It’s been a while. December saw yet another move, to a new flat in Hove (home to yummy mummies and posh bakeries), and I lost a job and got a new one within the space of 48 hours (I wasn’t fired or anything). And of course there was Christmas, and New Year, a lot of furniture shopping, and in my case, some iffy mental health. So now I’m taking a trip into the world of antidepressants, and they are really helping. There will be more on this soon – there still seems to be a lot of lip-pursing and “ooh, no, I wouldn’t if I were you” when it comes to taking drugs for mental health problems, but if your anxiety/depression/OCD/whatever-it-may-be is getting in the way of you functioning normally, there are drugs that can help. Medication is a valid option.
Now: to more cheerful things.
I love Alexandra Shulman. I’m not a regular reader of Vogue, but having read interviews with her and watched the ‘Absolutely Fashion’ documentary that was on BBC2 in September, I really admire her. She’s not what you imagine the editor of a fashion magazine to be, and I find that so refreshing. This is the diary of Vogue’s centenary year, but Shulman puts a lot of herself into it, and isn’t afraid to be a bit critical of the world she works in. There are nuggets in the book that made me wonder if she was worried about how the book would be received by fashiony types – but as she announced this week she’s stepping down as editor after 25 years, it doesn’t really matter anymore. She writes incredibly warmly about her home life – she likes to cook, dotes on her son and is surprisingly anxious for such an accomplished, successful woman.
I’m a little bit obsessed with Emma Bridgewater products – they’re about the only thing that makes me see the point of wedding lists. Toast and Marmalade is her memoir, and it’s a genuinely delightful read. She’s had a tremendously interesting, rather bohemian life, and it’s the kind of book that’s perfect for reading in the bath on a Sunday evening. Her Desert Island Discs interview is also utterly lovely, and her music choices are impeccable.
I loved Running Like A Girl, so have been very excited for the publication of Heminsley’s next book, in which she learns to swim in open water. (I found it quite reassuring that she lived in Brighton for five years before she swam in the sea. It gives me three and a half more years before I have to brave it.) Intertwined with her story of learning to swim in seas and rivers is her struggle to conceive. At the end of the book, she is unsure whether to continue with IVF treatment, but rather joyfully, she has since announced she is pregnant.
I’ve had this on my to-read list for ages, and the BBC series starring Faye Marsay and the always-impeccable Helena Bonham-Carter only made me want to read it more. A healthy amount of Waterstones vouchers received at Christmas meant I finally got my mits on a copy, and when I finished it (on a bus to Uckfield), I turned straight back to the beginning to read it again. It’s funny, sparky and totally heartwarming, and I wish there were a second volume.
I cannot think of a female character I love more than Carrie Mathison – she’s clever, headstrong, occasionally unstable and not afraid to make herself unpopular – so I’m very happy Homeland’s back on. Did Quinn survive – and if he did, what kind of shape is he in? Will the series’ plotline mirror that of current US politics, as it so often does? Will Carrie’s hair get sleeker and blonder the closer to breaking point she gets? (Of that we can be sure.)
I tore through the book in a couple of days back in 2015, and was intrigued when I heard it was going to made in to a 4-part series. I loved the first episode, and will be catching up on the second one when I’m home alone tomorrow night. Emily Watson is pitch-perfect, and Ben Chaplin is brilliant at playing the slightly-awkward charmer who’s just a bit… off.
Beauty enthusiasts will be aware of the cult-like status of The Ordinary. The brand is a bit of an odd one to explain – the focus is on proven ingredients sold at affordable prices, so you don’t get luxurious textures or lovely scents. And you really have to know what you’re looking for – all the product names are the active ingredients, so you need to know that hyaluronic acid is great for dehydrated skin, or that lactic acid exfoliates, for example. The packaging is pleasingly sciencey – glass bottles with droppers – and the most expensive product in the range is £15. I got the Niacinamide & Zinc serum, for oily and congested skin (can’t wait for my face to realise it’s not 15 anymore, bring on the fine lines), and it was about a fiver. I’m not totally convinced by it, but then again, I haven’t been particularly diligent with it – giving a fig about beauty and skincare hasn’t been super-high on my list of priorities over the last few months. However, I do like the feel of it, and when I have used it regularly, I have been a bit less oily, so maybe I just need to commit more.
Til next time.