New Year, Same Me…

Christmas, and New Year are some of my favourite parts of the year; it is an absolute pleasure to spend time with loved ones, and I love the sparkle, and the pomp, and circumstance of the festive period. Not to mention the indulgent rich food, but that is a different matter. I hope that all my friends, family, and readers have had a wonderful seasonal period, and I wish you all the best in 2015.

Love. Laugh. Live.

Speaking of 2015; I see so many statuses, and posts at this time of year along the lines of ‘New Year, New Me’, which I suppose there is nothing wrong with… However forgive me if I sound impertinent, but I cannot help but think ‘New Me’ lacks any real permanence. I am not one for the ‘New Year, New Me’ spiel as it just is not simply very realistic, and because I do not want to be a new me. I would rather be a better me, than a new me, and I do not think that making delusionary resolutions once a year is quite the best way to do that.

New Year, Christmas

I do believe that reflection is an important part of life, and I believe in looking back upon my year; the good, and the bad, learning from my mistakes, and thinking about what I have achieved, the memories I have created, and the people I have shared these memories with.

Whilst I do not believe in New Year Resolutions, I do try to follow certain values, actions, and principles in my every day life. Sometimes admittedly I am not always as good at these as I would wish to be, but I am aware of this, and continuously working on it. I am no dictator by any means; I am not asking you to follow them, nor do I feel they are particularly unprecedented – nonetheless I have decided to share them with you:

  • Love. A life without love is not much of a life at all. Love, be loved, be passionate. Let love, and passion be the forces that drive you. “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” ― Mother Teresa.
  • Laugh. As a rule of thumb I never take life terribly seriously; to use a cliché life is too short to be serious all the time. Laugh long, and often, and find amusement in as much as you can. I am fairly certain laughter is medicinal!
  • Live. A life where you simply exist is not a life at all; to quote Jack London “I’d rather be ashes than dust” – live your life with as much intent, and purpose as you can. I believe you only get as much out of life as you put in. Make the most of what life gives you, “live deep and suck out all the marrow of life” (oh dear, now I am quoting Henry David Thoreau).
  • Be kind, be thankful. Too often we do not appreciate what we have, how fortunate we actually are, what privileged lives we may lead, and we overlook how small acts, and gestures of kindness can make a difference to our lives, and the lives of others.
  • Make your own fairy tales. I am not saying you should not dream (heck, I do!) but do not rely on others to fulfil, or complete yourself; Princesses, Princes, and Knights in shining armour are few, and far between in real life – write your own fairy tales, and add sparkle to your own life.
  • Never grow up (within reason!). Whilst growing old is inevitable, growing up is certainly optional. Do not succumb to perceptions of what an adult is, and how an adult is to act. Live your life with integrity, and be ridiculous if you want to be. Make your own rules, and have dessert before dinner if you are so inclined.
  • Never underestimate the power of a good hot chocolate. There is a lot to be said for small pleasures in life, and as far as I am concerned a decent hot chocolate is one of the best small pleasures out there. Marshmallows optional, but always a bonus…

Elemis UK

Lorien Loves Neom

My latest ‘idée fixe’ is the luxury organic home fragrance and skincare brand Neom. As I type this entry I have a Neom candle burning next on my desk filling the air with a blend of uplifting and comforting essential oils. It was actually my brother I have to thank for introducing me to Neom (or perhaps blame seeing as I seem to have spent a small fortune on Neom since!).

Neom Organics

The co-founder of Neom, Nicola Elliott, a former journalist, launched the brand in 2005 with her business partner Oliver Mennell. Together their initials form NEOM, a brand which is now synonymous with luxury. Neom is the result of a marriage between luxury and organic – proving that green can be chic.

Neom organic bath oil

En générale I am always more a shower than a bath person, however since discovering Neom’s organic bath oil and bath foam I seem to seldom want to leave the tub. There is something decidedly decadent about a Neom filled bath and whenever I am feeling a little low, or simply want to unwind it is my go to treatment.

Whilst I am habitually a skeptical person I do find when I am really stressed, or feeling a tad melancholic that Neom products do help me unwind and feel a little better. I have also taken to burning Neom candles at the bath side for good measure and I love how afterwards my home, not just my bathroom, is enveloped in the pleasing aromas.

Neom candles

Neom has an extensive range of body care including oils, scrubs, washes, lotions and home fragrances including candles, room sprays and reed oil diffusers. I have tried most of their products and have yet to be disappointed.

Being organic is a major selling point of the Neom brand and what I love about Neom is how they shake off the utilitarian connotation that I associate organic and natural with; Neom proves that organic and natural products can be luxurious. I must admit that personally, whether I buy a product, or not, is not influenced by whether it is organic, or natural – it is not a focus of mine however if a product I like is organic, or natural I suppose all the better. Normally organic bath products are a let down as it is hard to get a product to foam perfectly without sodium lauryl sulfate (which is considered bad for your skin); Neom have however managed to achieve it with their organic luxury bath foam.

Jenny Packham x Neom candle

Neom have recently done a collaboration with the British fashion designer Jenny Packham; the result is an ornate eighteen carat gold bugle pattern inspired by Packham’s signature beading. What a decadent looking candle, I am a little in love… #want.

Neom Organics products are available to buy online from their official website, all John Lewis stores, Fortnum & Mason, selected Selfridges stores, Fenwicks, HEAL’S, Lane Crawford (in Hong Kong), Brown Thomas (in Ireland) and selected independent stores.

Gucci UK

Live Below The Line Day 2

A continuation from my post Below The Line. I am on day 2 of the Live Below The Line challenge. My chosen charity is Raleigh International.

Raleigh International

Whilst eating on a budget I have really found myself having to savour every mouthful and I have began to appreciate how the simplest thing such as lime can alter the dynamics and brighten up a basic meal. The temptation has being high but I have not yielded to it and nor do I intend; however once this challenge is complete I will be looking forward to a coffee and some chocolate – I also may never be able to bring myself to eat couscous again…

Below The Line 2 from Lorien Adey on Vimeo.

What I will be having for the five days:

Live Below The Line Challenge Breakfast

Breakfast: porridge (made with water)

Live Below The Line Challenge Lunch

Lunch: couscous with lentils, cannellini Beans and a pinch of lime juice

Live Below The Line Challenge Dinner

Dinner: Fusilli, vegetable mix and chopped tomatoes

To donate please go to my Live Below profile:

Live Below The Line

Not the sort of thing I generally post on here however I thought I would share this with you. I am going to be taking part in the Live Below The Line challenge in hope I can raise awareness and hopefully raise some money for extreme poverty. My chosen charity is Raleigh International:

Raleigh International

Raleigh International is a sustainable development charity. We challenge and inspire young volunteers from around the world to work with communities living in poverty. Our programmes focus on providing access to safe water and sanitation, building community resilience and protecting vulnerable environments.

I hoped I would have had opportunity to go Tesco or Sainsbury’s, however I did not so to make the challenge even more, well, challenging I went to Waitrose to do my Live Below The Line shop:

Live Below The Line

Waitrose Essential Porridge Oats – £0.65
Waitrose Essential Fusilli – £0.71
Waitrose Essential Couscous – £0.70
Waitrose Essential Cannellini Beans – £0.55
Waitrose Essential Lentils – £0.55
Waitrose Essential Chopped Tomatoes – £0.55
Waitrose Essential Vegetable Mix (frozen) – £1.20

I saved 10% off the couscous for having a MyWaitrose card saving me £0.07

I also managed to pick up a very sorry looking lime reduced to £0.10 at a Tesco petrol station (life saver!).

My total spend for the 5 days including the sorry looking lime came to £4.94.

Live Below The Line from Lorien Adey on Vimeo.

(apologies for the quality; I quickly shot the video on my MacBook – I should have used my DSLR but it is Sunday and I am tired ;))

It was actually a lot harder than I thought it would be to try and budget five days worth of food out of £5 and under £1 a day. I was a little surprised to find foods I thought of as enjoyable and relatively cheap to be out of my budget – quinoa and kale were too extravagant for my budget.

No doubt I will be sick of fusilli and couscous by the end of this… I am not much of a porridge fan if I am honest either; particularly porridge made with water sans cream, honey or muscovado sugar, so I cannot say I am really looking forward to breakfast time. I must also admit I do not normally bother with frozen food period (unless you count gelato) however I had to opt for frozen vegetables over fresh to be able to stay within my Live Below The Line budget.

I have a feeling this upcoming week is going to be a bit of a challenge to say the least. More than anything I will be saying goodbye to my coffee habit so I do apologise in advance for anyone who encounters me rather grumpy this week.

So please do support me in my endeavour and donate to a worthwhile cause, you can donate on my Live Below The Line profile:

I hope to keep you updated via blog entries at least and perhaps photos and videos if I have the time (and energy), until then I am enjoying my ‘last supper':

Live Below The Line 'Last Supper'

Thank you.

Tea Nominate

I really hate the word viral. Why is it that anything that goes viral is either massively idiotic or just plain dull? In this instance I would like to write about NekNominate which has been all over my social feeds for the past month or so. I certainly do not condemn drinking as a whole, I am partial to a ‘few’ gins every once in a while myself after all, however I think enough is enough with this ‘NekNominate’ nonsense.

For a start I cannot take the name seriously; is it really that hard to spell neck, or is it meant to look ‘cool’ by dropping the ‘c’? If that is the case it really doesn’t… Regardless anyone who intentionally drinks a ridiculous quantity of alcohol in one go is an imbecile. I thought perhaps once major news outlets started to cover NekNominate related deaths that this ludicrousness would soon be over, but it seems not – meaning those of you taking part still are even bigger imbeciles than I initially thought.

Granted yes the majority of people who play the game encounter no repercussions other than perhaps a sore head the next morning, but what if you are unlucky enough to be in the minority? I have downed drinks and taken shots aplenty in the guise of fun and laughs don’t get me wrong, but there is a difference between doing some shots and risking your life over a stupid game.

I particularly do not like the whole peer pressure element to it and I find myself flummoxed that people are nominating their friends and acquaintances to do such a ridiculous thing. If someone nominated me to do a NekNominate I would tell them in no uncertain terms where to go.

To those nominated; you know you are perfectly allowed to say no and I am inclined to think people in general will think more highly of you if you do and those who wouldn’t should not matter anyway. Remember there are far better, less destructive ways in life to have fun.

Tea Nomination

Which is why I would like to nominate you all (yes you) to have a cup of tea. Some how it does not seem so cool when it does not involve alcohol right, well I can assure you it is certainly a lot more satisfying. Yes, pour yourself a cup of tea (any type – however you like it) and get comfy – unlike NeckNomate you can take as long as you like and you really do not need to video document it. Better yet you do not have to nominate anyone, not unless you want to and if you are nominated do not feel you have to do it. It may not contribute to society (much like NeckNominate) but at least you are not putting your life at risk or encouraging others to do the same.

It’s okay to not be okay

Where have I been the last six months you may be thinking, well I have been here and there but I have had a lot going on in my life and for various reasons as a consequence of what has been going on I have had no inclination to blog. However lately I have been getting the itch to put my fingers to my keyboard once again and I want to write about an issue very personal (to me) and close to home.

That issue is the stigma that still exists around mental health. In the UK one in four people experience some kind of mental health problem in the course of a year and nine out of ten people suffer some kind of mental health problem at some point in their lives.

So why then do we not treat mental illness on par with physical illnesses? Mental health problems are not just something you can ‘get over‘. Too often people belittle mental health problems mainly because of ignorance and fear.

I am generally quite a private person however I would like to share something with you as I feel by not being open about this I am contributing to the stigma surrounding mental health. I suffer from mental health problems. There I said it.

I have battled with my demons since my early teens and it is only of late that I have actually sought help properly, before I was too ashamed to get help and admit that I have problems. No one wants to feel faulty or inferior. I now realise that it is okay to not be okay. When I was younger I kind of hoped it would just go away and that may be the case for some people but it was not so for me. I swallowed my pride and my quality of life is so much better as a result.

I suffer from generalised anxiety disorder and mild depression. Finally thanks to seeking the help I needed; things do not seem so bad anymore.

I urge any one with mental health problems to seek help if you need it, do not be ashamed – you have no reason to be. Help can come in various guises dependent on individual needs but for me personally I have a counsellor/therapist to talk my issues through with and I take Propranolol and Sertraline/Zoloft.

For some people counselling/therapy alone is enough but I personally need that little extra help which takes the edge off things and allows me to live my life.

Propranolol is a beta blocker that controls the physical symptoms of my anxiety and allows to me to regain my composure in situations where I would other wise fall to pieces.

Sertraline/Zoloft is an anti depressant which increases my serotonin levels consequently improving the symptoms of my depression and my anxiety.

Whilst cognitive behaviour therapy, picking out how I think, analysing life experiences shaping my core beliefs and generally talking to someone helped me; it is Sertraline/Zoloft that really has been the game changer for me.

Sertaline/Zoloft makes me me but so much better. I do not feel so tense, up tight, on edge or as if the world is going to end over trivial things. Before I used to have extremely high highs and extremely low lows and no middle ground – now I have that middle ground that allows me to function day to day. I now no longer feel like it is the end of the world if things do not go how I wanted them to and I finally feel in control of my life. Not to say that is it is a miracle drug that cures all but it works for me, although some days I still feel low – just not as low. My problems never fully go away but over time with help they become much more manageable.

A lot of people take the attitude that by taking medications you are taking the easy way out and whilst I do not think people should take medications unnecessarily, I have to say it is attitudes like that which cause the stigma around mental health in the first place.

Different things work for different people and I refuse to feel guilty or ashamed for needing a little help to function better. If I have to take Sertraline/Zoloft and Propranolol for the rest of my life I will, I am not ashamed and neither should you be. The only people who should be ashamed are those condemning people turning to medication if it helps them. Remember you are never alone.

Sundays at Malmaison Birmingham

I was fortunate enough to be invited to try the new Sunday lunch at Malmaison Birmingham the other week. “The Brasserie is considered the heart and soul of every Malmaison”, and in Birmingham this is no different. Malmaison Birmingham every Sunday hosts ‘The Biggest Sunday Lunch In Town‘ and that certainly is not an understatement.

Malmaison Birmingham, The Biggest Sunday Lunch In Town

For just £19.95 you essentially get four courses and these courses do not compromise on quality. To start you have ‘Soup & Appetizers From The Chef’s Table’, the soup varies each week and the appetizers from the Chef’s table include a selection of unlimited hors d’oeuvres from the Chef’s cook station – including eggs, omelettes, waffles and pancakes prepared just for you, and just in case that was not enough… hand carved Serrano ham, salads, pâtés and terrines.

Appetizers From The Chef's Table

Butternut squash soup

Once you are done with your starters you can then move onto either ‘Brunch’ or ‘Mains’. Missed breakfast and craving eggs benedict or perhaps you just fancy a good old cooked breakfast then ‘Brunch’ is for you! Personally I fancied the ‘Mains’. The flexibility of the Malmaison Sunday lunch is one of the best features, when it comes to ‘Mains’ you can have the traditional Sunday roast (which my lunch companion had) or you have a selection of mains to choose from including some Malmaison classics; Mal burger, pan pasta, summer vegetable risotto, seared tuna and smoked haddock fish cakes. I was a little tired of having so many Sunday lunches lately so I opted for the Mal steak frites – which was absolutely divine, 150gm sirloin steak with frites and slatherings of béarnaise sauce.

Mal Steak Frites

Malmaison Sunday Roast

It is no secret that I have a bit of a sweet tooth and that is why I love when deals include a ‘Desserts’ course. I opted for the classic crème brûlée which was a generous portion size and had a perfectly crisp top. If you are a fellow sweet tooth they also have sticky toffee pudding, mint chocolate chip ice cream coupe, Mal hot chocolate with marshmallows, white chocolate and vanilla ice cream, and crêpes Suzette to choose from. Not such a sweet tooth? Never fear there is the Mal cheese plate with generous portions of Colston Bassett Stilton, Westcombe Cheddar & Tunworth ‘Camembert’ style cheese.

Classic crème brûlée

Mal Cheeseboard

I do not think you can beat the Sunday offerings from Malmaison, the food is of a high quality and all at an excellent price. I will definitely be going back again soon.

p.s. excuse the iPhone snaps (they also do the food no justice!)

Malmaison Birmingham
The Mailbox,
1 Wharfside Street
B1 1RD

0844 693 0651

Harvey Nichols Birmingham A/W13 Fashion Show

Is it really that time of year already? Apparently so! Harvey Nichols Birmingham are back with their Autumn Winter catwalk show and this time it is going to be bigger and better than ever.

Photograph from the SS13 show

The event will be on Tuesday September 10 at the Old Post Office in The Mailbox and Harvey Nichols have this time teamed up with Professional Player, a magazine for professional UK footballers. Birmingham’s most luxurious store never fails to throw a good party and it is a great chance to check out new season goodies from the likes of Christopher Kane, Kenzo, Stella McCartney, Gucci, Markus Lupfer, Christian Louboutin and Philip Armstrong.

Photograph from the SS13 show

The show is a taste of things to come, in terms of both things to wear and what to expect of the recently revealed store expansion plans. Harvey Nichols Birmingham are never shy to try and out do themselves, with sponsors from the likes of Aston Martin this is definitely not a show to miss.

Tickets are £15 and the evening will kick off, naturally, with a champagne reception at 7 pm, followed by the show and to sweeten the deal guests can enjoy an exclusive 15% discount in store. There will also be a charity auction, hosted by the well known presenter Nick Hancock – the money raised will go to the footballers’ charity XPro.

Will I be seeing you there?

Tickets are available in store and from the Personal Shopping team on 0121 616 6008.

Style Icon: Steve McQueen

At the height of his fame in the 1960s and 1970s Steve McQueen was the highest paid actor of his time, his fondness of sports car and motorbike racing, combined with his high profile personal life and his rugged wardrobe he became known as ‘The King of Cool‘.

Steve McQueen in Jack Purcells

Steve McQueen in a chunky knit jumper



Steve McQueen in Barbour

Steve McQueen’s off duty style and generally rebellious disposition left quite an impact. The essential key to his style is clear cut basics, his clothing choices were never particularly elaborate but the light colours gave everything a refined yet masculine look. Light colours are high maintenance and add a sort of polish to his other wise rugged look. When it comes to jewellery he kept it simple with Rolex, Cartier and Tag Heuer watches. When he was married to his second wife Ali McGraw, Cartier presented the pair with gold bracelets as part of promoting the launch of the Cartier Love bracelet. These simple yet sophisticated accessories juxtaposed against his rustic style only heightened his look as a whole and helped his reputation as The King of Cool.

Steve McQueen did not just wear classic American sportswear, he really managed to take it to another level. He was also known for wearing desert boots, and crisp white Jack Purcells – both of which have changed very little since then. Steve McQueen teamed his basics with leather jackets, windbreakers, chunky knitwear, and waxed jackets which in turn made his whole ensemble seem more masculine.

Despite the fact he died in 1980 his style legacy lives on and many of his favourite brands pay tribute to him still; Persol reissued the sunglasses he was famed for wearing and Barbour named an entire collection after him.

Steve McQueen's Style Legacy
one – Barbour Rexton waxed jacket, £449.95 from Barbour
two – Jack Purcell canvas ‘sneakers’, £45 from Mr Porter
three – Persol Foldable 714 52 Polarised Sunglasses, £265 from Mr Porter

Mulberry Matthew? No thank you!

Recently Mulberry announced they are launching a new collection of menswear bags; the Matthew collection. Generally I am quite the Mulberry aficionado, it is one of my favourite designer brands of all time and I spare more time than I care to admit dribbling over Mulberry bags, or considering my next Mulberry purchase. I would normally be leaping with joy and salivating about the mouth about a new potential addition to my ever growing Mulberry family. I however cannot help but feel the Matthew collection leaves something to be desired.

Mulberry Matthew 24 hour bag

Mulberry Matthew Holdall Bag

Mulberry Matthew Single Document Case

Aesthetically the Matthew collection is mediocre. There I said… It lacks a certain je ne sais quoi. There is nothing about it which would make me look once, let alone twice. There are token attempts at including classic Mulberry DNA with the luggage tags and zips but other than that they look just like any other bags and not necessarily in a good way – it does not look like a Mulberry bag. The colour selection is also equally uninspiring with black, chocolate and some horrid grey colour. There is only one available in oak and that is the Matthew 24 hour bag and even this collection is not saved by that.

Another thing I take issue with is the price points. I can appreciate that labour, manufacturing, and raw material costs are rising and as a result brands need to raise their prices but sometimes brands go to far. When I bought my Elkington in late 2011 it was £595 and we are not even in late 2013 and the same bag is now £795. I really do not see how they can justify a price increase of this extent? Mulberry are making more and more of their goods in Europe as opposed to China now but I highly doubt that would equate to such an increase and if it does, perhaps they are best sticking to making their goods elsewhere and I would like to add that Mulberry goods never cost this much when they were made in England before.

The Matthew collection is priced at £1,100 for a tote, and document case, then £1,450 for a hold all, and £1,600 for a brief case over night hybrid that they call the 24 hour bag. The bags are a soft and smooth calf leather so I really do not comprehend the price points and personally I find smooth calf leather shows up every single scratch and mark. Are Mulberry out pricing their own fans? I would spend £1,600 on a bag but not a Mulberry one and what if they continue to rise the prices in line with what they have done with the likes of the Lily, Alexa, Brynmore, Bayswater and the Elkington? In three years will the Matthew collection follow my Elkington and cost roughly 34% more making the starting price point £1470 as opposed to £1100 and the 24 hour bag costing a staggering £2114 – where do you draw the line, when does it stop? I know fashion inflation can be ridiculous and brands wish to stay exclusive but there is a tipping point; the bubble will pop. I have no issues with brands that have high prices but when a brand suddenly raises them and it is not justified well then I take issue.

If this is the direction that Mulberry will be continuing to go in, I for one will not be a Mulberry boy anymore. Mulberry should stay true to its roots and more important its customers.