world according to sam

Don't go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first. Mark Twain

Tag: middle-age

I’ve got Specs Appeal!

  FortyTen not only saw a surfeit of new body hair but also an escalation in my loss of vision For several years I have fought the scourge of mid-life macular degeneration, resisting wearing glasses for as long as possible. I have super sized my phone, my kindle is set to a ridiculously large font AND I put my make-up on with my nose pressed to the mirror. Having seen Mr H become almost partially sighted overnight with the advent of his own spectaclage some years ago I thought my avoidance may postpone the inevitable. 
It is a cruel irony that as we reach that time of our lives, so called ‘mid-life’, to see anything we need an unforgiving and harsh retina-burning white light that catches and accentuates every wrinkle and unthreaded whisker! And further down the line when the shortness of our arms prohibits bringing menus into focus, the required  magnifying properties of glasses do just that …. Magnify those crows feet to Ostrich dimensions. 
And still the situation worsens. .. to further add to my shame at having to wear glasses, I am now so mightily hacked off at having to retrieve said specs from my bag each time I need to check the price/size of any item whilst shopping, (made all the more abhorrent as I battle with the finger-nipping case wherein they lie), I have invested in a spectacle chain. No longer am I channelling geek-chic, oh no, I am now chanelling doyenne of Radio 4, presenter and advocate of the fancy glass chain – Ms Jenni Murray. 
As I searched for something discrete and innocuous to keep my glasses near, I was surprisingly drawn to something altogether more fancy than what I had anticipated choosing. A full-blown Hinge & Brackett worthy bejewelled chain!!  I love the freedom it has afforded me, no longer am I cursing and muttering as I wend my way up and down the aisles of Waitrose, no more throwing tissues, gum and handbag detritus during a mad search for my glasses to key in my PIN  – no there they are, swinging above my ample bosom, ever present and handy, capturing any stray morsel that may drop as I am eating … Collecting crumbs, the adult version of a pelican bib … Oh how I hate getting old!! But wait …. Hot off the press from a very beautiful and hip ski seasonaire, these jewelled chains were ALL the rage in Morzine last year … I’m back to cool! 


Bobbi Brown Longwear Eye Base

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Channeling my inner Vesuvius, namely the hot flushes that abound, erupting with little or no warning (or warming for that matter …. straight to the heat of Hades!), I am increasingly finding keeping my make up intact a real issue …. Now my make up routine, as I may have mentioned before is scant although I love all things new and cosmetic and often purchase with no intention of using the items but rather like a magpie I must gather these beauty finds nonetheless and line my nest (bathroom cabinet) with them and each day when I reach for my eye-shadow (used as a liner), mascara (lashings of) and observe my jewel like acquisitions , feel them, smell them, sometimes try a little lip or cheek colour before I climb into my bath to remove it again before I start my day. Its an odd thing to do I know but something I have indulged in since I was a child when I would steal into my gorgeously cool aunt’s bedroom, where I would sit on the upper level of her kidney-shaped G plan dressing table and avail myself of her top-notch make up finds (its in the genes, that as a family we all love those shiny, golden compacts, phials, pots and lipsticks of the luxury cosmetic market). There I would sit for hours dabbing a little Elizabeth Arden Blue Grass behind my ears, perfecting a cat flick with a Lancome stylo eyeliner and then a swathe of All Day Roselit Beige, a highly scented creamy nude by Estee Lauder on my lips before sweeping my hair to the side in a Lana Turneresque side pony and using every blonde Kirby grip I could get my hands on to make sure it never strayed back to my nape. There I would sit for hours chatting to myself in the double width mirror, discussing the merits of the beauty booty I had discovered there. And then as a final parting gift, lest she may not realize that I had been kind enough to test on her behalf all her new make up and skincare, I would peel out, one by one every Kleenex tissue from the lacey covered tissue cube and create tissue flowers as a little thank you – though frankly she should have thanked her 6-year-old niece for taking it upon herself to quality test every item in her boudoir on her behalf. I would wait hopefully sitting at the breakfast table on a Sunday morning (as this was the morning after a sleepover at my grandparents) awaiting everyone (anyone, please?) to notice how simply gorgeous I now looked and really how unreasonable they all were to not allow me to wear this look all the time. Looking back now, how my long-suffering aunt didn’t commit blue murder is beyond me ….. her cosmetic stash was worth a king’s ransom, then and now – and I have to confess I still enjoy a rifle through her still well stocked make up bag with its many pockets, organised brushes and currently Giorgio Armani and Laura Mercier swag.

Anyway, as usual I digress …. My recent find and one that I am using more frequently is the Bobbi Brown Long Wear Eye Base in Medium, a creamy textured base in a biscuit colour that provides the perfect even toned, slightly glossy but non-greasy underpinning for eye make-up – the wand like applicator is soft on the eyelid and gives just enough colour to neutralise pink tones and create the perfect platform for any shadow or liner. Personally I prefer a shadow to a liner because the colour and line is a little diffused and less harsh. I still can’t quite get to grips with smudging a pencil line, not sure if I am too heavy-handed, but I tend to apply, smudge and then remove all but a dirty smear. Also I have lash extensions so have to be careful using any pencils or liners that are too liquid or wax based and require heavy-duty removers.


So how long is Longwear? After recently dancing into the early hours on a steamy evening at a friends garden party, imbibing one too many Tom Collins and falling into bed in sloooothenly slut mode (ie no make up removal whatsoever, the trail of clothes from the bathroom to the bedroom testament to a the mmol/L of alcohol levels in my blood ) my eye make up was still pretty much intact at lunchtime the next day. I know the make up removal police will be baulking at the very idea of nearly 24 hours in the same make up but I actually LOVE my make up the next day, that slightly slept in, perfect smokey eye is actually what I aspire to when applying my make up, in fact if I could master the art of power napping (I can’t, I need to be in bed mostly, with my clothes off!) I may well build this into my occasion make up routine, though now when I sleep I tend to fall asleep with my hands tucked around my face which leaves an imprint for three or four hours after waking – gone are the days of my youth when I would wake up with a gentle flush to my cheeks and sexy bed head hair – now it is more akin to having had a bit of a run in with Freddie Kruger


So try the Bobbi Brown Longwear Base, (£19)  it really does keep your make up looking fresh and prevents slippage during those hot and sticky days and night, especially if like me you are heading off for a September holiday AFTER the kid’s school holidays!! Or with the deluge of rain that has just swept in over the weekend this will help to keep make up there for a little longer if you get caught in a downpour!



Fifty Shades of Grey From Silver Fox to GoldiLocks

Fifty Shades of Grey

I have been lucky enough, for most of my adult life, to have had my hair cut, coloured, conditioned and styled at The Daniel Galvin Salon in London’s Marylebone, and this week is no exception before I head off to Ibiza for a few days next week …. My badger hued hairline has once again got the better of me. As I head off to the Island of beautiful, (firm) young things the very least I can do is cover my fifty shades of grey!

An appointment with the lovely Lily (who trained under the legendary Daniel Galvin OBE King-of-Colour himself) took my shimmering silver halo back to that multi-tonal sun-kissed YOUTHFUL blonde of days gone by. This is the Daniel Galvin Salon’s USP in my opinion. Every member of the DG colour team have served an apprenticeship for three years under the watchful eye of Daniel and his senior colour educators …. So each and every one of the colourists from graduate through to Daniel himself uses the same  prescriptive colour technique.  What do I mean by prescriptive?  Imagine an old fashioned apothecary, the colour dispensary at the salon is not dissimilar – carefully blending a little of this, a smatter of that melded together with a huge chunk of colouring talent to create your own unique and personal colour formulation perfectly matched to your skintone, eye colour and your own hair’s natural base colour. The result? Seamless ie., no tell-tale bands of old colour and new colour. golden locks that look natural and make maintenance easy.

My hair grows at a rate of knots (tenuous hair pun) and as a consequence so too do my grey-ing roots and whilst my follicley challenged brother-in-law tells me to be thankful that the hair stays on my head long enough to go grey it is tiresome to have to have to head off for a cover up every 4/5 weeks.  Louise Galvin as my oldest friend, confidante and also celebrated hair colour guru has bestowed  her Midas touch on my hair since we were in our late teens (lucky, lucky me …. ) and as a consequence has guided me along the gradual (not so gradual, galloping more like) road to managing my transition to grey.  The upshot of her knowledge is that to keep maintenance to a minimum I have had to go lighter gradually  so the regrowth of those pesky Brillo pad textured greys is more subtle and the demarcation between grey and blonde less noticeable.  Louise is off for a Summer break at the moment and Lily is my go to girl at the salon in Louise’s absence, I will undoubtedly need a touch up in a little over a months time but if I can’t quite make it, I know that I am not going to have to hide myself away until I can make it back up to London.  To refresh the old colour I also had a Louise Galvin Vitox Treatment which is a Vitamin C detox that dissolves any product, mineral or environmental build up.  Comment below if you want to know more about the Louise Galvin products, I worked on Louise’s products for nearly 9 years so they are now in my DNA!

Finally my hair was cut and dried by the gorgeous AND brilliantly talented Frankie who also does my Keratin Permanent Blow Dry (review another time)

PS If you are not a blonde they turn out polished, beautiful brunettes too!!

Disclaimer – I have ‘shared’ that I have worked for Louise and she is my friend but our friendship has not influenced my writing – I would also like to ‘share’ that my photography is pretty shocking but I do promise to try harder …. but it does give you an insight into the dramatic change in colour

Dead Dolls Society

Steps Taken  :  1578 (poor)

Green Juice Drunk : 0 (I know, see my Vitamix blog coming up in a few days)

HIIT  :  I mowed the lawn on the Hare setting – does that count?



Some time ago I won a competition to have lunch at a London Pop-Up restaurant – there are two things here …. I have never visited a Pop-Up and I have NEVER won a competition so when I received an email from the team at The Nudge to say I had won lunch for four people I was ridiculously excited, the sort of excitement that keeps you awake at night – at my age I really should get over this level of elation.  The Nudge is a brilliantly edited Guide to Cool London, specialising in pop-ups, unusual bars, restaurants and new launches. When I signed up I just happened to enter the competition …. AND I WON #shrieks …. Sunday Dinner (technically it’s lunch, but the theme was Sunday Dinners, the Nudge website assured me this was a Northern thing)  for four including a bottle of wine (could it get any better?) ….  I checked out the website and this place is Super Cool …. How are we four, husband and two game pals,  going to fit in?  This place is quite obviously for the young and cool Hoxton set.  On a fresh Sunday morning in February we set off, purchasing our group travel South West Train tickets (could we feel any more middle-aged?) and headed to the big Smoke (you do realise real people who have a life never call London the Big Smoke, don’t you?).  Grayshott, Waterloo, Old Street and then on foot to Hoxton Square passing The Breakfast Club with those louche young things who had just fallen from their beds sated and slightly hungover from the previous nights’ revelry, it was lunchtime and the breakfast queue was just starting to snake round the corner. We oldsters with our regimented breakfast, lunch and supper internal dinner bells who must eat within the given time allocation or thence  after suffer various debilitating digestive ailments were primed to take our midday repas at the stroke of Noon.

Dolls House

We had arrived early to the venue, this happens when you reach a certain age, you become anxious that despite having an A-Z, Google Maps and an iPhone that does pretty much everything for you, you are convinced that there is some impending disaster that will halt you in your tracks and you will never find your end destination  in the given time – my travel and eating companions have a few years on me and of course they were the ones driven with anxiety … I was just hungry!  So we arrived at our destination on Hoxton Square EARLY.  It was pointed out by one of my companions that the venue did not look like a restaurant at all and in fact was more akin to “a snuff movie set” …. The Dead Dolls Club moniker did nothing to allay our fears.  So when our reservation time neared we approached the speakeasy door and knocked hesitantly.  In actual fact there was nothing libidinous about the venue once inside – we were just the first to arrive! We were welcomed in by achingly young, hip and beautiful waiters and waitresses and shown to a large community table upstairs in the Drawing Room.

The building itself can best be described as pre-loved. the ‘temporary caretakers’ of this old textile factory have created a magical interior of whitewashed walls embellished with black marker pens to create monochromatic panelling, baroque fireplaces and old style clocks … this is Sharpie art on a whole new level.

As the lunchtime crowd arrived and our table filled, we were joined by varying sized groups, a young couple in love – probably not best placed in the centre of the table as they created an unyielding divide between each end and it seemed rude to try end disengage them from their smooching.  But we were joined by two gorgeous Danish students living in London.  Whilst we all started with our complimentary wine they enjoyed cocktails and so any shyness was washed away as we all imbibed more alcohol on empty stomachs. Conversation was lively and varied, the two girls who were similar ages to our own children were bright, engaging company and in fact 6 months later we are still in touch – we are hoping to drag them out to the ‘country’ and show them just how crazy village life can be! Our topics of discussion included politics, media, religion and the merits of red trousers ….. there is a maritime tradition that red trousers may be worn by those that have sailed across the Atlantic – in which case there are a lot of gentlemen of a certain age residing in the shires that have made this epic journey????

Lunch was a set menu, created by Terry Edwards of Check On who trained under Mark Hix. Priced at £25, and I know we didn’t have to pay, but if we had, this was great value …. Check On Nuggets served in a KFC style box with Bloody Mary Ketchup as a Starter, Egg & Sweetcorn with crispy chicken skin, (infinitely more delicious than it sounds), followed by corn fed chicken breast stuffed with sage, lashings of fresh vegetables and roasties served on huge enamel platters and a lemon pudding plate of cake, verbena marshmallow, curd, lemoncello jus and a sherbert & thyme something, that was all lusciously tart …. Service was bustling and the atmosphere fun, friendly and inclusive.  To not be part of the tables mixed-group dynamic and conversation was to miss out on an important part of the experience.   This is not just lunch, it is very much an ‘experience’ and whilst this particular theme is over, there are always other Eating opportunities.  We ended our meal with divine Espresso Martinis on the recommendation of our two new Danish dining friends – frankly I’d rather have one of these than a pudding if the choice is there! And then bid a fond farewell to the two lovely girls as we all spilled onto Hoxton Square, as the last to leave through the unmarked prohibtion door.


The Dolls House is a Private Club (for which we are too old and too far away to enjoy) with a charming  and novel entry to membership – no fee but instead a carefully selected  gift for the House, a bottle of fine spirits, ie not your average Smirnoff on special at the local Morrisons, but something a little more refined; Silver or Brass Candelabra;  a Cut Glass Decanter or a fine china dog for the Parlour- membership ‘fees’ have increased since our visit in February as I think at the time a bouquet of white flowers could also secure membership  but an increase would be testament to the popularity of The Dolls House.  But fear not non-members can be part of the unique atmosphere by booking  to eat at the Club.  We loved being Hoxton Hipsters, albeit for one afternoon.  You can check out forthcoming dining opportunities on their website The Dead Dolls Club

Attend Hen Party and your four courses will include Check On Nuggets served in McDonald’s-style boxes with Bloody Mary ketchup; Goosnargh corn-fed chicken breast stuffed with sage and rolled into a cylinder; and a lemon-fest to finish. – See more at:
Attend Hen Party and your four courses will include Check On Nuggets served in McDonald’s-style boxes with Bloody Mary ketchup; Goosnargh corn-fed chicken breast stuffed with sage and rolled into a cylinder; and a lemon-fest to finish. – See more at:
Attend Hen Party and your four courses will include Check On Nuggets served in McDonald’s-style boxes with Bloody Mary ketchup; Goosnargh corn-fed chicken breast stuffed with sage and rolled into a cylinder; and a lemon-fest to finish. – See more at:


Have you tried somewhere a little off the beaten track or unusual? Do tell ….

                Good Foods Ends With Good Talk

                                                                                                                            Geoffrey Neighbor


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