The first year of Into the Mystic

This time last year I was eagerly awaiting my first run of AJA Botanicals candles. They arrived on the 15th of December just as we were getting the news that Christmas was being cancelled which was quite tricky! Luckily my lovely friends knew they were coming and I had my website just set up with a shop page so I managed to get them out. Everyone really loved them and I was very happy with my first creation, it took a lot of trial and error and learning but it was really worth it to get it right. A year on and I have a home diffuser in the same fragrance Into the Mystic and my first run of my After Midnight body oil has already sold out but I will be making more for next year, its very exciting to have three products this year, the stable is growing!

 I love the white jars of the candles which give such a warm cosy glow and the fragrance of Into the Mystic is gorgeous and the diffuser that goes with it is made from a lovely handmade violetglass so I will be doing refills of those as I don’t want people to throw away the jars I am mindful to find ways to be more sustainable and cutting out on waste so buying better quality and keeping it is surely one way to get there.  

The perfumer that created Into the Mystic with me was John Stephens from Cotswold Perfumery, he understood that I wanted anatural fragrance, with no synthetic musks to pump the smell as I find the synthetics so cloying, they hang around way too long! I understand that they can make the fragrance stronger  but my nose is so used to natural fragrances and I much prefer them in my home. We used a sustainable source of soya for the wax and a  cotton wick, so its burns for 40 hours. It has a beautiful fresh woody fragrance with Cedarwood and Lavender creating an uplifting and revitalising scent which is both grounding and soothing at the same time, with the scent really warming up as it burns. We also used Oakmoss in the blend, a classic perfumery note, that you can’t use on the skin any more, so it was fun to be able to use in the candle and Galbanum which is a resin thats been used in ceremonies for 1000s of years, it has a powerful a green note. I wanted the Into the Mystic fragrance to be reminiscent of walking in the deep forest on a crisp sunny morning, with the sunlight slanting through the trees and the mossy floor underfoot,

I am such a nature lover and I just love the woody fragrances,  I live next to Richmond Park with its beautiful ancient oak trees, and the smells in there are divine. When I walk my dogs there I always feel so much better for being around the trees, the Japanese call it forest bathing or shinrin yoku and it makes sense that I love it as baths and woods are two of my top favourite things, so combing them is only going to be a win for me! Having a bath for me is about slowing down and relaxing and so is walking and stopping to look at the trees and admiring their strength and beauty.   There is honesty and truth in trees, they are just present. We lead such busy lives with screens and multiple communication channels, we have to be careful not to be too bombarded with news and stimulation and take a moment for ourselves and connect to our hearts and to what resonates for us not, what other people think. The simple action of lighting a candle or turning a diffuser stick with the intention of creating a beautiful ambience gives me a moment to disconnect from my phone, to slow down, to reflect and check in with myself. 

In energy work or witchy magic as I like to call it, the flame has a transformational energy which gives power and potency to your thoughts, and as we create our own reality through our thoughts and actions. it seems like a good idea to set out your intentions and be the powerful creator that you are. So light your candles and enjoy! 

When Did We Lose The Art of Debate?

Why do you think the freedom march on Saturday 27th June 2021 was hardly reported in the mainstream media? 1000s of people in London marched to protest against the division being created amongst us because of our health choices and the propaganda and manipulation by the media that is coming from big pharma and the government. The march was huge but barely any of the mainstream media stations mentioned it because it does not tow the “party line” Here is a link to a video from the march

We are only getting one story and many others agree that this is wrong but are afraid to speak out, for fear of harassment, potential loss of job or maybe loss of followers or loss of contracts and therefore income. But why is this happening? Surely, we all have the right to express our own opinion without the fear of having our life being destroyed?  This is 2021 but this is a very real problem, which makes it quite scary for people to speak out. But what’s far worse is that if you can’t speak your truth, this compounds upon the censoring of what we all read and then in turn believe. Celebrities, (not my favourite word, so let’s say people who are good at their jobs and have become famous for it) are being recruited to share the permitted narrative but anyone that speaks out in disagreement or questions the story being told risks being trolled, attacked online and losing their livelihood. This is a very damaging situation, influence means having the power to influence people’s choices, yet for some reason we are only allowed to have influencers that agree with big pharma’s narrative. Are you ok with that? Don’t forget that big pharma are still responsible for more deaths in American through their untruths about the addictive nature of oxycontin then any of the previous wars, it’s a continuing crisis yet we are all willingly trusting them with our family’s health? Watch Alex Gibneys documentary “The Crime of The Century” if you don’t know about it and remember that Pfizer’s COVID vaccine is already the second-highest revenue-generating drug in the world, with a projected revenue forecast of $26 billion in 2021 alone — a 70% increase in its originally projected profits.

And before you say that I don’t believe there is such a thing as covid and before you say I am not qualified to speak out and before you say I don’t care about people that you love that have died, please believe me when I say that I do. I care very much but I am just not afraid and I deeply care about having the freedom to be responsible for my own health. I don’t berate you for your choices of lifestyle or your fitness levels or whether you might choose to eat junk food or too much white sugar, take ibuprofen or lots of antibiotics, this is all up to you, we are all worth way more than our health choices. So you do you and let me do me, as my uncle Michael always says “never sit in judgement.”

I care about the impact of isolation on mental health, about businesses suffering through restrictions and about our children still having to wear masks on public transport and the shop assistants, waiters and taxi drivers not being able to communicate properly whilst 1000s of football fans can jump around and celebrate hugging joyfully and we can go to Ascot and watch horse racing. Why you need a mask to walk into a restaurant or use the bathroom but not sit down, it’s ridiculous.

I care that there hasn’t been enough long term research into these type of vaccines for children and that the damage that they have caused even in testing is not being reported in our mainstream media. It is out there if you look for it and if you want to read something further about it, check out this link from a news conference held by the US Senator Johnson, and just look at the mother of the 12 year old child who took part in the vaccine trials, her dispair is visceral.  https://childrenshealthdefense.org/defender/sen-johnson-ken-ruettgers-press-conference-families-injured-covid-vaccines/

 I am pro vaccine safety and these vaccines have not yet been proven to be safe enough for children and whilst their risk from covid is minimal it makes no sense. Is saying they need to do it to protect the elderly in their families really true? And if it were would any grandparent really value their own lives over their grandchildren?  Adults can make their own decisions, but our children deserve more research. Read below reports of damages and deaths of children ages 12-17 from the American Centre of Disease Control.

Latest CDC VAERS Data Show Reported Injuries Surpass 11,000 in Ages 12 to 17 Following COVID Vaccines

VAERS data released today by the CDC showed a total of 387,087 reports of adverse events from all age groups following COVID vaccines, including 6,113 deaths and 31,240 serious injuries between Dec. 14, 2020 and June 18, 2021.

 What I really want is to be able to discuss this without being accused of being stupid, being selfish, being ignorant, not a scientist. I read the news and not just sky and the bbc and I do my research. If you are only watching the mainstream news, please just think for a second about where your belief system has come from. Where do you get your facts that gives you the right to be 100% correct? I love you all and only want us to be united by love and not divided by fear. Fear weakens the immune system and love strengthens. We don’t have to agree with each other to still love each other but let’s make it ok again to have our own opinions.

#speakyourtruth

#theartofdebate

What I learnt from Roxie Nafousi

Roxie Nafousi is a writer, qualified yoga teacher, ambassador for the Mental Health Foundation, Self-Love Activist, Manifesting Expert and an Instagram Agony Aunt. 

Roxie was very open and warm to chat to. She explained about the importance of practising self-love in order to manifest from the right place and how she learnt to balance her ambition and drive with being a new mum by combining self-care practises such as yoga and meditation. She also talked about how she finally has come to find a healthy relationship with exercise and food. Roxie is inspiring and encouraging, as she really believes that everyone can feel better and be happier by making small adjustments to their daily life and that if she can do it anyone can. 

Roxie’s tips for a creating success and maintaining a good work life balance were fab, firstly she advocated being mindful and present with whatever you are doing, whether working or relaxing or with friends. Secondly how important it is to take time for yourself to recharge, time not just off work and then being with your partner or children but actual time out for yourself, whether it’s taking an exercise class, having a blow dry or booking a massage. Her other top tips were to have an organised home to save you time every day and turning off email notifications when you are not working. All of them make perfect sense and are very attainable, just book me in for that massage right now! 

To listen to this podcast episode with Roxie please go to 

TILLY  AT HOME WITH ROXIE NAFOUSI

Roxie runs regular workshops on manifesting and self-love and has lots of great meditations and affirmations available to buy on her website.  https://roxienafousi.com

Also follow her on Instagram @roxienafousi and check out her podcast “The Moments That Made Me” 

Recommended exercise classes by Roxie @marniealton

The Wonder of Natural Fragrance

I love how fragrance evokes memories, it’s my way of time travelling. There are certain smells that take me back to my childhood in the Cotswolds. A beautiful rose reminds me of my grandparents and their walled gardens, freshly made stables with their deep straw beds, the cutting of the hay in the late summer, the back of a beaten-up old Land Rover, with its wet canvas flapping and being squished in with my sister and several stinky labradors. Steaming horses post ride, a tack room with leather bridles and saddles, linseed feed cooking in the winter, mugs of hot Ribena, smoky bonfires and open fires, all transport me to those carefree days of my early adolescence. There is a reassuring constancy for me in the fragrances of nature, years can pass by, yet they remain the same, the comforting mossy old oak trees, the deep green scent of the riverbed and the cool damp air of the forest are perfect portals for my travels back in time. But why is this?

The Science

A recent article in the Harvard Gazette goes some way to explain this. “The sense of smell is the only fully developed sense we have in the womb, which remains the most developed sense up until the age of ten, when sight takes over.” There is a science behind these connections. In an article for American Scientist, Sabrina Stierwalt writes that “as we come into contact with an odour, the neurons that make up the olfactory receptor cells send a signal to a part of your brain called the olfactory bulb. The olfactory bulb runs from your nose to the base of your brain and has direct connections to your amygdala (the area of the brain responsible for processing emotion) and to your hippocampus (an area linked to memory and cognition). Neuroscientists suggest that this close physical connection between the regions of the brain linked to memory, emotion and our sense of smell may explain why our brain learns to associate smells with certain emotional memories.”

The Wider World

When travelling as a young model, I found that every city had its very distinct aroma. I loved New York with its busy traffic and steam coming up from the street, the mouth-watering aroma of pizza slices cooking on every downtown corner and the wild smell of grass being smoked on the sidewalk. In Paris it was baking sugar and fresh bread floating out of the patisseries, heavy red wines and dusky vintage markets, Chanel and Dior perfumes elegantly spilling out onto the Champs-Élysées and the dank clandestine passages weaving alongside the Seine, that really enchanted me. As I travelled the wider world, I was mesmerised by Indonesia with its with riotous combination of exotic florals, clove cigarettes, roadside fires and abundance of holy offerings. Then India, with its similarly potent, heady mix of jasmines, sandalwood, chai tea and burning incense, all vying for attention with the dirt and strong odours of the streets, where rickshaws and cars jostled with cows and the occasional elephant. My trips to Morocco, most recently have uplifted my olfactory world, with its magical souks, magnificent rose gardens, divine orange blossom trees and one of my favourites of all time, the celestial wafting of frankincense resin burning on coals.

AJA Botanicals

I started the AJA Botanicals range towards the end of last year and wanted to incorporate all of my favourite scents, the resinous and smoky, the deep forest fragrances, the spicy notes and exotic florals, to make a natural wax candle fragranced with essential oils. My first port of call was John Stephens, a world class perfumer based in the Cotswolds. Although he understood what I wanted, he explained that using too many essential oils in a fragrance just doesn’t work, in the same way that if you use ten different paint colours for one picture it will mostly likely end up a sludgy brown, instead he created two different but very complimentary fragrances. As I wanted them to be very natural fragrances, we removed as many synthetic elements as we could, in the end I settled with an 80/90% ratio of pure essential oils, as I learnt that some of the fragrances I love are too heavy in their molecular structure for a candle or just way too precious to burn.

It was at John’s suggestion that I look for a perfumery course as I knew what I wanted but I didn’t have the vocabulary or proper knowledge to translate it. To my joy I discovered that a brilliant perfumer and old friend, Marina Barcenilla was running an online “Advanced Natural Perfumery” course. Three months in and my olfactory world has been blown wide apart. There is so much to learn, chemistry, maths, the history of fragrance, the fragrance families and more, we are working with sixty-five essential oils and resins. It’s a fascinating world and I am grateful for the opportunity to learn again. I often choose brands that use essential oils, but have found that although many aromatherapy ranges are lovely and therapeutic, sometimes the fragrances can be a little simple. My aim with AJA Botanicals is to go beyond aromatherapy to make exquisite and luxury products that are accessible, affordable and effective, combining the powerful energies of nature and artistry of fine natural perfumery.

Why Running a Podcast is Beyond Just Another Interview. Wanderlust

Tilly is a mum, model, founder of AJA Botanicals, producer and host of the podcast “Tilly at Home With…”.

With a passion for exploring people’s stories and finding what makes us all so unique, Tilly has quickly realized that creating podcasts goes beyond interviewing people, it’s a path to self-discovery, growth and transformation. Today, she shares some of the insights that she’s gathered by starting her podcast in 2020.

I like the sound of my own voice

When I first started out making podcasts, sometimes I didn’t like how my voice sounded– it didn’t come across like me and I could hear that I felt unconfident. I have learnt that the most important thing is to be natural, to “be yourself as everyone else is taken”, so now I don’t try to be someone that I am not and have accepted that I am good enough as I am.

Nowadays, I even find myself quite funny and often laugh at my own jokes. My family will not be surprised at this as I am constantly telling them how brilliant I am. This seems to work for me, even if I don’t believe that I am brilliant if I tell myself and everyone else enough, I start to believe it.

If anything, this has been a journey to more self-love and self-acceptance, so give it a go, record yourself and listen back or just look in the mirror and tell yourself how brilliant you are.

People are ready to talk when you’re ready to listen

Relaxation is the key to being a good listener. In order to listen you have to be relaxed. To be relaxed you need to be confident and to be confident you need to be prepared. So, whenever you’re heading for a conversation or sitting down with someone, think about what you want to say and the direction you want the conversation to lead, then let that go and go with the flow. If I am too focused on what I am going to ask next when interviewing my guests or what I want to say myself, I can miss a gem and the most crucial part of what that person is trying to say.

Often, it is the energy behind the words, that will speak louder than anything – so as much as paying attention to what a person says, its important to catch the sentiment behind it. It might just give you the keys to getting to know the person better and truly understanding their inner world.

It turned out to be simpler than I imagined

Just like for many of us, when I began, I thought that there would be lots to learn, it seemed quite overwhelming at times and so I dragged my feet for a while before starting. What I learnt is that you don’t need to know everything before you start, as you will be learning on the go.

I encourage anyone who is looking to begin something new to just start, tackle each step as you go along. Don’t be scared that you don’t know something – meet it with excitement and curiosity. Treat it as a challenge that you’re more than ready to take on. Be open and ask questions from friends who run similar initiatives or go onto YouTube. A lot that you need to know is right there, created by like-minded individuals who share the same passions as you.

Do You Need A Health Kick? Your Emojis May Have The Answer.

Do You Need A Health Kick?

Thank god for September. We are back to school and work, after endless months of lockdown comfort eating which rolled into a steady stream of drinking. My lockdown skills should have been learning Mandarin or at least doing my wedding album but instead I took up bread making and smoking. There is some solace in knowing that I am not alone with this, as most of the country seemed to gain about a half stone during lockdown and excessive summer drinking is a national sport. It’s hardly surprising we go so nuts in the summer when it’s really only a few weeks a year, I’m sure you could track the summer weather patterns simply by looking at Majestic’s rose sales.

After a while though none of these earthly pleasures were giving me much joy, you can’t keep chasing the highs and I hate being hooked on anything, especially smoking, so in the spirit of a new school year I have chucked away the roll ups, gone back to the gym, purposefully killed my sour dough starter and am adopting the five-two approach to alcohol. This system is new to me, my initial interpretation was perhaps that it meant five bottles of wine and two bottles of vodka, or five glasses of wine followed by two shots. However I’m now following a more moderate approach of five nights off drinking and two night on, I know this may sounds a little dull, but its working. Having had to fend off a sudden onset of depression, with the leaves falling, a chill in the air and the knowledge that soon it will be dark at four pm, I had to make a few lifestyle adjustments to see me through, the first being letting my body do its nightly repair work without having my organs swishing around in a sea of tequila.

The others are quite simple too, I’ve started a twelve week course of Symprove, a liquid pre and probiotic that you take it first thing in the morning. Highly recommended by a podcast guest and the creator of Microbirth (really worth a watch) as the ultimate hangover cure, Symprove works to improves your gut microbiome and thus helps your immune system work better, which in turn benefits your mental health, quite a win win.

There are a couple of other nutritional add ons that I can also recommend. With the change of the seasons we can catch colds or get a bit run down, so few swigs of elderberry syrup also works as a brilliant little immune booster, I love the one from Pukka Herbs and younger kids will love Sambucol, to be used at any sign of a sniffle. Another good way to get a health kick underway is with some energy boosting smoothies. Josh has been making us some banging morning concoctions for our breakfasts, adding in lots of super food powders such as Hemp, Acai, Moringa, Cacao, and Super Berry to a frozen fruit mix with a scoup of Super Nova protein powder. Topped off with coconut flakes, cacao nibs, Necta and Hive honey and freeze-dried fruits, they are totally delicious.

As for supplements, I think a daily vitamin C is essential, with the amazing Your Zooki liposomal vitamin C being my total favourite, its perfect to take if you are already sick. I’m also trying out Bone Growth , from fab British brand Wild Nutrition, recommended to me by a very healthy and energetic friend, it has calcium and vitamin d for bone health plus magnesium and copper for maintenance of your connective tissues, sounds good hey? Josh has also found this great Aussie brand JS Health who have great targeted supplements like “Detox and Debloat” and “Skin and Digestion” definitely worth checking out. Finally when I remember I take a daily drop of Iodine which is good for breast tissue health and thyroid function. Also ever hoping for an increase in brain power, I am trying krill oil as a source of omega-3 fats EPA and DHA. Krill is said to be more accessible to the body and has the added bonus of being more sustainable.

Life is to be enjoyed and these are just a few ideas to help get your energy up. We all deserve to feel healthy and indulge ourselves and by getting your body into a healthy balance it should be able to handle anything life or your Friday night might throw at it. If you are even wondering whether you need a kick start to your health (and my guess is you probably do) I suggest you have a look at you most used emojis for a quick insight into your life. As my lovely therapist friend reckoned during a recent girls night, they can make for a pretty good self -assessment, a snap shot of where you’re at. So incase you were questioning whether my health kick really was in order and in the spirit of transparency and honesty here are mine. Interpret as you will.

Understanding the Teenage Brain

Understanding the Teenage Brain

Why do our teenagers get such a bad wrap? Moody, difficult, disorganised, are all words that are associated with teenagers. Some parents dread the teen years or are already finding them extremely challenging. Yet teenagers can be so bright, sensitive, caring, fun and curious about life, so why is there such discord at this stage of their lives?

One common misconception of teenager’s behaviour is the influx of hormones at puberty but as Frances Jensen explains in her book ‘The Teenage Brain’ this has more to do with the way their brains are reacting to the hormones, than the hormones in isolation. The brain’s frontal lobe, placed right behind the forehead is only fully developed in your early twenties and as this the place where actions are weighed, situations judged and decisions are made, it goes along way to understand the seemly foolish and risky decisions that we made ourselves and that teenagers can be prone to making.

The teenage brain is busy building new connections, especially neurotransmitters, the brain’s messengers and so this time of intense growth and flexibly not only gives our teenagers a window of opportunity for incredible accomplishments but also increases the liability for them to be adversely affected by stress, drugs, alcohol and environment changes. The teenage brain is just not yet hard-wired to make adults decisions.

So how can we support our teenagers through this time as they are developing a perception of themselves, questioning how others see them and forming their identity within their friendship groups. Just as we turn to certain close friends in times of stress, knowing that they will be non-judgemental and supportive, so teenager’s relationships and friendships are very important. However via social media, their friends and any games they might be playing can have access to them pretty much 24/7 via notifications, so try to encourage children to switch off some of these notifications so that they can be in control of how and when they are contactable. Study apps such as ‘Forest’ can help to manage their devices in order to get their work completed whilst uninterrupted.

We should also be proud of our teenagers and support their independence, they’re coming out from under our wings to enable them to transfer into young adulthood. Teens are making important decisions about their school subject choices and further study options and as well as forming their attitudes to sex, drugs and alcohol, so crucially this is not a time to switch off. As independent as they may seem, we still need to be on hand to try to guide and advise them, explaining potential hazards and encouraging healthy attitudes, just be prepared to repeat any advice over and over again.

Our current educational value system can have a negative affect on children. Although we know now that emotional intelligence is just as important as academic intelligence, this hasn’t always been recognised and our tradition system of grading subjects may make children feel that they aren’t doing well, if they not getting the grades that are said to be acceptable or comparable to their peers. As Shefali Tisbaary says in her book ‘The Conscious Parent’, knowing how her daughter was doing as a person at home, meant that she didn’t need to concern herself with how she was doing at maths, reading and writing at school. Her focus was on how good a student her daughter was at life, rather than how good a student she was at school.

After many years of early morning wake ups and children’s TV shows on repeat, costly babysitting has come to an end and it is time to enjoy our teenagers. Arm them with the science to explain what is going on in their brains and by actually listening to them we can maintain a connection with them, whilst also setting some fair boundaries. As my great friend and author Andy Baggott explained to me, parenting shouldn’t be a dictatorship, we can’t presume to have the authority as adults, as demanding behaviour from children with threats, will only illicit submission or deceit, neither traits we would want to promote.

Teenagers need to be respected as well as cared for, so any frustration or anger we might feel with their behaviour is an opportunity to look at ourselves and see why these feelings are coming up. I’ve just started a new podcast Healthy Happy Home, and all the usual platforms, and when we talked on our second episode about “conscious parenting” I thought that there was no choice but to be conscious whilst parenting, unconsciously parenting would surely mean that you are either asleep or hung-over, (both of which I have certainly done many times… ) so really what other option is there than to be conscious? But I understand now that what it really means is being conscious of our own reactions and actions. This teenage stage of parenting is a last chance saloon for us to really learn from our children before they become adults, a final window to take a look at our value systems and see where we have triggers hiding that we can clear out. Personally I take quite a bit of advice from my children these days and why not. I figure I might as well get something back after all those years of childcare and anyway, as experimental as they may be at this age, their brains are certainly fresher than mine.

Tilly and Josh’s bohemian country wedding. The Dress Tribe.

Tilly and Josh's bohemian country wedding

It was a day to remember and a day full of beautiful contrast for actress, model and producer Tilly Wood and husband Josh Young, the founders of Retreat Life, a bespoke retreat company creating exclusive escapes to focus on personal wellbeing, fitness and health. The couple brought their laid back and spontaneous personalities to life as they tied the knot in the heart of Gloucestershire. From meeting in Bali, getting engaged over Italian food in Barnes, to celebrating the wedding reception on Tilly’s sister’s lawn over homemade infused vodka, a disco ball and barefoot dancing, their wedding truly was a magical day.

HOW DID YOU DECIDE ON THE WEDDING THEME?

Josh and I were both in agreement about the vibe we were going for. We didn’t want it to be too formal so we chose sharing plates for the tables and the beautiful canvas tipis gave it such an intimate and boho vibe. The beautiful church service was traditional but had a very relaxed and fun atmosphere. 


HOW DID YOUR WEDDING REFLECT YOU AS A COUPLE?

We had so much help from family and friends, which gave it a very intimate and loving atmosphere. My friend Margaret made all the salads and we didn’t have a traditional wedding cake as it felt too formal so my friend Candy made lots of the most delicious chocolate cakes with berries and cream served on the tables with an assortment of flavoured vodkas that me and my girlfriends made on one of my hen nights. We didn’t label them and some were delicious and some not so which was quite funny. 


WHAT WERE THE CEREMONY AND RECEPTION DECOR DETAILS?

I used lots of flowers from my sisters garden in the church and decorated it with my friends and family. One of my best friends Ros brought beautiful white rose petals with her from Marrakesh for the confetti and also my favourite Frankincense incense to burn in the church which was gave it the most amazing atmosphere. 

For the reception decor we went into the woods and pulled ivy off the trees, which we used to wrap around the poles in the tipi with fairy lights which was super pretty. We added a big disco ball and lots of candles and flowers from the garden in various mixed glass vases and jam jars on the tables, a fire pit and some tables outside the tipi. 

Tilly and Josh's bohemian country wedding

WERE THERE ANY TRADITIONS YOU OR THE WEDDING PARTY ORGANISED?

We got a couple of great friends who are DJs to play after the dinner and so I changed out of my dress into a vintage one and danced barefoot all night. Our dear friend Louis Baker sang his song Rainbow in the church which was so moving! I actually really loved the church service as it was lovely to have those moments of quiet and also a few laughs. I am not particularly religious but it felt very spiritual and special and the acoustics were great.

 

HOW DID YOU CHOOSE YOUR RICK OWENS DRESS?

I tried on quite a lot but they just all felt too flouncy and elaborate. I wanted a vintage dress but I couldn’t find quite the right thing, I think its quite hard to find the perfect vintage dress for a wedding as they just aren’t quite pristine enough. I decided not to have something made as it felt like it would be quite time consuming and I was sure I would find THE dress! In the end I went for something more modern for the day with a vintage dress for the night.

I had already worn the exact dress in black and I loved how it felt! It holds you in in all the right places and it has pockets. I kind of liked that it was more contemporary amongst all the boho and the veil was miles long and beautiful.

 

WHAT OTHER ACCESSORIES DID YOU WEAR?

I wore a beautiful pair of Aquazzura gold platforms which just made the dress they were so rocking and we brought the tulle for the veil from, Joel and Sons and my friend Cozmo hand sewed flowers into it that morning, it was very beautiful. Chanel sent me Gardenia to wear and as I had a make up test with them beforehand, the make up was just perfect. 

 

WHAT DID YOUR HUSBAND AND BRIDESMAID WEAR?

A gorgeous morning suit by Favourbrook and a Hugo Boss shirt and shoes by Ferragamo. He looked super handsome. His best man, my son, Arthur, wore Favourbrook too. Lola chose her own dress, it was a Realisation Par, ivory mini dress and she wore shoes with straw platforms, she looked stunning. She also wore a Salome necklace and bracelet made with moonstone.

Wedding skin care planning and make up

Wedding make up

In the lead up to my wedding I pulled off quite a bit of vanity planning. This was a whole new area for me that I fully embraced after years of extremely low self maintenance, but better late than never!

Firstly I had a series of pre wedding facial treatments at my local “Marta Beauty” salon in Sheen. Every six weeks I would go for a facial, incorporating either mesotherapy or microdermabrasion and on her advice I started wearing sunblock everyday, even in the winter. There are so many treatments available but I discovered that sunblock and deep cleansing are a good place to start as my skin went from very dry to pretty dewy in a few months and getting rid of all those dead cells evened out my skin tone. A big thank you goes to Marta, for being so honest early on and letting me know that my skin was super dry and a bit shit and then for being able to transform it. Mesotherapy is not for the faint hearted as some treatments are a bit painful but we built up once my skin became stronger and she realised that my pain threshold for vanity was above and beyond. For a day or so your skin looks almost burnt so you can’t really go out and you can’t wear make up. But then after a couple of days, your skin boosts itself in repair mode and with the added hyaluronic acid and collagen masks, your skin texture starts to look really fab.

Another highlight of my pre wedding narcissism was my conversion to Chanel and their hydra beauty range skincare. It is so light on your skin and as the name suggests, super hydrating and gives your skin a glow of its own, even without make up. I love the packaging and everything about Chanel; it manages to be cool, edgy, classic, timeless and effective all at the same time. I’d like to imagine that I’m quite well aligned with these same attributes, I just need to work on being a little more effective at times! A couple of days before the wedding I went to their boutique in Covent Garden, to try out some make up ideas. I learnt so much, how brown eyeliner and mascara really brings out the blue in your eye. How to blend two different shades of cc creams to get the perfect even skin tone, which then go under the foundation (two different tones again to blend) It makes sense right, your skin just isn’t one colour all year round and even with our fairly average summers in the UK, we all get a little more tanned.

They also showed me that using concealer makes you look less tired and brighter and how to use it only from the corner of your eye near your nose and then underneath and stop by your laugher lines otherwise the lightness will show the lines up more. Another tip, using a lip liner as well as a lipstick works really well…of course.. right but did you know the trick of using a bit of lighter lipstick in the middle of the lips to make them look fuller? After many years sitting in a make up chair, I would have thought that my make up skills would be a bit better, I must have been half a sleep for decades. I blame the early start times! However now I’m not getting made up for work and I am no longer 25 I do need to wear make up a bit more often so I am finally paying attention.

I don’t like wearing much during the day, but balancing out my skin colour and a bit of mascara does wonders. I’m using the cc creams alone for a more natural look as they have the added benefit of SPF 50. Make up is so clever and techie these days and I’m proud to say that thanks to my daughter Lola and my new friends at Chanel, I am now totally up to date and have the best make up kit ever.

On the wedding day, Helen, my lovely make-up artist friend used all the Chanel make up for Lola and me and it was just beautiful. Josh said when I came into the church, my make up was perfect, which we all know means not too much! Chanel and Helen had struck the perfect balance between making me look way better than I was that morning and like I was hardly wearing any make up. Of course I piled on the smoky eye for the evening and switched out the browns for the blacks which was easy to do even after a few glasses of champagne.

If you’d like to try any of the products we used, here is the list of the makeup.

FOUNDATION:

  • CC Cream: 20/ 40
  • Vitalumiere satin fluid; 20 / 30 / 40
  • Les Beiges eau du teint; Medium
  • Le Correcteur de Chanel.
  • Éclat Lumiere Highlighter Face Pen: 20/ 40

BLUSH:

  • Les Beiges Healthy glow colour stick
  • Les Beiges Healthy glow luminous colour

POWDER:

  • Poudres Universelle Compacte 30 Naturel Translucent 2

EYES:

  • La Beiges Collection D’Ombres a Paupieres naturelles
  • Liner; Stylo Yeux Waterproof; 88 Noir Intense /20 Espresso
  • Mascara – Les Volumes de Chanel black / brown
  • Stylo Sourcils Waterproof; 806
  • Eye shadow; Les Beiges Collection d’Omberes

LIPS:

  • Lip Liner; (I have to confess I have already lost this so am not sure what number it was!)
  • Le Rouge Crayon De Couleur; 1 /21

Wedding fitness and health

Wedding fitness and health article

A couple of months before the wedding my writing took a bit of a dive, I can’t really call it writers block as I’ve only been writing for a few months, I just fell out of the habit. There’s a discipline that you need and pre wedding I lost it. I’m now trying to write everyday, after the gym and the dog walk and all the house stuff. A life coach told me that I should be getting up at 5.30am to get everything ready to start work by 9am. Yesterday I was up at 7am and started at 1pm. I need to find my notes; I don’t think we talked about the optimum time to do the laundry.

Aside from the lack of writing, I did keep up with my pre wedding fitness and health plan. So much so, when asked how the wedding preparations were going I’d say “Fab thanks, I’m doing proper push ups and I’m starting to lift some quite heavy weights now, I feel great.” I’d then probably bang on about the mental benefits, how it was helping me stay positive, deal with stress blah blah blah, like a born again person in lycra. (I’m not using the expression middle aged, as, by the time I’m ninety I’m aiming to have an entirely reconstructed titanium body and be flying around with a jet pack, so this is nowhere near the middle) but then I realised after a while that they meant the actual wedding, the ceremony, the party, the food, not just how my abs were coming along. So around three months before our wedding day, I started with the final wedding planning. I loved it all, organising a party and a love ceremony, how could you not? Maybe this could be my excuse as to why my writing dropped off, I was too busy getting excited, totally understandable. Maybe I should be a life coach; my speciality could be stopping anyone feeling guilty for being useless. “Think you should be achieving more? Come and see me and I’ll find a million excuses as to why you haven’t been able to and you’ll leave feeling totally guilt free and fabulous”

Weddings or higher number birthdays do give you to chance to indulge yourself a bit. My advice? And this is free, as at the moment as I haven’t officially started my life-coaching career, give yourself time to achieve your goals. In my twenties I didn’t even consider fitness as part of wedding planning but in my forties I needed all nine months. The fat takes a while to burn off, the muscles take time to build and they need time to rest. I couldn’t have dropped everything for a three months detox or to do an intense training course, it had to fit into my schedule. Too busy with all my writing you see.

I worked pretty hard at it and I am quite proud of myself, sweating away in cardio workouts, months of increasing weights to do heavier deadlifts, planks, pull-ups and squats. A huge thank you has to goes to Olivia Fraser who got me going and then kept me steadily improving with her boot camps and pts. Good company and laughter makes exercise so much easier. Towards the end I found my local F45 club, which is a total savour. Only ten minutes from my house, their fun and quite intense classes alternate daily between cardio and strength. With start times as early as 5.30am there’s no excuse not to fit it in, (the inner life coach in me is delighted)  

It wasn’t just about the training; I figured out how to eat quite optimally, which in the last couple of months was timely.The trick? I cut crisps out as a food group (which includes potato’s not the sweet ones obvs) I stopped eating magnum ice creams, sweets and general snacks in the evenings, switched pasta for spiralised courgette, got totally hooked on coffee and did the odd session of intermittent fasting (you know that one, skipping dinner or not eating until later in the morning) I have to say that I found this technique particularly easy as it doesn’t involve any cooking.  These adjustments came from a couple of consultations that came with a great DNA fit package that I tried. In the last month I was even sharing my pre work out bananas with my gym buddy Kate to cut down on the sugars. I ate a lot of deliciously activated nuts and seeds from Eat Boundless as pre or post work out snacks and I then in the last couple of months upped my training to four to five times a week. With these extra workouts and the small changes in my diet, things really did start to shift. I did love my “cheat weekends” starting on Friday going straight through Monday, until I realised that maybe four days on three days off wasn’t going to do it. 

One more thing I wanted to share is that I never want to train and I don’t think many people do, its hard, it can be boring and its exhausting, its exercise, its not really fun, its sweaty and you have to push yourself again and again. So if you don’t feel like going to go to a class or the gym don’t listen to that, just go anyway and look forward to the high you’ll get from escaping when its over, combined with all the endorphins. After just forty minutes I reckon you feel pretty good all day, so that’s a major return. Here I am again, the born again/life coach bursting out, I can’t help myself. Exercise has become an integral to my life now; I miss it if I stop. I miss the energy it gives me and I  love being fit and toned, I can run up the stairs and wear my denim hot pants. Of course there are a few wedding photos that won’t be making it to instagram or to the framers, the Rick Owens dress that I chose to wear wasn’t taking any prisoners but over all I was very happy with the outcome, I reckon I pretty much rocked it. Now to setting my alarm for tomorrow, 5.30am really?