Thursday, 28 July 2016

The petite ladies little black book of clothing.

Much like my little black book of cosmetics, through constant trial and error, wear and tear, I'm separating the 'so so' clothing companies and designers from the truly outstanding for those of us with a petite frame. You don't always have time to wander around stores trying on outfit after outfit to find a piece that really fits, so I've done the hard work for you.

Here I've compiled the little black book of clothing companies for petite pieces, a guide to those who are more than worth a visit. Whilst it is good to 'try before you buy' with clothing, sometimes you just want to know who you find a decent fitting dress from before a wasted journey, so sit back and read through my listings.

Normally associated with horse riding but their heritage and international lines feature some wonderful pieces and even tweed pieces at a snippet of the price for a tailored suit.

They're vintage styled pieces are the perfect fit, from darling swing dresses to pretty knitted tops and pencil skirts, and all at prices that won't damage your purse either. Shop online or at their London boutiques.

Hell Bunny
I've yet to find an item by them which hasn't fitted perfectly, they've really taken to vintage style in the past few years and what they have come out with has been gorgeous. Not too pricey either so great for day to day wear. Available across plenty of vintage inspired shops.

Gorgeous day wear that's a comfortable fit, worth a look at for their dresses and knitwear.

Vintage styling with modern fit, wonderfully made and you won't find a better fit! With their new Bristol boutique you can shop in store or buy online.

Admittedly they can be a little hit and miss for style but when it comes to fit they're spot on. You really do need to keep an eye out for new season items and sales to spot a great find, but you'll be pleasantly surprised with what you do find!

Vintage and rockabilly wears that are the perfect fit, their knitwear range is perfect for day to day wear and their pencil skirts are just gorgeous.

For 20's inspired casual style you really can't beat them, their polo line is surprisingly great for fit, with shirts and trousers that could place you between the page of a F.Scott Fitzgerald novel. A little pricer than some labels I've featured, but worth visiting an outlet store for a bargain find.

Shirts in true to measurement sizes, and not too pricey either. Best to try on in store first to find your fit, but with branches UK wide you won't find yourself far from one.

Perfect investment pieces, like the lady herself says 'buy to last'. Always something gorgeous every season and the sizing is very straightforward, although you may need to try items like their Lee jeans on first to check for fit with each cut.

Use these contacts wisely and above all I cannot be held responsible for any lavish over spending..

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

A spot of tipple : Apple pie cocktail.

A tasty traditional dessert turned into a delicious boozy treat, a rather sweet cocktail that's perfect for those cold evenings.

  1 shot of orange liqueur
  1 shot of vanilla liqueur
  1 tsp lemon juice
  200ml apple juice
  slices of apple (optional)
  ic cubes

Fill a tall glass with ice and pour over the liqueur's and lemon juice.

Top up with apple juice, then shake the mixture in a cocktail shaker.

Strain into a glass and add optional garnish. For a bit of a kick try sprinkling a little ground cinnamon on top.

Best drunk: Why, straight away of course!!

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

A cosmetic's classic : Charles of the Ritz.

We all have our favourite brands that we know and love, but what of the brands of days gone? The pioneers who adorned make up dressers, handbags and counters. Charles of the Ritz is one of those iconic U.S brands whose infamous powder bars and perfumeries made them a cosmetic favourite and a vintage brand to look out for.

Charles of the Ritz was founded by hairdresser Charles Jundt who became the owner of the New York City Ritz beauty salon, lending a natural name to his soon to be beauty brand. He launched his own cosmetic line in 1919 following on to add the Charles of the Ritz name to his products during 1926 and so an iconic company was born.

Charles of the Ritz became known for their fragrances and beauty products, particularly their custom blend powders which saw them open powder bars in department stores across the U.S. Their powder bars allowed customers to have their own blend of face powder made to match their complexion, this trend caught on and saw them opening smaller versions of the powder bars worldwide.

Their iconic products certainly caught on and saw them expanding to a mass manufactured version of the custom blend powder to buy alongside a compact powder version. The range expanded beyond that to an abundance of cosmetics and skincare products and even more so when they merged with Lanvin allowing them to create more products under the brand.

During this time it was their perfumes that really made them stand out, their signature Charles of the Ritz for women fragrance was launched in 1977, a floral fragrance with notes of bergamot, orange blossom and jasmine which became part of their main range of perfumes. However it was the launch of their Enjoli perfume the following year that really caught the industries attention, described as "the eight hour perfume for the 24-hour woman".

This heady floral fragrance was up against Yves Saint Laurent's Opium which was launched the same year (a company which they were actually joint owners of from 1963).

It was a change in ownership that set things in motion for the brand in the late 1980's, ironically being bought out by the very company that they co-owned in the 1960's, Yves Saint Laurent, this ultimately led to their downfall following the poorly received launch of their Jazz men's fragrance that same year. They were shortly thereafter sold onto Revlon undergoing several re-vamps and revival's over the years, but this unfortunately led to the demise of the label and in 2002 Charles of the Ritz was shut down.

One things certain, that they became an iconic beauty label of their era, particularly during the 1960's-1970's with the expansion of their ranges, you can still find beautiful vintage advertisements on the web for their products from this time. If your lucky you can still find several of their original fragrances under the Revlon label such as Enjoli which is now a Revlon label perfume, savvy shoppers can also find a few lucrative vintage finds on ebay and discounted beauty retailers, their deco styled face powders are certainly a collectable to adorn your beauty table if you can get your mitts on one.

Images: Pinterest, Fragrantica & Buy me beauty.

Monday, 25 July 2016

Listening to Saint Scott Walker : A look back at The Long Blondes.

If Pulp made Sheffield ooze smut and glamour, then The Long Blondes helped to make it even sultrier.. A band whose career may have been somewhat short-lived, but in just two albums they managed to evoke a world of sultry glamour, '70's smut, and kitsch, that blew up in a flurry of glitter, making the '00's wonder what on earth hit it..

Those of us that grew up in the '90's were lucky, we had sultry, indie smut, thanks to the likes of Pulp, Kenickie, and Rialto, but the 00's were somewhat lacklustre musically, until a rather curious group shimmied their way out of Sheffield in the form of The Long Blondes. Fronted by the whispery, sultry tones of Kate Jackson, dressed like a retro throwback from the '70's, with the musical tones of '80's electronic disco, '70's punk, and '80's indie, you almost weren't sure what had hit you the first time you listened.

Their debut album "Someone to drive you home" was the stuff that whispery dreams are made of, a musical journey of husky, lush tones, nods to Phil Spector harmonies, '70's punk, and '80's kitsch, if listening to "Giddy stratospheres" didn't leave you hot and bothered, then there was something wrong.

It was a homage to pop perfection, dreamed up in a glittery bedsit, their musical heroes were the opposite of the hum drum, tired, indie bands around at the time in the early '00's, and they certainly weren't ashamed of it.

Where their debut left images of a sultry suburbia, their second, and sadly, final album "Couples", was a wonderful musical exploration, starting off with the opener "Century" with a panic of synthesisers and hush tones, it was the robotic pop perfection that Bryan Ferry would dream of. Full of disco, static noise, and jagged guitars, it played like part disco nightmare, part indie dream.

Whilst the giddy height of their career was sadly drawn to an abrupt close following guitarist Dorian Cox's sudden stroke, they'd crafted musical perfection in their short, but sweet, career. Standing out from the crowd with two pieces of joyful, sultry, perfection that could happily sit next to Pulp's "His 'n' Her's" for their tales of sultry glamour.

So why not dust off your leopard print coat, kitsch neck scarves, and corduroy trousers as we slip into something more comfortable, and why not give their albums a listen through, you'll certainly be glad that you did.

Band image via: Wikipedia

Friday, 22 July 2016

Grown up sweet shop favourites by Mr Stanley's.

Relive those fond sweet shop favourites with a cheeky grown up touch thanks to Mr Stanley's, a family run business that's been creating classic sweet treats since 1843, and boy, do they know their sweets!

Whether it's something traditional that takes your fancy, or something with a bit of a cheeky twist that you prefer, you'll find plenty of sweet treats amongst their range to tempt. A firm family favourite for many years, it's only since their expansion with several cheeky new recipes in recent years that's really seen them taking over sweet shops across the country.

From traditional classics, with their selection of delicious toffees and fudges, from classic butter fudge, to cheeky maple butter. Giving these classics a modern make over, but still retaining the traditional methods and flavours.

Their mixed white, dark, and milk chocolate honeycomb is just one of the many tasty examples you can find, amongst their sweet lemon coconut ice.

With plenty of treats to choose from, you'll really be spoilt for choice, from liquorice sticks, to raspberry ruffle bars, and jars of sour sweets. Even chocolate favourites like rose and violet creams get a look in, alongside classic Turkish Delight.

You'll certainly be spoilt for choice with all the sweet shop favourites to choose from, amongst a few cheeky extras with a grown up touch, like chilli thins, and marzipan fudge, enough to tempt any sweet tooth.

Shop the full range of delicious sweets and more at, and see what tempts you.

Images: Mr Stanley's

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Reproduction vintage, why it doesn't need to be such a dirty word..

We've all seen the countless debates, why should you wear a reproduction item when you could wear the real thing?, why improve on a perfect design with a modern update?, but what if you can't find the perfect vintage piece in your size or fit?, and what if you just can't find that elusive cocktail dress at all what do you do then? The answers quite simple, and it's doesn't need to be a dirty word, go for reproduction attire..

Yes, vintage is a perfect way to find something that's truly unique, with older items the likelihood of finding somebody else wearing the exact same dress is pretty slim, but despite the pro's of going vintage, reproduction attire does have its benefits, and plenty of them at that!

Reproduction wear is a great way to get a vintage design made using modern fabrics and techniques and at times it may not break the bank as much as it's original vintage counterpart. It's come on leaps and bounds in recent years, with more independent designers taking to reproduction vintage wear meaning that you don't always have to go for the bigger labels on the scene if you prefer to keep your look as unique as possible.

It's also expanded to so much more than just 1940's-1950's designs, sites like Putting on the ritz and Revival retro have recreated some astounding 1920's pieces that you'd often struggle to find. Design and attention to detail are certainly taken in with each reproduction designer to keep each piece as authentic as possible, designs aren't as mass produced as you'd expect and you can often find a wonderful little gem, sites like Hey Day in particular even offer their designs in a wide range of fabrics that stay true to the eras.

Reproduction vintage doesn't always have to be too costly either, much more widely produced items by labels like Collectif and Lindy bop are easily affordable and they don't skimp on the quality either. So you can fill your wardrobe up with darling day frocks at a snippet of the price expected.

But if you prefer to keep things as unique as possible there is an ever growing market of reproduction designers out there who can recreate the perfect item for you whilst keeping it as individual to you as possible. So, who said that reproduction vintage was such as dirty word, it's actually rather splendid.

Images: Putting on the ritz & Collectif

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

The beautiful history and evolution of the modern mascara.

Nowadays we wouldn't think twice about picking up our favourite mascara and putting it on, a mere 50 years ago the process was rather different to today's telescopic wands and lash enhancing shades. You wouldn't think to look at that elongated wand and rubberised brush but mascara has certainly come on a long way since it's origins to become one of the most used and competitive beauty products on the market.

Historically mascara has been around for centuries, we can thank the Egyptians for the initial idea of mascara, iconic pictograms from that time are already well known for their kohl laden eyes but did you know that they used a generous layer of kohl as mascara to create those dark sultry eyes? Kohl was used to mask the eyes, warding off evil spirits and protecting the soul, by both men and women.

From there it's a bit of a steep jump in time to the next use of lash cosmetics, with the only reference to Victorian women who used to mix ash or lampblack and elderberry juice to coat their lashes and give the illusion of long eyelashes. But it wasn't until the invention of petroleum jelly that mascara would really come about, yes vaseline, that wonderful multi-purpose salve it turns out was the starting point for commercial mascara!

Invented in 1872, petroleum jelly was the saviour for many in their beauty cupboards, although it would take a few years later for it's use to be harnessed as a mascara. Eugene Rimmel, yes that Rimmel, devised a cosmetic using petroleum jelly as it's main ingredient, a combination of the jelly and coal dust that took a pinch of inspiration from the Victorians to create a mascara. This first commercial mascara was admittedly a little messy to use but it helped to pave the way for the commercial market of mascara as we know it today, a few years later the mascara was reformulated into a much sturdier solid cake like substance.

The application of the first mascara's is rather astounding compared to modern day products, usually housed in a case with a little brush, the brush was dampened (sometimes a little less hygienically using spit rather than water to dampen it) then rubbed into the mascara cake and applied to the lashes. This mascara technique created the more spidery like lashes that nowadays we come to associate with heavy laden mascara, but with time the technique would be perfected to create stunning lashes.

The most iconic mascara of that time, and one which is still heralded today is Maybelline, their take on the product was designed by T. L. Williams for his sister Maybel, and he later went on to sell the mascara through his mail order business. But mascara was let's face it still a rather messy procedure, Helena Rubinstein created a wonderful substance in 1957 that was to reshape the industry and create a product that we're more familiar with today. She turned it from the hard cake substance into a lotion-based cream, repackaged into a tube with a separate brush, the tube would be squeezed to release the mascara and dabbed onto the brush for application, still a little messy at this stage but it was this introduction of the lotion based formula and tube that would come to create the mascara we know and love today.

A grooved mascara wand was designed soon after leading to the iconic mascara shape we see today, it's wonderful to see how it's evolved over the last century to become one of the most used and commercially competitive products in the beauty market. We may all have our firm favourites but if it wasn't for the iconic brands behind the first mascara products then we may not have the mascara that we use so much today.

Cake mascara image:

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Take me to your cakes! : The BBC Good Food Show Bakes and Cakes show.

As far as debuts go, this is a delicious one, this October saw the debut of the BBC Good Food's Bakes and Cakes show, a more specialist show to their Good Food shows, concentrating solely on the sweet stuff, with plenty of cakes, and freshly baked treats in abundance.

For the first of it's kind it certainly made a good attempt at covering the broad spectrum of baking. With a showstopping schedule of interviews, baking masterclasses, and demonstrations lined up across the weekend, it look set to be a promising event, and whilst it didn't disappoint, there were a few problems that could be improved upon for their future Bakes and Cakes shows, with extremely limited spaces available for their masterclasses, it was almost a fight to the death for the chocolate making class... here's hoping that they take up some of the venue's larger spaces to spread these classes out more in the future.

But where the masterclasses did cause a rather tight squeeze, the interview stage made for a rather delightful, up close and personal experience, with plenty of viewing space across the gallery, here's hoping that being in such a close proximity to Paul Hollywood didn't cause a few fainting fits...

It was certainly all about the bakes, with a dedicated shopping area across the main section of the show, you could shop for baking supplies, to delicious treats from bakers across the country. With my particular highlights being the sweet cake stands of Angelina Cupcakes, The little round cake company, Kooky Bakes, The Tea Shed, and many others, who had delicious treats to buy, from pretty cupcakes to gigantic brownies and donuts, I swear, some of them were as large as my head!

For anyone who can't normally get to buy directly from these bakers it was a great shopping experience, with a chance to sample tasty baked treats, alongside buying those elusive, unusual, baking supplies, like flavoured icing sugars, and lego shaped chocolate moulds.

It certainly made for a pleasant day out, my only real problem was with the ticket price, which did seem a tad steep when compared to other baking specialist shows, but here's hoping that future shows come more in line with their Good Food Show prices.

All in all though, it was a sweet, tasting experience, with plenty of bakes to admire, and with baking on the rise once again thanks to The Great British Bake Off, this show would certainly have hit the sweet spot for plenty of amateur bakers.

To find out more about future Good Food Shows visit

NB: I attended this event on a press pass, which has not swayed my write up of this show in any way.

Originally published on in 2014.

Monday, 18 July 2016

"I'm aching, to see my heroine" the grandest album of it's era : Suede's "Dog man star".

More than just a britpop fad as tagged by the media, Suede's second album "Dog man star" was an album of pure decadence, wrapped up in several layers of androgyny & glamour, the likes of which were sadly, and most likely will never be repeated.

What makes this album stand out so much more above others is in part thanks to Bernard Butler's majestic use of the guitar alongside the over building tension's between Brett Anderson and Bernard during the making of the album, which has in some ways helped to herald it's place as a cult album. An album that seemed doomed from the start, drenched in layers of drug abuse and heady decadence that's certainly made one hell of an album.

Those first jangling rifts and booming drums of "Introducing the band" set the scene for a glamorous apocalypse, part poetry and part musical masterpiece, it sets the darker tone of the album compared to their debut. Certainly a grander album, with heavy orchestral tones and more iconic imagery than you could shake a velvet draped stick at.

The rift between Bernard and Brett was infamously responsible for the birth of the album, the further Bernard distanced himself from the band the more the tension build up and led towards their grandest album ever (perhaps Richard needs to throw a hissyfit or two to make them reach the same climatic level for their newer material?).

The settings for the recording of the album also helped to shaped the albums iconic lyrical imagery, heavily influenced by Brett's drug misuse and the grand Victorian mansion they set up in (you could almost image yourself draped elegantly on a 4 post bed in a grand mansion whilst listening to it), these settings helped to shape the decadent, overblown sound of the album in a huge way.

It's almost like an glamorous apocalyptic meltdown, "We are the pigs" conjures images of an Orwellian nightmare draped in several layers of decadence, in comparison to the billowing, romantic and heady dreamlike sound of "The wild ones". The influences from David Bowie and Prince are obviously apparent with the layers of flamboyant elegance littered throughout the album.

The tensions between the band and Bernard with producer Ed Buller certainly brought this album to it's climactic, heady finale, eventually coming to a head when Bernard parted ways with the rest of the band. Whilst it's a shame that such a wonderfully grandiose and elegant album was the result of their rather grand fall out, it's certainly one of the most memorable albums of the era and one that we certainly won't see repeated again. So why not crack out the bolly, lock yourself away in a Victorian house, and listen on repeat..

Top image via Outside left.

Friday, 15 July 2016

My this size 18 is awfully small, however will it fit? : a guide to vintage sizing.

Compared to modern clothes sizing which in itself can be a bit of a minefield at times, vintage sizing is even more tricky. When a size 12 from the 1950's is more like a modern size 8 you can often find yourself feeling more than a little puzzled looking at those tags on vintage frocks, so how do you know if it will fit? Well we're going to attempt to make that task a little easier..

Ignore the size tag.
The first and most crucial point when shopping vintage is to disregard that tag, yes it may say a size 14 inside but that doesn't mean that it's a size 14 by today's standards. Sizing has changed dramatically over the past few decades that even by today's sizing a dress from the 1980's may be much smaller than it's modern day equivalent, so don't let the size tag put you off trying an item on.

Try before you buy.
Always try an item of clothing on before you buy, if you've found the dress of your dreams hold it against yourself first, does it look like it might fit, is it sitting right across the bust & hips? What about the length does that look ok? If you feel happy with the look of the item then try it on, most shops tend to offer changing rooms and at fairs you can often find a changing area set up to try those items on.

Take the time to look at it in the mirror, does the fit look right? Is it sitting ok on you? And most importantly do you like the way it looks on you? If you feel happy with your chosen item then go for it.

Buying online? Check your measurements.
Of course when buying online you can't always try it first so it's best to check for measurements and size comparisons on the website. Sites like Beyond retro list a handy measurement chart for a quick check against modern dress sizes. Check those measurements against your own for a guideline on whether it will fit.

Most companies tend to take the item measurements laying it flat on a surface, measuring the bust, waist and hips so it's crucial to check your measurements against these on the listing to avoid disappointment when your item arrives.

Whilst vintage sizing may vary substantially from item to item you shouldn't be put off by this, shopping vintage is a great way find something unique. You can find some wonderful hidden gems at fairs and vintage shops and who knows you may find a firm favourite for your wardrobe!

Images: Flickr commons

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Le Keux Vintage Salon.

First Leeds then world domination..Le Keux Vintage Salon has already caused quite a stir with their Birmingham boutique salon and now they've spread their ruby slippered feet further north to Leeds with the launch of their second salon.

Vintage style has certainly been causing a stir and when 50's inspired 'dos, half moon manicures and glossy red lips have been adorning many a couture catwalk it's no surprise why. You really can't beat a bit of classic glamour and that's something whichLe Keux have been providing their customers with ever since their mobile salon first took off.

Popping up at vintage fairs, burlesque shows and hen do's across the country they soon built themselves a reputation as the ladies to visit for a pin up perfect make over and when you see the results on their facebook page it's no wonder why. Perfectly crafted victory rolls, gorgeous waves and curls and bombshell make overs are their speciality.

Their expertise knows no bounds and they certainly live and breathe vintage, their salon is a lovingly re-created 50's diner crossed over with vintage salon styling. Powder blue dressers sit next to pink cadillac sofas, vintage domed hair dryers and red stools, the look and feel instantly transports you back in time, and of course they've re-created the look of their Birmingham salon in their new Leeds salon.

What's impressive about Le Keux is the wide range of services that they offer, not just vintage up 'dos and pin curls, they also offer a full hair dressing service at both of their salons, so if you've ever been dying to have a Carla Bow bob or Bettie Page fringe they can do it here for you putting their vintage knowledge into each and every hair cut. Their Leeds salon even offers colouring services, now we'd love to see some pastel pink curls emerging from the salon!

Vintage make overs, pin up shoots and even make up master classes are their forte, if you can think of it chances are they can re-create it for it you. They've even expanded to the world of make up with the launch of their cosmetics range in the past couple of years, their lip paints just have to be tried to create the perfect peachy lip.

The next time you find yourself with a vintage styling dilemma or the sudden urge for a new 'do why not pop into one of their salons. You'll find their Birmingham boutique at The custard factory, Gibb street and their Leeds salon at 24b Lands Lane, for opening hours and a full list of services visit

Images: Le Keux Vintage Salon

Post originally published on in 2014.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

A dainty treat : damson and almond tarts.

Making the most of the autumnal fruit, these sweet little damson and almond tarts are perfect for an afternoon tea, or a cheeky little treat. Incredibly easy to make and you'll be eating them in no time! They may not last too long though so you may want to bake an extra batch all for yourself..

For the pastry
  50g butter
  100g plain flour
  1 tbsp caster sugar
  1 large egg yolk

For the filling
  50g caster sugar
  50g ground almonds
  50g butter
  1 medium egg
  6 damsons, halved

To start make your pastry, if you prefer to skimp on time half of a pre-made pack of shortcrust pastry will do the job too; rub the butter into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs, then stir in the sugar and egg yolk, mixing with 2 tbsp of cold water, and bring it together to form a dough.

Knead lightly, then place in the fridge to cool for 10-15 minutes.

Flour a flat surface and roll out the dough to around 1cm thickness, use a 7cm sized round cutter to stamp out 12 discs. Lightly grease a bun tray and place each pastry disc inside.

Beat together the butter, sugar and ground almonds until mixed, it will resemble a thick, clumpy mixture at this stage. Whisk the egg and slowly add it to the mixture, beating as you go along, it will start to loosen to a creamy mixture.

Before filling your cases, pre heat the oven to 190c/170c fan/gas mark 5. Divide the frangipane mixture between the 12 cases, then top each one with half a damson.

Bake for 20 minutes, until the pastry is golden and the frangipane is cooked. Leave to cool in the tins for 5 minutes then remove, they should come out relatively easy thanks to greasing the tin.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

The man with 'that voice' : In praise of Matt Berry.

"Pleasure" I defy you to say it several times over without imagining it in the voice of this man; actor, writer, comedian, musician there's not much we can't imagine him doing. You may recognise him from cult comedy Garth Merenghi's Darkplace or for his role as Douglas Reynholm in The IT crowd, he's certainly proving to be one hell of a multi-talented character.

Matt Berry first caught our attention as Dr Sanchez/Todd Rivers in Darkplace, the cult comedy infamous for it's hilariously outlandish plots and more than often ill timed lip syncing. But around the same time as Darkplace graced the TV screen he was also working on "AD/BC" a rock opera that's often overlooked, a pastiche rock opera of certain 70's Christ driven rock operas, if you haven't seen it we recommend hunting a copy out for perhaps one of the most unusual musical experiences you'll ever have.

Of course the most iconic of his programmes which has gone down in history as a cult series, not just here but across the pond State-side, was Snuffbox, by far one of the best examples of British comedy to hit BBC3 in a long while, a repeat of which we're sadly not likely to see since the channels rapid downfall in quality... Co-created by Rich Fulcher the series features both Matt and Rich playing a version of themselves as hangmen, it's also responsible for one of the best profanities we've ever heard, "fuck, shit, horse piss, son of a two balled bitch, mother fucker" try saying that next time you stub a toe.. it was certainly ahead of it's time and an example of Matt's musical prowess on show having composed all of the music for the series.

It was from here that his second album "Opium" was released, a concept album which is certainly a unique experience. Allegedly inspired by listening to a recording of a Shakespeare play and hearing his brother's Led Zepplin records playing through the wall.

It's full of ballads, sultry prog rock and "black magic reggae", we suggest listening to it with plenty of whisky to hand for the ultimate listening experience.

His other albums have certainly followed suit, never predictable and always enjoyable, laced with prog influences, folklore and at times smooth jazz that as always has to be heard to be believed.

Most recently he worked on the much accoladed Toast of London for Channel 4, a series about an eccentric middle-aged actor with a chequered past who spends more time dealing with his problems off stage than performing on it. Certainly one of most entertaining programmes we've seen to grace the channel for a long while, providing a much needed breath of fresh air in the otherwise dusty channel 4 comedy schedule.

You may also be familiar with his most recent stint in Vic and Bob's BBC2 comedy series House of Fools as Beef, a character we simply couldn't imagine anyone else pulling off with so much panache, and he sports a rather fetching jumpsuit at one point..

Of course we've only explored a mere selection of his work, from his portrayal as Dixon Bainbridge in The Mighty Boosh to his cameo in Duncan Jones "Moon" and his BBC radio 4 series "I, Regress". There's simply an awful lot under his belt, whether he's fond of "Cream pie", making a sneak musical appearance in Dredd or cropping up in U.S cult comedies he's certainly proving to be a damned impressive multi-tasker..

To follow his latest musicial outings visit, we certainly recommend trying to catch him on his upcoming April tour.

Article originally published on in 2014.

Monday, 11 July 2016

Classic 40's style today : re-create the new look.

The 1940's were certainly iconic for fashion, it was a milestone that helped to shape fashion as we know it today. The new look came into fruition and the classic ladylike look that we imagine today was born, fashion was certainly booming after the war.

We often imagine the look of the classic lady that was shaped in the 1940's, no lady was seen out and about without her trusty accessories to complete the look. Swing trousers, pussy bow blouses, skirt suits and elegant evening frocks were all the rage and with the revival in vintage styles these classic looks have certainly come back into style.

With this boom in vintage and classic styling it's never been easier to find 1940's inspired pieces, I take a look at just some of the selection of companies and shops where you can find the perfect 40's pieces.

Already a firm favourite for vintage inspired attire, 20th Century foxy has a wonderful selection of 1940's styled wares to choose from. Whether you prefer pretty tea dresses and swing trousers or you fancy something with a little more panache like their evening frocks and seamed stockings.

For classic 40's inspired day wear you can't beat Bettylicious, with a gorgeous selection of day dresses, elegant tops and skirts to choose from.

Specialising in reproduction wares Heyday do plenty of 40's styled pieces to take your fancy, their swing trousers are certainly worth a look at alongside their stunning skirt suits.

Already well known for their vintage inspired attire, Collectif have a great range of 40's inspired pieces amongst their collections. Whether it's the perfect evening frock in a gorgeous velvet or lace, a pretty caplet or a gorgeous pussy bow blouse, their range of accessories complete the look perfectly.

For 40's wares a pinch of modern delight you can't beat Tara Starlet, with day dresses in pretty prints, colourful capes and vibrant blouses.

A relatively new label, Voodoo Vixen have come out with a wonderful range of vintage inspired pieces. With quite a selection of 40's inspired evening dresses, cape coats and swing skirts all at prices that won't damage your purse either.

Creating stunning reproduction wares, Revival Retro have pieced together the perfect 40's capsule wardrobe from dress coats, to day dresses, blouses and stoles that will certainly tempt.

I've barely bitten off the full selection of 1940's inspired shops here but my list should help you on your way to finding some perfect neo-vintage wares without the fret of worrying about vintage sizing.

Images: Bettylicious & Collectif

A cheeky little treat : Damson and gin jam.

Who doesn't love a tasty bit of jam and what could make it better than a cheeky bit of booze! This seasonal favourite is perfect for the Autumn when the damson's are fully ripe, a surprisingly simple jam to make and one that's made even more delicious with a splash of gin.

Ingredients (makes 4 jars)
  1.2kg damsons
  85g caster sugar
  300ml water
  30ml Martin Miller's Westbourne strength gin

This is best made when the damson's are freshly picked, take your damsons and weight out 1.2kg's worth, give them a rinse in a colander then cut them in half and de stone.

Before starting on your jam cut out small circles of baking paper to place inside your jars as a lid, you'll want them to be a fraction larger than the top of your jars. Cut out larger circles again to go on top once the jam has cooled in the jars.

Next, sterilise your jam jars. Give them a wash beforehand in hot soapy water then rinse and drain, then place upright onto a baking tray in the oven at 120c, this will ensure that they are warm enough to place the jam in once ready.

Place the damson's into a large preserving pan, a heavy bottomed large pan is best for this. Cover with the water and gently simmer until the fruit is soft and tender, this should take 20-25 minutes.

Once the fruit is tender add the sugar and give it a good stir until all of the sugar has dissolved, turn the ring up to full heat and bring it to a rolling boil for 12-15 minutes till you reach the setting point, you'll be able to tell that it's ready as the foamy bubbles will change to glossier bubbles, resulting in a darker, jammier mixture. All the while keep stirring occasionally to ensure that the jam doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan.

Once ready take the pan off the ring and stir in the gin, remove your jars from the oven and spoon your jam into each jar, as soon as you've filled each jar place one of the baking paper lids inside on top of the jam. Leave aside to cool for a few hours then place your larger baking paper lids on top, securing with string or elastic bands.

Your jam should keep well for several months, once cooled place them in a cool dark place. It's the perfect preserve for the autumn, and a delightfully cheeky one at that! The addition of the gin will help to preserve the jam, whilst also giving it a sweeter taste.

Why not try it on a warmed up on a crossaint, or layered inside a plain Victoria Sponge for a delicious treat!

Recipe adapted from Brighton Baker

Friday, 8 July 2016

How to re-fill a vintage lipstick case.

They don't make lipstick cases like they used to, most often than not your new lipstick purchase will sit housed in a plain black plastic case. Where's the pretty gilt work, jewel adornment and delicate decor that we see on vintage cases? Most modern day lipsticks tend to come in a branded plastic container which doesn't tend to look as glamourous as it's vintage counterparts.

Fret not there's an easy way to glam up your lipstick by re-housing it in a gorgeous vintage lipstick case. Much like re-filling our pretty vintage compacts, refilling a vintage lipstick case needn't be a gruelling task, you can soon have your new lipstick sitting pretty in that delightful vintage case!

Once you've found that perfect vintage lipstick case you'll need to prep it ready for surgery.. Clean and sanitize your vintage lipstick case, cotton buds can work wonders to get any residual lipstick out of the case.

One technique which we've learnt about thanks to Dita Von Teese is freezing your lipstick tube, place your lipstick in the freezer for several hours, around 4 -5 hours tends to be an optimum amount of time so you may want to place this in the freezer first before sanitizing the vintage case. Remove the tube from the freezer and twist it all the way to the top so you can see the whole stick of lipstick, now comes the tricky part removing it from the tube.

Using a bit of baking parchment, wrap this around the lipstick and gently wiggle the lipstick back and forth until it becomes loose, gently pull it out and put aside. Take your vintage lipstick case and twist it all the way to the top so you can see the holder, take a lighter and lightly melt the bottom of the lipstick to soften it ready for placing in the tube, only do this for a few seconds.

Now place your lipstick into the holder and gently press down to ensure it's in place, twist the tube down and leave to rest, you should now have a rather pretty looking new lipstick!

You can also try another technique out to add lipstick to a vintage holder and melt down your lipstick to create an entire new tube for your vintage case, as demonstrated over at Voluptuous Vixen, this technique does require a little more patience and a steady hand but it's a great way to create your own using stubs from several of your lipsticks that would otherwise be thrown away. Read the tutorial here.

It certainly adds a touch of glamour to your make up bag and what better to take out with you, you definitely won't spot anyone else with a pretty case like yours! Now all you need to do is keep an eye out at your local vintage shop and fairs for the perfect case.

Images: Steptoe antiques & Pinterest

Thursday, 7 July 2016

A lavish treat : Caffe Concerto.

London, of course is graced with many cake shops and tea rooms, your really spoilt for choice for where to go, but one shop that stands out above the rest is Caffe Concerto. A chain of restaurants across the capital all serving up pretty patisserie and sweet treats in grand surroundings, a welcome change of pace from the usual fare and a treat that's worth indulging in.

A cafe quite unlike any other, Caffe Concerto serves up delicious food alongside swing and jazz music at their Westfield and Green Park restaurants. Under grand surroundings each of their restaurants is decorated in a lavish fashion with chandeliers, grand furnishings and plenty of ambient lighting to add to the environment.

You'll find plenty of restaurants across the capital from Knightsbridge to Covent Garden, each as grand as the last, if your lucky you'll stumble upon several at once with three restaurants along Piccadilly to choose from.

Of course, it's not just about the surroundings, Caffe Concerto serves up delicious food, with an impressive range of patisserie that certainly catches your eye as you walk past. Gateau's of course can be found in a variety of flavours, alongside Mille Feuille, to towering chocolate and fruit tarts, each as delicious as the last. Their patisserie is a taste experience that has to be tried, a little sweeter and richer than other similar chains, you won't know where to start from the menu. The chocolate tarts certainly look impressive, you won't find a larger tower of delicious chocolate ganache and cream anywhere else, and their sweet almond and chocolate biscuits look incredibly dainty yet deliciously rich, they really know what makes for a tasty treat.

They aren't just about the cake either, with an impressive menu of dishes and some of the most generous portions you'll ever find, they even serve afternoon and cream teas to indulge in.

Certainly worth a visit for a treat whenever you find yourself in London, with branches across the city you won't find yourself far from a Caffe Concerto. You can also order their delicious cakes online should you feel like over indulging a little.. Visit to find their branches across London and to view the full selection of cakes to order.

First time at Caffe Concerto? Treat yourself to a pot of tea and a delicious black forest gateau or chocolate tart, you won't regret it.

Cake images: Caffe Concerto