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
Birmingham
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

lorien-adey-lorien-me-blog-steve-mcqueen-persols

lorien-adey-lorien-me-blog-steve-mcqueen-the-king-of-cool

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.

Eye of The [Kenzo] Tiger

Kenzo FW13 Icons Tiger head sweatshirt

First time around Kenzo’s Tiger head sweatshirts sold out world wide and became an almost holy grail of the fashion trend world. Kenzo up until this point had never made a sweatshirt as it was not very fitting with the brand image, but they took a risk and it certainly paid off.

Men's Kenzo FW13 Icons, Tiger Head sweater

Tiger fever took hold and it seemed at one point every fashion blogger, editor and model had a Kenzo tiger sweatshirt. Apart from the odd spot of Givenchy (we all have our vices), I am not usually one to find myself too concerned with ‘it’ pieces but the Kenzo tiger sweatshirts over time have grown on me and eventually I found myself coveting one. Luckily for me they released more with FW13 and I managed to get my claws on one when I was shopping at Harvey Nichols Birmingham on the weekend. I opted for the bordeaux red over the black as I have far too much black in my wardrobe and I really liked the shade of red.

Wearing my Kenzo Tiger jumper

Do you ever find yourself sucked in by ‘it’ pieces? Did you get tiger fever?

Drinks at Fumo, Birmingham

Fumo is a concept bar that recently opened on Waterloo Street in Birmingham, it serves Cicchetti (which to you and me is Venetian tapas). It is a £2.5 million venture by the award winning San Carlo Group. I kept meaning to go for dinner one evening as I am a big of the San Carlo Group’s restaurants, particularly the nearby San Carlo on Temple Row – which opened in 1992 and is the original San Carlo restaurant. I have not managed dinner at Fumo yet but the other week I popped in for a cocktail with a friend. Needless to say I was besotted and left many more cocktails later than the originally planned ‘one’.

Fumo, Birmingham (photo from http://thesinglegourmetandtraveller.wordpress.com/)

Fumo itself is very contemporary and chic; think lots of marble, mirrors and glass. We were sat at the bar in the corner. The venue was awash with Louis Vuitton handbags (you can actually see the Louis Vuitton store in Birmingham from out of the window) and well dressed city professionals yet the atmosphere remained unpretentious and quite relaxing.

One of the cocktails I had at Fumo

The cocktails were some of the best I have had in Birmingham and they certainly did not skimp when it came to extras and garnishes as you can see above. Their cocktail menu was quite extensive with the usual classics (rather enjoyed my dry Manhattan!) and Fumo’s own cocktails (one of which had caramelised banana that the bar staff caramelise in front of you with a blow torch). The fruit and mint were fresh and pristine; only too often I find a cocktail can be spoilt by a ‘manky’ bit of lime, or a near moulding slice of melon.

My only complaint is that the woman at the front desk seemed rather reluctant to call me a taxi when I asked. Normally I would just call one myself but my iPhone battery had died and I really do not think my request was particularly out of the ordinary? I guess this staff member considered herself above calling a taxi for a patron uhm. I have seen various Tripadvisor reviews mention a ‘female greeter’ who ‘appeared a little rude’ perhaps the same one? Not cool, but regardless of this I am dying to go back and try the food at some point soon.

Fumo
1 Waterloo Street,
Birmingham
B2 5PT

0121 643 8979

Lorien Loves Gucci horsebit moccasins

One of my first pairs of actual designer shoes (I was always a Kurt Geiger boy before then) was my suede Gucci horsebit moccasins and although I have worn them so much and subjected them to nights out on the town, continuous wear and general abuse they are still going strong. They really have impressed me so much that I may have bought a new pair of Gucci horsebit moccasins in the Harvey Nichols Birmingham sale last week…

Gucci 1953, made in Italy

The style of the Gucci moccasins has hardly altered since it was first launched in 1953. The Gucci horsebit moccasin is probably one of the most iconic style of shoes in the world and even holds a place in the Met’s permanent collection (and has done so since 1985). Celebrating the sixtieth anniversary of the horsebit moccasin Gucci released an exclusive 1953 collection with a new shape and a bold combination of colours and materials.

Gucci 1954 horsebit moccasin

Gucci 1953 moccasins

Gucci horsebit close up

A preserve of what was the ‘jet set’, the likes of Hollywood stars such as the late Fred Astaire, politicians, business men, gentlemen and discerning persons world wide; the Gucci horsebit moccasin is a classic, which will never go out of style.

Wearing my Gucci 1953 moccasins

The equestrian inspired horsebit detailing, which in this instance is in antique brass, finishes off the shoe perfectly. Each pair is hand made and hand stained in Florence. You are not just buying a pair of shoes; you are buying a piece of history.

DSQUARED2 Sisters From Hell

I picked up this DSQUARED2 top in the Selfridges sale. Dean and Dan Caten (the twins behind DSQUARED2) were inspired by the classic rock tshirts of the 1980s and this top is the result. It is distressed, cracked and has small holes to suggest years of wear.

DSQUARED2 Sisters From Hell tshirt

Holes in the DSQUARED2 top

Michael Kors ceramic white watch

Balenciaga classic double tour bracelet

Yves Saint Laurent/Saint Laurent python and suede high tops

Top – DSQUARED2
Jeans – Nudie (bought last week in the Matches sale)
Belt – Mulberry
Shoes – Yves Saint Laurent/Saint Laurent
Watch – Michael Kors
Bracelet – Balenciaga

Have you picked anything up in the sales yet?