Showing posts with label Red. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Red. Show all posts

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

My favourite glossy magazine

Glossy magazines have always been a big part of my life. My mum started her career as a feature writer for Woman’s Mirror, a weekly magazine in the Sixties, and I can vividly remember the day she met me from primary school brandishing a tall retro coffee pot in her hand. She’d bought it with the proceeds of her first magazine commission and she was SO proud. So was I for that matter.

In the intervening years I’ve subscribed to scores of different magazines – from Vogue to Country Living – and even worked for a few myself. I love that exciting moment when they thump on to the doormat, usually a couple of days before you can buy them at the shops.

But in recent months I’ve cut the magazines I read down to two. I’m not sure why but I found that I was flicking through most of them and barely reading any articles. They all seemed a bit samey and dull.

There are two subscriptions I’ve hung on to though – for two magazines I reckon are head and shoulders above the rest. One is Grazia, the weekly magazine I’ve blogged about before, and the other is the utterly brilliant Red.

So what’s so great about Red? Well, for starters, it looks like a work of art. The photography is stunning and if I was a student I’d be half tempted to tear the fashion pages out and stick them on my walls. But more importantly, it’s full of stuff I actually want to read. Take the March issue. It’s got an At Home piece with novelist Maggie O’Farrell (I’m counting the days till her latest novel, Instructions for a Heatwave, is published on February 28), an interview with Noel Gallagher and a Q&A with the wonderful Tracey Thorn. The Everything But the Girl singer has just written a book about her life called Bedsit Disco Queen – my favourite book title of the year so far.

But as I flicked through the current issue’s 274 pages I was sad to see that the March issue is editor-in-chief Sam Baker’s last one. She’s leaving to write her next novel and have a go at being her own boss – which shows that she follows her own advice because Red is all about inspiring its readers and exhorting them to try new things.

So, from a loyal Oxford reader, all I can say is goodbye and good luck to Sam Baker. And thank you for all the amazing issues of Red you’ve published over the last six years.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Getting organised for Christmas

My mind’s been on Christmas since the summer. That's when I sat down to write my latest novella, White Christmas. As the rest of my family whizzed around enjoying the sunshine I was in a world of my own, dreaming about Christmas trees, advent calendars, carols, presents and snow.

But now my ebook is done and dusted, I’m busy getting sorted for Christmas. With friends and family scattered all over the place, it means being hyper-organised for once and making sure that the right presents get sent to the right place at the right time. I’ll never forget the awful year when I finished work in London on Christmas Eve, drove down to my parents in Dorset, laden (or so I thought) with presents, and then discovered I’d left the most important ones behind.

My problem is that I always get lulled into a false sense of security. I usually start my Christmas shopping in October, get loads done and then grind to a halt. Around the middle of December I have a major panic when I realise I haven’t done nearly as much as I thought I had.

But this year is different. Why? Because instead of keeping everything in my head (not a good idea when it’s clogged up with other stuff), I’ve actually written a list.  I’ve also downloaded the brilliant Red magazine's Christmas Kitchen Lifesaver app, which is keeping me on the straight and narrow about all the food I’ve got to buy.

But back to presents, my list is a work of art. I’ve scrawled the names of everyone I’m buying presents for in one column and when I need to post everything in the next. I’ve written my Christmas cards (well, most of them), sent my goddaughters’ parcels off by Parcelforce already (they are a dream to buy for) and if I say so myself, I’m not doing too badly at all.

Getting ahead for a change and sending my presents off early has been a revelation. Instead of panicking I’m enjoying these pre-Christmas weeks. I just hope I haven’t forgotten someone...
PS. I've even bought a Christmas pudding - from Meg Rivers Cakes (see below). Thanks to my friend Jackie, I've just discovered their cafe near Broadway, in Worcestershire, and it's a great place for lunch.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

House With No Name Weekly Digest: From the world’s worst au pair (me!) to Pippa Middleton’s party planning book

Every Saturday the House With No Name blog features a few of the week’s highlights – and with Christmas fast approaching, there have been plenty during the last seven days.

As I staggered downstairs this morning there were two lots of mail on the doormat. One was the gorgeous January issue of Red magazine (my favourite monthly right now) with party girl Zoe Ball looking stunning on the cover, while the second was (aaagh) my very first Christmas card. It came from a lovely school friend, but had the effect of making me feel even more chaotic than usual. I’ve got as far as buying my cards but there’s no way I’ll get round to sending them for another two weeks. AT LEAST!

House With No Name goes to the BBC
House With No Name on the art of being the world’s worst au pair
House With No Name puts up its advent calendar
House With No Name on how to throw a non-Pippa-Middleton-style party
House With No Name Book Review - Sheena Byrom’s Catching Babies

PS: The National Blog Posting Month challenge (or NaBloPoMo for short) finished in style on November 30 – and da-da-di-da, I made it. A big thank you to everyone who read and commented on my posts. I had great fun posting every day and met loads of lovely bloggers along the way, some of whom have thrown caution to the wind and are blogging right through December too. They are made of sterner stuff than me!

Friday, 18 November 2011

Friday book review - Comfort and Joy by India Knight

I’m a huge fan of India Knight. She’s wise, fun and talks more sense in her Sunday Times column than most other journalists put together. In short, she sounds like the sort of best friend we’d all like to have.

If that wasn’t enough, I opened the December issue of Red magazine to find that her house boasts joyous pink walls (she says they’re “really cheering on a January morning”), huge amounts of clutter and an amazing personalised mural drawn by artist Charlotte Mann with black marker pen. She likes “books, colour and over-decoration” and, asked what she’d save in a fire, reckons she wouldn’t save anything, apart from people and her laptop. “I don’t think it would really make much difference if you had your favourite teapot or cushion,” she says. “You’d just have to start again.”

It’s for all those reasons that I knew I’d love her Christmas novel, Comfort and Joy. Out in paperback this month, it perfectly captures the chaos of a family Christmas. Knight admits that the book is “fairly autobiographical,” with lots of “mashed-up memories and experiences,” but I reckon it’s all the better for that.

Comfort and Joy is the story of a modern family Christmas hosted by mother-of-three Clara Dunphy over three consecutive festive seasons. Like most women I know, Clara is determined to make Christmas special. As she says, “I want it to be so lovely, so redemptive, so right. There’s no point in doing it craply, is there?”

But even so, it’s a tricky feat to pull off when she’s got 16 guests turning up and is doing everything single-handed. Sitting round her London table each year are her ex-husband, her about to be ex-husband, three children, eccentric mother, two half-sisters, her non-PC mother-in-law and a host of well-behaved and not so well-behaved friends.

Knight is brilliant at blending laugh-out-loud humour with real insight into the stresses and strains of a family Christmas. You’ll love her third novel if you’re hosting Christmas at your place this year (though it might make you want to book a one-way ticket to the other side of the planet) – and even if you’re not.

Comfort and Joy by India Knight (Penguin, £7.99)
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...