How To Read More

“I wish I had more time to read”. “I should read more”. Either of these sentences sound familiar? With all our productivity apps, domestic gadgets and on-demand service providers, we should have more time than ever for reading, but somehow… And yet there really is nothing better than getting lost in an amazing book – whether it’s a novel that you fall in love with, or perhaps the latest prize-winner that actually challenges you and makes you think. Not to mention the benefits of reading – it’s proven to reduce stress, improve long- and short-term memory and increase focus… So how to read more?

Be Mindful

Sigh. We get it. Everything from dog food to dating seems to involve mindfulness these days. But when it comes to reading more, being mindful really does make sense. You want to read more? Think about WHY you want to read more. To relax? Because you actually enjoy reading even though you’ve been doing it less often? Work out the reason you’d like to read more – and keep reminding yourself of that. You can be mindful anywhere, any time – so keep consciously choosing to make reading a priority in your life.

Join Reading in Heels

A shameless plug, oh yes – for something we’ve just launched. Reading in Heels is a monthly subscription service and digital book club for intelligent, stylish modern women, letting you discover the latest in contemporary literary fiction alongside our Expert Edit of beauty and lifestyle treats.  Each month, our editor handpicks a book we know you’ll love – think modern, literary fiction; fantastic novels you won’t want to put down and the latest books that everyone’s going to be talking about. You’ll receive a beautiful box containing your brand new book, along with a few extra surprises too – think the very best beauty and lifestyle treats to enjoy while you’re reading. And there’s also a digital book club where you can discuss what you’ve been reading with other members. Inspired! Join Reading in Heels here.

Put The Tech Down

Those ten minutes spent getting lost in an Instagram hole? That’s a whole chapter! And that episode of that trashy TV show on Netflix? Not that memorable – and if you’re watching the whole series, that’s probably an entire book. Rather than checking Facebook on your commute or scanning the headlines, get stuck in your book instead. Social media feels like it’s only a minute here or there, but it adds up quickly. And it’s nowhere NEAR as satisfying as reading a good book.

Set A Goal

Choose a goal and make yourself accountable. Perhaps there’s a particular author whose work you’ve always been meaning to read. Or you’d like to get to know French poetry better. Or you’d like to catch up on the prize-winners of the past few years – and curated lists are a good place to start too. Be reasonable – find 5-10 books and commit to working your way through them, one by one. If you’re someone who likes lists, write them down and tick them off! Deciding on a goal and a specific set of books means you’re not going to be wondering what you’re going to read next – and eliminates the possibility to falling off the wagon.

Join A Book Club

Not only is joining a book club a way to read more, it’s often a way to meet some new people too – and that’s never a bad thing. Engaging in debate and talking about writing are probably not part of your professional or personal life either. Regular book club meetings mean that every month or couple of months, you’ll be reading something new – and no one wants to turn up to the meeting without having finished the book. The shame. To avoid disappointment, take a look at some of the titles that the book club has read previously – there’s no point joining with aims of conquering War and Peace, only to find that your chosen book club are mainly reading chick lit.

Ask Your Friends

We’ve all got at least one bookworm friend who has always got about five books on the go. Ask them what they’ve been reading of late and would really recommend. You can even tell them that you’re consciously trying to read more – booky people usually want everyone to love books as much as they do!

CRAVE

London’s must-visit destination for movie buffs? It’s not one of the city’s many historic landmarks and it’s certainly not anywhere remotely connected with Harry Potter-themed experiences. No – the place any real movie lover needs to visit is actually the Shangri-La Hotel. And more specifically GONG: the five-star hotel’s cocktail bar, which you’ll find perched up high – on the 52nd floor of the Shard. But we’re not here for the views – although they are sublime – the real reason for your visit is the Director’s Cut: a cocktail menu paying tribute to the great and the good of the movie world.

And the rationale behind this menu? “Cinema is a unique art that provides direct, instant access to emotions and encounters we might not otherwise experience – opening our minds and making us think afresh. What’s more, it’s a collaborative form that brings together many disparate elements to be fully successful. In this, it resembles a spectacular cocktail, in its fusion of skills, ingredients and imagination…. Each drink is a tale that needs to be told. We provide the outline and the clues; you plot the rest of the whole picture.”

16 cocktails and four non-alcholic sips make up the cinema-themed list. Forget about what type of cocktail you generally drink – this menu flips that idea on its head, dividing the drinks up into genres: Thriller/Drama, Crime/Action, Romantic/Sci-Fi, Adventure/Fantasy and Animation/Superhero. What kind of movie do you fancy this evening? Each cocktail is inspired by an acclaimed director, and there’s lots of names you’ll know: Spielberg and Scorsese, Kubrick and both Ford Coppolas are here, along with Baz, Woody and the inimitable Mr Hitchcock.

More broadly, the Director’s Cut genres correspond to different flavours and styles – whether you prefer something strong (crime, obvs), light & refreshing (fantasy/adventure) or with a sweet-sour finish (thrillers and dramas). Each cocktail is named after one of the director’s celluloid masterpieces, with a list of ingredients giving you clues to what it might be like plus a couple of hints as to the flavour style. “Leather, smoky, punchy, nightcap” or “earthy notes, forest flavours”, for example. The menu also shows images of the glasses the cocktails are served in – as some of them are quite unusual, this is key!

And so, after such an intense, complex, intriguing intro, what are the Director’s Cut cocktails actually like? As varied and exciting as the directors themselves. Baz Luhrmann’s Tea With Daisy is presented in a pretty art deco-inspired illuminated box, lined with velvet, while Francis Ford Coppola’s Bulletproof comes in a glass part-pierced with an actual bullet. So far, so Instagram-worthy. There’s also a Clockwork Orange cocktail which is based on milk – the drink which the movie’s protagonist and his cronies drink before embarking on their vicious attacks. You’re also provided with an iPod (curiously old-fashioned now!) so you can listen to Beethoven’s Symphony 9 – the music which soundtracks the film’s more violent scenes. And the most curious cocktail of all? Feel The Force, which is served in a special Star Wars-themed levitating glass. Men who profess not to like cocktails? Converted.

Visually, it’s an Oscar for Best Cinematography. Flavour-wise? Another win. The menu actually took over a year of preparation, research and careful tasting, and the cocktails include many homemade ingredients, such as a sherbet made with pineapple skin, a yuzu and umeshu cordial, and passion fruit and chai tea foam. Distinctive flavours to delight the palate, and if there was a Michelin star for cocktail making, we’re fairly sure the Shangri La’s Director’s Cut menu would get four of ’em. At £18 a pop, you’re probably not going to be stumbling into the lift at the end of the evening, but with Gong’s breath-taking views and a inspired menu which makes cocktails into a real scene-stealing experience, it’s an adventure you’ll remember until well after the credits have finished rolling.

For more information and to book a table, see GONG at the Shangri-La’s website, or call +(44) 0207 234 8208.

 

RIH Eats

Lope Ariyo. It’s a name you’re going to want to remember. And if you’re even slightly into food, Ariyo’s debut title – Hibiscus – is a book you’re going to want to buy. “Hibiscus may change the way we see African food in Britain,” opine the knowledgeable foodies over at The Observer. And we’re inclined to agree. The UK is a true melting pot when it comes to food; Indian, Turkish, Italian, Chinese have all become part of our culinary vocabulary in a little more than a generation. But African? Sure, you might have tried a tagine or jollof pot, but food from Africa – or even inspired by – the mother continent is surprisingly rare and certainly not mainstream, even in the bigger cities.

And that’s a real shame. A bold, eye-opening take on Nigerian cuisine, Hibiscus shows all the rich colours, flavours and vibrancy that Africa has to offer. Sure, there are some ingredients you might not have encountered regularly – baobab, egusi seeds and efirin probably aren’t on sale in your local supermarket. But if Sainsbury’s are stocking sumac and tahini these days, that’s undoubtedly thanks in part to Mr Ottolenghi. Featuring simple, delicious recipes packed with flavour, Hibiscus is remarkably accessible, with recipes like Nigerian roasted veg, traditional Puff Puff doughnuts, rich meat stews and curries and spicy salads and soups. Read this and you’re going to want to find out more about Nigerian cuisine. To get you started, try your hand at Ariyo’s Hibiscus & Coconut Cake: possibly the perfect summery cake to make (and eat) right now…

Hibiscus is a really flavourful ingredient and is very fragrant when cooked, which makes it great for experimenting with. Rather than using almonds for the base of this cake, I’ve gone for egusi seeds, which are eaten much more regularly in Nigerian culture. Although it doesn’t happen often, when I do have time to make cakes, I try to create a real showstopper to share with friends, and this is no exception. Although hibiscus can be eaten all year round, I do think of this as a summer cake to enjoy in the garden.

180g plain flour  //  60g ground egusi seeds or ground almonds
80g fine-cut dried hibiscus petals  //  1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp baking powder  //  1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp salt  //  90g coconut oil, softened
60ml groundnut oil, plus extra for greasing  //  100g caster sugar
80g light brown sugar  //  3 large eggs
½ x 400ml tin coconut milk  //  2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice  //  desiccated coconut, to decorate
hibiscus petals, to decorate

FOR THE COCONUT DRIZZLE

120g icing sugar  //  4 tbsp coconut milk
½ tsp coconut extract  //  ½ tsp vanilla extract

FOR THE COCONUT FROSTING

300g cream cheese  //  2 tbsp coconut milk 
80g icing sugar  // 1 tbsp fine-cut dried hibiscus petals

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/Gas 4. Grease two round 20cm cake tins then line them with baking paper. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, ground egusi seeds or ground almonds, hibiscus petals, ground cloves, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda and salt.

In another large bowl, cream the coconut oil, groundnut oil and sugars together. One by one, add the eggs until well combined. Add half of the dry ingredients to the bowl, followed by half of the coconut milk and mix with an electric hand whisk or stand mixer until well combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Repeat to add the remaining dry ingredients and coconut milk and mix to thoroughly combine. Finally, add the vanilla extract and lemon juice, folding in gently.

Transfer the batter into a large measuring jug and evenly distribute it between the two cake tins. If you prefer less washing up, then roughly measure by eye. Bake the cakes for about 30 minutes. When they’re ready, a skewer inserted into the centre of the cakes should come out clean. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tins for 10 minutes, then turn the cakes out of the tins on to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.

To make the drizzle, mix the icing sugar with the coconut milk to get a thick drizzle, then add the coconut and vanilla extracts. Trickle over both layers of the cooled hibiscus cake.  For the frosting, whisk all the ingredients together to create a fluffy purple cloud. Make sure the colour is consistent throughout. Spread half the frosting over one of the cakes and place the second on top. Spread what’s left of the frosting over the top layer and sprinkle over the desiccated coconut and hibiscus petals to decorate.

Published by Harper Collins, Lope Ariyo’s Hibiscus is available to buy online here.

The Summer Bodycare Edit

We all have our own definition of what a beach body means (a body, going to the beach, right?!), but summer bodycare is really just about making your skin its very best. Smooth, healthy, toned skin is all we all want, and a radiant, golden glow flatters just about everybody. Here’s our edit of the very best summer bodycare products to be your very best summer body…

Ila Spa Body Scrub for Energising and Detoxifying

For toned summer skin that really glows, the first thing you need is a decent body scrub. We’ve fallen head over heels for Ila Spa’s luxurious Body Scrub for Energising and Detoxifying. It’s luxe, but a little goes a long way with this one, which is designed to boost energy and immune function, as well as leaving skin silky smooth – oh hello, multitasking magic! Mineral-rich Himalayan salt crystals detoxify, stimulate the circulation and banish dry, congested skin, while a rich blend of organic oils moisturise and nourish. For best effect, massage a handful into your skin and then hop into the bath for 20 minutes or so to let the ingredients really get to work. Of course – as with everything else from Ila Spa – the scent of this will make you feel like you’ve spent an hour in a luxury spa. Buy online here.

Legology Sun-Lite Sheer Lingerie For Legs

Once you’ve try Sun-Lite the first time, we’re willing to bet you’ll buy a second tube immediately. Why? Created by legendary beauty journo Kate Shapland, this refreshing tinted gel is designed to “make legs feel as light as air” – as they can tend to feel heavier during summer months. The fast-acting gel-cream works to instantly cool, refresh and energise. Sounds impossible? Totally works. Legs feel lifted and lighter, with a sheer bronze tint delivering a hint of flattering colour to contour and enhance your pins. And Sun Lite’s heady scent of Amalfi lemons is basically summer bottled. Buy online here.

Aurelia Probiotic Skincare Firm & Replenish Body Serum

Aurelia is one of our go-to brands for organic skincare than actually works – and we’re already big fans of their Dry Body Oil and ultra-effective Hand Cream. The luxury brand’s latest treat is the Firm & Replenish Body Serum – we’ve grown to expect pretty packaging and an indulgent scent (lemongrass, bergamot, mandarin and cedarwood) from Aurelia, so we won’t bother to dwell on those. Need to know? This deliciously lightweight serum is intensive, deeply-hydrating and quickly absorbed, leaving skin velvety-smooth and beautifully soft. It also works as an aftersun treatment – buy this one in bulk.

Vita Liberata Ten Minute Tan

One of the things we like least about fake tanning? Streaks and scent aside, it has to be the time involved in the whole process. Exfoliating, application, waiting for things to dry so you can dress – never mind the time to sort out stained bedding. So we were pretty intrigued – albeit skeptical – by Vita Liberata’s latest tanning treat: the Ten Minute Tan. Apply as normal, wait ten minutes and then shower off for a bronzing golden glow? Actually yes – this really does work, with the colour appearing after about four hours, and becoming slightly deeper the next day, with the tan lasting a good three to four days.  Even better, this is 100% organic, with streak-free colour that even suits paler skins. Buy online here.

Aesop Rejuvenate Intensive Body Balm

Sea, sand, sweat and sun – summer takes its toll on your skin. What you need is a really effective moisturiser – and they don’t get more rich and deeply hydrating than Aesop’s Rejuvenate Intensive Body Balm. Enriched with concentrated natural and botanical ingredients, this works wonders on parched dry skin – elbows, hands, feet – and even does double-duty as aftersun. The vanilla-sandalwood scent is how we’d always like our skin to smell of a summer evening… Buy online here.

Prismologie Citrine & Bergamot Energising Shower Gel

Something to bring the summer to your shower? Even when the sunshine isn’t doing its stuff, this is the summeriest shower gel around – if you’re not woken up and cheered up after five minutes in the shower with this, even a double espresso isn’t going to work. It’s also enriched with micro-crystals of Citrine – the stone of confidence, no less – which combines with a refreshing bergamot scent to uplift, energise and rejuvenate. As with all of Prismologie’s products, it’s packed with botanicals to take care of skin from top to toe. Buy online here.

St Tropez Instant Tan Finishing Gloss

Okay, got your tan sorted? The newest St Tropez launch is what you need in your life. The wash-off Instant Tan Finishing Gloss is more gloss, less tan, leaving an elegant hint of shimmer with just a little bronze. Never fear, no glitter is included in this – it’s 100% sheeny, sophisticated gloss, leaving legs, decollete and anywhere else looking HOT. It’s one for summer evenings out, to be worn with your most daring LBD. As a side note – this works on even the palest of complexions, and can be layered up if you’re looking for a super sexy look. Buy online here.

Autograph Pre Tan Primer 

One of the reasons most people (around 92%* apparently) gave for not using fake tan? You guessed it – streaks. Foolproof tanning means exfoliation, but the rather clever new Autograph Pre Tan Primer means you can pretty much skip that time-consuming step. Essentially a moisturiser enriched with glycolic acid, this multi-tasker sweeps away dry skin leaving your bod ready for a golden glow. Even, natural tan? Easy peasy. Buy online here. *we might have made that up

Vichy Ideal Body Extraordinary Oil

Vichy? Summer bodycare? Oh yes. The brand’s Ideal Body 3-Gold Dry Oil might not have the catchiest of names, but it’s one of the best new summer beauty products for 2017. A combination of ten different oils plus gold, copper and bronze particles mean that this might just be the only product you need to take on holiday this year. Easily absorbed, it can be used on dry or damp skin, hair and even as a facial oil, leaving everything smoother, shinier, softer and more radiant. Which is what we all want for summer, right? Buy online here.

Rituals Ritual of Karma Suncare

Suncare? Honestly, we really prefer The Ritual of Karma, darling. Rituals’ suncare range is enriched with antioxidants in the form of white tea and gingko, meaning that it’s skin-loving as well as protecting. Top marks for the SPF 50 Sun Protection Milky Spray which absorbs almost instantly and smells delightfully fresh, while the SPF 30 Sun Protection Body Oil contains a tan booster meaning that you’ll tan more quickly, while protecting your skin. Bonus!

New Summer Books

Whether we have a sun-soaked summer or a disappointing washout to look forward to, those lazy, hazy days call for a pile of new books to fall into. Luckily, we’re spoilt for choice this summer, with mesmerising fiction about musicians, maddening families and much more on the horizon. Here’s the titles to add to your TBR pile…

Novelist Laura Barnett is back with her sophomore book, Greatest Hits (W&N). Her bestselling debut, The Versions of Us, was one of 2015’s biggest literary talking points, but her second novel more than exceeds expectations and has a far less tangled plot to contend with. Cass Wheeler is one of music’s all-time greats – think Carole King, complete with flowing locks and lyrics inspired by heartbreak – but these days she lives alone and tends to shut the door on the world. Encouraged out of retirement to choose the tracks for a special compilation album, she looks back on her youth, her marriage and her career, and at the decisions and dramas that shaped her life. Explorations of the tough side of fame can feel grating and clichéd – the booze! the pills! the regrets! – but Cass is an endearing, sympathetic heroine and her trials are ordinary and real. Barnett is a master storyteller, bringing to life 1950s suburbia, the possibility of the 1960s, and the hedonistic heyday of the music industry so that you simply can’t wait to turn the page.

Another second-timer hoping to match her initial success is Francesca Segal, author of The Innocents and now The Awkward Age (Chatto & Windus), the latter a look at the ups and downs of blended families. In one corner we have Julia and Gwen, inseparable mother-daughter pairing since the untimely death of Gwen’s beloved father. In the other there’s academically brilliant, arrogant Nathan and his dad James; their arrival in Julia’s home sets in motion a chain of dramatic events. If you can get past the melodramatic storyline (I won’t spoil it for you, but at times it felt contrived) this is a warm, funny book dealing with a most modern matter.

Also dealing with generational strife is Nickolas Butler’s meandering, beautiful The Hearts of Men (Picador, 13th July), which takes as its stage an American summer camp for boys in the 1960s. In 1962, lonely outsider Nelson is befriended by the archetypal cool kid Jonathan Quick; their loyalty to each other sealed by a particular gruesome game of capture the flag. Despite their differences, the two remain close, even as Nelson is sent off to war and returns to take over at the camp he attended in his unhappy youth, and as Jonathan marries and becomes father and grandfather. As the decades pass, the two families remain connected, with devastating consequences. If you’ve read Butler’s brilliant Shotgun Lovesongs, you’ll be familiar with his gentle portrayal of rural American life; if you haven’t, start here.

Continuing with the rural setting, but raising the creepy factor is Jennie Melamed’s Gather the Daughters (Tinder Press, 25th July), a dystopian novel about a religiously-motivated, patriarchal society almost entirely cut off from the outside world. On the island, girls and women are chattel, fathers are sinister figures, marriage takes place almost as soon as puberty occurs, and adults are euthanised once they become a burden. The rules are strict, the life brutal and short, save for one thing; every summer the children are cut loose; they roam the island with complete impunity until the weather changes. A chance discovery on one of those heady days calls into question everything the community is built on; as the daughters rise up, the question is whether they will be strong enough to change their fates. There are elements of this novel that call to mind The Handmaid’s Tale, but Melamed is less concerned with politics and more interested in the psychological impact of living a life without choice or hope. Gather the Daughters is gripping, if disturbing.

Lastly, Julie Buntin’s Marlena (Picador), which comes heralded by a flurry of praise from authors such as Jonathan Safran Foer, does not disappoint. Our heroine is Cat: a thirtysomething with an ostensibly well-ordered life, who has been forever changed by a teenage friendship and the tragedy that destroyed it. Arriving in rural, impoverished Michigan with her newly divorced mother and unhappy brother, beautiful, confident Marlena offers the hope and escape that Cat is craving. But Marlena’s life is anything but a fairytale, and as their friendship develops Cat is drawn in to the seedy, insalubrious underside of her world. Beautifully written and insightful in its understanding of the complex relationship between girls on the cusp of adulthood, this is bittersweet and wonderful all at once.

The Beauty Fix

Summer. The season of sunshine, making fun plans with friends and family and long, lazy days at the beach. But it’s also the season of constantly checking your calendar so you can plan when you need to schedule waxing appointments and make time to visit the salon… Much, much less fun. There must be an easier way? Luckily, we’ve got the perfect alternative – and it’s called epilation. Introducing your new best friend: the Braun Silk Epil.

The simple solution to smooth legs all summer long? If you haven’t tried an epilator before, you’re definitely missing a trick. Forget spending time and money on waxing, epilating is quick and fuss-free, whether you’re at home or travelling. The best bit? Epilation lasts for ages – and you don’t have to wait for hair to grow back as you do with waxing, epilators work on hairs as short as 0.5mm. Let’s face it, stubble is only really sexy on George Clooney.

It’s also a more long-lasting hair removal solution as hairs are removed at the root, meaning up to four weeks hair-free. And the pain factor? Waxing is definitely worse. For an even more comfortable experience, you can actually use the Braun Silk Epil Wet & Dry Epilator in the shower. Plus, the more you epilate, the less painful it gets. #WINNING. Even better, choose an epilator with massage or exfoliating attachments, and you can create a pampering spa experience at home… Wine, candles and chill-out music optional. You can also epilate while you catch up on your favourite podcasts – and who doesn’t love multi-tasking?

And as for the price? Try epilation now: Shop Braun epilators on Amazon – with up to 50% discount, meaning more more to spend on books to read on the beach, summer sandals and city breaks. Love it, or get your money back! Plus, think of all the time and money you’ll be saving from waxing appointments…

This feature is created in partnership with Braun

The Winner: The Women’s Prize For Fiction

Heard of the term ‘feminist science fiction’? If not, you’d better get used to it pronto. That’s because Naomi Alderman’s The Power – a major proponent of the genre today – has been awarded the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction.

Alderman’s fourth book was praised for its “brilliantly imagined dystopia” in which women can discharge electricity from their hands, turning gender politics and the world order on its head. Sound like perfect reading for today’s uncertain world and turbulent political landscape? The judges – including newsreader Katie Derham, comedian Sarah Pascoe and journalist Sam Baker – thought so too. What’s more, readers won’t be surprised to hear that Alderman was mentored by Margaret Atwood, whose much-loved brand of speculative fiction pervades every page. In her victory speech, Alderman spoke of the influence of other women writers, saying “The support and power of other women have been more important to me than electricity.”

The win comes at a time when dystopian classics are seeing a resurgence in popularity – such as Margaret Atwood’s own classic The Handmaid’s Tale and George Orwell’s 1984. The judges were keen to stress the importance of books at a time of political uncertainty, and reminded us how different the world felt this time last year before Brexit and the Trump presidency.

The Power came top of a strong shortlist that included: Ayobami Adebayo’s Stay With Me, Linda Grant’s The Dark Circle, CE Morgan’s The Sport of Kings, Gwendoline Riley’s First Love and Madeleine Thien’s Do Not Say We Have Nothing.

The Power is published by Viking. You can find out more about the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction and all the winners online here.

We Love Mornings

When you think of dancing at 7am, it’s probably a picture of sweaty all-night ravers that comes to mind – not healthy, happy people starting their day in the most positive way possible. Since it first launched four years ago, Morning Gloryville has created something of a revolution, with events now taking place across the globe and the rise of ‘conscious clubbing’. Dancing your heart out sans alcohol is actually a truly, truly wonderful experience, and one that – once you’ve tried once – you’ll want to repeat ASAP! Ahead of Morning Gloryville’s fourth birthday extravaganza, we talked energy, happiness, wellbeing and the power of dancing with their CEO, Samantha Moyo…

What is so special about dancing?

Dancing is a medicine that is 100% powered by YOU! It’s an opportunity to release, unleash your spirit and connect to your heart. The moment you are lost in a dance you stop thinking and when you stop thinking you are free as a bird and in bliss!

Top wellbeing tip?

Feel good in your body and mind throughout the good times and bad. If you’re feeling awful, do awful well. And guess what – if you’re feeling great, do great well.

What does mindfulness mean to you?

To me, mindfulness is the ability to observe everything going on within the inner plane (mind, body and soul) whilst cracking on with life. It’s an infinite set of tools that help us manage life. It’s important to recognise that part of mindfulness is mindlessness.

What does your morning generally look like?

I LOVE to wake up gently and stroke my lover. Then some breathing or meditating. Then showering and moisturising. Then trying to start working as late as possible. In an ideal world, all meetings and seeing of people is from midday.

What do you do to boost your energy?

Pranayama. I learnt Atma Kriya Yoga and it’s literally saved my life. It teaches how much LIFE, ENERGY and NUTRITION is in every breathe.

Why are so many people so tired these days?

Good question. I thought it was from working so much but then the other day it dawned on me. It’s because we are becoming more sensitive so we’re processing more of everything around us – like computers. The more we expand our consciousness as a civilisation the more we are learning to operate differently and the more energy it’s taking. I believe there will be a collective breakthrough. Remember this is also the first time people are openly talking about feelings and tiredness and consciousness and wellness. All of this takes energy.

What does happiness mean to you?

Happiness is when my heart feels warm and fuzzy or when I choose to smile.

Favourite music/song/album/DJ to dance to?

Do Your Thing by Basement Jaxx, Fatboy Slim’s Praise You and I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free by Nina Simone.

Top morning energy tip?

Breathe in deep like air is your food. Then listen to your favourite music. And then smile. Oh and summer love-making is always great for getting your shine on!

Morning Gloryville‘s Fourth Birthday takes place at the Brixton Beach Rooftop on the 1st June, promising to be their biggest rave to date, with a surprise headlining act from one of the world’s most famous DJs, and attendance of over 1000 sober Londoners. With past acts including the likes of Rudimental and Basement Jaxx, the secret performer this year is sure to wow guests and get pulses racing. To book tickets, see the Morning Gloryville website.

All Day Cocktails

There seem to be so many silly days celebrating random things RN. But a whole day dedicated to cocktails? Hell, World Cocktail Day is something we’d happily celebrate 365 days a year! And the best kind of World Cocktail Day? Who doesn’t love a sparkling cocktail? So without further ado, here are three cocktails made with the finest Skinny Champagne and Skinny Prosecco – one for breakfast or brunch, one to enjoy in the afternoon and one to make if you’re inviting people over for a relaxed dinner or garden party…. Cheers!

The Pink Grapefruit Sumac Mimosa

A twist on the traditional mimosa, this adds a hint of Middle Eastern flavours into the mix, with a zing of tangy sumac and an aromatic hint of star anise – all finished with scented lemon thyme. With fresh pink grapefruit juice topped up with Skinny Prosecco, this is basically the perfect AM cocktail to enjoy with breakfast/brunch and the weekend papers – a little perk-you-up* to get Saturday or Sunday started. Packed full of Vitamin C too, so it counts as one of your five-a-day right? (*also an excellent hair-of-the-dog).

Pink grapefruit // Sumac
Star anise // Small bunch of lemon thyme
Skinny Prosecco

Juice the pink grapefruits and strain out the pips – one grapefruit should make two mimosas. Lightly wet the glass rims and then dip them in sumac to coat. Pour in pink grapefruit juice and then top up with fizz. Bash two or three stalks of lemon thyme against your palm to release the aroma then add as a garnish. Carefully turn the star anise in a flame for ten seconds or so, then add one to each glass to finish.

The Strawberry Jasmine Afternoon Tea

What flavour says summer more than strawberries? Whether you drink the Strawberry Jasmine Afternoon Tea with Champagne or Prosecco, it’s a wonderfully light afternoon cocktail – and delicious with cakes and sandwiches. Or just on its own – up to you! Jasmine tea and rose water add a slighted scented finish, but you can easily omit these if you want. Fresh strawberry puree with a twist of summery basil is a delicious combo – and even better when the sun is shining… For something a little different, finish with a little dusting of black pepper – it works beautifully with the flavour of the strawberries.

Strawberry puree //  Rose water
Jasmine tea //  Skinny Prosecco
Basil  //  Jasmine flowers

Start by making the jasmine tea and leaving to cool ahead of time. Then prepare the strawberry puree – one punnet should make three or four cocktails depending on the strawberry size. Don’t forget to sieve for seeds! Add three or four tablespoons of strawberry puree to each glass and then a couple of drops of rosewater to taste. Stir in two to three tablespoons of jasmine tea before topping up with Prosecco or Champagne. Finish with a basil leaf or two, and some fresh jasmine flowers – or pink rose petals if you prefer.

The Garden Goddess

This is one marvellous cocktail to make lots of if you’re having people over for drinks – perhaps an al fresco meal of a summer evening, or a long, all-day barbecue with people popping in and out. Make a big jug or pitcher with lots of ice, fruit, a little cloudy apple juice and top up with Skinny Champagne. We haven’t given exact quantities as this cocktail is really best made to your taste. You can also add in gin if you’d like a stronger cocktail – but a word of warning: the Garden Goddess is very, very moreish. Perhaps one of the most drinkable long cocktails we’ve come across.

Cucumber // Apple
Cloudy Apple Juice // Light sparkling elderflower
Pear // Lemon
Mint // Skinny Champagne

First prepare the fruit – thinly slice apples, pears and lemons and add to a large jug or punch bowl. Add long, thin strips of cucumber (create these with a peeler) and top up with half-and-half cloudy apple juice and sparkling elderflower – then leave in the fridge. When you’re ready to serve, throw in lots of ice cubes and mint, before finishing with fizz. Easiest cocktail ever and everyone loves this one!

For more information on Skinny Champagne and Skinny Prosecco, see the Thomson & Scott website.

Summer Cocktails

Garden parties, social occasions and summer evenings are somehow just that little bit better with a cooling cocktail in hand, aren’t they? From refreshing spritzers to punchy fruit cocktails, here’s our pick of the very best summer cocktails to make right now…

Plum & Thyme Prosecco Smash

Unexpected but delicious – this is also a really pretty cocktail to serve of a summer evening. Or if you’re having a special brunch, this makes a chic replacement for the traditional mimosa. Recipe via My Diary of Us.

Sangria Verde

Quite different to too-sweet traditional sangria, this take on the Spanish staple is a refreshing blend of lime, cucumber, mint, basil and melon – mixed with Vinho Verde. Recipe via The Bojon Gourmet.

Passionfruit & Elderflower Fizz

Scented elderflower pairs with passionfruit’s tropical vibe, and topped up with sparkling water and a twist of lime, this is actually pretty healthy too! Add in a shot of vodka if you’d like a boozy version. Recipe via Eat Love Eats.

The Love Potion Cocktail

Blackberries, thyme, prosecco – who would have thought something so simple could be so darned delicious. Not to mention eye-catching. Make a big jug of this – it’ll go quick! Recipe via Lark & Linen

Vodka Pear Lavender Lemonade

Lavender might not be to everyone’s taste, but here it works beautifully with sweet pear and fresh, citric lemonade. It’s also easy to make without the vodka for the Designated Drivers too. Recipe via Sugar & Cloth.

Strawberry Thyme Lillet Spritzer

Strawberries. The pure flavour of summer no? Serve this sparkling spritzer with afternoon tea, or make a big punchbowl of it if you’re expecting company! Recipe via What’s Gaby Cooking?

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Ginger & Jasmine Rose Cocktail

And now for something quite, quite different. Oh come on, you’re thinking, rosé mixed with fresh ginger and jasmine tea? Sounds wrong, tastes very right. Recipe via Sugar & Charm.

Rose Lemon Spritzer

Yes, this might be the most Instagrammable cocktail ever. But just LOOK how pretty! Luckily it’s also incredibly easy to make, so prepare to knock your guests’ socks off with this one. Recipe via Half Baked Harvest.


Black Cherry Bourbon Cola Smash

If you’re B O R E D of gin, how about a cocktail with a lil bourbon to spice things up? If you’re not keen on cola, you can substitute for ginger beer – or swap for a diet version for an almost saintly tipple… Recipe via Supergolden Bakes.

Chili Lime Mango Margaritas

Who’s making margaritas? Get the tequila on the go with these punchy mango margs, with a hint of lime and a hit of chili. Counts as one of our five-a-day, right? Recipe via Minimalist Baker.