As anyone who follows me on Instagram (hi Dad) will know, I recently returned from a trip to Sri Lanka. That country is officially amazing. I spent the first week exploring tea plantations and making mountainous pilgrimages in the island’s centre, then headed down to the south coast for blissed out sunbathing and sand-between-the-toes.
Travelling with the chef meant, obviously, that a large part of the trip was focused on food. We tried hundreds of delicious dishes and local delicacies but of all the culinary experiences on offer, the country’s fresh yellow coconuts served up roadside were one of my favourite treats. After we’d slurped up all our nuts’ cooling water, we’d hand them back to the machete-wielding local greengrocers – who would split the nuts in two and carve out makeshift spoons from the shell, allowing us to scoop out the wobbly white coconut jelly hidden within.
As I stood, ankle-deep in the warm sea on Mirissa Beach, greedily scratching up every last morsel from that day’s coconut, I considered these wondernuts. I’m more than a little sceptical of fads and crazes but despite the hype and my better judgement, coconut oil has quickly become one of my desert island beauty products.
Marrakech is one of those places that gets under your skin: so it’s not surprising that the people of this glorious city have hit upon the world’s most perfect way of scrubbing you until you sparkle.
I first visited the city on a last-minute deal of a holiday, precisely the sort of trip you turn your nose up at as a wanderlust-filled, backpack-toting teenager. I don’t know about you, but I’ve found that after a few years limping through the world of work, you start to appreciate holidays where someone tells you which bus to get on, how many drinks you can have at the bar, what the exchange rate is and so on. It’s a little like holidaying with your parents again, but without the overhead emotional baggage.
Located next to the Jo Malone counter on the ground floor of Manchester’s central branch of Selfridges, Blink provides a range of decadent beauty treatments to the city’s glitterati. Regular clients can book in for a session, or – if you’re more opportunistically minded – you can do as I did, and try your luck by turning up on spec and smiling widely.
It was that time between Christmas and New Year where everyone’s still a little full from feasting and no-one really knows what day it is. I had an hour to kill before the boy returned from watching his beloved City play. My arms were laden with bargain-stuffed shopping bags, and my nails – well, as usual, my nails sucked. I’d stumbled across Blink earlier, while idly googling for the “best manicure in Manchester”, but hesitated before making an appointment. Luckily for my cuticles, the universe was on my side that day, and the smartly-dressed team found a gap in their bookings.
Still stuck for festive beauty gift ideas? One of our favourite last-minute-present-solvers is Lush, which for us can be found in Cambridge’s Lion Yard (as with all Lush stores, simply follow your nose to track it down). We were recently invited for a late-night tour of the store’s range of Christmas goodies, and the friendly and enthusiastic staff kept us talking for almost two hours – there really was a huge amount to talk about.
Like most modern dog owners, I sometimes wonder about the food that I give to Toby. On the whole, we’ve just carried on with the diet he was originally given by his breeder, figuring “if it ain’t broke” – but the increasing variety of options available has often momentarily stayed in my hand as I go to grab a new sack of his #basic biscuits.
Unsurprisingly, Toby doesn’t seem too bothered whether he’s eating designated dog food or chunks of truffled pecorino from a dangerously low-level cheese board (true story), and will happily chomp down on any old thing. We often joke about setting him up a street food blog where he could dispense hipsterish reviews of the rank flotsam and jetsam he picks up off the tarmac: “Old tennis ball – 4/5. Get here before the crowds do.”
Despite my dog’s inability to either confirm or deny his interest in fancy food, I can’t help but be drawn to the beautifully designed packs of organic, raw, 100% chemical free, artisan, gourmet-style dog chow that seem to be constantly encroaching on regular dawg food’s shelf space.
As the archive on the right will show, I’ve been somewhat lax about posting of late. Daisy’s been happily blogging away on all sorts of topics, from vintage beauty to beauty boxes, while I’ve just sat silently in the background wringing my hands with guilt at my lack of blog-related activity. I just couldn’t find the time to put fingers to keyboard – and it’s mostly because of this:
It’s been a long time coming but finally – the blog that’s devoted to blushers, bulldogs and banana bread, actually has a post about banana bread. Momentous day!
Another cold Sunday saw me staring at a mountain of chores and work to catch up on. So, what did I do? Naturally, I found something to bake. I spied a bunch of perfectly ripe bananas in the kitchen and anticipating their slow descent into mush over the coming week, I thought I’d speed the process along by spending a couple of hours transforming them into the perfect wintery treat: a warm, meltingly delicious loaf of banana bread.
Nigella’s had it pretty rough in the last couple of weeks but whatever you think of her, I don’t believe anyone could deny that the cookbooks she created are flippin’ marvellous. This recipe’s from How to be a Domestic Goddess – though once again, my ill-prepared storecupboards resulted in a little free-form re-writing.