Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Happy Holidays!

Flower Seller on Old Bond St.  'Hello Deer'
Gosh, this year has flown!  December is almost over and another Christmas evening is fading.  I love the festive traditions of this season, celebrating family and friendships, exchanging gifts, writing cards -the 'old-fashioned' way, and yes, even traipsing down to the Post Office to pick-up parcels.  My absolute favourite 'chrismassy' thing to do', is decorate the tree with my little one.  I say 'little one' but he's now 8 years old, and will undoubtedly tower over me in the not-too-distant-future.  Deep sigh. 

Another favourite from my Christmas to do list, is to take a stroll through the old streets of London, Nobody does Christmas, quite like London.  Methinks.  Well, okay, maybe NYC comes close, and I hear Iceland is pretty good.  I love browsing through window displays in the rather glamourous stores, soaking up the atmosphere in the streets.  There is always such a sense of excitement in the crowds.  Did mention the pretty Christmas lights? Tres sparkly.

This holiday break, I will mostly be horizontal on the sofa.  It's a welcome reprieve after the manic rush in the lead-up to Christmas.  My feet and liver are grateful, let me tell you.  From the comfort of plumped cushions, I can indulge a little reading, writing, and yes, possibly a few culinary treats!  How about you?  If you are celebrating Christmas, I hope its a good one where ever you are.  Here's a few snaps from My December thus far, I hope you will enjoy.

Happy Christmas, Lovelies!  And wishing everyone a fabulous 2014!  XO

A rainy view from the Big Wheel @ Winter Wonderland.  

Oh Christmas trees!  @ Indie stores in Greenwich.
A most ostentatious Father Christmas @ Fortum @ Mason

Fab windows @ Fortum & Mason 

Spot the Cat at Cartier on Old Bond St.

Favourite window on Old Bond St.

Traipsing through Soho

Eros captured @ Piccadilly Circus
Festive Christmas dining with Bestie.

Angels beneath the Dolce & Gabbana Christmas tree
@ Claridges
Man down! Santa's train @ Wonderland. 

Alright, maybe one more festive cocktail.. 

Our tree - decorated by Scribe Jnr.
Photocredits: Yours truly via my instagram @taleiii

Thursday, 7 November 2013

A Stellar Evening In London - With Stella McCartney

I love it when my friends send me emails with subject lines that read - 'Stella McCartney Spring 2014 Preview RSVP' - and then they add a casual 'Are you interested?'  Interested, wot?  Cue Conor Maynard's latest tune, 'Are you crazy? Are you stupid?  Must be crazy...?'  YES, PLEASE! I reply, and hit 'send' faster than a doughnut-crazed-lady-post-gym-workout-looking-for-her-next-sugar-hit.

For the record, my friend is not crazy or stupid.  She's very smart - and quite fashionable.  My next question to her was, 'WHAT TO WEAR?'  And then I ran around the house like a crazy-person-who-needs-to-find-a-new-outfit, that you know, was suitable to be seen in, - in front of Stella, and oh - several fashionistas of Knightsbridge.  No pressure, then.  *sucks in cheeks, tummy, and clenches thighs*  

So, anyhow - in a nutshell, that's how I ended up sipping champagne, and eyeballing fabulous floral and python print frocks at Harvey Nichols last night.  Vogue's UK contributing editor Christa D'Souza interviewed Stella McCartney, statuesque models slinked around the pretty flower stall setting behind them.  Stella spoke about her inspirations, on her parents creativity, her early days studying at St Martins, how Savile Row tailoring influences her designs, and the importance of pockets - and wait for it - whether or not to show your knees.

A few memorable quotes from the interview:

"A woman of a certain age has to look good."
"Celebrate your knees!"
"I'm not a screamer as a designer, I'm not trying to take over the world."
- And my favourite -  
"When a woman comes into a room, she should be noticed for the right reasons, not the wrong reasons." 

During the Q&A time with the audience, I was lucky enough to ask my own question - which went something like this:

Me:  You're very passionate about fashion and design, - (um really, nothing like stating the obvs), - you've built a successful brand -Stella McCartney, - if you hadn't become a designer, was there another path you might have taken?

Stella:  Well, I did think about singing - but I  didn't that was a good road to go down... (insert raucous laughter from the room)  -  and my family aren't bankers or hedge fund people - so I knew something creative is what I wanted to be.  I always knew I wanted to be a fashion designer from very young, otherwise an architect or landscape gardening - I love gardening!

All in all, t'was a fabulous fun night in London.  Stella's Spring 2014 collection was a welcome antidote to a dark and dusky autumnal eve, and I can't wait for the next casually scripted invite to land in my mailbox.  *opens email, waits...*

And, a few snaps for your viewing pleasure:

It begins... drinks beckon.
Cute staging... yes. CUTE. 

Waiting game....

Ms McCartney and Ms D'Souza - the Q&A begins.

A glimpse at the Spring 2014 collection for ladies. 

Python print over floral shorts - loved this jacket! 

The 'Miro' dress!

Gorgeous florals!

The 'Match' dress!  

Lucious lace, and um... legs.

Bloodshot eyes are the new black.
 ME and my dear friend S.

Pretty pink roses and goodie bags - what's not to love?

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Happy Endings, Darlings, - Or Not.

I love books.  I love reading them, I love losing myself in the worlds that are far-flung from my usual day-to-day routine, and lately I've been desperately searching for a novel that will actually surprise me, one that will genuinely catch me unawares - some might say 'Holy Grail', but I say, pffft - if you want it - it will come.  Yesterday, I came to the end of a murder-crime-thriller, and to my 'horror', on page 482 of the 483 page novel, I found the main character was 'offed' - stabbed, left to die alone on a bed of leaves in the corner of some London cemetery.

Having read so far, i.e to the very end of the story, I was utterly appalled to find another senseless killing.  Worse, I felt nothing for the character.  I'm not sure what that says about the story overall, however this whole 'Killing Off Your Darlings' concept has gotten up my nose of late.   And I have to ask myself - is it really worth it?  Do we have no other alternative ending to stories?  Because, 'hello' - in case you didn't know it, killing off characters is a little passe.  So very last season.  At least for ce moir, and I'm not alone on this one, right?

When I read endings which are mind-numbingly nonsensical, it leaves a bad taste in my mouth.  My general reaction is cyclical - like this:  Mild Annoyance -> Abusive Language -> Tosses Book Hard Across Room -> 'What The F**k - I could've been writing my own book' face, A***hole ->  Angry Tweets About Book - Moves On To Next Book -> Goes Back to Start.

Last week, I stumbled across a tweet which I think is a great reminder of how passionate readers are about books - and this book in particular was about a Dystopian YA series where the MC bites the bullet at the end.  I won't 'name' names because it's the reaction I'm interested in.  The tweet was via @evilwylie, it's from an excerpt of a book review, it went something like this:

" Dear___, Your Characters Belong to Us, the Readers, Not You.  How Dare You?" 

Other reviews online for the same book were along the lines of: "WTF Ending? The End?" and, "I didn't see that coming - oh, but now I'm seeing a unicorn."

And I think, these reviewers comments sum up a lot of what I'm feeling about 'Unhappy Endings' right now.  If you're writing - and you feel the need to kill someone off - please make sure it 'fits' the damn story.  Don't kill your darlings because you think it makes you grittier or somehow, a more serious writer.  Unless you're writing pantomimes, don't toss in another body for the bloody sake of a 'shock-horror' ending.

When readers connect to characters, and follow 'their' journey ( not yours),  from Book One to Book Two - don't slam a 'ha-ha-gotcha' ending in Book Three.  Because thats how it feels.  I'll leave the final words of this ranty post to another reviewer.  "I feel empty. I didn't think I'd feel empty."  I think this translates to, that was boring - I read your book, you gave me nothing in return but sore eyes and a late start to the morning.

All in all, what I'm saying is this - don't go for the usual endings, it's boring - and when all is said and done, what the hell is so wrong with a happy ending?  How's that for a twist?

PS:   If you've waded through this post to the end - please do share any good reads you've found lately - I am hungry for some great books right now!   Happy Halloween, Tricksters!  XO

Friday, 13 September 2013

Why Books Are My Bag

The simplest of messages are always the most savvy - and most memorable!  Here's one for you all - if you love books, get down to your local bookstore, and show them some big gooey Michelin-Man-sized love!

I could walk you through my childhood memories of picture books, tell you how books were my friends from an early age, tell you about hours spent under the willow tree in my parents garden, with my head buried in a book.  I could recite the Shakespeare etched on teen-angst ridden grey cells, and jolly on about all the wonderful books that have kept me going long into adulthood.  I could tell you about all those amazing stories that still keep me up at night - the ones that make me laugh like an insane lady one minute, and turn me into a bedridden weeping baby, the next.  But, I'm sure your own book memories are so much better.

The sad truth is, we are losing bookstores everyday.  According to an article in the Guardian earlier this year, "73 Independent booksellers shut up shop in 2012 - more than one casualty for every week of the year - bringing the number left in the UK down to just 1,028."  

The reality is that if we love our bookstores as much as we keep saying - we need to put our money where our mouth is.  And, while online megastores may well fill our internet landscapes at every turn, it would be a tragedy to see bookstores and libraries go the way of dinosaurs.  Books are so much more than a quick buck at the click of a mouse.  They are much, much more.  There's a connection - books, people, stories and storytellers, we all belong together.  We all make memories together.

Tomorrow, the 'Books Are My Bag' campaign  celebrates books and bookstores with a big book party!  Yes, Britain and Ireland, that means you.  However, lets not just stop here - where ever you live,  the Ukraine, Japan, Alaska or even, I don't know, the Falklands?  It doesn't matter, you remember that Ice Age thing, right?  Yes.  Well, it's not too late - you can still show your love for books.  Lets keep our bookstores open for future generations.

Friday, 6 September 2013

Flying Solo

It was early saturday morning, that magical moment before sunrise and coffee, where time zones are murky and the neighbourhood dogs haven't quite stirred.  I was sitting at my desk and somewhere in the background, pieces of a rather insane conversation filtered through the fog.  My ears pricked, I leaned in.  Scribe Junior had his Grandmother C on the phone.  All the way from little NZ.

SJ:  Grandma, guess what?
G:   What?
SJ:  I found you a new boyfriend!
G:  *a little too excited*  Really?  Who?
SJ:  *picks up his iPad, taps on screen*  Actually, I'm downloading him now!
G:  What?
SJ:  He's from Pakistan.
G: Oh.
SJ:  Actually, he lives in Bangalore but he's from Tajikistan!
G: Oh.

I laughed. Quite hard.  Later that day, at Hampstead Heath, we picnicked with a few girlfriends, and SJ was in full swing.  He'd decided to download boyfriends for everyone.  The only problem was, all boyfriends appeared to be inanimate objects.  For example, V was paired off with a storage room; N was pointed towards a small stone building in the park.  I mean, it was a lovely building but being discerning creatures, we questioned why anyone would want an empty room for a boyfriend?

SJ:  Well because, if you get tired, you don't have to go far, you can just sleep in the room -won't that be good?
All the the single ladies:  Um, no -actually, not good - what if you want a cuddle?  You can't cuddle a storage room.
SJ:  But you can put a nice chair in there, - and a TV.
All the single ladies:  I think you need to work on that one.

Last night, SJ proudly handed me a small drawing.

SJ:  Here you go, Mummy!
Me:  What's that?
SJ:  I 'downloaded' you a boyfriend!
Me:  *stares at stick figure on flapping piece of A4*  Wow.
SJ:  His name is Jack Jay.
Me:  Cool.  I'm going to pin him up in the kitchen, on the noticeboard.
SJ: That's good!  And, you can talk to him whenever you want to, like when you're working in there.
Me:  Like, when I'm doing the dishes and stuff?
SJ:  Yes.
Me:  That's just...perfect.

Jack Jay -the quiet unassuming type

I give you Jack Jay.  He sits, pride of place on the noticeboard.  I'm looking forward to romantic walks in the park with him this autumn.

PS: The joys of single motherhood.  Nobody said it would be easy but when your child has a wild imagination, and is wise beyond his years? Well - the days just fly by.  I hope you're all enjoying the last of the summer weather!  I am.  -Talei XO

Monday, 8 July 2013

Sleepless In London

Summer arrived today, spread her fingers through the skies, tossed her smile across the city’s dust-filled streets. Bare shouldered, I cycled along the river, secretly hoping for a breeze, some small relief from the heat. I navigated slowly, eased my way through the pedestrian sea of board shorts and flip-flops, sun frocks and designer tank tops. On the grassy verges of the old stone path, couples lay sprawled at all angles, red-faced picnickers converged, and all around me, excited laughter ebbed and flowed. “If only, all days could be like this,” I thought.
When night fell, I lay quietly in my room, on a bed without sheets. I peered into the darkness. Would I sleep tonight? Quiet. Be still. Be quiet. Sleep will come. I waited and listened; listened and waited. Outside, the familiar hum of traffic in the distance, a muffled lullaby of sirens and car alarms. 
A peculiar smell rose through the open window. “If that’s not the smell of a dead bull lying at the bottom of a waterfall, then I don’t know what it is,” I muttered to myself. And then my thoughts drifted to a time of school summer camps. Memories. I grasped at a handful of childhood dreams. Snapshots of heady days spent chasing waves, salt and sea whipping over sun-kissed skin. Ice cream and sticky watermelon fingers.
And somewhere in the street below, a car door slammed, and I rolled over onto my back. “What happened to cicadas?” I wondered. “What happened to that?”
A/N:  Hi Lovelies, I hope you are all well! I posted this piece earlier today over here on Medium, but wanted to share here too.  London has been blessed with some lovely blue skies recently, alas at night, it all gets a little sultry.  Have a fab week where ever you are on this beautiful planet! - T xo 

Friday, 14 June 2013

A Thousand Reasons And Five For New York

I could think of a thousand reasons why life has taken me away from you of late, dear blogger...  But I won't.  I think we're beyond explanations.  I've been terribly tied-held-caught-up with life.  Parallel universes.  Multiple.  Writing-reading-eating-films-devouring-books.  Write or Blog?  Blog or Write? Decisions.  Unapologetically, I've been writing.  Indulged the vampiric lifestyle.  Nocturnal creature.  Eat at will.  Dress code zero.  Stay up late. Watch foreign films.  Read all night.  Wondrous thinking.  Thoughts which elude me now.  Trust me, on the wondrous though.

In recent months, I've travelled a little.  New York surprised me in April.  Every time I step out of a taxi in Manhattan, it hits me.  That rattle 'n' hum, old city, wide streets, fast-talking-street-walking-natives.  Bums.  Suits.  Hobos.  Attitude.  Give me your all, give me nothing.  Just give me something.  Always, I say, we should venture off the island, take a train to Washington or Boston.  That day never eventuates.  And, every single visit, I say earnestly to my friends, I wish I'd moved here.  Coulda-woulda-shoulda.  Instant regret in a moment of too many.  It's an honest thought.

Aside, from the coffee and bagels, spontaneous conversations on the subway, lazy languid strolls through Central Park, and rooftop sunsets - here's my five reasons to visit New York!

1.  The spectacular views from the top of the Empire State Building.  Mind-blowing, awe-inspiring.  Follow the velvet ropes through the winding souvenir trails and go straight to the top.  If you get to NYC and you don't do this, then really, you should just stay home and slap yourself... silly.

2.  An early morning walk across the Brooklyn bridge.  Because, why not?  You're in NYC -just do it!  Take a coffee and bagel, shove your earplugs in and walk.  Or sway.  Little attitude with those hips doesn't hurt either.

3.  Walk The High Line.  A wonderful use of an old railway line that locals campaigned to keep and convert into a public 'green' space.  Again, with the walking and talking... this is the place to do it.

4a.  The New York Library.  Books. Writing. Librarian types with fabulous up-dos. 'Nuff said!
4b.  A ferry ride around the island.  One the best ways to see the cityscape is to get off the island and into the Hudson.  On a boat.  Take your camera and get snapping!

5.  Old friends.  I love catching up with friends when I travel.  One of my loveliest friends lives in NYC and she's always been an inspiration.  We caught up.  I told her that my dog, Freddy had died and she said, "Yes, Talei, I know.  I read your blog!"  And we laughed.  Then she said, "have you finished writing that book yet?"  And I smiled.  Because I realised that through my writing and this blog, my friends and family will always know what I'm doing with my life, all the way over here, in sunny London.  So, I will promise to write more often... here.

A/N: I couldn't resist adding in an extra reason above.  There's plenty more reasons to visit this lovely city, these were just my favourites on this particular trip.  I've posted a few snaps below for your enjoyment.  If you want to see more of my photos, I'm on Instagram, @taleiii.  And, yes - to my dear friend in NYC, if you're reading this post - I am writing away furiously.  Day and night.  Have a fab weekend all!  XO

Caged view from Empire State

Languishing on the Brooklyn Bridge

Rooftop sunset from my hotel