Friday, 18 April 2014

On relaxing

I've been working very, very hard recently.  Weeks and weeks of 6 thirteen hour days in a row then one day off.

As a freelancer it's incredibly tempting to accept every bit of work offered to you because there's always a little voice in your head saying, 'Take it whilst it's there.  Next month may be quiet'.  It's gotten to the point, however where I feel I'm close to burn out so I decided that I had to have some time off.  So I turned down work over Easter (eek!) and now I've got seven blissful days off.

I've been looking forward to it so much that I was surprised to find myself, pacing round the living room this morning going, 'What now? What should I do now?'  Yup, I've forgotten how to relax!  I'm so used to meeting deadlines, having to be somewhere, working like the clappers to deliver a show on time that I've actually forgotten how to take it easy.

So I intend, this week, to rediscover the slow life.

  • Sit and read a book with Radio 3 on in the background.
  • Go to a film on my own.  Probably the Yves Saint Laurent film.
  • Catch up with friends.  I have an old friend from high school who I haven't seen since we came over to London together more years ago than I care to remember.  We've been trying to arrange a meet-up for about six months now and I'm ashamed to say that it's always me who blows out because of work.  
  • Bake.  I love baking but it's time consuming so I haven't baked for ages.  I want to try and make a good & gooey chocolate cake.
  • Work my way through the box set of Breaking Bad.
How do you relax?  

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Hero beauty products - Superdrug facial masks

My Superdrug addiction crept up on me quite stealthily.  I'd find myself popping in for cotton wool pads but somehow leaving with £20/30 worth of stuff.  Before I knew it, I was shopping there almost every week.  The problem is, the stock is just too well curated.  It's the combination of niche brands and high street names, all very reasonably priced, that makes it so seductive and hard to ignore.

My favourite items are the individual Superdrug mask sachets, all priced at a whole 99p each.  Yes, I could drop £30 plus on a high end mask which would last me about six months but my skin needs change and sometimes that particular mask wouldn't be appropriate.  However with a stash of different mask sachets, all bases are covered.  

Looking tired because you've had a stressful week at work with lots of early starts and no time to eat properly?  The De-stressing mud mask will take care of that.

Just done 6 thirteen hour days on the trot in a dusty theatre and no matter how much you clean your face at the end of the day, you still look slightly grimy?  Look no further than the Deep Cleansing Fruit mask.  

Raisin face syndrome because you've done a long day teching a show and haven't drunk enough water because you can't keep running to the loo?  The Anti-Aging Moisture mask is your friend here.  The anti-aging bit is pretty handy too.

My favourite is definitely the Detoxifying Dead Sea Mask.  I adore the lavendery smell and it just perks up the complexion when you're looking a bit grey & dull.  

P.S.  I wasn't paid to write this review.  I just really like Superdrug.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Hero beauty product - Kiehl's Fig Leaf & Sage Aromatic Mist perfume

I bought this perfume for myself as a reward after one of my crazy work-all-hours-god-sends periods.

It's an unusual one for sure.  People either seem to love or hate it, but I really like it.

The packaging is clean & somewhat minimalist but retro.  White background, black lettering and a picture of the bottle inside.  No nonsense there.  The bottle itself continues the same minimalist retro theme - simple shape, clear glass, the retro Kiehls font embossed on to it and a silver cap.  With so much rather verbose, over the top perfume presentation around, I found this rather satisfying.

The perfume itself is strong.  The sweetness of the fig is counteracted by the sharpness of the sage.  It shouldn't work but it does.  Initially the sage is the foremost note but it settles into a rather warm, pleasing aroma.  At the risk of sounding like a press release, it really did remind me of sitting in a Mediterranean garden on a hot day.

I also liked the fact that you can buy it in both small and large size. Sometimes you want to treat yourself but can't spend too much money.

I think it's a great perfume for (hopefully) warm summer days.

*Edited 10/4/14

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Reflections on creativity

It's good to be back.

I've just been on one of those crazy production periods where you're working thirteen hours a day for six days a week.  It's hard work but I do enjoy it - seeing a show come to life before your eyes.

It fascinates me watching the creatives at work.  The starting point of a scene/show/piece of work is very different to the end product (inevitably lauded as something special).  It's that development process which I find incredibly inspiring.

I was working with a very well respected director recently whose whole thing was to avoid what he called 'usual'.  Not in a wacky, "I'm different, me" way but in an avoidance of mundanity and cliche.  We'd build a scene (which inevitably I'd find amazing) but he'd pace around the auditorium musing on how it wasn't working because it was too 'usual'.  He'd then spend ages on trying out discordant notes until he'd find something that worked.  Often it was only something minor like a light flashing where you wouldn't expect it but it introduced a vague sense of unease.

Besides a feeling of pride at being involved in such an amazing production, it left me with a better feeling of how to be creative.  I have lots of ideas but I often get frustrated because they don't seem to work.  I realised, after working with him, that your first go doesn't necessarily have to be any good, it's just the starting point.  I think the idea is to have knowledge of the 'grammar' of expressing an idea and know how to subvert it, or not, to tell your story.

Let me explain what I mean by 'grammar'...

We all know how to watch films/theatre etc.  When the Lumiere brothers first showed their film of a train pulling into a station to an unschooled audience, people were terrified because they didn't know how to read it - they just assumed it was an actual train coming towards them through the screen.


Over a hundred years later, we're so well versed in interpreting film it feels natural.  If we're watching a film for instance, we know that it's not a real time narrative but we suspend our disbelief for the 90 minutes of the film.  We know that the train is not going to emerge from the screen.  That knowledge of the conventions of what we're watching is the grammar.

Knowing the grammar but choosing to subvert and knowing how to subvert successfully was definitely part of the Famous Director's schtick.  I'm definitely going to try it in my own stuff.  

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Hero Beauty Product - Eve Lom Intense Hydration Serum

I wish I had more than a small sample of this.

Image via

It's one of those products that really worked for me right from the start.  

It feels more like a gel than a regular serum - clear in colour, thicker and slightly sticky in the way that gels often are.  I applied just like a regular serum by smoothing it over the face.  As it dried, I could feel it tightening.  For someone like me who has a droopy, jowly face this is a Good Thing.

I'd been through a tough stretch at work & my complexion was feeling particularly parched.  I can safely say that after applying this serum just once, my face felt noticeably less dry.  Not completely re-hydrated, because that would be impossible after just one application but that tight feeling you get with dry skin had subsided to easier levels.  

The sample only had three applications in it but even so, people started commenting on how good I was looking.

I found it worked best if I exfoliated my face first.

Friday, 7 March 2014

Beauty review - Jo Malone Wild Fig & Cassis candle.

There's certainly an impressive ritual to buying a Jo Malone candle.

The sales assistant will theatrically wrap the candle in black tissue paper then gently seat it in a posh black and cream box, spray some more sheets of black tissue paper with Jo Malone's latest fragrance, (in my case, Earl Grey & Cucumber), stuff the scented tissue paper around the candle in the box, put a cream ribbon around the box, put the box in one of those terribly chic Jo Malone carrier bags and put yet more scented tissue paper into the carrier bag around the box. The whole thing reminded me of that scene in Love Actually where Rowan Atkinson wrapped Alan Rickman's illicit purchase for his fancy woman.

After all that effort at presentation, I was very disappointed at how insipid the (extremely expensive) candle actually was.  If you stuck your nose on the candle and had a good sniff, it did smell gorgeous but the problem was, when you burnt it, the scent was very faint.  You could hardly smell it at all.  To be honest, I've had better results from a Yankee candle.  Occasionally, if I'd burnt it for a long time, like three hours, you could start to smell something but even then it didn't linger.  

Quite frankly, it was a waste of £39.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Beauty review - Yon Ka Phyto 52

Yon Ka Phyto 52 - firming, vivifying.

The first thing I had to do was find out exactly what 'vivifying' actually meant.

According to my online searches, this means to 'give or bring life to' or 'endow with life'.  Interesting claim for a face cream to make.

Let's see how we go...

The first thing I noticed was, how strong an odour it had.  I initially assumed it was camphor but camphor is not listed in the ingredients. The smell comes from a blend of lavender, geranium, rosemary, cypress and thyme essential oils.  It was so strong it actually made my eyes water slightly!  Seriously, pull back on the smells, Yon Ka.  Red watering eyes is not a good look.  And no, I didn't put it round the eye area.

Moving on from the overwhelming smell, it was very easy to apply. The texture is creamy and it absorbs quickly.  My incredibly parched complexion felt & looked fresh & rehydrated after just the first use.

And the firming bit?  It was difficult to tell.  I only had a small tester and I think things like that only become apparent after prolonged use.

My overall verdict is definitely meh.  The smell was overpowering.  The results were ok but I can get similar results without the watering eyes.


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