mentioned (as the groan-worthy subject of revision). Pure escapism was contained between the pages and despite the broadest of plot and character brushstrokes, I remain so obsessed with these books that I still read them as an adult. As Jane Brocket writes in ‘Cherry Cake and Ginger Beer’ (Hodder & Stoughton, £14.99), her book which explores the world of food in children’s literature and seeks to recreate famous meals and recipes, Blyton is especially gifted at depicting amazing scenes of food. Consider that these books were written during a time of rationing and you understand a little more, just why these uninhibited lists of foods were so prominent. God it must have been torture to read about them whilst in the throes of food restrictions.

Thinking of the writing skill it takes to make sardines pressed into slices of ginger cake sound tempting makes me appreciate Blyton’s abilities all the more for that is what some of the girls tried during one pool side feast. The match tea ‘Jammy Buns’ to celebrate the Malory Towers fifth form Lacrosse win are basically Doughnuts but sounds so much more desirable as do the sounds and smells elicited in our minds as we read the account of the midnight feast in a St Clare music room where Isobel and Pat fry mini sausages on a purloined camping stove. Even the description of Elizabeths peppermint creams in ‘The Naughtiest Girl in the School’ books made me long to try what are actually pretty average tasting candies.

In fact this love of celebrating the food in children’s books from an adult perspective leads me onto my next book discovery, the ‘Little House Cookbook’ by Barbara Mi Walker who discovered the “Little House” series when her daughter, Anna, was four. Eight further years of intermittent reading, writing, and testing produced The Little House Cookbook, a lovingly detailed exploration of just about every foodstuff mentioned in the entire series, including the appetites of the seemingly gluttonous Almanzo- Laura’s future husband. The authors bibliography is four and a half pages long and in each chapter, she locates recipes within their historical context and explains every ingredient. Did you know that at this time, the tomatoes available were not sweet, there was no chemical raising agents and chicken likely tasted amazing compared to modern day ones? Walker describes how a pioneer would have prepared every meal mentioned in her book and then further describes how to adapt these recipes to the modern day kitchen. Take the recipe for Stewed Jackrabbit with Dumplings, “If you can’t find a hunter to give you a skinned rabbit (he will want the pelt), look for a farm-raised rabbit at a German butcher shop. (Hasenpfeffer is a favorite German dish).” There is the Mittel European influence upon American migrant cooking right there.

Garth-Williams

Making maple candy

Horehound candy, vinegar pie, parched corn and Johnny Cakes; fried apples ‘n onions, the favourite birthday treat of Almanzo; green tomatoes or pumpkins used for pie when apples were not available; Vanity cakes at a Plum Creek birthday, their puffed up emptiness an analogy for the hated Nellie Olsen or salt pork melting into pans of baked beans: even the loaves made from wheat hand ground in a little coffee grinder during the blizzard racked Long Winter are researched and written about.

I was obsessed with trying Wintergreen Berries, something that Almanzo (again!) and his sister Alice went ‘pawing for’ on the snow frozen slopes of New York State where their father had a prosperous farm. The description of crunchy berries gushing aromatic icy juices into their mouths was more than I could bear. The fact that I live in an area with chalky alkaline soil, ill suited to growing the plant that bears these berries, Gaultheria procumbens is a further torture. I have never drunk tea and detest milk but I got my grandmother to make me a Cambric tea just like little Grace drank- basically hot water flavoured with milk and a smidgeon of tea, so comforting during the cold and a hint of just how poor the family often were. I basically spent my childhood pretending to be Laura and named my first born after her too.

“At noon Ma sliced bread and filled bowls with the hot bean broth and they all ate where they were, close to the stove. They all drank cups of strong, hot tea. Ma even gave Grace a cup of cambric tea. Cambric tea was hot water and milk, with only a taste of tea in it, but little girls felt grown-up when their mothers let them drink cambric tea”. (The Long Winter, by Laura Ingalls Wilder).

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Who doesn’t drool reading this?

“”meanwhile the old man held a large piece of cheese on a long iron fork over the fire, turning it round and round till it was toasted a nice golden yellow color on each side … the old man filled her bowl again to the brim and set it before the child, who was now hungrily beginning her bread having first spread it with the cheese, which after being toasted was soft as butter” (from ‘Heidi’ by Johanna Spyri)

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Another fantasy figure from my childhood (I begged for a hay filled mattress that would smell clean and sweet), Heidi lived the kind of simple life that even as a young child, I recognised as something of an unattainable fantasy. The contrast between this droolsome piece of cheese on toast and the hard rolls with the knot on top served at Clara’s frigid and cold city home was painful to me. The author, Johanna Spyri was actually a resident of Zürich and thought of the story of the simple Alpine girl while she was convalescing from an illness in the Grisons, which is the eastern part of the country and a biographical parallel with Clara’s illness.

Finding out what type of cheese this was turned out to be no easy task when you consider that goats cheese was actually not eaten that often in Switzerland then, even though Uncle Alp being a goat farmer initially suggest that the cheese might come from one of them. Cheese toasting over a fire was not restricted to people living in huts on the side of an Alpine mountain though; this method using toasting forks was also written about by Enid Blyton and by Robert Louis Stevenson in ‘Treasure Island’ but none comes close to Spyri’s description. It is THE uber cheese on toast but unlike Proust I have yet to rediscover my Heidi Temps Perdu. Still don’t know what type of cheese it was although Raclette is the likeliest candidate.

As a young girl I read and re-read Susan Coolidge’s ‘What Katy Did’ series of books and was intrigued by the bottle of shrub they took to drink on one of their rainy day picnics in the loft at the very start of the book. Although Cece later admitted that the ‘Shrub’ was little more than vinegar and water, I was determined to both try it and enjoy it <shudder> and took a glass of what we had, Sarsons, mixed with tap water down to the orchard at the bottom of my grandparents garden and tentatively forced myself to drink it. Illusions firmly shattered and deciding that American vinegar was clearly superior to ours (or they had the stomach and constitution of goats) I shelved any ideas about this becoming my new go to summer refreshment.
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Until the latest post from the Bojon Gourmet landed in my in box that is. One of my favourite food writing bloggers from San Francisco, her Shrub recipe has about as much in common with my (and Cece’s) version as the saintly and slightly sanctimonious Cousin Helen from the books had with Mae West. Lavender, Kumquat, honey and apple cider vinegar all add a mellifluous depth that cancels out any tendency to the tongue sucking raspiness that vinegar can evoke. The colour is amazing, the floral and citrus sophisticated enough for parties. Go on, try it. Even Katie would have been made good by this drink and would thus have avoided the back injury this, in part, morality tale visited upon her to show us what happens to naughty girls.
The ‘What Katy Did’ series are liberally scattered with references to food and to the occasions surrounding it. Here is the picnic in their version of Paradise where they built a rose bower to eat under;
“Katy, who sat in the middle, untied and lifted the lid of the largest basket, while all the rest peeped eagerly to see what was inside.First came a great many ginger cakes. These were carefully laid on the grass to keep till wanted; buttered biscuit came next – three a piece, with slices of cold lamb laid in between; and last of all were a dozen hard-boiled eggs, and a layer of thick bread and butter sandwiched with corned-beef. Aunt Izzie had put up lunches for Paradise before, you see, and knew pretty well what to expect in the way of appetite.Oh, how good everything tasted in that bower, with the fresh wind rustling the poplar leaves, sunshine and sweet wood-smells about them, and birds singing overhead! No grown-up dinner party ever had half so much fun. Each mouthful was a pleasure; and when the last crumb had vanished, Katy produced the second basket, and there, oh, delightful surprise! were seven little pies – molasses pies, baked in saucers – each with a brown top and crisp, candified edge, which tasted like toffy and lemon-peel, and all sorts of good things mixed up together”
and who recalls Debbie’s Jumbles sent in the boarding school Christmas hamper to end all hampers? I found the books faintly torturous; even the ‘thick pale slices of pudding with a thin sugary sauce’ served by the new headteacher on one of her weird food fad regimes for school lunch tempted me. What on earth was this pudding?
Katy’s trip to Europe with its ill fated expeditions to various locations associated with her favourite novels had her gravely disillusioned with our food, showing particular distaste for some disagreeable flannel blanket textured muffins, scorched and tough. Little pan fried fish reminiscent of what she called ‘Scup’, commonly known now as ‘Porgy’ with its fine light flavour, a light gooseberry preserve, these both met with her approval in what she called ‘Storybook England’.download (1)An old, little known book, ‘Girl of the Limberlost’ by Gene Stratton Porter, is a story of a girl of the mid western woods; a buoyant, loveable self-reliant American with a philosophy of love and kindness towards all things; her hope is never dimmed. The story and romance of Elnora growing up in the wetlands of northern Indiana is also a cautionary tale for ecology-lovers. Gene Stratton-Porter paints a picture of coming industry destroying nature and those who try to save what can be saved for future generations.My sigh of relief when Elenora’s mother turned her life around and started acting like a good mother as opposed to her original not so good one, was immense and of course that meant that food = love with glorious descriptions of the goodies placed in Elnora’s lunchbox- spice cookies, raisin turtles, candied pears, popcorn balls, haws, doughnuts, and hazelnuts to share with friends or feast on alone. Turtles brand candy were developed by Johnson’s Candy Company (which became DeMet’s Candy Company in 1923) in 1918, after a salesman came into the commissary’s dipping room and showed a candy to one of the dippers, who pointed out that the candy looked like a turtle. Soon after, Johnson’s Candy Company was making the same kind of candy and selling it under the name “Turtles.” Commonly made in the American South, they are now a classic of the candymaker- as a child without the internet to do my research, my mind ran in ignorant riot over their name. You can imagine what I thought they were made from.a_tree_grows__in_brooklyn

Less a children’s book and more of a book that I read as a child, ‘A Tree Grows in Brooklyn‘ by Betty Smith beat Jamie Oliver to the post regarding the mythologizing of Cuisina Povera with its delicious description of mother figure Katie Nolan’s pitiful attempts to make a bone with scraps of meat on it, an onion and some stale bread into what she called ‘Frikadellen’. Frying scraps of stale bread, sending the children to cajole that bone from a butcher who would give them the one with the most meat attached (in exchange for a ‘pinch on their cheeks’), making nothing stretch to something because of her marriage to a charming yet feckless Irish singing waiter, Katie is a true heroine. I think of Jack Monroe and her campaign against food poverty with a blog offering inexpensive ways to feed a family, when I read this book and as an adult, fully cognizant of the hardships faced by many young families still to this day, it makes me weep.

Read this and see what I am referring to:

“The Nolans practically lived on that stale bread and what amazing things Katie could make from it! She’d take a loaf of stale bread, pour boiling water over it, work it up into a paste, flavor it with salt, pepper, thyme, minced onion and an egg (if eggs were cheap), and bake it in the oven. When it was good and brown, she made a sauce from half a cup of ketchup, two cups of boiling water, seasoning, a dash of strong coffee, thickened it with flour and poured it over the baked stuff. It was good, hot, tasty and staying. What was left over was sliced thin the next day and fried in hot bacon fat.
Mama made a very fine bread pudding from slices of stale bread, sugar, cinnamon and a penny apple sliced thin. When this was baked brown, sugar was melted and poured over the top. Sometimes she made what she had named Weg Geschnissen, which laboriously translated meant something made with bread bits that usually would be thrown away. Bits of bread were dipped into a batter made from flour, water, salt and an egg and then fried in deep hot fat. While they were frying, Francie ran down to the candy store and bought a penny’s worth of brown rock candy. This was crushed with a rolling pin and sprinkled on top of the fried bits just before eating. The crystals didn’t quite melt and that made it wonderful.
Saturday supper was a red letter meal. The Nolans had fried meat! A loaf of stale bread was made into pulp with hot water and mixed with a dime’s worth of chopped meat into which an onion had been cleavered. Salt and a penny’s worth of minced parsley were added for flavor. This was made up into little balls, fried and served with hot ketchup. These meat balls had a name, fricadellen, which was a great joke with Francie and Neeley.
They lived mostly on these things made from stale bread, and condensed milk and coffee, onions, potatoes, and always the penny’s worth of something bought at the last minute, added for fillip”

 

 

 

 

“Without To Kill a Mockingbird, my life would not be as rich.”- Director Timothy Sheader on one of his favourite books…

 

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Director Timothy Sheader on the ‘flash mob reading’ of a classic

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

To Kill A Mockingbird features high in the list of many a book lover’s top ten, as evidenced by the recent furore triggered by the erroneous rumour it might be removed from the school syllabus.

Artistic director of London’s Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre,  Timothy Sheader, who brings this best loved classic to the Norwich Theatre Royal stage from September 22-27, has returned to author Harper Lee’s book to cast fresh light on the endearing humanity held in its pages.

Essentially, he says, his production is different because “we are not putting the play on stage, we are putting the book on stage. We revisited the book in a new and original way. It is all about Harper Lee’s words.”

His interpretation enjoyed a highly successful and critically-acclaimed run during 2013 in Regent’s Park, and a return to the park venue is planned for late August into September before embarking on a UK tour with Norwich its second port of call.

Casting for the tour will be announced in due course and further dates for 2015 are on the cards.

Adapted from the novel for the stage by Christopher Sergel, this memorable production scooped the WhatsOnStage Award for Best Play Revival for 2013, with Telegraph reviewer Charles Spencer declaring it to be “a production of tremendous heart and emotional depth”. “If you have tears, prepare to shed them at this superb adaptation of Harper Lee’s great book,” he said.

Winning plaudits from critics and audiences alike, it is the Open Air Theatre’s most successful play and was Critic’s Choice in the Daily Telegraph, Evening Standard, Times, Guardian, Metro and Time Out with reviewers calling it “heart-shakingly sincere” and an “enchanting heartfelt adaptation”.

As Timothy said, it was “a no-brainer” to bring the production out on tour to reach a wider audience: “It’s not because of ego, but the desire for more people to experience Harper Lee’s novel. The novel is the central experience and the actors carry that experience to the audience.

“They read from the book on stage in their own accents, in modern dress, as if it is a family member sharing the book with you – in a way, it is a ‘flash mob reading’. We’re experiencing the novel together, just like sitting down and reading a book with your own family. There’s an intimacy to it and there is a surprise right from the very beginning.

“We do go into the scenes and the actors become the characters – but they retain their own accents because when we read ourselves we don’t read in an American accent. We all read in our own accents.”

While the staging for the production will vary slightly from the way it is presented in Regent’s Park, which has its own live and unique flavour because of the open air element, the design for the touring production will draw in and envelop the audience as the actors tell the powerful story of young children growing up in the racially divided America of the Great Depression.

The theme of the novel deals with the trial of a black man accused of raping a white woman in a small-town community. The man is defended by compassionate and thoroughly decent lawyer Atticus Finch whose feisty daughter Scout is on the cusp of adulthood.

“I like to challenge the audience’s imagination. It’s not lights go down, you lean back and watch,” Timothy said. “I invite the audience to use their imaginations. I invite them to play.”

He believes it is the universality of author Harper Lee’s characters which has given the novel, which he so clearly loves, such enduring appeal. It has certainly proved its popularity across every art form, from the 1960 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel to the film adaptation in 1962 which won three Oscars out of the eight it was nominated.

When Timothy first read it as a child it “had a profound effect on me”. “The beginning of this production is my own experience. I followed Scout and saw it through her eyes. When I came to read it again, I read it through a parent’s eyes, observing my children and how they observed the world so profoundly differently. When you re-experience it as an adult, you hear the book very differently.”

As the trial unfolds on stage, so do the characters’ preconceptions and Scout’s prejudicial fears, especially about the reclusive Boo Radley, are challenged and finally pushed aside.

Timothy said: “Harper Lee’s novels are universal, like the ideas of Shakespeare. This is why To Kill A Mockingbird is studied the world over. Without it, my life would not be as rich.”

Timothy Sheader was talking to Judy Foster, Norwich Theatre Royal Communications Officer and reproduced here by kind permission.

Book tickets here for the Norwich Theatre Royal production.

 

 

 

To Kill a Mockingbird Comes to Theatre Royal, Norwich

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Award-winning Production Heads For Norwich

American novelist Harper Lee’s classic book To Kill A Mockingbird comes to Norwich Theatre Royal from September 22 to 27 with an experienced cast who will bring its pages to life on stage.

Director Timothy Sheader, who is presenting this best loved tale at London’s Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre for the second summer running (it opened in 2013 to critical acclaim and sell-out audiences), will take his award-winning production out on the road from September with Norwich the second stop on a national tour.

Adapted by Christopher Sergel from Harper Lee’s novel, this innovative staging of a story of racial inequality and lost innocence in America’s Deep South during the Great Depression has gathered plaudits from critics and audiences alike, with Telegraph reviewer Charles Spencer declaring it to be “a production of tremendous heart and emotional depth”.

“If you have tears, prepare to shed them at this superb adaptation of Harper Lee’s great book,” he said.

First published in 1960, the novel still sells over 750,000 copies a year today. It has achieved popularity across every art form, from the 1960 Pulitzer Prize-winning book to the film adaptation in 1962 which won three Oscars out of the eight it was nominated.

Children’s author JK Rowling said of it: “I think there are certain books in which the characters are so real and so vivid that you feel as though they’ve become close personal friends. I think there are also books that give you a feeling about your possible best self, and this is one of those books.”

Taking centre stage for the UK tour will be accomplished theatre actor Daniel Betts who will be playing courageous and compassionate lawyer Atticus Finch, who defends a black man wrongly accused of raping a white woman. Daniel recently trod the Theatre Royal boards in April and May this year as Tony Wendice in Dial M For Murder.

His previous theatre credits also include Skylight (National Theatre), The Winter’s Tale (Royal Shakespeare Company) and The King’s Speech (Wyndham’s Theatre) with television roles in Criminal Justice, Silent Witness, Law and Order and A Touch of Frost, and film appearances in Fury and Tom’s Midnight Garden.

Christopher Akrill, who began his career as a dancer and has worked with companies including Scottish Ballet, Northern Ballet and Hannover State Ballet, will play the quiet and reclusive Boo Radley who is an object of fascination to the children, Scout, Jem and Dill.

He has a growing list of theatre credits to his name and has also appeared on screen in Joe Wright’s Anna Karenina, The Muppets Most Wanted and ITV’s Mr Selfridge.

The innocent defendant, Tom Robinson, is played by Zackary Momoh who has recently appeared at the National Theatre in From Morning to Midnight and in Sir Nicholas Hytner’s critically acclaimed production of Othello. His other stage credits include Palm, Wine and Stout (UK Tour) and The Bay (Young Vic). Zackary has also appeared on screen in Holby City, Doctors and Travel Express.

Christopher Saul, who plays Walter Cunningham and Judge Taylor, has had a long and distinguished stage career which has recently included roles in Hamlet for The Globe, and King Lear and Julius Caesar for the RSC, An Inspector Calls and Waiting for Godot.

Other cast members boast a wealth of theatre and screen experience between them and include writer, comedian and actor Geoff Aymer as Reverend Sykes, Victoria Bewick as Mayella Ewell,  David Carlyle  as Nathan Radley/Mr Gilmer, and Jamie Kenna as Heck Tate.  Actress and choreographer Susan Lawson-Reynolds takes on the role of Calpurnia, while Natalie Grady plays Miss Maudie Atkinson .

The children’s roles are played by Jemima Bennett, Ava Potter and Rosie Boore who will share the role of Scout, whilst Harry Bennett, Arthur Franks and Billy Price will share the role of Jem. The role of Dill Harris will be shared by Leo Heller, Connor Brundish and Milo Panni.

Reprising his role for 2014, Phil King composed and performed the critically acclaimed score for the 2013 production at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre. He has composed music for television, film and theatre and has released two albums to critical acclaim.

To Kill A Mockingbird runs from Monday 22 to Saturday 27 September at 7.30pm, and Wednesday and Saturday matinees at 2.30pm. Tickets £5.50-£24. Discounts for Friends, Corporate Club, Over-60s, Under-18s, Groups and Schools. Signed performance Thursday September 25 at 7.30pm. Audio-described performance Saturday September 27 at 2.30pm.

 

 

The cutest little macarons- honey & lavender.

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Photograph by Laura Wheeler

Perfect little local mouthfuls these. Scented with East Anglian Lavender and flavoured with local honey, the two ingredients in these macarons go together perfectly, giving you a plate of the prettiest little cakes. So pretty you will want to name them and take them home as pets.

A light hand with the lavender is needed so you don’t end up with something reminiscent of Miss Havisham’s knicker drawer and don’t worry about a few cracks or imperfections- their charm is in that homespun look. They are a lovely match for afternoon or high tea, weddings and christenings or kids birthdays- children do love these because little children love little food! Can you imagine how great these would look in an Alice in Wonderland themed tea party too?

Should you wish to explore the wonders of local Lavender some more, we can highly recommend a visit to Norfolk Lavender, near Heacham with its patchworked fields of blue, children’s playground and cafe for visitors.

This recipe is by Adam Coleby and Laura Wheeler @purpleted_88

Ingredients-

To make the macarons- 110g egg white /  55g caster sugar  / Natural food colouring in light lavender or violet / 110g ground almonds / 200g icing sugar /  1 Tsp lavender flowers

To make the butter icing- 75g butter /  250g icing sugar  / 10-15ml milk (add more if too firm) /  1tbsp honey

Method-

Pick the Lavender flowers and check over them for bugs.

Infuse almond and icing sugar with the lavender flowers for minimum of 1 hour, preferably longer. Whisk egg whites, sugar and colour to consistency of shaving foam, do not over mix! Sieve icing sugar/almond mix to aerate remove any lavender seeds.

Fold dry ingredients into the meringue and keep turning until correct consistency is achieved (shaving foam). Draw a ribbon of meringue on top of the mixture and it should settle back into the mix after a short time.

Pipe into a baking mat with a small plain nozzle, leave to stand for a minimum of 25-30 mins, they should form a skin on top the doesn’t stick to your finger when you touch it.

Bake at 150c for 12-15 minutes. Allow to cool and pair up.

Honey buttercream method -

Soften butter Best with rest of the ingredients.

Pipe a small blob into the inside of the macaroon, sandwich together then drizzle a little of the buttercream decoratively over their tops.

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Photo by Laura Wheeler

 

Gardening in small spaces

As the pressure on space grows and the cost of housing soars, more of us will live in homes with small or non existent garden space. We saw this lovely idea on Garden Grab, submitted by whatyousowblog- a balcony planted up with Sweet Peas sowed in tetra paks. Gardening vertically is the ultimate use of space, mirroring the way city planners have always used it when land is restricted. Clever recycling too because tall pots provide the space that roots need plus stability when plants grow tall. Sweet Peas are’t too dense in leaf either, allowing light and air to pass through to the balcony beyond. However ensure that any pots placed near fire escapes don’t clutter them up obstructing free passage in an emergency.

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Summer Like it Hot- our best beauty buys.

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The leap from a healthy glow to a perspiring crimson mess is not so huge during summer, no matter what your skin type or colour is. Going from air con to full sun, from sun baked car to the blast of the chiller section in the supermarket plays havoc upon our equilibrium, our disposition and our complexion and trying to maintain some semblance of grooming requires the cosmetic big guns. Keeping it as simple as possible is THE mantra when it is hot and I try to maintain an inverse relationship with what is going on in my life- the busier it is, the more I scale back my hair and beauty regime. Indeed I try to streamline by using products that double or triple up and avoid the use of skin covering bases and creams which tend to melt, crease and generally look pretty ropey after a few hours.

I cannot claim to be a Dermatologist nor do I possess any special knowledge of products for problem skins; only the problems I have had with my skin, so if you have regular break outs, Rosacea or other specific skin needs it is worth looking online for tailored help and information about products and the best ways to apply them. I’d love to hear your recommendations though and here, then are my beauty superheroines- the products that always save the day.

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Beach Stick in ‘Formentera’

I don’t waft around the White Isle (Ibiza) in a straw hat, a Maillot and a pair of kick ass shoes all summer but that vibe suffuses the Charlotte Tilbury products. Brought up in Ibiza and in full possession of a certain Balearic spirit, Charlotte works the most unlikely of colouring- pale skin and red hair in the heat, making this world famous make up artist an authority on faking a sun kissed look when you don’t really tan. Her website is packed with two minute tutorials on how to get her looks with her products (or others) and my favourite is the Beachstick in ‘Formentera‘, a sunkissed berry shade (in Charlotte’s words) bringing a slick of semi translucent colour to lips, cheeks and anywhere you want highlighted. The texture lets your natural skin tones show through so it actually looks natural albeit a kind of ‘looking your absolute best’ natural. The ‘Ibiza’ shade is a  burnished bronze, inspired by her famous breakthrough Castaway Kate shoot by Mert & Marcus for British Vogue which is now cited by make up schools everywhere as THE uber beach look.

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Kate Moss – photograph by Mert & Marcus UK Vogue

I don’t do bronze or brown tones shades- being incredibly fair skinned I just look muddy although if I had darker skin tones this is the shade I would choose- it would look glowingly spectacular. They have a little bit of glimmer but not so much as to send you back in time to an inner Halston draped seventies disco chick at Studio 54, riding a white stallion a la Bianca Jagger, who, with her Nicaraguan skin tones, would most certainly suit it. 817RH31RIGL._SY355_ Hei Poa Pure Tahiti Monoï Oil Tiara is my gift to you, coming in at a rock bottom price of around £6:50 on Amazon; even more of a bargain when I tell you that my 100ml bottle has lasted me two years (I keep it in a cool dark place). Going solid in cold weather and liquifying in the warm, this is not the swiftest product to use being very oily and slow to absorb and so definitely not one for the slap it on and get dressed brigade. For Gods sake, whatever you do, keep it away from silk, viscose, white clothing and other very porous thin fabrics. If you can cope with all that then this oil is manna from heaven for dry skins, sun battered skins, annointing you in a manner that suggests you’ve been cavorting in a Tahitian flower bed. Use it as a hair pack (will need two lathers to get it out), slick it onto hair before sunbathing, use as a body oil after a bath (wear an old terrycloth dressing gown afterwards) or as a highlighter on cheek and brow bones.

Red Fox’s Tub ‘O Butter, is a close relative of Bottle ‘O Butter which became scarcer than the Chinese White Leopards after India Knight eulogised it in her Sunday Times column. Even more prosaically packaged in its yellow plastic tub, which to me is actually quite cool, this is utilitarian chic and even more so because it doesn’t insult my (or your) intelligence with a load of pseudy cobblers about amino acids and peptides, reclaimed youth and invented derma-anatomy. I never believe any of that crap anyway and choose my products via word of mouth, the look, smell or feel or whether I will find them easy to work into my over complicated life. Tub ‘O Butter can be found online but for me, the glory of its discovery lay in finding it in a tiny local store in Bethnal Green which sold all manner of international hair and beauty products, most of them completely unknown to me. The excitement is ramped up when the instructions and descriptions of a product are in Arabic or Spanish or even in a language that I cannot recognise at all. These discoveries get double points and I exit the store feeling like some intrepid beauty explorer putting my derma life on the line.

download So thick you need to scoop it from the tub (you’ll spend all day getting it from under your nails if they are long) and smelling blowsily of cocoa butter, dry skin will suck this up like sump oil leaving you a glowing (a little greasily at first) and soft, soft, soft. I have used it to heal scars, windsear, burns, grazes and gnarly feet and it is supposed to help combat the ashy look that black skins can sometimes develop. I have even used it to soften a pair of leather shoes adopting a similar principle to Liberaces skin regime- tan fiercely, slather with unguents. Oh and it only costs a few quid.

The polar opposite to Tub ‘O Butter in packaging, Klorane Cornflower Eye Makeup Remover with its dark blue bottle, delicately etched flowers and Ph level identical to that of tears is a brand that is frequently used by teenagers on mainland Europe but remains bewilderingly under appreciated in the UK. In this gently scented make up remover, Centaurea extract is obtained by distilling the dried flower heads, which contain a natural blue dye called cyanocentaureine known for soothing and decongesting. Many have found this is the least bothersome eye makeup remover to use for eyes dried out and irritated by Hay Fever and pollution. download (1) Cheaper than Clarins Alpine Milk cleanser and indeed all of the Clarins range, for me, Klorane is very similar with its use of botanical extracts and simple pharmacie style packaging. I like to think that when they briefly discontinued it a while back, my ‘Are you nuts?’ email was the prod they needed to bring it back. For six quid you are getting a little star here, models like it too and they know what they are talking about when it comes to torturous eye make up routines and how best to avoid piling on yet more torture when it comes to removing it.summer_of_love_244_side Blue Dog in Clare is one of our lovely little independent Suffolk stores and what makes it even more of a must visit in my opinion is that it stocks Steamcream, one of my top five liniments both in design and actual contents. Lightweight yet moisturising and handmade in Poole, a shot of steam is used to fuse together the fresh and natural ingredients such as oatmeal, lavender, rose and orange flower oils, cocoa butter and organic jojoba. An ever changing lid design means Steamcream has developed a cult following, especially in Japan where the appetite for limited edition tins commemorating events such as cherry blossom season is never sated.

A story of love lies behind my own love of Geo F Trumpers Extract of West Indian limes cologne, a scent I have been using since the early nineties when I first encountered it when living in London and introduced by the heritage company Geo F Trumpers back in 1880. Having moved to away to London from Suffolk I was initially very lonely and after starting a new post in a local drugs and alcohol unit, I used to chat with the janitor after work as he spent fifteen minutes preening himself in the office bathroom before going to meet his lady love, watching him slosh this sharp little cologne over his beard and locks then carefully replace the stopper shaped like a little gold crown back onto the bottle. He would trail the scent all over the office as he pottered about, replacing his tools and checking every room before we both left.

This janitor was aged seventy nine and was determined to not only keep his job (fortunately being a charity, the rules were more flexible regarding retirement) but to marry his girlfriend who was a few years his elder. Reader he did and I attended the ceremony held at a pentecostal church in West London. As the groom walked past me in the chapel, bride on his side, he was followed by perfumed clouds of West Indian and Sicilian limes, the scent that his wife admitted made her first notice and follow him down the road after he walked past her….to find out what cologne he used, so she could buy a bottle for her previous boyfriend. Charm + perfume, a world beating combination.

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It may be marketed as a cologne for men but I use it every summer during the daytime in rotation with Lancome’s ‘O De Lancome’, an invigorating citrus and green based EDT – lemon, mandarin, and bergamot; the green notes of basil, rosemary and coriander underpinned by the base notes of oak moss, sandalwood, and vetiver. ‘O De Lancome’ is a scent that doesn’t last all day being an eau de toilette but is light, cooling and clean on hot sticky evenings, a deeper and more complex version of extract of West Indian limes for nights out. (Stocked locally by Trotter & Deane menswear in Bury St Edmunds.)

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Having drier skin means I am a bit of a skin oil addict and Goē Oil is another favourite with its bag friendly tube packaging and scent, a result of a combination of 28 plant, fruit and flower oils and butters. Lightly scented with Monoi from Tahiti (that old favourite of mine again), it goes into the skin quickly and leaves it feeling incredibly smooth. Less is more—only a small amount is needed and your skin will feel the difference. The ‘science’ behind its brilliance lies in the use of heavy concentrations of jojoba oil which is not technically an oil, instead it is a polyunsaturated liquid wax which is similar to sebum. Sebum is secreted by the human sebaceous glands to lubricate and protect the skin and hair and so jojoba oil supplements this action or replaces it in sebum deficient skin. Not one for those of you with oily skin to be honest. Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse does a similarly great job in a more haute glam way; shimmery and glimmery, this is the oil to give you sheeny limbs and the slightly bronzed cheekbones of Helena Christansen circa 1985.

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With its alluring scent and adaptability of use- face, body and hair, this is my choice for evenings, especially after a day in the sun when you want to accentuate your tan. The oil comes in both clear and bronze tinted variants-the clear makes a great addition to a bath for super parched skin after you’ve subjected it to wind, sun, saltwater and chlorine. Not cheap but it does last- like most oils, a little goes a long way.

The warmer months often mean embarking upon the crop spraying and deforestation required to rid a girl of her winter pelt and if you believe the beauty press, one needs to spend a heck of a lot of cash in order to effectively remove ones unwanted body hair. I’m not going to go into the feminist argument for and against the retention or removal of leg, pubic and underarm hair here except to say that if you are still reading, I am going to assume that you have made the decision that the fur has to go. Or at least some of it. I am not an expert on permanent or semi permanent body hair removal techniques although I do highly rate threading for eyebrows- a technique that is easy to find the masters of in London, not so much in rural Suffolk. If anybody knows of a threader locally, please PLEASE do let me know.

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I am old skool, so old skool I use a disposable Bic and shaving foams belonging to my husband and other some such. He uses Noxzema because I bought it for him after seeing another London based friend using it and adored its sinus clearing menthol smell. I bought it for him so I could filch it, being an upfront kind of girl. (or just plain cheap) Thick, thick, Mr Whippy style foam in that classic menthol or a newer cocoa butter scent (not so much a fan) in a fat, short can with trad-cool barber shop graphics, I feel all fifties when I see it in the bathroom. If Danny Zuko used shaving foam, Noxzema would be it.

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Bdellium Tools Green Bambu Series brushes are professional eco-friendly makeup brushes with all sustainable bamboo handles and all vegan soft synthetic bristles. Bamboo is one of the most sustainable resources and environmentally sound plants on Earth and due to its rapid re-growth cycle, it can be harvest with virtually no impact on the environment.

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All very noble I am sure and yes, I do want to save the planet and all but most of all I love these make up brushes because (1) they are super cute with their stubby, grasp friendly handles and (2) they do their job really well. They come in green, yellow and pink and in all manner of shapes, sizes and kit permutations.

Perceptive readers will have figured out by now that I am partial to Caribbean influenced scents- lime, bay rum, tropical flowers; beachy and coconut suffused. The Sargasso Trading Company not only talks the talk here, it also walks the walk and is a happy and recent discovery. A pretty company, it has newly developed products, exquisitely packaged and bursting with island goodness.

Mango, the “Belle of the Tropics,” has its kernel extracted from the seed and fashioned into a natural emollient that keeps moisture in skin and is then used in soaps inspired by the makers favourite foodie treat; mango chow-green, unripened mango spiked with hot scotch bonnet peppers, salt and black pepper and eaten as a side dish. Becoming an intoxicating soap named ‘Watermelon Chow’ the sweet watermelon fragrance is balanced with lime and Atlantic cedarwood and a hint of black pepper.

10455218_678491695534075_5417665635278343677_nAs a British child of the sixties, I am emotionally attached to the Rosehip due to the old NHS policy of prescribing a free bottle of syrup made from it to every child born in the country from the Second World War onwards. Fruit and vegetable rationing led to a rise in the cases of Scurvy, caused by Vitamin C deficiency and people were initially encouraged to make their own. As need escalated, the government stepped in and my generation of children was the last to receive this overly sweet, viscous reddish pink concoction, a spoon of which was proffered every morning at breakfast from babyhood onwards. The Sargasso Trading Company has taken the rosehip, a very overlooked botanical ingredient and added it to its stunning new healing balm, augmenting all this loveliness with Amazonian cupuacu butter, rose geranium, ravensara oil and that mango butter again to make a balm that tackled my Latitude festival damaged feet and made them whole again. 

Spending two hours on my feet in a pelting thunderstorm in a muddy field watching Daman Albarn, followed by a slippery and drenching walk back to our tent illuminated only by biblically epic lightning, whilst wearing strapped leather sandals which chafed and abraded my feet led to a seriously infected blister and awful sores over my toes. I don’t want to think about what nasties lay waiting for me in that fetid mud. Once the infection had abated, I bought in the heavy guns, slathering my poor (now hideously unattractive trotters) in the balm, rubbing it into the dry and blistered bits and generally lavishing more care on them than Cleopatra lavished upon poor Mark Anthony albeit after the fact (again). I can report that once more, the heroic Rosehip has saved the day and the expected scarring has been averted. This balm is most definitely one for the general purpose cupboard being suitable for children and adults and I am going to trial it on my daughter next. Being a Patissiere, she is constantly faced with a spitting and malevolent cauldron of sugar syrup which rises up and bites her. If this balm can sort out her burns, then the Sargasso Trading Company have a better version of Creme De La Mer on their hands, which itself was originally developed for post surgical patients and burns.

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Mumsnetters swear a lot and the Mumsnet ‘Swears by’ name grew out of this proclavity with its weekly round up of products emailed into our inboxes. The talk boards are packed with great product suggestions with no corporate affiliation or agendas whatsoever. Providing great and inexpensive tips (although you can find recommendations costing heaps of money too), we keep a close eye on what is being eulogised- anybody remember the Waitrose Bottom Butter rush which emptied shelves of this wonder product after a Mumsnetter recommended it? We’re not the only ones to find Witch Hazel an excellent product, you’d have to go back centuries in China (where the tree is originally from) but during the summer holidays with its higher rates of scraped knees and sunburn, our consumption of it goes through the roof. Or as mumnsetter ‘TheOriginalWrinkly’ says; “A few bottles of witch hazel to soak your pads in after the birth are great – it feels lovely and cool on your bits particularly if you keep the soaked pads in the fridge, and apparently helps reduce swelling too”. A product I also used post Caearean section, it is healing, gentle and works on all age groups. Seek it out in local independent chemists, all of whom will make you up a bottle if you cannot see it on their shelves and you can find listings for these stores on our local sites.

I am perpetually in search of the worlds best eyeliner, being a wearer of contact lenses and sometimes wearer of glasses too. The former renders my eye make up prone to smudging and smearing and the latter renders it all but invisible anyway unless I lay it on thicker. Which I don’t really want to do being no fan of the Houri look at midday. Finding an eyeliner that makes upper lash lining easy in a rush has been a life’s work that compares time wise with the search for the elusive Higgs Boson and they will probably find it faster than I will that eyeliner. However the Clarins Three Dot Eyeliner is the nearest I have come to it although it looks like a tiny raccoons paw emerging from a tube and not something you instinctively want to wave around near your eyes.

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The clever triple point sponge applicator helps you deliver precise lines and intense colour with ease. The space between each lash can be filled in ‘dot by dot’ to naturally accentuate the eyes and add volume to the lashes . This is handy for klutzes like me who can never drawn that perfect unwavering line and removes the chance that over correction leaves me looking like Liz Taylor, all tired and emotional during her Cleopatra years. If you prefer to use a pencil,  Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil is great, since it’s soft so it goes on easily and smoothly, comes in a bunch of non-boring shades, and lasts if not forever, then a goodly amount of the day. For something a little more portable,Hourglass Precision Liquid Liner comes loaded in a pen and has a slightly shorter brush than many, which makes for a less dramatic, more daywear-appropriate line and better control over application.

I need lip balm more in the summer than I do in the winter and unless I am some kind of unique beauty freak, I imagine some of you do too. Where I do start to become a little freaky is in my love for this pretty prosaic item of personal maintenance and my specialist Mastermind subject could well be this.

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I collect them basically and the launch of a new brand like Maybelline’s Babylips is a cause for great happiness in my make up bag. I go high and kitsch low- I am no snob but I do love a bit of Clinique too and the Clinique Black Honey Almost Lipstick is a favourite lippie shade that now comes as a light glossy balm. Those people who prefer pink can always grab a tin of Smith’s Rosebud Salve with its Victorian apothecary packaging or go utility-medical chic and keep a pot of Carmex handy. This is my everyday go to because it multi tasks, works for blisters and other abrasions when you have nothing tailor made to hand. Finally the sweetly sheepy (but not in scent, only in packaging design) Lanolips is worth buying if you don’t mind spending a few extra pounds on lip balm. I love this stuff.

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One for baby now (and therefore also for you) on these stuffy and therefore hard to settle summer evenings. Milk Baby Nighty Night Room Spray relaxes and calms your baby, preparing them for the perfect slumber. With just a few sprays, the lavender, chamomile and sandalwood oils based formulation can help work magic on baby and therefore you too.

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Available online and selected high st stores, we have been known to use this spray in our sitting room at night after a stressful day and a friend who found breastfeeding difficult found that using it before a feed helped calm and centre her, allowing her milk to let down. Every little helps!

I’m a long time superfan of a silk pillowcase for less bedhead, less wrinkles and a cooler, deeper sleep on hot nights. Silk is naturally hypoallergenic, allowing a healthier night’s sleep for you and your skin, made from top quality 22 momme colourfast 100% pure silk Charmeuse, made by hand, stitched with French seams. They are super luxe and yes, they cost a bit more than JL cotton but make a wonderful gift for a mother to be instead of baby clothes that baby will son grow out of.  All profits from this Silky Kisses pillowcase go to the Fistula Foundation charity for mothers in developing countries who have experienced injury during childbirth. Multitasking at its best- help others whilst you slumber!

Silkly-Kisses-pillowThe last time I visited Sardinia, not only did I discover Fiore Sardo cheese, Maloreddus pasta and Bottarga, I also bought shed loads of this fragrant and gentle rosewater tonic- “Acqua alle Rose”. Created in 1867 by the Roberts herbalists, Florentine women of the times would not be without it. Pure Centiflora rose petal distilled in spring water with no drying alcohol or artificial colours, it is perfect dabbed on hot dry skin, used on babies and children and as ironing water or linen mist. Or do the Cleopatra bathing in rose petals thing and add a capful to bathwater. Widely available online and at independent chemists.

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Think of all the classic summer foods- watermelon, tomato, grapes, strawberries, cucumber and what they all have in common is a high water content, natures way of ensuring living creatures maintain adequate hydration. Adopting this principle with beauty products, we end up with scents that scream summer whilst keeping us fresh and unencumbered with heavy, stultifying scents that are better suited to night times rather than the light and bright of day.

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The Yes To Cucumbers line uses organic cucumbers, anti-inflammatory green tea extract and lush moisturising ingredients like aloe vera  and rejuvenating vitamins that help cool and soothe the skin. Most loved by us is the shower gel but the eye gels, creams and moisturisers are super refreshing too. Boots do a less expensive version (which was first) and it is just as good, I have a tube of the cucumber facial wash gel by the sink at all times and it is the single best way to wake up a tired face. If you want to continue the allotment theme, the Yes to Carrots and Yes to Tomato ranges are perfect- tomato leaves have such a distinctive sharp scent (think of a greenhouse full of them after you have watered it) that we love but we also know it can be a bit marmite with people hating it equally passionately. Plenty of local stores stock these ranges and I buy mine from Holland & Barrett in Bury St Edmunds.

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My obsession with stationery as a kid continues to be expressed in the ownership of cases full of pens to draw all over my face and body with. But I still love notebooks and writing pens and those cute little scented erasers that sit atop your pencil (tThe ones I loved at school were in the shape of fruits-biliously coloured with manic grins and sticking out little skinny arms I used to bite off.). I was weird. Now, my pencils and pens are a <ahem> tad more expensive with names like Chanel and Dior and Shu Uemura BUT they are still delicious of scent and bright in colour. Sometimes though I feel the need to be all swish and grown up and this glam Dior nail polish pen (Dior Instant French Manicure Penis made for people like me whose yearning for the accoutrements of childhood is matched by their inability to paint tidy, ‘between the lines’ nail polish onto their nails. I have zero dexterity so the pointed felt tip makes delicately manicured nails pretty foolproof to achieve. And the pale pink shade is fashion show quality; by this I mean beaucoup de pigment and a Mercedes pain spray level of depth. Not cheap but keep it in the fridge and it’ll last. Way to go- a French Manicure that looks pro.

A bright lip in the summer is the thing isn’t it? No matter how little you tan, or how dark your skin is there is always THE colour for you if you are prepared to get down and busy in the cosmetics department and try them all out- and most counters stock cotton balls and make up remover so you can use those samples hygienically and avoid walking out with hands striped with lipstick tests. Here are some of our favourite shades.

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For darker skins brilliant fuschia looks amazing, making teeth and the whites of the eye look brighter.  Stila Color Balm Lipstick in ‘Betsey’ is a favourite as is IMAN moisturising lipstick in ‘Mod‘. Both have some glossiness, moisturise (important in the summer where the air is drier) and have staying power- they are beach friendly.

Revlon Colourburst Balm Stain is one of those super chunky pencils that I am obsessed with; similar to the super successful Clinique Chubbysticks (which we also recommend), both so super cute they should be family pets really. ‘Honey‘ is a heathery, light pink/brown, especially suitable for light skins whilst those wanting more drama should go for the orange/red ‘Rendezvous‘. Easy to draw on, non draggy on delicate lip skin and they moisturise too.

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Although I adore my monthly subscribers copy of US Vogue (even if Anna Wintour has been dialling it in lately), it really bugs me when I see a new beauty product that has yet to hit the shores over here- more so when it is an inexpensive buy. Paying shipping for cheaper products somehow hurts more. Neutrogena is the latest culprit and at time of writing (Aug 2014) I have yet to find this versatile little beauty on sale here- do tell me different if you know where to get it. Neutrogena Revitalizing Lip Balm SPF 20 in ‘Healthy Blush’ is a flat wide stick balm in a range of subtle colours and this flushed pink shade makes your face look so healthy and bright, who needs the sun? Or healthy lifestyle choices? Just fake it and suffer those shipping charges until the beauty goddesses in their infinite wisdom, make it available here.

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Neutrogena is a bit of a go to brand in my house to be honest, especially after reading that one of my all time favourite models, Helena Christansen uses ‘Rainbath’, a curiously scented bath gel (curious in a good way with its spices, herbs and flowers). Now when you recall that Michael Hutchence once said that La Christansen’s skin was ‘like a percale sheet, satiny, stretched very tight with no imperfections’, it is a perfectly reasonable assumption that emulating her body washing regime might help in the attainment of a sheet like epidermis. Not the most romantic of swain-like declarations about his loved one to fall from the lips of a celeb but ho hum, I’m sure she greatly appreciated it. Rainbath is sold online and I have also seen it in quite a few independent chemists- another great reason to support them.

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If your baby has nappy rash, it seems counter productive to load chemical filled products onto their skin in an attempt to cure it yet so many very well known products contain ingredients I am a bit hmm about. Burts Bees nappy rash cream has no phthalates, parabens, petrolatum, or SLS and its gentle almond oil and sunflower oil base allows it to glide on smoothly, avoiding dragging already sore skin. I am also a huge fan of their Marshmallow day cream in the sweetest packaging, soft and whippy in texture and not heavily loaded with scent. That’s a day cream for us, not our babies!

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A bit pricey but Raw Gaia floral spray for babies and children is heavenly mist in a bottle. Made with organic and distilled floral waters, Roman chamomile, rose otto and lavender, I cannot claim any special effects other than relief from heat and prickly rash, a room made wonderful and the possible sleep inducing effects of both. And watching a baby laugh as the mist lands on them is hilarious in itself.

Hair is my bugbear- so much so that I resort to bad rhymes and cheap wine every time I catch sight of my unruly mop in the mirror. Funnily enough the best hair look I have ever had was after a dip in the sea and a blast of wind drying on a less sheltered Sardinian beach a few years back. Using the various commercial sea salt sprays doesn’t quite match that naturally acquired tousle and they seem a lot of money for what amounts to basically salt + water + chemicals to make the concoction cling to the hair shaft- especially if they don’t bloody work. The Guardian rates Toni & Guy Sea Salt texturising Spray but I don’t- if you have to leave it in overnight because you cannot wash it out, it leaves you with the textural equivalent of a hairball on top of your head. The Umberto Gianni one isn’t much better.

 

images (1)Bumble & Bumble Surf Spray weighing in at over £20 is about the only one that comes near to the proper strand-y separated waves that I remember and loved. It keeps elasticity in the hair so you can get a comb through it the next day, or even later on, smells like a hot day by the beach and lasts- you don’t need much. Spray into dry or towel dried hair, tustle through with fingers or wide toothed comb and shake out.

Keeping in with the hippy vibe, all us chicks who were born in the sixties and early seventies remember those suntan oil ads- Bergasol with the one pale and one uber tanned woman- single perfect plait dangling along their spines, sitting by the pool side. How times change hey? Nowadays only a light tan is desired; sun protection whatever your skin colour being the thing, and there is a widespread awareness that even the most pigmented of skins is still vulnerable to all kinds of sun related damage if not looked after.

Aged sixteen and on a four week holiday to Korea and Hong Kong I decided to ape the locals and annoint myself in the carrot oil, advertised and sold everywhere- a dark orange sticky concoction probably better suited to well tanned Korean skins, although I cannot imagine it being safe or hydrating for anybody to be honest. I mean, look at the skin of a carrot- hardly baby soft is it? I spent the rest of the holiday being treated for partial thickness burns, unable to feed myself because of the rawness of the skin on my chest rendering me unable to lift my arms (yup I sunbathed topless and nearly burned off my nipples). It took three months to heal, looked like a side of well fried bacon for some time and I am now a factor maximum girl. On that day I learned that cloud does not = no rays and that adverts sometimes lie.

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My teenage brand of choice after this little episode was Hawaiian Tropic (and still is to be honest) because that smell of coconut, salty hot skin, tiare and other exotic flowers is super intoxicating and instantly transporting. So much so that I retain out of date sun creams for use as a general moisturiser. Oh that smell…. Anyway, they have a rather lovely after sun body butter (a term I hate- who wants to imagine butter all over their skin, slowly turning rancid?) out which is only five quid from supermarkets and chemists, has aloe and is even more effective if you keep it in the fridge. There is also an ‘exotic’ coconut one <swoon> too. I’ll take both.

BTW, make sure that your sun cream protects against both skin ageing UVA and the potential for triggering skin cancer UVB but remember we also need a few minutes of sunlight every day to make vitamin D and using sunblocks all the time will render you vulnerable to deficiencies in this. Be balanced.

Continuing the smelling like the beach theme, I used to buy an amazing perfume by Aramis called New Skinscent West for Her which has been sadly discontinued. Imagine if you stuck a melon on top of a car, drove it around a tropical island in the sea breeze then distilled all of that into a bottle? Well, there you have it and a large part of my adulthood has been spent on a quest to find something similar. I found one a couple of years ago that omitted the melon bit but otherwise smelled gorgeous- Sweet Sun Dior with mandarin and middle notes of tiare flower and jasmine. The sun screen scent is from a base of vanilla, musk and ginger. They claim that the fragrance includes pro-endorphin which gives a natural feeling of pleasure. I think that last bit is a load of old cobblers personally. Any natural feelings of pleasure come from (1) smelling lovely and, (2) being reminded of holidays.

nd.1295I have also been trying out a Jil Sander fragrance ‘Sun‘ which is not as easily available but is a little less obvious yet still stunningly summery in an oiled on the beach kind of way. A really cool design too with sans serif block lettering along the rectangular bottle. Estee Lauder have their ‘Bronze Goddess‘ hybrid of scent and body oil which has that salt skin + on shore breeze fragrance but a terrible name. Finally, a mix of Body Shop coconut, vanilla and a flower oil of your choice will produce very pleasing results. From a time when financially that was all I could afford to now when I can afford to spend a little more, it still pleases me to mix my own scents by spraying layers of them on and seeing what happens (people run screaming from the room?). Sometimes it can have unexpectedly good outcomes.

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Can I tell you all the ways I love Daniel Galvin Jnr. Honeydew & Watermelon Hair Juice Shampoo? Ostensibly for kids, this will gently cleanse hair and leave it smelling of Honey and Honeydew Melon which is what one would expect considering the clue is in the name. No more tears either. Not cost wise (Waitrose stock it) nor use wise. They often have price incentives on the whole range too so be sure to snap up the DG Kids Top to Toe 3 in 1 if you see that on offer too. I’m not necessarily a fan of products that smell like (1) pudding (no creme brulee hair for me), or (2) cheap fruit salad at a Holiday Inn buffet meal but those clean sharp scents like tomato, melon or cucumber and the warmer honey, vanilla and coconut smells are perfect for summer. Washing hair or body in tepid water on a hot day is super refreshing with this shampoo (it can be used for both) and kids tend to love it too.

I seem to have a bit of an obsession with facial sprays but this one is where it all started. Paul Mitchell hair products haven’t had such a high profile lately but in the nineties they advertised far more widely and were quite THE brand in London where I lived. The beauty of Awapuhi Moisture Mist is in its multi tasking. Made for hair and body it is divinely scented and impregnated with Sodium PCA (giving it a silky feel on the skin), spirulina and plankton extracts alongside that awapuhi, a tropical ginger plant widely distributed throughout Polynesia although originally from India. An uber plant, all of its parts have a use from the rhizome which is pounded to make remedies for toothache, indigestion and a poultice for sprains to the leaves and stalks which flavour pork and fish.

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In Hawaii, the clear and sudsy juice present in the mature flower heads is excellent for softening and brings shine to the hair, used both as wash out and leave in conditioner. Locals pick or cut the flowers, squeeze the sweet juices onto hair and bodies and then swim, letting the mountain streams wash the residue off. Now if that does’t make you want to use this spray and the Awapuhi shampoos and conditioners in this range, you have no poetry or romance in your soul and I cannot help you. look for Paul Mitchell in independent salons.