I love a good blue shirt, and it’s hard not to miss them as they’re everywhere on the high street. Here’s my review of some of the best on the high street.
From Selfridges to Harvey Nichols, Zara to J Crew, the hue of blue is all around. Frills, embroidery and fluted sleeve seem to be the order of the day, and I’ve gathered together a few of the best.
Selfridges has some cracking fashion, and they’ve picked up on the Milan-based brand Vivetta. Taking its name from the designer who launched the brand Vivetta Ponti who worked under the with Roberto Cavalli. I love the playfulness of the colour and the cuffs. Not cheap but a wow factor shirt that would look fab with any outfit. The Tortora Poplin Shirt is 100% cotton and a curved hem. Both Selfridges and Harvey Nichols stock the range. This particular shirt is available in Selfridges.
If I had the money, the Erdem Koi pyjama top and trousers would be a must. Zara has done a poor rip-off, using cranes but this is simply gorgeous with it’s flared cuffs. It’s 100% silk and would be perfect with tailored trousers. I love the set. The pants, which you can just see in the image, are tapered. £635 in Selfridges – only sizes 8 & 14 left in stock.
Top Shop has some great pale blue shirts, and I took a shine to this Dorothy gingham blue shirt. Puff sleeves and gathers at the shoulder, there’s a cute black tie at the back. £29.
The trend for off-the-shoulder shows no sign of slowing, and if you’re going to bare your shoulders, then this is a beauty. A classic, retro Liberty print – Edenham Floral – this fabric design is 20 years old. Again, not cheap but neither is quality. £108, J Crew. Super cute with jeans and the shorts.
Zara has some super shirts, and this sky blue asymmetric number caught my eye. Team it with white cigar trousers and slides, and you’ve got a classic look. Totally affordable £39.99.
Again the fluted sleeve is a love of mine, and this striped top with round neck and elbow length sleeves had me at the scalloped finish. Cute teardrop opening. Zara bargain £25.99.
Marks and Spencer aren’t lagging. Simple tie cuff and pinstripe, this from the Autograph range. £39.50
All images, courtesy of the seller.
Aldi have got plenty of beautiful flowers on offer for this year’s Valentine’s Day. If you’ve shopped here before, you know that quality doesn’t cost the earth, whatever you’re buying.
Valentine’s Day Flowers Aldi: Roses
There are a few crackers on offer, including 100 Sweetheart Roses for just £25.00 and fair trade roses for £5.00.
Their fairtrade products aren’t just reserved for special occasions, they’re increasing the number of products offered in store from coffee to wine. Aldi is the only Fairtrade flower buyer in Ethiopia. They sell 42,000 bouquets of fairtrade roses in one week alone which generates £4,000 to compensate the growers in Ethiopia. Last year, Aldi sold over 2 million roses stems and helped hundreds of Ethiopian workers and their families find specialist medical care and access to education.
Here’s the £25.00 Sweetheart Bouquet. Why have a dozen when you can have 100? Well they may be smaller than the luxury offering, they’ll last for at least a week.
Available in stores from 11th February as a specialbuy (in fact most of the flowers listed here, are).
These Specially Selected Luxury Freedom Roses are £15.00 for a dozen.
‘Naomi’ Roses are a Premium offering at £30.00.
Valentine’s Day FLowers Aldi: Tulips
And, if roses aren’t your thing, there are Tulips
For 18 stems, it’s just £5.00. Again in store from 11th February.
Red and White Tulips
Red and Pink Tulips
For details on stores near you visit the website.
It takes 86 technicians eight days to transform the Royal Albert Hall for the Cirque du Soleil performance of Amaluna, and it’s their eighth production at the Victorian Concert Hall.
Before the performers start rehearsals, 730 seats in the arena are removed to fit a new raised floor, 2 metres higher. A scaffolding grid and a 7 and a half metres revolving ring suspend from the ceiling. From this grid lighting clusters and anchor points are placed for the flying acrobatic performers. The winch in the centre of the Carousel can lift almost 500 kilogrammes at 3 metres per second. Exhausted? Have the heart for the Cirque du Soleil athletes and musicians performing throughout the 2-hour show.
Cirque du Soleil, Amaluna: The Story
It’s a celebration of love and a tribute to the work and voice of women. A very loose interpretation of William Shakespeare’s The Tempest
Amaluna is written and directed by Tony Award-winning director Diane Paulus. It follows the original play, although some names are changed and dialogue replaced with set pieces, including the four elements.
For anyone who’s read Shakespeare (in school, or for pleasure) Act One opens with Prospero, a Magician and the rightful Duke of Milan. Put out to sea in a boat to die, Prospero and his daughter Miranda survive and are found exile on a small island. In this production, expect a Queen instead of a Duke because Amaluna is doing it for the girls. Seventy percent of the cast are female performers, and they’ve got an all-female live band. The Shaman is named Prospera and sticking with the Shakespeare text; they live on an island.
Keeping up? Good.
Cali is short for Caliban a lizard -cum-juggler. And he’s the disabled son of a sorceress raised by Prospero in the play. Their relationship does turn ugly when Caliban tries to abduct Miranda.
A storm, thunderous Cello score and a daring trapeze act replicate The Tempest after Prospero discovers his brother is on a nearby ship.
The ship, sinks and all passengers are washed up on the island. Ferdinand or ‘Romeo’ is the young Prince and one of the survivors.
A comedic thread runs throughout; these two carry out their courtship throughout the night.
Amaluna: A Love Story
Miranda and Romeo meet and fall head over heels in love. Romeo performs amazing feats of strength to impress her.
It’s here, faced by a company of dancers dressed in black and silver, representing Cali’s ally, Romeo and Miranda meet the island’s Peacock Goddess with a thousand arms. Cali imprisons Romeo in a water bowl and performs a multiple-ball juggling act with flames. Miranda is kidnapped by
Prospera frees the young lovers and marries both. All the performers come on the stage together.
Two hours flew by, punctuated by a fifteen-minute interval. Book tickets and go.
Be quick; Cirque du Soleil, Amaluna ends on Sunday 26th February.
I first stumbled across Noble Isle at The Gallivant Hotel, a beautiful beachside hotel on the south coast in Camber. I’ve been dying to do a beauty review on their products. I’m a massive fan of quality in hotels, and I think you can judge the standard of place you’re staying, generally, by the toiletries on offer.
I remember they had the Perry Pear Shampoo and Conditioner and something wonderfully bubbly for the deep bath and I have a distinct recollection that my hair smelled of beautiful orchards for days after. I then tracked it down and became a fan.
Beauty Made with Real Rhubarb
Rhubarb Rhubarb! Hand wash and body hydrator was sent to me to review and as I suspected it smells simply wonderful. The rhubarb grown for these products is from E Oldroyd & Sons, a sixth generation rhubarb farm in the famous Yorkshire Triangle. Chosen no doubt because of the vegetable’s natural cleansing properties and natural antioxidants.
In fact, you must visit their website to take a good look at their collection. They pick the very best, from the best producers throughout England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales to make their products and it is evident from the moment you use them well into the day or night.
From home fragrance to hair products, if you like the smell of nature to linger, you will love the products on offer from Noble Isle.
Since writing, Noble Isle have added Willow Song to their collection. With top notes of rose petal and ivy, base notes of Cedarwood and Musk and heart notes of Lily of the Valley and Watermelon, it’s something of a romantic fragrance.
My plans of eating better this year didn’t start too well. Then I discovered the prepared vegetables from Sainsbury’s. When you embark on any change in diet, preparation is essential, certainly when you work full time. I need to eat more fruit and vegetables, and my prepared frozen smoothie mix isn’t going to cut it. Step forward Sainsbury’s who’ve thought about our time poor eaters.
I used my vegetable spiralizer to death; now it sits in the cupboard because I can’t face another plate of courgette pasta. Butternut Squaffles, Coursagne and Swagliatelle are the next generations. These bags of prepared vegetables couldn’t be easier to prepare, and for those looking to avoid the carbohydrates, these alternatives are a godsend. Even if you’re not, the range is an excellent way to help you with a meat-free Monday. I’ve made lasagne sheets from courgettes before and found it virtually impossible to cut even lengths. Cut by what looks like a food preparation band-saw, and the slices are even and incredibly neat. Perfectly sized for your pan or baking dish. Worth £1.50 if you’re a bit OCD like me. I can put the silly names to one side if it speeds up my day.
Vegetables – New Products
Butternut Squaffles (£1.25) come in a 300g bag and are washed and ready to use and need simply a drizzle of olive oil and to be placed into a hot oven for 20 minutes. These are brilliant if you’re missing potato chips or crisps.
Broccoli Rice (£1.25) is the equivalent of one medium broccoli finely chopped and ready to use. It’s a great alternative to rice and couscous and comes in a 300g bag. I threw in some Improper Butter Garlic Butter, and this lifted an otherwise bland vegetable.
You can add a little parmesan and red chilli flakes for another alternative, whisk in an egg and make into patties and fry. SO many recipes, so little time.
Courgette Lasagne sheets (£1.50) are perfect to stack and layer like lasagne sheets. They need 45 minutes to cook through. If courgette isn’t your thing, try the Butternut lasagne sheets. I used a recipe for lasagne, replacing the pasta sheets with a little of each. Both come in 400g packs.
Sweet Potato Tagliatelle (£1.25) comes in a 300g bag and is cooked in the microwave. It’s a great alternative to any long pasta and is washed and ready to cook. I threw in some fresh pesto and hey presto a quick after-work meal which took no time at all.
Choose from Sweet Potato Tagliatelle (£1.25), Butternut Squash Lasagne Sheets (£1.50), Courgette Lasagne Sheets (£1.50) Crinkle Cut Squash Chips (£.25), Butternut Squaffles (£1.25), Broccoli rice (£1.25), Souper Green Soup (£2.00) and Black Kale (£1.00).