Thursday, 24 March 2011

Biome Lifestyle - ethical homeware

In the last few weeks I have re-discovered Biome Lifestyle, the ethical homeware etailer.

I have been working in the ethical and sustainable industry for a mere few months since graduating, and it has become increasingly clear to me that many ‘ethical’ websites - let alone specifically for homeware products - are just so terribly... Nineties.
Recently, a particularly fabulous couple of my acquaintance have moved in together. As my mother’s daughter, it has taken a will of iron to absolutely and resolutely restrain myself from diving in and demanding to co-ordinate the entire interior decor.

I have decreed that my limit to the overbearing help I should like to offer this couple shall be a house-warming gift/parcel. (Parcels, you understand, have more scope for a number of goodies). 
I wanted something for this wonderful couple that was incredibly stylish, individual and affordable - I am mostly broke. My work and inherent lifestyle choices happily imposes a need to fulfil the ethical purchasing criteria. I also wanted the online browsing & purchasing experience to be inspiring, stress-free and, for god’s sake, fun.

Etailer Biome Lifestyle hits all the right buttons. Refreshingly design-led, this selling platform is easy to browse and stylishly laid out with a gorgeously well-chosen collection of products - labelled according to their ethical credentials. 

I’m particularly taken with a few pieces (pictured throughout). I've definitely found my first-point-of-call for all future gift ideas.

The price points are slightly higher than some homeware etailers and bricks-and-mortar retailers (I’m thinking ikea, naturally), but founder Alexandra Bishop’s vision and creative direction has put them in direct competition with the likes of John Lewis and ilva (before their UK arm went into administration - to my mother’s grief).

Speaking to Alexandra, she tells me her priority was to bridge the overwhelming divide between style-led and ethical e-stores. An admirable ambition, and one she has certainly achieved. Which leaves me with one thought: ethical etailers, it’s time to step up your game.

For more information about Biome Lifestyle, visit them at:
Or follow them on Twitter: @biomelifestyle 

World Book Night 2011

I have begun some kind of quest to read each title on this year’s World Book Night book list (which can be found here).  
There’s no attachment to WBN, none. But I was passed one of their books (Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ ‘Love in the time of cholera’) across the counter one afternoon - which bore the branding. Inside the cover, to my delight, was the full reading list. 
The attraction lies solely in the ‘list’ factor. It takes the problem (if you will) of choice out of the equation on deciding which book to read next, and I like that it’s written down in one place for me, rather than me having to remember to find the scrawled note.
I scanned the list and I recognized several titles which were filed away under my mental category of, ‘ooh! I’ve been meaning to read that one!’ 
The other advantage of working through a list such as this, is that I am given a head start: having read 2 or 3 of the titles already. I think we can just glaze over this suggestion of appalling laziness on my part. Plus, there’s a bonus title (Margaret Attwood’s ‘The blind assassin’), which lives on my shelves but has never been read. 
In this attempt at a series of blogs, I’ll talk about where I found the book, where I read the book, and what I thought of it. And, if you’re especially lucky, it won’t be nearly as boring as the previous sentence. 
Bristol, I am slowly discovering, is a mine of good bookshops. Indies, 2nd hand, vintage and a nice large Waterstones.
I like reading. I’ve liked reading for a long time. But I don’t like having to actively find good books to read. I hate reading books to discover I am not enjoying the journey.
It’s only very, very recently that I’ve twigged my personal preference in a book is The One Where each chapter is written from a different perspective, a different voice. (Can someone enlighten me on the correct terminology, please? My English tutor would be horrified.)

St. Nicks Market, Bristol
Happily enough, the first book that I found on a recent scavenge in a 2nd hand book shop (Beware the Leopard Books, St. Nicks Market, Bristol - go in and say hello, and buy a book) was Kate Atkinson’s ‘Case Histories’.

It’s brilliant. 
I’m skeptical of reviews. Respected publishing houses and broadsheets having word-gasms all over a back cover isn’t usually what reels me in. I do like reading a good bit of teaser prose though - and I get tetchy with the author/publisher who denies me this. Atkinson has done nicely. 
Without giving too much away - I could still punch the guy who told me Dumbledore dies at the end - it’s a detective novel. There’s a few horrific deaths at the start, a really awkward sex scene that I physically tried to read through my hand covering my eyes, a healthy dose of characters who have completely broken down home lives and 410 pages of who in the hell did it. 
It’s taken me about a week to read it - I’ve been driven nuts by well-meaning, arseholing family and friends who want to spend time with me, and hear about how I’m doing, or in work, when I could be sat completely solitarily reading this bloody excellent book. I’ve been grabbing at spare 20 minutes and - I couldn’t believe myself the other day - I actually set my alarm early so I could get in a chapter before work.
I think, once I’ve exhausted the WBN2011 list, I’ll come back to Atkinson. 
Next up, Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ 'Love in the time of cholera'. I’ve heard it’s a bit heavy going so I’ll get back to you on my progress.

Friday, 4 March 2011

Addled with fail? Probably.

I am partial to few good adjectival phrases like, ‘riddled with gin’. Today’s adjectival phrase of choice is, ‘addled with fail’.
I suppose you could argue that this superlative usage could not be applied to the proceedings of my day. Perhaps I should refer to it as Largely Bi-Polar. 
And so, dear, darling reader, I shall leave the outcome of my day to your good judgement. 
This morning, I woke up - without my alarm set - on time. This is good. 
Ambling downstairs, I find my father making tea. Upon the arrival of The Mothership, I propose breakfast, and there’s much  banter as I prepare and burn an omlette. This is good. 
I get ready for my interview in London, and am ready in good time. Dad offers his taxi services but he takes half an hour to be ready and out the door. It is now 10.55, my interview begins at 12. It takes me 55 minutes door-to-door. This is bad. 
Arriving in Oxford Circus at 11.50, I meet Lovely Eliza from boticca, who gives me my beautiful Little Glass Clementine necklace - a delivery that has been delayed by an un-named weekly glossy (don't ask). This is good (the delivery, not the delay).

Little Glass Clementine

From Oxford Circus, my new, 5 day old, case-less, iPhone 4 provides me with directions to my interview location. This is good. 
I arrive on time, just, but still with my jeans on and my flat boots. My beautiful silk embroidered skirt from Coast (painstakingly preserved for the journey in bags and tissue), and Old Favourites stilettos will have to remain in my bag. This is bad.
The interview (sought-after industry specific business mentoring programme - not a job) goes well. An hour of questioning and some fairly well-constructed but leading answers on my part, they tell me yes, I have a place. This is good. 
They ask me for my trading address. My trading address is in Bristol. They tell me no, I don’t have a place. My trading address is not in London. This is bad.

I receive a message from a friend nearby, and we meet for a London Power Catch Up. He buys me a coffee, which I suspect is particularly because I look rough as arseholes. This is good (the catch up, not my aesthetic). 

I get a text from The Mothership, informing me I’ve left my Bristol keys at Taskis Towers (Chez Taskis and Casa Taskis have fallen from popular usage - where ‘popular’ means me). This is bad.

Getting on my coach, I take a brief, but wholly satisfying call from my best friend. She informs me she is baking a cake. This is good.

Splendid Cake

My coach pulls into Bristol and I head straight a local, friendly curry house. I am handed a beautifully brewed spiced chai masala tea, with a healthy dollop of Golden Syrup. This is good. 
Since my boyfriend is shortly due to arrive for dinner, I decide to change out of my jeans and into my skirt and stilettos in the spirit of ‘making an effort, because I fancy you’. This is good.
Changing, I hear a *clunk, crack*. My iPhone, 5 days old, has vacated my pocket and fallen to the tiled floor of the bathroom. The glass screen is shattered. This is bad. 
Sad iPhone

Despite the dismay and disappointment from the day (and my new found rhyming skillz), I begin to discuss some Fantaskis-grown plans for the future of ethical fashion in Bristol over dinner (delicious lentil dahl & chicken tikka masala). This is good. 

So, what do you think, reader? Addled with fail? Distinctly bi-polar? Gaining less than I have lost? In need of a dose of MTFU?
I am going to sleep as soon as possible to avoid anymore catastrophes. Tomorrow I will visit the Apple Store in search for a resolution. My pride, I think, will take longer to repair. And a relocation to London, perhaps longest of all.