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5 Helpful Tips for Photographing Peonies

5 Helpful Tips for Photographing Peonies || How to Photograph Peonies Guide on Miranda's Notebook

One of my favourite things about June is the abundance of peonies. Evoking romance and early summer, these beautiful, billowy blooms are often sweetly scented and come in a variety of charming colours: white, pink, red, yellow and coral. Understandably, peonies are enormously popular on Instagram, as it’s hard to resist liking a snapshot of fluffy pink petals, and they’re a delightful flower to photograph.

Unfortunately, though, peonies are notoriously pricey, so whenever I buy a bunch, I like to think I can make the most out of my money. I work hard on photographing a variety of different shots to showcase my blooms, without (hopefully!) boring my audience, and I also take care of my peonies so that they last as long as possible.

In celebration of June’s theme word, bloom, on Miranda’s Notebook, I thought I’d share my tips and ideas for getting the most photos out of your peonies.

1/ SOURCE YOUR PEONIES

5 Helpful Tips for Photographing Peonies || How to Photograph Peonies Guide on Miranda's Notebook

++ June is the height of peony season and is the best month for buying them. I especially like to buy my blooms from flower markets, where good deals are offered. Columbia Road Flower Market generally sell three bunches of peonies for £20 – just make sure to get there early to avoid the overwhelming crowds! It’s also a good idea to check your local farmers’ market; I recently picked up four bunches of peonies that were going for a great price at my market in West Hampstead.

++ An important tip to remember when buying peonies is to go for bunches where the buds are already starting to open slightly. Peonies should be harvested when the buds are at the ‘marshmallow’ stage – they should feel soft and spongy to the touch. I’ve learnt that very tight, hard buds often never open, which is a disappointing waste of my flower budget. When I know that I want to photograph my peonies very quickly, I’ll go for ones that are, for the most part, fully opened. These blooms won’t have such a long vase life, but they’re great for when I’m in a rush to get photographs.

5 Helpful Tips for Photographing Peonies || How to Photograph Peonies Guide on Miranda's Notebook || Scarlet and Violet Florist, London

++ If you’d like to treat yourself to more unusual peonies in a wider variety of colours, then it’s sensible to fork out for special ones at a good quality florist. So far, I’ve found that the standard pink and red varieties are easily found at markets, but for more unusual blooms, I head to my nearest first-rate florist: Scarlet & Violet. Some gorgeous varieties to look out for are: Coral Charm, Raspberry Sundae, Bowl of Beauty, Fairy’s Petticoat and Duchesse de Nemours (aren’t the names delightful?!).

2/ TAKE CARE OF YOUR BLOOMS

5 Helpful Tips for Photographing Peonies || How to Photograph Peonies Guide on Miranda's Notebook

++ Peonies have a good vase life and – if well cared for – should last a week or two. On returning home with your flowers, cut their stems straight away, as this helps them to take up the water. Remove excess leaves and any below the water line. Regularly (every other day) recut the stems and add fresh water. You shouldn’t put too much water in your vase, as you should be replenishing with fresh often anyway.

++ If you don’t want to use your peonies straight away, then it is supposedly possible to store your buds for 2-3 weeks in the refrigerator. Simply remove all leaves and put your stems into a plastic bag, lined with paper towel to absorb excess moisture. Check every few days and discard any that show signs of mould. When you’re ready to use them, pop them into warm water with some flower food. I’m keen to try out this method myself sometime! I’ve also heard that you can preserve any heads of flowers you snip off in tupperware in the fridge for a few weeks, so I want to give that a try too.

5 Helpful Tips for Photographing Peonies || How to Photograph Peonies Guide on Miranda's Notebook

++If your peonies are taking a while to fully open, then try holding them over hot, steaming water (I’ve had mixed success with this, but it’s worth a try if you’ve got some very stubborn ones!).

++ Apparently a splash of lemonade mixed in with water encourages flowers to bloom quicker (I’ve yet to try this and am keen to find out if it works!).

++ It’s always a good idea to keep some flower food to hand, but if you run out, then ½ a teaspoon of sugar and a drop of bleach in the water will do the trick.

3/ PLAN YOUR PHOTOGRAPHS

5 Helpful Tips for Photographing Peonies || How to Photograph Peonies Guide on Miranda's Notebook

++ Planning is arguably the most important step in my photography process. I have a strict weekly budget on flowers (I don’t usually spend more than £10 on average), and yet I use blooms in every single flat lay I photograph, so I need to make sure that I get a range of images from every bouquet I buy. Whenever I buy peonies, which are a more expensive purchase, I’m especially careful about the planning stage in my photography.

++ Most weekends, I set aside a photography morning or afternoon and snap the majority of my indoor shots featuring flowers. I generally buy my flowers the evening before or on the same day, so I photograph them at their freshest, although I’ll also take the odd picture during the rest of the week too.

++ Although I’m often inspired by the flowers I buy each week and the props I have at home, I’ll also research possible shots by spending time browsing Pinterest or the books I collect that feature exceptional floral photography. Taking time to seek inspiration helps feed my own creativity and keeps my ideas feeling fresh.

5 Helpful Tips for Photographing Peonies || How to Photograph Peonies Guide on Miranda's Notebook

++ I also take time to think about upcoming blog posts I have planned, or products that I want to feature, and what types of floral photographs I’ll need for them. For instance, I knew I wanted to get a photograph of the lovely book, Paris in Bloom, alongside a bunch of peonies, as I thought the matching pinks would look lovely. Also, I regularly use floral backgrounds that I photograph myself for the imagery on Tea & Tattle, so I try as often as possible to get suitable photos for the podcast, especially when I buy peonies, as they look particularly pretty as backdrops (like this one).

4/ TAKE A VARIETY OF PICTURES

5 Helpful Tips for Photographing Peonies || How to Photograph Peonies Guide on Miranda's Notebook

++ A great way to get the most out of your peonies is to tell the whole story of your purchase. Photograph the market stand or shop where you bought your flowers; the peonies at your feet in an attractive market basket (perhaps with some other market purchases too); you walking along a pretty street with a big bouquet over your shoulder; the peonies laid out on a table at home, as you trim the stems; and finally arranged in a beautiful vase. Even if you don’t use all of these images on your instagram grid, they’re perfect to share on stories.

5 Helpful Tips for Photographing Peonies || How to Photograph Peonies Guide on Miranda's Notebook

++Try to photograph each stage of your peonies too: first in bud; then as they blossom and  colours change and fade; and finally the petals dropping from the vase.

++ Take photos from different angles and focus in on details or zoom out. You can photograph the bouquet as a whole, but  also zoom in to snap individual flowers.

++ If you’ve bought a bouquet featuring lots of different kinds of flowers, then after photographing the bouquet as a whole, separate out the flowers and photograph them  individually, or as smaller posies.

5 Helpful Tips for Photographing Peonies || How to Photograph Peonies Guide on Miranda's Notebook

++ Finally, once your flowers start to fade a little, snip the heads off to use as a pretty feature in your flat lays.

5/ KEEP IT FUN 

5 Helpful Tips for Photographing Peonies || How to Photograph Peonies Guide on Miranda's Notebook

++ As they’re so popular, peony shots can occasionally border on the cliché. There’s nothing wrong with the familiar, but try not to just snap your bouquet next to some macarons and Love X Style X Life by Garance Dore. Instead, get creative and think of ways to add an element of fun and surprise to your images. Thinking a little more outside of the box is a skill I’m trying to develop in my own photography at the moment, and I had fun playing around with the above peony ‘ice-cream’ shot last weekend.

5 Helpful Tips for Photographing Peonies || How to Photograph Peonies Guide on Miranda's Notebook

I hope you find these tips helpful! If you’re inspired by this post to photograph some peonies, then do please let me know – I’d love to see what you come up with.

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5 Helpful Tips for Photographing Peonies || How to Photograph Peonies Guide on Miranda's Notebook

London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel

London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel

A LONDON STAYCATION

Last week, I was lucky enough to celebrate the start of half-term by spending a night at The Zetter Hotel in Clerkenwell, one of my favourite areas in London. I’d never had a proper London staycation before, but after my wonderful time, I hope to have a few more! It was one of the most fun, relaxing experiences I’ve ever had in London.

Checking into The Zetter Hotel definitely felt like checking into 24 hours of fun and freedom, but without any of the hassle that usually must be got through before a holiday: no panic over passports and tickets, no drama when trains to Gatwick are  inevitably cancelled, no 5am alarm clock…etc etc. I simply hopped on the metropolitan line for 20 minutes, before getting off at Farringdon station and ambling happily towards the hotel.

London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel

If you’re visiting London, then Clerkenwell is a lovely location in which to base yourself. Full of history, fantastic restaurants, and independent shops, it still has an undiscovered, unspoilt air that makes it special to Londoners (scroll to the bottom for some of my suggestions as to what to do in the area).

London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel

Only a short walk from the station, I passed through an ancient archway to find myself at the hotel, which is situated in a very pretty courtyard, across from The Zetter Townhouse (a sister hotel, serving fantastic cocktails in a beautiful setting) and The Modern Pantry (I love their afternoon tea).

The Zetter Hotel is housed in a renovated Victorian warehouse and is beautifully designed, befitting an area that celebrates urban aesthetic (I’d just missed Clerkenwell Design Week, which ended before my stay). The hotel is also notable for its sustainable features and was given a Gold award for Green Tourism. I was amazed to learn that the hotel’s water comes from their own bore-hole under the building!

Downstairs is the stylish restaurant and wine bar, and these rather gorgeous lifts lead up to the 59 rooms:

London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel

Aren’t they fabulous?! Here’s a closer look at the quirky wall design:

London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel

After ogling the lifts, I was warmly greeted at the Reception desk (this marked the beginning of the absolutely outstanding service I received at the hotel) and told I was being checked into a rooftop deluxe room on the top floor. I was then whisked up in the elevator and shown around my room.

ROOFTOP DELUXE ROOM

London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel

My rooftop deluxe was absolute heaven – spacious and comfortable with floor to ceiling windows opening out onto a gigantic private balcony. I loved the soothing colour scheme and mid-century style furniture, which added such elegance to the room.

London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel London Staycation | The Zetter HotelLondon Staycation | The Zetter Hotel London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel

Comfort, as well as style, is clearly carefully considered at The Zetter Hotel, and there were lots of pleasing touches, like the snazzy espresso machine (which made very good coffee), free wi-fi, fresh milk, a well stocked fridge and nibbles, REN products in the bathroom,  fluffy bathrobes and the wonderfully comfy bed. There was even a hot water bottle, complete with knitted cover, for colder nights.

London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel

I also appreciated the thoughtfully chosen bedside Penguin books (I adore Margery Allingham mysteries!), magazines, bottled still and sparkling water and delicious chocolate truffles. If only my own bedside table was kept readily stocked with such lovely supplies!

ROOFTOP VIEWS

London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel

To my mind, though, the truly spectacular feature of the room was the magnificent balcony. I made a cup of tea and sat and drank it on one of the deckchairs, enjoying the sunshine and the fantastic views of the city.

London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel

I had a few hours to spend before supper at the hotel,  which my lovely friend Claire was joining me for, so I passed the time happily reading on the balcony in preparation for an upcoming Tea & Tattle interview and having a few more cups of tea (room service responded instantly to my request for more milk).

COCKTAILS AND SUPPER

London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel

It felt no time at all until Claire was tapping at my door, and after showing her round my room and admiring the views together, we made our way downstairs for the complimentary wine cocktails that are one of the perks of booking a room in advance at The Zetter.

London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel

We both went for white wine sangrias (so refreshing!), which arrived with a serving of plump green olives, and we happily chatted away as we perused the menu, trying to decide what we fancied. I snapped a few photos of the Wine Room and Restaurant, as I loved the striking bar and plush, jewel-coloured furniture.

London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel

I was very impressed with the menu, which was reasonably priced and offered a delectable selection of dishes. I’d like to go back with my Mum soon, as she works very close by, and dinner at The Zetter would make a lovely post-work treat one evening, especially as it’s her birthday month!

In the end, I settled for English asparagus, crispy hen’s egg and cured ham, followed by rib-eye steak, chips and béarnaise sauce, with chocolate mousse for dessert.

London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel

Everything was mouthwateringly good. The asparagus was perfectly cooked, and my steak was fantastic: tender and flavourful. The chips and béarnaise sauce were dangerously more-ish too, and of course a chocolate dessert is always a winner in my book, especially when it’s so beautifully presented. The meal was excellent: classic, skilfully executed and exceedingly tasty.

We washed it all down with a carafe of white wine from their wine on tap selection, which is a super idea that means you’re offered many fantastic wines at very reasonable prices.

London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel

Claire very much enjoyed her supper as well, going for beetroot salad with goats curd, pine nuts and apple, followed by cod with seaweed crushed potatoes and creamed mussels, and Amalfi lemon posset with raspberry compote for dessert.

London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel Clerkenwell

I’d like to try all of those dishes on a return trip myself! It was so much fun chatting with Claire, who was filling me in on her exciting travel plans and great book recommendations. In contrast to our usual London meet ups, this time I had a 1 minute travel time back to my room after saying goodbye –  the ultimate luxury for a Londoner!

BREAKFAST

London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel Clerkenwell

I had a fantastic night’s sleep; the pillows were incredibly soft, the room was the perfect temperature, and I was amazed by how quiet it was, considering I was sleeping in the heart of a busy city.

After my usual journaling, stretching and instagraming in the morning, I felt quite hungry, despite the impressive meal the night before. I got dressed, first delighting in the walk-in ‘raindance’ shower, before heading down to breakfast.

I went for the Zetter Full English Breakfast: eggs, toast, sausage, bacon, tomato, mushroom and black pudding, with copious amounts of tea of course. It was delicious and certainly set me up for the day!

EXPLORING CLERKENWELL

London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel Clerkenwell

I was quite sad to leave the hotel, but consoled myself by making plans to meet up with my friend Arthur later in the day and having a thorough stroll through Clerkenwell. I thought I’d list a few suggestions for fun places to go within the immediate area, should you fancy spending time at The Zetter Hotel yourself:

// The Cloister Garden //

London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel Clerkenwell

Opposite The Zetter Hotel is the Museum of the Order of St John, which is well worth paying a visit, especially for the courtyard garden, which is a beautiful and tranquil space.

London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel Clerkenwell London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel Clerkenwell

// Marby & Elm //

London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel Clerkenwell | Marby and Elm

This fun stationery shop, across the road from The Zetter, is the perfect place to go to stock up on quirky, colourful cards and notebooks, and it sells a lovely selection of candles inspired by London locations – I was particularly taken with the Hampstead Heath candle, but you could stick to your surroundings and go for the Clerkenwell Blue scent!

// St John Bread and Wine //

London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel Clerkenwell | St John Bread and Wine

One of my favourite places to go in London, St John Bread and Wine  is only a short walk from The Zetter Hotel. The St John Restaurant is fantastic too, but I generally stick to a glass of wine and the bar menu in the evening, or a cup of tea and sweet treat in the afternoon. Typically British fare is offered: the eccles cakes are famous, and I love the seed cake and vanilla custard doughnuts too.

London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel Clerkenwell | St John Bread and WineLondon Staycation | The Zetter Hotel Clerkenwell | St John Bread and Wine London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel Clerkenwell | St John Bread and Wine

// The Zetter Townhouse //

London Staycation | The Zetter Townhouse | Clerkenwell

Finally, even if you’re staying at the The Zetter Hotel, it’s well worth nipping over the cobblestones to their sister hotel, The Zetter Townhouse, which has one of the prettiest front doors in London and serves fantastic cocktails in beautiful surroundings that make you feel as if you’re in a rather grand English drawing room.

+++ Rooms are available from £258 inc VAT at The Zetter Hotel. You can check availability and book here. +++

Note: my stay and meals at The Zetter Hotel were complimentary for the purpose of review. All opinions expressed are my own. 

The Curated Month | June 2017

Welcome June!

Happy start of June everyone! London is feeling very summery at the moment; the sun is shining and roses are blooming, and I’m having a hard time resisting the urge to spend all of half-term reading in a park.

I’ve got plenty of fun coming up this month, which I’m excited about! I’m taking my Mum to the Cotswolds later in the month, when we’ll be celebrating her birthday, and this weekend I’m off to stay at The Great House in Berkshire. I’m taking my Tea & Tattle co-host, Sophie, along with me, and I’m really looking forward to having an unrecorded catch-up! June is such a glorious time of year to explore more of the UK, so I’m pleased about taking a little time away from London.

June’s Theme Word: Bloom

An abundance of flowers bloom in June, so what better month to celebrate one of my very favourite photography subjects. I’ll be sharing some floral related content over the next few weeks, including my top tips on how to take dozens of pretty photos from a single bouquet of flowers.

A List for June

sit in a rose garden
play tennis
have a spontaneous picnic
walk barefoot on the beach
go foraging
eat breakfast outside
pick strawberries
start a nature journal

The Londoner’s List

1/ The Night Market is a fun food festival starting in London and running from June 7th-18th, so take advantage of the light evenings and pop along to enjoy the fabulous food stalls.

2/ If you’re an aspiring author, this event featuring talks and advice from debut novelists sounds worth attending.

3/ The Stoke Newington Literary Festival runs this weekend (2nd-4th June), with a great line-up of events.  An upcoming Tea & Tattle guest, Lopè Ariyo, is speaking tomorrow about the African Food Revolution.

4/ As you may remember from this post, I adore the fashion designer Anna Sui, so I’m keen to get to this exhibition, showcasing more than 100 looks from the Anna Sui archive, at the Fashion and Textile Museum.

5/ The Typing Room looks like it would be a great place to take my Mum for her birthday this year.

The Book

My book choice for this month is Elizabeth and her German Garden by Elizabeth von Arnim. Witty and charming, this is a delightful summer read (and I fully empathise with Elizabeth’s love for flowers).

The Podcast

I really enjoyed this interview with the London shop owner and instagrammer Annabel on the Small and Mighty Podcast. I recently discovered Annabel’s instagram account, which is lovely, and it was so interesting to hear her story about launching an online shop.

 

The Creative

My very favourite floral-inspired instagram account is @floretflower. This flower farm in America is incredible – I can’t get enough of the photos of flower filled trucks and enormous bouquets!

The Song

JONES, image via here

JONES is a fairly new discovery for me, and I’ve been really enjoying her latest album NEW SKIN. Her voice is smooth and effortless and makes easy summer listening. Hoops is a particular favourite of mine, followed by Melt.

The Great Buy

I’m obsessed with the gorgeous Wedgwood china I spotted at the Wedgwood pop-up in Peter Jones, Chelsea, the other day (as a warning: the pop-up tea conservatory is very pretty, but my cream tea left me a little underwhelmed with dry scones. The afternoon tea isn’t cheap, and to be honest, I’m doubtful it would be worth the expense, sadly.). The china collection really is stunning, though, and the apple blossom set in particular is calling my name.

The Wild Card

I recently got this dress from one of my favourite London based designers, Cabbages & Roses, and I want to wear it all day, everyday. It’s light as a feather, easy to wear and so summery! Pair with ballet flats or plimsolls and a straw bag for a sweet, fresh look.

What’s on your list for June?

The Curated Month | May, 2017

The Curated Month | May, 2017

Having a bit of time away from the blog as my shoulder healed was initially extremely frustrating, but then I began to appreciate it as an opportunity to regroup and think through fresh ideas. I realised I was finding the Book Club too stressful; even reading the books was difficult for me, as I’m having to read so much more in preparation for Tea & Tattle interviews now. So although there will no longer be an official monthly read, I will be introducing more book-related content into this site, but in a more manageable way.

I also thought about my ‘Fun Things To See and Do’ lists that I’ve been writing every month for about the last year and a half, and I realised that I love these lists, but I wanted to breathe fresh life into them. I hope you enjoy this new format!

The Curated Month | May, 2017

May’s Theme Word: Travel

As the long days of summer are just around the corner, with many people looking forward to holidaying away from home, I thought it appropriate to dedicate this month to travel. You can expect some travel tips from Sophie and me coming on Tea & Tattle podcast soon, guest posts about places outside of London, and of course lots of content from me, including posts about my recent holiday in Penzance, Cornwall. I’d also love to hear from you – do you like to travel? What emotions or images does the word conjure up for you?

A List for May:

stop and smell the lilacs
learn a new yoga pose
create a space that’s all your own
sketch a bunch of Lily of the Valley
read a poem
plant some seeds
bake scones

The Curated Month | May, 2017

The Londoners’ List:

1/ The Affordable Art Fair is in Hampstead 11th-14th May.
2/ I loved seeing the Vanessa Bell exhibition at Dulwich Picture Gallery, and the Bloomsbury Art & Design show at the Courtauld is next on my list.
3/ The Garden Museum is re-opening after extensive renovations on 22nd May, and looks a must-visit.
4/ Set in the former Midland Bank building in the heart of the City, The Ned is London’s hottest new hotel, and it’s worth getting a drink in the bar to experience the beautiful setting.
5/ The Northern Ballet returns to Sadler’s Wells with Casanova, 9th-13th May.
6/ Pick up a plant – or even book a workshop – at one of London’s fabulous florists, like Grace & Thorn.

The Book

New Boy by Tracy Chevalier is released on 11th May, and I can’t wait to get my hands on it! New Boy is a reworking of Shakespeare’s Othello, set in a 1970s suburban schoolyard in Washington, and sounds completely gripping. I’m a big fan of Chevalier’s writing so I’ve been eagerly awaiting her latest novel.

The Podcast

My dad recently sent a family email round recommending The New Yorker Poetry Podcast as his favourite podcast – (quickly followed by an email correcting it to his second favourite – glad he remembered Tea & Tattle!) – and I can see why. This is a brilliant podcast for those who appreciate poetry, the English language, or just great conversation. I found the episode on the process of fact-checking poems particularly fascinating.

The Creative

The Curated Month | May, 2017Image via @andotheradventuresco

I’m battling post-algorithm instagram fatigue by finding people who really inspire me on this platform and celebrating them.  I absolutely love the beautiful embroidery that @andotheradventuresco features on her account, which is encouraging me to get my needle and thread out again.

The Song

I recently discovered the French artist Jain, and have had her album, Zanaka, on repeat for a while. Makeba is one of my favourite songs from the album, and its joyous, upbeat tune is perfect for the warmer months.

The Great Buy

I adore these Paris postcards illustrated by Emily Sutton. They’re perfect to send to fellow Paris lovers!

The Wild Card

Philippe Michel Cremant du Jura is terrific value and offers a fabulous change from prosecco. A bottle of this fizz would be the perfect picnic accompaniment (or just to celebrate the start of the weekend…).

What’s on your list for May? 

London Fashion | A Chat With Chloé Marlow

Marlow London | Interview with Chloe Marlow | Miranda's Notebook | London Fashion

Chloé Marlow is the founder of the London-based luxury accessories brand, Marlow London, where she sells her beautiful  scarves and bags. I first discovered Chloé’s designs at an A Luxe Story event last autumn and instantly fell for her fun, fresh approach to fashion. A Luxe Story regularly hosts pop-ups featuring up-and-coming designers, and another pop up event is taking place in Hampstead until 14th May (details here). I highly recommend dropping by if you’re in the area, as there are some fabulous designers represented, including Chloé!

Marlow London | Interview with Chloe Marlow | Miranda's Notebook | London FashionChloé Marlow

Marlow London only launched last year, but it has already attracted a huge amount of success, and I’m sure Chloé will keep on going from strength to strength. I managed to have a chat with her about her experience running her own company so soon after graduating and what it’s like breaking into the fashion industry today.

Marlow London | Interview with Chloe Marlow | Miranda's Notebook | London Fashion

What made you decide on a career in fashion?

I was very lucky in that I always knew what I wanted to do. I recently found an old diary that I wrote when I was 14, and I’d scribbled all over it that what I wanted to be when I grew up was a fashion designer. I don’t think I ever wanted to be anything else.

You only graduated very recently! What led you to create Marlow London?

I graduated from Central Saint Martins last summer. I never anticipated that I’d launch an accessories brand so soon after graduating! It all came from my final year project, where I was looking at luxury branding and luxury marketing. I’ve always been inspired by luxury brands and the way they represent themselves. I decided I wanted to create a modern-day classic luxury brand.

After graduating, I began apprenticing in a studio, and at the same time I began freelancing for quite a big online fashion retailer. I was meeting talented crafts people at the studio, and I was asking them questions and learning from their experiences, and at the same time I was getting firsthand market research working with the luxury brands I was fascinated by.

Marlow London | Interview with Chloe Marlow | Miranda's Notebook | London Fashion

Did you do any business studies before launching Marlow London?

No, I’ve never studied business; I’ve always been really creative. I didn’t really know what I was doing – I had to learn from other people. At the studio I apprenticed at, other artists were starting their own business, or had already been running one for a while, so I was asking them about stockists and costings. I was learning about how to work out the costings of a product from a piece of leather and working out how you can tell how many bags you could make and how much each square meter would cost. So I was learning as I went along. Some people might say you should get more experience, but I personally believe that if you want to do something, do it, and learn as you go.

You have quite a tongue-in-cheek approach to fashion. What is the message behind your designs?

I really enjoy merging fashion and art and to have a real context behind every piece I make. With this collection, I was really fascinated by luxury branding and marketing and by what makes an object valuable, be it the name, the craftsmanship, or the branding. I believe that throughout history wealth has been portrayed by what you’ll wear and what you won’t, and I don’t think today is so much different; people want the latest trend, the coolest brand, the limited edition. My collections aim to question these ideas and people’s perception of what is luxury in humorous ways.

Marlow London | Interview with Chloe Marlow | Miranda's Notebook | London Fashion

So what does luxury actually mean to you? How do you like to inject a little luxury into your everyday life?

I think luxury is about exclusivity – something that not everyone else has. It’s also about the longevity of an object and the craftsmanship that goes into making it.

My day-to-day isn’t that luxurious! I’ll wear anything baggy, anything comfortable. I’m usually sprawled out on the floor, wearing two coats because my office is so cold! When I do go out, though, I always make an effort. I’ll take my time choosing my outfit and getting ready, and to me that really is luxury, as I’m treating myself.

What do you think are the top 5 items any woman should have in her closet?

It’s always good to have a flattering pair of jeans that fit really well. You need a good LBD – you can’t go wrong with that! A statement bag never gets boring and goes with every outfit. A tailored jacket too, as that makes you feel like a girl boss! And then my fifth choice would be an accessory like a scarf. I wear oversized scarfs, and a lot of the scarves in my collection are oversized. You can wear them in so many different ways and they really make an outfit.

Marlow London | Interview with Chloe Marlow | Miranda's Notebook | London Fashion

What have been some of the highlights so far in your career?

I’m still at the beginning of my career, but first would have to be the evening that I told my boss at the studio that I wanted to quit, and that I wanted to become their client. That was the first step in really becoming my brand, so that was pretty huge! It took a week of my pep-talking myself to do that! Then, the evening I launched my website, it crashed due to too much traffic, which I didn’t anticipate, and my web designers didn’t anticipate it either, so that was a great feeling. Finally, getting my first stockist (Young British Designers) after being in business for less than 6 months was a real highlight.

Does it ever feel overwhelming when things are happening so quickly for you? How do you manage to stay calm?

It can feel very overwhelming! I’m very lucky that I work with my mum, and I bring her along to meetings. She’s always there to support me, and she’ll take some of the load off when I’m struggling to do everything all at once. My mum’s very creative, and I think I get a lot of my creativity from her.

Marlow London | Interview with Chloe Marlow | Miranda's Notebook | London Fashion

What would your advice be to someone wishing to pursue a career in fashion?

It’s a very competitive industry, which I learn more and more. There are so many talented creatives producing so many incredible things. You need to find your niche, and when you do you need to be determined. A lot of people may say you’re aiming too high, or that you can’t do something, but if you know what you want to do, do it and aim high. I’d also say get as much experience as you can. My whole way through university, I interned in every break I had, and I was very fortunate to do that. Networking is really important too; it really is the contacts you make and the genuine relationships that you create with people in the industry that matter.

Marlow London | Interview with Chloe Marlow | Miranda's Notebook | London Fashion

Thanks so much again to Chloé for her fabulous answers to my questions! If you’d like to see more of Chloé’s fun creations, check out her instagram feed. You can find Chloé’s beautiful scarves and bags on her website or at Young British Designers.

Don’t you love Chloé’s designs? Which piece would you most like to own? Are you tempted to drop by A Luxe Story pop-up in Hampstead?

Note: All photographs in this post courtesy Marlow London

 

 

T&T 24 | Brontë Aurell and Scandi Kitchen

Bronte Aurell and Scandi Kitchen

Listen to the latest Tea & Tattle Episode here or on iTunes.

There’s a change to the Tea & Tattle routine today, as because Sophie and I have had conflicting schedules lately (she’s been in the States and travelling around the UK, and I’ve been juggling a lot on my plate lately too), we couldn’t quite make a date work for recording. Happily, though, Sophie will be back on the podcast for our first episode in May, and I’ve got a brilliant guest for you today: Brontë Aurell of Scandi Kitchen.

Originally from Denmark, Brontë now lives in London, and she founded Scandi Kitchen, a charming cafe on Great Titchfield street, with her husband several years ago. Since then Scandi Kitchen has gone from strength to strength, garnering a large base of devoted customers. I love to drop by for a cheeky post-gym serving of meatballs, or one of Brontë’s delicious cinnamon buns.

Brontë has also written some brilliant cookbooks – The Scandi Kitchen and Fika and Hygge – as well as the recently published, The Essence of Hygge, which I have yet to read, but I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy! I own both of Brontë’s cookbooks and am a huge fan of her tasty recipes. In fact, as a little thanks for all the support we have had for Tea & Tattle so far (we’re coming up to our 6 month anniversary in May!), I’ve decided to give away a signed copy of Fika and Hygge to a Tea & Tattle listener (the giveaway is open to international listeners too).

***To enter the giveaway, simply put a comment on my instagram picture and tag a friend who you think would enjoy Tea & Tattle podcast too.*** 

I so enjoyed this chat with Brontë, where we discussed how Brontë’s childhood influenced her love of food, as well as how she balances her busy professional and family lives and some of the biggest challenges she and her husband have faced in running a small business in London (including giving birth on the day Scandi Kitchen opened!). I was also fascinated to hear Brontë explain what hygge means to her and how she finds moments of hygge in London.

Listen for an interesting conversation on  Scandinavian culture, the difference between hygge and lagom, some great baking advice and much more. 

T&T 23 | All About Wine With Amelia Singer

Listen to the latest Tea & Tattle Podcast Episode here or on iTunes.

This Tuesday, I’m joined by the utterly delightful Amelia Singer, a wine educator and expert. You may recognise Amelia as a host on ITV’s The Wine Show and also from her videos on Jamie Oliver’s Drinks Tube. Amelia runs her online website and event business, offering a range of events, wine tastings and insights into the wine industry. I can’t wait to book one of Amelia’s Mews House Musings supper clubs, which she hosts in her own home in Notting Hill.

Amelia Singer and fellow co-hosts of The Wine Show. Photo credit: The Wine Show.

I’m a big fan of Amelia’s fun, accessible approach to wine, and I had a wonderful time chatting to her for this episode. Our talk ranged from what it’s like to be a woman in a fairly male-dominated industry, to Amelia’s favourite book and wine pairings.

We also discussed the best way to serve champagne (and surprising food that goes particularly well with bubbles – who knew fish & chips would be such a hit?!), as well as great wine bars in London and what drink to order on a first date. Amelia is such an incredible source of knowledge on everything wine related – I could have spoken to her for hours!

Middlemarch by George Eliot (one of Amelia’s favourite books)

Listen for a fun conversation on women in the wine industry, book and wine pairings, what to drink on a first date and so much more. 

London Food | Dirty Bones, Shoreditch

London Food | Dirty Bones, Shoreditch | Miranda's Notebook Review

You know those days when you’re craving a steak? Or a proper burger? Possibly a milkshake too? Well, I’ve got just the place for you. Dirty Bones in Shoreditch is a mere 2 minute walk from Shoreditch High Street station and is a great option for when you’re in the mood for some American comfort food.

I met a friend for lunch there last week, and our meal brought back memories of my childhood growing up in California and New York. There are many American classics listed on the menu, from hot wings to proper mac and cheese, but with an updated twist that elevates these traditional comfort foods to a fantastic dining experience.

London Food | Dirty Bones, Shoreditch | Miranda's Notebook Review

The restaurant itself feels very ‘London’ to me, with its muted tones and piles of vintage books (and even a vintage typewriter) scattered about. I arrived rather early and snapped a few shots before tables filled up. Sunlight streamed through the windows, and I ordered a chai tea and some freshly pressed apple juice, taking a seat on one of the plush velvet sofas as I waited for my friend.

London Food | Dirty Bones, Shoreditch | Miranda's Notebook Restautant Review

I barely had time to pull my book out of my bag before he arrived, and we got down to the serious business of deciding what to eat, ordering a glass of prosecco to help the decision process.

London Food | Dirty Bones, Shoreditch | Miranda's Notebook Restautant Review London Food | Dirty Bones, Shoreditch | Miranda's Notebook Restautant Review

Dirty Bones’s menu is seriously tempting, and I was torn between a burger or steak. In the end I decided steak, but I think I’ll have to go back to try the burger soon, as it sounded amazing as well. To start things off though, I ordered salt + pepper squid (I can never resist this dish when I see it on a menu, as it’s one of my favourites, and it’s also a good test of a restaurant, as there’s nothing worse than rubbery squid!), and my friend ordered the chicken hot wings.

London Food | Dirty Bones, Shoreditch | Miranda's Notebook Restautant Review

I really loved the presentation of these starters, served in little enamel dishes, from which we could pile our plates. I’m definitely using this idea for serving snacks and canapes at home! My squid was beautifully tender, and – a little to my surprise, as I don’t normally like spicy dishes –  I loved the chilli and chipotle aioli drizzled generously on top. The sauce provided a great kick of flavour without being overpowering. My friend enjoyed the squid a lot too, but he was fairly busy demolishing the chicken wings, which I tasted as well, and thought were very good.

London Food | Dirty Bones, Shoreditch | Miranda's Notebook Restautant Review

Next up – the mains! I’d gone for the flat iron steak, and my friend plumped for the Shoreditch Signature dish: lamb cutlets served with a tangy jalapeño sauce. We’d chosen one side dish each too: I threw any thought of calorie counting to the wind and put my order in for cheesy truffle fries (yum), with my friend showing a little more restraint and opting for grilled aubergine layered with parmesan and a tomato, garlic and basil sauce.

London Food | Dirty Bones, Shoreditch | Miranda's Notebook Restautant Review

I hadn’t realised that what is stated on the menu really is all you get, so my steak wasn’t served with even a garnish of salad, and in retrospect, I would recommend ordering 3 side dishes between two people and making sure one of them is a leafy salad, or perhaps a ‘crunchy slaw.’ I must say though, that steak and chips is always a favourite combination of mine, and my steak was cooked to perfection: succulent, tender and pink. The cheesy truffle fries are layered with a  cheese sauce, cheddar, aged parmesan and white truffle oil and are just the kind of thing you fantasise about if you’ve been on a no-carbs diet for too long ( in my case, about a day).

London Food | Dirty Bones, Shoreditch | Miranda's Notebook Restautant Review

I was so busy polishing off my steak and airing my thoughts on The Lord of the Rings (my friend is currently reading it and isn’t too impressed, and we were both agreeing the book could do with some serious editing), that I forgot to taste my friend’s cutlets, but he pronounced them exceedingly good. We both shared our side dishes, though. Personally, I find it hard to beat anything involving carbs, cheese and truffle oil, but the aubergine was very yummy too.

Our decadence didn’t end there, as next we were presented with the dessert menu. I loved the playful choices that were a throwback to childhood: waffles, doughnuts, cookies and ice-cream. My friend went with the peanut butter cookie cup, and I chose the milk & cookie – milk gelato with a deliciously chocolatey biscuit.

London Food | Dirty Bones, Shoreditch | Miranda's Notebook Restautant Review London Food | Dirty Bones, Shoreditch | Miranda's Notebook Restautant ReviewLondon Food | Dirty Bones, Shoreditch | Miranda's Notebook Restautant Review

The milk gelato was incredible – it had a delicacy to it that paired perfectly with the richness of the chocolate, but was also exceedingly good all by itself. My friend’s choice was also excellent  – perfect for peanut butter lovers!

We both thoroughly enjoyed our meal at Dirty Bones, and I definitely recommend dropping by next time you’re in Shoreditch. There are also branches in Kensington and Carnaby, and one about to open in Soho (which I think is great, as Dirty Bones has the perfect Dean Street vibe to it!). This is a terrific restaurant to go to with an old friend – someone you can split cheesy fries and ice-cream and cookies with without feeling self-conscious. I also think it would provide great atmosphere for a birthday gathering, and it’s worth remembering there’s a great cocktail hour and often live music in the evenings!

Do you like the look of the Dirty Bones menu? What are your favourite American comfort food dishes?

Note: our meal was complimentary, but all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own and those of my friend. 

London Photo Diary | A Spring Walk in Hampstead

I’ve been feeling a strong pull towards getting outside and enjoying the fresh air as much as possible lately, so when what felt like the hottest day of the year so far dawned on Thursday, I closed my laptop and set off on a walk to Hampstead. Taking my own advice, I brought my camera and resolved to capture some of the blossom and spring blooms I encountered as I wandered around my favourite corner of London.

I’m lucky that it only takes me about 1/2 an hour to walk to Hampstead village, and it’s a particularly pretty walk too, taking me past beautiful, historic houses and banks of daffodils. I waved at the old studio flat I lived in for 4 years and took a steep, winding path towards Fenton House. The house’s beautiful garden and orchard is one of London’s best kept secrets and is always a favourite destination of mine. Although the orchard is glorious when the apple trees are blossoming, at the moment it’s a sheer delight as well, with the grass carpeted with crocuses and daffodils.

I also paid a visit to some of my favourite haunts: Ginger & White for truly delicious carrot cake and tea; Judy’s Garden Store and the secondhand bookshop on Flask Walk.

London Photo Diary | Spring Walk in Hampstead London Photo Diary | Spring Walk in Hampstead London Photo Diary | Spring Walk in Hampstead London Photo Diary | Spring Walk in Hampstead London Photo Diary | Spring Walk in Hampstead London Photo Diary | Spring Walk in Hampstead London Photo Diary | Spring Walk in Hampstead London Photo Diary | Spring Walk in Hampstead London Photo Diary | Spring Walk in Hampstead London Photo Diary | Spring Walk in Hampstead London Photo Diary | Spring Walk in Hampstead London Photo Diary | Spring Walk in Hampstead London Photo Diary | Spring Walk in Hampstead London Photo Diary | Spring Walk in Hampstead London Photo Diary | Spring Walk in Hampstead London Photo Diary | Spring Walk in Hampstead London Photo Diary | Spring Walk in HampsteadLondon Photo Diary | Spring Walk in HampsteadLondon Photo Diary | Spring Walk in Hampstead London Photo Diary | Spring Walk in Hampstead London Photo Diary | Spring Walk in Hampstead

Whereabouts have you walked recently? Have you been noticing any signs of Spring?

Fun Things To See And Do | March 2017

So far, March has definitely lived up to its reputation of coming in like a lion, with plenty of wind and rain to make one truly tired of winter. There have been the odd sunny days, though, which have served as a welcome reminder that spring is very much just around the corner. Here’s my monthly list of fun things to see and do to make the most of this month.

1/ Offer your support to other women. March 8th is International Women’s Day, which serves as a timely reminder to seek out ways to encourage the women around you. This challenge can be simple: say an encouraging word to a female colleague, or support a girl friend in a new project. If you’re feeling inspired to do more, however, then here are some excellent suggestions for how to get involved in mentoring young women.

2/ Add an item of clothing you’ve been needing for a while to your wardrobe. I bought a new pair of trousers over the weekend, and I only wish I’d got them sooner! I’d been wanting a pair of easy pull-on, cotton trousers for a while, and now I’ve found just the right pair I’m over-the-moon.

3/ Go on a blossom hunt. Clouds of pink and white blossom are starting to appear all over London. Hampstead, Notting Hill, Chelsea and Primrose Hill are especially good places to search out the prettiest trees. Snap photos as you stroll around, or bring along a pencil and sketch-pad to draw these beautiful early signs of spring.

4/ Spoil your Mum (in the UK, Mother’s Day is on the 26th March). Here are some ideas: have a Victorian afternoon tea at the V&A, go for a facial at Elemis in Debenhams, or enjoy a glass of champagne somewhere decadent, like the Connaught bar.

5/ There are some fantastic sounding shows at the Royal Academy right now. I want to see both the Russian Art and America After The Fall exhibitions.

6/ Focus on the things that make you feel revitalised and refreshed: use crisp, fresh perfumes; eat grapefruit for breakfast; splash your face with cold water; take a long walk and end a tiring day with a long, relaxing bath.

7/ Send some special snail mail. Naomi Bulger’s amazing instagram account and blog is full of the most beautiful post inspiration. I love her illustrated envelopes and incredible creativity. If you sign up to her newsletter, you get free monthly downloads of templates so you can start decorating your own envelopes.

8/ Watch Dancer with a friend. I was completely mesmerised when I saw this video featuring Sergei Polunin dancing to Hozier’s Take Me to Church, and now I can’t wait to see this documentary exploring the life of the ‘bad boy of ballet’ (talk about heartthrob material!).

9/ Have a go at writing a short story, using a particular theme, like ‘food’ or ‘home’ to spark your imagination.

10/ Pay attention to the people who take the most of your time. Are they always the people who make you feel your best? Set yourself a challenge this month to pour your time and energy only into those relationships that make you feel energised, supported and loved. You may see fewer people, but when you put effort into nourishing your very best relationships, you’re guaranteed to end the month happier.

A few more things…

Going to Rye. I’m off on the train tomorrow and just can’t wait! I’m staying at the Gallivant Hotel, which sounds blissful. I used to visit The Hamptons regularly when I lived on Long Island as a child, and this definitely sounds the next best thing. I’m channeling my inner Revenge vibe.

Taking part in the #femmemarch book challenge through my @mirandasbookcase account, as well as the Ruth read-a-long hosted by @thenobbylife.

Attending this talk in celebration of International Women’s Day at Foyles.

Celebrating a friend’s birthday on Friday.

Recording a lot of fun interviews for Tea & Tattle – can’t wait to publish the ones I have coming up!

Reading Longbourn in preparation for the next Miranda’s Notebook Book Club discussion!

How about you? What’s on your list for fun things to do this month? I’d love to hear what you’ve got planned!