Isn’t life just full of lovely flowers this week.

Bon Jour to you and you and you and you …

Well into the New Year and the positivity bunny is still sitting next to me.  Admittedly, the Summer weather and daily dips in the Ocean may have something to do with the wellness factor, but there are other natural highs I drip feed into my soul.  Like planning small trips this year: talked about Paris and the Eurostar is booked.  My return to the ‘Grand Tour’ heaven of Lake Como is in the dairy and this time I may spend more time in Milan.  Anyone have great tips on Milan?

Cape Town and the wine lands is incredible.  As I write, I am overlooking the Atlantic from the 8th floor of my friend’s apartment, with a view that will quickly run out of superlatives. South Africa is unique, home from home and so beautiful – despite the problems, she remains feisty, sexy and strong.

Needless to say, the mind is full of flowers – when is it not, she asks, but today especially, it is full of flowers and inspiration around the blooms. Doing the flowers for a special Bridal Shower was like literally, oh leave me alone to just indulge in my passion.  The theme was an Afternoon Garden party, so the floral design was all about whimsical blooms: lots of roses, gypsophila, lisianthus, scabious and cow parsley.  Gentle flowers that create a free flowing prettiness.  Smaller vases filled with garden herbs such as lavender, rosemary and fennel flowers – the scent was perfume perfection.

With Flowers and Paris in mind, and so many other lovely articles I read over the past two weeks, I thought I would share them with you:

Love all things French, so this was a great inspiration for the New Year. We will be having four days in Paris, and though I have been many times, always looking for new ways to show my friends.  Good dining and flowers together, should check this one out. And then there is the ‘how to be a true Parisian‘ and more inspiration. Moreover, I am moving towards a more eco-friendly way of life, and this company really inspires me too!  It is possible if you look for brands that are vegan friendly and gentle with nature.

No trip to Paris would be complete without tasting, at least, a few dozen pastries – I am a sucker for the sweet things in Paris.

Back to the flowers.  One of the more lazy moments I have in the day, are spent watching the ever addictive You Tube.  Tulipina is a favourite of mine, and again, always learning.  Tulipina started her business with a passion for flowers, a website, instagram and true belief in her art of creating different and impactful floral designs.

A recent crush, and if only I were in Versailles the week before our trip, I would definitely join Molly on this course. Adore the town of Versailles, the Chateau and the Jardin du Roi, so a pastry course in the heart of Versailles, close enough to do in a day trip from Paris, would have been perfect.  Perhaps in the future?

Without bees, there would be no flowers – and little else in the future if we don’t take care of them.  As much as I love alternative ‘milk’ in my lattes, a sobering article on Almond milk.  St. Clements no longer offers Almond milk as an alternative, but one can still have soy and oat milk if the real thing is not your thing.

This year is a personal drive to being more conscious of our environment. I should have been all the time, but sometimes even I slip up on the plastic, the easy alternative and the not so great effort at recycling. Climate change is real and terrifying – I believe even the daffodils are coming up earlier, wow! Used to be in March, then February, and now some are popping up when we should be having snow in England.

It has been a fabulous week.  A floral, frilly week.  Going to the suppliers, getting the mechanics sorted, working with pure gorgeousness in petals and stems.  A wonderful Bridal Shower, and of course, always a pleasure to work with and admire, and eat, the delectable creations made by Lulubelle’s bakes, without whom the Bridal Shower would not have been so heavenly.

Till next time, get creative and embrace you life.

 

 

 

What I loved this week.

 

This is Big Sky Country – South Africa

Hello from Somerset West in the Western Cape, South Africa.  My other home.  Here until February and plan to enjoy and explore as much as I can.  The Instagram needs some input!

Flying from cold London to intense heat in Mauritius, it is to the summer of South Africa.  Must admit to being relieved at the cooler weather on arrival, even rain, but now we are back to the full on Summer sun.  Unless you are at the beach, or beside a swimming pool, not the best, but the evenings make up for the heat of the day.  Complete opposite lifestyle to the one I live in London, I am in our family home, complete with a little garden and playing at all it entails. Putting my hands in soil, clipping rose bushes and the fragrance of fresh herb bushes is idyllic.  Rather than the sounds of London birdlife, it is the Guinea fowl that chirrup me awake in the mornings.  This is Africa and I am revelling in the joy of being here.

Christmas in the summer is not something I am used to, and it was wonderful.  Double Christmas celebrations!  Shared with friends and family, the eating is done to excess.  Throw in the odd braai (barbecue) and my favourite wine, Tranquil Blush from Haute Cabriere, I am happy to laze the days away.

Last week I took my youngest daughter to George, up the Garden Route.  My car has been cloistered in the garage for six months, so this was most beneficial to ‘clear the pipes’.  Love road trips with a passion and South Africans do them so well.  Though I have done this route a few times, I find the countryside nothing less than breathtaking.  Big Sky, vast landscapes, white washed farm houses all around.  It is a four hour drive and I literally kissed her goodbye and turned around to return home. Nothing like the best company, awesome music on full blast and the open road. A little different to the bus in London, not so?

When I returned to South Africa in April, it was going to be a sort of permanent arrangement.  It did not suit me and I was back to London, on my own terms. Now I return of my own accord and cannot be happier to spend the summer here. This is a holiday, surrounded by our family things and the pace is slow, as it should be on holiday. I have time to read, watch movies, go for long walks and eat healthily. No sad looking supermarkets with sad food in the grey days, and of course I have the best Woolies in the world on my doorstep!  Crush on the freshness of all. Even the coffee is brilliant, which is saying something from this Barrista.

Yeah, it’s that kind of spoiling myself time.  Thinking of the right nail colours is important when lounging.  Spoiling myself to facials and all sorts of body grooming, which on the pound, is peanuts. But, I have not been that idle, still read my favourites and these are some of the links I love to share this week.

A lady in London (one of my favourites) has listed some amazing winter walks to follow in winter in London. The city offers so much, at anytime of the year, so wrap up warmly and get out there, post Christmas, when we all feel a little deflated after the Christmas buzz.

Love my fellow bloggers and these are some amazing women over Fifty who you should follow on Instagram. We all have a story to tell, whether it be our love for fashion, following a divorce, beginning a new business and just living life to the full.  I take huge inspiration from all of them.  Love the fact that we all are able to have a voice now and resonate from each other.

Somehow, in the sunshine, I still need my Country Living fix and this quiz popped up.  Afraid I was dismal at it, but how would you fair?

Being on holiday, and not working seven days a week, this is the time to get those resolutions for the new year in place. I want to update my playlists, begin the new diary, plan my travels, get more technologically savvy and again, sort out the clutter stuff.  Been listening to the local radio stations on my mum’s radio and this song is getting so much airtime  Also the song of an ad in London and so yes, in the mood and love her.

Lizzo. Good as Hell.

 

Being the end of the year, it’s reflection time.  Some of the best books for 2019 – how many have you read?

I have my perfectly pristine diary all ready for 2020!  Though I do use the Google calendar on my phone, having a diary in my handbag is vital to me.  The same type of diary I have had for fifteen odd years – have to have the horizontal diary and I can only get it here in South Africa, so she is here on my desk, all ready to fill with exciting dates and times.  Diaries are a reflection of my entire life, not just meeting times so one can say, the journey is in all the dairies past, tucked away in a cupboard – my life is literally an open book.

Getting back to the garden.  Truth is I am trying to coax my David Austen roses to survive the harsh Cape climate.

Everyone else has better sense and planted indigenous.  The winds are fierce, there is a water shortage but no, I want my Litchfield Angels and have planted four of them.  They have, despite me not being here for six months, sort of survived and I have a bloom – hello girl! I am a fan of the Piet Oudolf idea of roses and grasses combined in a bed – got the grasses and nursing the roses.  Fortunately I have an amazing helper in Dosha, who comes to help me when I am away.

But it is back to the joy of being here in South Africa this week.  There is so much to do, the beaches are packed to bursting, the wine farms are beyond mere words, the sightseeing and Table Mountain is awesome.  Love the shopping, sipping and savouring of it all. So this week, it has been, for me, great to be here. More to come, but this week, the things I love the most, are the people, the climate, the views and the lifestyle of South Africa. Wish you were here.

What I loved this week.

It’s been two weeks since I left the cold and Christmas love of London, bound for a ten day break in the gorgeous Mauritius.

I would not have planned a trip for myself to Mauritius per say – not the sort of place I would have thought to visit on my own, but it was a ‘good morning Kari’ on my 60th birthday from my dear friend Bev, with an airline ticket to the island.  Her present.  Bev is a present to me every day, and this was overwhelming. Landed in Cape Town at 11.40 in the evening, just time to toss the winter clothes, throw in the bikini and off the next day.

A quick thanks to the brilliance of Air France and Air Mauritius for amazing service and getting me halfway around the world in two days!  From four degrees to forty degrees and darlings, the body crisped up in a matter of minutes in the sun. I am now the shade of tomato, from lobster to tomato.  Learning to do absolutely nothing everyday was a bit of a strain in the beginning but swimming again, that was pure magic.

It is paradise indeed. Being with friends who knew me when I still believed I was going to marry Robert Redford and had stayed throughout the highs and lows of my life is something few have in their lives and I do know how blessed I am. I only hope I am as good a friend to them, as they are to me.  With the liberty of taking time out, a slow wi fi and literally just chilling, what were some of the things I loved this week? – other than the gorgeous holiday of course!

Finally got stuck into ‘The Fingersmith‘ by Susan Waters. If there is one book I can recommend or begin reading almost immediately again, it would be this epic novel.  Pulsating, thrilling and brilliantly executed.  Details and imagery of London and the Borough in the 1860’s, just up my street.

Since the arrival of George, I am so aware of dog friendly places to visit.  Sawdays has a great guide to Dog friendly hotels in the UK. This would make a fabulous gift for fellow dog lovers.

 

Watercolour of George by Madison de Villiers

For those fortunate enough to find themselves in Paris over Christmas (I do envy you), Paris Insider has some wonderful tips of things to do.  Still on the subject of Paris, I do try, and never really get it right, but this is a great guide to learning the different bridges spanning the Seine in Paris.  Which is your favourite? Cannot wait to see these early next year when I return. Still on the subject of Paris, good news for all – a face lift for the Champs-Èlysées

Cannot wait too see the results, and Paris again.

Something else I cannot wait to try again, and discover a few more venues for Brunch, is this article I found of the best places to have brunch in London.  Am constantly finding ‘the perfect coffee shop’ or the perfect spot for lunch in the different boroughs of London (St Clements being my favourite, of course) and now I have a handy guide for brunch.

Part of the gorgeous offerings by Coutours is The History of London in Four Drinks, which includes the history of Gin.  We also offer Gin tasting evenings which a so much fun for friends and family to share.  This article gives a great view of the History of Gin and it may just tempt you to join us for a more in-depth exploration of the History of Gin and a fabulous tasting to boot. Everyday I am so enthused by all that is still possible to explore in this silly world of ours.  Not only can we show you a unique part of London in a fun and informative way, we can also help you plan your days when you visit.  Herewith a list from the Londonist, of some of the superb exhibitions we can see in 2020, so get that itinerary on track!

The mind brims with all the ideas of these places to visit, what next year holds in store for me, travel wise and every way otherwise and I do believe it will be a fascinating year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

These are a few of my favourite things …

Christmas Time, Mistletoe and Wine …’

And oh dear, all intentions are lost, but not entirely lost.  There is a perfectly positive reason for the lapse in the new, weekly story.  And that is the point, it’s ok to sometimes not be on target.  The truth is, I have been lost in the very Christmassy life around me – absolutely, stunningly beautiful London at Christmas.  Officially feeling ‘Christmassy’. 

The past two weeks rolled into one with me working everyday of the week.  Either at Coutours or St. Clements.  I am blessed to have diverse and engaging occupations, meeting new people, ideal ‘office’ environment and the best co-workers one could ask for. My barista skills are coming on and my knowledge of Christmas icons hidden in London has grown.  Let me not reveal all, but if you do wonder by, head down, down Piccadilly – look up at the marvellous Advent Calendar that  are the windows of #fortnum and mason. The Art that is Window Shopping has me at thinking, it’s going to be difficult not to gush and repeat the word ‘wow’, over and over and over again.  Each detail, minute detail, designed and executed to present a scene of ‘wow.’! The story of the Christmas windows at Fortnum and Mason is a great read.

 

Another highlight of the Festive season was attending an evening with Madame Genever and Gent.  The occasion ‘Ghosts and Spirits’, the venue – 38th Floor of the Gherkin Building. The experience, priceless. I have never been up the Gherkin building, though she has been a landmark in London for many years (and the location for many films).  The view of Tower Bridge and the Tower of London, that high up, at night, is etched forever.  Emma and Will entertained us with stories of Gin, ghost stories, stories of eerie co-incidence and how to make a Dark and StormyOnly with Black Seal Rum of course. Thank Goodness the night was perhaps dark, but not stormy being up so high in the sky.  

Not only did I finally get to go up the Gherkin, conquer my fear of heights – very creepy – as one walks all around the pinnacle, but had the proper canapés and gin experience with the wise and witty Emma and Will.  Great idea for corporate and special events.  

 

Leaves have fallen now, a few really fisherman’s coat coloured yellow one’s still clutching to feint branches, so natural has been replaced with oceans of fake for Christmas.  It’s all lights, candy stripes and metallics now. Not being an online shopper (the amount of plastic wrapping is heinous), I prefer every little nook and cranny, alley way and big Department store to do my shopping.  Been holding out with the ‘it’s not cold’ but brrrr, it is starting to bite now.  Yesterday, my lovely guests on our Icons of London; Christmas Special, were being extra brave outdoors – it is so worth it when the lights really begin to perform, but I think the Hot Mulled Wine (or Bishop) was most welcome in The Clarence, on Dover Street. 

The gorgeous staircase at Fortnum and Mason.

It’s all about finding the time, now that the year is running at a pace towards the Great 2020.  Office parties galore, lists of presents, and that not so good for you but must have party food – just because it’s all in miniature.  Why do I succumb to these little pastries, the silly crackers, the party hats – because we celebrate our families, spoil our children (and George) and also, ourselves in return.  It is the festive season, it is the spiritual season.  

It is the coming together in peace and goodwill.  The story of the Mistletoe originated as a Pagan custom, where warring opposites, finding themselves beneath Mistletoe in the woods, would lay down their arms until the next day.  From there, the idea of hanging mistletoe, and should on find oneself beneath it, a kiss could mean friendship, true love and perhaps,  the one to marry.

A good sign.  A good sign.  One more week to go.

 

 

Image:  Fortnum and Mason

 

 

 

 

 

 

What I loved this week.

  Love articles and stories about anything beautiful.  A good poem, how to prune a rose, a recipe for a mid-summer Jasmine cocktail.  The pretty, emotive, sustaining, travelling sort of stories that has me at the white picket fence, in the countryside (with a flat in the city), surrounded by dogs, an Aga and holidays at the beach – you know the sort.  Others too clever for words, making me giggle out loud in a coffee shop – weep with envy at their art. I bookmark hundreds articles I read and think, I must get back to that … and they become friends in my computer library, of all the things I love.

There is a type.  My interest type, subjects I gravitate too more often than not, but it is also through fellow bloggers that I find other pieces of interest and inspiration. Want to share them too.  This is going to be fun, I thought, this is going be similar to others I admire who list their favourite links on a weekly or monthly basis and why not credit and share if needed?  We could all do with the support of others – and the world will turn to kindness and learning.

I hope that some of the interesting articles and experiences I share with you, will inspire you also;  to travel, to bake, to make and plant and pluck to your heart’s content.  Forever curious, forever enchanted, forever learning about the good things in life.

Credit here for the idea of this endeavour, must be given to David Leibovitz at davidleibovitz.com whom it has been my delight to follow for many years, and Rebecca Plotnik, a wonderful blogger, photographer and creator of everydayparisian.com . There are so many, but these two first gave me the idea of sharing links that appealed to them, with their readers. Love their work. Both focus on life in Paris and of course that’s my heart gone, right there!

Over the past week I really enjoyed:

  • The coming of Christmas.  Too early to be singing ‘ All I want for Christmas’, but the lights are on in London.  No better way to beat the early darkness that threatens the most optimistic of souls. Could there be a better place to be for Christmas, than London?  Or Paris? Let me know.
  • The Escape to the Chateau.  Season 6.  I am obsessed and for me, Christmas comes early with Jack and Angel. If ever there was a modern fairytale … perhaps France has a little chateau for me.
  • Since the arrival of little George, the beloved Daschund, in our family, have doggie love in big loads of gorgeousness.  Have had dogs for many years, before we re-located a decade ago and now in love again.  They bring such joy and security don’t they?  Find myself looking at all things canine, and Country Living articles on dogs in particular.  You can imagine the Christmas list for George!

 

George.

  • Coutours.  Three different tours this week.  The pubs of Belgravia, fascinating stuff that links pubs to the murder of the nanny in the Lucan household, the secret meetings of the Great Train robbers, why we pin money on the ceiling for the dead soldier and secrets of those little pubs tucked away in the streets of this prestigious part of London.  We tasted cheeses and damson preserves in The Food Lover’s secret market walk and oh, the poor souls, lost to the taste of Gin in The History of London in Four Drinks, last week.  Think about gifting a tour to your boss, loved one, neighbour or as a secret Santa? – you will give them a walk to remember.
  • Eternally in love with Autumn, I indulged with a lie in on Sunday morning and Countryfile‘s Autumn Special, exploring the place that inspired the famous Ode to Autumn by John Keats.  For me, Autumn is always countryside, nestling and nature.
  • Most of the National Trust and Heritage Gardens are closing for the winter, though some do stay open, even if the houses are closed, so please check before you leave.  Happy to announce that Ham House is now dog friendly all year long, yay George, and even allowed into a certain section of the cafe.  We can still enjoy, and plan to visit some special gardens, and I have always been a fan of the National Garden Scheme.  For a last touch of summery joy, their choice of the best gardens for 2019 can be found here.

Hyde Park.  Splendour – plan to be in London next Autumn.

  • Though not to Paris this Christmas, I was fortunate to go in October.  The winter in Paris is amazing and I thought I would share an older blog of our visit to Paris a few years ago.  It may be cold, but like the cafés in London, most have outside seating and heaters and the cosiest indoors depending on your fancy.  When it comes to the Café de Flore, it’s outdoors for me all the way – all about people watching, people!
  • This week ( not that I like all the references to Oldies and Purple hats etc, but a great article on sleeping positions and how they change with age.  This is from The New Yorker Magazine, so let me know what you think?
  • Too early to talk about Christmas Decorations, though I must say, the department stores are full on already.  Including the jingles – too soon, she says, too soon …
  • Not too early to make the Christmas Cake though.  For me, it’s between Delia Smith and Mary Berry, every time.  This is the Mary Berry recipe.

A few of the things I did, read and loved this week.  And I leave you with a thought from Kahil Gibran. A week of reflection, fun, soaked by showers, making the Christmas lists and long walks in the park.  Golden leaves, puppy kisses, tourists and the delight of having a free, Over 60’s travel card in the city.  A week of missing, of waitressing, researching, trip planning, clients and customers.  The journal, the judging, the forgiving and finding the will to remain optimistic and just a little bit unpredicable, all at the same time.

Remember if you want to plan a tour to London or the UK, to Paris or South Africa, you can contact me on karen@mysilverstreet.com

Image;  The Daily mail, Secret London, Healingpetloss and visitlondon.

Me, and my money jar. I learn, and I shall earn, and do it my way.

In 1970 … something, a defining turn of events would forever change my course of history.  Mid junior year, the nuns of The Notre Dame Convent, my little school, were instructed to cease teaching arithmetic and begin teaching maths. Babes, us all.

Boxes arrived with green books for the students and a red one for the teacher.  The answers were written in the red one.  No-one, including the nuns, were sent on preparatory classes, understood it quite frankly:  numbers and the alphabet in between, it was simply easier to reveal the answers and let us run, with barely a passmark. I ended up hopeless at maths, and though I loved arithmetic, was left with a deep distrust for anything that made no sense to me.

Rather Pluto than Pythagoras.  By no means ‘ahhhhh ‘ I can’t do it, or understand it, but rather, if I did not need to … I have other things to do.  And so, Belle left the financial investment side of things to darling during marriage – such a cliché now isn’t it?  Darling and Financial Advisor would build the portfolios, pension funds, growth this and risk taking that and I would make sure the children had swimming costumes for the gala, and run the car and diary. Tax was like a distant relative, one I had heard of but never really to meet up close.

Personally, half the reason I didn’t really pay attention, other than I was not required to, is that I was weary of predictions and all that stuff – I mean, every economist in the world, still claims they did not see the Sub Prime coming, and they were supposed to be the experts?  Anyway, I digress:  when darling did decide to leave, and the shock and horror of divorce anaesthetises your very existence, finances are the very last elements you are thinking about.  Yes, you do think you will die, and I did believe that I was going to end up in a council flat, but that was only because I was dealing with a pocket full of not knowing what the hell my future finances were.  I never want to be in that situation again, ever again.

Whilst re-training to breath and a very odd habit of hiding money under the pillow, just in case –  (anyway started the fuck you fund far too late – was never going to happen) also informed by those at the head of the Financial portfolio Information desk, what I would and would not be getting.  No negotiation,  no requests, and honestly, no reason to not accept, so hopeful was I of a turnaround and romantic ending.  I was also told that apparently no-one leaves a relationship without planning it for a long time, so if this is true or not, there would be a few elements to the Financial Portfolio that could well have been omitted for sake of brevity and a swift separation. Besides, I did not even think of challenging or questioning or whatever, demanding an audit whilst flaying myself religiously, I mean, what could I have done about it anyway?  Possibly nothing then, but certainly now.  Some notes:

  • It never ends as badly as you think it will.  It will be bad and you may have less than you imagined, may have to start all over again, but hey, you have control of your life now.
  • Whatever you thought, or did not know about finances, astonishing how fast one learns.  Wunderkind you!  Was that you I saw reading the FT, you go smartie!  Still a trifle boring though,  methinks…
  • Back to the having little left.  That little is like the magic bean, it is going to propel you into many different actions, a job, a career, investing in your own or someone else’s business.  It’s like having pocket money all over again, and remember how so little was all the money in the world!  
  • Cutting down is so in these days. Minimalist everything is sexy and strong.  
  • Nothing like that drive deep in your heart to prove to yourself you can control, and empower your own life, to make you sit up and be the Chairman of your own financial portfolio. Take advice, but let your decision be yours, the person you trust the most.
  • Finally, the learning to say ‘no’ because you are saving money, does not make you a poverty queen, only that saying ‘no’ means it does not work for you, and you have other plans.

When darling told me; ‘ It’s time to take control of your own finances,’ I thought he was kidding.  That’s not fair, I whimpered, mumbling I was too old to learn. Hah, thanks for doing that darling, I am so loving this new adventure, and today, when my Financial Advisor suggested something, I could actually say … it doesn’t work for me and let them know what I wanted to do.  Felt fabulous and something else, my darling was right, he knew I could do it.

When said FA told me would not be able to afford a property,  let alone get a mortgage in the future,  I thought to myself … time was I would have simply believed it, and now, thinking, maybe it’s time I made a plan, or find someone who does believe like I do.

More on The Jam jar, but for now, there are many great women out there with brilliant financial advice, many women who work in conjunction with Divorce lawyers to assist in this transition and make sure you are supported all the way.  I love ‘The Wealth Chef’ and blogs by Mary Waring for inspiration but if you are looking for more details on professional contacts I have to help you, please email me.

We are there for you.

Those darling nuns, no-one to provide some help, but how times have changed – bless them!

 

Images: 123rf, 

The ‘Imposter Syndrome’. Banish it.

‘We can live in a world that we designed …

However big, however small, let me be part of it all.’

A million dreams. Pink.

‘This psychological phenomenon, known as Imposter syndrome, reflects a belief that you’re an inadequate and incompetent failure despite evidence that indicates you’re skilled and quite successful.

In short, it’s a hot mess of harmfulness.’  The Muse.

Imagine if we all just trusted ourselves.  Believed that we were worth something, not just in glimmers of light or a break in the clouds, but that we were always worth it, and stopped self sabotaging – first do no harm of course, but more importantly, do no self harm.

The Imposter Syndrome is often associated with those who are already high achievers: the doers that have done and now doubt that they actually did achieve, but continually inflict doubt upon their abilities and in so doing, lessen their own self worth.  We think of the ‘Imposter Syndrome’ as one pertaining to specialists, business men and women, those who are of high standing and successful.

But we suffer from the Imposter Syndrome on every level. No matter who we are, we doubt, and it is that doubt that cripples us.  Others may never see it, we may not show it, but it exists in every one of one us – I am not capable, I am not enough, I am not worthy. Who will believe in me, can I really do this, am I up for it … how will I muster the courage to invest in myself and in so doing, make a difference in my life?

I have felt the fraud.  Life has made me doubt myself.  What do I really have to show for myself at this age, was what I did before amount to nothing if I don’t have the label, the status, the financial wealth and the social standing others have?  Do I count at all and more importantly, how do I go on from here – how to begin again, gain the confidence to break free from any ties that bind and make something of myself.  Good old doubt, good old disbelief that it is too late, has amounted to little to show for it, that my life has been, well average. I hear you. I hear me.

There are types of sufferers of The Imposter Syndrome.  The perfectionist who will not ask for help, believing that if they did not do everything themselves they would eventually be caught out as frauds, as imposters.  There are the Super people who continue to study, to gather certificates by the dozen in the belief that enough is never enough for fear of being, caught out.

The genius, always the overachiever, who fails to keep up with the expectations of others, or the expectations they perceived that are thrust upon them.

The expert, according to ‘The Muse‘ who is always lauded for being the go to person and cannot ever admit to not knowing, but fears being found out for not knowing everything.

Recognise yourself?  I am guilty and have been for a long time.  For a time it was simple, follow the rules and do the duty, but when faced with another life, a different situation, fear of being seen as less, not worthy and incapable of driving myself forward, I fell into the Imposter Syndrome.  Whatever I thought I could be, evolved into falling short of my belief that I was not capable.  On the outside I knew it all, had done the homework and could speak for hours on every subject, give advice, but actually put the dagger to the sticking point – well that was a whole different story.  Who would trust me if I did not trust myself?  Asking for help was a sign of failure, of weakness.  Yet I always spoke of it all, tried a little of it, and never quite took the leap into the unknown for fear of falling short.  I would then, I believe, be found out as the fraud, the talker rather than the doer and rather than face failure and possible mockery, did little. Best to hide behind the knowledge than fail in the trying.

Sadly, the Imposter Syndrome was of my own making. And there were always excuses.  I have them, and then I hear others at this stage of our lives, succumbing to the listless living of little gratitudes, of acceptance rather than trying, perhaps for the first time, to be the person they were meant to be.

Can’t do that.  In her acceptance speech at the Baftas, Phoebe Waller-Bridge thanked her mother, who said: ‘ Darling you can be whatever you want to be, as long as you’re outrageous.’

My mother said, find a good husband and live a simple life. Like I did.  Don’t stir the waters, so to speak. Bless her heart. Within that beautiful world of marriage and raising children, I did feed the burning curiosity of learning about absolutely everything, but not acting on it.

I didn’t believe I could. Never felt the imposter in pouring my life and knowledge into them.

And when they grew and left, I felt inadequate to try anything new, something I thought I could do, but held back for fear of being the fraud. Confidence lacking syndrome. Imposter Syndrome; Hold so many degrees, certificates, diplomas and nurtured the mind but launch myself into a business, open a shop, put myself out there, at my age … was too big a task, even for myself. And I have procrastinated, lingered, loitered in the green room. What if my family saw me as a fraud, not the example to follow, if others rejected my ideas, if no-one wanted me? The doubt was my own invention and in that the Imposter Syndrome, at this age, became the milestone around my own neck.

it doesn’t matter what it’s called today, Imposter Syndrome or the lack of confidence, it is what it is. A lack of belief in that I matter, that I can do what I want to, to fulfil my life in the coming years.  It is a question, when it comes down to it, of whether I am going to settle for a gratitude journal or walk tall into the unknown, trying and failing and trying again until I can actually say:

‘However big, however small, let me be part of it all.’

Not a spectator to my own life.  Not a feeble excuse not to try. Not the gatherer of knowledge and ideas and the instrument of my own doubt.

Ageism is a thing of the past. We form one of the largest communities of doers, changers and those with an income for change. Paid our dues, worked hard, contributed in our own way, but if we begin to fear lessoned, reduced in anyway, it is our own imagination. Time for a re-brand.

Whatever your situation now, it is never acceptable to resign to life. Life is only what you, now in your situation, will make of it. Re-brand with the confidence that you can choose a different path, fall hard for it will make you feel more alive, change if you have to and in the end, realise that you can overcome the ‘Syndrome’ of resignation and defeat and find another beacon to reach.

Rebrand yourself.  Gather the knowledge of life and use it for good.  For your good, for your sanity and satisfaction and banish that Imposter Syndrome to the the wings while you take centre stage of your own production.

I am scared about doing it. I doubt still. I have no choice though, for I cannot submit to idea of just being content.  I need to be fierce still, to be worthy of my life and in the end, to be just in that I gave myself the opportunities to not be a fraud, but a legend in my own eyes.

And if I can reach. fall and reach again, so can you.

Image: The format.

 

Welcome February (my Macbeth month)with snow, ice and colder than a witches tit.

Four am on the 1st of February – and she is awake.  The snow is beginning to fall.  For me, snow is still the thrill of it all.  I love snow, will not complain … no, don’t complain, and revel in the silent whiteness.  I am standing at the window, transfixed on the flakes.  Silent gorgeousness. A few of us wake at this time, we work, we worry, we rise to babies, and we watch the snow beginning to fall.

It’s the beginning of the Macbeth month in London.  The shortest, and the bloodiest. Christmas joy pales, January sales lapsed … now to wait for the crocus and snowdrops.  To endure, only today was special … white magic came. Rising to give a tour of the hidden icons of London, daunting to say the least.  Having lived here for a decade has me well prepared, thanks to Uniglow 

Just call me the Michelin lass.  Can barely get the arms to meet with all the padding beneath.  Two pairs of socks, tights, more, more and more.  The black outer uniform, gloves, beanie and she is good to go. Oh, and the music – cannot live without the music and forever grateful for the present. It’s coffee before the tube, oat milk heaven.  Hope I don’t have to stand all the way to Victoria.  I do. I do not care, there is snow.

Son sends the picture of morning at Sandhurst. Landscape.

My clients are a mum and daughter team, mum’s first visit to London. How to make her fall in love with my city when the horizontal, ice rain whips at every turn? Coutours does not flail in frosty climes. Little giggy, get warm dance in Trafalgar Square and tea at St. Martin in the fields crypt. We are happy, we are learning from each other.  Great women.

But for me, rainy days are shopping days and I need to go to the department store.

Did I add that the umbrella flipped? Walking against the beast. Fingers frosted.  Time for comfort food and retail therapy.

It is most definitely a mash and mushy peas day. We have the finest restaurants and coffee shops in the world, but days like this, it’s the comfort food, comfort comments, ‘how are you love?’ followed by ‘oh darlin’ colder than a witches tit innit? For sure darlin’ – for sure.  And what is so special is all the learning I do on the tours – going back to what the winters were like in Shakespeare’s time.  God awful in the murky streets of London with little warmth, little work and literally no money.  No wonder gin had such a popular following!  A tot for a pence, would have begged for it – death by cold was not an attractive option when sober.

We have amazing stores.  John Lewis, Debenhams, Selfridges, Harrods – vast stores of goodies. Designer everything, choices like petals on the prettiest flower. I traced the fabrics with my fingers, pretend choose lamps for the pretend home.  Waved evening dresses before the mirror, decided on shoes I could not afford.  Spritzed the perfumes, smelt the cheese and decided, once more, to discard all I have and start again – when I have lost the pounds around my untoned sculpture of me. Do that everytime, don’t you?  Going to shed and start again, the mantra of my life.

Big stores remind me of happiness.  When I was a young girl, in a small town, twice a year, my mother and grandmother, would take us on the train to Johannesburg, for shopping.  Starting at John Orr’s, we would begin at the top with anchovy toast and tea and then the expedition began.  One floor at a time.  An entire day of lists to be ticked.  Home, clothes, luggage – costumes for the seaside.  Patient in the following with the reward of a toy at Lilliputs before going back to the station. We shared much on those days, those mother and daughter days. I loved my mother more when we went shopping together. She seemed so organised and in control. Just the girls. The tradition continues with my girls.

Rainy days on holidays were always for shopping. Greenacres, Stuttafords, ‘De Hup’ as my grandmother would say … to the stores when rain descends!

And it was a rainy, snowy day today.  A nostalgic trip to the department store. May they never disappear. mecca of offerings and sharing lipstick trials. Bought dumbbells (do not comment) , lingerie (love great lingerie) and a Barbour T-shirt – had to have the British injection on that one.

Going to be a long February. “What’s done, is done” Macbeth

Oh the snow, she intrigues me, oh the tour, she was wonderful. Oh, the shopping on a snowy day, she was exactly what I needed.

Be kind this February… be kind to this soul.

We have much to do.

 

So, how are those new year’s resolutions going?

 

 

In the illustrious words of Ebenezer Scrooge, all re-iterate, ‘Bah Humbug.’

All those New Year’s resolutions frosted and veiled in the post Christmas overload when the party food (all miniature of course), prosecco vapoured and jumper infused loathing has now come to the party,  A little late, but we do not judge.

Secretly I make them.  Never to vow or vocalise, for I am the breaker of so many rules.  Dry January is great for me, on every other night, the night post the morning of … ‘I am never going to do this again!, sort of night.  Gym, well I don’t like the guy, he does nothing for me and all attempts at liking have resulted in pools with clouds of chlorine and little ‘de-germing’ water puddles I have to step into, that is anything but. I have tried, dear Lord I have tried, but the idea of swimming with others in a pretend lane, watching nose plugs and swimming caps, pales to swimming in a pool on a sun kissed day. So lark it, leave it, Gym went down the plug hole. Swimming in a REAL swimming pool, outside, preferable naked, is still top of the list.

January is different.  We have all these … yeah, going to do it, re-invent myself and be amazon, is just lovely my lasses, but for me … this year’s resolution is … picking the year I loved the most about myself, be it a decade or decades ago … and whatever, going to do it again.  So what was your best year?  Apart from all the psychologists saying go back to when you were ten … which I loved by the way, running, jumping, halter neck tops and dreaming about all sorts of things, the simple life. my year of choice for this year is 47.

I loved myself at forty-seven and it is the year I will be again.  I don’t want to be younger, nothing like that, but be the fabulous I felt about myself then. I was fit (without the gym), drank copious amounts of wine, wrote endlessly and felt, well invincible. I was in the throes of lust and love. Like that very much. All still doable.

You see, it’s not about the age, or the decade, but the attitude. For a long time, circumstances have made me feel, well old.  Others around me speak of this time as a great gift – you get free bus passes. You can wear purple hats, be silly, go to bed early, eat soup You can let the girdle go, instagram your breakfast and go grey. Not me … for goodness sake, if I make another year’s resolution, it is to still the ageing thing as a gift. Me and William Blake, we do not go gently into that dark night. We go …

The New Year’s resolution is a mind factor.  A time factor of a great year and working on feeling those same feelings, living the same vibe and just discounting the numbers, wrinkles and sagging muscles to throw all to caution and be bold and silly and romantic and lustful and curious and wanting more. Settling is not just about the New Year’s resolution of go to the gym or not drink or not dream.

At forty seven I was in a different place to now.  The skinny dipping will be difficult in the city and sure to be arrested if I try in the Hampstead Heath pools, but I am undeterred. The size ten may be elusive but the will to flaunt it does not die. Travelling is not going to be … oh have to get up early but darling, I am on my way. Full Brazilian wax still there. Hair done, no grey darling, not yet.  Paint those nails, wear the make-up, strut the stuff, kill this fluff.  That is my New Year’s resolution. Times change, working harder than ever before and that is good.  It’s all good – the balcony swan song is done.  The hideous gown when I get home is done. The lamenting is gone. Needed it, went through the valleys and all gone.

So, what am I saying?  If you are doing the January New Year’s resolution thing – pick the best year and take it forward. If there is one thing I have been guilty of is only looking back, and those were the sweet times, but now, in my Silver Street, I am going to be forty seven forever.

What it your ‘Good Year?’ See yourself there. Be there. I am sure it does not involve any settling.

Image: Urban matter, kut.org.

 

My favourite perfumes and why I need to add to them. Or do I?

Can you remember when you first began to wear perfume?  Which are the ones that personify you best?  Memories are bottled with the scent and for me, when things are a little ‘untoward’ which seems to have been for a pretty long time … it’s my favourite perfumes that transport me from feeble fairy to fabulous self.  Perfume, music, candles and wine … and a great love.

It’s five thirty and I know there will be days like this, but the pain of black outside is not a good sign.  So, let’s deal with it.  Christmas packed up, trees wilting on the side walk, done.  Bye, bye sugar.

It’s summer on my mind.  In all the packing, one thing staying close is my ‘Beach‘ perfume by Bobbi Brown.  Alas, no longer making it and you should have seen the reaction to the news.  ‘Beach’ brings back so many of the loving things:

  • Summer.  Of course.
  • The beach.  Holidays and permanent cozzie time.
  • Smell of sand and sea – you know what I mean.
  • Thick beach towels to wrap the body after a swim, and you nestle.
  • Pool games.  ‘Marco … Polo.’
  • Watermelon
  • Barbecues in the evenings.
  • Cold wine (when I was much more grown.  And still now. With ice)
  • Dogs swimming with you.
  • Mermaid parties with mom’s garden furniture at the bottom of the pool.  Not impressed.
  • Cooking oil when sunscreen was done.  Sure, we did it.
  • Keeping the LP’s from melting outdoors.
  • Melting ice-cream.
  • Walks on the promenade with my parents, and now my children.

One scent can take me to all these special places.  So I nurture her like a wilting rose, hoping to prolong the feeling I get for as long as possible. And find again.

A little spray and I am immersed in the scent of summer.  A true love.

If you can’t be where you want to be, find something that gives you joy and reminds you of it and make  a commitment to be there again. Some more of my favourites.

Angel by Thierry Mugler. My sister introduced me to this one and since then, fascinated by the chocolate note.  Back in the nineties, this was the going out to dinner choice, the evening wear choice and still today my children associate me as a mum and Angel.  Face it, we all need angels in our lives and even though this scent may be a little passé, she is still a go to when I want to feel angelic. With chocolate and vanilla.

 

  • Young mum with her gorgeous brood
  • Loving my husband and when we went out for dinner
  • A lazy evening on the veranda, good wine, just us and the stars
  • Baking and birthday parties
  • Dinner parties
  • Packing to leave on a family holiday
  • Planting annuals in the garden
  • Trips to the farm
  • Christmas eve in the summer
  • My home

I think my first perfume love had to be Babe by Fabergé.  Think my sister had it first and followed everything she loved.  Huge crush on Margeaux Hemmingway, the idyllic 70’s model. Strong, bold scent, made me feel all grown up.

Babe represented the teenager into twenties years.

  • Seventeen magazine
  • Best friends talking on the corner of the street
  • School and University
  • Boys
  • My first car
  • My first job
  • Endless notes in the diary
  • Dreaming of becoming an actress
  • Dreaming of my wedding dress
  • Dreaming

There was a time when in the later twenties, that heavier perfumes such as Cinnabar and Opium were the objects of desire.  Heady stuff, very distinctive.  Think it may have been to laden for me at the time but what did I know – all about feeling even more grown up and must have doused myself in them. Estee Lauder was more about Karen Graham, another iconic model than the actual scents for me.

Mademoiselle Chanel – a gift from a lover one and loved still. Always special that first gift.

Monsieur Hermes – and Paris.

Love all Hermes perfumes. Hard to choose just one, but the personification of Grace Kelly, and Paris.

24 faubourg Saint Honoré.  

 

Passionately in love with Paris.  24 Faubourg Saint Honoré is in a street I walk along with stars in my eyes and love in my heart.  Parisienne chic, deep romance and longing for the beautiful in the world.  The scent reminds me of that love, the passion of art, of fine dining, of architecture and fashion. Elegant desire.

  • Taking the Eurostar
  • Gard du Nord
  • D’Orsay and the Impressionists
  • Coffee and croissants
  • Classical hotels
  • Divine restaurants
  • Luxumbourg Gardens
  • The left bank and Ernest Hemingway
  • The lights reflected in the Seine
  • Pretending to understand the French music I’m listening to
  • Pretending I can afford anything in Printemps
  • Bittersweet good-buys

This is my adult perfume.  The choices I made and life I have now perfume.  More mature, wiser and when love is deep and satisfying even if life is far too layered now. This is the personification of me at this moment and Paris beckons.

Perhaps it is time for a new perfume du jour?  Perhaps.  Have tried many of the new scents and maybe  it is this time of my life, but the memories associated with my lovelies is what I want right now, to compress a life well lived, not only in photographs but in the smells and scents of the perfumes that travelled in my suitcase.  If I did choose something new, what do you think it should be?

Oh, and a little admission here.  I never fall asleep without a spritz of Kiehl’s Musk

Heaven.

Images:  cafleurbon, hermes, babe, Thierry Mugler