Olive Cooper

Olive Cooper

It’s a true fact of life that no matter what size your handbag is it’s never quite big enough for your daily requirements. You always need an extra ‘overflow bag’ (usually some kind of freebie canvas tote) for your gym kit, laptop, iPad, chargers, packed lunch and packed lunch receptacles, camera, a change of shoes, the free magazine you picked up at the tube station that for some reason just won’t for into your normal handbag, plus all manner of assorted vitally necessary things. It’s really no wonder I suffer from aching shoulders! I often wish I could own a Mary Poppins-esque bottomless number to cart around the extra luggage that for some reason I just need.

However Olive Cooper may have just come to my rescue. Borne out of the very same frustration – that one bag is never quite enough – Olivia Martyn AKA Olive Cooper has skilfully created a pair of bags that seamlessly fit together and subtly detach. For your morning commute you’d use the bags as a pair and take everything plus the kitchen sink with you in just the one bag. Then in the evening separate them, taking out the smaller of the two bags and go from desk to dinner out in no time at all, with not a canvas tote in sight!

Each piece has been designed with much love and attention to detail, handmade by genuine leather craftsman here in England and the range comes in exquisite nubuck leathers, sumptuous suedes and classic wools in a colour palette of caramels, olives and staple blacks. This Autumn/Winter marks their first collection with an official launch next month but you can currently buy a selection of pieces from their website here with prices starting at £190. I thank-you Olive Cooper for now no longer shall I be referred to as The Bag Lady.

www.olivecooper.com 

Olive Cooper

Olive Cooper

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The Lush Factory

The Lush Factory

The Lush Factory

The Lush Factory

The Lush Factory

Do you know who makes your cosmetics? I’m betting that unless you shop at Lush the answer is probably no. However if you do, then you’ll be on first-name terms. This is because Lush affix a ‘Made By’ sticker onto all their hand-made products with the name of just who made your body lotion or face cream. It’s a playful and fun way of proving traceability and adds personality, something that comes across in every step of Lush’s manufacturing process. I recently got to experience this firsthand as I was invited to see exactly what goes on behind-the-scenes at their HQ in Poole. Joined by Simon from The Very Simon G, Neil from The Science of Appearance and Joe from What’s He Wearing we were taken on a guided no-holds-barred-ask-us-anything tour by the effervescent Olivia and got to find out some of Lush’s top secrets*

The Lush Factory

The Lush Factory

The Lush Factory

The Lush Factory

The factories have a fantastically magical and Willy-Wonka feel to them and unsurprisingly, the first thing I noticed when arriving was the smell; a heady and intoxicating mix of that signature Lush scent blended with punchy whiffs of lemon zest, mint and cinnamon, it’s eye-wateringly strong! Being completely honest I really had no idea of the sheer scale of Lush – they have 900 stores worldwide and the factories I visited in Poole supply 40 countries outside of the UK – nor that literally everything is handmade on the premises and in mind-bogglingly vast quantities. Bath bombs are made by the bucket-load and ingredients shovelled by spades, soaps are made in enormous bubbling scented vats in the aptyly-titled ‘Bubbly Bits’ factory, and daily deliveries of fresh fruit arrive to be housed in ginormous walk-in fridges piled ceiling-high with pallets of papayas, crates of oranges and punnets of strawberries. As freshness is such an integral part of what they do even the salt water used in one of my favourite products (the Sea Spray) is delivered by hand from a local fisherman from Poole, who’s fondly referred to as Fisherman Pete and I’m told he’s quite the catch – ‘scuse the bad pun!

The Lush Factory

The Lush Factory

The Lush Factory

The Lush Factory

When I asked a few of the Lush team what their favourite products were everyone had a different answer, my favourite though was from Dave The Dairy Manager, a towering burly bloke he said that he loves the Happy Happy Joy Joy hair conditioner “because I can’t stop stroking my hair afterwards and when I play footie the team always pinch it from me!”

The Lush Factory

The Lush Factory

The Lush Factory

The Lush Factory

The Lush Factory

Along with making bath bombs, pumping shampoo into bottles, syringing makeup into glass vials and labelling solid bars of sunblock, we got to make shower gel from scratch in the Lush Kitchen. All the products in the The Lush Kitchen are made in smaller batches and it’s also where Lush interact with their dedicated fans – the Lushies –hosting Google hangouts and Twitter Q&As and even re-issuing much-adored limited editions when demand dictates. With expert tutelage from Pete we got to infuse, blend, mix, stir and emulsify an exclusive range of Karma Sutra shower gel that I proudly stuck a ‘Made By Plum’ sticker onto each bottle I’d made with my rather fetching fuschia-glove adorned hands!

The Lush Factory

The Lush Factory

The Lush Factory

The Lush Factory

I’ve been a Lush fan since a schoolgirl (some 16 years ago now *gulp*) and the more I’ve found out about the brand the more I’ve grown to love them, and the older I’ve become the more important it is to me that the products I use are natural. Plus they don’t just bandy words like ethical, sustainable and eco-friendly around, they actually make a difference; for example, last year their Charity Pot body lotion raised £2.5 million towards human rights, welfare and environmental charities, proving that Lush really are so much more than a high-street shop selling bath-bombs. Just call me a Lushie!

*Here’s a little secret – if you peel away one of the ‘Made By’ stickers on the side of every bottle, each one contains a cryptic message!

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Weekending

Yesterday I did that thing where you wake up so violently that before you’ve even opened your eyes you’re sat bolt upright in bed, completely and utterly convinced that it’s Friday and oh SHIT you’re late for work! Then, as your brain catches up with the rest of your body – that by this point is very almost leaping out of bed towards the shower – the two collide and your brain says, “whoa there Nelly. Hold the hell UP. It’s not Friday. Oh noooooo. No, it’s actually SATURDAY which means that it’s now the weekend, so go back to sleep!” and you slowly slide down the pillow, back into the warm nest that is your bed, pull the covers up around your ears and have THE MOST blissful sleep. I’m sure you know exactly the feeling I mean and it’s exquisite, it’s delicious and to me it just about sums up one of the many reasons I love weekends.

Weekending

Weekending

Weekending

The reason why I’m waxing lyrical about weekends is because it’s been almost two years now since I’ve been able to experience that kind of joy when thinking about Saturday and Sunday. This is because for the vast majority of the time when I was freelance and juggling multiple projects, I’d be working. Saturday and Sunday just rolled on into the rest of the week, there really was no differentiation between the two and whilst Mister Ruffles had left work behind when the clock struck 5:30pm on a Friday, for me work was all-encompassing and paid no attention to weekends. Don’t get me wrong, freelancing has an enormous amount of positives – being your own boss, flexible working hours, total autonomy and the ability to carve out your own career path – but one of the biggest flip-sides is that you never really get to switch off. Now, one month into my new job, I’m embracing being gainfully employed and funnily enough, for pretty much all the reasons I just mentioned were the positive aspects of being freelance! However what I’m really, truly enjoying are my weekends.

Weekending

Weekending

Weekending

Last weekend I enjoyed a sleep devoid of deadlines and went for a long, lazy brunch with Mister Ruffles at what has fast become my new favourite local brunch-spot – Fingers Crossed Café on Amhurst Road in Hackney. After grabbing some coffee we took a walk to the Stoke Newington Farmers Market, where I marvelled at the many colours of tomatoes and bought some sunflowers for the house – and we know how much I love sunflowers! Wearing a breton dress from French Connection (pun unintentional!) I think I was subconsciously trying to recreate some of the gallic magic I experienced in France a few weeks back! It made for the perfect relaxed weekend outfit paired with my Birkenstocks which haven’t really left my feet all summer.

My yearning for all things French was definitely satiated at The 3 Crowns Wine Fair, which we popped along to later that day; with red, white and blue bunting strung up, boules and croquet games taking place  and endless plates of charcuterie and fromage, I literally could have been back in Gascony and not stood within a car-horns distance of Old Street roundabout. My favourite wine that day was an icy-pale rosé by The French Wine Project, which I have to confess I ended up quaffing a little too exuberantly as the next day I was so hungover that Sunday was a total write-off and all I was able to do was build a small fort on the sofa out of blankets and pizza boxes. Which, along with lie-ins and lazy brunches, seeing friends and spending time with Mister Ruffles, is exactly what weekends are for non?

French Connection dress – Vintage bag – ebay Sunglasses

Weekending

Weekending

Weekending

Weekending

 

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Fields of Gold

Fields of Gold

Fields of Gold

Driving through the South of France and seeing endless fields of golden sunflowers whizz past our window was one of my pinch-me-now-is-this-for-real moments. There were hundreds, perhaps even thousands of them, carpets of intense yellow for as far as the eye could see and as soon as we drove past our first I squealed ‘SUNFLOWERS!’ and simultaneously almost caused poor Mister Ruffles to crash our hire car. I’ve always wanted to have my photo taken in a field of sunflowers and I knew that they were prevalent in Gascony – the region of France we visited – but I wasn’t quite sure whether they’d be anywhere near where we  staying. Luckily for me though, there was an enormous field and it was literally right behind the chateau we were staying in!

Fields of Gold

Fields of Gold

Fields of Gold

 

Fields of Gold

I’d imagined myself frolicking through the field in a whimsical and carefree way, however the reality was quite different. For some reason or another the bugs in France are next-level big – like enormously, frighteningly monstrously big – and the field of sunflowers was ram-a-jammed-full of them, cue lots of girly screaming from me as a beetle decided to take refuge INSIDE my dress at one particular point. Eurgh. Another issue to contend with was that the sunflowers were deceptively close together, forming a dense and prickly maze to try and negotiate, which meant frolicking really was out of the question and instead I had to adopt more of a tentative shuffle to venture in. The trials and tribulations of rural outfit posts hey! Bugs and prickly bits aside though, I had a lot of fun and my crisp white cotton shirt-dress from Primark was ideal for the blisteringly hot French sun. Paired with a sunhat from Beyond Retro I felt like I brought a touch of Riviera Chic to the French countryside, although I have to confess to using it as an impromptu fly-swat on a few occasions after being accosted by multiple rogue insects!

Primark dressBeyond Retro hat – Topshop sandals – Vintage bag – Primark sunglasses

Fields of Gold

Fields of Gold

Fields of Gold

Fields of Gold

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En Francais

August 5, 2014 · 2 comments

in Adventuring

En Francais

En Francais

En Francais

En Francais

En Francais

En FrancaisIt’s been just over a week since I got back from the South of France and from time-to-time I’ve found myself letting out a puppy-esque whimper thinking about the fairytale castle that I got to call home. Smack-bang in the middle of nowhere and surrounded by vineyards and bobbing fields of sunflowers (more on those later this week!), it was picture-postcard-perfect. I spent a blissful week at Cheateau de Lisse preparing for the wedding of two of my dearest friends and it made an incredible setting for a breathtakingly beautiful wedding. With turrets aplenty, suits of armour standing to attention, twinkling chandeliers, marble staircases, ornately grand salons (one even complete with a grand piano!), a vineyard, an outdoor swimming pool, a lake and *catches breath* a resident croissant-nibbling peacock we named Pierre, Chateau de Lisse was an extraordinary place – a veritable adventure playground for adults and I miss it dearly.

En Francais

En Francais

En Francais

En Francais

En Francais

En Francais

En Francais

En Francais

Most of all though, I miss being surrounded by my very best friends and the run-up to one of the most fantastic weddings I’ve ever been lucky enough to attend. The past ten days I’ve caught myself fantasising on numerous occasions about my magical holiday with our daily diet of croissants, Camembert, cornichons (and copious amounts of red wine!), morning swims, forest walks and impromptu cabaret/karaoke/dance-offs.

I returned to London with an obsession for French shutters, a full-blown addiction to Violet liqueur infused champagne and a love for Reblochon ice-cream after eating it served on a duck confit salad  (if you ever happen to be going to Nerac then check out Le Vert Galant – an extraordinary restaurant that serves THE BEST savoury and sweet ice-cream I’ve ever eaten). Being completely truthful I’m not entirely sure how I’ve managed to cope this past week without my newly-found vices, anyone know where to get Reblochon ice-cream in London? Anyone?! What I’ve also come home with are some of the happiest memories and if entirely possible, an ever deeper love for the crazy-mad-bunch of people I’m lucky enough to call my friends. So Vive la France and if anyone happens to be visiting there any time soon then please pop a bottle of Liquer de Violette in your suitcase and I’ll be an extremely happy girl. Ta.

En Francais

En Francais

En Francais

En Francais

En Francais

En Francais

En Francais

En Francais

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