With the seemingly endless stream of worldwide tragedy in the news, it can be easy to slip in to the mindset of feeling powerless and harbouring futility. While you could switch it off and feign ignorance, or despair in an echo chamber of likeminded friends (guilty as charged); occasionally a little positivity, satire and funny WhatsApps are needed, and often the littlest thing that is within our power.
Serious tone aside - I thought I'd share some of the things I've been reading, watching and listening to - and loving. Because everyone needs a laugh and a different perspective sometimes.
LISTEN — A few months ago I finally jumped on the podcast bandwagon; perfect for the commute. For females talking design? Designed in London. For feminism and laughs? The Guilty Feminist. For current affairs, fashion and laughs? PanDolly.
READ — Email newsletters. I know, like you need another subscription in your inbox, but these are worthy of saving for later: The Dolly Mail, Girl Lost In The City (Emma has a great podcast too), The Coven Digest, The Pool's 'Today in Three', and Lena Dunham & Jenni Konner's LENNY.
Pandora Sykes' writing. Conflicted Beauty's blog. And comedienne Sara Pascoe's 'Animal: An Autobiography of the Female Body'. This book taught me, made me think and laugh a lot. As many of the best books do.
WATCH — The beautifully shot 'Lingerie Throughout History'. British Vogue's 'The History of Eyebrows'. Russell Kane's Kaneing channel. Leena's videos, particularly the insightful 'Stupid Questions with Leena' series. Still-my-favourite YouTuber ChelseaWears. Caitlin and Caz Moran's Raised by Wolves for the quotes. And AbFab - because why wouldn't you?
Do you read, listen or watch any of the above?
It's no secret that I'm a magazine hoarder/endorser/obsessive. Whatever your interests may be, there's probably a magazine out there that covers it. (If not, why not make your own?)
You've probably heard of Kinfolk, Oh Comely et al. Putting those aside, here is a (far from exhaustive) list of my favourite women's indie magazines. They all happen to be British-based, too.
THE GENTLEWOMAN has gained a large following in recent years and it's not difficult to see why. The magazine prides itself as offering a "fresh and intelligent perspective" on personal style, and showcasing inspirational women from all walks of life. thegentlewoman.co.uk @thegentlewoman
LADYBEARD is a relatively new venture that explores a different theme each issue. The first was sex, issue two is 'the mind'. They "platform the voices you don't usually hear ... people who live any deviation from the straight, white, cis, able-bodied 'ideal'". ladybeardmagazine.co.uk @ladybeardmag
RIPOSTE profiles "bold and fascinating women whose achievements speak for themselves". This is further emphasised as the main interviewee's photo is placed on the back cover, rather than the front. Each issue features five ideas, four meetings, three features, two essays and one icon, covering a broad range of topics. ripostemagazine.com @RiposteMagazine
BEAUTY PAPERS is a refreshing alternative to just a few, product-led beauty pages in a magazine. Like Ladybeard, each issue has a theme: the most recent being 'plastic'. I swooned about it at length here. beautypapers.com @beautypapersmag
Stunning photography interspersed with notes on nutrition, skin, skinheads, an insight to product ingredients, a think piece about the consequences of beauty; Bella Freud on her infamous fragrances. And that's just the first thirty pages.
Beauty Papers is a new biannual magazine that explores the culture of beauty. As the editors, Maxine Leonard and Valerie Wickes best describe it:
"The world is full of relentless imagery of pseudo glamour masquerading as beauty.
In reality this has nothing to do with "beauty", it is about conformity, brand and formula. ...
Without character and emotion, there is no beauty and it is too oppressive to present one ideal to women or men.
Punk said, "screw the formula." ...
There is nothing more inspiring than beauty when the chains are taken off."
And I couldn't agree more.
When indulging in fashion and beauty editorial, it's hard not to appreciate the creative process, the team behind the camera, the time taken to execute the beautiful shots. It is a craft. But, post-production. My issue isn't with colour correction, but the masking of 'imperfections', resulting in the flawless complexion only a child could possibly possess. And they're not the ones buying in to it.
In Beauty Papers - and it feels weird to have to type this - you can see the models' pores, blemishes, very slight veins. They don't detract from the focus of image at all; in my opinion, it enhances it. It's refreshing and it's real. Human over mannequin. It's beauty.
The prose in Beauty Papers is also well written, and relatable. The concisely named essay "White" exploring the evolving perspective of pale skin throughout history is a very well researched and interesting read. As a pale woman myself, it is an unfamiliar yet welcome change to the S/S faux tanning articles I usually flick past. The reader isn't patronised. Nor being pushed products.
There's still a place on my shelves for fashion and beauty magazines but Beauty Papers epitomises, perhaps, the more experimental side to beauty. Hopefully someday those values will too, become mainstream. A must read.
Brighton is home to many independent shops. Here's a (far from exhaustive) list of some favourites:
+ MAGAZINEBRIGHTON 22 TRAFALGER ST, BN1 4EQ
Having followed their Instagram since before their recent opening, I couldn't leave without seeking out the independent magazine seller. They sell over 200 magazines at one time, but somehow I managed to restrain myself to picking up just Beautypapers, The Gentlewoman and Glamcult. If you have an affinity for magazines or just beautiful design, MagazineBrighton is a must.
+ BISON BEER CRAFTHOUSE 7 EAST ST, BN1 1HP
Situated right near the seafront, we were lured in by the illustrated shopfront and interior. And of course, craft beer. They also stock their own home brew, Beast Street IPA.
Further reading: Top 10 craft beer pubs in Brighton
+ BRIGHTON'S BIG SCREEN EAST OF BRIGHTON PIER
It's not a shop but it's a one off: the beachfront cinema shows during the summer season. Daytime viewings (2-5pm) are free, and evening viewings (5pm onwards) are just £3 for general admission. It costs a little more for a shaded covered seat and bar access.
A recent trip to the ever picturesque Bath was, of course, an opportunity to try the renowned spa, seek out good English pub food, and revel in its abundance of independent shops.
+ INDEPENDENT SPIRIT TERRACE WALK, BA1 1LN
Due to my boyfriend's love of beer (and beer labels), if there's ever an independent retailer or microbrewery in the vicinity, consider us interested. Independent Spirit stocks a wide range of beers, wines, spirits, champagnes and cocktail equipment packed in to a compact store across two floors. Not to mention the beautiful calligraphic logo adorning the windows.
+ STAG NORTH PARADE, BA1 1LF
An indie that's more Pinterest worthy, than floor to ceiling Cath Kidston. Ran by two friends, they stock most items from Robert Frederick (next door), while sourcing other brands elsewhere. I picked up two letterpress cards from the Archivist Press.
+ FOUND ARGYLE ST, BA2 4BQ
After reading Tamira's post, we kept an eye out for Found boutique, but it was closed on both days we were visiting. Nevertheless, from the photos and their website, I'd guess it's still worth a peek; find her post here: The Guilty Girl: Found, Bath.
+ THERMAE BATH SPA THE HETLING PUMP ROOM, HOT BATH ST, BA1 1SJ
Not an independent, but if you're looking to treat yourself - a must-do. An open-air rooftop pool overlooking the city. Aroma steam rooms. Need I say more? NB: the gift shop was a bit hit and miss, unless you're looking to indulge in Aromatherapy Associates.
Further reading: Cereal's Bath City Guide
Found boutique photo credit: foundbath.co.uk
The question, 'why do you blog?' has been posed regularly in recent months. At first, I didn't have nor feel the need to have an eloquent answer. Yet, on reflection - this is why I blog.
In the face of independent bookshops and libraries closing nationwide, it's interesting to see the recently launched The Man Booker Prize and book vloggers collaboration come to light. Collaboration aside, the vloggers that are participating in the build up to the literary prize* articulate their thoughts (and not just about books), in the way all the best chatty videos do: like a (albeit one-sided) conversation with a friend.
It's not often I turn to 'BookTube'. In all honesty, I feel that the book community - amongst others - can go unnoticed in a seeming shift to video effects and 'look at me' YT, framed by all the ads.
I can name just two book-related vloggers on my subscription list. When those faces aren't popping up repeatedly in every pre-video ad, sadly, they can be easily overlooked.
To name one of the Man Booker vloggers: Leena aka justkissmyfrog, and notably, just one of her thought-provoking videos, What makes a 'strong woman'?. I could try to type a response to this video, and perhaps I will at a later date; it could take a few drafts. In short, I legitimately spent a few hours watching her channel. Straight. Other vloggers include Jen, Jean, Lauren and Ariel.* I'm steadily making my way through their playlists, too.
Such content reminds me why I read blogs, and starting blogging. To me, it's about sharing opinions and perspectives. To just create even if no one reads; to potential readers, or within a community. Divulging in niches I don't yet have a grasp of, or have the first clue about. At a 1543-unread-posts-ready-to-devour rate.
Epsom salts have been well documented for use as a natural remedy for a number of ailments. The 'salt' is in fact not a salt, but a naturally occurring mineral compound of magnesium and sulphate, which are both readily absorbed by the skin. Together they can reduce inflammation, flush toxins, and help ease aching muscles, strains, congestion and headaches.
All that from just bathing in it? Prior to trying it myself, I was a bit skeptical. Therapie's near £40 tub seemed a bit extravagant, too.
For a more budget-friendly option: Westlab Pure Epsom Salt are less than a quarter of the price, in 500g, 1kg, 2kg, 5kg and even 25kg bags.
A handful of salts added to a usual bubble bath equates to a heavenly soak. Whether it's the heat or salts or scent of the bubbles - probably a mix of all three - I can guarantee to feel relaxed and have a good night's sleep afterwards.
Consider that another bandwagon jumped.