Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Three Great Outfits for Airports and Access to the VIP Airport Lounge

This year we are checking into the VIP lounge at the airport as a way of starting our holiday early. We've never done this before but as our flight isn't until mid afternoon and you can access the lounge 3 hours before your flight, we thought it would be the perfect opportunity to try out the hospitality!

After reading about what you actually get for your £20 fee, it looks very impressive. There is an eat all you can either breakfast or lunch buffet, depending on the time you arrive, teas, coffees and alcoholic beverages, a selection of magazines and newspaper and free Wifi. There are two lounges at manchester airport, but check if you are travelling with young children as Escape lounge has an age restriction of 6 years old. Aspire lounge provides for families with children over the age of 2 years.

As with anything VIP, there is a dress code, which includes no shorts or exposed shoulders for the men, generally smart casual is the order of the day. Its always a good idea to travel in clothes that won't look like they've been screwed up in a carrier bag, after a few hours sitting with a seat belt around your middle and a lightweight jacket is always handy for when the cabin is cold. Easy to slip off shoes or sandals are also worth wearing , should your feet become a little puffy mid flight. I've also chosen a hat for when I disembark, to make sure the sun, fingers crossed here, doesn't strip the highlights out of my newly coloured holiday hair.

Here's my choice of smart casual and comfortable outfits for travel.

  1. Khaki Jacket Gap £59.95
  2. Plaited grey necklace Southwood Stores £10.00
  3. Zig Zag Print Dress Olive Clothing £79.00
  4. Striped Shirt Zara £25.99
  5. Straw Hat Gap £16.99
  6. Black Trapeze Dress Atterley Road £48.00
  7. Denim Culotte Dungarees Zara £29.99
  8. Grey Sandals Solillas £48.00

If you are travelling without children, it's always worth dressing smart to the airport. A cabin crew friend of mine once told me if you are lucky enough to be upgraded on your flight, the airlines only choose you if you are suitably attired, meaning no jeans or tracksuits. Worth bearing in mind for that free glass of wine!

Monday, 17 August 2015

Ilse Crawford Sinnerlig Collection for Ikea

If I had to be pinned down and made to choose one designer who has influenced me more than anybody, that designer would have to be Ilse Crawford. I love her simple classic designs, with a contemporary twist, always designed to engage our senses.

The new Sinnerlig range she has designed for Ikea composes of pieces for dining, lounging and working and each piece uses natural materials including acacia wood, bamboo and cork, which features heavily due to its many qualities, being naturally waterproof, sound absorbing and eco friendly. As well as furniture there are lots of lovely accessories such as the glass cork topped bottles, matt black vessels and simple linen cushion covers.

My standout favourite pieces are the jute and acacia wood  daybed and and the steamed cork topped trestle table. Beautiful timeless designs at amazing high street prices.

HOME - Manchester CornerHouse Art House Cinema

The Cornerhouse in Manchester has been an institution and familiar landscape building in the city since the early 1980's. The dark foreboding rotund building on the corner of Oxford Road, has long been a meeting place for drinks, the venue to catch a low budget art house film or some where to buy the small circulation publications beloved by the culture vultures of the city.
 As a nation, we have become more cultured and the rise in popularity of museums, galleries and the demand for more cinemas has meant that the Corner House has outgrown its formed home and has moved to a bigger and better venue called, of course, HOME. Located opposite the former Hacienda, in, appropriately named, Tony Wilson Place, the new venue is a triumph of industrial design, all exposed concrete girders and open wooden stair treads, softened with retro style walnut furniture and upholstered seating throughout in greys and burnt orange.
As well as the pleasant ground floor bar area, there is an excellent, second floor restaurant, with 5 cinema screens, a theatre and a gallery space above.

For a fee of £25 you can become a member which provides you with 2 free cinema tickets and a further 10% off all other tickets, food and beverages. It's what I think is commonly known as a no brainer, if it's the sort of place you would go to more than a couple of times.

The events seem to be mainly topical on a rotating monthly basis. July for instance was called "Lost in Music" and films featured were the documentary Amy, about Amy Winehouse, Love & Mercy, a film about Brian Wilson and the music of the Beach Boys and Eden, based on the french electro and garage scene in the 1990's, that spawned the band, Daft Punk, amongst others. All the films were excellent, I would recommend them all, and are shown on a regular basis throughout the month.

Manchester hasn't lost an institution, The Corner House has just grown up and matured into a more mature sophisticated version of itself, a bit like the city in general.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Do You Own The Dance Floor? - Hacienda Manchester Film Premier

Being a Manchester girl, who grew up experiencing the biggest club ever to come out of the City, if not the country, or in fact the world, said with tongue firmly out of cheek, last night was an amazing nostalgic trip of memories and anecdotes, that left me and those with me, filled with a warm fuzzy glow, recounting those heady days.
The film, Do you Own The Dance Floor, follows the sad demise of the greatest club ever and what happened to the sum total of the parts of that club, when it was demolished and then auctioned off, bit by bit, in 2000.

The documentary has been cleverly filmed and edited over a 5 year period, by first time filmmaker, Chris Hughes, who has produced a funny, entertaining and nostalgic piece of work about the place, the people that owned it, that built it, that worked there and that loved it.
Walking into the RNCM last night, to watch the premier, was a strange experience. Everybody in the crowded room, checking everybody else out to see if the recognised any familiar faces. There were the celebrity DJ's Mike Pickering and Dave Haslam and music journalist John Robb as well as other familiar faces, names unknown. I met our friend Tom Rudds, three brothers who feature heavily in the film and realised Liz who worked behind the bar, was the lady I had been buying vintage clothes from for years, on Beech Road, Chorlton! How many times must our paths have crossed back in the 1980's?
As somebody in the film says, the time, the music and the club were all the stars colliding at the right time. It was a moment in time, that we all felt extremely lucky and privileged to have experienced together and in hindsight, we didn't realise what a big part of Manchester history we were taking part in.

So here's what we did with our piece of the dance floor. Mr B made it into a frame for my original members card, which were only issued in the first couple of years. I joined the week after it opened and spent almost every weekend of the next few years there. Mr B was lucky enough to work on a lot of the original artwork for the club and Factory label and was regularly briefed on a job by Tony Wilson, who often handed it to him on a beer mat, which he had sketched out in the pub. This casual approach to the business is talked about throughout the film and has become the stuff of legends about Factory.
Chris Hughes was asked last night, "What's next for the film?" and he was unsure, but if it rolls out in cinemas, festivals or other venues in the future and you were part of the experience, try and watch it. You'll love it and will agree, I'm sure, they were amazing times. As Dave Haslam said "We were mad for it!"

Sunday, 9 August 2015

5 Good Reasons to Visit a Summer Garden Show

As a nation we brits, it's fair to say, are obsessed with our gardens. Not only do we spend time tending our own gardens, we watch countless TV shows on the subject, have monthly magazines dedicated to the green fingered and even have gardeners question time on our radio.

We've spawned generations of great gardeners, from Capability Brown to Getrude Jekyll and Vita Sackville West and in times of trouble, during two world wars, turned our little bits of the great outdoors into allotments to keep our families well fed.

It's no wonder then that shows up and down the country dedicated to gardens and gardening have become a major part of our summer social calendar. Having never been to one before, I went along to the RHS show at Tatton Park in Cheshire to see what I had been missing.

These are the 5 best things I found out about flower shows should you decide to go yourself.

There is a huge selection of species of plants and flowers from some of the best growers across the country. If you like Hydrangeas for instance you will find them in every colour, shape & size. Prices, although not cheap are competitive and it will save you hours of time trying to find just that exact plant you have been looking for.

There are obviously lots of inspirational gardens to steal ideas from and they're not all unobtainable or need a huge budget to achieve. I was surprised by how many "ordinary" type gardens there were and there were also lots of great ideas to use within a small yard or courtyard garden if space is limited. I loved this idea for a BBQ area, attached to the side of a shed, a great idea for a compact space.

There are lots of artisan products available to buy to accessorise your garden from sculptures to garden furniture and parasols, to companies that hire out vintage deck chairs for events. If you haven't got the budget on the day it's a great way of collecting contact details and website addresses for future purchases.
These beautiful metal teasel heads were made by Dragonswood Forge

If you love gardens but are no gardener yourself and don't know where to start there are master classes run throughout the day, giving talks on gardening or of course you can network with a range of garden and landscape gardeners and let the experts design your garden. One of my favourites on the day was young designer finalist Josh Chapman whose work you can see here.

Finally if you leave going to the show until the last day, everything is being sold off at knock down prices, so there are bargains galore!

Friday, 31 July 2015

Iris Apfel - Fashion Muse, Interior Designer and Total Inspiration

I've just been to see the documentary film Iris, about Iris Apfel the fashion inspiration and muse currently creating a storm within the fashion industry.
The fashion industry have finally cottoned on to the fact that the people who have the most spending power are the older generation. Ladies who have worked hard, been at the top of their game and are not content to suddenly become invisible because a certain industry, and younger generation tells them they should. 
Iris is one of a growing number of older ladies, much in demand by photographers, magazines and fashion houses. She has even had her own one woman exhibition, which showcased at the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art in New York, exhibiting a selection of her incredible clothes and accessories amassed over decades of travel,which she sourced, when she scoured the globe as an interior designer. It was during these trips, that she began to collect amazing jewellery and artefacts, robes and fabrics, that have become her signature and totally unique style.
This film is a delight from every aspect. If you're interested in fashion, of course you will love it, but it also shows the life of a fantastic, feisty woman, who defies the rules of anything, from what we perceive as taste, to what we think is age appropriate to wear. This gal doesn't give a damn what anybody thinks and it makes you feel so empowered after watching it.

She's funny, very kind and totally FAB-U-LOUS. A film everybody should see. If you go in to watch it feeling old and that your better years are behind you, you'll come out feeling reborn!

Monday, 6 July 2015

Another Country Furniture at Award Winning Whitworth Art Gallery Manchester

Well after visiting the newly restored Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester back in May, which you can read about again here, I was delighted when it was announced, last week, that the are the rightful and worthy winners of Art Gallery of the year.
As well as being a great gallery to visit and  without sounding too shallow, I must tell you more about the amazing shop that is located in the entrance to the gallery. As well as the usual books, postcards and posters relating to the current exhibitions, that all galleries have, The Whitworth is also a place that you can buy beautiful homewares and it was on my last visit that I picked up a catalogue by furniture designers and makers, Another Country, who display some of their designs within the shop.
Another Country have been trading since 2010 and aim to provide sustainable and responsibly sourced wooden furniture, using traditional and modern craft techniques inspired by British country designs, shaker, scandinavian and Japanese.
Series One Range of furniture

I love their simple, beautifully crafted designs which look equally at home in a contemporary or traditional setting. Some of their designs can be viewed in situ within a range of projects designed by architects and interior designers on their website. A few examples of their designs are below.

Private project by Charles Mellersh Design