Music Monday

What I'll be listening to this week. 

You can listen to the playlist on Spotify by clicking here.


As - Stevie Wonder

God Is A Woman - Ariana Grande (explicit) 

Drops of Jupiter - Train 

Sweet Life - Frank Ocean (explicit)

Let The Good Times Roll - Ray Charles

Until You Come Back To Me - Aretha Franklin

I Never Loved You Anyway- The Corrs

Vienna - Ultravox 

Sustainable Fashion: Part Five

Summer to autumn dressing, with sequins. 

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Wearing an LL Bean sweater from ASOS Marketplace, second hand sequin mini skirt from eBayKurt Geiger booties, and bag from Urbancode

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Another super comfortable LL Bean item of clothing. The skirt is less comfortable but I love the contrast between soft and harsh. 

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The flowers and I really get each other. 

All photographs: Anna Harding from Hello Ding

Make Up: Glossier and Bourjois 

Sustainable Fashion: Part Four

Wearing Ray-Ban Wayfarers from eBay, silk trousers from The Vintage Room, and a black t-shirt and sandals, both from ASOS.

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These trousers were such a score. They are so comfortable, and the print is really eye-catching. They originally had bright blue buttons running up both sides but I took them off. 

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While on the shoot with Anna, we popped into The Hambledon, one of my favourite shops in Winchester. It's really hard to resist purchasing anything! I came away with some blank notecards from Paper Poetry

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Super casual posing here. 

All photographs: Anna Harding from Hello Ding 

Make Up: Mac and Glossier

Music Monday

What I'll be listening to this week. 

You can listen to the playlist on Spotify by clicking here.


On The Sunny Side Of The Street - Ella Fitzgerald

Good Love Is On The Way - John Mayer Trio  

Beautiful Disaster (Live) - Kelly Clarkson

It's Alright - The Redwalls

Only When I Sleep - The Corrs

Electric Lady - Janelle Monáe

Sinnerman - Nina Simone

Peg - Steely Dan

Sustainable Fashion: Part Three

Hotter than the sun, and I'm still WEARING KNITWEAR. 

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I got this LL Bean sweater from Beyond Retro in Brighton while I was studying at Sussex Uni. It's probably my favourite item of clothing I own. It is beginning to look very dishevelled (or loved, as I like to call it). I bought a pair of Lee jeans the same day, and I didn't take them off until the jeans literally began to wear away. I still have them, even though they are unwearable. 

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The Kurt Geiger boots were a purchase from eBay. I really like to prepare for the autumn months in advance, so they are ready and waiting in my wardrobe the moment the first leaves begin to fall off the trees. 

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All photographs - Anna Harding from Hello Ding

Make Up - Mac and Glossier

Earrings - ASOS

Music Monday

What I'll be listening to this week. 

You can listen to the playlist on Spotify by clicking here.


High Five - Sigrid 

Elusive - Lianne La Havas

Groove Is In The Heart - Deee-Lite

Nica's Dream - Horace Silver

At The River - Groove Armada  

Joshua Fit The Battle of Jericho - Mahalia Jackson   

Finesse - Bruno Mars ft. Cardi B

With Every Heartbeat - Robyn ft. Kleerup

Sustainable Fashion: Part Two

What is it with me and knitwear in the summer? 

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Wearing a knitted vest my mum wore in the late 1970s from the men's department of Marks and Spencer, second-hand LL Bean jeans from ASOS Marketplace, a vintage handbag that was a Christmas present from one of my best friends a few years ago, Kurt Geiger booties, and New Look ear cuffs.

These jeans are so comfortable. I almost always buy jeans from the 80s or 90s; they tend to have a higher waist and wider leg which I love. 

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These shoes were love at first sight; I saw them in an airport and had to use every ounce of will power to resist them. I was still thinking about them four months later, so I went to the Kurt Geiger store in Covent Garden. I have worn them so much that they really need repairing, but I'm too afraid that someone will say they can't be fixed...

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One of the nicest places to sit in Winchester! Flat Whites' does amazing coffee and really good breakfasts. 

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Photographer: Anna Harding from Hello Ding

Make Up: MAC and Glossier. 

Sustainable Fashion: Part One

I'm really enjoying the sustainable fashion movement at the moment; I've been reading a lot about reusing and recycling, and I'm trying hard to buy clothes from charity shops, vintage stores and websites like eBay, One Scoop Store and ASOS Marketplace

I decided that I wanted to explore what I already had in my wardrobe that is secondhand or vintage; turns out, there are a few pieces that I own that have previous lives elsewhere.  I wanted to explore all the clothing options that I had that to prove to myself how easy secondhand and sustainable fashion is. 

Anna from Hello Ding (who is also a fellow Spitfire Sister of course!) agreed to be the photographer for the project (her instagram is amazing, you can check it out here). 

 Checking out the second hand book store in Winchester Cathedral grounds.

Checking out the second hand book store in Winchester Cathedral grounds.

This red knit dress was designed and made by Annie Durkan in the early 1980s. My mum modelled the dress for her and was allowed to keep it at the end of the shoot. I had it in my dressing up box from the age of 8, and I used to pretend it was an evening gown and I was off to some fancy party. This was the first time I've ever worn it outside! I'm so glad I kept it in my wardrobe all of these years. 

 I bought this book. 

I bought this book. 

The denim jacket also belonged to my mum many years ago. It's very old George by ASDA, darling. This is a wardrobe essential, I take it everywhere, all weathers, all temperatures. 

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We stopped by The Square by Coffee Lab for sustenance, which I would thoroughly recommend. I understand the irony of drinking out of a takeaway cup when writing about sustainable fashion - normally I'm really good at remembering my tumbler, but I forgot it. Classic. My tumbler is from Corkcicle and they are amazing. You can check them out here. There are so many benefits to using your own mug - apart from the whole saving the planet thing, you also save money at loads of places. Good vibes all round.  

 Jacket - George by ASDA, Dress - Annie Durkan, Shoes -  ASOS , Makeup -  Glossier  &  Bourjois

Jacket - George by ASDA, Dress - Annie Durkan, Shoes - ASOS, Makeup - Glossier & Bourjois

Here's my mum in the same dress 35 years can't get more 80s than that. 


Music Monday

What I'll be listening to this week. 

You can listen to the playlist on Spotify by clicking here.


What A Difference A Day Made - Jamie Callum

Mack the Knife (Live In Berlin) - Ella Fitzgerald 

New Rules - Dua Lipa 

Everybody Wants To Rule The World - Tears For Fears

No Such Thing - John Mayer 

Smooth - Santana ft. Rob Thomas  

Down To Earth - Curiosity Killed The Cat

Saving All My Love For You - Whitney Houston 

Music Monday

What I'll be listening to this week. 

You can listen to the playlist on Spotify by clicking here.


What Baking Can Do - Original Cast Recording of Waitress

Geno - Dexys Midnight Runners

1612 - Vulfpeck 

La Seine et Moi - Vanessa Paradis 

Good Vibrations - The Beach Boys  

Don't Panic - Coldplay 

You Have Been Loved - Sia 

I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me) - Whitney Houston 

Music Monday - Exercise Edition

What I'll be listening to while I'm exercising this week. 

Nothing better than listening to an epic playlist while out running or on the exercise bike. 

You can listen to the playlist on Spotify by clicking here.


Radioactive - Imagine Dragons  

Mother, We Just Can't Get Enough - New Radicals  

Higher Ground - The Bottom 40

Animal Spirit - Vulfpeck 

Changing - Sigma, Paloma Faith   

Outro (Live from the I Am...World Tour) - Beyoncé  

Sweeter - Gavin DeGraw 

Just Like A Pill - Pink  

Music Monday

What I'll be listening to this week. 

You can listen to the playlist on Spotify by clicking here.


Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate The Positive - Aretha Franklin

I Have Seen - Zero 7 & Mozez 

Tribute - Tenacious D (explicit)

Certainly (Live) - Erykah Badu

Miami 2017 (Seen The Lights Go Out On Broadway) - Billy Joel 

Turn It Off - Paramore

You Make My Dreams - Daryl Hall & John Oates

Hannah - Ray LaMontagne 


Music Monday

What I'll be listening to this week. 

You can listen to the playlist on Spotify by clicking here.


She's American - The 1975 

Zak & Sara - Ben Folds  

Midnight Train To Georgia - Gladys Night & The Pips

Love Me Like That - The Wreckers

Jumpin', Jumpin' - Destiny's Child  

Kiss - Prince  

It's Different For Girls - Joe Jackson

(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman - Aretha Franklin 


Falling Back In Love With Reading - #VOTE100BOOKS

Every so often I like to get my reading back in shape. I studied English at uni, and having to read so much with mandatory deadlines and essay analysis made me fall out of love with reading. Every so often I come across a book that reminds me how much I love literature, which in turn prompts me to trawl the web for reading lists and challenges to keep the momentum up. 

 Rory Gilmore, Queen of Reading 

Rory Gilmore, Queen of Reading 

Today I found the most amazing, insane, brilliant list. 

This year, in honour of 100 years since Women got the vote, Hay Festival & The Pool combined forces to discover the top 100 books by women. 

I own several of these books. I may have purchased them for my undergraduate degree or Masters, stolen them from my mother or scored them in a charity shop, but there are so many I haven't read yet. You can see the full list below, with the ones I've read in BOLD. 

The ones I have read - Wide Sargasso Sea, The Handmaid's Tale, Rebecca, to name a few - are among my favourite books of all time. There must be other books in this list that are just waiting to become a favourite of mine.

I love a reading challenge. I'm going to adopt this list and make it my aim to work my way through it, no matter how long it takes. 

 Lucky me, it's June.

Lucky me, it's June.


#VOTE100BOOKS - presented by Hay Festival and The Pool 

'Merging great books of all genres, fiction and non-fiction, written by women and published in 1918 or later, the list is a greatest hits of the last 100 years of literature.'

1. Enough Rope: Poems by Dorothy Parker (1926)

2. Orlando by Virginia Woolf (1928)

3. Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons (1932)

4. Testament Of Youth by Vera Brittain (1933)

5. Frost In May by Antonia White (1933)

6. Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell (1936)

7. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston (1937)

8. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (1938)

9. The Body In The Library by Agatha Christie (1942)

10. The Moomins And The Great Flood by Tove Jansson (1945)

11. Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren (1945)

12. The Pursuit Of Love by Nancy Mitford (1945)

13. The Diary Of A Young Girl by Anne Frank (1947)

14. Train To Nowhere by Anita Leslie (1948)

15. I Capture The Castle by Dodie Smith (1948)

16. The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir (1949)

17. Babette’s Feast by Karen Blixen (1950)

18. A Book Of Mediterranean Food by Elizabeth David (1950)

19. Strangers On A Train by Patricia Highsmith (1950)

20. Under The Net by Iris Murdoch (1954)

21. Bonjour Tristesse by Francoise Sagan (1954)

22. The Fountain Overflows by Rebecca West (1956)

23. The Human Condition by Hannah Arendt (1958)

24. The Haunting Of Hill House by Shirley Jackson (1959)

25. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee (1960)

26. The Country Girls by Edna O’Brien (1960)

27. The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark (1961)

28. The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing (1962)

29. The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan (1963)

30. The Passion According to GH by Clarice Lispector (1964)

31. Ariel by Sylvia Plath (1965)

32. Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys (1966)

33. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou (1969)

34. The Left Hand Of Darkness by Ursula K Le Guin (1969)

35. The Female Eunuch by Germaine Greer (1970)

36. Mrs Palfrey At The Claremont by Elizabeth Taylor (1971)

37. Into That Darkness by Gitta Sereny (1974)

38. Ain’t I A Woman by Bell Hooks (1981)

39. The House Of The Spirits by Isabel Allende (1982)

40. The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole Aged 133/4 by Sue Townsend (1982)

41. The Color Purple by Alice Walker (1982)

42. Heartburn by Nora Ephron (1983)

43. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (1985)

44. Standing Female Nude by Carol Ann Duffy (1985)

45. Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson (1985)

46. Henry And June: From The Unexpurgated Diary Of Anais Nin by Anais Nin (1986)

47. Beloved by Toni Morrison (1987)

48. Bad Behaviour by Mary Gaitskill (1988)

49. The View From The Ground by Martha Gellhorn (1988)

50. Like Water For Chocolate by Laura Esquivel (1989)

51. Possession by AS Byatt (1990)

52. Regeneration Trilogy by Pat Barker (1991)

53. Wise Children by Angela Carter (1991)

54. Wild Swans by Jung Chang (1991)

55. How We Survived Communism And Even Laughed by Slavenka Drakulic(1992)

56. A Greater Place Of Safety by Hilary Mantel (1992)

57. The Secret History by Donna Tartt (1992)

58. The Land Of Green Plums by Herta Muller (1994)

59. Bridget Jones’ Diary by Helen Fielding (1996)

60. Selected Stories by Alice Munro (1996

61. Rachel’s Holiday by Marian Keyes (1997)

62. The God Of Small Things by Arundhati Roy (1997)

63. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (1998)

64. Tipping The Velvet by Sarah Waters (1998)

65. The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson (1999)

66. The Crusades: Islamic Perspectives by Carole Hillenbrand (1999)

67. How To Eat by Nigella Lawson (1999)

68. Close Range: Wyoming Stories by Annie Proulx (1999)

69. Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban by JK Rowling (1999)

70. White Teeth by Zadie Smith (1999)

71. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (2000)

72. Noughts & Crosses by Malorie Blackman (2001)

73. Unless by Carol Shields (2002)

74. Brick Lane by Monica Ali (2003)

75. Notes On A Scandal by Zoe Heller (2003)

76. What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt (2003)

77. We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver (2003)

78. The Illustrated Mum by Jacqueline Wilson (2003)

79. Small Island by Andrea Levy (2004)

80. Gilead by Marilynne Robinson (2004)

81. The Year Of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion (2005)

82. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls (2005)

83. Half Of A Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche (2006)

84. Bastard Of Istanbul by Elif Shafak (2006)

85. The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein (2007)

86. The Road Home by Rose Tremain (2007)

87. At The Source: A Writer’s Year by Gillian Clarke (2008)

88. Three Strong Women by Marie Ndiaye (2009)

89. My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante (2011)

90. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (2012)

91. How To Be A Woman by Caitlin Moran (2012)

92. A Girl Is A Half-formed Thing by Eimear McBride (2013)

93. Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates (2014)

94. Dept Of Speculation by Jenny Offill (2014)

95. Headscarves And Hymens by Mona Eltahawy (2015)

96. The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson (2015)

97. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi (2016)

98. Falling Awake by Alice Oswald (2016)

99. Lullaby by Leila Slimani (2016)

100. Women & Power by Mary Beard (2017)

Music Monday

What I'll be listening to this week. 

You can listen to the playlist on Spotify by clicking here.


Flying Home - Ella Fitzgerald 

We Used To Vacation - Cold War Kids  

Bad Liar - Selena Gomez 

Happy Talk - Nancy Wilson, Cannonball Adderley

Molly's Chambers - Kings of Leon 

Gawd Above - John Fullbright 

Fidelity - Regina Spektor

Kid Charlemagne - Steely Dan

April & May - Where Have They Gone?

April and May both disappeared into a haze of late nights, new songs and exciting creative projects, brought swiftly to an end with five gigs in four days, While I probably haven’t quite caught up on my sleep yet, I’m feeling slightly refreshed and ready for June. I think. Here’s a run down of the last couple of months. 



Obviously April was the month that The Spitfire Sisters sang on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express…I wrote a whole other blog post about it but we haven’t stopped talking about it so it’s worth mentioning again! We also had a wonderful performance at Beaulieu Abbey and at The Pallant in Havant on the day of the Royal Wedding, where there were definitely wedding dresses involved.

 Photo Credit: Will at The Pallant 

Photo Credit: Will at The Pallant 

Why did I already have a wedding dress in my closet? That's a story for another day.  

With Down For The Count I’ve been all over - Gloucestershire, Oxford, London, Sussex, Kent - and to a lovely gig by the sea in Bournemouth!

 Shameless Selfie By The Sea

Shameless Selfie By The Sea

I’ve had some lovely gigs with Blue Lion Band as well; it’s such a privilege singing with different bands and performing so many genres of music. 

 What a lovely group of gents I get to gig with for Blue Lion.  

What a lovely group of gents I get to gig with for Blue Lion.  


Photoshoots and Videos

April and May saw three photoshoots, a music video shoot a live video recording. Two photoshoots and the music video were with The Spitfire Sisters. You may have seen us chucking cake at each other and Anna’s amazing stop-motion in the video for Afternoon Tea; you can watch it here if not! Aside from the volume of laundry and intensive hair washing, this was one of my favourite projects I’ve worked on. 

We also frolicked in the Bluebells for a photoshoot at the beginning of May, with Steve Christie taking some beautiful photos for us. 

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Back in April, Down For The Count recorded a performance at The Tabernacle live; here’s me singing the Ella Fitzgerald song Sugarfoot Rag. More scat singing as you will hear! 

I also had the privilege of working with the amazing Sara Lincoln; she photographed my cousin’s wedding last September and the photos were beautiful. Sara is wonderful to work with, full of creative and ingenious ideas and I’m so pleased with the photos she has sent me so far. 



New Songs

Several gigs in April & May required learning new songs. My learning process differs for each song. When it’s a Spitfire Song, like the arrangement of Royals by Lorde that Louisa wrote for us, Louisa will send over a written part as well as a midi file or vocal example to learn with. I never used to like learning with sheet music in front of me but now I almost always find it easier to read it, hammer it out on piano and then go from there. 

I also had to learn a few new Ella Fitzgerald songs for a Down For The Count performance at Hideaway. Perdido was my favourite song that I added to my repertoire in May; I use an app on my iPad to slow down the scat section of the song so I can transcribe it, then I gradually increase the speed while I practice. I normally start at about 50% of the speed - it’s an intense process, much to the delight of my neighbours I’m sure!

I like to record my singing when I’m practicing; it helps me work out which bits are going well and which parts of songs I need help with. I don’t often show anyone these videos but occasionally I share a Work In Progress video on my instagram which you can check out here.


One Completely Lost Voice

By the end of April I had completely lost my voice for the second time in about 6 months. This is obviously pretty devastating for a singer; without a voice you can’t work, and without work you can’t pay your bills There is no sick pay when you’re self-employed. This prompted me to go and see the brilliant Lucinda Allen who understood my situation completely. It's scary as I know I have a lifetime of bad habits to iron out but I trust Lucinda completely so I'm looking forward to working with her over the next few months. 

And The Other Stuff...

What I’ve Been Watching: Season Two of The Handmaid’s Tale on Channel 4. It’s horrific and painful to watch but an absolutely essential, brilliantly made programme. I could not recommend it enough, but I advise not watching it on your own. 

What Bands I’ve Been Listening To: I keep an updated Spotify playlist of my Music Monday blog posts here, but I’ve also been trying to see as much live music as possible. I’ve been to see some amazing gigs in the last few weeks, but the best was Band of Skulls at The Joiners. They were amazing and played all of their best tunes. I was even lucky enough to score a signed vinyl for my birthday from James. 

What I’ve Been Reading: I’m currently reading Heartburn by Nora Ephron which is hilarious and heartbreaking all at once. I haven't found anything I've loved reading since I finished The Power by Naomi Alderman back in February, so I'm looking for recommendations. 

What I’ve Been Eating: As much healthy stuff as possible! It’s hard to keep that up when you’re driving several hundred miles in a weekend; I eat sweets to keep me awake and I confess there’s an occasional drivethru…but mostly it’s been wholesome meals and no snacking. My brother Joe bought me back some Everything But The Bagel seasoning from New York and I’ve put that on everything, James made the best Paella I’ve ever had, smoothies and coffee keep me going when teaching, and Leon’s Vegan Menu keeps me alive when I’m in London for work. 

What I’ve Been Wearing: Ghost, Vivien of Holloway, Lady V Vintage, & charity shop sequins for gigs, and comfy spring dresses from ASOS, denim jackets and sliders for everything in between. 

Music Monday (On A Tuesday)

What I'll be listening to this week. 

You can listen to the playlist on Spotify by clicking here.


Perdido - Duke Ellington & Ella Fitzgerald

Sweet Lorraine - Nat King Cole

Shut Up And Dance - Walk The Moon

Burn - Phillipa Soo (Hamilton Soundtrack) 

America - Simon & Garfunkel

Tiny Dancer - Elton John

As - Stevie Wonder

Love On Top - Beyoncé







Music Monday

What I'll be listening to this week. 

You can listen to the playlist on Spotify by clicking here.


Wedding Bell Blues - The 5th Dimension

Don't Belong - Zak Abel

Before He Cheats - Carrie Underwood

Stuck - Stacie Orrico

Linus and Lucy - Vince Guaraldi Trio

Stone Cold - Demi Lovato

Silent Sea - KT Tunstall

Dreams - Fleetwood Mac




Music Monday

What I'll be listening to this week. 

You can listen to the playlist on Spotify by clicking here.


Cold Fame - Band of Skulls

I Know You Know - Esperanza Spalding

Sooner or Later - Madonna

Satisfied - Renée Elise Goldsberry (Hamilton Soundtrack) 

Where You Lead - Carole King

Sophia - Nerina Pallot

Grandma's Hands - Bill Withers

Dance Apocalyptic - Janelle Monáe