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STAY IN TOUCH Feelgood ways to connect, say thanks & have fun




Create a calm retreat at home PLUS Ways to unwind







e’ve had a fantastic month here at In The Moment and hope you have too. So many of you have been in touch saying you love our uplifting attitude, gorgeous images and beautiful design. Thank you so much! All that praise makes us feel very proud and reminds us how important it is to say thanks, to tell someone when you appreciate something they’ve said or done. Being grateful is an uplifting experience all round, and it’s a topic we’ve explored this issue, looking at how recognising the things to be thankful for can enhance our relationships and our lives (page 28). If you’re not great at saying thanks in person, use our postcards or flower designs to send your message instead.

I’m always interested in how I can be a bit healthier, but I don’t want to take all the fun (and fizz!) out of my life. That’s why making easy swaps and everyday tweaks to lifestyle choices appeals. If you’re the same, find out how taking steps towards a plant-based lifestyle can help on page 54. Talking of healthy fun, we’ve found many reasons to be cheerful and learn how having a laugh really can help your mental health. There are plenty of tips and ideas – and I promise no bad jokes! – on page 18. There’s much more in this issue too. We’re advocating outdoor activities such as cycling, picnicking and sky gazing, while indoors there’s always time to find a great read, plump up the cushions, kick back and relax...

JULES TAYLOR Editor-in-chief

PS: Take A Moment is our extra treat for you. Tap here to find it. WWW.CALMMOMENT.COM



28 54 66


Mindful ways to WELLBEING 17 18 LAUGHTER THERAPY Why we should give ourselves permission to laugh more.

LIVING 53 54 PLANT POWER Eating a plant-based diet is a simple way to be a bit healthier. Find inspiration and try some new recipes.

26 WELLBEING COLUMN Come sky gazing. 28 WHY WE’RE THANKFUL Use gratitude to bring more joy and optimism into your life.



66 LIVING COLUMN For a laidback, outdoor living space try bringing the indoors out.

36 LIVE WELL Are you getting enough sleep?

70 HAPPY HOUSEPLANTS Failsafe favourites for indoor growing (tried and tested!).

38 SHOPPING: SLEEP AIDS To help you sleep easy, sleep deep and wake up refreshed.

75 MY STILL SPACE Thoughts on creating a spot to retreat to when you need to unwind.

40 SUMMERTIME SADNESS Blue skies can bring blue moods, but there are ways to help.

78 SHOPPING: A CALM ROOM Ideas and inspiration for curating a tranquil space.

45 MY YOGA LIFE Reflections on friendship from our resident yogi, Charlene Lim.








GOOD NEWS Uplifting ideas, stories and inspiration from around the world.


45 90

live your life well ... CREATING 81


82 CONNECT CREATIVELY Simple, fun ways to make meaningful connections with friends.

104 SHOPPING: LITTLE LUXURIES For long, lazy summer days at home and away.

86 SHOPPING: GIFTS IN THE POST Our top recommendations for subscription gift clubs.

106 HAPPY TRAVELS Five steps for taking the anxiety out of travelling.

88 BOOK CLUB: Each issue we’ll pick a brilliant book to read. This month, we dabble in magic.

112 ESCAPING COLUMN Get on your bike and take the (cycle) path to happiness!

90 CREATING COLUMN Step away from the screen: let’s bring creativity into the real world.

114 LIFE LESSONS A sense of humour can help us to find calm in times of adversity.

95 FLOWER CUT-OUTS Three beautiful, easy projects to make someone’s day. 99 PROFILE: ANNA ALICIA The eclectic designer-maker on her creative life.

lants p r o o d n i Easy ge 70 pa



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With a little help from our friends Meet the amazing writers who’ve contributed to this month’s issue of In The Moment. They’ve done wonderful things with words…



ow! That month flew by and we’re on to issue 2 already. What an amazing bunch of people we’ve collaborated with to bring it all together: we’ve been totally inspired by your ideas and offers to help. If you’ve reached out to us but not yet heard back – sorry – you will hear from us soon. It takes a lot to make In The Moment your go-to monthly guide to a mindful life. We hope you enjoy the magazine and discover plenty in it to encourage you to find your own special moments every day. Have a wonderful August!

Editor-in-chief JULES TAYLOR

Get in touch InTheMomentMag inthemomentmag inthemomentmag inthemomentmag inthemoment



Illustration by Mi-Kyung Choi

Annika writes about, researches and designs new ways to achieve wellbeing. She empowers her clients to create joy in their lives and teaches them how to live more mindfully. You’ll find Annika at On page 28, Annika shows us how feeling gratitude and expressing appreciation is one of the simplest ways to bring joy into our lives.

JO CARNEGIE Jo is a journalist and author of nine women’s fiction books. She has a certificate in holistic counselling and writes about meaningful living and wellbeing. After three years travelling abroad, Jo has moved to a new city and put her roots down again. This issue, Jo writes about summer sadness and how to beat the blues whatever the season – page 40.

SARAH DITUM Sarah’s running our Book Club, seeking out interesting novels and non-fiction and chatting with authors about their inspiration. She reviews fiction for The Guardian, New Statesman and Literary Review, as well as being a columnist and feature writer. Sarah’s website is and you can find her on Twitter as @sarahditum. Our Book Club is on page 88.


Y VETTE STREETER Yvette is a magazine journalist and fully paid-up member of the vegan club. Her aversion to anything that takes too much effort, combined with her enthusiasm for spreading the vegan love, led Yvette to start The Lazy Vegan, a blog sharing tips, recipes and snacks for those who want to give veganism a go. Follow her on Insta @thelazyvegan_uk. ‘The power of plants’ is on page 54.

ALLISON GREEN A full-time freelancer and travel blogger, Allison left her stable life as a public school teacher in New York City in favour of the unknown. She’s happiest when in the mountains, by the sea, or surrounded by good friends and good food. See more of Allison’s adventures on her blog Allison’s feature – Five steps to happy travels – is on page 106.

The team Editorial Editor-in-chief Jules Taylor Art Editor Julian Dace Deputy Art Editor Benedict Blyth Managing Editor Charlotte Martyn Production Editor Kirstie Duhig Digital Editors Sarah Orme, Kate Evans Contributors Additional design Louise Stevens Illustration Mi-Kyung Choi, Becki Clark, Matilda Smith

Advertising Call: 0117 300 8206 Group Advertising Manager Penny Stokes Account Manager Emelie Arnold

Marketing and Circulation Direct Marketing Manager Penny Clapp Direct Marketing Executive Joe Jones Newstrade Marketing Manager Helen Seymour International Account Manager Juliette Winyard Head of Newstrade Marketing Martin Hoskins Subscriptions Director Jacky Perales-Morris

Production Production Director Sarah Powell Production Manager Louisa Molter / Rose Griffiths

Licensing Licensing and Syndication Tim Hudson International Partners Manager Anna Brown

CAROLINE ROWL AND Caroline, our Living columnist, is the founding editor of 91 Magazine. She is also a freelance writer and author of The Shopkeeper’s Home. Caroline lives in Surrey with her family, where they’re renovating their Victorian home. Follow her journey and find inspiration on her blog, and on Instagram @patchworkhrmy. Caroline’s column is on page 66.

CATH DEAN Cath is our Creating columnist. When she’s not surrounded by craft in her role as editor of Mollie Makes (www., Cath can be found hanging out with her two cats, Posy and Mittens. She loves Sunday mornings spent with mugs of tea, stacks of magazines, yoga and oversized jumpers. Find her on Instagram @cathdean85. Cath’s column is on page 90.

Publishing Publishing Director Catherine Potter Publisher (Digital) Charlotte Morgan

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Need support? If you’re feeling low and need to talk to someone, contact: Mind at NHS Direct on 111 Samaritans on 116 123 Befrienders Worldwide at




Uplifting ideas, stories and inspiration from around the world.

Crowning glory We love a floral crown, so we’re extremely pleased to note that they’re still very much à la mode this summer. Dior may have launched a ‘couture’ flower garland, but for those who prefer to be original, making your own is this summer’s must-do activity. If you’re heading to a festival or outdoor event, there’s even more reason to gather a group of girlfriends together and book a workshop – a Google search should find one in your local area – or watch an online tutorial and host your own. Real or fabric, subtle or bold, a garland flowers in our hair makes us feel alive and free and just a little bit childlike. So embrace your inner nymph, weave yourself a glorious floral coronet and revel in this simple antidote to the stresses and pace of everyday life.

Try this tutorial by cool lifestyle blog Refinery 29 at

Why we love a list We have to admit we love a ‘to do’ list, and now we know why. A study at Wake Forest University, North Carolina, has shown that while tasks we haven’t done distract us, just making a plan to get them done can free us from this anxiety, helping us to perform better. “They give us a structure… and they are proof of what we have achieved that day, week or month,” says psychologist Dr David Cohen. The best lists break your tasks into achievable goals. Writing ‘redecorate the house’ is pretty foreboding, whereas ‘paint the kitchen ceiling’ is more likely to get done. And does it matter if you don’t cross everything off your list? “Oh God no!” says Dr Cohen. “I found an old diary the other day from six years ago and there was something in there I still haven’t done.”

A LATTE A DAY... helps keep liver cancer away. UK scientists have found that drinking just one cup of coffee a day reduces your risk by 20%.





Sun is shining, the weather is sweet...

Keep cool in the (prickly) heat There’s nothing better than a spirit-lifting, soul-enriching vitamin D boost – we’re talking about a day in the sunshine. So how do we get the benefit of the sun, while protecting ourselves from that less covetable side effect, prickly heat? “Prickly heat or heat rash are names used for a condition called miliaria,” explains Dr Stefanie Williams, dermatologist and medical director of London skin clinic Eudelo. “It occurs when sweat ducts get obstructed, sweat leaks into the skin and the skin gets inflamed.” If you’re prone to prickly heat, the key is to avoid sticky creams and oils that can trap sweat, and go for lighter sprays or sun lotions with a high sun protection factor (SPF) instead. You can also give your skin a natural SPF boost by eating plenty of omega-3 rich fish (such as salmon and tuna), red and orange fruits and veggies, leafy greens and cruciferous veg (that’s broccoli, cauliflower and kale) – all of which are high in antioxidants that protect your skin cells against harmful UV rays.

SWEAT THE GOOD STUFF Sweat glands release powerful antibacterials and antifungals that fight off harmful bacteria, and they store stems cells that help to heal wounds.

For advice on sunscreens for prickly heat prone skin, go to



good news

Things to do to live your life well in August...



AUGUST Wish upon a star during the peak of the annual Perseid meteor shower, when it’s possible to see a shooting star a minute under clear, dark skies. These meteors are fragments of the comet Swift-Tuttle and most are no larger than a grain of sand. * You’ll need: a dark area in the suburbs or countryside, 30 mins for your eyes to adjust, a blanket!

19 Photography Kate Nolan

AUGUST Share your world with the world on World Photo Day. Founded by Aussie photographer Korske Ara as a way to “uplift, inspire and initiate change” by bringing images from different countries and cultures together, you can take part by posting a photo on 19 August. * Register to post your pic at


AUGUST It’s International Bat Night and a great time to spot young pipistrelle bats leaving their nests for the first time. There are 18 species of bat in the UK; tiny, reddish-brown pipistrelles are the most common. Look out for them from bridges as they fly over water while hunting for insects. * Join a bat walk at www.bats.



ALL MONTH If, like us, you’re a bit of a home décor addict, a trip to the Design Museum in London is in order. Breathing Colour is a stunning, installation-based exhibition by Dutch artist Hella Jongerius, which explores and challenges our perception of colour and how it shapes the way we see the world. Swatch books at the ready… * Visit

ALL MONTH Enjoy an Oz Clarke moment tasting the best of British wines at one of over 500 vineyards across England and Wales. Our homegrown wines are winning international acclaim – Winbirri in Norfolk won a Platinum Best in Show at this year’s Decanter World Wine Awards. *

Photography Roel van Tour

AUGUST Celebrate your body image ‘just as you are’ – it’s National Underwear Day in the US and we’re joining the party! What began as a marketing campaign by US undies brand Freshpair is now a day to celebrate your body image, and, if you’re anywhere near New York’s Times Square, strut your smalls in public! * Follow #NationalUnderwearDay

Photography Great British Chefs


SHAPE OF HIM Want a boyfriend who looks like Ed Sheeran? Dating app has just launched a face recognition feature to help you find a love who looks like your famous crush!

Keep your peel on Great news – not peeling your veg isn’t lazy, it’s good for you. Nutritionists are advising us to stop peeling as much of our veg as possible, and that includes all our root veg. Carrots, parsnips, turnips, beetroot – the skins are packed with essential nutrients including vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre, all of which fight disease and keep your body ticking along nicely. We love this summery skins-on roasted veg dish. Here’s what you’ll need:

* * * * * *

1 butternut squash * 2 red onions 2 garlic bulbs * 1 red pepper * 6 carrots 6 baby corn * 6 baby courgettes 6 baby aubergines * 6 baby leeks Vine tomatoes * Small bunch of thyme Sea salt * Black pepper * Olive oil

It’s so easy make: Prep and roast the squash, red onions and garlic bulbs for 20 minutes. Top and tail the remaining veg, add this and the thyme and roast for another 20 minutes. Enjoy!

We’re a fan of fans This summer we intend to stay cool, calm and collected while bringing a touch of Gatsby glamour to our daily commute with a pretty handheld fan. They’re so much more genteel than the waspish buzz of the battery-operated travel variety. And taking a few minutes to fan yourself is also the perfect opportunity to bring yourself back into the moment at the start or end of your working day. Join the fanclub and pop one in your beach bag too.

Check out Etsy’s fan-tastic vintage collection!

Recipe by Rosana McPhee – visit www.great for the full recipe and more.



ARBEJDSGLÆDE It’s the Danish concept of ‘work gladness’, where your work is a source of joy and happiness. It’s so much more fun than ‘job satisfaction’ we’re going to start using it. Once we learn how to pronounce it that is. Repeat after us: ‘ah-bites-gleh-the’!



good news

Curiouser and curiouser We all have a unique perspective of the world, but a new study has shown that curiosity – being open to new experiences and interested in exploring new things – might literally help us to see the world differently, as curious people are able to take in more visual information and process it in unique FESTIVAL ways. “They have different visual HAZARD AVERTED experiences to the average Losing your tent used individual as they seem to to be a festival staple but have a more flexible gate for download the free Boutique the visual information that Camping Tent Finder app breaks through into their (iOS, on Android soon) consciousness,” says Anna and you’ll never lose Antinori, a researcher from the your home from University of Melbourne. home again! Being curious also makes us more creative, as we open our minds to more possibilities and solutions. So embrace your curious side: ask questions, seek answers – you never know what you might discover!

What I do... THE GARDEN ALLOWS US TO REACH OUT TO LONELY PEOPLE AND MAKE THEM FEEL A LITTLE BIT BETTER. In one of London’s poorest and most ethnically diverse boroughs, Paula Yassine is bringing the community together through the “little green oasis” that is St Mary’s Secret Garden in Hackney. Juxtaposed against the high-rise blocks that surround it, this beautiful space includes food growing, a small woodland, a herb and sensory zone, a glasshouse, a silent space and a wellness garden. A place for local people to meet, relax and share, St Mary’s also provides horticultural therapy, education and training. “I love passing on my knowledge and seeing all ages and cultures interacting with nature,” says Paula. “I spend more time than I’d like at a computer, proving to funders that gardening is good and their money will be safe with us, so there’s a sense of relief and pride when an application is approved as it means we can reach out to a few more lonely people and try to make their lives a little bit better.”

Interested in volunteering or setting up a community garden? Visit stmaryssecret or The Federation of City Farms and Gardens at



That every girl in the world should receive an education. There are a staggering 130 million girls not in school. Join the campaign to pressure world leaders by being part of the world’s longest film. All you have to do is say a number and post your clip. Make your voice heard at





Curate a creative space Colour, light and living creatures – these are the three key elements to a creating a productive workspace says new research by design psychologist Sally Augustin ( Sally recommends maximising natural light and opting for green tones to inspire creative thinking and a positive emotional state, blue if your work is knowledge based and red if your job requires you to be active. An aquarium can encourage a sense of calm and concentration, but if this isn’t practical a little desk foliage will help you think more creatively and stay stress-free.

Visit for ideas.

Podcast paradise We love a good podcast, and our recent discovery – Tiny Desk Concerts – is an absolute joy. Recorded live at the (tiny) desk of Bob Boilen, the host of an American online radio show called ‘All Songs Considered’ (who has a zeal for new music reminiscent of our much missed John Peel), these gorgeously intimate gigs include performances by Adele, The XX, Aimee Mann, Agnes Obel and Mercury prize winners alt-J and Benjamin Clementine. The beautiful, soulful performance by Violents and Monica Martin (pictured) is a particular favourite.

Download the podcasts from tiny-desk-concerts-audio or watch the videos at

good news BIRTHSTONE FOLKLORE Symbolising strength, the August birthstone is peridot. In Hawaiian mythology the green peridot crystals found in volcanic ashes are the tears of the volcano goddess, Pele.

Ti ps f rom your mother

“Trust your instincts” Trusting what you think – and not what your best friend/partner/colleague is helpfully trying to persuade you of – is a sign that you know yourself and have the self-confidence to be yourself. The late Maya Angelou – writer, poet, civil rights activist and mother at 16 – summed up those ‘trust your gut’ moments beautifully: “I’m grateful to intelligent people. That doesn’t mean educated or intellectual. What black old people used to call ‘mother wit’ means intelligence that you had in your mother’s womb. That’s what you rely on. You know what’s right to do.”

Acts of kindness (to spread a little love) #PositivityTakeover is a ‘pay it forward’ movement launched in Belfast by Astra and Al McNicholl. The pair create ‘happy cards’, featuring positive and motivational quotes to leave in spaces such as bus stops, cafés, post boxes or anywhere else they can be found. The idea is that once a happy card is discovered, the finder will have their day changed for the better, and hopefully it’ll put a smile on their face. Both parties can Instagram a pic using the #PositivityTakeover hashtag. The finder can then #PayItForward by placing the happy card in a new location, so one happy card equals lots of little kindnesses. So far the cards have made their way across the UK to Spain, Italy, Cuba and the USA.

#PositivityTakeover packs cost £3 for 10 happy cards. Go to positivity-takeover to read more.

Visit, or


Photography Violents and Monica Martin – Claire Harbage

Make inspiring art “I like good strong words that mean something,” wrote Louisa May Alcott in Little Women. So do we, which is why we’re a little bit addicted to creating ‘word clouds’ – artworks made from a collection of your favourite words and phrases. You’ll find lots of free word cloud generators online, with options to choose fonts, colours and layouts. Give your walls new meaning in minutes!

‘Chuck a piece of spaghetti at the wall and if it sticks it’s cooked al dente.’ Sadly, although we love this rambunctious cooking tip, it’s a tall tale. Spaghetti cooks from the outside in, so the only thing this proves with certainty... is that it’s sticky.



Taste nature in 40 delicious organic teas

Created for happier lives by matching the magic of Master Herbsmith Sebastian Pole with the world’s ďŹ nest organic wellbeing herbs

Create your pick & mix at

Photography Brooke Cagle







REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL It’s no coincidence that a laugh makes you feel good. Here’s how and why to grin, giggle and guffaw more… Words: Lisa Sturge

lives. It helps to shift our perspective and creates distance between us and our problems, enabling us to see difficulties from a different angle, and take time out and have some fun. Laughing also improves our mental functioning, as it suppresses stress hormones and releases soothing neurotransmitters. These help to calm us on the inside, give us mental clarity and allow us to think more creatively. When we laugh regularly we’re more inclined to take risks, be more adventurous and stay resilient in times of strife. Laughing acts as a brain refresh; helping to improve our memory and concentration, allowing us to approach challenges with renewed energy.


Photography Seth Doyle


cientific research has now proven that how we think affects the way we feel, and vice versa. This two-way relationship between the mind and the body, and how one inextricably affects the other, is known as psychoneuroimmunology. The hormones released into the brain and body when we laugh facilitate relaxation in both areas. This helps us to let go of things we’re worried about, or at least ease their effect on our mental state. When our body is calmed our mind responds likewise. Deep breathing and laughter help us access relaxation and peace, even if it’s only for a while. Laughing gives us an important respite in our hectic daily



“With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come.” WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE

CREATIVE EXPRESSION Laughter helps us to express delight, playfulness, celebration, relief, unity, joy, gratitude, ecstasy, love, humour, a sense of wellbeing, triumph, happiness and many other positive emotions. It can also create a breathing space in times of tension or anxiety, such as at funerals or when visiting those who are unwell. It acts as a reliever, a comforter and an energy booster. So what do we need in order to let go and laugh…?

LAUGHTER TOGETHERNESS Laughter fosters co-operation and team cohesion. It’s an instant leveller, demonstrating that we’re all the same underneath. Laughing brings people closer together, encouraging trust and openness in group settings. After laughing heartily with someone we feel more inclined to see things from their perspective and to feel empathy, affection and understanding for them. Laughter creates community and connection. In our modern society, fewer of us live in the type of close-knit communities that were common in the past. Loneliness is the scourge of our times and prevalent in all areas of the world. We all need a sense of belonging and connection with other people; we’re social creatures and not designed to live or function on our own for long periods of time. Laughter can bring us into contact with others in a joyful and meaningful way, helping us to stay healthy and resilient, enjoy life to the full and experience a sense of purpose.

LAUGHTER READINESS Are you ready to laugh? Laughter requires so little from us and gives us so much in return. However, there are many people in the world who haven’t laughed in a really long time or who struggle to laugh at all. Laughter is a choice. But before we can choose laughter, there may be some existing beliefs and assumptions we need to question first. These limiting beliefs can prevent us from allowing ourselves to become relaxed and immersed in the laughter process.



PRESENT MOMENT IMMERSION There is an unlimited ocean of peace in every moment if we allow ourselves to fully let go in mind and body. Laughing is like being plunged into the depths of the present moment in glorious Technicolor. Our senses become heightened as we experience viscerally the sheer delight of laughter and let it take the reins; guiding us to an unknown place. Through embracing laughter we learn that although we cannot control what happens in life, we can control how we respond to what happens…



We must be happy in order to laugh This myth inhibits many people from laughing as they feel that it would be inauthentic or ‘false’ to laugh when they didn’t feel like it. If we wait for the perfect time to laugh, or wait for everything in life to be running smoothly, we may never laugh at all! Laughter can surprise us and offer relief in times of turmoil, sadness or even grief, if we allow it to.

We need something funny to happen before we can laugh

Photography Bestie Van Der Meer, Inset Karan Kapoor

Comedy is great and can be the trigger for many a hearty chortle. Yet evidence shows that the majority of our laughter doesn’t come from jokes; it comes from day to day conversations and playfulness. If we wait for something funny to happen we may be waiting for a really long time. Laughter is too good to leave to chance. Laughter is not a passive activity, it is a ‘total immersion, commitment to everyday happiness’ type of process. If we want to enjoy life to the full, we need to make our own happiness as we travel, rather than wait for the entertainment bus to show up.

We either have a natural propensity to laugh or not It doesn’t matter if you’re a shy or introverted person, or if you haven’t laughed for a really long time – it’s not about who can laugh the longest, loudest or heartiest. It doesn’t matter if you feel you’ve lost your ability to laugh or you can’t remember the last time you laughed. The good news is, laughter is accessible to us all. It is a re-learnable skill that can be re-acquired, one chuckle at a time.





Understanding how laughter can help us We now know that laughter can help us mentally, physically, socially and emotionally in many different ways. Laughter is not just for fun (though that’s a huge reason!) – it is a healthy, natural tool that can ease our pain, free our spirit and strengthen us from the inside out.

Being willing to laugh Willingness is essential as it provides powerful energy in our mind, body and soul. If we nurture a laughter intention as we go through life this will enable us to feel lighter, stay playful and look on the bright side, instead of focusing on what has gone wrong. Being willing to laugh takes us halfway there.

Giving ourselves permission to laugh We’re allowed to laugh whenever we want. We don’t have to deserve it. We don’t need to have done something ‘right’ or ‘worthy’. We don’t need to be feeling joyful or happy. If we can stop putting conditions on our laughter then we can access laughter at any time of the day or night, if we so choose. We don’t always need to laugh in the same way, or with particular people or in certain locations. Our laughter doesn’t have to be real, or loud, or demanding. By gently dissolving the traditional and limiting beliefs associated with laughing we can open up the parameters of our laughter to discover new realms of freedom and adventure. Giving ourselves permission to laugh messily, clumsily, noisily, ridiculously, silently and for no apparent reason other than it feels good, may be a great place to start.



Laugh: Everyday Laughter Healing For Greater Happiness And Wellbeing by Lisa Sturge (Quadrille, £7.99). Find out more at


“Laughter is a tranquiliser ...with no side effects.” ARNOLD H. GLASOW

Photography Martin Meyer, Insets Peopleimages & Jasmina007

POSITIVELY CHARGED When we laugh we produce more positive thoughts. It’s impossible to laugh heartily and feel angry, or to laugh and feel depressed at the same time. Each time we laugh, smile and connect joyfully with one another we are creating new positive neural pathways in the brain, which affect us physically and mentally. When we think positively we see more possibilities, more opportunities – the world widens in front of our eyes (our peripheral vision literally expands). Laughing helps us to be optimistic, to look for solutions, to become hopeful and happier. It helps us focus on what is going well rather than what has gone wrong. Laughing helps keep us cheerful, even when times get tough.

EMOTIONAL TOUGHNESS Rather than teaching us that life is all about laughing and joyfulness, authentic laughter and experimentation can help us to see laughter as an important tool for coping in stressful times, and when life is not going according to plan. We learn through acceptance that the aim is not always to be laughing, but that when we can find a way to laugh it can help ease us into a more resourceful state. Laughter helps us grow strong from the inside out, strengthening our own inner voice, encouraging us to accept the ups and downs of life and to create positive change where needed.

LAUGHTER LEARNING CURVE Our learning and concentration is improved with laughter – the more we enjoy ourselves, the more deeply we embed our learning. Play, fun and laughter are essential learning components; they make the whole process more memorable, more enjoyable and more effective. Our brains learn better when we are feeling positive, relaxed and energised.



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COME SKY GAZING Remembering the bigger sky can help us to accept passing clouds Words: Ali Binns / Illustration: Matilda Smith


here’s something a bit Enid Blyton about picking a spot on a rug, lying back and staring up at the sky, watching the clouds slowly move on by, shifting their shape almost imperceptibly, never the same, minute by minute. In those moments we can feel in awe of the vastness of the sky. It can be hypnotically relaxing to take the time to watch and discover big spaces – whether the wisps of cloud on a summer’s day, the circling shifts of storm clouds sweeping their shapely shadows over a rolling landscape, or the uncountable stars that glimmer on a clear night. Somehow, sky gazing can help us to reflect on the vastness of our own minds. On stressed out days, it’s easy to home in on the things that bother us, missing the immediate happiness in small things. Confession time: I was guilty of this only this morning. I really did not want to get up at dawn, climb a ladder to load a mountain bike onto the roof of the car (the one I find scary to drive) and drive an hour through the city traffic so that my son could enjoy a mountain bike trail, leaving me with an even bigger pile of laundry. I mean, I had important things to do, like write this column (already late!), clear the dishes, do the shopping. All I could see, as bike oil narrowly missed my white top, and my son teetered on top of a ladder holding a bike above my head, was the list of mounting chores. I see it clearly now, but I got so homed in on the clouds, that I forgot the bigger sky. The real happiness – the sunshine – was to be found simply in my boy’s smile as he happily sped off on his adventure, and his glowing sense of achievement on his return. This was worth more than any unwashed dishes – of course it was. If only I’d remembered the big sky, rather than focusing on my own passing storm clouds.

Reflecting on the sky can remind us, too, that no matter how good or bad things are from moment to moment, they never stay the same for long. In Mindfulness: Finding Peace In A Frantic World, Mark Williams explains: “Your mind is like the sky and your thoughts are like the clouds – sometimes large, sometimes small, sometimes dark, sometimes light. But the sky remains.” This is such a great analogy for the way we think. A sky gazing meditation can help us to get in touch with this mindset. Here’s how: First, find a spot with an open view of the sky. You could try this lying on your back on a blanket or sitting supported in a chair, wrapped up cosily if the British summer dictates. Begin by taking a few long and slow breaths to settle and relax. At this point, there’s nothing much else to do other than give yourself some time to rest your eyes on the sky and let your thoughts come and go. Keep bringing your attention back to the sky and what you can see. Perhaps you can notice how your thoughts can come and go as easily as clouds if you just give them a nod, and let them move on through. Your awareness is as vast and big as the sky itself, with plenty of room for any of the thoughts and feelings that might arise. There’s space for them all as they shift and change from moment to moment. For as long as you wish, keep bringing your attention back to the sky in front of you and enjoying peace and relaxation. Sky gazing can teach us to appreciate where we are right now. It never helps to wish away the clouds or the rainy days, but if we learn to accept any sky, we can be happier where we are. There are always glimpses of sunshine beyond the clouds and we can always practise looking for them.

ALI BINNS is an accredited cognitive behavioural therapist and mindfulness coach with a private therapy practice in Bath. You can read more from Ali on her blog at






Arigato. Merci. Gracias. Diolch. Takk. Spasiba. Thank you. Feeling gratitude and expressing your appreciation is one of the simplest ways to bring greater joy, love and optimism into your life... Words: Annika Rose

ords of thanks are among the most well-used and recognisable in any dialect. Whether it’s to show appreciation for assistance, a kind deed, a gift or a great time, saying ‘thank you’ is introduced into our vocabulary as soon as we can talk, and taught as good manners when we’re growing up. Yet how often do we remember to use the power of gratitude to cultivate better relationships and nurture our sense of wellbeing? Perhaps it’s time for a mindful reminder... (You’re welcome)! Despite uttering the words ‘thank you’ multiple times a day, this catchphrase for appreciation doesn’t need to be reduced to an automatic response. There’s nothing quite like giving or receiving some heartfelt gratitude, after all. According to Dr Robert A Emmons, author of The Little Book of Gratitude (Gaia Press, 2016)

Photography Image Source RF/Dream Pictures


and the world’s leading scientific expert on the topic, a genuine expression of gratitude has three parts. First, showing that you recognise a form of goodness exists; second, acknowledging it (usually, sharing it with another person); and finally, appreciating its presence in your life. By simply paying attention, it’s possible to start seeing the good around you and feeling joy and contentment as you notice just how much of it there is. Even on the most difficult of days, there’s always something to be grateful for: your health, a good friend, birdsong, a nice cup of tea… The creation of a shared experience gives gratitude an important role to play in enhancing the quality of our relationships. It can deepen connections and strengthen ties between people. Gratitude can show up multiple times a day in how we interact with those around us.




“People who practise gratitude are more likely to have higher self-esteem and emotional resilience” more positive emotions than their counterparts and more satisfaction with their lives as a whole. They show increased levels of hope, forgiveness and empathy and are less likely to be depressed, stressed or show envy. People who practice gratitude are more likely to have higher self-esteem and emotional resilience, placing them in a healthier psychological space. Grateful people also enjoy better physical health, experiencing fewer health issues, being more proactive about their health and even catching a better night’s sleep. Considering the simplicity of saying thanks, there’s compelling evidence that cultivating an

“I love to do random acts of gratitude for people. To me, there is nothing nicer than surprising people with something showing how much you appreciate them. I love to bake cakes, write songs or make cards for people I appreciate and present it to them in person.” D E E , L O N D O N



“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it,” wrote William Arthur Ward. If you feel it, show it!

Photography Tetra Images Jamie Grill

“It’s the decisions, movements and actions we take that are in response to knowing how lucky or blessed we are that make it much more than a word; it’s a way of being,” says London-based love and relationship coach Jessica Elizabeth Opert ( Take a moment right now to think of a time when someone did something especially kind for you. A small or a grand gesture; a friend or a stranger. Something that made your day, your week, or even your life a whole lot better. Recall what they did for you and how the whole experience unfolded. As you relive that moment, notice how and where a sweet sense of gratitude begins to transpire for you, and how you now feel towards that person. Happily, we are afforded many opportunities every single day to give and receive gratitude. There are a multitude of moments to proactively notice and appreciate the good things in your life, share them with others or soak up a genuine thank you. It’s possible to regularly experience and express an abundance of thankfulness for all you have. Herein lies the capacity to transform the relationships in your life for the better. Expressing gratitude comes with many measurable benefits. According to research, gratitude is a key predictor of happiness, and grateful people tend to be happier, experiencing

Photography Andrew Welch

Photography Lara Belova

Photography Tim Bish


CELEBRATE THE GOOD TIMES Airing your grievances with someone you trust can be cathartic, but before you dive in, share the positive experiences that matter to you so you can celebrate together.

attitude of gratitude will not only have a positive impact on you, your health and happiness, but these advantages will flow on to benefit your connections too. When you make a commitment to becoming more grateful, everybody wins. It’s no surprise then that gratitude has a significant role to play in the success of your relationships. By bringing your attention to how you relate to the people around you, it’s possible to form deeper and far more meaningful connections with them. “Gratitude allows us to feel noticed, appreciated and respected, and this enhances the connection between people,” notes counselling psychotherapist and relationship authority Dr Karen Phillip ( With that said, it’s easy to fall into the complacency trap of taking the goodwill of others – friends, family, kids, colleagues and even strangers – for granted. Luckily, this can be remedied by applying a little self awareness and giving gratitude when gratitude is due.



wellbeing Recognising the role others play in contributing to your happiness (and vice versa) can help to strengthen and enhance your relationships. A moment spent taking stock will remind you why certain people belong in your life and what you appreciate about them the most. So look out for the small, thoughtful acts other people do for you, such as treating you to lunch, helping you to finish your report or being by your side through a tough time. Then seize the opportunity to let them know how much their thoughtful gestures mean. A moment spent acknowledging the goodwill of others brings you closer together and increases the chance of it coming your way again. The fact that gratitude is all about giving and receiving ensures the kindness keeps going by returning it, or paying it forward. Performing an act of kindness for someone can be lots of fun too (especially when it’s a surprise!), and you can be as creative and spontaneous as you like. Gratitude can also help you PAY IT FORWARD to form new relationships. Inspiring gratitude Whether you’ve moved city in others teaches us to be or country, you’re new to more thankful ourselves. a team or organisation, For inspirational tweets it’s important to establish and ideas follow the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation at @RAKFoundation



Photography Annika Rose

Photography Clem Onojeghuo

Congratulating loved ones at important life events is a wonderful feeling. Celebrate this by remembering and repeating these moments in everyday situations.

Want a fun way to nurture your relationship? Our Soppy Love Story by Philippa Rice is a quirky guided journal for two with comicstyle illustrations (Andrews McMeel, £9.99).

Photography Camila Cordeiro


connections. Wellbeing relies upon positive relationships and in their absence loneliness and social isolation can quickly take a toll. The simple act of showing gratitude can remove the barrier between strangers, making it easier to form new friendships and connections. Whether it’s with a handwritten note or a few words of thanks, a display of appreciation will help others to feel acknowledged and, therefore, more likely to engage and connect with you. There’s also a place for gratitude in overcoming difficulties. Struggles arise in relationships as a result of neglect, mistrust, resentment, anger or disappointment. During these difficult times, it can be challenging to see anything good or remember these moments ever existed. Jessica Elizabeth regularly turns to gratitude exercises when coaching singles and couples through trying times. “I ask my clients to list 50 items they are grateful for,” she says, “then line-by-line, write about their role in making it possible, or think of a new way they can show gratitude for it.” This gratitude task helps people to focus on the good, and boosts their self-esteem when they realise they are an active agent in creating it. Every relationship in your life has something valuable to teach you, even the most trying ones. When you’re feeling challenged, remember that you have the ability to choose how to respond in any given moment. When you’re ready to do so, turning to appreciation can help you to take a different perspective and move your thoughts to a more positive place. Practising gratitude presents an opportunity to feel happier, less stressed, gain greater clarity and a sense of comfort when needed most. It helps you to acknowledge who and what you have in your life, and take action to ensure these blessings continue. And, as challenges arise, appreciation goes a long way towards helping you to navigate them, doing so with more acceptance, grace and compassion towards yourself, and others too.

“ When negative moments happen, I imagine a bell jar coming down over me and I focus on gratitude for a few moments – almost as a form of protection and perspective.”




Whenever someone does a kind act for you, jot it down. Keep the notes in a secret gratitude jar. When the jar is full, present it to the person, letting them know how much they’re appreciated. Pick out some key moments to read aloud. They will feel incredibly appreciated and you’ll both be happier in the knowledge that their efforts make a positive difference. * TRACKING GRATITUDE Set up a physical or digital gratitude tracker with easy shared access, such as a journal, a shared document or noticeboard. Form a weekly ritual of coming together for 15 to 20 minutes to list as many things as possible you have to appreciate, and sharing why each one is important.


Make an effort to show how much the kindness, support and generosity you receive means by following a thank you with a big hug! Hugging helps you to immediately feel blissed out and less stressed as hugs trigger the release of a ‘cuddle chemical’ called oxytocin into the bloodstream. An increase in this hormone supports your bond, helping you both to naturally feel closer, more trusting and all warm and fuzzy too!

M A RT H A , L O N D O N



creating wellbeing


You’ll find it easy to say ‘Thank You’ now you’ve got these fabulous cards to hand. We love the colourful, fresh designs by illustrator Becki Clark.






hen it comes to sleep we’ve been told for years that the magic number is eight (hours a night, that is). Yet a recent survey by the Sleep Council found that only 22% of us sleep between seven and eight hours a night and over 40% of us regularly get less than six. Of course our sleep needs are as individual as we are and some of us feel better with more, while others feel top of the morning with less. If you’re not sure whether you’re a more or a less person, the National Sleep Foundation recommends giving yourself a week to sleep without an alarm clock (probably best to do this while you’re on holiday unless you have a particularly understanding boss!). Make a note of how many hours sleep you need each night and by the end of the week you can average them out for your personal magic number. The idea is that you can then take yourself off to bed at the optimum time and, apart from when you fancy a night out, do away with your alarm clock for good. For those of us who find the idea of leaving our wake up time to chance a little unnerving, it’s certainly worth



“The amount of sleep required by the average person is five minutes more."

trying to break the alarm habit, as many studies have found that an alarm-free wake-up is better for our health. Research by scientists in Japan found that waking up abruptly can cause higher blood pressure and increase your heart rate, as well as inducing stress by getting your adrenaline rushing. The study concluded that waking up to natural light is best for your body – easy to do in the summer, but not very practical in the depths of British winter when it stays dark until eight o’clock. For mornings when an alarm is unavoidable, soft music or soothing sounds are, unsurprisingly, your best bet for rousing yourself gently from your slumber. For some of us, it’s not waking up that’s the issue, it’s getting to sleep in the first place. According to the NHS, insomnia regularly affects around one in three people in the UK. Search the internet and you’ll find more sleep tips than there are bedtime hours in the week, from the well known (avoid caffeine, alcohol and blue light before bedtime) to the slightly wacky (ever tried rubbing your belly in a circular motion?).

Wilson Mizner

While unfortunately there is no cure-all there are many techniques that have been shown to help improve sleep: a warm bath, mindful breathing (in through the nose for the count of four, hold for two, then exhale slowly through the mouth), a 20-minute walk or a run first thing in the morning (the early morning light should help reset your internal clock, making sleep easier) and keeping to a routine (that means no binge sleeping at the weekend). To send you off to the land of nod, we’ve gathered some of our favourite sleep aids on page 38 to help you drop off, sleep soundly and wake up feeling energised and refreshed.


Score your answers A = 4 points C = 2 points

B = 3 points

Score between 13 and 16 points We assumed that falling asleep after less than five minutes was a skill, but it turns out it’s actually an indicator of over tiredness or even serious sleep deprivation. You probably already know this if you’re also tired during the day and don’t feel refreshed when you wake up. If it’s not your children disrupting your sleep, making some simple changes to your bedtime routine could make a big difference to your energy levels and wellbeing. The Sleep Council have lots of practical tips at

Score between 10 and 12 points

Take our sleep quiz to see if you get enough AFTER CLOSING YOUR EYES DO YOU FALL ASLEEP AFTER… 5 minutes B 10 minutes C 15 minutes or more (Not sure? Set an alarm for 15 minutes, close your eyes and see if you fall asleep before the alarm goes off.) A


Most days Occasionally Never


Not really Sometimes Nearly always


Often Occasionally Rarely/never

Tot up your score (top right) to service check your sleep routine...

Although you might have the odd ‘tired day’, you have a pretty healthy sleep routine. If you regularly fall asleep less than 10 minutes after your head hits the pillow, it may be that a few adjustments could give your energy levels an extra boost. When you can, work out how much sleep your body needs, then see if you are regularly getting it. If you do need to make changes to your bedtime routine, try the tips at

Score 9 points or less


Taking around 15 minutes NAPS WORK? to fall asleep puts you “Anything that makes up in the lucky group who for sleep deprivation is are getting enough restorative,” says specialist zzz’s. If you also feel Dr Rahul Mukherjee, who recommends taking a refreshed when you mid-afternoon nap, as wake and rarely feel this is when a ‘slump’ sleepy during the day, tends to occur. keep doing what you’re doing as your sleep routine is clearly right for you! Work out your magic number and maybe you can do away with your alarm clock for good.




SWEET DREAMS Every day starts better after a good night’s sleep. From soothing bedtime drinks to calming sprays, a hi-tech pillow and wireless biosensor, we’ve picked seven sleep aids to help you enjoy a restful and relaxing slumber.

Tart cherry juice Drink a glass of tart cherry juice 30 minutes before going to bed and scientists have found this helps you to sleep for longer and have improved sleep quality. Tart cherries are high in melatonin, the sleep-regulating hormone, and a study by Northumbria University also recommends tart cherry juice in treating insomnia. We love the pure, organic variety by Biona. £4.99 from 38



Morihata eye mask

Sleep Plus Hair Elixir

iMusic pillow

This unassuming eye mask is layered with Binchotan charcoal, an amazing compound that helps to relieve fatigue by easing pressure on the optic nerve and stimulating blood circulation in the eye area, promoting relaxation, stress relief and restful sleep. Made in Japan, its microporous structure absorbs impurities and freshens the air.

A restful sleep and great hair in the morning? Yes please! This Works Sleep Plus Hair Elixir contains lavender, vetivert and chamomile essential oils for relaxation, and a blend of motionactivated botanical oils to nourish your hair while you sleep, leaving it soft and shiny when you wake up. Just mist onto mid-lengths and dry ends before you go to bed. We’ve tried it and we love it!

Many of us find listening to calming sounds, soft music or audiobooks help us to drop off to sleep. The Sound Asleep iMusic Pillow has builtin speakers so that you can listen in comfort without wearing headphones or disturbing your roomie. Simply connect your pillow to something to play your music from, such as a smartphone, MP3 player or radio.

£25 from

£4.99 from

£14.99 from

Sleep Deep tea

Lavender pillow mist

S+ sleep monitor

Drinking a cup of soothing herbal tea is an opportunity for a moment of mindfulness, and a natural sleep tonic. Indigo Herbs Sleep Deep tea is made from 100% pure botanical ingredients and combines the naturally relaxing, soporific and sedative effects of chamomile, passiflora, valerian, lemon peel, lavender, skullcap and St. John’s wort. It tastes delicious too.

The relaxing and anti-stress properties of lavender are well-known, and we love the gorgeous blend of organic lavender and vanilla extract in this pillow mist spray from Primavera’s Sleep Therapy range. Simply spritz directly onto your pillow or, if you prefer, into the room to help soothe your body and mind to encourage a good night’s sleep.

Plug this clever little sleep tracker into your smartphone and its wireless bio-sensor monitors your movement, breathing and bedroom environment so you see how light levels, temperature and noise affect your sleep. ResMed’s S+ Sleep Monitor app then gives you personalised feedback with your optimum sleep conditions.

£3.99 from

£11 from

£129.95 from





When blue skies bring blue moods Winter sadness is well documented, but summer can leave people feeling low too. Luckily, there are ways to beat a seasonal slump… Words: Jo Carnegie


Photography Jake Young

h, summer. Hot days and light evenings, barbecues and beach holidays. The chance to spend every moment outdoors instead of being cooped up inside (the odd unseasonal downpour aside). A time to pack away the drab winter wardrobe, dig out the bright outfits and get that essential dose of Vitamin D on our sun-starved skin. Everyone feels happier in summer, right? Well, not quite. For some people, summer can be a miserable season. You’ve no doubt heard about the winter blues, or seasonal affective disorder (SAD). But what about those who suffer the reverse? “Summer SAD affects about one sufferer in 20,” says UK charity SADA (Seasonal Affective Disorder Association). “They describe having moodiness, lethargy, agitation, insomnia and intolerance of heat and/or bright light.” The most common summer complaint, hay fever, can play a large part in spoiling sunny months. But there can be more to it than streaming eyes. “Allergies can disturb sleep and add to a general sense of lethargy and discomfort: recent research has linked summer depression to hay fever,” says SADA. “The ‘winter is bad, summer is good’ interpretation is a basic template. We’re dealing with a very complex condition with many variables.” Circadian rhythms might sound like a new age dance troupe, but basically they’re what govern

our 24-hour internal clock, otherwise known as our sleep/wake cycles. Too little light – or in summer, too much – can disrupt our circadian rhythms, which can leave some people feeling tired and grumpy and, at worst, ill. Particularly when they’re told by a well-meaning person to cheer up because the sun’s out. “Increased periods of daylight result in more light entering the pineal gland, which is the part of the brain that produces the sleep hormone melatonin,” says sleep expert Dr Nerina Ramlakan, author of Tired But Wired and Fast Asleep, Wide Awake. “This can inhibit the GEOGRAPHY production of melatonin, which means MATTERS we’re likely to sleep less or need less Studies have shown that sleep. This ‘slicing off ’ of layers of summertime SAD is more vital healing sleep can cause some common in countries near mood imbalances in certain people. theequator. Conversely, Particularly if they are susceptible winter SAD is more or hormonally sensitive, such as preprevalent further menstrual or going through menopause.” from the equator. That’s the science bit, but there are other psychological and social factors at work. Summer is a very sociable time and interacting with others is undoubtedly beneficial for us. But for some, it can turn in a months-long endurance test that leaves them exhausted and overwhelmed. “I get a feeling of dread as summer approaches,” reveals self-confessed ‘winter person’ Sarah Palmer. “I’m quite introverted and I can get



wellbeing away with that during winter, when everyone hibernates to a certain extent. In summer, I constantly feel guilty if I’m not outside doing something. I find summer socialising quite intimidating. There’s pressure to go for afterwork drinks but after a day at the office all I want to do is go home. I prefer seeing my friends one-on-one but everyone hangs out in big groups at barbecues and festivals, or they’re in the park doing some sort of group activity. If you’re not doing any of these things, you’re made to feel like you’re not having a good summer.” Even for extroverted types, summer can be a time of stress. Normal routines go out the window and school holidays often see parents driving their offspring from one excursion or sleepover to another. That’s not even mentioning the planning and packing for a two-week trip away… Holidays and their inevitable ‘summer wardrobe’ can strike fear into the heart of any woman. After months of wrapping up in cosy, warm clothes, we’re expected to show off our pale ,wobbly bits to the world. Hot pants and crop

tops rule, while diet specials tell us how to get ‘beach body ready’. It’s enough to have anyone reaching for the nearest sticky toffee pudding. But you needn’t feel the pressure to spend a few months living off leaves and cucumber. “We shouldn’t exist entirely on salad, no matter how sunny it is,” says Kate Faithfull-Williams, wellbeing expert and author of The FeelGood Plan. “Swap chicken salad for roast chicken with all the healthy trimmings: roast sweet potato, purple sprouting broccoli, green beans and roast beetroot. When you fancy something sweet, simply stir a heap of frozen blueberries into protein-packed Greek yogurt. It’s healthy ice cream without the side-serving of guilt.” If what you’ve read so far makes you think you might have the summer blues, the good news is that there are ways to combat them. To stop early morning sunlight waking you up, SADA recommend getting blackout blinds, wearing an eye mask or even sleeping in your sunglasses (just warn your partner beforehand). Lack of sleep is a big factor, but look at other areas of your life. “It might that someone already has a predisposition to a mood problem, or is missing out on some other vital lifestyle habits – exercise




Concerns over body image can come to the fore in summer, adding to any other seasonal anxieties. Try to ignore the idea of the perfect ‘beach body’.

Photography Leon Seierlein


Season checker ARE YOU A SUMMER SHOUTER OR A WINTER WHISPERER? Does summer fill you with ‘get up and go’ or ‘oh no, not again’? See if you recognise any of these not-entirelyscientific signs…

You might be a Summer Extrovert if…

and movement or good nutrition, or even being unhappy at work or in their relationships,” says Nerina. “My belief is that we are less susceptible to such seasonal variations if our lifestyle choices are robust and healthy.” Summer can be a great time of year, but if it gets you hot and bothered just make sure you find what works for you. Don’t feel like you have to book a holiday somewhere scorching if you prefer cooler weather. Avoid beer gardens and go for a nice walk in nature instead. If you’re tired, have an afternoon siesta. Layer up in thin, natural fibres rather than baring all. And if all else fails, shut the curtains, make a cup of tea and snuggle up on the sofa in front of a good box set. At least in the UK you can rest assured the weather will be chilly and grey again soon!

* You’re at your happiest when the sun’s out, remarking on how nice it is to everyone you meet. * You eat every meal al fresco. Preferably at a long table with lots of people (like you’ve seen Italian families do on TV). * You start WhatsApp social groups called things like ‘Summer Fun!’. * You tan effortlessly and never burn. * You’re in shorts and vest tops from the beginning of May until the end of BST.

You could be aWinter Introvert if… * You still wear black layers even when

it’s 26 degrees. * You’re secretly pleased when the weather forecasts rain. * You prefer Baileys to rosé. * You don’t like getting wet for ‘fun’. * You turn down free festival tickets with an excuse about being ill. Crowds + noise + sun = your worst nightmare.




my yoga life

CHARLENE LIM HELLO! I’m Charlene – yogi, wife, cat mum to Falco and Charles, and founder of Trika Yoga, my calm, relaxing, light-filled yoga studio in the heart of Bristol, UK. Each month I hope to share with you a little about me and my yoga world, the inspirations, the falls and bringing my practice into everyday life. This month I’m celebrating friendships, the sunshine, learning to take yoga off the mat and making a delicious breakfast smoothie.




AGE IS JUST A NUMBER At 98, Tao PorchonLynch is the oldest yogi in the world. When she’s not on the mat, she dances competitively!




Our bodies are our tools for being in this life: to express, to work, to experience. Take care of your vehicle of life: fuel it, rest it, so it’s able to carry you through life’s explorations.

Clockwise from top left: Embracing the sunshine in upavista konasana; tidy towels; opening the shoulders and neck; a calm moment by Bristol harbour.



his month we’ve seen the sun making a much more regular appearance, and the heat is bringing people outside. It’s a gorgeous bloom and transition from having our heads down all through the rainy springtime and showery early summer, to turning our faces up to embrace the sun. As the summer days start earlier, I have found that my daily routine has responded to this change. Each morning I find myself pulling back the curtains with more positivity to be greeted by a light sky. I make my morning drink, and hop onto my yoga mat for some practice before heading to start work at Trika Yoga, my studio in Bristol. Rest assured, even I sometimes struggle to get that first sun salutation

going in the morning. The lighter days really do make a difference though, and this positive feeling is reflected in the collective mood of the students and friends that come to the studio. People walk in with a spring in their step that only the sunny weather brings. Since I opened the studio last year, the amount of people I care about in my life has multiplied. It is a blessing that such new students feel at ease with sharing their time and their practice – which is such a personal experience – with me. This journey of experiencing and growing together is truly at the heart of what I do. Sharing the things I learn with others is such an important part of my yoga




A tripod headstand with a member of the Trika tribe – J@EJCA=?DKPDANO feet is trickier than it looks!

Clockwise from top left: It’s all about balance; capturing everyday family moments on camera; working my way down to the mat; my city in the summer.

LET US BE GRATEFUL TO THE PEOPLE WHO MAKE US HAPPY – THEY ARE THE CHARMING GARDENERS WHO MAKE OUR SOULS BLOSSOM. Marcel Proust practice. I’ve found that real gems are also gleaned from looking out of yourself and your own practice, towards sharing, helping others and lifting them up. I have a naturally reserved personality, so this little thing called yoga has really opened me up over the years to such a wide group of people, with each person adding to my capacity to love – something I thought I had a definite limit to. We often hear about ‘taking yoga off the mat’, and this is where the real yoga starts. How can we take the lessons we learn about ourselves and from others during our practice, and positively affect the people and situations around us? Some food for thought this month.



Talking about things happening off the mat, this month I have been rekindling my loves outside of yoga, and in particular my photography. Photography is already an important part of the day-to-day running of Trika, but I’ve been finding time to diarise my days with snaps of my memories, and enjoying capturing precious moments as they happen. A certain look in the eyes of my partner, my cats dozing in the sun, the beautiful summer sky over Bristol harbour... Make time to reconnect with yourself, with the things you love deeply, and with everything and everyone that surrounds you. These will always be moments well spent.


Choco-peanut t breakfast boos MY GO-TO MORNING SMOOTHIE It might look a little bit murky, but this breakfast shake tastes absolutely delicious, I promise! It’s exactly like a peanut butter and chocolate milkshake, but it packs a powerful protein punch to get you ready for your morning practice. Just whizz everything up in a blender and enjoy.

* 1½ cup almond milk (or a plant * * * *

* * * *

milk of your choice) A handful of almonds 2 tbsp raw oats 1 tbsp peanut butter 1 /2 tsp coconut oil (Brightonbased Hum & Crumble’s oil is a favourite of mine at the moment, 1 tbsp cacao powder 1 /2 tsp spirulina powder 1 /2 tsp cacao nibs Squeeze of honey to SIGN ME UP! taste (if you’re Want to roll your vegan you could use mat out in the French agave or maple Alps? Sign up for a syrup instead) Trika Yoga retreat at schedule




A t h o u g ht pro vo king read and p uzzle await !

Sip aro matic Campari wit h tart grapefruit juice on a summers’ eve 50




Take a moment to sit and relax with a drink and a good read... …Take a Moment is an eight-page, handbag-sized magazine that will be in every issue, and each month we’ll include: A soothing drink recipe – hot or cold – for you to make fresh and mindfully. A great read. A story that presents an alternative view on life, to open your mind to a different way of thinking. A fun crossword to stimulate your brain cells and keep everyday distractions at bay for a few moments. Tap the icon above to find this issue’s edition, then mix yourself a cool drink and find a quiet, comfortable place to curl up. Enjoy!



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Photography Caroline Rowland




THE POWER OF PLANTS With experts lauding its benefits and bloggers, celebrities and even athletes adopting a whole food approach, is it time we all embraced a plant-based diet? Words: Yvette Streeter / Pictures: Jessica Prescott




THE PERFECT BALANCE A well-planned plant-based diet is recognised by The Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics as being healthy for all.


lean eating and paleo? They’re so last season. Right now, it’s all about the plantbased diet – a natural, more conscious approach to food consumption that celebrities, supermarkets and even us everyday civilians can’t get enough of. Plant-based foods are basically any foods that aren’t animal-derived, such as grains, pulses, nuts, seeds, tubers, vegetables and fruit. A plant-based diet focuses on eating these as whole foods, or minimally processed versions of them, while cutting out refined foods like bleached flour, sugar and oil. We’re not talking about an endless menu of uninspiring salad bowls filled with limp

lettuce, though – think more along the lines of tasty, filling curries, risottos and chillis. Or, if you do fancy that salad, try a protein-packed Buddha bowl with sweet potato, avocado, quinoa and heaps of fresh, colourful veg. At first glance, a plant-based diet might seem pretty similar to veganism, but while both ditch meat, dairy and eggs, they aren’t necessarily the same thing. As a general rule, being vegan tends to be an ethical lifestyle choice driven by a concern for animal welfare. Plus there are plenty of vegans who don’t avoid processed foods. With a huge variety of vegan junk foods available, from burgers to freakshakes that mimic their non-vegan




counterparts, living ethically doesn’t have to be healthy! Ultimately, it’s the health aspect of plant-based eating that’s contributing to its huge rise in popularity. While cutting out processed, fatty and sugary foods will help you shift a few pounds, this diet isn’t intended as a quick-fix way to weight loss, but as a lifestyle choice to improve overall wellbeing. In fact, research has shown that cutting your animal protein consumption not only helps to prevent cancer and lower blood pressure, it can even reverse heart disease. Forks Over Knives, a film documentary featuring American physician Caldwell Esselstyn and professor of nutritional biochemistry T. Colin Campbell, investigates and proves this particular claim. It also shows how a plant-based diet can control and reverse other diseases, such as type 2 diabetes. Don’t just take their word for it, though – there’s a host of studies out there by scientific bodies and universities proclaiming the vast health benefits of plant-based eating. If academic journals aren’t your thing, maybe you’ll be swayed by those putting it into practice, like actress Alicia Silverstone, who says her plantbased diet has improved her health. “Once I went vegan I lost the weight I wanted to lose, my nails were stronger, and my skin was glowing,â€? she’s said. “I feel great and I look better.â€? Her Hollywood colleague Liam Hemsworth says there are “no negativesâ€? to a plant-based diet – “I feel nothing but positive, mentally and physically,â€? he told Men’s Fitness. Supermodel Gisele BĂźndchen is another high-profile advocate, with her husband, Tom Brady, attributing his successful career as a New England Patriots quarterback to the couple’s diet. For those who are ready to go plant-based, you might be wondering how you actually make that switch. After all, most of us aren’t lucky enough to have a

TASTING THE RAINBOW Pack plenty of colours onto your plate, as each contains its very own set of disease-fighting chemicals.



Enjoy experimenting =J@J@EJCJAS favourites, like these mini P=?KOI=@ASEPD@AHE?EKQO ?=ODASOKQN?NA=I

personal chef on speed dial. Calgary Avansino, author of Keep It Real and contributing editor at British Vogue, tells us it’s much easier than you think. “It’s just about finding ways of adding more plants to your plate at every opportunity,� she says. Calgary has plenty of recipes in her book and on her blog ( to get you started, from stuffed sweet potatoes and vegan lasagne to smashed avocado on toast – the ubiquitous brunch essential. Calgary recommends easing into a plant-based diet gradually. “We really shouldn’t look at a healthy lifestyle as one huge overhaul that needs doing all at once,� she says. “The best approach is to make lots of little changes, maybe one a week, which gradually add up to big differences.� Campaigns such as Meat Free Monday, aimed at getting people to embrace vegetarian eating, are a great way to do this. “If you do eat meat regularly, it could become the ‘side dish’ rather than the focus,� suggests Calgary. Even incorporating just a few plant-based meals into your current diet is enough to feel the results, explains Calgary. “Eating more ‘real’ food makes you feel more alive, more energetic and more in balance. When we

Ad d hea t a n d colo ur wit h fresh chillies


eat the foods our bodies are meant to thrive on, we feel our best. It makes sense when you think about it.” This heightened awareness of healthy eating has gathered such momentum, even supermarkets are promoting plant-based living, with Tesco appointing an executive chef-director of plantbased innovation. Derek Sarno, co-founder of Wicked Healthy (www.wickedhealthyfood. com), was thrilled to team up with Tesco in this role, helping to make a plant-based diet more accessible to their shoppers. Inspiring people to eat less meat and be healthier, this self-proclaimed “culinary ninja” and his BBQ ’Shroom Buns head up Tesco’s Food Love Stories page (www., showing meat-free meals can still taste amazing. Pret A Manger has also recognised the growing demand for meatfree eats, opening two vegetarian and vegan-only stores in London. For many, though, switching to a plant-based diet isn’t just about health, it’s also about being environmentally conscious. This sentiment is echoed by writer and photographer Jessica Prescott. “Ultimately, I want every decision I make to be the one that causes the least harm,” she says. For Jessica, it was “a growing awareness of the effects of animal agriculture on our planet, and its inhabitants” that made going plant-based the obvious choice for her. Jessica shares her recipes and journey on, in an effort to inspire others. “Every day I marvel over this incredible planet and the beautiful and delicious things it grows. Look at the mountains, the plants and the animals – we’re all so lucky to be here.” So how does a plant-based lifestyle help the planet? The animal-based agriculture industry takes a toll on the environment, with roughly 100 times more water needed to produce a pound of animal protein than a pound of grain protein. Plus, almost a third of arable land is used for animal agriculture, making the meat industry a major contributor to deforestation as land is cleared to make way for grazing space. So by cutting your consumption of animal products and upping your plant intake, you’re conserving water, and saving animal and plant habitats.

“Make lots of little changes, maybe just one a week, which gradually add up to big differences.” Eating less meat can cut your carbon footprint, too. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation estimates livestock production is responsible for 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions, while the methane produced makes up a worrying 37% of agricultural greenhouse gas emissions. If you love the idea of helping the world while improving your own wellbeing, but can’t face the thought of giving up your favourite meals, there are plenty of chefs and bloggers out there paving WWW.CALMMOMENT.COM



the way for you. Eleanor Brown started her blog, Kind State of Mind (, to show how easy and delicious plant-based eating can be. “My love of food and cooking motivated me to make vegan versions of old favourites, and I realised I could recreate many of the things I used to eat.” Eleanor’s motivation to change her diet was primarily for ethical reasons. “A good friend had gone vegan, and had been sharing information on the reality of animal agriculture,” she explains. “Initially, I felt good just knowing my eating habits were reflecting my values. But as the months have gone on I find I sleep so much better and my skin and digestion have both improved. I generally feel a lot healthier.”

Rather than being restrictive, a plant-based diet can encourage creativity in the kitchen. And by banishing the stereotype of bland, boring dinners by creating recipes such as vegan cottage pie and baked vegan Camembert, Eleanor aims to make plant-based eating simple and attainable. “I often make a big pot of veg stew at the start of the week, then have portions with lentils, mash or rice to bulk it out,” she says. “My ultimate comfort food is homemade potato wedges!” A healthier, more mindful lifestyle that means we look and feel better, help the environment and still get to eat wedges? Sign us up!

Simple plant-based switches

IT PAYS TO BE PREPARED Stock up on dried beans and pulses for your store cupboards and batch cook regularly to keep costs low.


Pick plant milk over dairy

Swap white pasta for wholewheat

Replace meat with beans

Switch sugary snacks with fruit

Move over, dairy, it’s all about the plant-based milks. Be it almond, coconut, hazelnut, hemp, oat, rice or soya milk, there’s something for everyone. Put them in your tea or coffee, mix them in milkshakes and smoothies, use them in your cooking – they’re an ideal straight swap for dairy. And you can even get cream and crème fraîche replacements, too.

They’re the same price, take the same time to cook, and taste the same once they’re covered in sauce. But as white pasta is processed, its simple carbohydrates are quickly digested, whereas wholewheat pasta’s complex carbohydrates provide slow-release energy. And because wholewheat is made with the whole grain, you get more nutritional value.

Curry and chilli are both great weeknight meals, and can easily be made ahead and frozen. And by replacing chicken or mince with black beans, kidney beans and chickpeas, you’ll be saving money and cooking time. Plus, in dishes like these that use lots of herbs and spices, meat often just adds a bit of texture, so swapping it out with beans or lentils isn’t too noticeable.

We know it sounds boring. And we know that an apple is no substitute for a packet of biscuits. But try treating yourself to something a bit sweeter, like strawberries, blueberries or watermelon. You won’t get that afternoon slump that comes from scoffing a chocolate bar at 3pm, and eventually that craving for refined sugars will wear off.






y bumping up your plant intake you’ll easily hit your five-a-day, but what about those other nutrients? Or, as pretty much everyone eating a plant-based diet gets asked, “where do you get your protein?”. Foods like steak, chicken and tuna aren’t the only sources – beans, pulses, grains and soya are also packed with it. It’s

recommended that the average woman should eat about 45g of protein a day, so as long as you maintain a well-balanced diet, you’ll be fine. We’ve picked four easy ways for you to get your protein throughout the day, but there are plenty more – try swapping rice for quinoa, and adding flaxseed to salads and your morning porridge.

* * * *

Milk, 250ml serving – 8.7g Eggs, 1 medium – 7.1g Steak, 70g serving – 19g Cheese, 30g serving – 7.7g


Soya milk

30g serving (roughly 20 almonds) – 6.4g protein

250ml serving – 8.5g protein

Snack your way to your daily protein allowance with a handful of almonds. Not only will these stop you craving sugary treats between meals, they contain fibre and are said to lower cholesterol, too. Plus they’re a good source of vitamin E and other antioxidants that nourish the skin and reduce signs of ageing.

Chickpeas 120g serving – 8.6g protein


Pour it on your cereal or use it to make your porridge and you’ve already started your day with a hefty serving of plant-based protein. When fortified, soya milk contains almost as much calcium as dairy milk, so you’re not missing out by switching to soya. In fact, you’re going for a lower-fat option.

“Vegans and vegetarians actually average 70% more protein than they need every day.” Dr Michael Greger

Low-cost and low in fat, add half a tin of cooked chickpeas to a salad and you’ve got a quick and easy protein-packed lunch that’ll keep you full through the afternoon. Or why not whizz them up in a food processor along with tahini, lemon juice, garlic and water to make your very own houmous. This versatile little legume also forms the base of falafels, and works really well in a curry, too. 60

Here’s the amount of protein in a few common meat and dairy products, for you to compare with the plant-based alternatives below:

Tofu 100g serving – 12.6g protein

Firm tofu, or soya bean curd, can be marinated and livened up in a stir fry, while soft, or silken, tofu can be used to make sauces, creamy salad dressings and even chocolate mousse. Tofu contains all the essential amino acids, so is a complete source of protein. Plus it’s an excellent source of iron and calcium. If you want to pack even more protein into your diet try cooking with tempeh, a nuttier, less processed option made with fermented, cooked soy beans.


Curried chickpea salad sanga JESSICA PRESCOTT’S TASTY TWIST ON THE TRADITIONAL EGG SANDWICH IS JAM-PACKED WITH PROTEIN, VITAMINS AND MINERALS! METHOD Drain and rinse the chickpeas and place in a medium-sized bowl with the avocado, olive oil and lemon juice. Mash with a fork until well combined but still a little bit chunky. Finely chop the onion, pickles and parsley and add to the chickpea mix along with the curry powder, salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Taste, and add more salt or curry powder if necessary. You don’t need someone to tell you how to build the sandwich: bread, lettuce, chickpea salad, bread, squish it down, stuff it in your mouth!

Ingredients SERVES 4 For curried chickpea salad * 250g (9 oz/1½ cups/1 tin) cooked chickpeas * 1 large ripe avocado, chopped * Drizzle of olive oil * Squeeze of fresh lemon * 1 small red onion, peeled * 4 dill pickles * Handful of parsley leaves * 1 tablespoon curry powder * Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper For the sandwich * 4 rolls or 8 slices of bread * Baby butterhead lettuce (or any lettuce of your choice) or baby spinach



Making a healthy plantbased sandwich at home means you’re less likely to slip into old habits in your lunch break.



Deliciously Ella With Friends by Ella Mills, Yellow Kite £25 Ella started her plant-based food blog back in 2012, cutting out processed foods in an attempt to improve her health. Five years on, she’s now a huge name within the community, has opened three deli stores, and has a range of energy balls – the most popular recipe from her blog – stocked in health stores and supermarkets. Deliciously Ella With Friends is her third book and features recipes for every occasion, including picnics, birthdays and cosy nights in.

Frugal Vegan by Katie Koteen and Kate Kasbee, Page Street Publishing £16.99 Want to go plant-based but worried you don’t have the budget? Katie and Kate of Well Vegan, a blog bursting with affordable, simple and delicious recipes, show just how easy it is to eat healthily without shelling out on expensive ingredients. As well as sharing tips – including batch cooking, freezing and buying in bulk – they include recipes to feed all the family. From easy enchiladas to mushroom stroganoff and spaghetti with lentil ‘meatballs’, you’ll want to cook everything.

Guilt-Free Nice Cream by Margie Broadhead, Hardie Grant Books £12.99 Filled with over 60 recipes using natural ingredients, Margie’s book transforms the humble banana into a creamy treat that’ll satisfy any sweet tooth. Learn how to make her basic ‘banilla’ nice cream, then add an array of fruits and flavours to create pistachio, piña colada, and strawberry and rhubarb crumble versions, plus crazy-indulgent breakfast recipes that are actually healthy. Banoffee overnight oats with soft serve cinnamon nice cream, anyone?

Vegan in 15

Recipe from Vegan Goodness by Jessica Prescott (Hardie Grant, £15). Find out more at

by Kate Ford, Short Books £8.99 Packed with quick recipes by food blogger Kate Ford, this book is a must for mid-week meal inspiration. You’ll find plant-based breakfasts, soups, salads, lunches and mains, as well as decadent desserts. Creamy chickpea and kale curry with poppadums in 15 minutes? We accept that challenge. Kate’s accessible book also includes tips and advice, shopping lists and meal planners – handy for those new to plant-based eating.




Follow the foodies JOIN THE PLANT-BASED COMMUNITY If you don’t have friends or family that follow a plant-based diet, get online and find a new tribe of pals with the same foodie interests as you. Social media and the internet make it easier than ever to be a part of this expanding community – here are our favourite bloggers who share their journeys, recipes and inspiring food photography.

The First Mess Laura Wright loves cooking with natural, seasonal, plant-based foods, and writes about living simply and staying connected to the earth. Based in Southern Ontario, she shares her own recipes (along with some gorgeous photos) and tries out those from fellow plant-based authors’ cookbooks, too.

Minimalist Baker Dana Shultz creates super-simple, delicious recipes that require either just 10 ingredients or less, one bowl, or 30 minutes or less to prepare. Showcasing plant-based comfort food at its very best, Dana herself doesn’t subscribe to one particular diet, but many of her recipes are also gluten free.

Oh She Glows Angela Liddon has a passion for plant-based foods, and shares recipes that are free from gluten and soy as well as processed ingredients. She shifted to a plant-based diet back in 2009, and has been helping to inspire others on their path towards health and wellbeing ever since.

Pea Soup Aine Carlin started her food blog in 2009, but it’s since evolved into a lifestyle blog, documenting what she eats, wears and loves. Aine has a passion for sustainable living, and often posts pictures of her beautiful vintage outfits alongside tasty plantbased recipes. She’s written two vegan recipe books, too!




You’re never too old for an ice lolly! These fruity, creamy treats are given a grown-up twist with pretty petals.

Pretty in Pink popsicles with edible flowers POP THESE IN THE FREEZER FOR AN ICED VERSION OF YOUR FAVOURITE FRUIT SMOOTHIE WHENEVER YOU CRAVE SOMETHING SWEET METHOD Blend the raspberries, bananas, almond milk and lime zest and juice together in a food processor or blender until creamy. Lay the flowers or lime slices face down in ice lolly moulds and spoon in the nice cream. Give the mould a sharp tap on the countertop to release any air bubbles. Insert a popsicle stick and freeze for at least six hours. To remove the smoothie pops from their moulds, run the moulds under warm water. Don’t use hot water or the pops will melt. Firmly pull up on the sticks, carefully remove the pops from the mould and enjoy. To store, put each frozen pop between pieces of parchment paper and freeze for up to three weeks. Silicone moulds work well for these, too. Simply place them under running water to make sure they are a little damp and it will help the pops come out easily.

Ingredients SERVES 6

Recipe from Guilt-Free Nice Cream by Margie Broadhead (Hardie Grant £12.99). Find more at

* * * * *

125g (4 oz/1 cup) raspberries 2 bananas, peeled and frozen 250ml (8½ fl oz) almond milk Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lime 6 edible flowers or thinly sliced slivers of lime




BRING THE INDOORS OUT Celebrate summer by creating a laidback outdoor living space without spending a thing Words: Caroline Rowland / Illustration: Matilda Smith


ummers in the UK can be somewhat unpredictable. One day we’re basking in glorious sunshine, and the next it’s downright gloomy. We never know what to wear from day to day, often caught out by a thunderstorm in flip flops, or sweating on a hot train because we thought it wise to wear a coat. Despite this, we do try to make the most of what good weather comes our way, and a glimmer of sun brings us out in our droves, whether that’s onto the beaches, parks, café terraces or our own gardens. We love eating outside – the heady scent of a barbecue, chatting with friends while the sun goes down, sipping wine by candlelight on a balmy evening – it’s all so good for the soul, isn’t it? It’s often hard to plan ahead for these types of days, yet it’s really easy to create the perfect impromptu garden picnic when a sunny Saturday appears. Rather than spending a month’s wages on a set of garden furniture that languishes in a damp shed half the year, my family opts for a little bit of ‘domestic foraging’. I love this phrase – I first heard it on Sara Tasker’s podcast, Hashtag Authentic, describing a guest’s searches around her home for objects to use in her Instagram images. I realised I do this regularly myself, both for my photography but also when the sun peeks out and we want to move into the garden for the day. We usually start off with a wooden pallet, an old trunk or a low coffee table, any of which are great for centralising your picnic area. It’s a more civilised way to serve your food and drinks too – a wine glass nestled in grass never tends to stay upright long! A few old crates or a scattering of cushions around the table makes informal seating. We’ve also got a couple of deckchairs, purchased at vintage fairs for less than £25, which can be set up for a bit of lounging. To transform the picnic from pedestrian to pretty (maybe even worthy of an Instagram snap!) we gather some textiles

to soften the scene. Anything from tablecloths, vintage linen or even a bed sheet can be added on the table or the ground. Add a posy of flowers, either ‘foraged’ from a vase indoors or cut fresh from the garden. If you need shade, sit a few canes in some sturdy, upturned plant pots and tie a bedsheet or tablecloth to their tops. I have an unhealthy addiction to enamelware and have lots of it around the house – it’s perfect for bringing outdoors to eat off and serve on. It’s easy to find at markets and car boot sales, and often very cheap. Chopping boards can be loaded up with the essentials and carried out to the garden. Serving your food this way gives a rustic, laidback vibe. All of these little details elevate your mini event from back garden bland to bohemian chic, with minimal effort. My food isn’t fancy, and if it’s a particularly impromptu picnic, it’ll be a case of ‘what’s in the house’ – bread, cheese, crackers, fruit, a quick salad, whizz up a dip or two, and if you’ve invited friends, ask them to bring a dish and a bottle. It’s less about a gourmet meal and more about the joy of eating outdoors and spending time together. For those days when you don’t want it to end, simply grab some blankets and candles and while away a few more hours under the stars. Friends of mine even have a camp fire area at the end of their garden, which is perfect for long temperate evenings. They bought a brazier from a garden centre, which you can pick up for as little as £30, then built bench seating with some old railway sleepers and added some vintage metal chairs from a flea market. You certainly don’t need lavish garden furniture or a fancy (and pricey) ‘outdoor kitchen’ to create the perfect summer gathering. Simply be resourceful and take the indoors outside. I much prefer this laidback approach to outdoor living as, let’s face it, tomorrow we might well be putting on our rain coats again!

CAROLINE ROWLAND is the founding editor of interiors and lifestyle publication 91 Magazine ( Turn the page to discover Caroline’s best al fresco ideas…





INSIDE OUT Forget expensive outdoor furniture that gets an airing a few times a year (page 66). Caroline shares her laidback outdoor living ideas, foraged from around the home.








If you don’t have your own garden you can create a similar feel in your local park. Simply fill two wooden crates with the essentials – one with blankets, cushions, plates and cups, and the other with food and drink supplies. Then when you arrive, empty them and use the crates as a table and/or seating.

Photography Caroline Rowland

Don’t pick flowers from your park, of course, but if you do want that added splash of prettiness, grab a cheap bunch from the supermarket or just a few stems from a florist and pop them in a jam jar.


For a gathering that extends into the evening, string up some solar or battery powered fairy lights in a nearby tree and scatter the area with candles (also solar or battery powered!). Check out for lots of affordable options. These will also come in handy at home in the winter months!

“There are few things so pleasant as a picnic eaten in perfect comfort.� W. SOMERSET MAUGHAM




Designer Beci Orpin shares her houseplant fail-safe favourites


y friend Sally Wilson has a sun-lit room just for plants. She lives in an inner-city apartment in a beautiful old building. It has a small sunroom and a well-protected balcony dedicated entirely to her plants. The first time I spent an afternoon in this glorious space, I was ready to move in. Yes, the high ceilings and period details of the building were impressive, but the contrast of the lush greenery against a background of the noises of a very urban location made it feel even more special. Inner-city jungle room aside, Sally has something else that I don’t have: a great deal of know-how in keeping her indoor plants happy and healthy. Admittedly, the more plants I own, the better I get at keeping them alive. The main thing I’ve learnt during my indoor plant adventures is what plants work where. This has taken some time, having lived in my house for the better part of a decade, but I now know where a hoya will thrive (upstairs bathroom), where the rubber plant likes to live (hated the lounge, loves the sunroom), and which room will kill anything (freezing weird cave room with no lights). If you live in a rental or are often moving then deciphering this can be tricky. To help, I’ve compiled a list of my favourite plants (see page 72) – the ones I’ve kept alive for at least one year.




“If you want your houseplants to survive”, says Beci Orpin, “work out what plants work where.”

This is an excerpt from Sunshine Spaces: Naturally Beautiful Projects To Make For Your Home And Outdoor Space by Beci Orpin (Hardie Grant, £20). Photography © Chris Middleton





Devil’s ivy


Spider plant

(Epipremnum aureum)

(Dracaena fragrans)

(Chlorophytum comosum)

I have a few of these around my studio; one particularly huge one is growing up a stump and is slowly taking over everything. the studio has relatively low natural light but good artifi cial light, and these guys just keep on growing. I have occasionally forgotten to water them too, and it’s only when the leaves start to sag that I remember they might need a drink. But give them a good soak and they bounce back easily.

This is one of those plants that you can literally forget about for months and it will be okay. I know this because we have one in our warehouse in the staff bathroom, which isn’t used very often. I go to this bathroom probably once a month and there it is, still going strong. I’ll give it a little water, it gives me some ‘thank you’ plant vibes, and then I won’t see it for another month. Our relationship works great with this set-up.

Another plant that thrives on neglect and is very easy to grow. We have one in our doughnut shop; it doesn’t get a whole lot of loving, yet it keeps on growing. I had the same plant in my studio for a while, and the lack of light in there almost killed it, but once it was moved into the brighter light downstairs it soon returned to full health.

Low-medium light, moderate watering, leaves being wiped down with a wet cloth.

Nothing. This plant is very easygoing.



Well-drained soil, bright light, cooler temperatures. All round neglect. Does best in bright light, but will tolerate any conditions.

Overwatering, direct sunlight, attention.

Heat and overwatering.


Succulents and small cacti I have a bunch of different varieties on my lounge room windowsill; I love them because they look like a group of sculptures. They grow slowly (if at all) and ask for very little in life. You will need to experiment with different varieties to see which ones work best indoors. Most of them need some kind of sunlight or warmth, but overall they are pretty hardy.


Mother-in-law’s tongue

(also known as wax plant)

(Sansevieria trifasciata)

My gran’s house is where I came across my first hoya plant. Hers was a decent size and covered in pink waxy flowers, and my four-year-old self could not get my head around how those flowers were real – they looked so fake! It’s part of the reason why I love hoyas. They come in lots of varieties, often distinguished by numbers. I have a no12 hoya in my bathroom, which is growing rapidly, and a curly rope hoya in my lounge.

These guys are known for their indestructible nature but I have killed a few. Now I know this is from overcrowding – this guy loves space in the pot. We currently have one in the windowless bathroom of our doughnut shop and it’s doing great, so it can obviously deal with artificial light. These plants are also great air purifiers.

It’s a desert plant so it thrives where it’s warm, but never in the direct sun.

Good drainage and warmer temperatures.


There’s a hoya for most conditions. Research their individual needs.

Overwatering, crowded pots.

Will not flower in low-light conditions.





Peace lily

Rubber plant



(Ficus elastica)

(also known as Lacy Tree)

I’ve had many of these guys over the years and they have always fared well. Currently I have one at home which has lived in many different locations: our freezing cold front room, our sunroom and our bedroom. Basically I just put it anywhere and when it looks unhappy I move it to a different location. It seems to cope with this peripatetic lifestyle pretty well. It does like to be watered though, but will tell you if it’s thirsty with droopy leaves.

I never used to give rubber plants a second look, until I was given one in a pale pink pot. The combination of the dark green leaves against the pretty pot had me positively salivating. Now it’s one of my faves. At first I put my rubber plant in our low-light lounge, but the leaves started to drop off. I moved it to a spot in our sunroom, which was warm but with no direct light, and now it’s sprouting new leaves like there’s no tomorrow!

These guys come in many different shapes and sizes. I have a medium-sized one on my studio table, which seems to be getting bigger every time I look at it. So far it seems to love the artificial light it gets. I also have a large one in our warehouse, which was very sad and neglected, but after some intensive care it looks like it’s going to make it through. I have one in my lounge which is doing okay, but not loving life that much. I might have to move it.

Weekly watering. Will do best in slightly warmer areas (but not too hot).

Bright indirect light and moderate watering.

Not being watered.

Low-medium indirect light, moderate watering, leaves wiped with a wet cloth.

Being moved around, colder temperatures, draughts. Direct sunlight.




MY STILL SPACE We chat to Niki Brantmark, author and blogger at My Scandinavian Home, about the spot she retreats to in her home when she needs to unwind.

PICK YOUR PALETTE Neutral hues, natural materials and soft textures combined with natural light create a serene space in which to relax and recharge.





ooking out over the rooftops, you can glimpse the grey-blue of the Öresund sea. It’s very peaceful,” says Niki Brantmark as she describes her favourite space at home – the top-floor bedroom she shares with her husband. Originally from the UK, Niki has lived in Malmö for over 10 years, and has embraced the Swedish way of life, dedicating her blog, My Scandinavian Home (, to the interiors of this stylish country. Niki works from home and says her days are varied, keeping busy with anything from a photoshoot to working on a book project. She has published two interiors books – Modern Pastoral and The Scandinavian Home (both from Cico Books, priced £19.99) – and is currently working on her third title, which is about the Swedish philosophy of Lagom. Niki works hard to fit everything in before her children return from school, and says she’s always striving for a healthy work-life balance – KEEP IT something she’s learnt from the LOW TECH Swedes! Getting away from A tangle of wires is not a work, even for an hour, helps tranquil sight. Consolidate and conceal power cords Niki to clear her head. “In by tucking them behind the winter I’ll go to the gym, furniture or using a and when the warmer weather multi-plug strip. arrives I’ll go for a walk, jog along the beach or meet a friend for a natter,” she explains. As a mother to three children, Niki’s family home can often be hectic, not to mention noisy! So it’s in her bedroom where she finds a little peace and quiet. With floor to ceiling





“It makes a big difference when you start and end your day in a peaceful space.�

From left: Niki’s industrial-style lamp; her print by artist Silke Bonde, whose SKNGNAA?PODAN@EO?KRANEAOEJJ=PQNALEHAOKBOKBP?QODEKJO?NA=PA=?KOUBAAH

windows, the spacious room is light-filled during the day, although blackout blinds ensure a restful night’s sleep. Niki has intentionally kept it clean and clutter-free and this, along with the pale grey floor and white walls, helps to bring a higher level of serenity. Rustic wood, sheepskins and linen add texture and comfort. “I love to spend time here reading or chatting with friends in England over the phone – and, of course, sleeping,â€? says Niki. Despite having a beautiful, wicker peacock chair by the window, Niki says it’s on her bed where she tends to curl up for reading and chatting. A cosy mountain of pillows atop soft, grey linen sheets is where she’s most comfortable, although on warmer days she often uses the balcony to relax and enjoy some fresh air. Plants and greenery add a touch of colour to the neutral dĂŠcor. “I feel plants add calm to a space since they connect a person to nature,â€? says Niki.

“Studies have also found that plants are great for cleaning the air too.� Nature has also been introduced in a more abstract way, with an art print called ‘Leaf me’ by Danish artist Silke Bonde, whose work is heavily inspired by the outdoors. Niki’s lighting choices also reflect her quest for a restful space. The large bamboo and linen pendant emits a soft, filtered light, and its dimmer switch allows Niki to mirror her mood. Her bedside lamp adds an industrial touch, and provides the perfect ambience for a few quiet moments of reading. Interiors are hugely important to Niki, both in her work and family life, and she agrees that the aesthetic of her surroundings reflects her mood. “I am very affected by my environment and like to keep things fuss-free and calm. It makes a big difference when you start and end your day in a peaceful space.�




A RESTFUL ROOM Bring a sense of calm to your living space with soft textures, subtle lighting, cool colours and comforting scents that nourish and soothe your senses to help you relax and unwind.

Sahara Medallion rug Representing wholeness and balance, the mandala-style print on this soft, cotton handmade rug is as soothing to look at as it is to walk on. ÂŁ15 from




Kamanu wallpaper

Fringed wall art

Moroccan floor lamp

Watching fish is known to have a calming effect and this beautiful hand-drawn wallpaper from Anthozoa’s Harlequin collection is the next best thing to an actual aquarium. Featuring botanical fish illustrations in soothing colours with metallic touches, use it to create a feature wall then imagine your fish swimming gently through the water.

Anthropologie has given woven wall hangings a contemporary twist with natural colours and patterns created from a mix of wool, cotton and silver lurex. Available in shades of neutral and grey, Ojai fringed wall hangings are soft and tactile, and an irresistible combination of original design and traditional artisan craftwork.

Projecting their intricate patterns across the room, the effect of these opulent-looking floor lamps is reminiscent of dappled sunlight as it filters through the trees. Made from iron and coloured white or copper, Graham And Green’s Morrocan tyre floor lamps will bring a hint of luxury and mystique to your living space.

£54.58 from

£58 from

From £160

Linen blanket

Knitted pouf

Aroma diffuser

Keep the evening chill at bay with this summery throw, handwoven in India from a blend of 60% linen and 40% silk. And when you’re not draping this tassled beauty over your shoulders, the Bundi blanket looks rather lovely hung artfully over a chair or sofa. The design is also available as a bedspread and a coordinating cushion cover.

A place to relax and rejuvenate isn’t complete without somewhere to put your feet up, and we fancy resting our tired tootsies on this decidedly homely knitted pouf. Handmade from 100% cotton, and available in a range of colours to suit your space, Habitat’s Knot pouf is actually sturdy enough to use as a seat, as well as an attractive footrest.

Lavender can help to calm the mind and body almost instantly, while rose, bergamot, ylang ylang and chamomile are known to ease anxiety. The Muji Aroma Diffuser uses ultrasonic waves to vaporise water and your choice of essential oil to produce a cool, dry, fragrant mist. It also features a timer you can set to between 30 minutes and three hours.

£85 from

£95 from

£59.95 from



SUMMER BLUE BLOSSOM DAYS “Fleur” top, £49 and “Anemone” trousers, £59

FLOWERS Our inspiration for the summer comes from French artists, raw nature, fields of yellow sunflowers, bright blue irises and anemones. We mix floaty summer dresses with recycled cotton tunics and fabulous patterns with stripes and solids. In pure natural fabrics for women of all shapes and ages. This has been my passion for more than 40 years.


Stockholm | Est. 1976

Summer wishes,

Welcome to my store at 65-67 Monmouth Street, London You can also visit our webshop, call 0800 056 9912 or e-mail Free shipping, fast delivery and 30 day return policy!

Photography Amber Rose




MEANINGFUL WAYS TO STAY CONNECTED When friends are scattered far and wide, staying in touch in ways that feel significant can be hard. But as Anna Alicia has found, creativity can enrich your lives with a deeper connection.





uring a month when two close friends left the city we’ve shared and two more loved ones announced their plans to move – one to the coast, one across the ocean – I’ve been thinking a lot about keeping in touch, about staying connected to the people I love, wherever they are. It can be a wonderful thing to have friends and family spread across the globe, as so many of us do; to see loved ones being where they need or want to be, for now or maybe for always, fulfilling dreams or just trying new things, coming home from travels with new friendships and lasting bonds. But there can be loss and disconnection in the distances between us too

“Sometimes something more tangible is needed, something to hold, perhaps even to plant and watch grow.”

– not being able to pop round for a cuppa or offer a hug. Even when the distances aren’t great, it can be hard to keep in touch in ways that feel meaningful and significant, to keep connections going. There are so many ways to stay in touch now, at any distance. A quick text or social media update, a Skype chat or email can be invaluable. But sometimes something more tangible is needed, something to hold, perhaps even to plant and watch grow, or just to pop on a shelf to glance at. Something slower. This is where my love of sending (and receiving!) things in the post comes in. My friend Rachel and I used to live just a few streets apart and before that we shared classrooms and corridors at school. I moved away to London in my early 20s while she stayed closer to our geographical roots. We’re not far apart, as the crow flies, but not ‘popping round’ distance either, especially factoring in childcare logistics. So we began a practice of sending one another things in the post. Just little things, nothing big or expensive. Recently, an envelope a little fatter than a bill, but still small, dropped through my door. I recognised Rachel’s handwriting and smiled. Sitting at my kitchen table I opened the envelope to find a card and herbal tea bags tucked inside. I can’t remember now what the note said but I remember feeling cared for as I made myself a cup of tea and settled down to work. I sent Rachel a tiny brooch I found in the shape of a bird once, at a time when I thought she might need

FACE TO FACE If you’re connecting in person, put your phone away so you can give your full attention to the present moment and the person you’re with.




a talisman of freedom. And a few weeks ago I sent nasturtium seeds I had harvested last year from my crowded balcony garden. She sent me a postcard from the seaside. We text and call too, and follow each other’s Instagram accounts, and of course we visit whenever we can. But there’s something special, and necessary, in this practice of sending things in the old-fashioned post, just now and then, that’s right for us. The joy of having something to open, to discover, never goes away for me. Similarly, the comfort of glancing at a postcard sat on my shelf or my new stash of herbal tea makes our friendship feel present in my own home, in spite of the distance. A card is often enough as a gesture to make someone feel cared for and thought of. I’m one of those people who like to keep a collection of cards at the ready. Cards I’ve made, cards I’ve picked up at craft fairs

or bought in my (gorgeous) local East London gift shop. My toddler is in on the act now too – we make cards together covered in shiny fish stickers, washi tape and scribbles. Cards for birthdays, new homes and congratulations are great, but my favourites are cards that could be for any, or no, occasion – those are the ones I’m really after for my stash! Because, while I’m all for celebrating at any excuse, sometimes I just want to send a card to say ‘hello’ or ‘hope you’re okay’ or (perhaps with a little bar of chocolate inside, which is always very welcome) ‘I’m thinking of you’.

MAKE IT PERSONAL Tried a new recipe? Post a copy to a foodie friend. Read a great book? Send a review. Funny news stories, a joke, a poem – share them with likeminded loved ones.

“Thinking about what kind of gestures might keep a relationship KQNEODEJCIECDPHA=@PK some unique ideas.”




Little things SOME THOUGHTS ON LOVELY, SIMPLE THINGS TO SEND * A handmade card: This doesn’t have

to be perfectly illustrated or include a long message – just have fun and let someone know you’re thinking of them. And you could use our flower cut-outs to make a card!

* Seeds: I love the sense of hope and

the forward-looking nature of giving seeds. They’re not just for avid gardeners either. Herbs or small, indoor flowers are ideal for those restricted to a few pots on the windowsill.

* Pressed flowers I often pressed flowers

Of course, there’s no ‘right’ way to keep in touch. We have to find the best way for each relationship at each time. Thinking about what kind of gestures might keep a relationship flourishing, and the people within it feeling connected, might lead to some unique ideas. We can try things out and maybe start some new practices of keeping in touch that are personal to each of us. We can share the joy of receiving a card ‘just because’ or a tiny package that’s a mysterious surprise. So maybe it’s a good time to dig out your address book and your stamps and let someone know you’re thinking of them. Whether you deepen a bond with an already close friend, or reconnect with someone after some time, your life will certainly be richer for it.

between heavy books when I was Iittle and recently saw a friend’s child continuing this age-old tradition with a simple flower-press she’d been given. It’s such a thoughtful (and inexpensive) way to send flowers.

* Mini care package: For me, a care

package should be about comfort, things to cuddle up with and enjoy – a favourite tea, maybe even a good novel, and certainly a treat to eat.

* Photos: Real, actual printed photos! I take so many pictures these days, it’s lovely to share them as prints sometimes, as reminders of happy moments spent together.




PRESENTS IN THE POST The best thing about subscription gift clubs is that you continue to spread a little happiness long after the main event. So think inside the box – from carefully curated contemporary fiction to spices and fancy gin, these are gifts that keep on giving.

Give the simple pleasure of a good read, with book club genres ranging from contemporary and classic fiction to cookery. From ÂŁ34.99 for three months www.thewilloughby


Bloom Box Club


The Spicery

Plants are such an agreeable way to celebrate a first home or house move, especially when they arrive every three months arranged in super stylish pots with care instructions so simple that even your least greenfingered friends will be able to look after them! The Bloom Box Club also offers quarterly outdoor boxes for keen or budding gardeners.

This mindfulness gift set is the perfect pick-me-up for a friend or loved one who needs a little TLC. Friendinabox create single gift boxes with a variety of thoughtful themes, such as ‘Tea and Sympathy’, ‘Woman Power’ and ‘Friendship’, each carefully packaged to fit through the letterbox, so there’s no need to stay in for delivery.

Give the gift of spice to venturesome foodies and Masterchef fans! Each monthly box contains a selection of freshly ground and blended spices and a recipe card with a full how-to. Themes range from ‘Date Night’ to ‘Friday Night Curry’ and ‘World Kitchen Explorer’. It’s the perfect gift for a partner if you fancy something a bit different for dinner!

From £35

From £14

From £22

Natural beauty

Craft Gin Club


We love that every product in these quarterly beauty boxes has been created with pure, vegan ingredients and no animal testing. With a mix of pampering skincare, cosmetics and beauty products you won’t find on the high street, it’s a great way to add new favourites to a beauty routine. We’re thinking we might just treat ourselves!

Treat a lucky friend to a Craft Gin Club membership and they’ll receive a full-sized bottle of rare and exclusive small-batch gin, along with new tonics, mixers and nibbles. Each gift box also includes a copy of the club magazine, Ginned, featuring tasty new cocktail recipes to try. Monthly, bi-monthly and quarterly subscriptions are available.

Crafty types will love this beautiful, quarterly subscription box, delivered at the start of each season. Filled with original designs and fun weekend projects, crafts range from simple sewing to baking, papercrafts and more. Each seasonal box has a nature-inspired theme – we love this summer’s cactus pincushion kit.

From £18.15

From £155

From £18







eet Rosie Strange: benefit fraud inspector, Essex girl, unwilling owner of a witchcraft museum and reluctant investigator of the supernatural. The star of a new series of books from Syd Moore, when Rosie takes possession of the museum – her inheritance from an estranged grandfather – her first thought is to sell up and cash in. But the museum appears to have other ideas. Almost immediately, a desperate family appears, begging the museum’s curator, Sam, to help them find the bones of witch Ursula Cadence in order to free their son from possession. Rosie might be a thorough rationalist, with no time for stories about demons and familiars (creatures, we learn, that help witches to cast their spells and carry out mischievous deeds on their behalf), but that doesn’t mean she can resist an urgent plea or a wild adventure. Inevitably, she and Sam set off to find Ursula. It’s a mission that will take in double-crosses, nefarious cults and the frankly incredible – but above everything, this is a story about Rosie, one of the most appealing characters to have emerged in fiction for a while. She’s smart, she’s sharp, she loves her hair-straighteners, and her cynicism makes her the perfect companion as Moore leads you into a world where the impossible might just be happening. The novel draws on the real Essex witch trials of the 16th century, with Moore keeping one eye on her story and one on the reality of a world where poor women were (and still are, with witch-hunts continuing today) scapegoated and demonised. As Rosie realises, be it Essex witches then or Essex girls now, it’s all about using stereotypes to keep women down. With a galloping plot and masses of charm, Strange Magic is an irresistible celebration of keeping an open mind. After all, as Rosie is told: “absolute scepticism can be just as blinding as absolute faith.”




Syd Moore lives in Essex and has written two previous mystery novels. The sequel to Strange Magic, Strange Sight (Point blank, £8.99), is out in October and Syd is writing the third book in the series.

I THINK IT’S OKAY TO HAVE AREAS WHERE WE DON’T KNOW THE ANSWERS. SOMETIMES, MYSTERIES SHOULD JUST BE CELEBRATED. Q. Why did you decide to write about witches? A. My nan was fantastic with fairy tales and she’d make up stories, and, like most writers, I was also an avid reader, but I identified more with the witches than the princesses or the fairies. The witches, they were out there doing things. They had magic and they could fly. As I got older, I started to realise that the reality was a lot more nuanced and complex. I was gripped by a huge sense of injustice. Part of me really liked the fact that witches were associated with magic and spells, and they had this association of being closer to the earth and more in touch with the rhythms of nature. Some of them, of course, were healers who used herbs as potions. But actually, if you dig deeper, you find out that these women were scapegoated and oppressed. It struck me that we didn’t know the names of the witches. Where are their commemorations? Where are their tales? So that’s when I started to write about them.

Q. Strange Magic explores the idea of witchcraft and female power... A. These people were victims. They were bullied and they were murdered. And the reason we have to remember this is that witch hunts are still going on. It’s great the witch is now seen as a defiant, non-domestic aspect of femininity, but there are women still walking in the shadow of superstition and persecution. The witch will be a fantastic feminist icon, but there’s a lot of work to be done.

Q. Rosie isn’t an immediately sympathetic character. As a benefit fraud inspector, she’s kind of the modern witchfinder, isn’t she? A. I think she can be quite insensitive at the beginning of the book. And there are elements of the witchfinder in that she goes by the rulebook. The compassion element isn’t as developed as you would like in a benefit fraud inspector! But this is one of the things I’m hoping will change in her character arc as we progress through the series. She’ll find out that the world is more nuanced; there are a lot more things we don’t understand.

Q. A really great part of the book is the idea that not every question has an answer. A. I am married to an atheist and we have a lot of very dynamic conversations because I like that there are mysteries in the world. I think it’s okay to have areas where we don’t know the answers. Sometimes, mysteries should just be celebrated.

Q. And yet, in terms of plot BEWITCHED BY writing, you’re very good at STRANGE MAGIC? resolving mysteries. SHARE IT! A. In terms of fictional worlds, Inspired by our review? you can only go so far because Why not suggest it to your readers want to know certain own book club? Let us know what you think at things about what happened. I am one of those readers who’s InTheMomentMag like, “Tell me! Tell me!” I spend ages on my plots, anything from three to about six weeks. I’m quite visual so I need to have it plastered up on the wall. Once I’ve got it done, I’ll write it in a chronological timeline, and then chapter by chapter. Maybe I’m a bit of a control freak, but I need to know where I’m going.

Q. How far do you see Rosie going? A. I think she can go and go, to be honest. She’s developing nuance, and readers will possibly be able to guess where her character’s going, but obviously there are two elements to the Strange series: one is the Essex witch and then there’s the Essex girl, and she’s going to combine them.

We’re also reading... How To Be Human by Paula Cocozza (Hutchinson, £12.99). A woman recovering from a breakup finds herself drawn into a strange obsession – with an urban fox. This utterly original Gothic tale plots mental disintegration and celebrates a “rewilding of the heart” that happens when we let nature in.




STEPPING AWAY FROM THE SCREEN Ever feel your creativity is held hostage by your devices? Try letting go of your digital comfort blanket Words Cath Dean / Illustration Matilda Smith


ell, I’ve just got back from a long weekend on the Cornish coast, staying in a tiny cabin miles from anywhere. The little wilderness had everything we could have needed for a relaxing weekend: breathtaking views, birdsong floating in through the windows in the morning… everything but a decent wifi connection. Out in the countryside, tracking down any 3G signal was about as likely as making a successful pizza in the wood-fired oven outside (that’s another story), so I found myself signed up – not entirely voluntarily – to four nights of smartphone-free living. Being forced to spend time away from my phone didn’t just reinforce my vague sense of guilt about too much time spent scrolling, it also made me realise how often I find myself opening up picture-led apps like Pinterest and Instagram. It struck me that, over time, they’ve gone from being somewhere I go to for an occasional browse to becoming my primary source of creative inspiration. For a passion like craft, which is all about the tactile joy of making something by hand, it doesn’t feel right that the first place I turn when I’m stuck in a rut and want to spark my imagination is my phone screen. That’s not to dismiss apps like these – working in a creative industry has been revolutionised by them. It’s never been easier to connect with makers creating projects that inspire you, and hashtags like #molliemakers, #marchmeetthemaker and #100dayproject mean you can effortlessly connect with other creatives looking to share ideas and inspire one another. Instagram, in particular, is so much more than a photosharing platform – it’s a community of like-minded makers offering support and advice. Being able to reach out and find your creative tribe with the touch of a button is something I can’t imagine being without. But is there a risk that having everything so easily to hand ends up stifling

our creative instincts? No matter how inspirational you find Instagram, it’s easy to use it as a way of comparing yourself to other makers, and feeling you come up short. Whether they’re posting better photos, more innovative makes or simply have more time for creativity, I often feel a bit flat when I see other people’s amazing creations. I can’t be the only one with a bout of virtual imposter’s syndrome. So, have we reached the point at which it’s time to put down our phones and head back into the real world to find inspiration? Not just from our screens, but from real life and tangible experiences? My wifi wilderness made me wonder: where are the physical spaces I turn to when I want to awaken my creativity and how can I make more of them? There are the events, fairs and shows (turn the page to see some of my favourites), and then there’s spending time outdoors, be it a country walk or watching the tide come in, which always gives me the space to slow down, clear my mind and approach creative challenges from a fresh perspective. The literal meaning of ‘inspire’ is to inhale or breathe in, and that’s what getting out into the natural world gives us a chance to do – a fresh intake of clean air to quiet the chatter in our brains and spark our creative flow. It’s not always easy to get away, but I’m trying to incorporate this sense of slowing down and stillness into my day-to-day too. A weekly lunchtime yoga class is often when I find solutions to creative challenges – taking the time to let my thoughts flow freely without fighting against them often means a solution rises to the surface. Imagine what we could all achieve if we spent just half of the 10-15 minutes we spend every day on Instagram meditating instead, or even just enjoying some time gazing out of the window rather than staring at a screen. So whether you’re stepping outside, or stepping inside yourself, move away from the screen and find something new to inspire you. Whatever you do, just don’t put a snap of it on Instagram.

CATH DEAN is editor of Mollie Makes (, and you can find her on Instagram @cathdean85. Turn the page to find out more about Cath’s favourite creative spaces…





Blogtacular’s annual Photowalk provides plenty of creative stimulation for keen photographers.





hile one of the most valuable uses of Instagram is the sense of community it creates, nothing beats getting out and meeting those people in real life. Craft fairs like Crafty Fox Market (www.craftyfoxmarket., BUST Craftacular ( and Renegade ( are full of the UK’s most exciting designer-makers, and getting the chance to chat to them and see their

amazing products up close always gives me a massive creative buzz. Heading to the many different conferences and workshops on throughout the year is another way to feel part of a creative tribe. A recent weekend at creative blogging conference Blogtacular (www. reminded me how inspired I feel when I get a chance to share ideas with a group of people all passionate about the same thing.




Creative inspiration comes easily when you meet like-minded people face to face.

“Is it time to put down our phones and head back into the real world to find inspiration from real life and tangible experiences?”

BE BRAVE, BE BOLD & MINGLE! We know the idea of meeting new people isn’t easy for everyone, but there’s so much to gain from it. You just need to find the right event or ‘tribe’ for you.










Make flower confetti to turn a simple note or letter into a bright, floral treat!Â

Share this flower garland to brighten someone’s day












The beauty of paper flowers is that they will last long after fresh blooms have faded. If you’re feeling inspired by Anna Alicia’s designs, why not have a go at drawing and cutting out some of your own?



ANNA ALICIA Illustration, textiles, ceramics, jewellery... meet the ‘magpie’ designermaker who created our pull-out flower sheets.


live in an area of East London called Bow which, since having my son, has become like a village to me. I love that in a big city like London you can feel anonymous, but it’s also been lovely to see another side to the city. I think I have two opposing sides to my style too. One is a drive towards minimalism – simple forms and clean, calm tones – and the other is a fascination with full-on pattern and texture, folky florals and bold colours. My favourite kinds of design combine the two – like an exquisitely stylish grey sofa with a couple of heavily embroidered cushions. My own home décor and personal style is




Anna’s label, A Alicia, is home to her everevolving range of handmade textiles and ceramics, from jewellery to felt wall-hangings.



I’d need a whole book to cover all the challenges, there have been so many! The changing economy, dealing with ill-health as a self-employed person, choosing to start a family… I think all you can do is keep checking in with yourself and your situation – asking yourself what is and isn’t working and if anything needs to change, either because it’s not working for your business or because it’s not working for you. The flexibility and creativity of running your own business as a designer-maker are wonderful, but the flip-side is a huge lack of security and the necessity to be responsive and practical about what makes your business viable. This practicality can lead to unexpected pleasures though – I branched out into writing about craft and teaching workshops, and now ß writing is something I hugely enjoy and that fits well around motherhood, which not everything does.

exploring how colours, shapes, marks and textures work together. I don’t get much opportunity for ceramics work at the moment as I find it far more difficult to fit around early motherhood than sewing. It’s messier and there are elements of timing that I’ve found really hard to make work with a little one’s unpredictability. But if there’s one thing I’ve realised about motherhood, it’s that it’s constantly changing, so I can see a point in the not too distant future when I’ll have my hands covered in clay again. In the meantime, I’m really enjoying focusing more on my old friend, sewing. Fabric designs are one of my biggest inspirations at the moment. It’s a joy to work with beautiful fabrics and bring them to life. I also have a love of embroidery I’d like to indulge more, maybe designing projects that combine machine sewing with hand-embroidery. One of the things that is always of importance to me is the question of

ONE OF THE THINGS THAT IS ALWAYS OF IMPORTANCE TO ME IS THE QUESTION OF HOW I’M MAKING A DESIGN UNIQUE far less purposeful and rather ad hoc – especially with a toddler in the house! I can’t remember a time when I didn’t make things. I worked office jobs during my degrees (in Art History and Fine Art), and when I finished my MA I was at a bit of a loss as to where to go next, so I decided to try making things to sell online, starting with textile brooches. It took a while and I had a huge amount to learn, especially about things like pricing, product photography and which websites to sell through, but in 2008, after just under a year, I was having trouble keeping up with orders alongside my ‘day’ job so I had to make a choice: I decided to take the plunge!

Sewing is like a familiar old friend – I feel comfortable with it and comforted by it. I probably take it a bit for granted. Though I’ve been working in ceramics for a few years now, it still feels like an exciting new world with so much more to learn. So they both have their place for me. Now and then I also get to work with collage or drawing which I feel really brings me back to the fundamentals of design –

how I’m making a design unique, and what makes it interesting and different. My business has been through so many changes that it’s hard to say where it might be in five or 10 years’ time – I’m fascinated to find out! I imagine I’ll always be spinning a few different plates. I think that’s probably just in my nature and, more often than not, in the nature of a creative career. Certainly I’ll always be making things. You can see more of Anna’s work at www.aalicia.






Amalfi melamine plates

Eco soy mug candles

Kelly kettle

This picturesque tableware set by Lakeland is so pretty you’d be mistaken for thinking it was pottery, until you picked a piece up and realised how light and tough these melamine plates are. They claim to be impossible to break, which makes them perfect for alfresco lunches with children too. Their colourful print will transform a picnic into a summer feast.

Light up a balmy summer’s evening outdoors with these sturdy vegan, soy wax candles. Soy is far more ecofriendly than paraffin, and burns with a cleaner, longer-lasting flame. These clever candles have thick wicks designed for outdoor use, and are moulded into cute enamel cups, so you can give the cup a wash afterwards, ready for your next camping trip.

A simple, elegant way to boil water in the great outdoors, Kelly Kettles have been used around the world since 1890 and are essentially a doubleskinned metal chimney – you pour water into the hollow walls and light a fire using sticks and kindling in the kettle’s belly. They boil up water in a jiffy, even in bad weather – a nifty way to brew a post wild-swim cuppa.

From £3.49

€25 (£22)


Palmaira sandals

Lulu round beach towel

Skyview app

Like a cuddle for your feet, Palmaira sandals are crafted in buttery soft leather with snug ankle straps. They’re inspired by the traditional avarca sandals worn on the sun-bleached island of Menorca, where they’re made. Smart, versatile and comfy, whether you’re poolside or enjoying a weekend of city-hopping, these sandals are designed to last a lifetime.

Create your own little circle of calm by catching some rays on one of these lovely circular beach towels from Amara. Made from 100% soft cotton, they’re printed with a hand-drawn design that reminds us of the blue and white hues of Greek islands. Plus they double up as a sumptuous wrap when the evening chill draws in. There’s a cheerful sunshine-orange print, too.

This mesmerising app will change how you look at the night sky forever. Simply point your smartphone at the sky and the app will show you which stars and planets you’re looking at, flagging up names and illustrations of the constellations on your screen as you move it around. It’s such a fun way to learn your Ursa Major from your Ursa Minor – for big and little kids alike!

From £40


Free iTunes & GooglePlay stores



OUTDOOR ACCESSORIES Lazy summer picnics by the sea call for posh crockery and fluffy beach blankets. And you’ll need candles, a neat stargazing app for constellation-spotting and something to brew your tea once night falls.



EMBRACE YOUR HAPPY MOMENTS But if you do experience fear and anxiety, don’t hide from it or judge yourself. Acknowledge it, and later, when you are happy, try to appreciate this even more.



Photography Allison Green

Discovering new places, cultures and people is one of the joys of travelling, but it can also be a source of anxiety. Travel blogger Allison Green shares her lessons learned...



nxiety can run the gamut from being a minor inconvenience to an all-consuming battle against the self. Over the last 10 years, I’ve circumnavigated the globe, all while navigating my own mental health issues. I’ve touched down on six continents and 41 countries to date, and my anxiety has never been more in check. It wasn’t always this easy, however. At 18, on my first solo trip abroad (an ill-conceived summer in Ecuador with a poorly organised voluntourism company), I had a complete breakdown. I had anxiety attacks where I locked myself crying in the bathroom of the school where I was volunteering – not exactly the life-altering impact the company sold me. My anxiety was so severe that I constantly felt like I was at the precipice. My lungs felt compressed, as if in high altitude at the top of a mountain, looking down, afraid to fall. A single moment’s falter caused tears to brim and panic to rise in my throat like bile. In short, I was constantly suffering. This is what people who don’t have anxiety forget: the utter physicality of it. Sure, there are the racing thoughts, self-defeating tendencies and self-shaming that we often associate with the word ‘anxiety’. But there’s also a whole host of physical symptoms that are paranoia and worry’s bedfellows. But if you think that after that horrible trip I’d give up on travel, you’re more sensible than I am. A little over one year later, I found myself sitting on a plane with my heart catching in my throat and a Czech student visa in my passport. Though I fully expected STRESS MAKES to burn out and fall, like Icarus YOU RESILIENT nearing the sun, something Scientists have found strange happened. On the that learning to cope with contrary, the longer I spent stressful situations can abroad, the more I found my make future ones easier to wings growing stronger. manage, as you develop Through repeated exposure a mental and physical to stressful and confusing sense of control. situations, I suddenly found myself improvising and adapting in ways I never thought possible. By learning from my mistakes, rather than chastising myself for them, travelling grew easier and easier by the day. Now, I can hop on a plane to virtually any country with excitement, not fear. These five tips should help you do the same…



Accept that you will make mistakes

Establish calming rituals, such as mindful breathing or visualisation, that are easy to do almost anywhere. Practise them before your trip to train your body to turn to these rituals if anxiety strikes.

Photography Allison Green

I used to burn with embarrassment at each perceived faux pas I committed. The ironic thing about anxiety is that while you often have low self-esteem, you simultaneously have a massively overinflated idea of the importance of your actions in the grand scheme of things. As a result, your mistakes seem impossible to recover from. When you’re travelling, acknowledge that you’re existing in a foreign culture with social norms you’re unfamiliar with. It’s simply inevitable

YOU’LL GET FAR MORE OUT OF TAKING A MOMENT TO LUXURIATE IN A COFFEE AND WATCH THE WORLD GO BY THAN LINING UP FOR YET ANOTHER TOURIST ATTRACTION. it as a defeat, view it as an inspiration and an invitation to return. You’ll get far more out of taking a moment to luxuriate in a cup of coffee and watch the world go by than standing in line for yet another faceless and overpriced tourist attraction. Let yourself sleep in from time to time, enjoying the feeling of unfamiliar sheets on your bare legs. Give yourself permission to rest when you need it. You come first; the world, after all, will still be here, with or without you.

that you’ll stumble your way through even the most routine of interactions and fumble with coins through the simplest transactions. Learn to accept the redness that rises to your cheeks with each mistake: it means you’re learning.

You can never do it all (a good thing) Bucket lists, Instagram, Pinterest... The things that theoretically make it easier for us to travel also make it easier for us to judge ourselves for not doing it often or well enough. You’ll never exhaust a city or see it all. Rather than viewing

Photography Jordan Siemens

Photography Allison Green

Don’t neglect self-care As lucky as you are to get to travel this beautiful world, it doesn’t mean that you can’t experience moments of stress or malaise. There’s nothing wrong with that: having privilege is not exclusive of experiencing hardships. Practising self-care means acknowledging your struggles and taking active steps to make your mind and body a more pleasant place to occupy. Whether this means making time to find a yoga class, sleeping in late, treating yourself to a massage, or taking an afternoon off sightseeing to rest, at the end of the day you are the only person responsible for your life, so live it with compassion.


escaping Don’t be too proud to ask for help

Photography wundervisuals

Using Google Maps in the cities of Morocco seems to be a social experiment to see how many dead ends a person can run into before losing their mind. Ever stubborn, I nearly broke down in tears every time I tried and failed to make my way home alone amid the advances of everyone from orange juice vendors to 12-year-old boys. Ultimately, I had two choices: to spend my life circling the medina in the hope of finding my riad, or ask someone for help. After flirting with


Photography Allison Green

the former for nearly an hour, I finally realised there were worse things than paying someone to accompany me back to my hotel.

of cardboard by a skip, we wrote our destination on it: Prizren, a city about two hours away. Within five minutes, two young men on their way to Kukës, a town on the border, pulled over and offered us a lift. Our driver then navigated masterfully through swirling mountain mists, stopping at a garage where he insisted on buying us all drinks and sharing his lunch with us. As we reached Kukës, he told us in halting English that they’d drive to Prizren, an hour out of their way. Stunned at our luck, we offered a flurry of thank yous in the form of coffees, beers, lunch. Obviously it’s not always safe to hitch a lift, but the only thing they wanted was to see us safe at our destination, enjoying their country – and a quick, strong handshake.

When travelling from Albania to Kosovo, my newly minted travel companions and I hit a bit of a roadblock when we found ourselves standing on the side of an unpromising road, waiting for a bus that didn’t seem to be coming. With rain clouds gathering, we formulated a plan to get ourselves over the border. Finding a piece


Photography Allison Green

Problems have a way of working out



You’ll never see it all, so don’t exhaust yourself by trying to (you can always come back). Time spent browsing a local market or sipping a glass of the local tipple are moments you’ll cherish when you look back.

* HEADSPACE This monthly

subscription meditation app walks you through daily 10-minute guided mindfulness sessions as well as targeted meditations for things like fear of flying, falling asleep and commuting.


Reading a road sign, buying a train ticket or ordering food can be stressful when you don’t speak the language. Google’s free app can translate speech, text, handwriting and photos between over a hundred languages, helping to avoid those ‘lost in translation’ moments. From iTunes and GooglePlay stores


I swear by Adriene’s free YouTube yoga videos. She’s so calming and exudes so much compassion that by the end of each class it’s like you’ve had a hug from a close friend.

* YOGA STUDIO This yoga

app is great because you can download ‘classes‘ to use offline, so that even when you have poor access to WiFi you can still do a full guided yoga practice. You can also create your own classes using ‘Pose Blocks’ so you can customise a routine based on your strengths, wants and needs. It’s good value too, at £1.79 for a one-time download.

* MAPS.ME This free

app allows you to download detailed maps to use offline when you don’t have WiFi or a local SIM card. There are many things you can’t control when you travel, but getting lost won’t be one of them.

Photography Gary Yeowell

RESEARCH YOUR ARRIVAL The first few hours are often the most stressful so have an action plan. Check airport transits and exchange rates, and have maps and hotel phone numbers ready.



THE (CYCLE) PATH TO HAPPINESS Longing to shake off the weight of the world for a while? Get on your bike… Words: Sian Lewis / Illustration: Matilda Smith


elancholy is incompatible with bicycling,” wrote James E. Starrs in The Literary Cyclist, and I would agree. I’m not sure it’s possible to be in a fit of pique while you’re cycling along a country lane on a summer day, the wind in your hair and pedals turning under your feet. The efficiency of cycling as an antidepressant is backed up by proper science, too. Studies have shown that riding a bicycle increases the chemistry in your brain that boosts feelings of calm and peacefulness. And the in-the-moment focus required to cycle is a powerful antidote to sadness – you simply can’t dwell on the past for long when there are horizons to reach and miles of countryside to traverse. Being in the repetitive thrall of cycling lets your mind wander, too, opening the way for deeper contemplation. Or just for writing your mental shopping list, or deciding which songs you’d choose if you went on Desert Island Discs. Either way, you get some headspace, the chance to hear yourself think. Albert Einstein even reckoned he came up with the theory of relativity whilst riding his bicycle. On our beautiful, green island, cycling is a brilliant way to fully immerse yourself in the landscape around you too. Escape the city of a Sunday, plan a route on quiet country lanes and cycle tracks and soon you’ll be swishing along canals lined with wildflowers, past fields of curious cows and, ideally, ending up at a village pub for a well-deserved cider or two. One of my all-time favourite days spent in the saddle was a small but perfectly formed summer adventure with my friend Charlie. We started in Ledbury, an ancient market town near the Malverns, and we had a plan – a round trip of 60 kilometres to Ross-on-Wye and back. The forecast was for rain, but we decided to laugh recklessly in the face of bad weather, sling our bikes in the back of the car and

head for the open road. It’d be hard to find a more quintessentially English route than the one we took, meandering as it did through Herefordshire’s shaded valleys, up tree-lined hills, through chocolate box villages and past the occasional farmer waving at us from a Land Rover. The sun shone (in your face, weather forecast!) and we ate up miles on the winding lanes, calling in at dinky hamlets with names like Much and Little Marcle, Pixley and Hole-In-The-Wall, and cycling past village greens where the gentle thwack of cricket bat on ball followed by polite clapping was the only noise breaking the lazy Sunday silence. The birds sang and the flies buzzed – mainly into our mouths as we hurtled through massive clouds of them. But we figured flies are a good source of protein, so accidentally inhaling some was actually an efficient form of mid-cycle snacking. The surreal feeling that we might have stumbled into a past decade – or even an alternative universe – continued as we pedalled past the village of Fownhope and saw a huge tree going for a walk. This revealed itself to be the village’s annual Heart Of Oak Festival, and a group of locals wielding bunches of flowers were parading proudly behind their beribboned oak, accompanied by a marching band and a clutch of Scouts and Brownies. We followed the procession for a bit – they didn’t seem to mind. As we left the festival behind and sped home along empty lanes, I realised how happy I felt, and how rosy the world suddenly seemed. The next time you’re itching to escape from the weight of the world for a little while, why not get on your bike? I highly recommend it! You might find you end up on the (cycle) path to happiness.

Sian Lewis is a freelance travel writer and the editor of The Girl Outdoors (, a blog for anyone in search of a little adventure.







our years ago, when I was pregnant with my first child, I was diagnosed with stage 3 cancer. During the treatment that followed, I wrote a diary comic about my life, about having chemo during my pregnancy, about the birth of our son, James, about the things that made me laugh and kept me going. Why did I put it all in a comic? When I was working out how to describe or draw something, I’d stop thinking about how frightened I was. Familiar objects and scenes suddenly seemed more meaningful, more precious, because they told the story of my life – which could end at any moment. I wanted to draw it all while I could. Talking about how I felt was upsetting and difficult; drawing wasn’t. I posted the comic online and received a great response from other cancer patients, their friends

and families, and from doctors and medical professionals. It came out as a book, Probably Nothing (Viking, £16.99), when my son was one. What strikes most people about the book is that it’s funny. They wonder how I kept laughing during that time. Before I became ill I loved laughing and making jokes. That didn’t change after my diagnosis. Although cancer is horrific, some of the things that surround it are funny: the awkwardness, the interesting people you meet, the strange things your body does. However, one of the hardest aspects was the pressure to always look for positives. There were days when I felt like there was no bright side, times when I couldn’t laugh. But I am glad to have turned the experience into something that has been received in such a positive way.

MATILDA TRISTRAM co-wrote CBeebies’ The Adventures of Abney and Teal and the BAFTA winning Dipdap. Her new book, My Year in Small Drawings: Notice, Draw, Appreciate (Leaping Hare Press, £9.99), is out in October.



Just print this page onto paper or thin card and you’re ready to go!

Just print this page onto paper or thin card and you’re ready to go!

Just print this page onto card and you’re ready to go. If you want, you can print the following page on the back.


Take time to indulge in a refreshing drink and savour a few mindful moments. Look inside for your recipe, short story and puzzle.




stood up, scraping the chair on the floor. ‘It’s called communicating.’ I watched him walk across the room, carefully avoiding the black dog stretched out like a doormat, one yellow eye turned up to the ceiling, its pink tongue dribbling. Not many people know Douglas is frightened of dogs; he’s one of those men who look fearless. He can climb mountains and scale heights but he’s still scared of dogs. Douglas leaned over the counter and said something to the barman and they both laughed. The barman looked across the room at me and fanned his mouth in a crude gesture. I looked down and pretended to fiddle with something in my bag. ‘They’ve had no rain for months,’ said Douglas when he returned with the glass of water. ‘What did you say to him?’ ‘What are you talking about now?’ ‘You said something about me and he laughed.’ Douglas sighed. ‘Honestly, Alice, the world doesn’t revolve around you. Actually, we were talking about the lack of rain.’ ‘I suppose that’s my fault too.’ Douglas threw me a scornful look.

o, there we were in the hotel bar in a remote Spanish village, not speaking to each other. The idea of Douglas and I spending a week together seemed crazy now – a last-ditch attempt at renewing a relationship that had died months ago. The only thing we shared was relief that it was our last day together. Back on home ground we could sever the ties, get it over with and move on; anything was better than this limbo land. The bar was cool and dark with a long, well-scrubbed wooden counter and faded posters of Pamplona bullfighters on the wall. The waiter told Douglas he used to drink with Ernest Hemingway but I didn’t believe him. I wasn’t sure I would believe any man ever again. Douglas and I sat opposite each other, avoiding eye contact. I bit into a fat green olive from the saucer on the table and pulled a face. ‘What is it now?’ he asked. ‘Chili,’ I said. ‘It’s too hot. Could you get me a glass of water?’ He brushed a fly away irritably and glared at me. ‘I don’t know how to ask in Spanish,’ I said. ‘Please, Douglas.’ ‘You could try a bit harder, Alice.’ He 2

TAKE A MOMENT any more, the music gets inside me and makes me weep. I followed Douglas out into the brightness, shading my eyes against the glare. A narrow stony path wound its way upwards to a tiny square white chapel at the top of the small hill. Douglas walked ahead with long, deliberate strides, his shadow falling away behind him. ‘Wait for me!’ I shouted, flapping my sun hat, but he didn’t slow down or bother to look back. By the time I puffed my way to the top he was sitting in the shade of an olive tree, his back against a rough stone wall, swigging wine. He wiped his mouth and offered me the bottle. ‘No thanks.’ He shrugged and handed me a hunk of bread, a slice of salty pink ham and a tomato. It was hot and quiet, the only sounds the cicadas and the occasional distant barking of a farm dog. When I had finished eating, I dozed off. I don’t know how long I slept but when I woke up, Douglas was asleep too. His arms were folded loosely across his chest. In his sleep he looked young and vulnerable. What a mess I’d made of everything. I leant over and put my ear close to his mouth to listen to the sound of his breathing. ‘I’m alone and I’m scared,’ I whispered. When did we stop loving each other? Was there a moment? A day? An hour or even a minute? Everything has to start somewhere. Was it when I lost the baby or when work became a way of keeping busy so I couldn’t think? I stroked

‘This is serious, these villages rely on the rain for their crops. It’s the worst drought they’ve had for years and the wells are empty. Apparently, the river down the valley has dried up and the fish are rotting. It explains why the fountains in the village were turned off.’ ‘Why is everything so bleak?’ I blurted out. ‘Why can’t things just be okay?’ Douglas smiled in the maddening way that has always made me want to hit him. ‘Because life is not the pretty chocolate box you want it to be,’ he said draining his glass of beer. ‘Anyway, I’m walking up to the chapel to eat lunch.’ He picked up his rucksack and slung it on his back. ‘Coming?’ ‘Do I have any choice?’ ‘There’s always a choice,’ he said. ‘Look on the bright side, this might be the last meal we have to endure together – the last supper, metaphorically speaking.’ He walked out of the bar. I suppose I should have learnt by now that nothing lasts forever; my parents split up when I was seven and my first husband walked out on me after a year, having decided he preferred men. I should be used to rejection. When I met Douglas, I thought he was different; we would make it last, he was funny and kind and thoughtful. But maybe he wasn’t so different after all? Or maybe I wasn’t cut out for long-term relationships. There was a time when Douglas and I were friends as well as lovers. A time when we laughed, held hands in the cinema and made love all afternoon, lying in each other’s arms listening to jazz. I can’t listen to jazz 3

SHORT STORY greeted us and Douglas spoke to him. The man spoke rapidly, his voice urgent. ‘What did he say?’ ‘He says they’re chanting for rain.’ Douglas squinted up at the cloudless blue sky. ‘Doesn’t look much like rain to me. It would take a miracle.’ ‘Bit like us,’ I said, and wished I hadn’t. Douglas looked at me and I had to turn away because of the tears pricking my eyes. It was far better not to talk about it, better to circle each other without drawing blood; at least until we got home. We walked back to the hotel and packed our bags in silence. After dinner, Douglas booked the taxi for the airport the next day. ‘That’s it then,’ he said. ‘All over.’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Goodnight then.’ ‘Goodnight.’ We had separated the beds and I lay in mine listening to the whine of the mosquitoes, trying to find a cool place on my pillow for my head and thinking of home. In a couple of days I would be back at work, back to worrying about my father who was getting increasingly frail, and back to being alone. Across the room, Douglas lay in his bed, an isolated shape under a white sheet. I thought he was asleep but he wasn’t. ‘Alice?’ ‘Yes?’ ‘Are you awake?’ ‘Yes.’ He paused. ‘Sleep well.’ A few hours later I woke up with a start. In my dream, I’d been running

his face lightly with my finger and he shook his head in his sleep. I smiled as I touched his bottom lip, feeling the soft flesh but then, still with his eyes closed, he took my finger in his mouth and bit it softly. Shocked, I withdrew and he opened his eyes. We stared at each other and I felt my throat constrict and thought I might cry. ‘Alice,’ he murmured. At that moment, an old woman in black appeared at the top of the path. She nodded her head in our direction. ‘Buenas tardes,’ she said before crossing herself and entering the chapel. I stood up awkwardly, brushing the grass off my clothes, half glad of the interruption. Douglas began to pack the rucksack. Neither of us looked at each other. Then another woman appeared, followed by another and another. ‘Buenas tardes’, ‘Hola!’, one by one they greeted us until a stream of women, all dressed from top to toe in black, flowed past us and crowded into the tiny chapel. ‘How can they all fit in there? Do you think it’s a funeral?’ I said. ‘I don’t know. Listen!’ A curious sound began to fill the air, at first a low, steady hum like a swarm of bees and then a strange lilting chant that grew louder and louder until the sound swelled into a rhythmic, mournful lament. Quietly we peered though the open door into the gloom of the chapel. The women were standing together, hands joined in prayer, singing in one throaty voice. It was a primitive sound, almost menacing in its rawness but still beautiful. An old man appeared and 4

SHORT STORY the woman’s waist, guiding her. One of the waiters grabbed my arm and began to dance with me, and Douglas laughed and joined in. ‘Agua! Agua!’ people cried and we joined in. Another waiter appeared with a tray and glasses of brandy were handed around with small sweet biscuits tasting of aniseed. It was nearly morning when Douglas peeled off my wet clothes and led me gently into his bed. Later as we lay listening to the rain washing down the streets I remembered the old women and the chanting. ‘Do you think it was the chanting?’ I asked. ‘Shh, you don’t question miracles,’ Douglas said, kissing my ear. I had no idea what would happen next and I don’t expect Douglas did either. Neither of us spoke about it, almost as though we were in a spell that was so fragile words might break it. But as we got off the aeroplane Douglas squeezed my hand and looked into my eyes. ‘Keep the faith,’ he said.

alone in a bleak landscape, tears pouring down my face. My heart was beating so hard I had to sit up and take a slow breath. And then I heard it: rain, rain drumming on the shutters, spilling over the awning outside our window in a long steady gush and people shouting in the street. I got out of bed quickly and opened the wooden shutters we’d closed to keep the mosquitoes out. The cool night air smelt of damp earth and sweet jasmine, and the sounds of an accordion floated up. ‘Douglas, wake up! It’s raining.’ He sat up, blinking, his hair ruffled from sleep. ‘It’s raining,’ I said again and he threw back his sheet and stumbled, still sleepy, across the floor to join me at the window. He was naked and when he leaned against me and his hand touched the bare skin on my shoulder, I took a sharp breath and felt my stomach tighten. In the street, people were laughing and jumping in puddles, and Douglas grinned at me. Without a word we both threw on our clothes and raced downstairs. Outside the hotel, water streamed down the narrow, cobbled street. Teenage boys were running about, butting each other in the stomach like young bulls, while a young girl in a bright red dress stood, her face turned up to the sky, water cascading down her long black hair. Under the awning, a man was playing the accordion and singing a Spanish love song while an elderly couple danced in and out among the tables, the man’s arm firmly around

ALEX WILSON Alex has been a cook, an antiques dealer and had a career as a psychotherapist. She now runs creative writing groups and other literary events in Bath. Alex has won prizes for her short stories and has been published in various women’s magazines and anthologies.



A stimulating crossword ACROSS 1 High-heeled shoe (8) 6 Piece of clothing passed down from siblings (4-2-4) 13 _____ Beer, This Morning presenter (5) 14 Mysterious (9) 15 Slightly sticky to the touch (5) 16 ___ __ Water, Paula Hawkins’ latest novel (4,3) 18 Substances that cause a reaction (9) 19 Winter depression (1,1,1) 20 The ____, daily newspaper (5) 22 Oil associated with a Mediterranean diet (5) 24 Fleur de ___, symbol of the French crown (3) 26 Related to sound (5) 28 Prevent with a vaccine (9) 30 ___ SOS, BBC home makeover show (1,1,1) 31 Artwork created by sticking materials to a backing (7) 32 Leaf cabbage containing numerous nutrients (4) 33 ____ therapy, pain relief also known as thermotherapy (4) 34 Sea ___, healthy white fish (4) 36 Hindu physical and spiritual system of exercise (4) 41 The __ ____Theory, popular US sitcom (3,4) 42 ___ of Islands, New Zealand tourist attraction (3) 43 Fattening (food or drink) (9) 45 Understand (3,2)

46 How To __, Nigella Lawson cookbook (3) 47 The ____ Serpent, 2016 bestseller by Sarah Perry (5) 49 Perfect, peaceful place (5) 50 Hostelry (3) 52 Potassium-packed fruits (7) 55 Try (9) 58 ____ Barker, interior designer and TV presenter (5) 59 Art of decorating objects with paper cut-outs (9) 60 ___ grigio, popular wine (5) 61 Bonne santé! (4,6) 62 Joanna ____, highly acclaimed British novelist (8)

DOWN 2 Dance popularised by Chubby Checker (5) 3 Harper ___, To Kill A Mockingbird author (3) 4 Nancy Sinatra hit, ___ Boots Are Made For Walkin’ (5) 5 Art of paper folding (7) 6 ___ Hempstead, large Hertfordshire town (5) 7 Existing without human intervention (9) 8 Papier ___, paper and glue mix that’s moulded into shapes (5) 9 Abhorrent (10) 10 Joe ___, aka The Body Coach; fitness expert (5) 11 Conjurer’s illusion (5,5) 12 Chronic fatigue ___, long-term illness (8)


17 Lightweight translucent paper, used in crafting (6) 21 _____ Sonata, Beethoven piano masterpiece (9) 22 ___ Jordan, Strictly Come Dancing dancer (3) 23 Split ___, damaged hair tips (4) 25 Clothing worn on the feet (5) 27 Large insect and feng shui symbol of happiness (9) 29 ___ Longoria, actress and L’Oreal Paris ambassador (3) 33 Danish practice of creating a cosy environment to promote wellbeing (5) 35 Curve (3) 37 Go faster (10) 38 Stiff material made from layers of paper stuck together (10) 39 --- Park, major London park (4) 40 Herbal gel remedy, used to treat bruises (6) 41 The __ ___, nickname for New York City (3,5) 42 Relating to, or derived from, plants (9) 44 Not strict or severe (3) 48 Martha ___, US lifestyle guru (7) 51 Guitar-like instrument common in folk and bluegrass music (5) 53 Prod (with an elbow) (5) 54 ____ Downs, English national park popular with walkers (5) 56 San ___, Californian coastal city (5) 57 Confess (3,2) 60 Friend (3)

7 Across: 1 Stiletto, 6 Hand-me-down, 13 Alice, 14 Enigmatic, 15 Tacky, 16 Into The, 18 Allergens, 19 S.A.D., 20 Times, 22 Olive, 24 Lis, 26 Audio, 28 Inoculate, 30 DIY, 31 Collage, 32 Kale, 33 Heat, 34 Bass, 36 Yoga, 41 Big Bang, 42 Bay, 43 Calorific, 45 Get it, 46 Eat, 47 Essex, 49 Idyll, 50 Pub, 52 Bananas, 55 Endeavour, 58 Linda, 59 Découpage, 60 Pinot, 61 Good health, 62 Trollope.

Down: 2 Twist, 3 Lee, 4 These, 5 Origami, 6 Hemel, 7 Naturally, 8 Maché, 9 Detestable, 10 Wicks, 11 Magic trick, 12 Syndrome, 17 Tissue, 21 Moonlight, 22 Ola, 23 Ends, 25 Socks, 27 Dragonfly, 29 Eva, 33 Hygge, 35 Arc, 37 Accelerate, 38 Pasteboard, 39 Hyde, 40 Arnica, 41 Big Apple, 42 Botanical, 44 Lax, 48 Stewart, 51 Banjo, 53 Nudge, 54 South, 56 Diego, 57 Own up, 60 Pal.


62 59












31 42 27


28 33

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Campari grapefruit slush


ombine aromatic Campari and sharp grapefruit juice for a refreshing slushie to cool you down on a warm evening. Add as much or as little sugar as you like – if you’re making a batch for friends perhaps let them add their own.

Ingredients SERVES 4

* * * *

600ml ice cubes 100ml Campari 200ml ruby grapefruit juice Sugar, to taste

METHOD Put the ice cubes in a blender and grind until crushed. Add the Campari and grapefruit juice and blend until slushy. Add sugar to taste. Serve in chilled glasses with short cocktail straws. Recipe from Fast And Fresh: Quick Recipes For Busy Lives by Louise Pickford (£14.99, Ryland Peters & Small)



Take A Moment includes: A soothing drink recipe A story to read & enjoy A fun crossword to try


Gorgeous flower designs on 2 A4 card inserts for you to cut out and send. They make such sweet embellishments!


Show your appreciation to friends or family by saying thanks with these original, hand-illustrated postcards