Advent calendars have come on leaps and bounds since when we were kids. It’s no longer just about your average Dairy Milk option (although these are still great); now advent calendars span across all categories, from food to toys and stationary. Scroll on to browse our best selection of kid-friendly advent calendars 2018…
You wouldn’t necessarily expect to find peace and tranquillity in Soho, but Kettner’s Townhouse offers exactly that. Less than five minutes away from Leicester Square tube station, the restaurant, champagne bar and 33 bedroom townhouse offers breakfast every day from 7am-12pm. Kettner’s serves classics such as Eggs Royale (£12) or a Full English (£8/£14), as well offering the particularly indulgent option of adding Exmoor caviar to the dishes.
We were blown away by the sheer number of freshly made juices and smoothies that Kettner’s offers, too – the Energy botanical (£4.50), with its mix of orange, mango, passionfruit, ginger, lime, cacao, maca perked us up and the Matcha shake (£5) was a delicious creamy healthy(ish) option to end our meal.
Nestled in the heart of Theatreland, Covent Garden staple Christopher’s has one of the most expansive brunch menus that this seasoned brunch fan has ever encountered – and quality is just as great as the quantity.
In the sun-filled dining room, we were treated to superlative riffs on brunch staples from all over the culinary map. The Superfood Brunch menu means that even those who don’t see weekends as a chance to indulge will be in heaven: we loved the Born To Be Green super smoothie (£7) and the Avocado and Tomato Toast, with its perfectly poached egg on top (£10).
If you fancy something more decadent, Christopher’s has also got your back here, too. The Lobster Benedict (£24) is generously laden with the most tender lobster, while the Milk Chocolate Brioche French Toast (£12) was out of this world… a heady combination of copious amounts of melted chocolate, brioche, ice cream. Combine this with the fact that a separate Build Your Own Pancake menu exists, and it’s clear that Christopher’s also caters for those with a sweet tooth.
Make sure you combine your meal with a cocktail – it would be frankly rude not to, thanks to Christopher’s famous Martini Bar. We tried an incredible signature dirty martini, as well as a Vesper (named after the character from Casino Royale), which managed to combine vodka and gin without either becoming overpowering. Thanks to its delicious food and brilliant service, Christopher’s, a dinner-must for over 25 years, is now definitely one of our go-tos for brunch.
It’s hard to beat the 360 views of London from level 31 of The Shard, home to its cavernous two-storey restaurant Aqua. And now there’s a brand new brunch menu to try as you drink in those uninterrupted views across St Paul’s and watch toy-sized trains far below sliding in and out of London Bridge.
The new brunch offering is a push-the-boat out affair featuring truffle, lobster and Wagyu beef. At £48 for 3 courses, it’s also one to be lingered over well into lunchtime, as smaller breakfast-friendly starters of buttermilk pancakes and a dinky eggs benedict lead into main courses of beef sirloin, Scottish lobster thermidor and a decadent truffle-laced bubble and squeak. If you’ve still got room to spare there’s a pudding menu of white chocolate and lime cheesecake, brownies and treacle tart.
Just as well there’s a lift to take you back down those 31 floors…
For all you East Londoners, we have found your new go-to brunch spot. WOLF, located on super hip Stoke Newington High Street, celebrates authentic Italian food – and, boy, does it celebrate it in style.
Standard brunch ingredients like eggs and sausages are of course on the menu at WOLF, but head chef Karla Knowles (formerly of Petersham Nurseries) has turned these old favourites into new classics. Each element of our fennel sausage dish with deep fried egg, flat gnocchi and caramelised tropea onions (£10) was delicious both individually and combined, while my guest and I actually fought over each rich and salty morsel of the broken eggs with anchovies and capers (£7.00). We finished our meal with the banana bread (£7.50), where sour rhubarb and the comforting softness of the marscapone working together as the perfect foil for the banana.
We also have to give the drinks a huge shout out – not only does WOLF offer a ‘bottomless brunch’ with either their Aperol cocktail or takes on a Bloody Mary or Bellini, their cocktail menu is the stuff of dreams. Each drink was developed in house: the combination of cardamom-spiced rum, cinnamon and pineapple juice in the ‘Ananas Speziato’ (£9.00) was totally incredible.
WOLF also offers a dinner menu, so regardless of the time of day, you can savour a meal in a restaurant where food really is king.
If you haven’t done brunch at the Granary Square Brasserie – the new restaurant from the team behind The Ivy Collection -then get in now. Slap bang in the heart of Kings Cross, by the famous fountains next to Regent’s Canal, it’s the perfect pit stop to refuel in one of the City’s most vibrant locations.
It’s a place that celebrates, no, revels in its all-day dining concept seven days a week. The delicious all day brunch menu at weekends ranges from classic breakfast favourites such as home-made granola and Eggs Benedict, to an exquisite range of lighter offerings (think Crispy duck salad to Tuna Carpaccio) and more substantial meals (classic Fish Pie with salmon, cod and smoked haddock, a Slow Roasted Lamb Shoulder with roast vegetables and delicious steaks including an incredible Cote de Boeuf ). High on our recommendation list is The Hake – the best fish dish we’ve had in ages and the Shrimp and Scallop burger is to die for.
Go for the weekend brunch menu (until 4pm) and experience the resident DJ by the central cocktail bar in the heart of the restaurant as you settle into the sumptuous velvet banquette seats with a Bloody Mary. If dining ‘al fresco’ is your thing, check out the terrace for views across Regent’s Canal. With its coloured parasols you can almost believe you’re in the Riviera.
What a little gem we’ve discovered hiding 20 seconds from Shoreditch’s Brick Lane. Opening in September Pickled Fred has been dishing up a new take on Asian food with dishes like the incredible roasted cauliflower or beef shin and bone marrow rending, there’s something for all – vegans, vegetarians, gluton-intolerants and carnivores. So we were extremely pleased to hear they’ve just launched a less than ordinary brunch menu available from 11:30 to 3pm. If you need a change from Eggs Benedict (as delicious as it is) how does this sound – Halloumi Fries with harissa yoghurt and pomegranate; Chermoula Aubergine with labneh, dukkah, pickled cherry tomatoes, rocket, feta and cous cous or a Jackfruit Scotch Egg that will make you seriously question how something that good and convincing could really be meat-free. Also on offer is a bottomless brunch for £25, you can have a flatbread of your choice with 90 minutes worth of unlimited Bloody Marys, Aperol Spritz or Prosecco.
There’s a friendly neighbourhood feel to this chic, award-winning independent cafe on Lavender Hill. It’s also a great compromise if the group you’re meeting up with includes both a hungover pal in need of a salty fry-up and a virtuous yogi who’s been up since seven and wants to mainline some grains. From the ‘something filling’ section of the menu there’s delicious chai-spiced French toast and the full English ‘Pantry’ breakfast, while your yogi friend will love the super-C smoothie bowl.
Take an early morning stroll (or jog, dare we suggest?!) around the Barbican before heading to the quirky Ask for Janice for brunch, where you can order a breakfast burger in between taking pictures of the kooky but cool interiors.
Run by old pals Kate and Maria, The Continental Pantry serves food inspired by the pair’s upbringings in Madrid and London. Pop in first thing for some fresh, crunchy sourdough with butter and jam, or mashed avocado on toast with lemon and smoked salmon.
The party never really stops at this 8am – 3am breakfast/lunch/dinner/late night newcomer in the heart of Soho, and rightly so given the building’s history as the site of the old Marquee Club, where The Rolling Stones did their first ever live gig. Saturday brunch is a fun, buzzy affair where bottomless Prosecco is encouraged and the three-course menu mixes classic 11am favourites – smoked salmon and scrambled eggs – with dishes like harissa and agave roasted aubergine. Worth booking in for a long sitting.
Sometimes you need to go all out. And few places cater a more luxurious brunch than London’s hottest Asian eatery, Sexy Fish. The restaurant from the people who brought you The Ivy and J. Sheekey has launched a new brunch menu every Sunday, where the music, food and cocktails flow from 11.30 – 4pm (in case your hangover’s so bad you can’t face the world until mid-afternoon). There are plenty of bespoke twists on brunch classics to tempt you, like the asparagus egg and soldiers (above), but the real must-try is the ‘Sexy Benedict’, a spin on eggs benedict cut through with black charcoal muffin, lobster and truffle. It tastes and looks as decadent as it sounds.
Following an extensive refurbishment, Savile Row’s Sartoria re-opened its doors in late 2015 with a brand new breakfast menu to sink your teeth into. With classic Italian cooking – courtesy of renowned Italian chef Francesco Mazzai – our highlight has to be the Eggs Purgatorio, a rich egg baked in a spicy tomato sauce with freshly baked Italian breads on the side.
While it may not be your usual breakfast dish, confit turkey hash with poached eggs and spinach has become a firm favourite at Village East. If you’d rather save turkey for Christmas, then you can order up their Campfire breakfast or the protein-filled Steak & Eggs breakfast right up until 4pm on the weekends.
Want to go out for brunch but love your dog too much to leave him / her at home? M Restaurants has launched a weekend ‘Dine With Your Dog’ brunch menu at their branch in Victoria, where you and your furry pal can kick off the day together with a two-course brunch and some bottomless bellinis (for you). If you want total immersion in the dog-dining experience you can even partake in the ‘six legs brunch’ menu, which features a specially tailored menu of two courses each – two for you, two for your dog (no Pedigree Chum, we promise), but if that sounds a little close to the bone (sorry) you can leave your dog to the four legs menu and tuck into some quinoa porridge, followed by waffles with maple butter. We took Piper (below) to try it out and she licked the bowl so much she pushed it across the room with her nose. The dog equivalent of a five-star review.
On the 17th floor of the futuristic M Building in Shoreditch – which has been built to look like a giant triangular optical illusion – Urban Coterie‘s ‘Brunch with a view’ let’s you tuck into your duck scrambled eggs and hot smoked salmon while looking out across the East London skyline. Designed by Urban Coterie’s Anthony Demetre, a three-course brunch includes bottomless mimosas for £32 (warning: if you’re tucking into the drinks the building will look even weirder on your way out.)
The Clifton, St John’s Wood
If you’re up north, dip off a side street on Abbey Road and make your way to The Clifton, a historic 19th century pub. While it was closed for a little while, it’s finally reopened as a modern gastropub and the menu is serious.You’ll get all the regular brunch staples with a dash of the uncommon – smoked hake, anybody? – and if you’re feeling truly decadent then you can kick off the affair with a cheeky oyster and perfectly spiced Bloody Mary. The portions are pretty major – we had the waffles served with crispy Dingley Dell Bacon and fried duck eggs (naturally topped off with a generous helping of maple syrup) and it could have probably fed two people. There’s no place better than their glass conservatory on a sunny day.
With branches in Notting Hill, Covent Garden, Chelsea and Smithfield, as well as the one that we tried in Soho, Polpo is gaining popularity and spreading fast thanks to its Venetian bàcaro menu. The brunch offering, which launched earlier this year, features delicious poached eggs and scafata, ricotta on toasted sourdoughs and brunch pizzettas. As in pizza for breakfast. Need we say more?
The best breakfasts London has to offer don’t always feature avocado and eggs. The Han Setto weekend brunch at ROKA is perfect if you’ve had enough of that to last you a lifetime. For £59 (which includes a bellini when you arrive and wine) or £43 if you’re off the booze, the brunch features some of the Japanese restaurant’s star dishes, like the raw salmon, avocado and wasabi tobiko maki and the beef, ginger and sesame dumplings. The first course is followed with a Japanese robata grill of fresh fish and meat and a dessert platter. Delish.
If the setting for you is just as important as the food, then the beautifully plush Ivy Kensington Brasserie is definitely the place to go if it’s a special occasion. The weekday breakfast and weekend brunch menus are full of classic dishes with some luxurious additions. Truffled eggs, anyone?
Step into The London EDITION for a taste of their renowned breakfast menu in a beautifully decorated restaurant. With high ceilings, walls covered in paintings and attentive waiters, this is a pretty special place to start the day. Sack off the healthy options (chilled citrus salad with ginger and lime is one) for the Hazelnut waffles, berries and cream.
With a working bakery downstairs you can just be ‘popping out to buy some bread’ when you head to Foxcroft & Ginger. And while you’re there picking up your sourdough or rye, you might as well try something from the incredible breakfast menu. All the egg dishes are spot on.
Italian-themed bar and restaurant Bunga Bunga has been running legendary party brunches in its Battersea branch for several years now. These generally feature loud music, a never-ending supply of prosecco and more breakfast-themed Italian food than you can finish, including the ‘Bunga Benedict’ and ‘Englishman’s Breakfast’ pizzas. If you’re not quite up for the noisy Battersea fiesta, Bunga Bunga’s Covent Garden sister restaurant BungaTINI has just launched a new ‘Wood-Fired Brunch’, which includes unlimited bellinis, wood-fired pizzas and a fun party atmosphere without the raucous crowd. Burrata for breakfast? Why not.
Bubbledogs, Charlotte Street
A really good hotdog is an underrated thing, perhaps unfairly getting less airtime than the ubiquitous burger. But champagne and hotdog joint Bubbledogs has been working to change all that since it launched in 2012, brainchild of Sandia Chang and her husband James Knappet, who now runs a Michelin starred restaurant called Kitchen Table at the back of the venue. This year Bubbledogs has branched out into the brunch market, teaming up with artisanal spirits company The86Co. for weekly brunch parties. There’s a Bloody Mary menu and the hotdogs are served with a sunny side up fried egg. We recommend the Jose (above) a hotdog topped with fresh tomato salsa, avocado, sour cream and pickled jalapenos.
Duck & Waffle, Heron Tower
Duck & Waffle, Heron Tower
With views stretching out over London, Duck & Waffle has become one of the most sought after reservations in the whole of the city. As the restaurant is open 24 hours, we suggest turning up before sunrise (whether that’s straight from bed or straight from the club) and settling in for breakfast with a view. Tip: order the restaurant’s eponymous dish, put it on Instagram and you’ll probably get a comment or two from the chefs. The new version of ‘compliments to the chef.’
Fantastical, photogenic and bloody well brilliant, sketch may be a little bit out of your budget to become your ‘regular’ but this is definitely a place you can name-drop and Instagram to your heart’s content, which is what most of us want these days from a meal out, isn’t it? Once you’re there, you might as well hang around for their equally brilliant Afternoon Tea.
Bel-Air, Paul Street
Bel-Air, Paul Street
Billed as ‘feel good fast food’, Bel-Air founder Andrew Bredon aims to bring a bit of LA to EC2. The cafe serves up a selection of breakfast pots, including their appropriately named Muscle Beach which has grilled steak, smokey spinach, sweet potato and a poached egg. Perfect for those wanting to make some #GymGainz.
Andina, Redchurch Street
Andina, Redchurch Street
Currently daydreaming about spending your days on a beach somewhere with a wildly good looking man fanning you? Take a trip to Peru (while staying in Shoreditch) at Martin Morales’ Andina where you can eat Granola Andina and greek yoghurt or Peruanazo which is two fried eggs, tacu-tacu with rice and butterbeans, belly bacon and saltado criollo. Who needs the bright blue shores of Mancora?
Berber&Q, East London
Berber&Q, East London
With a permanent queue snaking outside of its door, Berber&Q has become the hot brunch spot in town. A newly launched menu will further cement its reputation for being one of the best places to start the day. We suggest getting there early.
BunnyChow, Wardour Street
BunnyChow, Wardour Street
South African Street Food concept BunnyChow serves up a particularly delicious veggie breakfast option with salsa beans, aubergine, peppers, spice-kicked red onions and a fried egg. Enough to tempt even the strongest carnivores.
Busaba Eathai, Soho
Busaba Eathai, Soho
Busaba Eathai’s new brunch menu features coconut porridge, fisherman’s spiced rice and their so-called ‘perfect hangover cure’ – the Busaba Bloody Mary and Khai luak. We’re told that Khai luak is a soft boiled free range egg with a gentle Thai seasoning which is stirred and then taken as a shot followed by a Bloody Mary chaser… we’ll be leaving that one to someone more hardcore.
Brew, Putney and Clapham
Brew, Putney and Clapham
While Brew do an incredible take on Turkish Eggs, we’re more likely to order the soft-boiled eggs with soldiers – which come with a choice of Marmite or Vegemite, may we add – as an homage to our childhood days spent dipping soldiers into runny yolk.
Casa Brindisa, South Kensington
Casa Brindisa, South Kensington
One of the best tapas restaurants around, Casa Brindisa also serves up a mean breakfast and brunch. Try their mushrooms, scrambled eggs, tomato and Manchego or just order like there’s no tomorrow and scoff a whole plate of Iberico ham yourself. We won’t judge you.
Carluccio’s, various locations
Carluccio’s, various locations
Probably not the first place you may think of when your best friend suggests ‘breakfast?’, but Carluccio’s has got a pretty substantial morning menu and one you should definitely try out. With their handy little deli you can also pick up some lunch while you’re there. Easy like Sunday morning and all that…
Eelbrook, New King’s Road
Eelbrook, New King’s Road
A favourite spot with the Chelsea lot, Eelbrook’s brunch should ideally be eaten al fresco on the terrace overlooking London’s Eel Brook Common so you can people-watch as you munch. We love the Baked Tilley’s Eggs with tomato, yoghurt, harissa and grilled flatbreads – a London brunch with a Middle Eastern twist.
Farm Girl, Portobello Road
Farm Girl, Portobello Road
Make like Julia Roberts and head to Notting Hill for a breakfast with a twist at Farm Girl. With naturopathic doctor (nope, us neither) Melly Lou of Liquorice Lifestyle advising on nutrition for the menu, you can guarantee you’ll come home feeling grrrreat.
Granger & Co, various locations
Granger & Co, various locations
Go healthy with the slick Granger & Co by ordering one of their fruit and grains dishes with a smoothie; we’re a big fan of the buckwheat bowl.
OPSO, Paddington Street
OPSO, Paddington Street
With a full range of breakfast dishes going on, OPSO is one of the most loved brunch and breakfast places in the Marylebone area (and, for that matter, the city). You can either choose to start your day off right with their Earl grey infused rice porridge or one of the granola dishes or indulge your naughty side with the pancakes. We like them covered in praline spread and hazelnuts.
Ottolenghi, Various Locations
Ottolenghi, various locations
Famous around London for being one of the best delis around, Ottolenghi serves up a mean breakfast. While the whole menu is great, it would be wrong to go there and not order their signature Shakshuka. It’s seriously tasty.
Providores, Marylebone High Street
Providores, Marylebone High Street
As one of the first restaurants to bring brunch to the capital, Providores pulls a big crowd and regularly has a queue of hungry punters outside. They’ll all be ordering Peter Gordon’s signature breakfast dish, the Turkish Eggs.
Street Kitchen, Parkgate Road
Street Kitchen, Parkgate Road
Street Kitchen on the Broadgate Circle is run by Jun Tanaka and Mark Jankel with a mission to serve up ‘slow food, fast.’ Pick up a Caravan Roosters coffee from the barista before stuffing your face with one of their SkMuffins with farm sourced ingredients.
The Jam Tree, Clapham
The Jam Tree, Clapham
The Jam Tree does classics with a twist (where doesn’t these days?). We suggest ordering the black pudding, apple and chutney on toast as well as one of their nine variants on a Bloody Mary.
The Modern Pantry, Clerkenwell
The Modern Pantry, Clerkenwell
Another name on the tip of every foodie Londoner’s tongue, The Modern Pantry is a place for those who like their breakfast healthy. We’d go for the Honey roast oats, seeds and nuts with grated apple, pomegranate and greek yoghurt if we were that way inclined… you know, you could just eat their less healthy sugar-cured omelette.
Tredwells, Upper St Martin’s Lane
Tredwells, Upper St Martin’s Lane
Marcus Wareing’s informal restaurant in Covent Garden has a great brunch/breakfast offering with cheat day treats such as caramelized banana eggy bread with bacon, maple syrup or chorizo jam and slow cooked egg, avocado and toasted sourdough. If you’re sticking to the diet plan then you can order granola or a seasonal veggie frittata.
Whaam Banh Mi, Great Windmill Street
Whaam Banh Mi, Great Windmill Street
If you’ve got a sweet tooth from the moment you wake up then Whaam Banh Mi have got you covered. Chocoholics should order the fresh, daily baked Banh Mi smothered in Nutella.
Isn’t London amazing you can now enjoy the best of Latin American cuisine as a bottomless champagne brunch. London’s first Peruvian restaurant that opened to critical acclaim in 2012 has launched a brand new menu including their new signature brunch cocktail the ‘Pisco Mary’. Dine on Peruvian dishes such as Corvina Trufa (Corvina ceviche with truffle) and Arroz Nikkei (Chilean sea bass casuela) created by Executive Chef, Sanjay Dwivedi and served in the South American inspired dining room. As the DJ plays chilled house you can relax while the in-house nanny keeps the kids entertained (Sundays only FYI). Situated opposite Green Park and 5 minute walk from Bond Street it’s the perfect location to take a break from some serious window shopping.
London best English breakfast
Two of our favourite spots for a trad fry-up…
Bibendum, Fulham Road
Bibendham, Fulham Road
There’s a bit of a story behind this one so bear with us: Bibendum is named after the Michelin man (yes, the Michelin man). He’s actually known as Monsieur Bibendum, a name which comes from the Latin phrase Nunc est Bibendum which translates as ‘now is the time to drink’. While this may be a slightly inappropriate name for a mascot used to advertise car tyres, it’s a bloody great name for a restaurant. With all that in mind, we’d recommend heading there for the two most important Bs in life: breakfast and a Bloody Mary.
Parlour, Regent Street
Parlour, Regent Street
Parlour’s quirky breakfast menu features classics such as smoked salmon with scrambled eggs as well as their full English Parlour Breakfast. You can also DIY at their toast station with some fresh baked bread.
Have you got a favourite breakfast place in London? Tell us in the comments section below.
Emma Watson is known for her feminist campaigning, and the star’s latest demonstration of activism comes through her open letter to Dr. Savita Halappanavar, a woman who died in 2012 after being denied an abortion in Ireland.
Savita died after experiencing a septic miscarriage at 17 weeks into her pregnancy and – despite requesting one early on and needing one to potentially save her life – was denied an abortion as doctors could already detect a heartbeat (meaning abortion was illegal).
Working with Porter, Emma shared a letter to Dr Savita, making it clear that Savita’s tragic death was one of the main catalysts for the Irish abortion referendum this year.
The letter begins:
“You didn’t want to become the face of a movement; you wanted a procedure that would have saved your life. When news of your death broke in 2012, the urgent call to action from Irish activists reverberated around the world – repeal the Eighth Amendment of the Irish Constitution.”
It then continues:
“A promise to the departed and a rallying call to society, we chant: never again. But it is rare that justice truly prevails for those whose deaths come to symbolize structural inequality. Rarer still is a historic feminist victory that emboldens the fight for reproductive justice everywhere…”
“That the eighth amendment enabled valuing the life of an unborn fetus over a living woman was a wake-up call to a nation. For you, and those forced to travel to the UK to access safe, legal abortion, justice was hard-won.”
Emma finished the letter on a positive note, suggesting more work needs to be done but that we must look to the future:
“In your memory, and towards our liberation, we continue the fight for reproductive justice.”
Whether you’re living and working in the city full time, or are need of a bit of downtime, the best facials in London are a must to have on your radar.
They’re a great way to take things up a gear from your best face masks for more intensive results, so we’ve scoured the city from east to west to bring you the definitive guide to the top facialists and treatment options in the city.
For several weeks I’ve made it my life’s mission to find the best facials in London, whether the end goal is clearer skin, a brighter and firmer complexion, or simply de-stressing the mind. But a girl only has one face and one skin type, so I enlisted the help of the most reliable guinea pigs I know – the MC digital team.
Getting monthly facials would be the dream, but in reality it’s a treat you save up for. So consider these the ones worth stashing your pennies away for when it’s time to treat yo-self. You deserve it.
‘The first thing you need to know about this seriously relaxing facial – and boy, is it a good one – is that included in the price is an an hour of chill in the ESPA Life at Corinthia facilities beforehand. That’s steam room, sauna, chill, the works. I had to double check that my booking confirmation email wasn’t too good to be true. As someone who really struggles to switch off, this alone makes it incredibly good value as you’re already significantly calmed going in to the facial. I could just pack up and end the review there, but I won’t.
‘What comes next in one of the treatment pods is a thorough skin analysis under a UV lamp, then a delicous-smelling combination of triple cleanse, steaming and extraction (that you barely even notice because you are too zen), followed by a treatment mask. It’s a facial, so there’s facial massage and lymphatic drainage involved, but you’re also treated a bit of massage on the head, neck, shoulders, arms and hands, as well as exfoliation of the latter two.
You know when you remember having the facial, but you were so relaxed that you sort of don’t at the same time, because you were off floating on a cloud somewhere? Yeah. That. I’m already experiencing ESPA Life withdrawal syndrome and I desperately need to go back for another fix.’ – Lucy Abbersteen, Digital Beauty Writer
How much is it?
£140 for 60 minutes, or £190 for 90 minutes, at Corinthia London
‘I had always heard excellent things about Sisley Paris, so when an opportunity arose to try out their signature facial at Claridge’s, I leapt at the chance. I’d recommend arriving a little early in order to make the most of the stunning changing room (it’s literally an Instagram gold mine) and to spend some time reclining with a coffee in your fluffy robe and plush slippers. But that was nothing compared to the 60 minutes of pure relaxation that followed. I’m generally quite an uptight person, but this treatment switched me off in seconds.
‘Sisley is renowned for its scientific approach, using only the finest natural ingredients, and after deciding that my treatment should focus on hydration, my facialist went about choosing the right plant extracts and essential oils for my skin. Then came my signature facial, catered specifically to my skin and its needs. Lavender, rosemary, sage, geranium – you name an essential oil, it went on my skin in the form of gentle cleansers, serums and scrubs.
‘The highlight was the nourishing mask – which was quite literally bandaged to my face – and while it sunk in, I was treated to a surprise foot massage. It was pure luxury and I left the spa considerably more relaxed, not to mention, my skin was GLOWING.
‘For me, this kind of facial is ideal. It wasn’t hugely informative and it wasn’t a skin consultation; but that’s not why I went, nor is it what I personally look for in a facial. I don’t need someone to tell me about my skin, I just need to relax and feel pampered, something it offers in spades. If you want to know the ins and the outs of your complexion or try off the wall methods and violent extractions, this isn’t the treatment for you. But if like me, you want to lie on a warm bed and switch off for an hour as an expert facialist calms your senses and nourishes your skin with the most luxurious oils, look no further. Can I go and have another one now?’ – Jenny Proudfoot, Junior Digital News Editor
How much is it?
£120 for 60 minutes, or £165 for 90 minutes, at Claridge’s
For the uninitiated, Omorovicza are skincare Dons. Conceived in Budapest, and harnessing the infamous ‘healing’ powers of Hungary’s thermal waters, Omorovicza’s products and facials (I’m looking at you Elemental Emulsion and your everlasting wait list…) have been a mainstay in my otherwise ever-evolving beauty routine. They look great, smell great, work great and never once have they made my unruly skin breakout.
Tucked away in the heart of the Liberty store, the Omorovicza Treatment Rooms act like little slices of Budapest; they’re peaceful, dimly lit (no one wants a facial with a side order of fluorescent strip lighting) and smell incredible thanks to the unique blends that subtly flood the air.
After an initial skin consultation (I wanted hydration and glow), I opted for the Illumination facial, which all sounded very Harry Potter so I was there for it. I was so thoroughly relaxed, that the many varied elements of the facial merged into one hour of facial bliss, but the signature element consists of a gentle copper peel (don’t be alarmed by the slight tingle, my skin showed no sign of redness after it finished) and an energising facial massage that I was convinced made my skin more buoyant. And of course, plentiful spritzes of the cult Queen of Hungary Mist in-between.
After a quick hit of SPF for the journey home, the facial was over. My skin looked dewy, plumped and yes, GLOWY. With no sign of irritation or redness, this facial is a goer for pre-event skin boosting. Omorovicza, I bow down. – Holly Rains, Digital Editor
How much is it?
£125 for 60 minutes at Liberty London, redeemable against Omorovicza products on the day
Facial legend Kate Kerr and her right-hand woman Michelle (who I met with) are based out of Mondrian London, overlooking the Thames. It should be noted from the get-go that this is a thorough skincare session, so if you are looking purely for relaxation there is much more to this facial than that. Michelle and I discussed my complexion in great depth, and then she got stuck in. After serious deep cleansing, she hand picked treatment masks to target my skin’s congestion and brighten the overall tone. She then got down to business, really paying attention to every area of my face when it came to extraction, not just the nose and chin.
‘The treatment rooms are very chic and minimal, and there’s zen music playing for the whole duration of your treatment – not too tinny, not too over the top and not too ‘pinky-plonky’ – which I find really helps me to zone out while someone is sorting out my face. If you want your skin thoroughly analysed, complexion cleaned up to look healthier and brighter, and a bespoke skincare routine at the end of it to boot, this one is for you. You’ll understand your skin so much more when you leave and I can’t recommend Michelle enough, both as a facialist and to chat to!’ – Lucy Abbersteen, Digital Beauty Writer
How much is it?
From £150, or £230 with Kate Kerr herself, Mondrian London
‘If blackheads are your biggest skin woe, this treatment is one of the big guns when it comes to giving skin a deep-clean. My now-husband’s nose REALLY needed clearing before our wedding day, so he was the perfect candidate to put Eve Lom’s Ultimate Cleanse to the test. It’s pretty unique as the treatment involves applying hot paraffin wax onto the skin to heat the skin, which in turn really opens up your pores, so that the therapist can get all of the built-up gunk out. And they really, really layer the wax on. At first, it feels pretty peculiar, unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before, but the warmth from is calming and therepeutic. The wax is essentially painted on with a brush in rhythmic motions and it feels like pure heaven.
‘Once your skin is ready (aka warmed to perfection) your pores are basically the most open they’ll ever be, which means the therapist has easy access to all the nastiness. If you think about how much pressure you usually have to apply to remove blackheads, it’s the opposite after the wax – next to no pressure is needed. To ensure the skin stays warm, the therapist rips the wax off bit by bit, only working on small areas at a time. It’s called the ultimate cleanse and it’s exactly that. If anyone needs a full on skin clean (and those men who don’t do anything to their skin really do), this is IT.’ – Katie Thomas, Digital Beauty Editor
‘As with all Decleor treatments, this facial started with a back diagnostic (bear with me). This involves the therapist looking at your back to reveal why your skin is behaving in a certain way, by gently stimulating pressure and reflex points. This revealed that I was stressed and hormonal, as my lower back was quite hot (I was in fact about to come on my period). I honestly found it fascinating as I believe the way to great skin is understanding how it behaves. This was followed by cleansing, a lymphatic drainage massage to remove toxins and pollution and replenish moisture. The rest is tailored to your skin concerns, and as mine was congested, I had a purifying mask and scrub to remove dead skin cells.
‘My skin obviously felt amazing afterwards – glowing and smooth – but what I loved is that it’s an overall super relaxing experience. Whilst Decleor products are working hard tonight the damaging effects of pollution, the therapist massages everything from my face to my shoulders and limbs, really releasing tension. Because how can your face glow if the rest of your body is strained?’ – Penny Goldstone, Digital Fashion Editor
How much is it?
£75 for 75 minutes at the Decléor Day Boutique and Day Spa, also nationwide
‘After chatting with my ELEMIS therapist about my skin woes over a piping hot cup of tea, she sat me down in front of a machine that scanned and analysed my face to discover what my problem issues were. Once she had a better idea of what my skin needed, she then told me that the Biotec Radiance Renew Facial was the ideal one as it was designed to even out your skin tone, restore radiance and reduce dark circles (all things that were issues I flagged in our consultation). It included a facial massage, ultrasonic peeling technology – this electronic spatula that weirdly feels like they’re shaving your face, but miraculously does away with any dead skin – and their radiance activator packed with anti-oxidants, hyaluronic acid and peptides that had me glowing for days afterwards. The entire session finished off with a cooling gel mask.
‘Although it was of course super relaxing, I really loved that the main focus was on helping me get the best skin I could – both during the session and in the future once I’d left. It really felt like a mixture between a pampering session and a consultation with a skin expert, so it’s perfect for those who want to get serious and nail their skincare routine. Also the ultrasonic peeling was kind of intimidating at first (it hums like crazy and stings a little) but it did absolute wonders.
‘I literally have never glowed like that in my life and I was coming off a pretty dark, hungover weekend. I really loved that they not only took my issues into consideration, my therapist really took the time to help me boost my at-home regimen – as I had relatively dry skin, she recommended I start oil cleansing and then gave me a small card at the end with a proposed skincare routine moving forwards. Just so great.’ – Megan C. Hills, Digital Lifestyle Writer
How much is it?
£110 for 60 minutes, or £160 for 90 minutes, at the House of Elemis
‘There are three reasons why you should go and get a Sunday Riley facial at Hershesons salon. 1) Because you walk out with skin so happy, bouncy and glowy that it’s practically singing. 2) Because this is the only place in the world (yah huh) where you can get a Sunday Riley treatment. 3) Because of Iris.
‘It’s not often that I tell people to go for a facial because of the therapist. Typically, my recommendations are results-based. Don’t get me wrong this facial gives good – no, GREAT – results, but I have to tell you that Iris had me at hello. She asked me about every product that I use, wanted to know the brand name, how often I use them and when. She does this because she wants to know what your skin is used to and what it can and can’t handle.
‘The facial itself is part relaxation – the cleansing, the mask, the lymphatic facial massage, the hilarious chatter with Iris, and part punch – a combination of red light LED and cryotherapy. Don’t worry at all about the LED, which boosts collagen – you can’t feel a thing, and while that’s going on Iris is at the bottom of the giant bed relieving all of the tension from your toes.
‘But the cryotherapy, the cryotherapy took my breath away. Not because it was painful, because it’s so damn cold and my body does this funny thing when it’s super cold – it’s like it’s confused and forgets how to work. I’ve done cryotherapy chambers before and the same thing happened then, I couldn’t regulate my breath. I had to close my eyes and tell myself to breathe in and breathe out. But don’t panic, because Iris is there the whole time making you laugh and making you feel so comfortable.
‘Once she’s finished blasting your face with sub–zero air, give your face a little touch, you won’t believe how cold it is. But that chilliness fights signs of inflammation, so it’s all good. Iris then applies your favourite Sunday Riley products and you’re good to go. When you sit up, you’ll notice the change. You’re a little pinker (in a good way) and a little tighter. And you’ll be smiling, because Iris is by your side.’ – Katie Thomas, Digital Beauty Editor
‘Su-Mans facial is legendary’ – that’s the opening line on the about section of Su-Man’s website. Punchy? Yes. Hyperbole? Absolutely not. In fact, it’s impossible not to verge on hyperbole territory when talking about this facial. ‘This was a life changing experience,’ ‘Su-Man has magical hands/is a wizard’ – all words that have left my mouth after having this treatment.
That’s it for me now. I keep thinking, ‘How will I ever go to a “normal” facial ever again?’ I’m truly done for. I now refer to time BS and AS (before Su-Man and after Su-Man). It’s 2018 AS, and I worship at the altar of Su-Man.
Su-Man’s background is in Shiatsu, dance and pilates. So as you’d imagine, the facial is peppered with targeted massage and relaxation tailored to your individual needs. After my neck and shoulders were worked on – all the tension builds up to your neck and jawline – my ears were massaged to stimulate lymphatic drainage, using the most beautiful products. From the watermelon-based gel cleanser to the mask that made me crave chocolate cake, it was all divine.
Su-Man gives you a mirror to marvel at the results yourself. It’s like time stops still. And, if you’re anything like me and hate looking in the mirror, you’ll take the mirror with reservation. But anyway, there you sit, mirror in hand and you really look at yourself. Like, REALLY look at yourself. Part of the Su-Man philosophy is not only looking good but FEELING good. Maybe it was her super calming and caring nature rubbing off on me, or maybe it was because she told me my skin is great, but looking in the mirror I think, okay, I look alright. Actually, scratch that, I look good.
On the day of my great awakening, I did a double take after walking past my bathroom mirror. Hang on, does my jaw look more defined? I stroke my jawline to make sure it’s real.
Later I’m sitting at the dinner table and my hand grazes my chin. ‘What has she done to my face?’, I think to myself. ‘Maybe she IS a wizard?’
Can a facial be a life changing experience? I think so… – Sunil Makan, Associate Editor
How much is it?
£250 at Agua Spa, Sanderson London; call 020 7300 1414 to book now
A new study has revealed which cities women are apparently least satisfied with their sex lives.
The research, conducted by feminine hygiene products Woo Woo, revealed that Oxford is the city where women are least satisfied with the sex they are having with their partners; a colossal 58% of women who took part said so.
This was closely followed by 56% in Bristol, 55% in Brighton and 53% in Glasgow.
The lowest ten are as follows:
Oxford – 58 percent
Bristol – 56 percent
Brighton – 55 percent
Glasgow – 53 percent
Cardiff – 52 percent
Newcastle- 52 percent
Nottingham – 50 percent
Edinburgh – 49 percent
Liverpool – 47 percent
Manchester – 45 percent
The study also revealed a number of things about women and their sex lives. The average female apparently has sex twice a week on average – but actually would like to be having it FIVE times a week. Woah.
In fact, three-quarters of the women interviewed said they wished they were having more sex and as many as 60% of the women polled wanted ‘better’ sex than they are currently experiencing.
Lucy Anderson, founder of Woo Woo said of the results:
“We wanted to find out how much fun modern women are actually having between the sheets, and whether they are getting the pleasure and excitement they deserve. It’s great to see women admitting to wanting more sex, women like sex just as much as men and shouldn’t be afraid to admit it or be shamed for doing so.”
Since Meghan Markle and the Hubb Community Kitchen launched their joint cookbook, sales of the book have gone through the roof and it’s become something of a sensation. The project, titled Together: Our Community Cookbook, has become a bestseller internationally and especially here in the UK. It’s great news for the charity kitchen as all the proceeds from the book have gone towards their efforts. It’s pretty wild how quickly it’s taken off, given that it was launched literally last Wednesday.
According to PEOPLE, the book has racked up close to 11,000 sales in the UK which is pretty wild and is currently the sixth most sold book on Amazon US. Amazon UK also revealed that currently, it’s the third best selling book in the food and drink category – trailing behind Jamie Cooks Italy and Deliciously Ella The Plant-Based Cookbook.
We also chatted with Bea Carvalho, Waterstones’ Cookery Buyer, as the book’s doing fantastically well with brick and mortar shops too. Although she couldn’t divulge the book’s sales statistics, it’s apparently been a real winner since it landed on their shelves.
Bea said, ‘We’ve been really pleased with the success of Together. The press and social media activity following the announcement generated a huge number of pre-orders, and created a real sense of occasion in our shops when the books arrived.’
‘Our sales continue to be strong and show no signs of slowing down, and the response we’ve had from our customers has been overwhelmingly positive,’ she continued. ‘We’re very proud to be helping to raise much needed money for this very worthy cause.’
Last week’s launch was literally everywhere when it happened as well, as it was one of Meghan’s first high profile projects as a member of the royal family. Her mother Doria Ragland also came along to show her support and Prince Harry was spotted beaming with pride as she whizzed around, totally in her element. Even if he did sneak off with a couple of samosas when he wasn’t supposed to.
The book features a foreword by the Duchess of Sussex, who met the team behind The Hubb Community Kitchen when she volunteered to cook with them for the survivors of the Grenfell Tower Fire. The BBC reported that Meghan said she felt ‘immediately embraced by the women in the kitchen’ and hailed the diversity of people who had come together as ‘pretty outstanding’.
Featuring over 50 recipes from places as different as the Middle East and North Africa, the cookbook is a meaningful reflection of London’s diverse population.
Together: Our Community Cookbook is available now both on Amazon UK and at Waterstones. Priced at just £9.99, all of its proceeds go towards funding the Hubb Community Kitchen.
October is a pivotal month in the calendar – it marks the start of Autumn, the approach of Halloween, but more importantly it’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Breast cancer is still the most common cancer in the UK. 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed in their lifetime and around 11,500 of those will lose their lives to this devastating disease. So showing your support this October is as vital as ever. Getting a cancer diagnosis is hard, but this initiative is all in aid of raising money for vital scientific research and support for those affected.
From the familiar fuschia ribbon – the symbol of the campaign – to limited edition beauty products from some of the industry’s best-loved brands, October is all about the colour pink.
There are plenty of ways for you to get involved, show support and help raise funds. Want to do your bit? We’ve rounded up the (mostly pink) products that are donating to breast cancer charities during October.
Elemis Pro-Collagen Rose Cleansing Balm
The Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm is quite literally the best cleanser on the planet – the thick balm removes every trace of make-up from your face. The new rose scented one makes it even better. If that’s even possible?! And of course with rose, comes the colour pink. Sales from the pink-packaged pot will go towards a £25,000 target donation from ELEMIS to Breast Cancer Care – the charity they have supported for 18 years.
Philip Kingsley No Scent No Colour Shampoo and Conditioner
A little known fact is that Philip Kingsley first created the No Scent No Colour shampoo and conditioner for his wife, Joan, after she was diagnosed with cancer in 2006. The hair specialist saw first hand how difficult it was for those undergoing cancer treatment to find the right shampoo and conditioner; Joan couldn’t use any products containing perfumes or colours, but still wanted to use products that made her feel good about herself.
He then created No Scent No Colour specifically for her, and it’s now available others having chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
For every 75ml bottle sold, 25p will go to breast cancer charity Look Good Feel Better, who work to support the well-being and confidence of those undergoing cancer treatment. And 50p from sales of every 250ml bottle will also be donated to the charity. Going that one step further, these donations happen throughout the year, not just October.
This hair mask is pretty darn good. The combination of coconut and fig helps to restore dry, damaged, dyed (basically really sad hair) back to it’s virginal state – hence the name. 20% of the profits from sales of their hair mask in October go to Coppafeel – the charity that helps to educate females about the signs and symptoms of the disease and to encourage regular self-checking. Along with the mask, you get a Tangle Teaser, which is worth £11. Winning all around really.
‘I’m the Tits’ – the slogan that’s emblazoned on Sand & Sky’s slinky pink robe. Why? Because they believe every woman should feel like they’re the tits. *Orders one for every female friend* 30% of profits made on the robe, £24.95, or the robe and Sand & Sky Flash Perfection Exfoliating Treatment combo, £49.90 go towards Look Good Feel Better.
Invisibobble Slim Time To Pink Hair Tie – Limited Edition Breast Cancer Edition
You always need a hair tie. Always. So why not make it one that does good? Throughout September, Invisibobble fans have been voting for an initiative closest to their hearts (you still have until Sunday to have your say) that will receive 25% of the earnings made from the sales of the above hair ties.
Having watched his wife courageously battle with breast cancer, RevitaLash C.E.O Michael Brinkenhoff M.D honours his wife’s memory by raising money from sales of the lash kits for research initiatives, including City of Hope organisation.
The company is in talks with cannabis producers to create a wellness drink that improves pain
GP and author Dr Ellie Cannon is our resident expert on all things health. Here are her 3 top stories for this week.
1. Coca-Cola is working on a range of marijuana-infused drinks
Could the world’s favourite drink soon contain added cannabis? We’ve seen the secret formula change over the years to reduce sugar or add flavourings but this is a whole new horizon for the famous drink. Rumour has it this month that the drinks giant are in talks with cannabis producers to adopt a range of marijuana-infused drinks. The aim it is thought is not to get high but rather as a wellness drink to improve pain: it would not contain the psychoactive THC but rather cannabidiol. Interestingly, this would be a back-to-roots move for the drink which was originally sold as a hangover cure when it first came to market. The debates around the health benefits and uses of cannabis continue to rumble but it’s important to stay realistic. The medicinal value of cannabis has been vastly overplayed by lobbyists – there is certainly evidence it can help in pain and spasms for multiple sclerosis for example, but not as a panacea for cancer, epilepsy and migraine. Recent high profile cases of legal medicinal cannabis-use in the UK have compelled the home secretary to review the use of medicinal cannabis which is important – but if it were to be adopted as a medical drug it would only be prescribed for a small number of very specific cases.
There is evidence that cannabis can help in pain and spasms for multiple sclerosis
2. How to get your daily dose of vitamin D
Vitamin D deficiency is a common issue which I feel I talk about with patients most days. After an amazingly sunny summer you should be well topped up with the vitamin that is made when your skin is exposed to the sun, but that will start to deplete as winter comes. 80% of your vitamin D comes from UVb light on your skin. This causes a particular problem in winter as very little UVb radiation even reaches the Earth’s surface. And with the sensible and hopefully universal use of SPF in cosmetics and sun cream, many women are deficient the whole year round. Vitamin D deficiency causes vague symptoms of tiredness, aches and pains, muscle pains or bone pain in the back or legs. Your vitamin D level is easily measured on a blood test but even without a blood test it is wise to supplement as the autumn sets in: in fact it is government advice for all adults. Women of South Asian, African or Afro-caribbean background are particularly at risk of low vitamin D, as darker skin requires more sunshine to manufacture the vitamin. A 400iu supplement daily is recommended for everyone throughout the winter: it is essential for optimizing bone density.
Vitamin D deficiency causes vague symptoms of tiredness, aches and pains
3. Why it’s worth getting a £10 flu shot
Should you be thinking about a flu vaccine? Nothing spells the end of summer more than the adverts for flu vaccines in pharmacies and GP surgeries. But is it for you? Of course there are many vulnerable groups who are recommended a flu vaccine such as carers or those with diabetes or asthma. But if you’re young and healthy it can be worth opting into the jab which often costs as little as £10 in the high street pharmacies. For the vulnerable, flu can be a serious illness meaning a hospital stay and possible health complications. For healthy people it is usually an unpleasant illness lasting at least a week. Many healthy people opt into a flu jab simply because it’s inconvenient to be ill for that length of time, particularly if you’ve got a busy time at work or an important project on the go. It is very common for self-employed and freelancers to take one to avoid the strain and stress of a week or more off work. Whilst it’s a good idea, remember it’s not completely guaranteed: the flu vaccination for 2018 will protect you from 4 strains of flu but sadly you’ll still be susceptible to the usual coughs and colds.
The flu vaccination for 2018 will protect you from 4 strains of flu
From the warning signs and causes to how it can be managed…
Fibromyalgia is a condition that has probably slipped under your radar until recently, but it is actually more widespread than you would think, with one person in 25 thought to suffer from it.
The chronic condition affects the bone and muscles, causing widespread pain, but it only became a viral talking-point recently when Desert Island Discs host, Kirsty Young, announced that she would be taking a break from her presenting duties for ‘a number of months’ due to suffering from the syndrome.
But what is Fibromyalgia? What are the warning signs? And can you tell if you’re suffering from it?
International bestselling author Claire Allan is a longterm Fibromyalgia sufferer – something she sat down with us to explain.
‘I was given a preliminary diagnosis of Fibromyalgia three months before I turned forty, in 2016,’ she recalled of her condition. ‘I had been in a really good place in my life.’
Here is here story…
What were your first symptoms of Fibromyalgia?
Just over a year from a Sepsis scare, I started to experience pain and stiffness in my hands. It felt almost flu-like but no flu ever arrived. Some days the pain was so bad that I could not hold a pen to write, nor could I type. I was working as a journalist, as well as a novelist, at the time and it made my work impossible. There was no way I could manage to take notes in court, or during interviews. I initially thought it was some kind of virus and when I first went to see my GP – after symptoms persisted and started to spread – I expected that she would tell me that but that it would reassure me that I would be back to full health soon. Warning bells were starting to ring with me though. I was increasingly absolutely exhausted to the point where I simply could not keep my eyes open.
The aches, pains and stiffness spread to my legs and hips. It felt as if I had done the most intense leg day at the gym all the time. Along with the stiffness, my legs were shaky and there were times when I left my daughter (who was seven at the time) to school and found myself staggering on the short walk back to the car. I was increasingly concerned people would think I was drunk.
What symptoms have you experienced?
Over the course of the last two and half years I’ve experienced so many symptoms – and they change and move about all the time. By far the most persistent is the constant low level pain, predominantly in my legs and arms. This can flare to a point where even the touch of clothes can prove painful. My muscles are constantly tense and feel strained.
But along with the pain, there are other symptoms. Brain fog can make life as a writer difficult. As well as just not being able to think of the words and phrases I should know, there are times when words simply get stuck in my head. I can visualise the words, hear them in my head even but I simply cannot say them. Fatigue can be debilitating – and with that at times comes depression that I’m not able to do what I want to or what I used to. Fibromyalgia can also cause gastric issues, so nausea can be a big issue for me as well.
What do you think caused your Fibromyalgia?
Looking back there were times when I had experienced some of these symptoms before the big flare up in 2016. There is evidence that stress can ‘activate’ a person’s predisposition to Fibromyalgia. The start of 2016 had been particularly difficult for me. We suffered a bereavement, the loss of my beloved grandmother following as 12 year battle with Alzheimer’s and I found the mixed emotions surrounding her death very hard to come to terms with. I was also going through a stressful time professionally, both in journalism and in my writing career and I was making some big decisions. I also believe that my Sepsis experience the year before may have played a role. Many people develop Fibromyalgia following surgery or serious illness.
How do you manage your Fibromyalgia?
It’s a constant balancing act, to be honest. Primarily, I treat the condition through taking some pretty heavy dose painkillers (slow release Tramadol) along with Amitriptyiline, an old style anti-depressant known to help with nerve pain in the morning and evening. For break-through pain I can top up a little with fast release Tramadol, although I don’t like how I feel when I take that. It means I’m unfit to drive, and not fully ‘with it’ so it very much limits what I can do. At times I have to work through the pain due to parental/ work responsibilities. I also use CBD Oil, either through drops or vaping (I was never a smoker, so I’ve had to learn to ‘smoke’ to use an e-cig) which can provide quick and effective relief. Medication isn’t the biggest factor though. I have to manage my life, make sure to do some exercise, but not too much. Try to keep my stress levels relatively low. Rest when I need to. That means at times resting before a big event or busy day, and factoring in rest time for afterwards as well.
How has Fibromyalgia affected your day to day life?
It has completely transformed my life. I left my journalism career, and now work from home so I can work around my condition. I can rest when I need to and pace myself a little better. The hardest thing about the condition is not being able to do everything I want to do – and I’m not just talking about the fun things. I can’t, for example, do a lot of housework without bringing on a pain flare. I can’t run about with my children the way I used to, my legs simply don’t work like that any more. I frequently have to cancel plans at the last minute because a flare up can hit without warning and trying to battle through it can just make things worse in the long run. Tasks are split up into manageable bite size pieces. On tough days, even showering can require a mammoth amount of effort. My social life has been hit particularly hard. Every event or night out has to be planned for, prepared for through resting before and factoring in resting afterwards. It leaves very little room for spontaneity. Thankfully I have wonderfully supportive friends and family. My guilt as a mother is harder to deal with. When things are very bad, all I can do it rest and it kills me I can’t do everything I feel a mother should do.
What is the most common misconception of Fibromyalgia?
That it’s not real, and sufferers are just hypochondriacs. I really, really wish it wasn’t real and that I was just making this all up! I’ve been lucky to have a GP who is massively supportive but I know of many people who have had their symptoms dismissed. People with Fibro aren’t malingerers – far from it, but we can be made to feel that way. Conversely, Fibro does not mean the end of your world. Your life will change, but you can still live a life and work towards your goals. It’s just different. I still work, albeit from home, most days. I’m still managing to have a career as a writer. I won’t let it win.
How much support is there out there for people with Fibromyalgia?
Not as much as there should be. I’ve found it very hard to find a face to face support network. The online community is great – but I always urge caution because it can also be very daunting for someone recently diagnosed. Everyone’s experience of Fibro is varied so you really can’t know what you will experience based on what someone else has been through. Trying to retain some positivity is very important, as if having faith that you can come through this.
If you think you might be suffering with Fibromyalgia, contact your GP.
Crazy Rich Asians has just come to our screens, and unsurprisingly it is set to be the film of the year.
The strong female leads, the food porn (do not watch this film without snacks), the fashion (we’re talking Elie Saab, Dior, custom-made Michael Cinco and Carven Ong) and the many life lessons we can take away from it. But the film has of course become such a talking point because of the Asian representation (the first all-Asian cast in a major studio film in 25 years).
Junior Digital News Editor Jenny Proudfoot sat down with Crazy Rich Asians‘ leading ladies, Gemma Chan and Constance Wu, to talk high class couture, Asian representation, and why now is not the time for Crazy Rich Asians, it’s long past due.
Constance Wu and Gemma Chan in Crazy Rich Asians. Credit: Warner Bros
Crazy Rich Asians is such a long time coming, why do you think it took so long?
Gemma: To be honest, I don’t know. It’s been 25 years since there’s been a mainstream Hollywood movie with an all Asian cast and yeah, it feels like the film is somewhat overdue. There was the belief that if you have a film with non-white leads, it won’t sell abroad or that it will only have a niche audience, but these things have just been proved untrue.
Constance: There hasn’t really been an evocative voice that demands attention rather than expresses gratitude for belonging until recently. You know, in Asian-American culture there is an assumption that you play by the rules. But then when you have a voice as evocative and provocative as we do here, it causes people to think differently – it causes conversation and we need to have more conversation. We live in countries where we can express and so we should express. That’s what happened here. There were people who were willing to speak out and that started giving other people the confidence to express themselves, their views and their identities. And I think that when people see there is more than one voice out there with talent, that there are lots of different voices with talent out there, then they start paying attention.
What initially drew you in?
Constance: It’s a number one lead in a studio movie, and despite definitely having Asian actors that are worthy of it, it hasn’t really happened before. Sandra Oh for example is tremendous – and she should have been the star of her own movie ages ago, but she’s always been the number two or number three. She even said with Killing Eve when she read the script she just assumed that she was number two because it just doesn’t happen. Don’t get me wrong – number two is great, number three is great, everybody who is a supporting cast member is fantastic and it’s awesome. But it’s when the industry expects a certain ethnicity to only do that and to just be grateful for that, that’s when we have to ask for more.
Gemma: I think the conversation has really got going in earnest now and I hope Asian representation isn’t just a trend – I don’t think we can go back and I think people are now going to demand diverse and authentic storytelling, because there is a want for it. It has been proven – people will show up. They will get a babysitter on a Friday night and they will pay their hard-earned money to go to the cinema to see movies like this.
Constance: This is going to sound cocky but yes. To everyone else it’s been a surprise but not to me – not because I thought I’m such hot shit but because this happened to me with my TV show, Fresh Off the Boat, on a smaller scale so I knew there was a drought of content of Asian-American pop culture and I knew that people would be moved to see their faces represented on television in a modern way. Nobody was talking about it before so it wasn’t an apparent problem, but it couldn’t not have been a hit because of the time we’re in. Right now, you don’t have to work for the major news stations to have a voice; if you have something provocative to say that is actually good, it will spread around.
Gemma: I certainly felt the film had potential to be something really special – I had read the books and I’d already fallen in love with the characters – but you never know whether that’s necessarily going to translate – whether all the elements that need to come together will actually come together to make a film work. We all had high hopes, we all worked incredibly hard and we had an amazing director who kept all the plates spinning but yeah, when I watched it for the first time I was blown away. It made me really emotional. It made me realise that I’d never seen people on screen that looked like my family – like my granny – it was incredible for me just as a viewer to see that and to realise how much of a lack of representation there’s been in the past.
Chrissy Teigen said she had never seen her family represented on screen either…
Gemma: That was amazing and I completely identify with it. My mum and dad saw the film for the first time last night and my mum was really emotional when I saw her afterwards. She started crying quite early on. There was a song on the soundtrack – a Chinese song – that she hadn’t heard since her childhood. It was what her mum used to sing to her and her dad. Sadly they’ve both passed now and so for her it was a really emotional thing – she never expected to hear that in a Hollywood film so it was just an amazing moment for us.
How did you get the part?
Constance: I was approached for the role by the director, Jon, and I couldn’t do it because of my television shooting schedule, but I knew it was going to be a smash – not just financially but in people’s hearts. So I just let it go and he auditioned a bunch of other girls, but I knew how much it was going to mean so one day I wrote him a really impassioned email. It wasn’t long – it just said why it was going to be meaningful to me and to kids growing up and what I would do with the part. I wished him all the success with the project regardless of whether I got a role, but I said ‘If you wait for me, I can and I will do it. I know how to carry a movie and you won’t regret it’. So then he did. They actually pushed the movie back! I know so many Asian actors or any actors, who are so scared to ask for what they want. I’m just like ‘what’s the worst that can happen?’
Gemma: Mine was relatively straightforward. I got the call from my agent that they wanted me to audition and sent off a tape, not expecting to hear anything back. I had asked to go for Astrid because I had fallen in love with her when I had read the books – and gosh she’s got a fabulous wardrobe. I went to L.A. and I met our director Jon M. Chu, and Nina, one of our producers, and heard about their vision for the film and then they offered me the part.
Talk me through filming…
Constance: We filmed in Singapore and Malaysia, and I think it took around 6-8 weeks – it was pretty fast. There were some real highs – the location, set design, the people and crew and the passion that everyone had for the project. But there were lows – the hours were long, and the weather!! It was hot and super humid every day – I don’t even know how my hair held up.
Gemma: Filming in the tropics is tough – the humidity and the heat was insane. You know, we had all those party scenes when the men were all dressed in their suits and gosh, I don’t know how they weren’t dropping like flies, I felt so, so sorry for them.
What were your favourite scenes to film?
Constance: My favourite scene to film was probably the dumpling scene because there’s so many different layers going on. There’s so many different generations at that table and there’s something about the act of making food with your hands that’s interesting. There’s so many different conflicts and relationships in that scene that are so subtle, and that’s what makes them real. When you sit down with family you’re not like, ‘I have issues with you because you were always better than me’. Instead you say something like ‘oh, you’re going to take all those mashed potatoes?’ – you do little cutting things that are sugar-coated – or should I say ‘dumpling-coated’! She’s taking it all in and seeing the family dynamics – there’s just so many things going on in that scene that I really think make it complex and alive.
Gemma: Mine was my final scene where Astrid is speaking to her husband, Michael. She finally stands up and asserts herself and it was a very satisfying scene to play. I think the arc of the character was really interesting – at the beginning, she’s taking a backseat and hiding her light, but by the end, she’s reasserting her power. I think it’s really refreshing that in this film, none of the women need saving. You’ve got at least four very different women, and none of them are waiting to be rescued. In fact, many of them have made sacrifices for the people in their lives but they figure out a way to save themselves really.
Constance: Yeah. Patriarchy is strong in Asian culture, but it’s nice that it’s more the matriarchy in this movie.
Can we talk about the fashion?
Gemma: Gosh, Astrid had such good clothes, and there’s so many to choose from, I couldn’t pick a favourite. I loved the Audrey Hepburn inspired outfit she makes her first entrance in – the shades, the pale pink drop-waist dress – I love that look. I also loved the Alexander McQueen dress, which I wore for the wedding – that was another one of my favourite scenes to film. I got to walk down the aisle with Lisa Lu, who plays Ah Ma, and she’s an incredible actress. She was in the last film that featured an all-Asian cast, The Joy Luck Club – 25 years ago, so it was lovely to have that continuity between that film and ours. She has such an amazing energy and I love working with her.
Why go watch Crazy Rich Asians?
Gemma: It’s the kind of film that you can see with your family and your friends – it’s a feel-good movie, but it has substance as well. You’ll laugh, you may cry and hopefully you’ll leave the cinema feeling like certain things have been affirmed. Our story is a specific story about this Chinese-Singaporean family but the themes are so universal. We’ve taken this film all over America and I’m amazed at the amount of people who’ve come up to me saying, ‘my family isn’t Asian but I completely identify with it’. There’s so much going on in that family and I think people can really relate to it.
Constance: And also just the scenery, the colours, the clothes, the food – it’s all just beautiful.
Well that we can all agree on – see you all there.