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MAY 2014



EMMA BUNTON ‘I love my work, but family always comes first’

Get GREAT HAIR while you SLEEP!



Dress a stone

SLIMMER! We show you how

He’s not married - so why do I feel like ‘the other woman’?




✓ Be RICHER by 5pm tonight! ✓ How to get your own way ✓ Make the most of your apps




Y O U !

a nt w u o y s u d l o t Y ou bra . g in n e v e o t y a d a g re a t y ou . r o f y l l ia c e p s e This one is akers Team d of the M – Klemens, Hea



Editor’s Letter Hello! I’ve been racking my brains, trying to think

Get that summer feeling with our strawberries and cream bake, cool crafts and warm-weather fashion – hurrah!

of ‘The day I finally grew up’ (see page 32). Unlike bestselling author Jojo Moyes, I didn’t experience a sudden burst of maturity on buying my first flat, nor do I share Sophie Hannah’s enviable ability to forgive in my middle years. Truth is, when I wake up each morning, I am perpetually surprised to discover that there are two small people living in my house, so the arrival of my children didn’t exactly herald the advent of adulthood, either. Heart DJ (and, yes, alright, former Spice Girl) Emma Bunton is someone who has come a long way since her ‘Baby’ days; she says she realised she was grown-up pretty early on, when she was travelling the world with the Spice Girls and almost never home. As bouncy and likeable in real life as she is on camera, I am in awe of how firmly she keeps her feet on the ground. Staunchly family-oriented, she really is a poster-girl for the working mum; she loves her work, but would never let it come between her, fiancé Jade and their beautiful boys, Beau, 6, and Tate, 2 – which is why I am SO delighted she is gracing the cover of Essentials this month, the first celebrity to do so for a long, long time. We love her. We hope you do, too. PS Don’t say we don’t listen to you: for those of you who lamented the loss of our horoscopes, turn to page 153!



MayContents Fashion 14 The big blue

Denim is back in a big way, but it’s not all about jeans 23 How to wear... The latest trends – and the best ways to show them off 27 Hot tropics Vibrant accessories to update your style instantly

Life 9 Essentials etc...

Sunshine treats 10 ‘I’d love another baby’ Our cover star, Emma Bunton, on family, work – and being an awful cook...

29 How to... Dress a stone lighter Reader Ellen shows how

53 Happy spring cleanse! The perfect product for your skin type

Health 54 The screaming never stops Shelley’s illness made her life hell

57 The treatments doctors won’t have themselves What the experts avoid – and why

32 The day I (finally!) grew up

130 10 ways to get kids gardening

Three of our favourite authors reveal their life-changing moments

They’ll soon be growing their own!

36 Modern day fairy godmothers Meet the women who


Adam – who’s in love with his dead wife 123 Kids’ essentials Heavenly buys for the little ones, plus a competition! 125 In a nutshell Helpful solutions from our mother and daughter team

Win a row every time – without shouting!

116 Go green and save money!

Family breaks in beautiful locations (that won’t cost the earth)

Eco-friendly can be purse-friendly, too 117 The gadget guru The ins and outs of Snapchat, plus gardening apps

and TV, plus ideas for Easter

154 ‘No, it’s not just you’ Why is it so hard to socialise? asks Liz Fraser.

Looks 46 The 15 buys I just can’t live

without Our Beauty Director’s faves 49 Get great hair while you sleep! A fab ’do with zero effort 50 The truth behind beauty We tackle the facts – and the fiction 4 ESSENTIALS

environment’ Meet Jacquie, fairy godmum

109 What makes a house a home? Our readers know 111 These are a few of our favourite apps And most are free! 112 Be £3,600 richer by 5pm tonight The pain-free way to save 115 How to get your own way

134 8 of the best holiday parks 144 Are you sitting comfortably? The best in books, film

36 ‘Kids need a safe

Home 65 In the kitchen 126 Cool glamour A Victorian home gets a classic revamp

41 The pain and pleasure of dating a widower Helen loves

come first’

Emma Bunton talks exclusively to Essentials

60 Are you drinking yourself fat? Calorific cola’s not the only culprit!

styling can change everything

bring magic to the lives of youngsters

10 ‘My boys

118 The hardest conversations How to say the right thing at the right time 120 Are you bored sick? Get back your get-up-and-go



50 Truth or lies? Beauty ‘facts’ laid bare Plus! COOK IT CRAFT IT A sensational Italian feast. Buon appetito! It couldn’t be easier to personalise your home

14 Blue is the colour

32 page magazine

How denim can work for you

Make It Easy! CREATE IT Too-cute his and her mugs

23 Sheer style

Get set for spring with our gorgeous buys

85 ‘My passion for healthy food is as strong as ever’ We talk to Annabel Karmel

BAKE IT An irresistible strawberry delight

32 page s of recipes & craft 76 Cook up an

91 5 ways with

Italian feast! 81 Annabel Karmel’s family cooking 86 Billionaire’s shortbread 87 Food that’s fun!

new potatoes 93 Waste not, want not 95 All the flavour, none of the faff! 99 Handmade with love



See page 132 for details Contributors

Editor Sarah Gooding Deputy Editor Lucie Tobin

Creative Director Stuart Thomas

Art Editor Becky Brannigan PRODUCTION Chief Sub/Production Editor Sue Linford Deputy Chief Sub Editor Lee Fennell FEATURES Features Editor Angela Cooke Lifestyle Writer Fiona Galley Features Assistant Rosi Hirst FOOD Food Director Jennifer Bedloe Senior Food Assistant Iris Harvey Shopping and Web Co-ordinator Gemma Brooks FASHION Fashion Director Caroline Baxter Fashion Assistant Cigdem Tanrioglu BEAUTY Beauty Director Katie Corcoran Beauty Editor Becci Vallis TRAVEL Travel Editor Nic Kynaston TECH Tech Editor Jonathan Weinberg


Managing Director Jackie Newcombe

PA Amy Ransom


Publishing Director Linda Swidenbank

Publisher Kate Mowatt

Editorial Director Sue James

Southbank Group Advertising Sales Director Alex Russell Head of Agency Sales Lindsay Dean Brand Manager Emma Lowe Trading Director (Manchester) Russell Matthews

CREATIVE MEDIA Head of Creative Media Southbank Lara Dunn Creative Media Managers Voneeta Arora, Juliette Carrington, Kirsty Larcombe IPC Creative Media Director Matt Downs Content Development Director Joanna Rahim Acting Projects Director Amanda Barlow Classified Advertising Manager Nicola Lazarus


Loose Insert Sales Director Lindsay Martin

Classified Sales Executive Charlotte Wort

Bound-in & Tip-on Inserts Emma Lowe

Subscriptions Marketing Manager Claire Aspinall




Production Manager Brian Martin

Syndication Sales Executive Cerie McGee

For editorial enquiries: 020 314 87211

Classified Production William Argent

Regional Advertising Manager (Manchester) Tim Aggett Ad Production Paul Addison

Senior Circulation Executive Emily Ward

For all subscriber enquiries: 0844 848 0848

With thanks to everyone who worked with us this month... 1





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1 Emma Bunton Busy mum 2 Alison Palmer Writer 3 Andrea Childs Writer 4 Angela Cooke Features Editor 5 Annabel Karmel Cookery writer 6 Astrid Rossington Homes writer 7 Becky Brannigan Art Editor 8 Becci Vallis Beauty Editor 9 Caroline Baxter Fashion Director 10 Caroline Donald Gardening writer 11 Sean McMenomy Photographer 12 Cecile Model 13 Christine Fieldhouse Health writer 14 Cigdem Tanrioglu Fashion Assistant 15 Claire McCall Designer 16 Danielle Model 17 Dr Gary Wood Social Psychologist 18 Eimear O’Hagan Writer 19 Elise Grace Columnist 20 Emma Morton-Turner Craft Editor 21 Emma Smith Picture Editor 22 Faye Sawyer Stylist 23 Fiona Galley Lifestyle Writer 24 Jen Bedloe Food Director 25 Jenny Colgan Author 26 Jojo Moyes Author 27 Jonathan Weinberg Technology Editor 28 Katie Corcoran Beauty Director 29 Lee Fennell Deputy Chief Sub Editor 30 Lisa Comfort Crafter 31 Liz Fraser Columnist 32 Lucie Tobin Deputy Editor 33 Christian Vermaak Hair and Make-up Artist 34 Lucy Turner Fashion writer 35 Mandy Appleyard Writer 36 Marion Williamson Astrologer 37 Mel Hunter Writer 38 Michele O’ Connor Health writer 39 Nic Kynaston Travel Editor 40 Poppy Chancellor Illustrator 41 Rachel Basset Fashion writer 42 Rosi Hirst Features Assistant 43 Sarah Ewing Writer 44 Caroline Kristiansen Model 45 Sarah Jagger Consumer and finance writer 46 Sophie Hannah Author 47 Stuart Hillard Craft writer 48 Stuart Thomas Creative Director 49 Sue Linford Chief Sub Editor 50 Phillip Hodson Psychotherapist 51 Teena Lyons Writer 52 Tessa Cunningham Columnist 53 Toria Richards Sub Editor 54 Victoria Elridge Food stylist 55 Tracy Ward Designer




BOUQUET BAG Celebrate the coming of spring with this vivacious clutch. M&S Collection bag, £29.50, Marks & Spencer.

for you

PEAR PICK-ME-UP The scent of orchards and meadows is just the ticket. Pear and Pink Magnolia Eau de Toilette, £20 for 30ml, Crabtree & Evelyn.

POUT CLOUT Make sure your lips sparkle. Lip Shine in Flutter, £6.99, Burt’s Bees.



BEDECKED DRESS Get that fizzy feeling courtesy of a floaty, floral tea dress. Lola dress, £89, 6-22, Boden.

PRETTY PINWHEELS Pep up dull spots in a jiffy with these sorbet-shaded decs. Paper fan decorations, £4.75 for three, Luck & Luck.


Bring the outside in with these sunny treats A LOTTA BOTTLE Wild flowers in jars are cheekily cheap, but chic. Glass milk bottles, £2.95 each, Dotcomgiftshop.

BRIGHT & BEE-UTIFUL Flora met fauna and made this zesty cushion. Ashley Thomas bee cushion, £22, Debenhams.

TRUFFLE TREATS The taste of summer in jawdroppingly delicious bites. Sea Salt Banana Caramel Truffles, £12.50, Charbonnel et Walker.





cover star!

It’s almost impossible to believe, but it’s 20 years since Emma Bunton first zig-azig-ah’d her way into our hearts – and, boy, has a lot happened in that time... he’s made a deft transition from Spice Girl to successful radio presenter, co-hosting Heart radio’s London breakfast show with Jamie Theakston, but Emma Bunton is having none of it. ‘Oh my goodness, no! I feel like a complete novice,’ she says, giggling. I just go into the studio and, well, be myself. I’m a working mum, so I talk about that and we have a laugh, but most importantly I’m learning new things every day!’ She doesn’t know it yet, but hours


after our chat she wins the Television and Radio Industries Club award for digital radio personality of the year. Not bad for a ‘complete novice’, eh? What’s so lovely is that Emma is exactly as you’d want her to be: sweet, upbeat and something of a chatterbox. Now 38, she has two sons – Beau, 6, and Tate, 2 – with her partner of 15 years, Jade Jones. In addition to her breakfast show (5.20am alarm call, anyone??), Emma also designs a range of children’s clothes for Argos and races home in time for the school run every day (PHEW!). So, just like us, she’s no stranger to the art of spinning plates…

When I started doing the breakfast show, Jamie told me it’s actually a great job for a parent. I get to work at 6.45am, I’m on air from 7 until 9, then I’m usually home by 11am. Jade does the school run in the morning, but it means I get to pick up Tate from nursery and Beau from school, then spend the rest of the day with them, taking them to guitar or swimming lessons. The fact that the job fits around family is very, very important to me. My priority is my boys – and I work around them. I’ve finally worked out how NOT to be tired all the time! My alarm goes off at 5.20am, so it’s a very early start, but I try to sneak in a catnap in the afternoon before I pick up Tate from


cover star!

It’s important to me to be a good role model All working mums suffer from guilt, but I feel that I’m a stronger, better, happier mum if I work. I think it’s good for my children to see both their mum and dad working. I’d like to have a third child. Every time I see a new baby, I get that funny feeling in my tummy. The smell of them! They’re gorgeous. I’m very open to the idea of having another one, as I’m one of three. When I was growing up I always had lots of cousins around and there are always tons of kids at home… our house is very busy! I’ve always been broody, but for a long time I didn’t know if I could have children. When I was 25, I was diagnosed with endometriosis. In fact, I was told it was 50/50 whether I’d ever be able to become a mum, but I just kept very positive. I had Beau – unplanned – at 31. It was a very busy time for me, workwise, as I was doing Strictly Come Dancing, but actually it felt completely right. I was very broody and Jade and I had been together for a long time. I’m not a big planner. Jade and I live each day as it comes. There was never a plan, like, ‘In a year’s time we’ll get married, in two years’ time we’ll have children.’ Things have just happened and we’ve gone along with them. We’ve been engaged for a few years now, but we’re still not married! It took us 13 years just to get engaged, so can you imagine how long it’ll take us to walk down the aisle? I keep the weekends free to be with friends and family. There are always loads of family members around: my 12 ESSENTIALS

mum, my brothers, who both have children, and my auntie. We all live close to each other in Hertfordshire, so we go for long walks in our wellies, then it’s all back to our place for a big roast lunch, cooked by Jade. I do help, but I’m an awful cook – he’s in charge! My life is a heady mixture of really glamorous things – and really unglamorous things! I love the fact that I inhabit these two different worlds. Right now, I’m getting all dressed up and having my hair and make-up done – but I’ll be heading home later to keep up the potty-training with Tate! After I had my son, I wasn’t ready to get back out into the world for a while… Life changed so much. I was so looking forward to having children but that first month or so, I was just sitting on a cushion, trying to breastfeed – which I found difficult – and not getting much sleep. It hit me just how much your priorities change: your life is not about you any more. It took me quite a long time to get myself dressed, put my make-up back on and feel ‘normal’ again. With hindsight, I went back to work much too soon after having my first baby. Three months after having Beau I was back on tour with the Spice Girls. I took him with me, and my mum and Jade came along to help, but it was very, very hard – I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. Giving birth was the best day of my life. I’d just had this amazing moment and I wanted to take it all in, but then I had to get back on stage, perform every night and try to look my best in those baby-doll dresses. You feel vulnerable and all over the place, emotionally, after having a baby and I felt very uncomfortable wearing those

costumes. The press weren’t very nice about the way I looked and I thought, ‘Hang on! I’ve just had a child.’ It was a tough time. …Which is why I didn’t pressure myself to get back into shape after having my second child. I took more time off after having Tate. Being with my family was my main focus and I made the decision not to push myself. I just lost weight sensibly and healthily, eating nice, home-cooked (by Jade!) food – and using the step-machine in my bedroom when Corrie was on! Jade and I have started having ‘date nights’ again! We’re very good friends, we’re really honest with each other and we talk… a lot! It’s so important to take time out together, so we now try to do it twice a month – even if it’s just a couple of hours at a local restaurant. The important thing is that we attempt an uninterrupted conversation (without the need to change a nappy halfway through!). We’ve never had to choose between his career and mine. If we both need to work at the same time, our parents help with childcare, which is brilliant. We’ve never relied on any outside help – no nannies or childminders – yet! Most of my friends are working mothers. I look at them to see how they manage their lives, see how they do things. I see a lot of Mel C and her daughter Scarlet – she’s a fantastic working mother. I’m trying not to think too much about turning 40. My thirties have been the best years of my life – I’ve had my children, I’ve had an amazing time. Fingers crossed my 40s will top that! ■ Emma hosts Celebrate Saturday from 5pm every weekend on Heart and London’s Heart Breakfast every weekday morning from 6am (96-107 FM, digital radio,, on the app).



nursery – or I just go to bed as soon as they’ve gone to bed in the evening. Not great for your social life, admittedly, but you just have to do what works for you, don’t you?





Hurray! There’s a denim look for everyone after all – and we don’t just mean jeans. Check out our favourite ways to wear the trend that couldn’t be easier to pull off… FASHION DIRECTOR: CAROLINE BAXTER PHOTOGRAPHY: MICHELLE HOLDEN

IN PRINT Printed jeans have lost their ’90s naffness and the high street is full of wearable versions, perfect for updating a basic top. Jeans, £22.99, 6-18, New Look. Jumper, £20, 8-22, M&Co. Jacket, £69.99, xs-xl, Mango. Ring, £8 for a set of three, Accessorize. Shoes, £69, 3-8, Dune.

Styling tip Wear jeans in a grown-up way by teaming with a textured biker jacket and kitten heels.





THE CHAMBRAY DRESS Not a jeans person? Relax into the easy elegance of a shirt dress for a casual look. Dress, £30, 8-24, Littlewoods. Belt, £16.50, Next.

Styling tip Swap the existing denim belt for a leather one to add a touch of luxe.


ESSENTIALS 15 TOP TRENCH You don’t need showers to try a fun trench coat. This is your hero buy for spring as it will instantly update your whole wardrobe. Coat, £149, 6-22, Boden. Jeans, £26, 6-22, Next. Shirt, £22, 8-24, Littlewoods. Bag, £12.99, New Look. Shoes, £32, 2-9, Next

Styling tip Wear over a contrasting top and team with brogues for the perfect school-run outfit.





THE SHIFT An ordinary shift dress suddenly transforms into something special when it’s in a graphic print. Dress, £45, 6-22, Next. Dress (styled as a coat), £30, 6-22, Next. Belt, £5, Next. Bag, £32, Accessorize.

Styling tip As the weather warms up we can still get the odd chilly day, so wear a button-through denim dress as a light coat over your shift. ESSENTIALSMAGAZINE.COM




CLASSIC SHIRT The city gent shirt has made its way into our wardrobes and is perfect with this season’s denim dungarees. Shirt, £12.99, xs-xl, Zara. Dungarees, £16, 8-24, George at Asda.

Styling tip Look for men’s shirts in smaller sizes to wear with your denim (they should be crisp, though, and never crumpled).





THE MIDI SKIRT The Breton top gets a refresh tucked into a midi-length pencil skirt.


Skirt, £60, 4-16, Topshop. Belt, £16, Next. Top, £24.95, 6-20, Joules. Shoes, £99, 3-8, Mint Velvet.

Styling tip Wearing your top like this with a high-cut skirt will accentuate your waist and keep the whole outline fluid.







95% noticed reduced redness – clinically proven.* Helps prevent new flare ups.

Speak to your pharmacist at

*Average symptom improvement in 6 weeks. Data on file.



How to wear...

If you’re at a loss when it comes to styling up the latest trends, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll soon have you catwalk-ready!

SHEERS Update a classic white shirt with sheer for a softer, more delicate look.

Want to hide your arms? Transparent sleeves are a great way of covering up without wearing heavy fabrics.

Summer wedding on the horizon? A statement necklace transforms this dress into a wedding-worthy outfit to make an entrance in!

Invest in a flesh-colour vest to wear under light shirts. A white one will still show up underneath. A sleeveless waistcoat is the new wear-meanywhere jacket your wardrobe needs! Ideal for in-between weather, try yours with everything from shift dresses to maxi skirts.

Shirt, £34.99, 6-16, Mango. Waistcoat, £38, 8-18, Red Herring at Debenhams. Trousers, £58, 8-16, PIT Fashion. Earrings, £7.50 for six pairs, Daisy and Eve at Evans. Bracelets, £10 a set, Accessorize. Rings, £5.99 a set, New Look. Bag, £28, Next. Shoes, £32, 3-9, Call it Spring.

Earrings, £10, River Island.

Keep any accessories in sugary shades of lilac, mint or lemon to complement each other.

Sheer doesn’t have to mean see-through! This organza overlay looks feminine and flirty, without revealing any extra flesh.

Dress, £130, 6-18, Coast. Earrings, £8, Accessorize. Necklace, £9.99, New Look. Bracelet, £12.50, Dorothy Perkins. Clutch, £17, Accessorize. Shoes, £110, 3-8, French Connection.

The extras...

Watch, £45, Oasis.

Bag, £28, Topshop. Shoes, £59.99, 3-8, Zara. Scarf, £9.99, Zara.




How to wear... NEW TAILORING

Try spring’s bomber jacket for a fun alternative to your suit jacket.

Smart trousers look just as good with brogues and a sweatshirt at the weekend.

Does your workwear need a fresh spin? Flash some ankle in razor-sharp tailored trousers. A crease running down the front is essential.

Classic court shoes are the perfect partner to tailoring. Navy feels new, but still versatile enough for every day.

Trousers, £60, 8-16, Great Plains. Jacket, £50, 6-16, Topshop. Shirt, £22, 6-22, Next. Earrings, £12 for a set of three, Accessorize. Ring, £9.99 for a pack of four, New Look. Watch, £17.99, New Look. Bag, £29, Accessorize. Shoes, £65, 3-8, Coast.

Steer away from corporate greys or black and try a softer palette to modernise your tailoring.

Metallic accessories will give your outfit a hit of new season, now!

Tailoring can work in the evening as well as the day. Just add a silky vest and go.

A tuxedo-style cropped blazer looks luxe over a loose blouse. Get the most out of yours by teaming with jeans and pumps.

The pencil skirt gets reinvented in a flattering midi length with subtle front split.

Blazer, £49.99, xs-xl, Mango. Shirt, £29, 8-28, M&Co. Skirt, £35, 4-18, Asos. Necklace, £19, New Look. Ring, £6.50, Dorothy Perkins. Clutch, £25, Marks & Spencer. Shoes, £99, 3-8, Mint Velvet.

The extras... Sunglasses, £15, Marks & Spencer. Bag, £32, Accessorize.

Purse, £12, Topshop.


Brogues, £45, 3-9, Asos.

Cuff, £12.50, Dorothy Perkins.



Button your shirt up to the top for a neat finish.

Find us on



hot list!

The statement necklace

£25, Accessorize This Perspex beauty can be worn over anything, from jersey T-shirts to fancy frocks.

The fun clutch

HOT TROPICS Accessories are the easiest way to update your look, and you’ll certainly pack a punch with these vibrant finishing touches

The useful tote

£25, Isme If you always pack everything but the kitchen sink, the slouchy tote is for you! Bright shades are both practical and pretty.




£22, Accessorize Be playful with accessories like this grab-and-go lemon slice clutch. Just extend the strap to wear across your body if you need hands free!

Coat, £60, 8-20, Wallis. Dress, £45, 8-22, Marks & Spencer. Bracelet, £12, Principles by Ben de Lisi at Debenhams.

Slip a stark white duster coat over tropical prints to keep your look clean. (NB The longline cut is ideal for skimming lumps and bumps.)

The shoe boots

£125, 3-8, Dune Try peep toes with your favourite jeans – ideal for when you need to dress up denim at the last minute.



drop a dress size



Dress a stone lighter After accepting her baby weight was here to stay, reader Ellen Clayton, 38, from Stockport, was keen to see how the right style could make all the difference ELLEN SAYS… ‘I’d love to blame the fact I’ve gained a dress size over the last two years on my pregnancies, but as my children are six and four, I have to accept it’s a combination of getting older and the temptations of the kids’ snack cupboard! Previously a size 10, I’m now a 12 and have finally relented and taken my tighter clothes to the charity shop. I know I’m not big, but I do feel a little “chunky” in a lot of my clothes, so I’m intrigued to see how a bit of clever dressing can make me look slimmer.’

4 10

8 10



The jeans I’ve been wearing skinny jeans for years now, but I do wonder if they’re the best shape for me. I like the look of boyfriend jeans on other people, but I’ve never tried a pair. Until now. It all started so well, as these are possibly the most comfortable jeans I’ve ever worn – they don’t dig in or cling and the denim is lovely and soft. However, one glance in the mirror and the love affair is over. They make my legs look huge – I tried rolling down the ankles, but that looked even worse. There’s a reason they’re called boyfriend jeans… they should only be worn by your boyfriend. Jeans, £29.50, 6-22, Marks & Spencer. Top, £36, 6-18, Warehouse. Necklace, £17, Accessorize. Shoes, £20, 3-8, Very.


I haven’t worn bootcut jeans for ages, but I now remember why I used to love them so much. Despite worrying about my chunky thighs, the fact that they’re fitted around the top knocks off inches – and wearing them long over a pair of heels makes my legs look longer, too. I feel slimmer, taller and more confident about my shape. The dark denim is definitely a plus, as is the stretch which means they fit nicely round my bum. I’m ditching my skinnies and getting these – I can’t believe they’re less than a tenner! Jeans, £9.99, 8-18, New Look. Jacket, £50, 6-22, Next. Top, £14.99, 8-18, New Look. Necklace, £25, Daisy & Eve at Evans. Bag, £29, Accessorize. Shoes, £24.99, 3-9, New Look. ESSENTIALS 29

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8 10



The skirt I’ve seen lots of young, whippet-slim girls looking fabulous in these pleated skirts, but assumed they’d make me look big around the hips. I was right! The fabric bunches up over my tummy and hips, making me look wide and strangely bulgy. I feel matronly, frumpy and about ten years older than I am. It’s definitely the most unflattering outfit I’ve ever had the misfortune of wearing! I’m really struggling to find a positive to say about this look – possibly that someone will think I’m pregnant and offer me a seat on the bus?

I can’t say this skirt had a whole load of hanger appeal. It managed to look both clingy and shapeless until I wriggled into it, when it transformed into a curveskimming, tummy-flattening magical buy. The subtle pattern stops it from looking too formal, and the length looks great with heels. I thought the jacket looked a bit old for me, but once I got it on I loved the shape. The lack of lapels and buttons make it really flattering around the middle and I like the cropped sleeves, too. I feel taller and slimmer in this. A winner all round.

Skirt, £28, 4-18, Asos. Blouse, £35, 6-22, Autograph at Marks & Spencer. Earrings, £14, Accessorize. Bag, £12.99, New Look. Shoes, £22, 3-9, Next.

Skirt, £25, 6-22, Marks & Spencer. Jacket, £35, 10-24, Savoir at Isme. Vest, £9.99, 8-18, New Look. Necklace, £16.50, Dorothy Perkins. Shoes, £18, 3-8, Isme.


6 10


The I’ve always worn shorter dresses – I’m pretty confident about my legs and feel this length is more youthful than midi types. I felt good when I put this dress on and I love the colour, but it hung from my bust and made me look rectangular. I could have legs like Helena Christensen and nobody would be looking at them, they’d be too busy wondering what I was smuggling under my frock. I reckon this would work if you had a small bust or were very petite – it might even be a winner if you added a thin belt. But as it is, unfortunately it’s not for me. Dress, £28, 6-20, Red Herring at Debenhams. Necklace, £12, Next. Shoes, £14.99, 3-8, New Look. ESSENTIALSMAGAZINE.COM


drop a dress size

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dress I absolutely loved this dress the second I saw it on the rail, and I was so pleased to discover that, despite being very clingy, it’s brilliantly flattering. The length is perfect and the illusion-style panels and stripes make my waist look smaller and slim my hips, which is always a bonus and gives you real confidence. The fabric is thick enough to feel supportive, it doesn’t crease, and I’d be able to wear it for work or a night out. If all clothes made me feel as good as this – and were this versatile – I’d be a very happy woman. Illusion dress, £65, 8-20, Julien Macdonald at Debenhams. Earrings, £6.50, Dorothy Perkins. Shoes, £17.99, 3-9, New Look.


2 10

9 10



The trousers They might be trendy at the moment (and who knows why?), but I honestly think this style of trouser should be made illegal. They balloon around the crotch, hips and thighs, making me look like a combination of MC Hammer and Coco the Clown! I like this slightly cropped length normally and have several less voluminous pairs at home, but combined with the shape, it just doesn’t work on me at all. Although not quite as bad as the pleated skirt I wore before, I was still very relieved when the photographer had taken his pictures and I could whip these off! Trousers, £38, 6-22, Next. Top, £26, 6-22, Next. Earrings, £8.50, Wallis. Shoes, £14.99, 3-9, New Look.

I was curious to see this outfit on, as I’ve always been wary of printed trousers. I presumed they would draw attention to all the bits I want to hide – but it just goes to show what I know, because I loved them once they were on. They’re a great cut (perfect length, not too clingy) and the print is surprisingly flattering. The peplum top makes my waist look smaller, and instead of highlighting my hips as I’d thought, it actually hides them. I’m a definite convert – I love this outfit! Trousers, £45, 6-18, Warehouse. Peplum top, £26, 6-18, River Island. Blouse, £25, 6-18, River Island. Necklace, £25, Accessorize. Shoes, £19.50, 3-8, Marks & Spencer. ESSENTIALS 31 Some of us grow up faster than others!





The day I (finally!)


It’s that moment we all think will never happen – when we come to terms with the fact we’re officially ‘adult’. Three of our favourite authors tell us about theirs…

The day I picked up my own keys JOJO MOYES 44, is a two-time Romantic Novel of the Year winner, and lives with husband Charles and their three children in Essex. I remember the exact day I grew up. It wasn’t the day I got married or had my first child. It wasn’t when a good friend died, far too young. It was when I sat on the floor of a two-bedroom flat that had been repossessed and realised I finally owned my own home – then I promptly cried for an hour. I lived a fairly peripatetic existence from the ages of 17 to 27; moving from lodgings to university to flats belonging to friends or relatives, tugging my belongings behind me. During that time owning my own place seemed a distant dream. When my best friend bought a tiny one-bedroom flat I felt almost poleaxed by envy. Then, at 22, I got a regular job at a newspaper. Over the next few years

I acquired a credit history, a salary, a mortgage offer. And after months of hunting, I found a place to buy; a ground floor flat in a mansion block. It had an anti-squatter steel door, woodchip wallpaper and a faintly sticky brown carpet. But it was light and airy and surrounded by gardens, and it was in an up-and-coming area. Most importantly, it was affordable. I made an offer, stressed, plotted and finally, one Friday morning, I was given the keys. I walked over the threshold with a sense of wonder. Mine! My own place! And then I looked closer at the disgusting carpet, the scuffed walls – and the fact that the fleeing tenants had been so furious that they had left food in the fridge before turning it off – ten months previously. And I felt utterly overwhelmed. Bills! Renovations! Repairs! A lifetime of responsibility! I wasn’t ready for this. I didn’t even own a screwdriver for goodness sake. And what if interest rates suddenly shot up

‘I still shudder at the thought of that carpet’

‘I sat on the floor and cried for an hour’


again? Had I actually just consigned myself to a lifetime of debt? Feeling as if my life had ended – and just as I had grown up! – I sat on the (sticky) carpet and wept. A friend has told me since that almost everyone does this – or something like it – on first moving in. Of course, I finally picked myself up, wiped my eyes, grabbed my Marigolds and started the business of cleaning, taking up the disgusting carpets and emptying that alien-inhabited fridge. And within a matter of weeks, it was a home. My home. It was the same flat that my husband moved into eventually, and where, two years later, we brought our baby daughter home. We have moved several times since, but that flat taught me about looking past obstacles to possibilities, about investing in my future. More importantly, it was the springboard to my family life. I still shudder at the thought of that brown carpet, though.

Jojo’s latest novel, The One Plus One (£14.99, Penguin), is out now. ESSENTIALS 33

FA M I LY The day I held out an olive branch

The day that baby Wallace arrived

SOPHIE HANNAH, 43, has written 12 bestsellers. She lives with her husband, Dan, and two children in Cambridge. It was the first time I’d seen my friend in more than two years. At one time, we’d been close, but she was always making snide, double-edged remarks to me, and seemed to do and say everything she could to undermine me. So eventually I wrote to her and asked her to stop. She denied everything and said it was all in my mind. It wasn’t. So I made it clear that she was no longer welcome in my life. When I had my two children, I was adamant that I didn’t want her to meet them. She was poison, I believed; her behaviour was toxic. Then one day, after two years of not speaking to her, circumstances brought us together, and we found ourselves in the same room. And it was then I had a sudden realisation: if I cut her off forever, what would that achieve? If I gave her another chance, perhaps she would be so pleased, she’d make a real effort; perhaps we could turn conflict into friendship. I walked over to her and invited her to stay at my house for a weekend. I knew there was no point trying to resolve our years-old argument, because we both believed we were in the right, but I thought a Year Zero approach might work – and it did. She came to stay, and has been to stay many times since. Turning an unfriendly stand-off into a second chance for friendship felt like such a wonderful thing to do, and I learned an important lesson: however upset or angry you are, to fight back with spite and anger of your own is never the answer. Forgiving is always the best way forward – in every possible way. Instead of labelling someone as your enemy, give them a wholehearted chance not to be one. They can’t surprise you by being lovely if you don’t give them the opportunity. It was when I realised this that I felt I had finally stopped being a stroppy teenager emotionally and become a grown-up with a sense of proportion.


‘Forgiving is always the best way forward’

Sophie’s The Carrier (£7.99, Hodder) won the 2013 Specsavers National Book Awards Thriller & Crime Novel of the Year Award. ESSENTIALSMAGAZINE.COM


JENNY COLGAN, 41, has sold over 2.5 million romantic novels. She lives in France with her husband, Andrew, and their two children. I was so blasé about my first pregnancy. Okay, so I canned the booze, sushi and coffee (by FAR the hardest), but then I just went about my normal business, skipping birthing classes with impunity. Anyway, all those classes wouldn’t have made the slightest bit of difference because I had one of those grisly Victorian births that goes on for two days and ends in knives, beeping noises and corridor-hurtling. Happily, all three of us – baby Wallace, me and my husband, Andrew – came through it in one piece. Albeit a bit stitched together. But then they stuck my son on my chest and his tiny mouth made a sucking motion. I gulped. ‘Did you see that?’ I said to Andrew. ‘Woah,’ he replied. ‘Woah!’ I repeated, as a trickle came out of my breast. ‘What’s happening now???’ The midwife laughed. ‘I suggest you take THIS,’ she said, holding my son, ‘and attach it to THAT,’ pointing at my chest. ‘Bloody hell,’ I gasped, when the attachment proved successful. ‘Look what it’s doing!’ ‘That’s exactly what he’s meant to do,’ said the midwife, brusquely. ‘Right, you look totally fine, let me show your husband where to get a sandwich.’ In an instant everyone was gone. People were going off-shift, heading home (or for a cheeky pint); everyone else’s day was just the same. Suddenly, I noticed that it was getting dark and snow was falling in front of the windows… and baby Wallace and I were all alone, a tiny island on a clean green bed in the very heart of the hospital. And, admittedly, he was the only one of the two of us who had the faintest clue what he was doing. But in that moment, I promised him and myself that I would do my very best to pretend to be a grownup from then on in – which is about as much as I (and, I suspect, quite a lot of us) can possibly manage.

‘I had one of those grisly Victorian births’

Jenny’s new novel, Little Beach Street Bakery (£7.99, Sphere), is out now.


Modern Day Fairy Godmothers They might not provide a pumpkin carriage or a fancy ball gown, but these women know what it really means to work magic…

THE FOSTER PARENT Jacquie Mudd, 48, is a full-time foster carer from Basildon, Essex. Divorced, she has four children, Francesca, 26, Luke, 24, Robyn, 20, and Arrianah, 7. I didn’t have a happy childhood. My parents never got on and there was always tension, which made my home an unhappy place. I felt lonely and scared – and it’s those feelings, which I still remember, that made me want to foster, because I know what it’s like to be a child with no one on your side. My husband never quite understood my dream of fostering and worried about having children from troubled backgrounds in our home. So it was only after we divorced and I became 36 ESSENTIALS

a single mum of four, working full time, that I could realise my lifelong ambition. From the outside, I might not seem the ideal candidate, but despite the breakdown of my marriage (or perhaps because of it), I was convinced I had something to offer. In 2010, I contacted Action For Children, which finds homes for challenging youngsters – I wanted to help those who needed it the most. Four months after my application was approved, my first foster child, Nina, was on her way; a teenage girl

with ADHD and Asperger’s. The call panicked me. I had a clean and tidy spare room – with a few teddies on the bed, ready – but, to be honest, I felt totally unprepared, emotionally, for the responsibility that came with fostering. I calmed down when the car pulled up outside my house. The social worker was struggling to persuade Nina to get out, and that’s when instinct took over: I knelt beside her on the pavement and gently cajoled her into my house. Nina stayed with us for four months



extraordinary lives

Foster mum Jacquie relishes her role – providing children in difficulty with a loving household.

and both of us changed in that time. I stopped tiptoeing around her, overly anxious that I might upset her, while she integrated into family life, rather than eating alone in her room. The smallest things gave me the greatest joy; the first time she shared a bowl of popcorn with us while we watched a DVD felt like one of the biggest achievements of my life! I’ve since fostered another four children, and their problems have ranged from drug abuse to neglect. Yes, it’s pained me when they’ve taken their anger out on our home by destroying their bedroom and, yes, countless times I’ve gone to bed and

cried. But it’s never their behaviour that’s upset me, it’s the fear that I’m not doing enough to help them. It’s easy to over-think what children need. Ultimately, it’s very simple: a stable, safe environment, where they

her watch as my daughters and I went off to school and work. By the end of a month with us, her school attendance had shot up to 95%. I was so proud of her – but I was proud of me, too. I’d been able to make her life better just by putting a roof over her head. I tell my foster children about my unhappy childhood, my divorce and how hard it can be as a single mum. I want them to know my life, like theirs, hasn’t been ‘perfect’ but we all have a choice – anyone can go off the rails, but anyone can make something of themselves, too. I know which I’d prefer… @ For more information, visit

‘The smallest things give the greatest joy’


learn not by being told what to do, but by being part of a loving household. One of the girls who came to live with us had a really bad truancy record, but rather than putting pressure on her, I helped her with her homework and let



extraordinary lives THE MENTOR Alison Harris, 43, is a mature student from Burnley, Lancashire who lives with partner, Carl, and sons, Jack, 19, Connor, 17, and Billy, 16. Alison volunteers with The Children’s Society as a mentor to teenagers in care.

I first met 15-year old Lily at her foster home. As we sat across the kitchen table from each other, sipping tea, I did my best to make conversation, to find something we had in common. I asked her what she liked at school, whether she had any hobbies and then – bingo! – she said she liked horses. I rode when I was younger and that was all the connection we needed. She didn’t suddenly open up, but we had something to build on. That was a year ago and, since then, I’ve mentored Lily and another girl, Julia, 14, meeting up with each of them for a few hours every month. I’ve worked with adults with mental

health problems for the past five years, but although I loved it, it didn’t offer me much responsibility. I decided to go back to university to study Health and Social Care, and my voluntary placement forms part of the course. I love working with children – they’re open to new ideas so I feel I have a chance to make a difference. When I met Lily a second time, my

the silence wasn’t uncomfortable. As a mum to three teenage boys, I’ve learned to listen. To really understand what’s going on in their heads you have to keep quiet and hear what they have to say – and that’s what I do with Lily and Julia. They talk to me about school, their friends and foster homes. I want the best for them, but I know that getting emotionally entangled would be to their detriment. That doesn’t mean I don’t care – far from it. Last week I took Julia bowling and at the end of the night she gave me a huge hug as she thanked me for ‘a brilliant time’. It made me catch my breath with happiness – for me, her happiness is what mentoring is all about. @ For more information, visit

‘To understand you have to keep quiet and listen’ biggest fear was that my bubbly nature might overwhelm her as she’s very quiet. But I also knew I had to be myself – with children, you can’t pretend. We went for something to eat, then had a browse around the shops. She was very shy, but

THE COUNSELLOR After a four-hour shift, I often find it hard to get to sleep. One night last week, close to midnight, I picked up a call from a teenage girl. She’d run away from home that evening because her mum, an alcoholic, had got drunk and started hurting her. She was alone on the streets and it was my job to get her to a safe place. It took 35 minutes, but I did convince her to go to a friend’s house. Three hours later, when I climbed into bed, I couldn’t stop thinking about how terrifying it must be to be hit by your own mother... I work full time, but volunteer for Childline one evening a week. I started four years ago as I was thinking about

becoming a counsellor – and I wanted to get a sense of what it might involve. I was sent on a 12-week training course, which covered everything from eating disorders to family breakdowns, but nothing can really prepare you for picking up the phone the very first time. Five minutes into my first shift, the phone rang. The voice at the other end of the receiver was so timid it took me a

know, but if he hadn’t done anything, why would other boys bully him? I reassured him he wasn’t to blame and that his parents would want to know so they could put a stop to it. The call only ended once I’d convinced him to tell them. I put the phone down feeling shaken, but also that I’d really helped. Before I started working for Childline, I thought all the calls would be deeply harrowing, but many are far less dramatic. Recently, a young boy called so he could tell someone he’d passed his maths test, as no one in his family was interested. I now call my daughters more often to say how much I love them, because I speak to so many children who never hear those words – and we all need to be reminded how much we are loved. @ Visit

‘The voice at the other end of the phone was so timid’


good few seconds to realise I was talking to a little boy. He was calling because he was being bullied. When he explained he couldn’t talk to his parents because he’d ‘done something wrong,’ I asked what it was he’d done. He said he didn’t



Vanessa Warren, 46, is an administrator for a fund management company and is a Childline volunteer. Separated, with two daughters, Roxanne, 22, and Robyn, 20, she lives in London.





There are three people in her relationship, says Helen Harris: her, the man she loves – and his dead wife. Sometimes, she wonders if things will ever change


he man I love wears a wedding ring, which has grown tight over the 24 years he’s worn it. But I am not his wife. His mobile screensaver is a photo of an attractive dark-haired woman smiling at the camera. But the picture is not of me. I’ve been in a wonderful, but complex, relationship with Adam for nearly three years now, and still feel as though I’m having an affair. There is another woman in Adam’s life – someone whose shadow will forever cast itself across my relationship with him. This, I’ve realised, is what it feels like to love a widower – particularly one who, at 50, is relatively young and who lost his wife almost four years ago. Everyone told me it was too soon after his wife’s death when I started seeing him, and they were absolutely right: but once love is in motion, it’s hard to apply the brakes. Our relationship is beautiful, but not without its many tricky moments. Even today it feels tenuous and I take nothing for granted: it could all be over tomorrow. Adam makes me laugh. He has been through a lot in his life, yet he has held onto his sense of ridiculousness, always quick to make fun. He is loving and tactile, much more open with his feelings than I’m used to in a man (which I find delightful), tall and handsome, caring and considerate, and always quick to think of others





before himself. I couldn’t love him any more than I do. And yet. He is also guarded and afraid. Still bound up, heart and soul, with the wife he lost so suddenly, afraid to step into a new future, which involves cutting ties with some aspects of his past. He hasn’t told anyone about me. Our meetings, usually at my house, feel clandestine. Do I resent that? Yes. Can I change it right now? I don’t think so. I started seeing Adam about a year after his wife, Sarah, died suddenly and quickly of a brain haemorrhage. She was 48. I had known them both since university in London. We had remained friends through the years, though I was always closer to him than to her. When he phoned me one Saturday afternoon in the summer of 2010 to tell me Sarah had died three days earlier, my heart flooded with sadness; for Sarah, for Adam and for their daughter, Anna, then just 16. At Sarah’s funeral, I saw how broken Adam looked. He was stooped with misery, his face grey with grief, and he and Anna held onto each other throughout the church service as if for dear life. It was a heartbreaking day. I let a week or two pass, then phoned him to see if he’d like to meet up. He needed a friend now more than ever, after all. We met several times over the next couple of months – for a coffee, for dinner, for a walk in the sunshine, which always seemed to lift his spirits. He was putting a brave face on things, but I knew he was struggling. As the months passed, I realised I was developing strong feelings for Adam. I confided in my mother and sister: ‘It’s far too early!’ they chorused. But Ellie, a close friend of mine and a mutual friend of Adam’s, greeted what I was confiding very warmly. ‘It’s up to Adam whether he feels it’s too early,’ she told me. ‘He’s an attractive, eligible man and someone will snap him up. You’ll kick yourself if you sit aside and let that happen.’ Ellie was right, but I was worried that telling Adam how I felt would

wreck our treasured friendship, and that’s the last thing I wanted. As it happened, Ellie took matters into her own hands. She met Adam for a coffee shortly afterwards and, when he told her he was thinking about dating, she seized the opportunity and told him how I felt. He rang me, we talked, we met, and before long we were in a relationship. It started strongly: both of us incredulous that we were together after all those years, both of us breathless with love but troubled by the appalling circumstances that had brought us together. For a while, I think Adam felt dizzy

he couldn’t take our relationship any further. He was, quite naturally, worried about how his daughter would react to her father seeing another woman – convinced she would hate the idea and see it as a betrayal of her mother. He’d tell me he felt overwhelming guilt about being with me. He couldn’t get past Sarah and his memory of her: she was still at the ‘heart of his life’. Often his misgivings arose around an anniversary or a birthday, and I came to dread them. I listened sympathetically each time he dumped me, full of regret that we hadn’t tried to slow down our relationship until time had healed a little more. However, the last time he dumped me, in spring last year, we had a huge argument and I let rip with my many frustrations, then asked him to leave. I took a month’s holiday, but returned to a letter asking me to meet him. Rightly or wrongly I did, and we started seeing each other again. Nothing would surprise me but, almost a year down the line, we seem solid and happy. Almost four years have passed since Sarah’s death, and Adam’s daughter is now at university, which makes it easier to spend time together. Frustrations still exist, however – not least because Adam is still not ready to tell the world about me. Which brings me back to the ring. I don’t like Adam wearing it, but I have to respect the fact that he still wants to. One day soon, I hope, he will decide it’s time to take it off and step forward, rather than looking back.


with good fortune. Our relationship rescued him from the unremitting grief of losing Sarah. For the moments we were together, life looked brighter. We took it slowly and decided it was best to keep our relationship secret from his daughter and his wider family. Further down the road, when the time felt right, we would ‘go public’. We met on Saturdays when Anna spent the day playing netball and seeing her best friend. We often went for a long walk in the country, and sometimes met for lunch in Chester, close to where we both live. But the easy beginnings were soon behind us. Every now and then, for the first 18 months of our relationship, Adam would get cold feet and tell me

SHOULD HELEN STAY? PHILLIP HODSON, PSYCHOTHERAPIST, AUTHOR AND BROADCASTER, SAYS: ‘Definitely. But she needs to start focusing on what she wants from the relationship. What seems to concern her most is security and knowing that Adam is going to be part of her life. So they should make new friends together, go on holidays and discuss the future. The more they paint a mental portrait of how life will be for them as a couple in ten years’ time, the more likely it is to come true. Although Helen is painfully aware that Adam is struggling to reconcile his past and present, I actually think things are going rather well.’



‘Adam is still not ready to tell the world about me’


in touch

Your shout!

We want to hear your thoughts on this issue, your life and anything else you love or hate! Get in touch by letter, email, Facebook or Twitter. Our fave will win a fab goody bag…

IF YOU WON THE LOTTERY WHAT WOULD YOU BUY FIRST? We asked the question on and you said…

Time for action

I got your new issue as soon as it came out – how glad am I? The health feature on thyroid facts explained a lot of what is happening to me. I have now made an appointment with my GP and will be going along armed with your article. Thank you! Eileen via email OUR FAVE

I’ve just finished reading ‘Generation Guilt’ and love the ‘take control’ tip; no one makes you feel guilty, you either do or you don’t. I’m a working mum currently deciding about taking on an additional job. Your article has made me realise I should just do it, my reasons are genuine and if I’m happy, my family will be too... Thank you for the push I needed! Cheryll, Ipswich

6% A flash car

Second baby joy

From the sick bed


Health warning

On enforced bed rest with bronchitis, instead of madly rushing around with job/kids/school I found myself reading your magazine and agreeing with ‘Generation Guilt’, smiling at Sarah Beeny and her manic life and tearing out the recipes to try over Easter. I can see this magazine becoming ‘Essential’ reading! Pip Mortimer, West Sussex

10% A designer wardrobe

19% A huge party for family and friends

Make him over! My other half thinks that a football shirt is an acceptable fashion look. So, I’ve left your man makeover feature open for him to see… it hasn’t worked yet though. Help! Bev, Cardiff



A fabulous holiday

Like Alicia (‘Yes, I Need Another Baby’) I too had secondary infertility and it broke our hearts. We chose to forego arduous and expensive fertility treatment in favour of adoption – it was the best decision we ever made. I would urge Alicia to abandon her fertility circus and consider adoption instead. As a family, it has made us complete. Anonymous CORRECTION In our short piece on Arbonne (November 2013), certain aspects of that company’s business were criticised. We wish to clarify that we were not suggesting that Arbonne acts illegally or breaches any regulations that apply to it as a member of the Direct Selling Association. We also acknowledge that the Registration Fee for Arbonne consultants is £54 and that the reference in the piece to £1,500 ‘just to get started’ included not only this fee, but also additional sums consultants may spend on products to sell or on business materials, if they wish, but which are not compulsory expenses.

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Essentials, Blue Fin Building, 110 Southwark Street, London SE1 0SU


This works for all hair lengths Elie Saab L’Eau Couture, from £31, is my latest beauty must-have. I love the original, but this fresh spring edition is just as divine. The blend of sophisticated bergamot, orange blossom, rose, lemon and a hint of green almond make it refreshing, yet still really elegant. Prepare to be complimented!

YSL La Laque Couture in No49, £22, is the latest spring nail shade to catch my eye. It looks fab on fingers and toes and gives a nod to this season’s biggest nail trend… pink!

John Frieda Luxurious Volume Hot Hair Brush, £29.99, gives me bouncy flicks and smooth ends just like I get at a salon. Just move the brush through sections of your hair and let the warm air reduce frizz and create body and volume.

The 15 buys I just ‘I’m lucky enough to get to test all the latest products before they hit the these are the beauty gems I rely on time and time again to keep me

Benefit Fakeup Crease Control Hydrating Concealer, £18.50, has been designed to hide dark circles, but I also dot this over spots, redness and any other niggly imperfections. It conceals the lot! Shiseido Sheer And Perfect Foundation SPF 15, £29, is my ideal mix of invisiblelooking make-up that covers everything without leaving it overloaded – and it’s incredibly lightweight. I would love it to be repackaged in a pump bottle, so it’s less messy, but it hasn’t stopped me carrying it everywhere. 46 ESSENTIALS

Bumble and bumble Prep spray, £16, detangles and injects stressed hair with essential vitamins. Because I’ve got fine locks I don’t like to tug a brush through my knotty shampooed hair, so I spray this all over before styling. Brushing becomes a breeze and my hair doesn’t seem to shed as much.

Great for fine hair

L’Oréal Paris Elvive Fibrology Thickening Shampoo and Conditioner, £2.99 each, contain a new molecule that swells your hair fibres, making them look thicker. Rather than loading my hair with weighty products, this works from within and I find my hair is more textured and glossy.

L’Occitane Shea Butter Ultra Soft Cream in Zesty Lime, £18, smells so refreshing, it’s addictive! Great for sorting out dry, scaly skin when I’m about to brave going bare legged! It’s a real treat.


PHOTOGRAPHY: FULL STOP PHOTOGRAPHY L’Oréal Paris Nude Magique BB Powder, £6.99, masks redness and blotchy patches and leaves skin shine-free, but never, ever cakey looking. I think it’s a total godsend! Bourjois Paris Color Boost Lip Crayon in Red Sunshine, £7.99, is a moisturising pencil that leaves lips drenched in colour. My favourite part is it doesn’t dry my lips and lasts for hours.


I always apply compact powder with a large face brush to get an even distribution over my skin

The ideal spring lip colour for day or night

can’t live without shops. So while I’m battling deadlines, meetings, photo shoots and more, looking wide awake and at my best!’ says Beauty Director Katie Corcoran

40% of UK women complain they have fine hair

Clinique Chubby Stick Shadow Tint For Eyes in Portly Plum, £17, is as simple as pick-up, sweep on and go! Great for nights out.


Max Factor Excess Volume Extreme Impact Mascara, £9.99, is a new way to wear mascara and I love it! Apply the volume-boosting formula first, then coat your lashes in the black gloss for really stand-out eyes.

Rimmel Stay Blushed! Liquid Cheek Tint, £4.49, is so easy to use… just dot along your cheekbones, then blend in with fingers. It’s the best, lightweight creamy blusher I’ve used and I wouldn’t be without it now.

Clarins Tonic Body Treatment Oil, £38, was recommended by friends when I told them I was pregnant and now I’m hooked on it. My skin is soft and covered in a silky film of hydrating loveliness that lasts ALL day, plus it smells amazing!



lazy girl's guide

Get GREAT HAIR while you sleep! There’s no need to suffer from a bad hair day again. Here’s how to get fab hair with zero effort… overnight and while you sleep!



If the thought of waking up with flat, frizzy hair sends you straight back to bed, then look no further. Here’s how to add texture and volume without all that extra styling… FOR SHORT HAIR Before going to bed, twist sections of hair around your finger and secure with a grip. You’ll wake up to soft ripples you can simply shake out. FOR MID-LENGTH HAIR Wash your hair and while it's still damp, loosely braid it. Twist into a bun, secure with clips, then remove in the morning for instant texture. FOR LONG HAIR To get crimped waves, part hair in the middle, separate into four sections and plait tightly before tucking up for the night. When you wake, undo and blast with hairspray for a beachy look that will last all day.


BOOST MOISTURE A leave-in conditioner is definitely our styling saviour. But if you have thick, coarse or curly hair, try combing a small amount of an oil-based product through damp or pre-washed mid-lengths and ends before going to bed to nourish and strengthen. Doing this will keep your hair looking glossy between washes and less washing means a longer lie-in!

Trevor Sorbie’s Frizz Free Shine Oil, £7.50, is enriched with argan oil and can be used pre-styling on damp or dry hair to tame flyaways.


Tossing and turning all night can result in knots and tangles that cause breakage when you brush your hair. So, what to do? Pull your hair into a loose bun on top of your head and tie with a band. Roots that are lifted upwards all night will add volume and need less styling in the morning… hurray! Brush hair out with the new Braun Satin-Hair 7 Brush, £28.99, that has hi-tech IONTEC bristles that reduce the friction caused by brushing, resulting in less frizz and more shine.


Massaging your scalp with your fingertips before you go to bed will lead to healthy re-growth and disperse natural oils through your hair so it doesn't look dry next morning.


Cut down the amount of times you blow dry your hair by washing it at night a couple of times a week and leaving to dry naturally. Spritz in a volumiser at the roots before you go to bed and when you wake up you’ll find you won’t need to over-style it again. Remember, less heat means stronger, thicker hair in the long run. Try the latest lightweight spray from New York – Blow Pro Blow Up Thickening Mist, £9.99, that adds volume to flat roots in a flash.



essentials Your hair gets used to your shampoo if you only use the same one FALSE! UNITE hair ambassador, David ‘Fletch’ Fletcher told us: ‘It doesn’t get used to your shampoo, but your hair can change, meaning the shampoo becomes less effective. This can be due to external factors, such as stress, environmental aggressors, toxins and your general health. If this happens, it’s time to swap.’

A silk pillowcase will prevent wrinkles



behind beauty

TRUE! ‘Silk is much thinner than cotton, so you are less likely to wake up with those dreaded pillow lines after a good night’s sleep,’ explains Malvina Fraser, beauty ambassador for Marks & Spencer. ‘And as silk is a much cooler material, it also works to de-puff your eyes during the night.’

Shaving makes your hair grow back thicker FALSE! Alley Laundry, Waxing Guru at Parissa told us, ‘Shaving causes re-growth to feel sharp and stubbly, which gives the impression of thicker hair. If you don’t like that feeling, try waxing as the re-growth tends to be finer and softer.’

Does toothpaste cure spots? Can a silk pillow really prevent wrinkles? We look behind the ‘facts’ and shoot down a few old wives’ tales... 50 ESSENTIALS You should stick to one brand of products for the best results You should change your make-up brushes every six months FALSE! ‘However, to avoid spreading bacteria from your make-up bag to your skin, get into the habit of washing them to prevent the build-up of product, especially on foundation or concealer brushes,’ says Beauty Director Katie Corcoran. ‘Use your cleanser and warm water, press out any excess liquid, then leave to dry naturally.’

Dark circles are caused by poor sleep FALSE!


‘The cause is more likely to be a buildup of toxins and fluid, which is actually made worse by too much sleep!’ says Emma Thomson, L’Occitane Skincare Innovations Expert. ‘Most of us also use too much eye product. You only need an amount equivalent to a grain of rice, applied to the bone under your eye.’

You should never wax before or during your period TRUE! Alley Laundry explains, ‘We generally advise against waxing when you’re close to your period because you tend to be more sensitive to pain around that time. Your body can also be more bloated, increasing sensitivity due to water retention – which is why we also recommend not having a bath before waxing.’


FALSE! Abigail James, Liz Earle Global Treatment Ambassador, told us: ‘Every brand is formulated with ingredients that should work in synergy with each other. But you might actually get just as good, if not better results, by combining brands. Remember, not every brand has everything you might want or your skin needs.’

Your mascara should be changed every three months TRUE! ‘You can transfer bacteria from your mascara wand to your eyes and back to the tube. Every three months is about right, but if it gets dry and clumpy before then, ditch it and get a new one,’ says Katie Corcoran.

Your products are only really working if your skin tingles

Constantly wearing polish is bad for my nails? FALSE! ‘This is a common misconception, as nails, like hair, are dead tissue and don’t need to breathe. In fact, keeping your nails painted is good for them, as polish adds extra strength and protection to prevent breaks, splitting, and peeling,’ says Laura Cowley, Jessica nails educator.

Facials will make skin break out FALSE! ‘This is a big fat no!’ says Abigail James. ‘It just should not happen, unless your therapist has not removed products thoroughly, used a product that doesn’t suit your skin, or has used an unsuitable technique, such as deep massage on acne-prone skin. Try treatments that are bespoke and tailored to your skin type.’

FALSE! Emma Thomson says, ‘This is a huge beauty myth. Tingling may mean an ingredient like menthol has been added to give a cooling effect, or it may be that your skin is having a mild reaction. I normally prefer natural products where the ingredients work with the skin.’

Toothpaste will make a spot go away TRUE! ‘Toothpaste contains chalk and other ingredients that dries the spot out,’ says Malvina Fraser. ‘It also takes away the inflammation to cut down the time the spot takes to heal. Remember though, your spot won’t disappear overnight, and that toothpaste gels don’t work!’




HAPPY SPRING CLEANSE! Great skin starts here...

Of course it’s vital to look after our skin, but it’s just as important to use the right products – otherwise all that hard work is for nothing

IF YOU HAVE AGEING SKIN... Dull skin is an instant ager, so products that exfoliate and cleanse simultaneously are key. The Body Deli Blueberry Fusion Cleanser, £26, is expensive, but contains natural citric acids to whisk away dead cells and reveal younger-looking skin.

IF YOU HAVE SENSITIVE SKIN... Finding a cleanser that doesn’t sting, dry skin or cause blotchiness is vital. Murad Renewing Cleansing Oil, £29, uses a gentle blend of botanical oils to melt away make-up and leave skin plump, dewy and soft.

You may have moved on from those soapy flannels of your formative years, but we bet half of you are still using the wrong cleanser for your skin type, which could be why you suffer with dull, dry skin or spots.


IF YOU HAVE OILY SKIN... Foaming cleansers are perfect for oily complexions (but steer clear if you have dry skin). Aveda Outer Peace Foaming Cleanser, £19, produces a lovely lemon sorbetscented lather that washes away excess oils, make-up and everyday grime with just two pumps.

THE SOLUTION? Choose the right product and, by summer, your complexion will be brighter and in much better condition. Scout’s honour!

IF YOU HAVE COMBINATION SKIN... You need a cleanser that will fight flare-ups without over-drying the skin. With its gentle blend of peppermint and wasabi, Melvita Gentle Cleansing Jelly, £16, will balance sebum production, but won’t strip the skin of its natural oils.



Look for creamy or milky cleansers that will help to rebuild your skin’s lipid barrier and lock in moisture. Bioderma Atoderm Crème Wash, £12.50, deals with thirsty skin and won’t cause that taut sensation or any irritations post-wash.

Don’t think about skimping on a cleanser – it’s the basis of a good skincare routine and a little goes a long way. ESSENTIALS 53


it happened to me

The screaming never stops When Shelley Bartlette, 37, heard a shrill noise in her right ear as she put her son to bed, she never imagined it would change her life forever…


here are sounds that I will always miss: birds singing; my son Max’s soft snore as he sleeps; even my husband’s whistling, which used to irritate me, but now I’d do anything to hear again. But it’s too late. Because, whether I’m awake or asleep, my head is full of a piercing ringing sound; a violent roar that will never go away. There was a time when I wondered if I could even be a decent wife and mother again; nearly three years ago, the happy, laidback woman I’d always been disappeared, replaced by a stress-junkie who was unable to switch off. It was October 2011. I’d just put Max, then 1, down for a nap and was curled up with a book on the sofa when a shrill, eye-wateringly painful noise burst into my right ear. It was so loud, so dramatic, that I clutched my head, terrified I was experiencing a stroke or brain aneurism. Only a couple of weeks earlier, I’d been to my doctor, complaining that my hearing had distorted. He’d prescribed a nasal spray, while suggesting that my symptoms were a result of water entering my ear during my weekly swims. But this was totally different. A frightening, screaming sound that made me shut my eyes and hold my head. I sat there, waiting for


something to happen – for something to burst in my brain. But it didn’t. My husband, Alex, came home from work three hours later and took me straight to the doctor, who referred me to the ENT department at my local hospital. He tried to reassure me that I was probably ‘just’ suffering from tinnitus, that it was nothing fatal, but the appointment would take several weeks to come through. In the meantime, I had to carry on as best I could… It’s hard to describe the days that followed. I felt as though someone was sitting really close to me, constantly shouting in my ear, making me feel anxious, edgy and stressed. Night-time was even more unbearable because the stillness that comes at night meant the noise in my ears sounded even louder. Despite being bone-achingly tired, I was completely unable to sleep and so, instead, paced the house or lay on the sofa. I still had to function, however. I was still Max’s mum. So, in a permanent state of panic,

Shelley struggled to lead a normal life with husband Alex and their son, Max.

ESSENTIALSMAGAZINE.COM I got him up, made him breakfast and took him to the childminder’s, before crying all the way to the university, where I work as a lecturer. Six months of testing and scans finally proved I didn’t have a brain tumour. Of course I was relieved, but at least if the tests had shown something, that ‘something’ could have been treated. Instead, my tinnitus couldn’t be fixed. I had to learn to live with it. For the rest of my life. It was then I really grew desperate. I knew I couldn’t continue as I was. Alex was a saint, but neither of us could ignore the massive effect it had on our relationship. I was bad-tempered and fraught and could no longer just sit, relax, chat and watch TV in the evening. I had to fill my time or I became too focused on the noise. I went to a ‘sound therapy’ session, where a specialist advised me to avoid silence and told me about the Sound Oasis sleep therapy pillow – containing a speaker with pre-programmed noise settings that can help you sleep. I ordered one from eBay and discovered that, if I set it on the ‘rain’ setting, I could actually fall asleep without three hours of insomnia first. I also learned about ‘pink noise’ – a mid-pitch whirring noise I could put on in the background via YouTube – but I still struggled to concentrate, particularly at work. I’d always been so laidback as a teacher, but I’d find myself losing my train of thought, which made me dreadfully anxious. The turning point came last summer when, albeit reluctantly, I agreed to go on holiday to Menorca. There, I was surprised to discover I didn’t need my special pillow at night – the buzz

of the fan in our room was enough – and maybe it was because I felt more relaxed, but I was able to pay less attention to the noise in my head. I was shocked by how much I enjoyed myself. Time away with my family enabled me to return home a different woman. I knew I had to stop living in fear of tinnitus, to stop letting it dictate my life. If the holiday had proved anything, it was that a little bit of confidence would get me a long way. I knew about the British Tinnitus Association forums, but previously I’d been afraid to get involved because I didn’t want to hear about how people’s lives had been destroyed. So I was delighted to read about fellow sufferers who were getting on with their lives perfectly well. I’ll never know what triggered my tinnitus, but it’s safe to say that years spent listening to loud rock music and jogging with headphones on several times a week didn’t help. It’s a bitter pill to swallow that it was a) preventable and b) self-inflicted, but there’s no way I’ll let Max fall into the same traps. Recently, I took him to a disco birthday party and I couldn’t believe how loud it was. In fact, some children cried when the music first came on. Maybe it wouldn’t have bothered me before, but now I see things differently... Finally, I am reconciled with my condition. The noise is still as loud, but I notice it less than I did. I’m bigger than my tinnitus. It’s just part of who I am and I won’t let it rule my life. • Shelley has developed The Tinnitus Awareness app for iPhone and iPad (69p), which indicates to parents and young children when they are in an unhealthily loud situation.


‘I was terrified I was experiencing a stroke or a brain aneurism’


✽ ‘Tinnitus is not a disease, it’s a symptom of damage to the auditory pathway which could have been caused by several things but, most commonly, exposure to loud noise,’ explains Emily Broomhead, a spokesperson for the British Tinnitus Association. ‘People often assume it’s a condition suffered by elderly people, but actually it can come on at any age and varies in severity.’ ✽ Sadly there’s no cure for tinnitus, though it does get better with time as the brain gets used to it, or

‘loses interest in the noise’. ‘The only thing we can do is offer advice on how to manage tinnitus and how to prevent it,’ Emily explains. ✽ If you experience temporary ringing in the ear after being in a noisy workplace, concert or club – or if you cannot hold a conversation over the noise – the volume is too high. ‘You can protect yourself by not exposing yourself to loud noise for too long and/or taking regular breaks. We also sell musicians’ earplugs on our website, which reduce the decibel level to the ear, not the quality of sound.’

For more information or to buy earplugs (£12), visit





I’d never go on a low-carb diet

The treatments doctors won’t have themselves From sleeping pills to alternative therapies, when it comes to their own health, this is what the medical experts avoid…

There’s no evidence that diets like Dukan or Atkins keep weight off long-term. I could, possibly, cope with the constipation, bad breath and headaches if there were any proof that they – or any other fad diet – were more effective than good old-fashioned portion restrictions and a healthy balance of food and regular exercise. But there isn’t.


I wouldn’t use alternative therapy treatments I believe homoeopathy is entirely bogus and homoeopathic medicine is no different from tap water. I wouldn’t go so far as to say acupuncture and reflexology have no merit, but I would say that, on their own, they shouldn’t be relied on to treat a serious progressive disease.


I won’t take painkillers labelled ‘Extra’, ‘Plus’ and ‘Ultra’ Although these ‘stronger’ painkillers contain added ingredients like codeine, they’re no better for headaches or migraine. In fact, they can sometimes make symptoms worse and are potentially addictive. Instead, when I get a headache, I take three aspirin with normal Coke (not diet) because the sugar, fizz and caffeine helps to ease the headache.




If I develop dementia, I’ll definitely avoid a general hospital A general hospital isn’t designed to support people with dementia. Everything moves too fast, everyone is too busy and most of the staff don’t understand dementia. If I do have to go to hospital, my family know what they need to do: camp out with me, make sure I eat and drink, stop me falling over, make sure I get pain relief when needed and stop me going mad with boredom or fear. And they have to get me out of there as soon as they can! To be able to do this, they need to have power of attorney, which I think everyone should organise before they are 50.


I’d never have I’d avoid my veins taking statins stripped out if for raised cholesterol There is no good evidence that they I had varicose veins benefit women or help them live It involves a general anaesthetic, leaves two scars and it’s painful. Plus, you may need weeks off work to recover and, in the vast majority of cases, the vein grows back again over the course of five years. Instead, I’d have a ‘heat’ procedure. In well over 90% of patients, the vein is ‘killed’ completely and the problem can’t return.


I’d never have contraceptive injections

Yes, they work, but at too high a price. Not only do people become tolerant and dependent on them (so they need to take more to get the same effect), a recent BMJ study found they can increase cancer risk.

After having a Depo-Provera injection every 12 weeks for protection, it can take up to 15 months before fertility returns to normal once you stop them. Many women put on weight with this form of birth control – research shows an average 5-8lbs weight gain in the first year. And last, but by no means least, there is an increased risk of developing osteoporosis over time, due to a reduction in oestrogen levels.



I won’t take sleeping pills

a day longer. There are, however, several studies that show around 20% of people taking statins will suffer intolerable side effects, including muscle pain, diabetes, decreased cognitive function, cataracts, sexual dysfunction and depression. Instead of taking a statin, I advocate exercise, reducing alcohol, coffee, sugar and transfats and taking a fish oil to raise ‘good’ HDL cholesterol levels*.


I never take combined cold remedies I won’t take medicine for ailments I don’t have. Combined cold remedies treat everything from a sore throat and a cough to congestion and a temperature – yet very few people have all of those at once. I only take medicines for my actual symptoms.




is the average number of painkillers every person takes a year.


4 in 5 500% 1 in5 women say they’ve never seen a diet through to the end.

is the increase in people prescribed antidepressants in the last 20 years.


adults in the UK are suffering with arthritis.


million people in the UK take statins every day.






Are you drinking yourself fat? 142 CALS Wow!


WHAT’S IN IT? There are 142 calories in a 330ml can of Coke, 99 calories in a 240ml glass of lemonade. THE GOOD NEWS Cola is excellent if you have a stomach upset – you’ll keep it down and it’ll rehydrate you. THE BAD NEWS There are 7tsp of sugar in a can of cola! The liver, however, can’t store more than 3tsp in a day, so the rest is stored as fat on our bottoms, legs, arms and chins. SWAP IT FOR Sparkling water with a slice of lime, lemon or orange.

40 CALS Oh!


WHAT’S IN IT? Black tea has no calories, but milk adds 25 calories and 1tsp of sugar is an extra 15. THE GOOD NEWS Tea is rich in polyphenols, anti-oxidants that slow down cell-damaging free radicals. THE BAD NEWS Four cups a day will cost you 160 calories, which could be a problem if you’re on a calorie-controlled diet. SWAP IT FOR A calorie-free herbal tea, like liquorice & mint tea. Or just have black tea with no sugar.

200 CALS Eek!


WHAT’S IN IT? A small tumbler of orange juice contains 200 calories. THE GOOD NEWS Fresh fruit juice is rich in vitamin C, which is vital for the immune system and for healing. THE BAD NEWS One glass can contain the juice from seven oranges, which is about 20tsp of sugar. If it’s been pasteurised, the boiling process will have stripped away a third of its vitamin C. SWAP IT FOR Still water with slices of orange or apple to give it flavour. Do you know how many calories you drink in a day? Here’s what you need to know before you reach for the teabags (or corkscrew!)

180 CALS Oop s!


400 CALS Gu lp!


WHAT’S IN IT? A smoothie made from five pieces of fruit, milk and water contains up to 400 calories. THE GOOD NEWS Smoothies are made with the whole fruit, so the fibre will make you feel full. They’re also rich in vitamin C. THE BAD NEWS A 250ml shopbought smoothie, with added sugar and fruit juice, contains the equivalent of about 10tsp of sugar. SWAP IT FOR A piece of fruit or a glass of coconut water.


WHAT’S IN IT? A latte made with fullfat milk has 180 calories and 9g of fat. THE GOOD NEWS The milk provides about 200mg of calcium (a quarter of the recommended daily intake), which is good for your bones. THE BAD NEWS Two lattes a day made with skimmed milk still add up to 300 calories and 12g of fat! SWAP IT FOR Warm almond or coconut milk made with half water and flavoured with cardamom, nutmeg or cinnamon.

228 CALS Cri key!


WHAT’S IN IT? A small glass of wine (175ml) has 126 calories; a large glass (250ml) has 228. THE GOOD NEWS The antioxidants in red wine stop the blood vessels in the heart from furring up, reducing our risk of blood clots and strokes. THE BAD NEWS Wine is made from grapes – and sugar. And because of its addictive nature, we often don’t stop at one... SWAP IT FOR A light spritzer made with soda water.




Food Director Jennifer Bedloe shares her insider tips and cookery know-how WHAT ON EARTH IS

USE UP... …a jar of jam and make



It’s a delicious sweet lemony ground spice, from the sumac berry, and it’s used a lot in Middle Eastern cookery. Sprinkle it on grilled meat, fish and salads. Or use in place of any dish that asks for lemon. Great on houmous!

Put a heaped tsp of raspberry jam in an empty jam jar or tall glass, half fill with Badger Blandford Flyer (£2.17 for 500ml, from Tesco). Stir to dissolve and mix well. Fill with ice and add a twist of lemon.

Buy Bart Ground Sumac from Ocado. com, £1.99.



I’m a real tea addict... so was pleased to discover Yorkshire Gold recently. It’s perfect if, like me, you prefer a strong brew. Did you know that it’s best to put water in first when brewing in a mug? Putting milk in first reduces the water temperature, so the tea won’t brew properly. ESSENTIALSMAGAZINE.COM

To extract a tart, like a wobbly quiche, out of its case, stand the base on a sturdy tin and gently ease the ring down to release. Slide a palette knife under the base of the pastry and gently slip and slide the tart off onto a board or serving plate.

I love... …the new range of The Spice Tailor Chutnis, in Waitrose stores now (£2.89 per 300g jar). Try using Green Papaya flavour to make these gorgeous goats’ cheese tartlets. Brush a little beaten egg over puff pastry discs; chill for 20 mins. Mix 2tbsp Green Papaya Chutni with 125g soft goats’ cheese, top each pastry disc, then arrange beetroot slices, and a slice of goats’ cheese on top. Sprinkle with seeds (we used nigella, cumin and mustard) and bake for 20-25 mins at Mark 4/180°C, until the pastries are golden brown.

Cooks’ tip Don’t want to open a bottle of wine for your recipe? Try adding a splash of vodka, sherry or Martini instead – they’ll all add flavour and acidity.


The tips handbook Save time, money and a lot of hassle with these tried-and-tested ideas Non-washable dye or paint can be a nightmare to get off your skin. But wipe it with olive oil first, and it should just lift off.

CHOP CHOP! Remove ingrained garlic and onion smells from a wooden chopping board by rubbing half a lemon over the surface and rinsing off. This also helps kill bacteria.


Tasty pastry Marianne Boniface, from Bognor Regis, West Sussex I often make pies that are perfectly cooked in the centre, but dark brown around the rim. There’s a way around this, though: cover the edges with foil before putting in the oven and it’ll bake evenly and won’t burn – and it works on frozen pies, too!

Screwed on right Dust the rim of a difficult-to-open jar or bottle with flour before you close it. When you next need it, the lid will come straight off.


FEELING FRUITY To get the most juice possible out of a citrus fruit, roll it on a hard surface for 30 seconds before cutting and squeezing.

All tooled up Accidentally left your garden shears out in the rain? Get rid of the rust by soaking them in vinegar, then scrubbing with rock salt. Good as new!

MUSTY MAKE-UP Out-of-date cosmetics can irritate the skin, so check the package for a symbol of an open jar – the number beside it will tell you how many months or years before you should bin it.


Hot stuff Katherine Andrews, from Sevenoaks, Kent My neighbour’s cats are terrible for digging up my garden and leaving unwelcome ‘surprises’ in my flowerbeds. But I’ve found a sneaky solution: chilli powder. I sprinkle a tiny bit around the edge about once a month. It doesn’t hurt them, but they hate the smell – and they’ve not been back since!

Carton cleverness When you buy a large plastic bottle of milk or juice, poke two small holes in the seal instead of removing it. This will limit the flow of liquid, making it easier to pour without spilling.

TIGHT SPOT Spray a light layer of hairspray on tights to avoid getting ladders in them.


Artistic annoyances






BREW UP Rose Solo Teapot, £24, Sophie Allport. LOVELY MUG Bettys mug (shown from both sides), £9.95, Bettys.

Hello!I am a proud Yorkshire woman. Albeit living in London. Which means tea-drinking is to me as a teacup is to a saucer; a perfect match. ‘You can take the girl out of Yorkshire, but you can’t ONE LUMP OR TWO? Boho sugar bowl, £7.95; mugs, £9.95 each, both Rigby & Mac.

take the Yorkshire out of the girl!’ my southern friends guffaw as I brew up yet another cup while demanding a ‘little something’ to go with it (tea without a biscuit? REALLY?). Growing up, a hot cup of tea got me through everything from horrendous colds to exam revision, and while I haven’t lived in Yorkshire for

SPOONFUL OF SUGAR Set of four bird teaspoons, £10, Cath Kidston.

a long time now, there will always be a

COSY CUPPA The Good Life tea cosy, £12, Sophie Allport.

bit of God’s Own Country in my heart...

Sarah Gooding, Editor

THE MAIN EVENT Yorkshire Gold, £3.49 for 80 tea bags, nationwide. ESSENTIALSMAGAZINE.COM

TEA TIDY Portmeirion Botanic Blue tea bag tidy, £4.40, Millys Store.


‘Tea is all about Lisa Wilkinson, 48, was picked from hundreds to appear in Yorkshire Gold’s new advertising campaign. She cooks for weekend parties at stately homes and grand houses


o me, drinking tea is all about family and friendship. Most of my first, fondest memories revolve around tea: I was brought up in a village near Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, and when I was a child I was allowed to drink the last couple of inches of my mother’s mug of tea in the morning. It was very sweet – not how I drink it at all! – and even now the smell of sweet tea in the bottom of a cup takes me back there – to being in our family house and having cuddles with her in the morning. Those memories of Yorkshire are so precious to me and nothing brings

them back like Yorkshire Gold – it’s proper, tasty, rich tea, like my mother used to make. I just won’t even consider drinking anything else. Even from a very young age, I loved being in the kitchen, and to help my mother out I took on lots of household responsibilities – making tea for the family was one of them. I was allowed to do it as a special treat when we visited our grandparents. They always made a point of drinking tea out of fine bone china cups – my grandfather was a foreman in the building industry and only had thick mugs at work, so he loved to have his tea in a slightly more

‘Nothing brings back my childhood memories like Yorkshire Gold’

refined way when he got home. It really rubbed off on me and made me very particular about how I drink my tea: I love the lightness of a bone china mug. My favourite mug said ‘Yorkshire Born & Bred’ on it, but I broke it recently so I’m on the lookout for a replacement. It was heartbreaking!

A winning taste Obviously, as a purveyor of fine foods, I know a thing or two about quality and flavour. That’s why I love the comforting, malty taste of Yorkshire Gold. And I’m certainly not backwards in sharing my love of it with people who haven’t discovered it yet. I’ve been handed a few appalling cups of tea in my time, and the next time I go to that particular friend’s house, they’re presented with a box of Yorkshire Gold with a bow on it! No one ever seems to mind – in fact, they usually become Yorkshire Gold devotees for life, and generally end up thanking me. To this day, tea is still a lovely social thing for me, a way of being warm and

Lisa’s entry was chosen from hundreds to appear in Yorkshire Gold’s new adverts.


family’ welcoming to both new friends and old. When I’m working, I usually cook in big old buildings, and often the kitchen is the only warm place in the house. I keep a pot of tea ready made on the Aga – I make it, let it ‘mash’ (a Yorkshire term), then take the tea bags out to stop it getting stewed. Guests often wander into the kitchen in search of warmth and company, and tea is a great way to offer both. Weekend parties may be fun for some people, but can be lonely for others, especially those who don’t know anyone. For them, a cup of tea is such a welcoming thing – and it takes no effort. Word generally gets around and I’ll have a constant stream of visitors, which I love. I do the same thing when I’m at home. If friends in my village know I’m in the house, they’ll pop in and always find tea ready and sitting on the Aga. They’ll stay and have a cup, together with a slice of my ginger tea cake (see right). It’s a great way of keeping the house filled with love and laughter.

Lisa’s tea and ginger cake: perfect with a cuppa.

Two-layer ginger & Yorkshire Tea cake Created by Lisa Wilkinson Serves 12 • Ready in 1 hr 40 mins • 288 cals per serving • 10g fat • 6g sat fat ■ Yorkshire Gold Tea made with 180ml boiling water and 60ml milk ■ 370g soft brown sugar ■ 250g spelt flour ■ 1tsp baking powder ■ 3tsp ground ginger ■ 125g lightly salted butter ■ 1tsp bicarbonate of soda ■ 1 egg, beaten ■ 3 pieces of stem ginger, very finely chopped ■ 1tbsp ginger syrup, from the stem ginger jar

1 Heat the oven to Mark 4/180°C. Grease and line a 20cm tin. Make the tea and leave it to cool. 2 Combine the soft brown sugar, flour, baking powder and ground ginger. Rub in the butter until it forms fine breadcrumbs. Divide in half, then press one half firmly into

Cook’s no tes She was invited to London with the five other winners for a glamorous photoshoot. ESSENTIALSMAGAZINE.COM

the base of the lined tin. 3 Into the tea, stir the bicarbonate of soda, beaten egg, chopped stem ginger and ginger syrup, then pour this into a bowl with the other half of the dry mix. Stir well. Pour the batter over the base and put in the middle of the oven. Bake for 1 hr, or until the cake is springy and has come away from the sides. 4 Leave to cool in the tin for 15 mins, then invert onto a cooking rack and peel off the paper. Turn over and cool completely. The edges will be quite crunchy, so if you’d rather not have them, put the cake on a sturdy chopping board and, with a long very sharp knife, trim about 1cm off the edges of the cake all the way round.

This is perfect with a cup of tea – it has a powerfully sweet punch. The sugar you use will have a huge effect on the outcome: light muscovado sugar will produce a sticky toffee cake; dark sugar will create a parkin result.


Meet the biggest tea fans in town! When Yorkshire Gold put out the search to find drinkers to appear in their new campaign, people put down their kettles for a moment and answered the call. This resulted in literally hundreds of entries and, after days of deliberation, these were whittled down to just six. You’ve already met Lisa – raise a cup to the rest…

Carole Minney Carole Minney, 66, is a practice nurse at a GP’s surgery in Peterborough. ‘Working as a nurse can be pretty full-on – if I’m not seeing patients for immunisations, I’m taking blood, counselling people who are trying to stop smoking, or dressing wounds. And it never stops: it means I really appreciate my downtime on those days. Even though I love tea, I won’t drink it when I’m at work because they don’t have Yorkshire Gold there – the brand really is that important to me. And it means that when I get home, I can really relax and truly enjoy my cup of tea with my feet up, away from all the stress and the dramas of work. I discovered Yorkshire Gold in the 1970s and I’ve never drunk anything else since. It has a great strong taste and it is really refreshing. I used to love sharing a cup of tea with my husband – best of all, he usually made it for me. Sadly, he passed away suddenly nearly three years ago. I still miss him every day, but now I drink tea with my lovely family and friends. It’s funny how a really good cup can lift your spirits and make things seem better.’


Barbara Simpson

Sarah Hunak Sarah Hunak, 28, is a nuclear physicist who works for Amec in Warrington. ‘I applied to be in the Yorkshire Gold campaign because I’m an exiled Yorkshire girl who now lives on the wrong side of the Pennines. But I’ll always be a Leeds girl, through and through. I love tea so much, I’m notorious for it among all my friends. In fact, my mum saw the advert first and sent me an email saying, “You have to apply for this. You are Yorkshire Gold Tea!”. I’m not kidding, I’m obsessed. I drink at least five cups a day and I have to have one as soon as I wake up or I just can’t function. It has to be Yorkshire Gold, drunk white out of a china mug, black out of a glass mug. We get free tea bags from a different brand at work, but I won’t drink it – I keep a box of Yorkshire Gold by my desk and give a bag to anyone who wants one. It’s made me popular among my colleagues – it’s fuel for physics geeks like me! I think I’m so loyal because the taste of it is such a powerful connection to where I grew up. I’ve moved around so much, but every time I have a cup of tea, I feel like I’m back on my mum’s sofa in Leeds. It’s brilliant.’ ESSENTIALSMAGAZINE.COM

Barbara Simpson, 53, from Selby, is a farmer’s wife from North Yorkshire. ‘As a farmer’s wife, my day often starts at dawn, and I can’t start it without a mug of Yorkshire Gold tea. At lambing time, I literally grab a mug of it to take with me as I’m pulling on my overalls and wellies. I love watching the newborn lambs bond with their mothers as the sun rises while I drink my well-earned cuppa. It’s got to be Yorkshire Gold – I love it because, although it’s now sold around the world, it still belongs to us Yorkshire folk. It has such a refreshing, smooth, rich flavour and tastes as good as it looks – fresh, bright and golden. I drink it out of a thermal mug with a lid, to keep it hot while I’m driving the tractor. I make regular stops to take in the scenery and drink my tea, much to my husband’s frustration! I must have one of the most beautiful tea breaks in the world. I also keep a tin of Yorkshire Gold tea bags in my polytunnel, with a little camping stove for making brews. I grow lots of things in it, like peppers, chillies and herbs, but I sometimes just sneak in for a sit down, a cup of tea and some peace and quiet. Just don’t tell my husband…’

Martin Langham Martin Langham, 48, spent 28 years as cabin crew and is now an East Coast Train Crew leader based in London. ‘I first started making tea in my mum and dad’s fish and chip shop in Whitby. One day, Prince Charles visited and stopped in for a cuppa – we still have a photograph. I was an air steward for 28 years, and became famous for always having a couple of Yorkshire Gold tea bags in my pocket. When I lived in Sydney I used to get friends to ship it over to me, because I wouldn’t drink any other brand. Yorkshire Gold makes me feel at home wherever I go. I once travelled to China on the Trans-Siberian Railway and was on a train for 18 hours straight with no buffet car. I had my tea bags in my pocket, and word got round that there was an old Chinese lady with a boiler. So I went to ask for some boiling water – she insisted on making my tea. But when I poured myself a cup, it tasted weird. When I looked in the flask I discovered she’d put chicken heads in it – she thought the tea bags were a soup mixture! In our house, there’s always a pot of tea on the go to offer visitors. I think it’s a Yorkshire thing, and I love it.’

Michael Dunbar Michael Dunbar, 51, worked in the fire service for 32 years. ‘For firemen, tea is one of the day’s main ingredients. It’s a great way to stay alert when you have to be ready to dash out the door at a moment’s notice. But I lost count of the number of cups of tea that got left undrunk when we’d get called out to an emergency. When lives are at stake, you can’t just turn round and say, “Hang on, I’ve got to finish my cup of tea!”. Being a fireman can be a really physical, exhausting, demanding job, and nothing tasted better when we returned from a call than a cup with a custard cream, dunked in. Some of the lads would stick their cold cups in the microwave to warm up, but as a self-respecting Yorkshireman I would never do that – I’d always have to make myself a fresh one. I never take tea for granted – I just love the taste of it so much. I’ve lived down south for years and years now, but I’ve never forgotten Hull, where I grew up. When I first discovered Yorkshire Gold it felt like I was pumping Yorkshire blood into myself.’



WIN! A family

photoshoot in London Capture gorgeous family moments and enjoy a delicious meal out during this mini break in the capital! Prize package for 2 adults and 2 children includes:

 Return train travel from mainland UK rail station to London  Return private station transfers in London  One night’s four-star hotel accommodation  Breakfast  Luxury photoshoot with a professional photographer  £200 to spend on photo prints  Dinner and drinks at Sam’s Brasserie Restaurant (up to the value of £150) ...after making loads of memories on camera.

HOW TO ENTER Simply email your name, phone number and postal address, plus the answer to the question below, to, with YORKSHIRE GOLD in the subject line, by 1 May 2014.

Q Yorkshire Gold is a blend of teas from how many origins?

50p OFF


TO THE CUSTOMER: This coupon is worth 50 pence when used towards the purchase of any Yorkshire Gold product. It cannot be exchanged for cash. Only one coupon may be used against each purchase. TO THE RETAILER: This coupon will be redeemed at its face value by Taylors of Harrogate, provided it has been accepted as part payment towards any Yorkshire Gold product. Please redeem through your head office or Valassis Ltd, PO Box 6199, Nuneaton CV11 9HQ.

0533 00061

Taylors of Harrogate reserves the right to refuse redemption of coupons which they believe have not been presented for redemption in accordance with the terms of this offer.


Valid until 30/06/2014 Taylors of Harrogate, Plumpton Park, Harrogate HG2 7LD



ead to the capital for an unforgettable day making magical memories with an exclusive family photoshoot. You’ll be right in the heart of London and just a stone’s throw from some of the city’s most famous landmarks. After settling in to your hotel, you’ll be whisked away to meet the photographer, and to make sure you never forget this magic family moment, you’ll also be given £200 to spend on photo prints. Finally, treat yourselves to a delicious dinner at Sam’s Brasserie Restaurant, where the grownups can feast on premium steaks, while the children tuck into exciting culinary creations!

There’ll be plenty of time to explore the capital...


A peek behind the Lights, camera, action: here’s what happened when the ‘Yorkshire Gold Six’ went

‘JUST A BIT TO THE LEFT…’ The fabulous team of tea drinkers were directed by top fashion photographer Douglas Friedman.

READY FOR YOUR CLOSE-UP? Lisa spent the morning being preened and prepped by hair and make-up.

Hen party: farmer’s wife Barbara had the help of a feathered friend, who was just as cool in front of the lens as she was.

From hairspray to face powder, no effort was spared to make sure our six looked as perfect as possible when in front of the camera.

BRUSH STROKES Martin discovered that make-up isn’t just for the ladies – men need grooming to look their best on camera, too.

A whole technical team were on hand to do everything from checking light levels to making sure angles were perfect.

Martin absolutely loved posing with his cup of Yorkshire Gold – ‘I actually thought I was quite a natural!’ he said afterwards.


scenes... to london for their photoshoot

PINKY AND PERKY Douglas had fun briefng all our teaambassadors – little fngers at the ready.

Yorkshire Gold – a luxury brew

Lisa had a whole array of cook’s props to play with to create a great shot. Douglas’s team kept checking every little detail carefully on their monitors as the shoot happened.

Yorkshire gold is like our famous Yorkshire folk – it has depth, character and real taste. But what makes it so special? it’s all down to the blend of leaves, and only the fnest combination is used for Yorkshire gold. teas from assam (for richness and body), Kenya (for vibrancy) and Rwanda (for a beautiful golden glow) are sourced from the world’s top ten tea gardens and blended back in Yorkshire – where else? – to make a rich, smooth and incredibly satisfying brew. so drink up!

D id you know?

‘DID ANYONE CALL FOR A FIREMAN?’ Michael’s background in the fre service meant he wasn’t fazed at all on the shoot.

You should only use water that has boiled just the once – any more than that and the level of oxygen in the water is reduced, which could leave your tea tasting a bit ‘flat’.




COOK IT CRAFT IT A sensational Italian feast. Buon appetito!

It couldn’t be easier to personalise your home

32 page magazine

Make It Easy! CREATE IT Too-cute his and her mugs

BAKE IT An irresistible strawberry delight


AN ITALIAN FEAST! Move over pesto! It’s time to tuck into these delicious, authentic recipes

Your Italian menu









Menu to serve 6 (unless otherwise stated)

To start…

DIY bruschetta All the best Italian flavours come together… and there’s something to suit every taste! • Serves 6 • Ready in 25 mins ■ French stick, sliced into 1cm rounds ■ 1 clove of garlic, halved ■ 2tbsp olive oil

Lightly toast the bread. Rub the cut side of the garlic over one side of the warm bread. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with a little salt. Now add the toppings…

Garlicky mushrooms & artichokes Heat 1tbsp olive oil in a pan until hot. Add 150g button mushrooms, cleaned, and fry until golden. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in 400g tin Italian artichokes, drained, 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped, and half a 25g pack of parsley, chopped. Season and leave to cool in a serving bowl.

Goats’ cheese & sun-blush toms Put 150g mild goats’ cheese, creamed, and 100g sun-blush tomatoes, drained, into 2 separate bowls. Cover with clingfilm, then add to the bruschetta just before your guests arrive.

Tomatoes, basil & black olives Put a handful of Kalamata olives, 2 large tomatoes, chopped, 1 clove of garlic, halved, and a few basil leaves into a serving bowl and season to taste. Remove the garlic pieces just before spooning onto the bruschetta. ESSENTIALSMAGAZINE.COM

The main course…

RICH BEEF AUBERGINE CANNELLONI An impressive dish with a great taste of the Mediterranean (but no carbs!). • Ready in 1 hr • 244 cals per serving • 17g fat • 7g sat fat ■ 2tbsp oil ■ 1 large onion, chopped ■ 300g minced beef ■ a large pinch of chilli flakes ■ 2tbsp tomato purée ■ 2tsp dried oregano ■ 400g tin chopped tomatoes ■ small bunch of basil, chopped ■ 2 aubergines, sliced lengthways ■ 100g mozzarella, torn ■ 25g Parmesan, shaved

1 Heat the oven to Mark 5/190°C. Heat the oil in a pan and fry the onion until

soft. Add the mince, chilli flakes, purée and oregano. Cook for 5 mins. Stir in the tomatoes, bring to a boil and simmer for 10 mins. Season and stir in the basil. 2 Meanwhile, heat a griddle pan and fry the aubergine until char lines appear; transfer to a plate. Put 1tbsp of the beef mixture onto the short end of each aubergine slice and roll up. Spoon remaining sauce into an ovenproof dish. Put aubergine rolls on top. Scatter over mozzarella and Parmesan and bake for 20 mins. ESSENTIALS 77 Three cheese, spinach & tomato BAKE A meat-free option that has bags of flavour! • Ready in 1 hr 10 mins • 540 cals per serving • 31 fat • 14g sat fat ■ 2tbsp olive oil ■ 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped ■ 2x400g jars passata or tins of chopped tomatoes ■ 1tbsp red wine vinegar ■ 1tsp sugar ■ 25g butter ■ 2tbsp plain flour ■ 500ml milk ■ 1 whole nutmeg, to grate ■ 75g Parmesan or veggie hard cheese, grated ■ 2 leeks, sliced ■ 150g asparagus spears, cut into 3cm lengths ■ 200g baby leaf spinach ■ 250g pack ricotta, beaten until smooth ■ 50g pine nuts, toasted ■ 12 sheets fresh lasagne, blanched in boiling water for 1 min ■ 125g mozzarella, torn

1 Heat the oven to Mark 6/200°C. Fry the garlic in 1tbsp oil for 1 min, then add the passata, vinegar and sugar. Season and cook for 10 mins. 2 Melt the butter in a pan, stir in the flour to form a paste and cook for 1-2 mins. Gradually add the milk, stirring until it’s incorporated. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 2-3 mins until smooth and thick. Grate in some nutmeg, then stir in half the Parmesan and season well. 3 Fry the leeks in the remaining oil until

soft. Turn up the heat, add the asparagus and fry for 2 mins, then add the spinach and allow to wilt. Mix with the ricotta and pine nuts; season well. Spoon the leek mix into a lasagne sheet and roll up. Repeat with remaining sheets. 4 Pour half the tomato sauce into an ovenproof dish and arrange the cannelloni on top. Pour the cheese sauce on top, then add the mozzarella and remaining Parmesan. Cook for 20–30 mins until golden.


Sicilian-style roasted veg Bursting with flavour, this is how you do veg like a true Italian! • Serves 4 • Ready in an easy, hands-off 1 hr 30 mins • 270 cals per serving • 22g fat • 3g sat fat ■ 12 small shallots ■ 1 bulb of garlic, separated into unpeeled cloves ■ 1 aubergine, trimmed and roughly chopped ■ 4tbsp olive oil ■ about 250g cherry tomatoes on the vine ■ 2tbsp pine nuts ■ 2tbsp sultanas ■ 200g tin stuffed green olives with lemon ■ 2tbsp balsamic vinegar ■ handful of basil leaves

1 Heat the oven to Mark 6/200°C. Put the shallots, garlic and aubergine in a roasting tin. Drizzle with half the oil and roast for about 50 mins to 1 hr, until the shallots are browning. Add the tomatoes and pine nuts. Drizzle with the rest of the oil and continue cooking for another 20-30 mins. 2 Add the sultanas and olives, drizzle with the balsamic and stir in gently. Garnish with basil and serve warm.

Double tomato focaccia A homemade bread to be proud of. Just don’t let on it’s from a packet – well, you’ve done all the hard work! • Makes 12 servings • Ready in 2 hrs • 188 cals per serving • 5g fat • 0.7g sat fat ■ 500g pack bread mix (we used Wright’s) ■ 60g sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, chopped ■ a few sprigs of fresh oregano ■ 2tbsp olive oil ■ about 350g baby plum tomatoes ■ ½-1tbsp coarse sea salt

1 Put the bread mix in a mixer with a dough hook. Add 300ml tepid water and 2tbsp of oil from the sun-dried tomatoes. Mix for 3 mins to form a soft dough. 2 Knead dough for 5 mins on the work surface (with hardly any flour on it). Work in the sun-dried tomatoes (it gets sticky, but don’t add more flour) and shape into a ball. Set aside in an oiled bowl covered ESSENTIALSMAGAZINE.COM

with clingfilm. Leave in a warm place for 30-40 mins until doubled in size. 3 Knock the dough back (knead it roughly for a few mins until it’s soft, smooth and elastic), then mix in 1tbsp oregano leaves. Flatten dough out to fit in a 23x30cm roasting tin, oiled. Make prints all over the bread with your finger tips. Halve the tomatoes and press them into the dough. Cover with oiled clingfilm and leave in a warm place for 15-30 mins. Heat the oven to Mark 8/230°C. 4 Remove the clingfilm from the focaccia. Drizzle the bread with remaining oil and bake for 30 mins until well browned. Sprinkle with sea salt and leave to cool on a wire rack. ESSENTIALS 79


And to finish...

Tiramisu roulade This recipe benefits from being made a few hours ahead to allow the flavours to develop. • Makes 8 portions • Ready in 1¼ hrs • 370 cals per serving • 25g fat • 16g sat fat

1 Heat the oven to Mark 4/180°C. Grease and base line a 20x30cm Swiss roll tin with greaseproof paper. Using an electric whisk, beat the butter and 100g sugar together until pale. Add the eggs and whisk again until well combined. Mix 2tbsp espresso with boiling water and add to the egg. Sift the flour and fold into the egg mixture. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 8-10 mins until risen. 2 Meanwhile, put the remaining instant espresso, 2tbsp caster sugar and 75ml water into a small pan and bring to the boil. Simmer for 5 mins until thickened to make a syrup. 3 Dust a piece of greaseproof paper with a heavy layer of cocoa powder, then carefully turn out the warm sponge onto the dusted paper. Peel away the greaseproof paper on the base of the sponge and brush generously with the coffee syrup. Score a line along one of the shorter ends of the sponge, approximately 2cm from the edge. Start rolling, using this incision to help the roll begin, and the greaseproof paper to help you turn. Leave to cool completely. 4 Fold the mascarpone and Tia Maria into the cream. Unroll the sponge and spread with the cream. Re-roll starting from the short end with the incision. Transfer to a serving plate and dust with cocoa powder. Scatter with chocolate curls.




■ 50g unsalted butter ■ 100g caster sugar, plus 2tbsp ■ 2 large eggs ■ 4tbsp instant espresso ■ 100g self-raising flour ■ 35g cocoa powder ■ 125g mascarpone ■ 2tbsp Tia Maria ■ 150ml double cream, whisked to soft peaks ■ 20g chocolate curls, to garnish



FAMILY COOKING The famous cook’s favourite recipes (they’ll soon be top of your list, too!)



MAKE IT EASY Yummy burgers Making your own ‘healthy junk food’ is one way to introduce everyone in your family to the concept of better quality ingredients! • Serves 8 • Ready in 30 mins • 375 cals per serving • 11g fat • 2g sat fat

Pork stir-fry with sugar snap peas

■ 1tbsp sunflower oil ■ 1 large red onion, finely chopped ■ 1 clove of garlic, crushed ■ 2tsp fresh thyme leaves ■ 2tbsp chopped fresh parsley ■ 400g lean minced beef ■ 1 eating apple, peeled, cored and grated ■ 1 medium egg yolk ■ 2tbsp tomato chutney ■ 1 chicken stock cube, crumbled ■ 2 slices white bread, made into breadcrumbs ■ burger buns, to serve ■ salad, to garnish

1 Heat the oil in a frying pan and sauté the onion over a low heat for about 6 mins until softened. Add the garlic, thyme and parsley, then cook for 1 min. Leave the mixture to cool down. 2 Mix the minced beef with the onion mixture and remaining ingredients; season to taste. 3 Heat the grill to medium-high. Shape the mixture into 8 burgers and put on a non-stick baking tray. Grill the burgers for 5 mins on each side or until cooked. Serve in buns with extra chutney and a salad garnish.

This dish can be made with pork or chicken – both will taste delicious. • Serves 4 • Ready in 25 mins • 260 cals per serving • 12g fat • 2g sat fat ■ 300g pork fillet or chicken breast, sliced into strips ■ 1tbsp honey ■ 3tbsp sunflower oil ■ 6 spring onions, sliced ■ 1⁄2 red chilli, deseeded and diced ■ 200g sugar snap peas ■ 1 red pepper, deseeded and sliced ■ 250g brown mushrooms, halved FOR THE SAUCE ■ 3tbsp soy sauce ■ 3tbsp apple juice ■ 1tbsp rice wine vinegar ■ 1tbsp caster sugar ■ 1 clove of garlic, crushed ■ 2tsp cornflour


The apple adds natural sweetness to the meat, but you could try pear instead.

1 Toss the pork or chicken in the honey and season. Heat a frying pan until hot. Add 1tbsp oil and quickly brown the meat. Set aside. 2 Heat the remaining oil in the pan. Add the spring onion and chilli, and fry for 1 min. Add the remaining vegetables and stir-fry for 4–5 mins. 3 Mix all the sauce ingredients together in a bowl. 4 Return the meat to the pan with the sauce. Toss everything together and fry for 2-3 mins. 82 ESSENTIALS


Roast chicken with squash & red onion This is one of my favourite ways to cook chicken, because it manages to keep the meat so lovely and moist – and it’s all roasted in one tin which saves on washing up! • Serves 4 • Ready in 1 hr 45 mins • 670 cals per serving • 24g fat • 9g sat fat ■ 50g butter, softened ■ 1tbsp chopped fresh tarragon ■ 1tbsp chopped fresh chives ■ 1 whole chicken (around 1.5kg) ■ 1 small butternut squash, peeled and cut into 3cm pieces ■ 3 large potatoes, peeled and cut into 3cm pieces ■ 2 red onions, sliced into wedges ■ 3tbsp olive oil ■ juice of 1 lemon

1 Heat the oven to Mark 7/220°C. Put the butter and herbs into a small bowl and mash together; season. Loosen the skin over the breast of the chicken and spread the butter underneath using your hands. Season and put in the middle of a roasting tray. 2 Put the vegetables in a bowl, season and toss with oil. Arrange around the chicken in the roasting tray and squeeze over the lemon. Roast for 1hr-1hr 30 mins until golden and cooked through, turning the veg halfway through the cooking time.


Strawberry Cream cake It looks impressive, but it’s actually simple to prepare! • Serves 8 • Ready in 50 mins + cooling • 535 cals per serving • 36g fat • 14g sat fat ■ 175g soft margarine ■ 175g light soft brown sugar ■ 3 large eggs, beaten ■ 175g self-raising flour ■ 1⁄2tsp lemon zest ■ 1tsp vanilla extract FOR THE FILLING/TOPPING ■ 300ml whipping or double cream ■ 3tbsp icing sugar ■ 150g strawberries ■ 2-3tbsp strawberry jam


1 Heat the oven to Mark 4/180°C and grease and line the bases of 2x20cm sandwich tins. 2 Beat together the margarine and sugar, then add the eggs, 1 at a time, adding 1tbsp flour after the first egg to stop the mixture from curdling. Beat in the remaining flour, lemon zest, vanilla and 1tbsp water until light and fluffy. 3 Divide the mixture between the prepared sandwich tins and bake in the oven for about 20 mins, or until

lightly golden and risen. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool. 4 To make the filling, whip the cream with the icing sugar until firm. Thinly slice 100g strawberries and stir into 2⁄3 of the whipped cream. Spread the jam over one of the cakes, top with the strawberries and cream mixture and put the other cake on top. 5 Using the remaining cream, pipe rosettes around the edge and put half a strawberry on top of each.





FOR ME, EATING IS LIVING! Annabel Karmel, 52, is an expert in feeding kids, but few know of the heartache that inspires her recipes... When my son, Nicholas, was a toddler he was a really fussy eater. So many mothers experience the same problem, but for me his refusal to eat what I put in front of him made me feel desperately anxious. The reason was simple: my firstborn, Natasha, had died of a viral infection, a year before her brother was born. Just three months old, as she lay fighting for her life, the only ammunition she had with which to battle her illness were the reserves in her tiny body. When Nicholas was born the following year, I was overwhelmed by the need for him to be as healthy as he could possibly be – in case anything happened to him; for that, I needed him to eat, and to eat well.


I was in my mid-twenties, and the loss of such a young baby made me feel vulnerable. Comforted by the company of other young mums like myself, I started a playgroup, not least so I could spend as much time with my son as possible – as well as my daughters, Lara and Scarlet, who followed in quick succession. I believed I was the only mum whose children were picky eaters. So I spent a crazy amount of time in the kitchen, working out what they’d eat and what they wouldn’t. Mushed up food proved a no-no – because they couldn’t tell what it was – but I was surprised to find they loved strong flavours, like chicken satay; it was contrary to all the weaning advice I’d been given. ESSENTIALSMAGAZINE.COM

I took my meals to playgroup to share with other mums and their children. I was thrilled to find that they were really popular. Before I knew it, everyone was encouraging me to write my own recipe book. I’m quite sure that, under different circumstances, I would have dismissed the idea, but writing a book seemed to be a way of making Natasha’s life and death worth something; I could help other mums ensure their babies were healthy.

perhaps if the project had been less personal, I would have given up after the first few turned me down, but I truly believed in what I was doing. Then, a friend of a friend introduced me to someone at Simon & Schuster publishers. At last, I had a book deal – and, in 1991, The Complete Baby And Toddler Meal Planner was released. It has since sold over 3 million copies… I really hope my latest, Annabel’s Family Cookbook, will prove just as useful. It’s for women who want to come home from a hard day’s work and cook something tasty, but really easy, for their families. I derive such pleasure from the fact that, after all these years, my passion for good, healthy food is as strong as ever!

‘I truly believed in what I was doing’

I wrote 150 recipes (in the evenings, when my kids were in bed!). Then I went to the library and made a list of publishers I thought might be interested. There were 15 – and, within a year, every single one of them had rejected my proposal. Again,




TRAYBAKE …try this absolutely scrummy recipe. It’s one in a billion!


Billionaire’s shortbread A melt-in-the-mouth classic combo that only gets better with the addition of honeycomb and choccy buttons! • Serves 12 • Ready in 50 mins + cooling • 682 cals per serving • 37g fat • 23g sat fat ■ 150g unsalted butter ■ 250g golden caster sugar ■ 225g plain flour ■ 175g salted butter ■ 100g golden syrup ■ 397g tin condensed milk ■ 1tsp vanilla extract ■ 200g dark chocolate, melted ■ 200g milk chocolate, melted ■ 1 Crunchie bar, chopped, to decorate ■ handful of chocolate buttons, to decorate


1 Heat the oven to Mark 4/180°C. Whizz together the unsalted butter, 75g sugar and flour until just combined. Tip the mixture into a 23x33cm baking tin. Press lightly into the tin and prick all over with a fork. Bake for 30-35 mins until it turns a pale biscuit colour. Cool in the tin. 2 Put the salted butter, remaining sugar, golden syrup and condensed milk into a pan, and whisk over a low heat until the sugar has melted. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 10 mins, whisking constantly, until it turns a caramel

colour. Stir in the vanilla and pour over the cooled shortbread. Allow to set in the fridge. 3 Melt the chocolate in separate bowls each set over a pan of simmering water or in the microwave. Pour the dark chocolate over the caramel, then the milk and swirl together with a skewer. Scatter over the Crunchie and buttons and put back in the fridge to set. Cut into squares and keep in an airtight box in the fridge for up to three days. ESSENTIALSMAGAZINE.COM


Use a can of Nestlé caramel for the filling to make it quicker!


Sticky fingers!

Little ones have always loved Ella’s Kitchen, but now the whole family can enjoy their tasty recipes ESSENTIALSMAGAZINE.COM


Dizzy beef pies These are a great spin on everyone’s favourite, Bolognese. • Makes 30 • Ready in 40 mins • 78 cals per pie • 5g fat • 2g sat fat ■ 2tsp sunflower oil ■ 1 shallot, finely chopped ■ 125g extra lean minced beef ■ 1 small parsnip, finely grated ■ 3tbsp finely chopped parsley ■ 3tbsp sun-dried tomato purée ■ ½tsp ground paprika ■ 500g ready-made puff pastry ■ flour, for dusting ■ beaten egg, to glaze

1 Heat the oil in a small frying pan and fry the shallot and beef for 8–10 mins, until browned. Leave to cool in a bowl. 2 Heat the oven to Mark 7/220°C. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper. Add the parsnip, parsley, purée and paprika to the cooled beef mixture and mix well. 3 Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to a 40x30cm rectangle and brush all over with beaten egg. Spoon the beef mixture on top and spread in an even layer. Roll up the pastry, starting from a long edge. Trim off the ends to neaten, then cut the roll into 1cm-thick slices. 4 Put half the slices on a large piece of clingfilm, spaced well apart. Cover with more clingfilm and roll the slices lightly with a rolling pin to flatten. Put the pies on the prepared baking tray, then repeat with the remaining slices. 5 Brush with beaten egg and bake for 10 mins. If the pies have risen in the centres, press them down with the back of a spoon. Bake for a further 5 mins.

Cook’s tip

For a quicker dish, squeeze a 130g pouch of Ella’s Kitchen Lip Smacking Spag Bol onto the same amount of pastry. 88 ESSENTIALS

Eggy flowerpot bread Nothing quite beats eggs on toast – apart from perhaps these special little pots of bread with a whole egg in the middle! • Makes 6 pots • Ready in 40 mins + proving • 291 cals per pot • 16g fat • 3g sat fat ■ 100g parsnip, cut into small chunks ■ 200g strong wholemeal bread flour, plus extra for dusting ■ 1tsp fast-action dried yeast ■ 4tbsp finely chopped parsley ■ 2tbsp mild olive oil, plus extra for greasing ■ 6 hard-boiled eggs, shelled FOR THE FLOWERS ■ 1 each red, green and yellow pepper, halved, cored and deseeded ■ ¼ cucumber ■ 2tbsp mayonnaise ■ few radishes, sliced, and pitted green olives, halved

1 Boil the parsnip for 10 mins until tender. Drain, reserving 75ml liquid. Return parsnip to the pan and mash. 2 Put the flour, yeast and parsley in a bowl. Add the mashed parsnip, oil and reserved liquid and mix to a dough. 3 Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and knead for 8–10 mins until smooth and elastic. Put in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with clingfilm and prove for 1¼-1½ hrs, or until doubled in size. 4 Heat the oven to Mark 6/200°C. Grease 6x125ml ramekins (or clean terracotta flowerpots) and dust with flour. 5 Divide the dough into 6 equal pieces.

Flatten each to about 10cm in diameter, then push into the pots. Push 1 egg down into the centre of each. Put the pots on a baking tray and cover with clingfilm. Prove for 45 mins, until risen. 6 Bake for 20 mins. Tap the buns out of the pots. If they feel doughy, they may need 5 mins more. Cool on a wire rack to cool (in or out of the pots, as wished). 7 To decorate, cut petal shapes from the peppers and the cucumber skin. Spoon a little mayonnaise onto each egg, then arrange the ‘petals’, radish slices and olive halves to create the flowers.


10/10 tomato-y tartlets Emma, who works at Ella’s Kitchen, created these and we’ve given her a perfect score for scrummy yumminess. • Serves 6 • Ready in 40 mins • 435 cals per serving • 29g fat • 13g sat fat ■ 2tbsp olive oil ■ 2 red onions, thinly sliced ■ 2 cloves of garlic, crushed ■ 2tsp finely chopped thyme, plus extra for sprinkling ■ 500g ready-made puff pastry ■ flour, for dusting ■ beaten egg, to glaze ■ 125g mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced ■ 280g cherry tomatoes, halved

1 Heat oven to Mark 7/220°C. Line a large baking tray with baking parchment. 2 Heat 1tbsp oil in a frying pan and fry the onion over a low heat for 5 mins. Stir in the garlic and thyme, remove the pan from the heat and leave to cool. 3 Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to 2-3mm. Using an upturned 12cm small bowl, cut out 6 rounds and put them on the prepared baking tray. Using a sharp knife, score a shallow cut

1cm from the edge of each round to make a rim. Brush the rims with beaten egg. 4 Divide the mozzarella evenly among the tartlets. Spoon the onion mixture on top, keeping all the filling away from the rims, so the pastry can rise at the edges. Top with the tomatoes, cut-sides up. Scatter with extra thyme and brush with the remaining oil. 5 Bake the tartlets for 25 mins, until the pastry is puffed up and golden.

Make me mini

If you think our tartlets might be too big for tiny tummies, simply use a smaller bowl or cutter to make mini versions.




Cook’s tip

Make these with cooked salmon fillets for an even quicker dish.

Punchy fish + pesto parcels • Serves 2 adults & 2 kids • Ready in 35 mins • 280 cals per serving • 13g fat • 5g sat fat ■ 450g boneless white fish fillets (such as cod, hake or haddock), skinned ■ 40g unsalted butter ■ 125g courgette, thinly sliced ■ 3 sheets of filo pastry ■ 1½tbsp green pesto ■ green beans, to serve

1 Heat the oven to Mark 5/190°C. Cut the fish into 2 large and 2 small portions. Melt 15g butter in a frying pan, add the fish and fry on both sides for 1-2 mins until opaque, then transfer to a plate. 2 Add the courgette to the pan and fry for 3 mins, turning once. Melt remaining butter in a separate small pan. 90 ESSENTIALS

3 Unroll 1 sheet of pastry and brush with the melted butter. Position a larger piece of fish at one end. Spread ½tbsp pesto over the fish and top with some courgette slices. Fold in the 2 long sides, then brush lightly with butter. Roll up the fish in the pastry and put it on a baking tray with the ends tucked underneath. Repeat to make a second parcel. 4 Cut the remaining pastry sheet in half widthways and make 2 small parcels as before. Put on a baking tray. 5 Brush the parcels with any remaining butter and bake for 18-20 mins for the small parcels, 25 mins for the large ones. Serve with steamed green beans.

GREAT OFFER Essentials readers can buy Ella’s Kitchen: The Big Baking Book (£14.99, Hamlyn) for just £10, plus free UK p&p. To order, call 01903 828 503, quoting Ella’s/HAM028. Offer subject to availability; please allow seven days for delivery.


Quick, easy and oh-so much tastier than frozen fish fingers out of a packet!


5 ways with... NEW POTATOES We know it’s almost summer when these mini spuds come into season. Here are the newest ways to serve up the latest crop

1 Potato & Pepper Frittatas Mini frittatas made in a muffin tin are perfect for lunch boxes. • Serves 6 • Ready in 50 mins • 255 cals per serving • 10g fat • 2.5g sat fat ■ 500g new potatoes, unpeeled ■ 1tbsp olive oil ■ 2 onions, chopped ■ 1 red pepper, deseeded and chopped ■ 6 large eggs, beaten

1 Heat the oven to Mark 4/180˚C. Pierce the potatoes several times with a fork, then microwave on high for 10 mins. 2 Cut the potatoes into cubes. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and fry

the onion for a few mins. Add the potato and cook for 5 mins to brown. Add the red pepper and cook for a further 5 mins. 3 Season the eggs well. Divide the potato and onion mixture between a 12-hole muffin tin, greased, then carefully pour in the beaten egg. 4 Bake for around 15 mins. Leave to cool for a few mins, then run a knife around each one and carefully lift them out. Serve hot or cold with salad.

2 Mini jackets with a bean relish Great for brunch or the ideal size for the children’s tea – just swap the soya beans for chopped pepper and sweetcorn. • Serves 4 • Ready in 40 mins • 312 cals per serving • 21g fat • 11g sat fat ■ 8 new potatoes (choose the larger ones in the bag) ■ 150g frozen soya beans ■ 150g pack garlic and herb soft cheese (such as Boursin) ■ 8 cherry tomatoes, quartered ■ a few fresh basil leaves

1 Heat the oven to Mark 6/200˚C. Prick the potatoes several times with a fork. Part-cook in the microwave ESSENTIALSMAGAZINE.COM

on full power for 6-8 mins, or until just starting to soften, then transfer to the oven for 10-15 mins to finish cooking and crisp the skin. 2 While the potatoes are cooking, cook the soya beans in boiling salted water for 3 mins; drain well. 3 When the potatoes are cooked, cut a deep cross in each one and squeeze to open up. Spoon in the soft cheese and top with the soya beans, tomato and a few basil leaves. ESSENTIALS ESSENTIALS140 91

MAKE IT EASY 3 Prawn & Potato Curry A light curry that packs a flavour punch – perfect for week nights! • Serves 4 • Ready in 30 mins • 235 cals per serving • 12g fat • 7g sat fat

Cook’s tip

■ 1tbsp sunflower oil ■ 1 onion, thinly sliced ■ 2tsp Thai red curry paste ■ 8 new potatoes, cut into halves ■ 1 long red chilli, deseeded and chopped ■ 3 spring onions, thinly sliced ■ 160ml tin coconut cream ■ 200g raw king prawns ■ a few fresh basil leaves

For extra flavour, add a dash of lime juice and fresh mint to your curry.

1 Heat the oil in a pan and fry the onion for a few mins to soften. Add the red curry paste, potato, chilli, spring onion and 300ml hot water. 2 Stir in the coconut cream, then add a little salt or fish sauce, if you’ve got it; simmer for 10 mins. 3 Add the prawns and basil and simmer for a further 5 mins.

4 Garlicky potato & pepper sticks Cook these yummy skewers on a griddle or fire up the BBQ – if we ever get some sunshine! • Serves 6 • Ready in 25 mins • 170 cals per serving • 8g fat • 1g sat fat ■ 750g baby new potatoes ■ 2 sweet Romano peppers, cut into chunks ■ 4tbsp olive oil ■ 3 cloves of garlic, crushed

1 Soak 12 wooden bamboo skewers in water. Boil the potatoes

for 15 mins until they’re just tender, then drain. 2 Thread the potatoes and chunks of pepper onto the skewers. Put into a shallow dish and sprinkle over the oil, garlic and 1tsp salt. 3 Cook under a hot grill or on a griddle pan or BBQ for 10 mins, turning until well bronzed.

5 New-style potato Waldorf Add extra crunch to this new, lighter version of a classic by adding a handful of pecans just before serving. • Serves 6 • Ready in 20 mins • 232 cals per serving • 15g fat • 3g sat fat ■ 750g baby Jersey Royal new potatoes, halved ■ 200ml light French dressing ■ 4tbsp soured cream ■ 1tsp English mustard ■ 4tbsp gherkins, chopped ■ 1 head of celery, trimmed and chopped ■ 1 apple, quartered, cored and chopped ■ 4tbsp parsley and mint, chopped


1 Cook the potatoes in boiling salted water for 15 mins until they’re just tender. 2 Mix the French dressing with the soured cream and mustard. 3 Drain the potatoes, rinse under cold water and put into a large bowl. Season generously and add the gherkins, celery, apple and herbs. Dress, toss well and serve.




HERBS You know how it is – after using a few fresh herbs for a recipe, you end up with most of the pack left. Well, don’t chuck them out, use them up!

1 WHIP UP a FRESH pesto


WHICH HERBS? Soft herbs such as tarragon, basil and coriander. HOW TO… Blend a handful of herbs with a handful of nuts, a clove of garlic, a glug of olive oil and freshly grated Parmesan. Delicious with pasta, roasted veg or stirred into soup. SHELF LIFE Keep in the fridge for up to a week.

2 MAKe YOUR OWN Herby crumbs WHICH HERBS? Parsley and chives work well. HOW TO… Put the herbs and any leftover bread in a food processor and blitz. Freeze, then take out a handful for sprinkling over pasta bakes as you need it. Or, defrost and use for coating chicken, fish or racks of lamb. SHELF LIFE Keep in the freezer for up to 3 months. ESSENTIALSMAGAZINE.COM



3 RUSTLE UP A salad dressing


WHICH HERBS? Basil and oregano. HOW TO… Put 2 crushed cloves of garlic, a small handful of each herb, chopped, 2tbsp red wine vinegar, 1tsp Dijon mustard, 6tbsp olive oil in a jar and season. Pop on a lid and shake. Use on green leaves, couscous or new potatoes. It can double up as a marinade, too. SHELF LIFE Store in the fridge for several days.

WHICH HERBS? Rosemary and sage. HOW TO… Using a packet of bread mix, knead a handful of chopped sage and chives into the dough. Press into a rectangle on a baking tray and leave to rise. Make dimples on top using your fingertips and press in sprigs of rosemary. Drizzle with olive oil before baking according to pack instructions. SHELF LIFE Once cool, cut into squares, pop in a sealable food bag and freeze for up to 3 months.

5 ADD A herbY KICK TO butter


WHICH HERBS? Any you have! HOW TO… Chop herbs and mix with softened butter, plus crushed garlic or chopped chill. Roll into a sausage shape, wrap in greaseproof paper, freeze and cut off slices as you need them. Use for squishing under the skin of chicken before roasting, or spreading over a sliced baguette for making garlic bread. SHELF LIFE Store in the fridge for up to 1 month or freezer for 6 months.

WHICH HERBS? Turn mint into a syrup for a mojito, or add a dash to sparkling water with a slice of lime. HOW TO… Heat 2 parts sugar to 1 part water with a bunch of mint. Simmer for 5 mins until the sugar has dissolved and the mix is slightly thickened and syrupy. Leave to cool, then strain to remove the mint. Pour into a sterilised jar and cover. SHELF LIFE Keeps in the fridge for up to 1 month.

7 Save wilting coriander

8 Keep YOUR herbs fresh

9 make HOMEMADE Houmous

WHICH HERBS? Coriander. HOW TO… Blend in a food processor with onion, chillies, ginger and garlic to form the base of a Thai curry paste. Freeze in ice-cube trays, so you can take one out when needed. Defrost in the microwave, fry in a little oil, then add fish sauce, lime zest and coconut milk with your chosen veg, fish or meat. SHELF LIFE Store in the freezer for around 2-3 months.

WHICH HERBS? Tough herbs, such as rosemary, sage, thyme and oregano. HOW TO… Freeze the herbs (either on their own or as a mixture) in ice-cube trays with a dash of olive oil. You can use the herb cubes straight from the freezer – just pop one straight into a pan, ready to fry with onions for stews, soups and sauces. SHELF LIFE Store in the freezer for 2-3 months.

WHICH HERBS? Parsley and coriander. HOW TO… Simply whizz a tin of chickpeas in a food processor with 1tbsp tahini, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and a good handful of flat-leaf parsley or coriander. SHELF LIFE Keep in the fridge, in a covered container, for 3-4 days.




per serving


All the flavour none of the faff! Whip up these delicious dinners in around 30 mins or so… from just £1.57 per serving!

Simple baked fish with cabbage & peas Healthy, quick and a doddle to whip up – it’s our best new fish dish! • Serves 4 • Ready in 30 mins • 370 cals per serving • 17g fat • 5g sat fat

■ 1 fat clove of garlic, crushed ■ mashed potato and lemon wedges, to serve

■ 4 white fish fillets ■ 2tbsp wholegrain mustard ■ 8 slices smoked streaky bacon ■ 150ml white wine ■ 1tbsp vegetable oil ■ 1⁄2 spring cabbage, shredded ■ 150g peas

1 Heat the oven to Mark 5/ 190°C. Brush the fish fillets with the mustard and wrap each in two slices of bacon. Put in an ovenproof dish with


100ml wine. Bake for 15 mins. 2 Warm the oil in a sauté pan, add the cabbage and stir-fry for 2-3 mins, then add the peas, garlic and remaining wine. Season and cook for a further 2 mins. 3 Divide the vegetables onto

4 plates, add the fish and pour over the cooking juices from the veg. Serve with mash and lemon wedges.




Tip If you don’t use frozen fish, you can freeze any fishcakes left over for another day.

Zesty lime fishcake bites Tasty mini fishcakes – great with a salad, or go for a side of oven fries. • Makes 12 • Ready in 30 mins • 56 cals each fishcake • 3g fat • 0.7g sat fat ■ 200g ready-made mash (we used Aunt Bessie’s) ■ small bunch each of mint and parsley, chopped ■ zest and juice of 1 lime ■ 1 large egg ■ 1⁄2 red chilli, diced (optional)


■ 300g haddock fillets, finely chopped ■ plain flour, for dusting ■ 2tbsp sunflower oil

1 Mix together the mash, herbs, lime zest and juice, egg and chilli and season. Flake the haddock into the

mix and stir through gently to combine. 2 Flour your worksurface and take 1tbsp of the fishcake mix, roll it into a flattened circle and dust in flour. Repeat until all the mixture is used up.

3 Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the fishcakes over a high heat for 2-3 mins on each side, until golden and crisp. Drain on kitchen paper and sprinkle with a little salt. Serve immediately.




per serving

Spiced chicken pilaff A tasty rice dish (and any leftovers make a mean lunchbox the next day!). • Serves 4-6 • Ready in 30 mins • 641-428 cals per serving • 10-7g fat • 2-1.5g sat fat ■ 1 large red onion, chopped ■ 2 peppers (1 red, 1 yellow), sliced ■ 2tbsp olive oil ■ 1 red chilli, finely sliced ■ 350g basmati rice ■ 700ml hot chicken stock ■ 100g sultanas


■ 2tbsp jerk seasoning ■ zest and juice of 1 orange ■ 3 chicken breasts, skin on ■ good handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley and mint, chopped ■ 4tbsp natural yogurt, to serve

1 Fry the onion and peppers in 1tbsp oil for 5 mins, add the chilli and stir in the rice.

2 Add the stock and sultanas. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 18-20 mins (don’t stir), until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is soft. 3 Mix together remaining oil, jerk seasoning and orange juice. Rub over the chicken

and grill, skin-side down, for 5 mins, then turn and grill for 10 mins until cooked through. 4 Fork the orange zest through the rice with most of the herbs. Slice the chicken and arrange on top of the rice. Top with yogurt and remaining herbs. ESSENTIALS 97



per serving

Sweet potato curry A comforting bowl of goodness that’s easy on the calories, too! • Serves 4 • Ready in 30 mins • 490 cals per serving • 23g fat • 13g sat fat ■ 800g sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks ■ 1tbsp black mustard seeds ■ 3 red chillies, sliced lengthways ■ 2tbsp sunflower oil ■ 2 onions, sliced ■ 1tbsp garam masala ■ 500g tomatoes, quartered


■ 500ml natural yogurt ■ 75g desiccated coconut ■ 100g spinach ■ coriander and lime wedges, to garnish

1 Microwave the potatoes on high for 5 mins. Fry the mustard seeds and chilli in oil until the seeds begin to pop.

2 Add the onion and fry until soft and starting to brown. Stir in the garam masala and tomatoes and fry for 5 mins. 3 Add the sweet potato to the tomato mix; stir to coat. Pour in the yogurt with 200ml water and the coconut. Bring to the boil and simmer for

20 mins, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are tender. 4 When everything is cooked through, stir through the spinach and garnish with coriander and lime wedges.




with love This month we’re getting personal. You’ll adore the clever, bespoke ideas we have lined up almost as much as we’ve enjoyed creating them! ESSENTIALSMAGAZINE.COM


✶ kids’ table painted white and chairs painted dark blue ✶ bow stencil* ✶ pencil ✶ paint and paint brushes ✶ letter stencils ✶ matt varnish DRAW the bows on each corner of the table using the stencil and a pencil, then loosely draw the ribbons which connect each bow. PAINT over the ribbon and bows with a pale blue paint. Before it dries, add a darker blue to create shadows on the ribbon and white paint where it would be lighter. Gently blend the colours together. COPY the bow onto the sides of each chair, then use a stencil to put the name on the back, again in the pale blue paint. GIVE all the painted areas two coats of matt varnish to preserve the design from the inevitable knocks and spills.

THE PRINT QUOTE FRAME You will need...

TYPE your chosen quote onto a blank document on your computer. Set your page size to A5 (as that is the size of most book pages), then position your quote onto the right hand side of the page. Have fun with fonts and letter sizes. CUT out a page from the book, neaten the edges and put it in the printer’s paper tray. PRINT your quote out onto the book page. Insert into your frame and display.

Table, £22; chairs, £10 each; rug, £35, all Glass bowl, £12.95 for five; cup, £1.95, both Alphabet stencil, £17.25, The Stencil Library. Paint, £3.50 for a 100ml sample pot, Laura Ashley.

Top tip

If you can’t get the quote in the right position you can print it off onto a clear acetate sheet and place it in the frame over the book page. Frame, £2.75, 100 ESSENTIALS



✶ computer and printer ✶ old book ✶ picture frame


CORKBOARD INITIAL You will need...

✶ paper and pen ✶ cork floor tiles ✶ scalpel ✶ metal ruler ✶ cutting mat ✶ glue

1 2

Work out the shape of your initial on a piece of paper that has been cut to the same size as your cork tile. Mark the outline of the initial in pen and use a sharp scalpel and metal ruler to cut out the shape. Use the first cork initial as a template to cut out another layer, then glue them together so you have a deeper noticeboard. As it is so light, you can just attach the board to the wall using Blu-tack at the corners.

Cork tiles, £8.99 for nine (30x30cm), Magazine boxes, £7 for two,




Spray the glass upside down, so the bottom gets a silver coating, too. The flickering candlelight will then bounce off all the sides.

TEALIGHT HOLDERS You will need...

✶ computer and printer ✶ sticky labels ✶ scalpel ✶ metal ruler ✶ cutting mat ✶ glasses ✶ masking tape ✶ spray paint

1 2 3

Print your chosen letters on to sticky labels. Ensure you choose a font which allows large, thick letters and select the ‘outline’ option, so you don’t waste printer ink. Use a sharp scalpel to cut out the letters and stick each centrally on the front of a glass. Cover the top of the glass with masking tape, then turn it over. The tape will keep the spray line at the top neat and even.

In a well-ventilated area, add four or five light layers of spray paint. Once completely dry, remove the stickers and put a tealight inside.


Glasses, 85p for four, wilko. com. Plasti-kote spray paint, £3.99,


Floral fabric, £20 per metre, Spot fabric, £3.75 per metre, etsy. Ribbons and rickrack, from £1 per metre,



You will need...

You will need...

✶ scissors ✶ fabric ✶ needle ✶ threads ✶ iron ✶ double-sided fusible bonding ✶ pins ✶ ribbon

✶ masking tape ✶ mugs ✶ paint brush ✶ chalk paint ✶ chalk

CUT OUT the fabrics – two floral pieces for the bag, each 35x45cm, and two spot pieces for the trim, each 35x7cm. Sew trim onto the floral pieces. CUT OUT the initials (each 7x9cm) and use double-sided fusible bonding to iron them in place. Sew around the edges with a zig-zag stitch. PIN three rows of ribbons under the letters and sew in place. CUT OUT two fabric handles, each 50x10cm. Fold in half lengthways, then sew along the edge to form a channel. Push right way through and iron flat. Pin a piece of rickrack ribbon along the centre of the handle and sew in place. PLACE the main floral pieces right sides together. Pin and sew around the sides and the bottom. Neaten the inside seams with a zig-zag stitch. FOLD OVER the top trim twice and pin in place. Pin the handles in place, then sew a line around the top edge, ensuring the handles are caught up in the stitches. Turn the bag right side out. ESSENTIALSMAGAZINE.COM

SECURE masking tape around your mug and the handle. Make sure you press firmly, so the line will be neat. PAINT two coats of chalk paint on the bottom half of the mug, allowing it to dry completely between each coat. REMOVE the masking tape. You can clean up any stray paint with a scalpel. Add your chosen names in chalk.

Top tip

Chalk paint isn’t dishwasher-safe, so these are handwash only!

Mugs, £2 each; chalkboard paint, £11.99 for 750ml, both

ESSENTIALS 103 LEGO LETTER You will need...

✶ cardboard letter ✶ paint ✶ Lego pieces ✶ hot glue gun

1 2 3

Paint your cardboard letter so that the sides look neater. Leave to dry. Select small, flat and detailed pieces of Lego and loosely arrange on the letter, so you know you have enough. Start attaching the Lego with a hot glue gun by placing the flat pieces on first. The idea is to cover as much of the letter as possible without making it look too neat. Once you’ve covered the letter with basic pieces, add more interesting touches – a door frame, a wheel, even a Lego man or woman.

Cardboard letter, £1.99; Lego, from £9.99, both Paint, £3.50 for a 100ml sample pot, Lego Mini box, £2 each,

Top tip

Glue a few pieces over the edge at the bottom and your letter will lean back slightly. 104 ESSENTIALS



Crafter of the month

Transform a plain kni t

Lisa Comfort, 31, owns cosy sewing café Sew Over It! and runs dressmaking classes for all skill groups. She lives in Hackney, London, with her partner, Matt, and dog Poppy. ✶ Your earliest crafting memory?

Cross-stitching at school when I was about 5 – and sewing the fabric to my skirt. I was very upset as I had to cut it off and mess up my work! ✶ How did you first get into making clothes? I grew up in a tiny village in Yorkshire where I was the only girl in my year, so I spent a lot of time at home doing crafts. When I was given a sewing machine for my 11th birthday, I started making clothes. ✶ What creation have you been most proud of? A wedding dress for my cousin’s wife, complete with sewn-in corset


and hand-appliquéd lace bodice. I spent about 100 hours on it, but the moment I saw her walking down the aisle I was in floods of tears. ✶ What was the last thing you made? A Mad Men-inspired dress combining two of our original patterns – the top of one of Joan’s dresses and the bottom of one of Betty’s, decorated with a lace Peter Pan collar. ✶ Any tips for people just starting out? Try something simple like a full circle skirt first. The hardest part of dressmaking is getting clothes to fit you, so avoid close-fitting stuff to begin with. Remember, it’s much better to do something simple well than something complicated badly! Find out more about Sew Over It! at

First, I looked for shapes on Pinterest for inspiration. This one was inspired by a headdress worn in The Great Gatsby film. I simplified it as I wanted to wear it in the day, so didn’t want it to look too blingy.


I played around with a motif idea to begin with. I decided I’d do it on the shoulder and used a mixture of different sized leaf-shaped diamantés and chain of small stones (try for similar from £1.25). I started by pinning across the chain to hold it in place.


Then I stitched across the chain, in between each stone, with a double thread. Finally, I stitched on the leaves one at a time, either side of the chain. Et voilá! I love this design, and I’m very happy with how it turned out!


Get crafting with Stuart Hillard The latest series of The Great British Sewing Bee is reaching its fever pitch, so I’m hoping you’re more inspired than ever to get creative. Here’s my pick of the loveliest craft ideas this month...


New ways to ge t crea tive More than two million people picked up a knitting needle, paintbrush, glue gun or got the old sewing machine out last year. So it’s no wonder that Hobbycraft has been the shop de jour for a while now. Here’s a sneaky peek of the crafting trends it’s most excited about this year…

CROCHET Once you get the hang of the basics it’s so easy. You’ll be hooked! If you don’t know how, check Hobbycraft’s blog for step-by-step instructions.

Now I’ve no excuse not to be organised with my sewing tasks. I came across this pack of 480 adorable Needle & Thread Sticky Notes (£8.99), made by Galison New York, in the Salts Mill gift shop (, but they’re also available online at Amazon.



SEWING KITS Whether you’re a novice, an expert or looking for something to entertain the kids, there’s loads to choose from at Hobbycraft (this little cutie is just £6). There are also regular in-store workshops, if you need a refresher.


This lovely tin from Coats features reproductions of vintage adverts and is available nationwide. This square tin contains ten 100m spools of Duet thread.

SEW CUTE! This is my absolute favourite sewingthemed fabric at the moment. It’s called Sewing Machines and is perfect for a sewing bag or machine cover – it’s by Timeless Treasures at lady for 11.99 per metre.



Like découpage, but with prettier tissue papers and so much more effective. Use on furniture, picture frames, egg cups or polystyrene blanks, like this rather fancy duck, £4. Décopatch papers start at £3.79 for three sheets.

E S S E N T I A L S promotion

Thank you, Mum! Procter & Gamble* want to say thank you to all those special mums out there – like Diana Hill’s mum, Linda...

Diana, 32, from Bognor Regis, Sussex tells us why her mum deserved to win a day’s pampering

Diana is so proud of her very special mum, Linda.

place to visit when we want to remember her. Losing Sam was devastating, and I have no idea how we would have got through it without Mum. So for everything you’ve done, thank you so much Mum, and I hope you enjoy your treat!

Linda, 50, is a care worker from Woking, Surrey When Diana told me I’d won, I couldn’t believe it. I never win anything! But I went from surprised to very excited in about ten seconds flat – I’ve never had a massage before. P&G has been so kind and treated me wonderfully. And special thanks to Diana – I love you very much.

Proud Sponsor of Mums, P&G has been helping to make mums’ lives easier for over 175 years with trusted household brands such as Fairy, Olay and Head & Shoulders. Now it’s saying thank you to mums for all the amazing things they do. To find out more, go to

Linda won a manicure and massage every month for a whole year! What a treat.


One of my strongest childhood memories is of Mum patting my younger sister Sam’s back, helping to clear her airwaves. Sam was born with cystic fibrosis and needed this treatment several times a day, along with frequent hospital trips. But Mum never complained; all she wanted was for Sammy to have a normal life. Sam never let her condition stop her from enjoying herself – she wanted just the same as any other girl. She studied hard, made friends and went on to meet her boyfriend, fall in love and give birth to baby Tyler. Cystic fibrosis sufferers have a reduced life span, and sadly Sam passed away two years ago, when she was just 22 and Tyler was only 10 months old. It was a very difficult time but, despite her own grief, Mum kept the family going. At our first Christmas after losing Sam, she kept us all smiling, telling us that Sammy wouldn’t have wanted us to be unhappy. Tyler lives with his dad, but amazingly Mum takes care of him every other weekend. She’s also planted a memory garden full of Sammy’s favourite flowers, so we’ll always have a special

walk in


The World’s Leading AntiStress ® Footwear Brand To view the full Spring/Summer 2014 range and find your nearest stockist visit | Tel: 01858 414141



self-service All the practical tips, consumer news and money-saving advice you need to help you to help yourself! YO U S A I D I T !

What makes a

HOUSE A HOME? Our readers and experts share the little things that give their place its heart and soul

Cats and dogs – well, it’s always comforting to know your house has a heartbeat even when you’re not in it. LINDA DOIDGE, VIA FACEBOOK



self-service #THEREALLYUSEFULGUIDE I have plants and vases of flowers all around the house. Everything about them – the smell, the colour, the freshness – puts me in a good mood and makes every room come alive. LARA STONY, LONDON

Having handmade crafts around because they’re so personal. I have homemade cushion covers, quilts that I’ve crocheted and the children’s artwork spread around the house. It’s the easiest way of making sure my living space is totally unique to my family. MIRANDA LAWSON, PERTH

Love… and a good supply of chocolate! SHEREE VIOLET, VIA FACEBOOK



My family used to be in the forces, so we were continuously having to move every few years. But as long as we were together for special occasions, like Christmas and birthdays, we always felt at home… no matter where we were. LEL VEST, VIA FACEBOOK

People give a house personality and warmth, not things. So I like to have pictures of family and friends everywhere. It’s a constant reminder of the people I love and the great times I’ve had.

Every house should have one item that’s your favourite thing and cheers you up the moment you get home. I have friends who love their wood burning stove or a painting that has a special story. For me, though, it’s my beautiful teal sofa. It wasn’t massively expensive – we bought it from Tesco – but over the last year the cushions have moulded themselves to our bodies and it’s the most comfortable thing I’ve ever sat on. Plus, it’s where our fox terrier puppy, Oscar, is always lying when we arrive home from work. STEVEN ROWE, HEAD OF DESIGN AT TESCO HOMES & LIFESTYLE

For me, it’s the familiar scent of my bourbon and vanilla candles. I walk through the door and the lovely smell hits me. It’s so welcoming. And when lit, a flickering candle always makes a place look cosy. LAURA HALL, HOME FURNISHINGS BUYER AT QVC

Buying furniture with a history is the way I give my home a story. I’ve got a big Victorian trunk in my bedroom, a gorgeous Edwardian hand-painted lamp in the hall, and a retro ’60s coffee table in the lounge. All these things give my home soul and they’re so much more interesting and individual than their bland, lifeless flat-pack alter egos. When I look at them, I remember how much fun I had finding them at secondhand shops and markets. CHRISTINE LINNINGTON, KENT

Loads of washing hung up in every room, the dining room table strewn with homework books, dogs in the garden, kids playing upstairs and the smell of a hearty meal cooking on the stove. That’s a home! SAFIYA TAIT, VIA FACEBOOK



Colour is so important to me – I have splashes of it all over my house. There are magenta lampshades in the lounge, deep aubergine curtains in the study, a red rug in the hall and gorgeous scatter cushions in my favourite shade of blue on my bed. It’s so simple, but colour really livens up the place and gives it a cheery feel. SARAH WARD, INTERIOR DESIGNER AND FOUNDER OF SARAHWARDASSOCIATES.COM




our favourite apps Here are the ones we love the most – and they’re (nearly) all free! There are probably tens of thousands of weather apps out there, but Accuweather is by far the most accurate one. Whether you’re checking the weather locally or globally, it’s always right. X DUNJA CHAPMAN

We love Google Calendar as it syncs with all our phones, and we can share it across the family, so we know who’s available for babysitting, for example. We couldn’t manage our busy lives without it! X X X TRICIA WALKER

If you’re on the 5:2 diet like me, you’ll love the 101 brilliant recipes that come with the 5:2 Diet Complete Meal Planner (£1.99). Makes the whole thing so much easier. X X X X

I love the free torch app that comes with most smartphones as standard – perfect when you can’t find something in your bag, unless it’s the phone itself! X KIRI HUMPHREYS

ALISON SMYTHE The handiest app I have is for NatWest Mobile Banking. My husband went to London and left his wallet at home, but I was able to use the app so that he could get cash from a cashpoint. Saved the day! X TERESA BRITTON

My favourite app at the moment has to be the Sonos Controller. I can play music from my phone through my Sonos speakers at home. No need to get off the sofa even. Genius! X X MICHELLE BRINDLEY

Touchnote is great for sending personalised cards from photos to anywhere in the world – pick a postcard or greetings card and tell the app where you want it to go, from just £1.49 each. Our kids love sending them to their grannies. X X

I organise my travel plans with TripIt. I just forward my travel confirmation emails to and it automatically creates a detailed daily itinerary for every trip, which appears on your phone or tablet. You can also share everything with your family, so they know where you are. So simple! X



X Available for all smartphones/tablets X X iPhone/iPad & Android


Akinator (£1.49) is such a fun way to kill time – you think of a person and it plays a guessing game with you. And it always gets it right! X CHERIE BATTENSBY

I’m always on Citymapper. It’s a really handy ‘getting around’ app if you live or work in London, or even if you’re just visiting. It gives you travel alerts, times and fares, and even tells you how long it will take you to get to places by different methods (including by bike) – all in a really user-friendly format. You can use it in Paris, New York and Berlin, too. X X SAMANTHA VEAL I love My Order App because it means never having to queue for food or drinks ever again! All the menus I need for pre-ordering from my favourite places are in the one app. Whether it’s a pizza for the whole family or just a coffee on the way to work, it’s amazing! X X X X MARY BURTT

Water Your Body Lite – it’s my hourly reminder to drink water! X X X X ADELE FORRINGTON

X X X Android only

X X X X iPhone/iPad only


Be £3,600 richer BY 5PM TONIGHT

Stop frittering away cash every day of your life – make these changes today and you’ll be better off before you know it!


your readings online or by phone. DO IT TODAY The average amount direct debit customers are owed by a supplier at any time is £78.50, with We splurge around £129 a year 25% of customers owed £100-plus, on things we never use – foot says Energy Switcheroo. spa, shoes, clothes and If you pay by direct debit, ice-cream makers. The average ask your company if Sandra Neill at NEST (The National amount direct debit you have a surplus do, ask for it Employment customers are owed –toifbeyoupaid back into Savings Trust) by an energy supplier your bank account advises: ‘If you’re at any time and for your direct tempted to make a debits to be reduced. purchase, ask the is £78.50 YOU CAN SAVE £78.50 shop to keep it for you, then walk away and reflect on it. If it ticks all the boxes, you can buy with a clear conscience.’ Do you dip into the red before DO IT TODAY Sell unwanted items payday? Unauthorised overdraft on auction sites. rates can be costly. For example, YOU CAN SAVE £129 having a £100 unplanned overdraft for three days a month costs nearly £37 a month with one high street bank. Instead set up an authorised overdraft or choose an account with a small interest-free buffer to save on charges. Did you know energy direct debits DO IT TODAY Check your last are based on an estimate of statement to see how much you’re your gas and electricity usage? paying in overdraft charges every If the company gets it wrong you month. Then use comparison sites could be overpaying big time every including,, to find month and storing up a surplus. yourself a better deal. One way to avoid this is to read YOU CAN SAVE £444 a year your meter regularly and submit




STRIP BACK YOUR BANK ACCOUNT A paid-for current account with benefits is a great way to get travel, breakdown and mobile phone insurance cheaply, but only if you use them. Andrew Hagger at MoneyComms says: ‘People sign up for a packaged deal, then forget what they’re shelling out £15 or £20 a month for. If you’re not using the perks, you’re wasting your money. People also often double up on cover and cost by taking out separate policies, forgetting they’re already covered.’ DO IT TODAY Switch back to a standard no-fees current account and save yourself £250-£300 a year. YOU CAN SAVE £300

STOP YOUR PAPER BILLS Not only are you doing your bit for the environment, but people who opt for paperless billing and pay their bills by direct debit end up with the cheapest gas and electricity deals. Andrew Hagger says: ‘It’s difficult to work out exactly how much better off you



#THEREALLYUSEFULGUIDE SIMPLIFY YOUR MOBILE BILL Just under half (48%) of those who are on a pay-monthly mobile phone contract pay an unexpected £100 a year on top of their set tariffs, while 9% overspend by £25 every month. Ernest Doku from uSwitch says: ‘Many of us sign up to budget mobile bundles with stacks of minutes, texts and data, but then call premium-rate numbers and incur roaming charges when abroad – all of which are not included in the tariff and push up costs.’ DO IT TODAY Find out your out-of-tariff charges by calling your network and ask for itemised bills, so you can monitor usage and work out if you’re on the best deal for you. YOU CAN SAVE £100

Ford Fiesta and has a ten years no-claims bonus was £249.10, compared to the most expensive quote of £2,644.98! DO IT TODAY Get quotes from a comparison site and compare the results to your renewal quote, then ask your insurer if it will match or better it – if not, switch! YOU CAN SAVE £2,395.88


Around 12.5 million people have bought an extended warranty – an insurance policy that covers the cost of repairing or replacing an electrical item after the manufacturer’s warranty ends – in the past three years. This can be expensive and unnecessary as most new goods are made to a high standard. You may panic at the thought of your TV packing up mid Sherlock, but only 2% of TVs need repairing in the first five years according to research by Which?. DO IT TODAY Create your own replacement fund by making You could be paying monthly transfers to a well over the odds savings account. Check Around 12.5m if you let your to see if your house people have bought insurance covers car insurance automatically an extended warranty electrical items for renew each year. accidental damage for an electrical The average or whether your item in the past annual quote credit cards give three years for a woman’s car a free extra year’s insurance is £719, warranty if you buy according to GoCompare. electrical items or white However, there can be a huge goods on them. Shop around: John difference between annual Lewis has a free five-year premium costs, so you need to guarantee on all its televisions. do your homework. For instance, YOU CAN SAVE £139 (based the cheapest quote we found for a on a Currys premium five-year 31-year-old female teacher living warranty for a 32-in Panasonic in Bristol who drives a 1.3 petrol TV, according to



are by not having bills posted to you every quarter. But savings are usually greater where you choose to have a combination of paperless statements and pay by direct debit.’ Experts predict that opting to receive statements online and paying bills by direct debit save the average customer £46 a year on their dual fuel bill. DO IT TODAY Call your provider and ask them to stop sending bills through the post. YOU CAN SAVE £46







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your own way No need to get the rolling pin out! Here’s how to win a row every time

Lower your voice Allowing emotion into an argument or shouting just shows you’re not in control. ‘Keep your feelings separate from what you’re trying to say,’ explains social psychologist Dr Gary Wood, author of Unlock Your Confidence (£10.99, Watkins Publishing) Speaking more quietly than usual means your opponent has to listen to you more carefully.

Know the facts There’s no quicker way to undermine your point than being caught making something up. So don’t panic and blurt something out unless you’re certain it’s true.

Only say it once


If you have nothing new to add, you’re better off not speaking at all. Make your point and leave it at that. And if your opponent tries to bring it up again, calmly tell them you’ve covered everything you need to say and move on to the next point.

Tackle the opinion, Be the bigger person not the person Keep in mind you’re not trying to convince them they’re wrong, but that their argument is. Gary says, ‘If you attack someone personally in the middle of an argument, you’re effectively changing the subject, and anything that distracts from your point should be avoided. Plus, they’re not likely to agree with you if you’re insulting them.’

After the argument’s over, don’t be tempted to gloat as there’s nothing to be gained. ‘Being the last person to talk has nothing to do with winning,’ says Gary. ‘All it shows is that you’re petty and egotistical.’

Get them to empathise Try using a favourite technique of salesmen. You want to ask people over to eat, but he’d rather have a quiet night in? Ask him unrelated questions you know he’ll agree with. ‘That chicken dish I made was nice wasn’t it?’ or ‘We don’t want to go to the pub, do we?’ Subconsciously, you’re now an ally rather than an enemy, and he’ll be far more likely to accept your argument.

ARGUMENT DOS & DON’TS DON’T SAY... ‘Oh my God, you’re SO wrong!’

... DO SAY ‘I don’t think that’s quite right, and this is why…’

‘Like I’ve said ten times already, that’s not right!’

‘We’ve discussed that already, let’s not go round in circles.’

‘I can’t believe it took you this long to realise I was right.’

‘Well, that’s decided then. Fancy a cuppa?’




Go green…

AND SAVE MONEY! These eco-friendly ideas have a positive impact on the environment – and your purse!



A slow cooker is a must-have, with sales up 65% each year since 2008, say John Lewis. Not only can you save by buying cheaper cuts of meat, it uses only slightly more electricity than a lightbulb. Try the Crock-Pot 37401BC Slow Cooker, £22.95, John Lewis.

Visit a price-comparison website such as saveonyour every three months to ensure you’re getting the best deal on fuel bills.


Did you know 30% of the clothes we buy go unworn? Check out uk for help choosing outfits you’ll want to wear again ❋ Never leave and again, tips on appliances on buying vintage, as well standby and save up as repairing clothes.

to £80 a year. TVs are the worst offenders.

‘You can save 90% on your lighting bills simply by switching to LED light bulbs,’ says homes expert Sarah Beeny. Long-lasting LEDs can keep going for 20 years, and a typical home could save around £30 a month. Try LED bulbs for 25% less by going to and using the code ‘LEDEM25’ until 31 April 2014.

Get water-saving freebies, including tap aerators and efficient showerheads from savewatersave




The Ecoegg Laundry Egg is an NewLife Paints collects unused alternative to washing powder. paint and turns it back into It contains mineral pellets and useable interior paints. The lasts for 720 washes, costing just 3p Reborn Collection comes in 28 colours a wash, and is ideal for anyone and is £29 for 2.5 litres. Spend with sensitive skin. The 720 over £5 and get 10% off ❋Use a bowl to Laundry Egg costs £19.99, the range by going to wash up – rather but readers can get 20% than filling up the off at using and using the code sink – and save the code ‘essentials’ until ‘ESSENTIALS10’ before £30 a year. 31 April 2014. 31 December 2014.



The Energy Saving Trust’s free home energy check will show how you could save £250 a year on your household bills. Visit


Don’t bother rinsing plates before you put them in the dishwasher, just scrape clean and save time and money by letting the machine do the work.





EcoForce’s household products are made from at least 90% recycled waste, and include sponges (£1.99 each) and clothes lines (£1.99). From supermarkets and from We have a year’s supply of greencleaning kits to giveaway to five readers, worth £50 each. Email your name and contact details to comps_essentials@ ❋ Turn down, with your thermostat ECOFORCE in the by just one subject line, by 31 April degree and you 2014. The senders of can save up to the first five entries £60 a year. drawn after then will win.




Gadget Guru Our techy expert Jonathan Weinberg has all the ideas and buys to make this month fabulous



It’s the mobile app for iPhone and Android that teens are obsessed by – but it’s time us oldies got in on the act, too. What does it do? Sends random snapshots (which you can scribble or type over) free to friends or family members. Once opened, pics self-destruct after a few seconds. As soon as you sign up, you can quickly see who in your social network also has it. What sort of pictures? Well, anything goes really – silly, weird, ridiculous. It’s for stuff you wouldn’t want to share publicly. Most people snap and send gurning selfies or ten-second films. Why would I want to? It’s fun and you can instantly see what everyone is up to without wading through dozens of holiday snaps or pictures of their children.

Any reason to worry? What you send may not always disappear or stay private. Pics do self-delete, but they can be captured if the receiver takes a screenshot using their phone or snaps it with another camera. Is it safe for my kids? You must be 13+ to have an account and some teens use it to send sexually explicit snaps, which can be illegal if they’re under 18. Screen copies may be taken easily enough, so encourage them to keep it clean. Should I stop them using it? It’s better to talk about the risks and set Privacy Controls. There’s a safety guide for parents at Is it better than Instagram or Pinterest? You don’t create albums, but Snapchat Stories can tack images of your day together to create a story. Each is live for a day before being deleted.

APPS TO GET YOU GARDENING RHS Grow Your Own – iPhone, Free Covering the 20 most popular varieties of fruit and veg, this offers advice on what seeds to sow, when and where. Additional content bundles, including grow your own herbs, cost £1.79 each.

Gardener – Android, Free You’ll always know what’s planted out the back by using this app to record everything you’ve dug in. You add photos and written notes and also set reminders for watering, pruning and fertilising.

Landscaper’s Companion – iPad, £5.49 This is best for those with very green fingers as it’s not cheap, but very comprehensive. A reference guide with details of 26,000 plants including advice on water usage, bloom times and how much sun is needed.

THIS MONTH WE’VE FALLEN FOR A... vacuum! We’re not ones to get excited about cleaning, but the brilliant James Dyson’s latest vacuum The Dyson Cinetic (£419.99) has revolutionised housework. It never loses suction and you don’t have to wash or change the filter. Weighing just 7.8kg, it’s super portable and small enough to stow in a tiny flat. It cut my vacuuming time by half, collecting more dust than ever. It’s pricey, but a real investment.




THE HARDEST No need to get heated up, you CAN have that chat and make it work. Here’s how to get started…

How do I tell my children that their father and I are splitting up? ‘Only sit them down to tell them when you know what is going to happen next,’ says Paula Hall, author of the Relate guide, Help Your Children Cope with Your Divorce (£9.99). ‘They need to know how much or little their life is going to change and it’s no good if you say, “I have no idea”. It’s also important for you and their father to tell them together if possible, to show a united front, even if you’re not

feeling it. That sends the message that “we are still your parents and we still love you very much”. Don’t blame or bad mouth your ex, either. ‘It’s OK to say: “Mummy and Daddy have decided we are not going to live together any more”. Keep explanations simple. Don’t go on about why you’re breaking up, but do offer lots of reassurance to them about how much they are loved. Explain: “Even though

It happened to me…‘It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done’ Divorce expert Suzy Miller, 50, from East Sussex, says, ‘Telling my three children – then aged 6 and under – that Mummy and Daddy weren’t going to live together was so hard. ‘I cringe when I remember saying: “Daddy doesn’t love Mummy any more and is leaving”. I wouldn’t advise others to say anything similar. ‘On the plus side, I really emphasised that this was down to us adults and nothing to do with them. They were quite little at the time, but proved more resilient than I gave them credit for. I reassured them that, although we were moving house, they would still be living the same life as before and staying at the


same schools. What mattered most to them was knowing that nothing major was going to change in their lives. ‘As time passed, their father and I reached an understanding as co-parents. It was then that I realised it would have been better to wait until the shock over the collapse of our relationship had sunk into our own heads before announcing it to the kids. If I had that time again, I would talk to a parenting expert or a counsellor about how best to approach the situation. ‘I’d also make sure the other parent was with me when we told the kids, so we’d get the message across that our family was still a united one, even though Mummy and Daddy were going to live in different houses.’

this is very sad, we are still going to be a family and look out for each other. We still love you and we are going to do all that we can to ensure as little changes for you as possible”. ‘Also, don’t tell them until you’re ready to go public about it. You have no right to ask them to keep it a secret – if they need to talk about it to anyone, they should be able to. While you’ll be braced for a barrage of questions, you may be surprised about their lack of reaction to the news. The questions may come later, so be prepared to answer them when they do. ‘It’s perfectly OK to say that it’s a difficult time and you don’t have all the answers yet. And it’s also fine to show emotion, but both parents need to stay in control – it can be scary for a child to see an adult lose it.’ • Learn more at alternativedivorce


CONVERSATIONS ou’ll e ver have... y


He earns more than me, but we split bills equally! ‘Don’t leap in full of vitriol and anger. If you’ve never talked about this before, maybe your other half just doesn’t realise it’s a problem,’ says Sarah Pennells, founder of ‘When you do raise it, be as practical as possible. Use language that refers to you rather than your partner. Say something like: “I’d like to talk about how we split our bills because I think the way we do it now isn’t entirely fair”. Don’t say: “You earn more than me and you’re being unfair”, because that will raise the temperature straight away! ‘Give examples of why you think the way you split your bills is unbalanced, and lay out the consequences, so he realises that you are not saying it to be difficult. Explain that you have less money left over to spend than he does, or that you are being pushed into your overdraft each month. ‘Then offer solutions. Say: “I want the bills to be split in a way that is proportionate to what we earn”, and ask what he thinks. If he still insists on a 50:50 split, find out why. There may be a reason why it makes perfect sense to him. Perhaps he always pays for holidays, for example. It’s important to stick ESSENTIALSMAGAZINE.COM

to the issue at hand. Don’t turn the conversation into a long list of all the ways in which you think he handles money badly. And if you’re starting to talk – or shout – over each other, take a step back, set a timer (yes, really!) and allow each person to take turns in having their say. That way you really have to listen to what each other is saying. ‘Don’t save conversations about money until resentment has built up. It’s a good idea to talk about saving, investments and how to make the most of your money on a regular basis. That way you start to understand more about how each other feels about finances, and you’re less likely to store up any frustrations.’


I’m tired of my mum-in-law’s baby advice ‘Friends and family members can be very judgmental about how you bring up your baby,’ says Lisa Clegg, mumof-three, maternity nurse and author of The Blissful Baby Expert (£10.99, Vermilion). ‘The crucial thing that you need to remember is that it is YOUR baby and, for the most part, other family members have to respect that and learn to back off.’ Try to have a certain amount of patience with your mum-inlaw, though. ‘Talk to her about particular parenting methods you’re following and why you feel they help you and your baby,’ Lisa continues. ‘If after trying that, she still keeps interfering, then you need to be more direct. ‘Try something along the lines of: “I’m grateful for everything that you’ve done, but I have my own ideas on how I want to bring up our baby. I may do things you won’t agree with and I’m sure I’ll get things wrong along the way, but I need to learn what works for us – just as you did when you had your babies. There are bound to be times that I need help and advice, and you’ll be one of the first people I ask”.’



the way we live today!


bored sick?

Feeling unfulfilled at work? Resorting to Facebooking on an hourly basis? Taking days off sick? You may be suffering from Groundhog Grind, says Sarah Ewing


hree years ago, 38-year-old Kate Campbell from Edinburgh (who previously prided herself on her go-getting attitude) started to feel really run down, got constant migraines and seemed to pick up every bug going. ‘It was so frustrating to be on this never ending cycle of having very little energy,’ says the foodie entrepreneur. ‘Like most 30and 40-somethings, I’m always mega busy, but I felt like I was just going through the motions and my life had settled into an uncomfortable routine. Working from home a lot meant I felt out of the loop – and lonely. I went to my GP, who gave me antidepressants, but what I really wanted was to discover a) what the problem was and b) a long-term solution.’ Recognise yourself in any of this? We’ve dubbed what Kate describes as ‘Groundhog Grind’, when you spend so many days understimulated and disengaged that you’re literally bored sick. Doesn’t sound that serious? Well, research suggests that


there’s real cause for concern. A UCL study found that bored women have a lower life expectancy and are two-and-half times more likely to suffer from heart disease. So boredom really could be the death of you.

The routine trap When we hit our ‘middle years’, we reach tons of milestones. Some of us are settling down and getting married; others are having kids; our career paths are hopefully established. Big nights out tail off because, frankly, who has the energy when your day starts at 6am, either as a result of your little people or the to-do list that’s as long as your arm (or both)? But when your life sinks into a familiar routine, you’re at far greater risk of feeling unfulfilled. And when boredom seeps in, you may look to unhealthy habits and ‘crutches’ (stodgy food, drinking and


smoking) to fill the gap, which in turn kicks off the bored sick cycle. When you’re not feeling stimulated and appreciated, your body stops producing hormones such as endorphins, so your metabolic rate drops and your immune system becomes sluggish. This, in turn, leads to fatigue, headaches, stress, loss of concentration and depression. ‘I gave up work five years ago when my son was a toddler,’ says Louise Patterton, 39, and I went stir crazy. I lost the sense of value that came with my job. I threw myself into running a home, but was bored stiff – and always ill.’ ‘People in this situation often have self-esteem issues,’ says Julian Hall, an emotional resilience expert ( ‘They may be perfectionists who are governed by a fear of failure. If you’re prone to swinging from extremes of overactivity to virtually ESSENTIALSMAGAZINE.COM HOW BORED ARE YOU? 1. How often do you get sick? A. Hardly ever. B. A couple of times a year. C. I seem to pick up everything going and lurch from one illness to another.

2. How often do you go to your GP? A. Never, I can’t even remember their name! B. Only if I feel I can’t get over-the-counter help at the chemist. C. I’m on a first-name basis with the surgery receptionist.


3. Your personality is: nothing and find you avoid social situations because you can’t be bothered, it’s time to take action.’ ‘Don’t think just because you have a busy life, you’re exempt,’ says Dr Jenny Lesser, clinical director of occupational health at Bupa. You may still feel deeply unsatisfied. ‘Feeling down, having trouble sleeping, or getting ill frequently are all signs of a problem that needs to be tackled.’ The answer? ‘Start looking for an activity that brings you some satisfaction,’ says Jenny. ‘You might have no idea where to start,’ says change management specialist Marilyn Devonish (, ‘but just be aware that you want to get away from the situation you’re in.’ Louise’s answer was fairly simple: ‘I wanted something to keep my mind ticking over,’ she says, ‘so I got involved with the local Brownies. I really enjoy it, I’m ESSENTIALSMAGAZINE.COM

more involved in my community and my health has improved, too.’ Breaking the routine, even in little ways, can be all that’s needed.

Just make a start Marilyn suggests breaking your life into core areas: relationships, work, health and spirituality, then pick one. Ask yourself, ‘What’s really important to me in relation to this?’ Write down everything that pops into your head, and keep going. At first you’ll get the obvious responses, but it’s when you’re stumped that the answers you come up with are more telling. It should give a useful insight into what really matters to you and what you need to change. Pinpointing this is the crucial first step. As Kate Campbell says, ‘My situation’s been a long time brewing, but I’m determined not to put off tackling it any longer.’

A. Laidback and easy-going. B. Moderately ambitious. C. Classic A-type – highly-strung and stressed.

4. Do you find your attention level is: A. Resolute – I’ve got

blinkers on when I’m doing something. B. Fairly focused. C. Frazzled and easily distracted, I’m constantly looking for stuff I’ve lost.

5. Considering your social network, are you: A. Supported with a large circle of friends. B. Happy with a smaller group of close friends. C. Isolated and rather lonely.

6. When you think about your daily life, do you feel: A. Passionate and energised. B. Calm and relaxed. C. Full of dread, with a sense of unease.

7. Do you feel something’s missing from your life? A. Never. B. Occasionally. C. Constantly.

MOSTLY As: You’re so relaxed, you’re horizontal! But being so easy-going means you might miss out on planning for things that really matter to you. MOSTLY Bs: Congratulations on getting the perfect balance in your life – you’re fun to be with and involved, but think about whether you can help others who might not be faring so well. MOSTLY Cs: You need to sit down with your GP and look at your symptoms collectively; they can refer you to NHS psychologists if need be.




Supersonic toothbrushes, dresses to twirl in, wellies to win…


Frocks that rock

It’s a sweeping, however mostly true, assumption that little girls love party dresses. But it can be tricky to find a suitable one for a formal do. Cue good ol’ Littlewoods, which has just launched its first occasionwear collection for girls – from newborns to aged 16. The range includes bridesmaid-worthy dresses that encompass pink, white, short, long, bows, stripes and lace – it’ll please her, you and your credit card! Visit

Tiny teeth, say cheese! A buzzing, whirring, toothbrush is, of course, so much more enticing to a child than boring bristles on a stick. So I can’t wait for my toddler to turn three so he can get brushing with a Philips Sonicare for Kids electric toothbrush (£49.99, Boots), which comes with customised stickers! It’s not cheap, but is clinically proven to remove 75% more plaque than a manual toothbrush, so definitely worth the money.

ON THE HUNT There’s more to this Belle & Boo Easter Egg Hunt Kit than mere good looks. It’s been created to raise cash for Kids Company (, the charity that provides support for inner-city children, and every penny of the £5 price tag is donated directly to them. The kit is downloadable and features these cute markers, as well as clues and a map. If only you could download chocolate eggs, too! Visit

Oatso easy

WIN! Joules wellies! To ensure your kids’ feet stay dry and stylish during April showers, we’ve teamed up with Joules, to give away eight pairs of its iconic wellies. For your chance to win, email your name, address, phone number and child’s shoe size to with JOULES in the subject line by 1 May 2014. The first eight entries will be chosen at random after this date*. ESSENTIALSMAGAZINE.COM

We’ve just discovered the Perkier range of gluten-free and wheat-free breakfasts that are great if you or your kids have an allergy to gluten. The porridge pots are particularly handy, quick (just add boiling water, stir and leave for two mins), tasty (choose from apple, berry or golden syrup) and widely available in supermarkets for £1.30 each. Try the cereal flakes and slightly naughty rocky road bar, too. More info at


In a nutshell

Got a problem you need advice on? Well, our agony aunt Tessa can help… As can her daughter, Elise

‘She’s still ill – and we’re all suffering’ A colleague has come back to work after a serious illness, but is really struggling, so the rest of us are constantly having to cover for her. I can tell she isn’t yet ready for the workplace, but I know she needs the money. I feel for her, but it’s obvious she just shouldn’t be here. What should I do? Gina, Orpington TESSA Your poor colleague must be feeling very fragile right now. I worry that thrashing out the problem with her will just make her stressed and possibly push her right over the edge. Discreetly explain the problem to your boss or HR department. Ask whether your colleague could perhaps be eased back in gently – maybe by working part-time for a while. If that’s not possible, say that you’re happy to help her out in the short-term – if you are. But explain that it can’t go on indefinitely. On the plus side, the stronger your colleague gets, the less she’ll struggle. ELISE It is really up to her and your boss to decide if she’s ready for work, not you and your colleagues. You need to have a friendly chat with her about the fact that she’s struggling and see if she wants to resolve the situation herself. It can’t be easy for her returning after illness and knowing she’s not performing her best. If that fails, all you can do is help her as and when she needs it, as long as it doesn’t infringe on your own performance at work. ESSENTIALSMAGAZINE.COM

‘Should I tell her he’s cheating?’ I think my friend’s husband is cheating on her. Gut instinct tells me I’ve got to tell her what’s going on, but what if, a) I’ve got my facts wrong, or b) I open up a massive can of worms in doing so? Lianna, Oban TESSA What are you waiting for? If you’re a true friend, you’ve got to give her a clue. Do it gently and she won’t want to tear your hair out. Pour her a big glass of wine, then move the conversation around to affairs. Make up a story of an ‘acquaintance’ who’s just discovered her husband is cheating and include all the suspicious behaviour you’ve noticed in your friend’s husband – then leave her to join up the dots. If she’s not ready to hear, at least you’ve done your bit. ELISE Keep quiet and she’ll only end up blaming you for letting her down when she needed you most. You never know, she may already feel something is wrong. Don’t put your suspicions to her point blank, as she will just get defensive. Instead, mention some of the clues you’ve noticed. To be a real friend you have to be truthful (while pointing the finger as little as possible).

‘I don’t want to leave my baby’ I’ve been on maternity leave for a year and I’m genuinely looking forward to going back to work, but at the same time I adore my baby daughter and hate the fact that I won’t be the one caring for her every day. I’m already feeling jealous of the new bonds she’s going to forge with her carers at nursery… What can I do? Heidi, Scarborough TESSA You’re bound to feel jealous. But as her mum, you are irreplaceable. Your baby is always going to love you best. And, because you love her, you want what’s best for her. What’s more, there’s loads of evidence that children who learn to socialise early grow up more confident. So be happy that she can forge bonds with the caring staff. ELISE Entrusting someone you love to another person will always be hard, but sometimes it’s necessary. This will be good for both you and your daughter. She will become less reliant on you, while also giving you a well deserved break from the demands of parenthood. Your daughter needs to be able to build relationships with other people, in order to grow up to be a well-rounded person.

GOT AN ITCH YOU CAN’T SCRATCH? Send your problem to Tessa and Elise at




Focal points, feature walls and statement pieces give Abi and Philip GoldďŹ nch’s Victorian home a designer edge


inspiration MEET THE OWNERS Abi and Philip Goldfinch live in a detached, three-bedroom house in south London. When they bought it in 2003, the house was very run-down in places, but the couple loved its original features, including the stained-glass windows. The aim was to preserve the integrity of the house, while adding modern, luxurious touches.

Style tip!

Arrange pictures on shelving and furniture tops by simply leaning them against the wall.

Simply chic Light and airy, the living room oozes understated elegance. The key is the layering of neutral elements – from the pale walls in Old White and Lime White Modern Emulsion (£39.50 for 2.5 litres, Farrow & Ball) to the relaxed selection of seating. A shot of hot pink adds an amazing contrast.



Feminine drama

Style tip!

Abi’s home is all about statement pieces which are cleverly highlighted by the neutral scheme, allowing them to take centre stage. Make your fireplace the focal point with a fresh lick of black paint (from DIY stores) and team with a funky piece of art.

Luxurious Corian worktops teamed with white Bombo bar stools make the stunning island unobtrusive.

Mix and match Loving the ‘juxtaposition between old and new’, Abi chose to combine new sleek high-gloss cabinets (try the Gloss Black Slab kitchen from B&Q) with a built-in Victorian dresser and cupboard, which were original to the house. Bespoke sliding doors (from Sun Paradise) blur the lines between inside and out. The walls are painted in Slipper Satin Modern Emulsion (£39.50 for 2.5 litres, Farrow & Ball).

Style tip!

Horizontal fence panelling creates a striking outdoor feature wall – try Hardwood slatted panels and brackets, £44.99, B&Q.



How to...GET THE GLAM! Vintage baroque velvet cushion cover, £21.98, Ian Snow.

Luxe for less The boutique style includes a grand roll-top bath. Cheat the look by painting the Winchester Single Ended Slipper Bath, from £288.99, Victoria Plumb, using a doit-yourself Bath Resurfacing Kit, from £53, Tubby. ESSENTIALSMAGAZINE.COM


Marilyn Monroe: Ballerina print, from £7.99, All Posters.

Chandelier sticker, £24, Spin Collective.

Magellan golden metal mirror, £139, Maisons Du Monde. Country dome wall clock, £45, Marks & Spencer.

Bombo low-backed bar stool, £30.50, Bar Stool Fool. Queen Anne high-back wing chair, £295, Designer Sofas 4 U.

Deltra ceiling light, £149, Very.

Stitchback linen dining chairs, £139.99 for two, Argos.


10 ways to get Get your children out there in the fresh air and, we promise, they’ll be hooked for life!

1 Primulas, pansies and marigolds come in cheerful colours, flower for ages and look great in pots. Buy plugs or young plants which you’ll find in garden centres now – they may need to go under cover if late frosts are forecast. Kids who are old enough to handle a trowel can plant them up: show them how to tell if the plants need watering or dead-heading (this will prolong the flowering period) and make them in charge of those little jobs.

2 Start them off young – stick a pair of wellies and waterproofs on a toddler, give them a spade and bucket and encourage them to ‘help’ you in the garden. If that means digging holes in the border and making mud pies, then at least they’re having fun – get them hunting for snails, while they’re at it (just make sure they don’t try to eat them). Children over 4 can help with larger tasks, such as cutting flowers for the house, or pruning trees with those loppers that extend like bionic arms. 130 ESSENTIALS

3 Get them to grow 4 If you have an assortment of youngsters who succulent cacti – but are competitive, mind those prickles! They come in all shapes and sizes and don’t need much looking after: just a warm sunny place inside (such as a windowsill), well-drained soil and the occasional drink.

set them a challenge such as who can grow the tallest sunflower or the biggest pumpkin. Choose sunny positions for both teams, then set a date when the judging will take place. ESSENTIALSMAGAZINE.COM



kids gardening 5 Teach children the connection between planting a seed and seeing the result. Choose plants that give quick, dramatic results, such as cosmos, sunflowers, Californian poppies, nasturtiums and nigella – they’re all annuals, so they grow from seed through to flowers in one season and start coming up in a matter of weeks.

6 Give them an area of the garden or your allotment to look after – choose a sunny spot with good soil. If you’ve got room, a bench or chair will make it somewhere older kids will want to hang out, especially if it has some privacy.

7 Big seeds


(like beans, sunflowers and nasturtiums) are easy for little hands to handle, so even a two-year-old can have a go at planting them. In the autumn, get kids (6 years and over) to plant daffodil and tulip bulbs ready for spring – these can cause skin irritation, so make them wear gloves or wash their hands thoroughly afterwards.


8 Growing veg

is a great way to learn where food comes from. Climbing French beans and runner beans will give you pretty flowers, lots of shoots you can train up a wigwam of poles, then beans to pick later in the summer. Radishes, beetroot, chard, potatoes and carrots are all easy to grow. Little alpine strawberries don’t need as much care and it’s always fun searching for them among the leaves. They will come back every year, too.


9 Get older kids, 10 years and over, to use the veg they grow to get them interested in food. They can add herbs or edible flowers, such as daylilies, nasturtiums or pansies, to salads; or they could experiment with mint and lemon balm to make refreshing drinks. Make pies and crumbles using soft fruits, rhubarb and apples. And let them dig up potatoes for supper – just make sure they’re careful with the garden fork!

Little Garden Angels watering can, £4.98, B&Q.

Let them get their little (green) fingers on these…


10 To attract birds, butterflies and bees you need easy-to-grow plants, such as primroses, achilleas, aquilegias, echinops and sedums. Shrubs like cotoneaster and pyracantha will provide berries for the birds during the winter. Get the kids to keep a notebook of all the wildlife they spot. Perhaps they could make a bird house ready for winter shelter – check out the paint-your-own version from Happy Families Shop (, which costs £17.99.

Yeominis kids flatpack wheelbarrow, £16.99, Green Fingers.

Girl’s gardening set in red bag, £9.95, Dotcomgiftshop.

Watering can kit, £12.95, Little Pals.

Junior garden kit, £15.95, Little Pals.



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holiday parks Forget Hi-de-Hi!, the new breed of family holiday parks range from beautiful UK beachside spots to calm Mediterranean retreats…. BEST FOR… FRANCOPHILE FAMILIES

Yelloh! Village le Sérignan Plage, Languedoc, France This immaculately maintained park is a dream destination for families. With direct access to a stunning sandy beach, indoor and outdoor pools, a kids’ club and an impressive entertainment programme, there’s a wide choice of chalets, lodges and even pitches if you want to use your own tent. There are vineyards, water parks and beautiful countryside to explore if you fancy a day out, but with so much to do onsite you could happily stay put all day... every day! HOT TIP Head to the on-site, adults-only Balneo well-being spa for a Jacuzzi or a massage – perfect for chilling out. COST Prices start at £308.70 per week for a Vivaldi mobile home, sleeping up to six people. Call 0843 249 7999, or visit






Retallack Resort and Spa, Cornwall A few miles inland from Padstow, this resort has a chic Scandi feel. Accommodation ranges from Shaker-style two-bedroom chalets to posh houses sleeping 12, complete with media room. Tailor-made for young families, the lodges boast stair gates, travel cots, high chairs and sterilisers. There’s a crèche, kids’ club and plenty of onsite facilities to keep children happy, including the FlowZone play area – a sheet of water that creates a safe, surf-type wave. For parents, there’s a spa with sauna, pool and treatment rooms, plus fitness programmes. HOT TIP Great beaches abound here, but five miles up the road is one of the UK’s most beautiful – Constantine Bay. COST Prices start at £329 per week for a two-bedroom lodge, sleeping four. Call 01637 882 500, or visit


Origo Mare Holiday Village, Fuerteventura, Canary Islands Fuerteventura’s consistently mild climate means it’s an excellent choice for a family holiday any time. The gorgeous, brand-new Pierre & Vacances Origo Mare Holiday Village is built around a swimming pool complex and includes a water park inspired by the Canary Islands’ volcanic origins. Rent a chic, modern apartment or house – all have a terrace and garden – then enjoy checking out the restaurants and bars on site. HOT TIP Watersport fans are well catered for, with the chance to windsurf, kite surf, dive and jet ski. COST Prices start at £462 per week for a self-catered studio, sleeping two, or £676 for a three-bedroom house, sleeping six. Call 0870 026 7145, or visit


Saint-Paul-de-Vence Club, southern France The recently renovated Saint-Paul-de-Vence Club ‘Les Oliviers’, near Nice, is in a lovely setting next to a large pine forest, with all the scenery, glitz and glamour of the south of France right on your doorstep. The stylish accommodation is airconditioned and comes with patio or balcony, and the complex has a restaurant that serves up tasty local dishes. The kids have their own clubs to keep them entertained. Plus – the pièce de résistance – baby sitters are available, too! HOT TIP Culture vultures should head for the nearby Maeght Foundation, which has an impressive collection of modern art. COST Prices start at £412 per week for a family of four, selfcatering. To book, visit ESSENTIALSMAGAZINE.COM


Camping Eden, Lake Garda, Italy Don’t be fooled by the name – it’s not just camping this park offers, there’s a mixture of chalets, mobile homes and tents for hire. And settings don’t get much more picturesque, as it’s set on the banks of stunning Lake Garda, with uninterrupted views that’ll take your breath away as you eat on your terrace. The two and three-bed mobile homes feature a lounge, fridgefreezer, microwave and air conditioning, and the kids will love the lakeside beaches, plus the two pools with waterslides. HOT TIP Take a trip on the lake steamer from the nearby port of Portese – it stops off at many villages around the lake. COST Prices start at £338 per week for a two-bedroom Classic mobile home, sleeping four, arriving on 18 May 2014. Call 0845 268 0827, or visit


Hoburne Bashley, Hampshire Not only is this holiday park in the heart of the beautiful New Forest, but it’s a great option for families who like to keep active. From the newly refurbished pool, nine-hole golf course (plus crazy golf if you just want some fun) and indoor soft play room for the children, there’s plenty to keep everyone happy. Or venture out and explore the Forest on bikes or on foot. The less active can just watch the sun go down while sipping wine on their own terrace. All this and the coast is just three miles down the road. HOT TIP As well as bicycle hire, the park offers a mobility hire service, too, making it easy for everyone to get around. COST Prices start at £450 per week in May for a caravan, sleeping up to six. Call 0844 288 2050, or visit

Heathland Beach Holiday Park, Suffolk Suffolk is one of the driest, sunniest counties in the UK and the beaches are glorious, so what better place to feel the sand between your toes? Nestling next to a lovely white sand beach near Lowestoft, this holiday park has gorgeous slatted, modern holiday homes for hire, which are fully equipped with kitchens, TV and DVD, shower and separate loo. On site there’s a bar, swimming pool, tennis court and even fishing. HOT TIP Go to to help plan what to see and do in the county. COST Prices start at £260 per week for a two-bedroom home, sleeping up to four people. Call 01502 740 337, or visit 136 ESSENTIALS





your time off


Lochgoilhead, Argyll, Scotland Overlooking the stunning Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park with a mountain backdrop and views over Loch Goil, the setting of these lodges can’t be beaten. There’s a whole range of things to do, including trails and cycle paths to explore, fishing on the loch, or you can tee off at the nine-hole golf course. Active types can also try their hand at a range of more unusual pursuits like archery and quad biking. HOT TIP Go rambling on the nearby Dun Na Cuiache Woodland Walk that goes round Inveraray Castle, ancestral home of the Duke of Argyll – the tearoom here is lovely, too! COST Prices start at £600 per week in May for an Osprey Premier Lodge, sleeping five. Call 0844 847 1100, or visit






A holiday worth £1,500 We’ve teamed up with Al Fresco Holidays to offer an amazing summer break in France for a family of up to six people Summer is a time to spend with your family. And what could be better than an active holiday at Village Le Sylvamar, in the stunning Aquitaine region of south-west France? Win this prize and you and your family will be spending a week of fun in the sun. As well as a water park with heated pool, lagoon, lazy river and water slide for the kids to enjoy, there’s a sauna, steam room, indoor Jacuzzi and beauty/wellness treatment rooms for Mum and Dad. Off parc there’s a surf school, as well as fitness programmes in the stunning 15-hectare woodland setting. Glitzy Biarritz is also on the doorstep, perfect for family days out. And no need to worry about travel costs – we’ll give you £500 for those, too. Good luck!

There’s no shortage of Al Fresco fun!

TERMS & CONDITIONS The prize consists of a sevennight holiday for a family of up to six people to Village Le Sylvamar, staying in a mobile home on a self-catering basis. It will be the responsibility of the winner to arrange their own travel to and from the parc, but they will be provided with up to £500 in travel costs. No cash alternative will be available and the prize is non-transferable. The promoter reserves the right to substitute a prize of similar value, offer a specific date, or an alternative holiday in the event of non-availability of the stated prize, and if the prize, described above, cannot be awarded for reasons beyond the promoter’s reasonable control. Proof of identity may be required in order to claim the prize. The winner and all guests will be required to participate in reasonable publicity relating to this promotion. The winner must be available to book their prize within three months of being notified and the holiday must be taken in 2014.

HOW TO ENTER Send your name and contact details to: comps_ essentials@, putting AL FRESCO HOLIDAYS in the subject line, by 1 May 2014. The sender of the first entry drawn at random after that date will win the prize.




For more about Al Fresco Holiday’s 68 parcs, call 0843 249 7999, or go to to order a free brochure.

In association with

Seaside special One of the wonderful things about England is that you’re never far from the feel of sand between your toes and the glorious smell of the sea. So pack up your towels and head to the beach for sun, fun and adventures


With 1,400+ ideas for holidays, let whisk you away from the day-to-day. South Shields

Discover a varied coastline that will guarantee excitement, fun and fond family memories. The beach is one of England’s finest – perfect for building sandcastles! – and is bordered by Ocean Beach Pleasure Park, with its thrilling rides and rollercoasters. For more adventure, try the jet-skis, windsurfing and kayaking, or slow things down with a leisurely stroll along the promenade followed by fish and chips at the legendary Colmans. See for details.

North Somerset This is where traditional meets state-of-the-art. The kids will love the indoor theme park on Weston-super-Mare’s Grand Pier (, while you’ll fall for Clevedon’s Victorian splendour and the beautiful marina at Portishead. After a spectacular coastal walk around Sand Bay, visit the two National Trust houses at Clevedon Court and Tyntesfield, before heading inland to the famous Cheddar Gorge and Wookey Hole. Visit for details.

Isle of Wight


Welcome to a true holiday isle, where the 60 miles of glorious beaches are only outstripped by the number of attractions and activities (over 100 at the last count). For the kids there are fossil walks, steam trains, zoos and adventure parks, while you won’t want to miss historic Osborne House, the resorts of Shanklin, Ryde Sandown and Ventnor – or just the chance to instantly unwind. Go to

If natural beauty, dramatic seascapes and value-for-money activities are what you’re looking for, head to Sunderland. This city-by-the-sea is best explored via the hop-on, hop-off buses, which will take you to six free attractions, including the Museum & Winter Gardens and the National Glass Centre. The traditional feel of the seaside is still strong here, but you can also satisfy your wilder side with a spot of sailing or even surfing! More info at



Yorkshire Coast While the glorious seaside resorts of Scarborough and Bridlington are rightly famous, there are wonderful surprises dotted all along the coast. To the north, you can explore the sandy beaches, go rock pooling, fossil hunting or even sea fishing, while the south offers beautiful Sewerby Hall and gardens, plus the breathtaking RSPB reserve at Bempton Cliffs. And did we mention the Scarborough Sea Life Sanctuary, mini golf, the replica of Captain Cook’s ship and walks along the stunning Heritage Coast? Find it all at

Dorset Dorset excels when it comes to beaches. Kimmeridge Bay is one of the best places to go rock pooling, Christchurch is tops for crabbing, Lyme Regis is the king of sandcastle building, and Weymouth offers donkey rides, candy floss, Punch and Judy and more. Add to that the delicious local produce (freshly caught seafood, anyone?) and a superb choice of family accommodation, and you have a family holiday to remember. See for details. ESSENTIALSMAGAZINE.COM


For more inspiration to help plan your trip, head to


Essex At 350 miles long, the Essex Discovery Coast is full of hidden treasures. After you’ve enjoyed its Blue Flag beaches, nature reserves, boat trips and watersports, head to fun-filled Southend for the thrill rides at Adventureland and a train ride along the longest pleasure pier in the world. Or visit Clacton, a resort that will suit every family and every pocket. Find out more at

East Lincolnshire A perfect combination of Blue Flag beaches, bright lights and brilliant amusements, Skegness is rightly famous for providing everything your family could possibly want in a traditional seaside resort – but the area is now a cultural destination in its own right, too. The SO Festival, which runs 28 June-6 July, brings together world-class performers, dance acts and street theatre in a lively feast for the eyes and ears – it’s not to be missed. For more details, go to ESSENTIALS 142



You’ll be spoilt for choice in this idyllic county. The traditional seaside delights can be found in Torquay and Babbacombe (don’t miss the model village and Cliff Railway), while Paignton boasts the famous zoo and plenty of gorgeous sand. Talking of lovely beaches, Woolacombe’s is regularly voted as one of the best in the world, and like nearby Westward Ho!, has plenty of room to cater for both families and watersport enthusiasts. For more info, go to

In our June issue...

✽Kitchen secrets for making the best PUDS

✽Get glowing and summer GORGEOUS ...PLUS LOTS MORE!

On sale 1 May

✽Easy, stunning CRAFTS you’ll want to make

✽ Amazing BARBECUE recipes to impress

Are you sitting comfortably? This month we’ve got a whole lot of fun for you and the family to check out BOOKS BOOK OF THE MONTH

Under a Silent Moon by Elizabeth Haynes (£7.99, Sphere) In some crime novels, a fast-moving plot comes at the expense of believable characters, but not so here. Elizabeth Haynes offers it all. She draws on her experience as a police analyst to give everything a ring of authenticity: the dialogue, the characters and the inquiry, as we follow newly promoted DCI Louisa Smith investigating two deaths. Haynes, who won Amazon Book of the Year for her first novel, Into The Darkest Corner, packs this crime novel with enough surprises to keep you mystified right to the end. The structure of her plot has an added twist with some very realistic-looking police documents: witness statements, forensic reports and various analysis charts. This means the reader has access to everything they need to solve the crime – yet the chances of working it out before DCI Smith and her Major Incident Squad do are, well, pretty slim! Angela Cooke, Features Editor


IF YOU LIKED THIS, YOU’LL LOVE THESE… Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn (£7.99, Phoenix) Six years before she became famous for Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn’s first book wowed the critics. And it’s easy to see why – it’s a dark, unsettling read that fills you with doubt and keeps you secondguessing the whole way through. Journalist Camille returns to her childhood home, but something’s not quite right with her distant half-sister. Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty (£7.99, Faber & Faber) A dark and disturbing courtroom drama, this

book is an utterly compulsive read. After starting an affair with a married man, Yvonne’s life is set on a path of destruction, leading to her standing trial at the Old Bailey, accused of murder. It’s stark, quietly intense, tricky and absolutely brilliant. Before I Go to Sleep by SJ Watson (£7.99, Black Swan) If you’re not one of the four million people who’ve already read this page-turner, do it now – you won’t regret it. After a terrible accident 20 years ago, Christine wakes up every day with no memories and has to learn about her

life from a journal – but is someone lying about her story? What makes it great is the unexpected twist that you really won’t see coming. The Telling Error by Sophie Hannah (£12.99, Hodder & Stoughton) Cleverly crafted to fill the reader with paranoia, this is a psychological thriller carried out to absolute perfection – Hannah does creepy like no one else. In her latest book, a woman makes a detour to avoid an unwelcome figure from her past… and the next day she’s accused of a murder she didn’t commit.


your entertainment WHAT TO WATCH

FROM PAGE TO SCREEN These upcoming films and TV dramas all draw inspiration from the bookshelf. Read them before you see them brought to life.

Jamaica Inn Daphne du Maurier’s classic airs on BBC One this Easter, and stars Downton’s Jessica Brown Findlay and Matthew McNulty.

Gone Girl Last summer’s smash hit book is being brought to life by a cast including Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike. Out this autumn. ...AND FROM PAGE TO STAGE

Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies While you wait for the TV versions of Hilary Mantel’s pair of awardwinning novels, catch the RSC’s productions in London this May. ESSENTIALSMAGAZINE.COM

Based on a true story

SPOT YOUR TOWN! Does that location look familiar? Watch out for TV shows and movies made near your home…

If you love a film based on real-life events – think Titanic, Apollo 13, Calendar Girls and Argo – here are two of the latest ones worth looking out for on DVD.

Kill Your Darlings Set in 1940s New York, this clever, stylish and totally absorbing film is about Allen Ginsberg, the American poet accused of murdering his friend. Daniel Radcliffe is Ginsberg, proving he’s not just a onetrick pony! Parkland This fascinating film focuses on the reactions of the ordinary people affected by JFK’s assassination – his bodyguards, Lee Harvey Oswald’s family and the doctors who took care of him before he died. Although the story is fast-paced and simple, it’s expertly told.

Shot in…


The West Country is getting quirky..

Tim Burton’s eccentric movie Big Eyes was partially filmed at the Royal Portbury Docks in Bristol. A biopic of kitsch ’60s painter Walter Keane, you can catch it later this year. Shot in…


Jack is back and causing mayhem in the capital!

When Kiefer Sutherland filmed 24: Live Another Day he was seen in Aldgate, upturning black cabs and setting off explosions by the Gherkin. Watch it on Sky 1 next month. Shot in…


The numbers all add up in this new Brit flick.

A teenage maths genius (Asa Butterfield) is mentored by edgy teacher Rafe Spall for an international contest in X Plus Y, filmed in Sheffield and at St John’s College Cambridge. Shot in…


Cillian Murphy heads to the Midlands again.

The second series of the highly-acclaimed Peaky Blinders has been filming in locations across the UK including Dudley and Leeds – we can’t wait for its return on BBC One. ESSENTIALS 145


your entertainment

FIVE MINUTES WITH… Jo Frost The 42-year-old parenting guru, star of new ITV talk show Jo Frost’s Family Matters (airing this spring) and inventor of the naughty step reveals all… You won’t see me getting Botox. Sometimes I look at myself on TV and think, ‘God, I’ve aged!’ But we all get older, and I think it’s important to age gracefully.

Plan your Easter fun now! Brace yourself – school hols are just around the corner. If you struggle to keep the kids entertained, we’ve come up with great ways to keep them happy… once all the eggs have been eaten!


Walking with Dinosaurs: The 3D Movie Even though the dinosaurs in this flick can talk, it’s realistic, educational and the animation is brilliant. Be warned though; very young children may find it too scary. £12.75, TAKE THEM TO A SPECTACULAR SHOW…

Disney on Ice: Worlds of Fantasy Characters from The Little Mermaid, Toy Story, Disney Fairies and even Cars (yes, actual cars!) are taking to the ice across the country. It’s magical stuff. Visit TRY SOME CREATIVE BAKING…

Making Sweets Easy Safe for even the smallest hands, this children’s cookbook features impressivelooking recipes such as marshmallow pops and sugar mice. £9.99, Usbourne. HAVE A FUN DAY OUT…

Easter at Kew Gardens Get the kids’ imaginations flowing with free activities inspired by Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, including drawing squirrels in the Nut Room, and singing with Oompa-Loompas. From 5-21 April. ENJOY A CONCERT…

CBeebies Live Mr Tumble, Rastamouse and Mr Bloom are among the stars appearing on stage for this UK tour, accompanied by a live big band. Little ones will love it. Get tickets at 146 ESSENTIALS



My childhood was fantastic. I grew up in south-west London and spent most of my time out playing with my friends. My mother died when she was 43. I was only 24 and it was the most devastating thing that’s ever happened to me. If I can be half as good at parenting as she was, then I’ll be very happy. I’d definitely consider adoption. There are so many children who need loving homes. I don’t feel that I have to give birth to a child in order to love them. My partner Darrin and I are happy just being together at the moment – my biological clock isn’t ticking yet. Becoming a nanny just happened. As a teenager I used to babysit and I’ve always loved being around young children. It started off as a way to earn extra money to spend on clothes, but it quickly grew into a full-time thing.

This May friends up and down the country are getting together to eat, drink, laugh, catch up. And they’re doing it in the name of cancer.

Sign up today to receive your free Night In Kit including your own personalised garland:

Everyone just gives what they’d have spent on an evening out as a donation to Macmillan for your evening in.

CHAT6 to 70550 0844 375 1468

Macmillan Cancer Support, registered charity in England and

Wales (261017), Scotland (SC039907) and the Isle of Man (604).



Where to shop

Although prices and availability of items were checked at the time of going to press, unfortunately these can change. Our advice? Call the number or visit the website below to see when it’s arriving in your local store…


Accessorize 020 3372 3000 All Posters 020 8435 6555 Apricot Argos Ash 020 8616 4130 Asos 0871 909 0335 Aveda and salons nationwide


B&Q 0845 609 6688 Bar Stool Fool 01566 780 480 Benefit 0800 279 4793 BHS 0844 411 6000 Bioderma Blow Pro Boden 0844 873 0000 Bourjois Braun Boots Bumble and Bumble bumbleandbumble. Burt’s Bees burtsbees.

C Call It Spring etc/UK Charbonnel et Walker 020 7318 2075 Clarins 020 7307 6700 Clinique 0800 054 2666 Coast 0845 899 1119 Crabtree & Evelyn 0800 111 4406

D Debenhams 0844 561 6161

Designer Sofas 4 U 01254 268 590 Dorothy Perkins 0845 121 4515 Dotcomgiftshop 020 8746 2473 Dune 0116 284 7800


Elie Saab John Lewis Evans 0845 121 4516

F Farrow & Ball 01202 876 141 French Connection 0844 557 3285


George at Asda 0800 952 0101 Glo UK 01803 326 528 Graham & Green 0845 130 6622 Great Plains 0844 557 7227 Green Fingers 0845 345 0728

H Homebase 0845 077 8888

I Ian Snow 01271 858 649 Ikea 0845 358 3363 Isme 0844 811 8112 Izabel

J John Frieda

L L’Occitane 020 7907 0301 L’Oréal Paris Nationwide Laura Ashley 0871 983 5999 Little Pals 01829 260 715 Littlewoods 0844 822 8000 Luck & Luck 01752 881 930

M M&Co 0800 031 7200 Maisons Du Monde maisonsdumonde. com Mango 0845 082 2448 Marks & Spencer 0845 302 1234 Matalan 0845 330 3330 Max Factor Nationwide Melvita Mint Velvet 0845 456 2200 Monsoon 0844 811 0068

N New Look 0844 499 6690 Next 0844 844 8000

O Oasis 0845 899

Nationwide John Lewis 0845 604 9049

Back issues UK, £3.99 per copy. Europe, £5.99. RoW, £8.99. John Denton Services, Essentials Back Issues Dept, PO Box 772, Peterborough PE2 6WJ (01733 385 170 24-hours /secure website: Cheque payable to IPC Media Ltd. Subscriptions order hotline 0844 848 0848 (UK orders only). Cheques payable to IPC Media Ltd. Subscription rates (12 issues, inc p&p): UK £40.88; USA direct entry $75.70; Europe/Eire €89.75; North America $79.90; rest of the world £75.99. (Overseas copies sent Priority Service: 3-5 days within Europe/Eire; and within 5-7 days for all other countries; USA direct entry: 5-12 days.) Subscriptions enquiries and order hotline: +44 (0) 844 848 0848. Essentials Subscriptions, Freepost SEA 4394, Haywards Heath, West Sussex RH16 3BR; email Enquiries and overseas orders: Essentials Subscriptions, PO Box 272, Haywards Heath, West Sussex RH16 3FS; tel +44 (0) 845 676 7778. US subscriptions: Essentials 0953-6337, is published monthly by IPC Media, Blue Fin Building, 110 Southwark Street, London SE1 0SU, England. The 2014 US annual subscription price is $79.90. Airfreight and mailing in the USA by When you have finished with this magazine please recycle it. agent named Air Business Ltd, c/o Worldnet Shipping Inc, 156-15, 146th Avenue, 2nd


Joules 0845 250 7170

0009 Oliver Bonas 020 8974 0110


PIT PopArtUK 01263 713 417

R Ren 0845 302 1234 Rimmel Nationwide River Island 0844 576 6444 River Island 0844 576 6444

S Shiseido John Lewis Spin Collective SunParadise 020 8538 9585

T The Body Deli The Contemporary Fencing Company 01227 781 062 Topshop 0844 984 0264 Trevor Sorbie Boots Tubby 0800 328 4324

V Very 0844 822 2321 Victoria Plumb 0844 804 4848


Wallis 0844 984 0266 Warehouse World of Power 01298 213 145


YSL Department stores nationwide

Z Zara 0800 030 4238

Floor, Jamaica, NY 11434, USA. Periodicals postage paid at Jamaica NY 11434. US postmaster: Send address changes to Essentials, Air Business Ltd, c/o Worldnet Shipping Inc, 156-15, 146th Avenue, 2nd Floor, Jamaica, NY 11434, USA. Subscription records are maintained at IPC Media, Blue Fin Building, 110 Southwark Street, London SE1 0SU, England. Air Business Ltd is acting as our mailing agent. Printing Origination by Rhapsody. Printed in the UK by Wyndeham Impact and the Polestar Group Ltd. Distribution Marketforce (UK) Ltd, The Blue Fin Building, 110 Southwark Street, London SE1 0SU (020 314 83333). © A Time Warner company, IPC Media Ltd, 2014 Essentials magazine is published by IPC SouthBank, part of the IPC Media Ltd group of companies. Reproduction of any written material or illustration in this publication in any form or for any purpose, other than short extracts for the purpose of review, is expressly forbidden unless the prior consent of the Publisher has been given in writing. Essentials is sold subject to the following conditions, namely that it shall not, without the written consent of the Publishers first given, be lent, resold, hired out or otherwise disposed of by way of Trade at more than the recommended selling price shown on the cover, and that it shall not be lent, resold, hired out or otherwise disposed of in a mutilated condition or in any unauthorised cover by way of Trade, or affixed to or as part of any publication or advertising, literary or pictorial matter whatsoever. ISSN: 0953 6337








The good news is that, whatever star sign you are, this month is full of surprises…

Your myopic dress-sense is getting out of hand, with impulsive buys splattered all over your wardrobe. Make sure radical changes are approved by friends – then seconded by the style police. DO keep any receipts DON’T try to impress teenagers

A persistent little cloud will finally evaporate in May and you’ll feel like your old self again. Spring is in the air and in your heart… just don’t start worrying that you should have more to worry about. DO accept compliments gracefully DON’T tweet about your boss

You need a pay rise. Praise for a job well done is all very well, but sometimes there’s just no substitute for cold, hard cash. The last week of May is best for appealing to the purse-string holders. DO list your achievements DON’T run with scissors

Someone hungry once said: ‘The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach’, and this month you will get the chance to repay someone’s kindness with food. Nothing says ‘I love you’ like a pot roast. DO follow recipes carefully DON’T be stingy with the wine

It’s time to chase your dreams before they make a quick getaway. Take direct action and stick to your guns – but remember to remove them before you go to the loo. DO be honest with yourself DON’T admit defeat

A health kick may backfire when you discover the human body wasn’t designed to live on celery alone. Eat real food and nag a friend into taking some exercise with you. Why should you suffer alone? DO celebrate your quirks DON’T get fooled by seductive advertising

It’s time to celebrate your arty side. Express yourself through colour, carpet and emulsion. Macramé your dog a tutu! Splosh your glorious imagination all over the damn place. DO ignore general taste and style guides DON’T neglect children or plants

You’ve got so far into a rut you’re finding it hard to see daylight. You need to remember what gets you most excited about life. Write it down and stick it to your forehead. DO light a fire under your bottom DON’T cut your own hair

An attraction to someone inappropriate could prove bewildering. Just keep it to yourself for a while until the hormone surge relaxes. By the end of the month you’ll be back to normal. DO distract yourself with shopping DON’T underestimate the power of cleavage

You have a lot on your plate and you’re tired just looking at it. Focus on your goals and remember what you’re doing all this for. The only way to eat an elephant is one chunk at a time. DO hire a professional DON’T go without carbs

This is the month to knuckle down and concentrate on the details. At last you’ll be able to craft something really beautiful. You’ll have the single-mindedness of a fox going after a chicken. DO book a holiday DON’T let social media eat your life

You’re determined to make a quick buck, but you may discover that the only way to double your money is to fold it in half. It’s time to budget, but that doesn’t mean living in a tent just yet. Does It? DO upcycle DON’T say ‘no’ to dinner invitations



Liz Fraser


‘No, it’s not ust you’


quick glance at the stream of my friends’ updates on Facebook would suggest three things; they know how to apply make-up well, they have cute pets and they go out a lot. And I mean, A LOT. A quick glance around my real life and three things are clear to me; I look knackered, my hamster needs a clean out, and I don’t go out. Almost EVER. Once upon a time I had something called a social life. Now I have a social death. This was unexpected. I thought that once my children were a bit older and it no longer took calling in a UN Peacekeeping envoy just to leave the house for half an hour, I would be able to just walk out of the door, on a whim, any time, and GO OUT. Unfortunately, the reality is more like this: 1) Become breathless with the need to GET OUT. 2) Send texts to everyone I know, asking if they want to go for a drink. 3) Receive 20 variations of ‘I can’t’ because children are ill/I have work to do/I’m too tired/have thrush. 4) Do not go out. 5) Feel old and boring, made worse by a painful awareness that I’m actually quite glad I didn’t go out because I’ll feel fresh in the morning (and anyway I wanted to watch Mr Selfridge).


I can go for months having this kind of “Shall we? No, we can’t” ping-pong with friends. At least 50% of my texts are of this nature. My record was a year. Happily, I know I’m not alone. The fact is that, at any given time at this stage of our lives, it’s a dead-cert that out of one’s five closest friends, at least three of them will have a child who is vomiting, doing exam revision, experiencing soul-crushing wardrobe dilemmas, a sudden attack of acne, Facebook bullying or loverelated problems that cause self harm with paper clips and severe door-slamming. The remaining two have work to catch up on, an unspecified medical condition that prevents them from drinking, they’re going to a Relate meeting to save their dying relationship, or are off to the gym in case the Relate thing doesn’t work out and they need semipresentable buttocks to attract a rebound mate. Even though we know this, it’s part of the human condition of self-loathing and social paranoia that, if we don’t see our friends for more than a week, we automatically assume they are all out laughing, drinking and generally living it up like the wild, crayzee mortgage-paying parents they are. But they are mostly not doing this. They are at home, just like you and me, channelhopping, folding school uniforms and wondering if the kitchen wall needs a re-paint. And you know what? I’m OK with that. One of the plus-points about not being 20 any more is that I have nothing to prove to anyone, and I don’t have to care what other people think of me. Me, and my wild, crazy social death. Ohhh yeah, baby, let’s go.’




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