Tag Archives: twentywise

Can it.

Dear Alex,

I am continuing your very British last blog on the ‘Great British Bake-off’, and its future *chokes back sob*, with an equally British topic: the unassuming cup of tea.

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Yesterday was the 358th anniversary of tea in the U.K, an event so important Google informed us of it.

I am stereotypically British in my love of tea. It is a trait that makes me incredibly proud and I have no idea why. Perhaps because there are only certain things that make me feel proud or patriotic to be British. The Olympics (I don’t know if you got the fact that I love the Olympics from my last blog, but just so you really know, I do), the national anthem, but most of all is when people use tea as a way to conquer any uneasy situation – boredom, sadness, anger, tiredness, unpredictable weather. Well, actually just weather in general.

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Pinterest gets it.

The British can put the world to rights over a cup of tea and I strongly believe tea can conquer anything. At times of uncertainty the simple act of putting a tea bag in a cup, adding hot water and stirring, is a therapeutic enough task for me to gain perspective and calmness. It’s like magic – exclusive magic reserved just for hot beverages.

 

So this is why I was so upset when I found out last week that a company, with bold claims of innovation, has made tea…in a spray can.

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Yum Cha Drinks’ new innovation ‘No More Tea Bags’, a useful invention for…I can’t think of who.

Now I know when the teabag came in all hell broke loose. I have a friend whose family still refuses to use a teabag, loose leaf all the way in their household. But they are distinct as far as I am concerned and amongst the general population, the teabag is THE way to make tea.

So was there even any kind of demand for this spray-can-tea madness? Were we ignorantly avoiding our tea-making destiny? I’m sceptical.

THEY claim that it says goodbye to the hassle of dirty, messy tea bags you have to throw away, not like any other form of household rubbish then. Please can someone make carrots in a can so I don’t have to peel them anymore and go through the hassle of putting the peelings in the bin? That would be foolish surely.

They also condescendingly note that it will result in:

“Properly brewed better tasting tea”.

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This must be what happiness looks like.

Clearly they have no idea who they are dealing with. As if the British have ignorantly been drinking under brewed, bad tasting tea for decades. A realistic possibility, but that doesn’t mean that we’re not incensed by the madness of tea in a can. Now we know how infuriated the Italians felt when they found out you could buy tinned ravioli.

I’m all for progress, but this just seems unnecessary and expensive. With a starting price of £3.99 for 20 cups of tea, who can afford the sci-fi nonsense of tea in can when you can periodically buy 480 teabags for £5, from a supermarket that “makes it”.

Once upon a time we were a country who loved watching a programme where normal (and sometimes loveably slightly odd) people made cakes on a channel that epitomises being British. All with a cup of tea we made with a teabag.

Now who are we? I don’t know, but I hope to God we don’t become a nation of tea-sprayers.

Love T xx

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Have your cake and eat it too

Dear T

I hope you had a great summer. I’m finally back in London for good after a summer away; I was lucky enough to spend a week in Lake Como, followed by a week in Amsterdam, followed by five weeks in America! It was amazing but it’s good to be home, with my earl grey tea and three pronged sockets and of course the Great British drizzle.

Speaking of which, while I was away I was absolutely distraught to realise that I couldn’t watch the first two episodes of the most quintessentially British series on television there has EVER been, that is, The Great British Bake Off (#GBBO). I love it with all my heart, but even so I am still genuinely stumped as to why this programme is so popular. Last year’s final pulled in around 15 million viewers, as many as the World Cup final! 15 million people watching a baking show?! A show where normal people – not even celebs – make bread and cake for a little old lady and a random scouse to nibble on. (This reminds me – check out my favourite Tumblr of all time)It’s more than a tv programme. It’s a way of life.

Anyway, yesterday I was a little depressed to learn that BBC have lost the rights to GBBO. Sources have said that the beeb were £10million short of keeping the most BBC-y programme there has ever been. That’s greed if ever I saw it (and I am an avid watcher of a baking show).

First we lose David Bowie, then Brexit happens, NOW THIS. 2016 has been a shocker for our little island.

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I know how u feel Mary

I wonder what percentage of the people crying this week about BBC losing GBBO also whined and moaned about the licence fee last week. And so we examine the gloriousness of the love/hate relationship between the people and the beeb.. I’m talking about the people who want to watch the programmes and use iPlayer with NO adverts, but find it absolutely outrageous that they are asked for a contribution. Because of course, everyone knows BBC have a giant money tree behind Broadcasting House that they use to pay for everything. They only ask for the licence fee to test how dumb the nation are so that they can eventually put their new reality tv show, Britian’s Got Talent Stupid into production. Funny how no-one makes a peep when Netflix or Sky ask for dollar, but when BBC food is taken down because the money tree is drying up, everyone is up in arms.

I’m hopeful it will be revealed that Boris Johnson is the chairman of Love Productions. It will explain the ridiculousness of the decision and we can all get on with our lives. But for now we are to accept that BBC haven’t been able to cough up the dough (tehe) and Channel 4 has gained the rights to GBBO. When I think of C4, I think of a middle-aged lady trying to be hip and ‘down with the kids’. I think of reality tv, nudity, and Hollyoaks. I can’t wait for the first C4 episode:


Previousy on GBBO…

Mel+Sue: Hello and welcome to GBBO. We have a sick show for you today.

Ad Break.

Mel+Sue: Welcome back. Here are some huns makin cakes using only ingredients they foraged yesterday.

Clip of cake. Product placement.

Ad Break.

Mel+Sue: Call in to vote for your favourite contestant. Here are the bakers and the numbers you need to call.

Ad break.

Mel+Sue: The votes are in. The person leaving the tent is……………..(long pause for tension building purposes)…… Simon. See u next week.

End Titles.


There hasn’t been a GBBO scandal like this since Deborah stole Howard’s custard and #BinGate. The icing on the cake (lol) is that now there are rumours flying around that Mary and Paul won’t return to the show. WHEN WILL THIS MADNESS END. I know it’s just a baking show. But for many of us it’s the best thing about bleak September, especially after the crumby year this country has had (sorry). I desperately knead to squeeze in some more baking puns, it’s the yeast I could do (so sorry).

What do you think? Am I being overdramatic?*

(ans: yes.)

Hopefully see you soon!

Alex xoxo

UPDATE: minutes after posting this Sue and Mel have QUIT Bake Off. My heart really cannot cope with anything else. I’m going to go and comfort eat some jaffa cakes.

Olympicspiration

Dear Alex,

When we started this blog, I was excited for many reasons. It seemed like a cool idea, a chance to communicate with you when our lives today are so separate and also because I love writing.

Since I’ve been back from Spain – Almost two months ago! How did that happen? My life as a professional job searcher has resumed. I eat, sleep and breathe cover letter writing and CV-tweaking and with it my appetite for writing for fun has been lacking. There is nothing like job hunting to make you feel a little bit like your soul is dying. That will be the first and last dramatic comment, I swear.

But hopefully that partly explains why I have been on an extreme blogging hiatus, and I do apologise for my absence. However, I have returned! Never to be gone for so long again (hopefully).

I fully intended to be back blogging a couple of weeks ago but a certain event that only comes around every four years has proven to be a major distraction. I love the Olympics. For all the debates about whether Rio de Janeiro should be allowed to host the games in the first place, nothing takes away from the sheer excellence that takes place wherever the games may be. I have loved every second of watching Michael Phelps, Adam Peaty, Helen Glover & Heather Stanning, The Brownlee brothers – athletes who are just so far and away the best in their field and worked immeasurably hard  to get there. Needless to say I will be gutted when the games end this weekend.

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My love for the Olympics is probably not a huge surprise to you, given that my love of sport was anything but concealed when we lived together. However, seeing people give everything for the prestige of being the best in the world and a medal around their necks is infinitely inspirational to me at a time when I feel I need a bit of inspiration. Don’t get me wrong; the amount of teenagers winning Olympic Medals before they’ve even finished school is amazing to me, and slightly depressing at the same time. I could barely make a decision for myself at sixteen, and these ones are winning Olympic medals. But the Olympics are proof that working hard pays off, a truth that sometimes feels like a big conspiracy and once, every now and again, it’s nice to be reminded of the fact that its not.

Mostly however, the Olympics have made me miss rowing. It’s the only thing I’ve ever really been proud of and the only evidence I have that proves I can do anything if I set my mind to it. Before rowing, I never knew I could. I yearn for the feeling of pushing myself and slowly but surely seeing results, of hard work, of learning something new about the sport and myself.

ekp_file_0__team-gb-logo-600x600_1463414384Not only have the Olympics restored the pride (2nd on the medal leaderboard!)
I had and, given recent events in our country, lost for GB,
but they have also reignited my motivation. So I have made lists, got organised and persisted on with my cover letters and CV’s, because right now a job is my aim. It’s definitely not as exciting as the Olympics, a country load of people won’t be cheering for me and I obviously know that this is not a big deal in comparison to actual Olympians. My point is persistence and anyone can be persistent. So I’ll settle on my persistence in getting a job being my medal for now.

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Under Armour brought out a fantastic addition to their ‘Rule Yourself’ campaign, starring Michael Phelps in the build up to the Olympics. The campaign focused on the struggle that goes into being an athlete – early mornings, weights, workouts and failures; all with the slogan:

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They may have been talking about Olympians, but it made me think that anyone can take this message away. With any luck at some point all our hard work, in whatever we do, will ‘put [us] in the light’.

 

Love T xxx

P.S I never watched Love Island – I’m very sorry.

P.P.S Can’t wait to hear all your news – your Instagram looks like something out of a gorgeous travel brochure – hope you’re having an amazing time 🙂

Love Island

Dear T

The last six months really have flown by. It feels like you were only settling into the Spanish way of life five minutes ago, yet here we are, already midway through June. Looking forward to hearing what’s next in store once your feet are firmly back on the ground in this neck of the (dreary) English woods.

While you’ve been cavorting about in the sun, I’ve been losing myself in Hampstead Heath, disposing of drowned squirrels (I don’t want to talk about it), and preparing for the long awaited Summer Vacation (details TBA).

However, there’s something else I’ve been doing. Something that I’m not particularly keen on admitting. Something that I’ve been devoting myself to for an hour each weeknight (and Sundays) for the last three weeks.

I am a Love Island addict.

The first step is acceptance.

If I’m being perfectly honest, I’m not even ashamed. I love Caroline Flack, Iain the voiceover guy, the ridiculous tasks, the unnecessary drama, and the countless couplings/uncouplings. It’s an hour a day of mind-numbing, wonderful, outrageous filth.

I’m not going to pretend that I watch it for any other reason than for pure, uncomplicated enjoyment. (I have two Whatsapp groups with two different sets of friends dedicated solely to the discussion of Love Island.) However, surprisingly, it has given me a lot to think about. I know. Who’d have thought.

As you may be aware, one of the Love Island contestants this year, 20 year old Zara Holland, is the current Miss Great Britain. Or should I say was, because her naughty antics in the villa (she had sex. Just like everyone in the villa) have cost her the crown.

The big cheeses at Miss Great Britain announced this to the entire nation (before they told Zara, which I thought was a particularly cute move). Their statement said:

We pride ourselves on promoting the positivity of pageants in modern society and this includes the promotion of a strong, positive female role model in our winners.

The feedback we have received from pageant insiders and members of the general public is such that we cannot promote Zara as a positive role model moving forward.

So there we go. The pageant, which has no qualms in judging who looks sexiest in a bikini, have washed their hands of their winner because she had sex. Is it just me, or is this totally damaging a century of progress? It’s basically implying that it’s ok to objectify women for the male gaze, but it isn’t ok for her to do what she wants with her own body.

A hundred and fifty years ago, this kind of ‘misbehaviour’ would have resulted in electroshock therapy, brain surgery, a life sentence in a mental institution.

Now, I’m not saying the consequences today are at that same horrifying level. However, Miss GB’s reaction does promote a more subtle handling of the same message: a female taking control of her own body is shameful and punishable. Zara Holland was punished and humiliated, not just by those close to her but by Great Britain. One of the saddest parts about Zara’s dismissal is that actually, it was completely apparent that the Miss GB crown was Zara’s whole world. It’s more or less all she talked about. It was her identity.

Well, not anymore.

And why? Because she’s not a ‘strong, positive role model.’

A positive role model wouldn’t have sex because she knows better than to deviate from cultural expectation. A woman who doesn’t just have agency, but uses it for her own wants and desires is not a positive role model. If being a positive role model means living by oppressive rules to fit into some Victorian notion of femininity, then I’m glad not to be one. And I hope, now that she’s had time to process it all, Zara feels the same way.

Because of course, she is not a slag. She was not the only person in that villa to have sex. She is not the only woman in the world who has ever, and will ever have a one night stand. Why should she be showered with judgement while Alex (the man who she had sex with) gets a high five, a pat on the back, a ‘how was she, bro?’ Why did Zara’s friends in the villa shake their heads and tell her she ‘shouldn’t have done that’? Why isn’t Alex ‘slut shamed’ for doing exactly the same thing? Why are there numerous derogatory terms for a female who has sex – slag, whore, etc.- yet not a single male equivalent. (All I can come up with is ‘player’, which, for the boys in my sixth form was a tremendous compliment.) I think we all know the answer to those questions. Hint: inequality still exists.

Maybe I’m asking too much from society.

But I’m not. In fact, I can’t understand why I’m having to ask it at all.

Now I bet you didn’t think a blog entitled ‘Love Island’ would be so heavy! Looking forward to catching up soon. Enjoy Glastonbury, too!

Lots of love

Alex xoxo

ps. watch Love Island

Hello again.

Dear Alex,

I’m back. Please don’t take my blogging absence as anything to do with your last blog; I thought it was absolutely fantastic:

“Who runs the world? Not girls, but the media and gender frameworks”

What a line. JUST FAB.

In fact, it got me thinking quite a lot. Enough to write two blogs myself, promptly decide I didn’t like them, and resume my social media silence. The truth is I’ve wanted to comment on quite a lot of what’s going on in the world, internationally, politically, interesting marketing and communications news at the moment. I mean, where do you even start? Over the last few weeks, ideas for blogs have come thick and fast – Taylor Swift’s latest addition to her campaign for Apple Music (wrote this one, may tweak it and post it in due course) the American presidential race, Hostelworld’s new campaign (again written, may post it later), Brexit issues and my internal rage over my own student loan and the state of them for future generations of students.

These have all remained ideas in my head or written in notes on my phone, and not appeared in the blogger sphere for several reasons. However, the main reason is that I have just been having too much fun exploring the place I have called home for six months.

The gorgeous Northern Spanish coast

It seems a cliché to say ‘time flies’ but for me this couldn’t be closer to the truth. How it is already June is beyond me. So this blog is an ode to everything I have discovered and done in Asturias and Northern Spain over the last month or so: a semi tourist guide of ‘musts’ to do if you ever come here. Whilst I am acutely aware of all that is happening in our world today, for the next two weeks at least, this is my world and I couldn’t feel any luckier that it is.

A true highlight of living in Northern Spain is the food. They champion the long lunch here and I’ve never paid more than 16 euros for a three-course meal with drinks and bread. I feel like I’m going to be in for such a shock when I get back to the U.K and have to pay £7 for a churro at Glastonbury. Plus as a general rule here, the grimier the place looks, the more incredible the food is – a rule that typically cannot be applied to places in the U.K.

A few weekends ago I went hiking with some friends along a trail called ‘Ruta de las Xanas’ (Xanas being the merpeople that supposedly live in the lakes in Asturias).

But at the end of the trail was an incredible view and a run-down restaurant where a little grandma asked us what we wanted to eat from the daily menu options, shuffled away and came back bearing giant cauldrons of food that was the best I’ve tasted. My friend’s Spanish boyfriend validated this by saying if the waitress is an old grandma, the food will be incredible. Evidently he wasn’t wrong.

In addition to the hiking I’ve had a pretty activity packed couple of months. I’ve been paddle boarding in the Pico de Europas (a mountain range) and kayaking and cycling in the most gorgeous scenery. I didn’t fall in once paddle boarding but did fall off my bike in spectacular fashion – classic me.


Plus my parents finally came for a visit last week and we spent every minute that they were here visiting the parts of this beautiful region that I’ve not been able to easily without a car.

The weekend before the last, we went to Bilbao and San Sebastian, stopping in little villages on the way and the way back, all along the Northern Spanish coast.
 It was beautiful.

Turns out, after having to persuade my Mum that we should stop in Bilbao before San Sebastian, that it was actually the preferred city of us both. The Guggenheim, ‘pastel de arroz’, the old buildings and the general feeling of life you get from a city, were all well worth the trip.

San Sebastian was a tourist haven, and this fact let it down for me. It’s saving graces were the beach, the view from the mountains that bookend the city and the incredible and imaginative ‘pinchos’ it boasts. Thank goodness I was with my parents because the ‘take your plate and help yourself’ attitude that most of the pincho bars have is dangerous for my waistline and my wallet.

Pincho highlights including croquetas and a chorizo cupcake 🙂

Now I’m down to my final 10 days here I can say that my bucket list of things to do is shrinking and my collection of unforgettable experiences mounting, with every one my spectrum of feelings about leaving point moving closer towards gutted.

Stay tuned for appearances of the written yet never seen blogs and most likely an emotional ‘Don’t make me leave Spain’ one too.

Lots of love as always, and can’t wait to hear about all your news too 🙂

T xxx

Lemonade

 

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Screenshot from Lemonade Trailer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BB5zLq1zcdo

Dear T

Let’s talk about Beyonce for a second. Her name is everywhere right now. Why? Because when life gave her lemons, Beyonce made Lemonade (and made a real song and dance about it too).

Before I carry on I need to say something. I imagine I’m going to make myself a few enemies here. I will be banished from the Beyhive for eternity to infinity and beyond. But alas I will say it anyway.

I don’t love Beyonce.

I don’t hate her either, by the way. I just wouldn’t tweet a ‘What would Beyonce do?’ meme or *crown emoji**bee emoji*. I’ve never got the Queen B buzz (lol) and I don’t have time to try. I’m wary of the craze. But first…

The reason the world is so obsessed with Lemonade right now seems to be what it’s not so subtly saying about Beyonce’s marriage to Jay Z. One song – I didn’t (want to) listen to them all – titled ‘Sorry’ accuses Jay Z of an affair with ‘Becky with the good hair’. As soon as Lemonade was splashed all over the industry carpet the finger was pointed, and not even particularly at Mr Queen B, Jay Z. The first of the accused was fashion designer, Rachel Roy. Then everyone was up in Rita Ora’s face. As I’m typing this the media is claiming that ‘Becky’ is a composite of women Jay Z has cheated with. By the time this has posted we’ll probably be suspecting Mary Kate Olsen or Sarah Lou off of Coronation Street or Fiona Bruce. Who runs the world? Not girls, but the media and gender frameworks. *Blame the woman!!!*. Hey B maybe you should be careful about what you sing before some innocent lady gets their house egged or their face plastered all over the Daily Mail. (Obviously I don’t think this is Beyonce’s fault. She is just the face of a much larger problem.)

Speaking of the Daily Mail, Piers Morgan wrote a truly hilarious article about how Beyonce was ‘playing the race card’ in her new visual album. Morgan cleverly writes how he preferred Beyonce when she didn’t have a political voice and pretended to be white. “The New Beyoncé wants to be seen as a black woman” part was my favourite. She wants to be seen as a black woman. A black woman wanting to be seen as black. How ludicrous!! You’re right Piers, all black women should go back to wanting to be white again!!!! We should definitely wipe out the entirety of the world’s racial progress and Beyonce should get back in the kitchen and make Jay Z a sandwich. That guy is so funny.

Oh apart from this was a genuinely serious article; Morgan wasn’t trying to be funny and no-one is laughing. Everyone’s worst Loose Women panelist, Jamelia, certainly wasn’t laughing when she wrote this. She basically makes Morgan look like a prize racist idiot (who knew?):

You are a middle aged, British white man. You have no idea, I repeat: NO IDEA what it is like to be a black woman, and furthermore the sacrificial, struggle-filled, tongue-biting, mask-wearing fight it is to become a successful one.

Right on Jamelia, you’ve bumped yourself up into the top quartile of my Loose Women panelist rankings.

So now Lemonade isn’t B’s voice or artistry. Lemonade is about Becky with the good hair and the QueenB prototype of woman and whether or not Beyonce wants to be seen as black(?!). It questions why Jay Z decided to internationally expose himself as a love rat, whether he knew what he was signing up for or whether he’s using it as some form of career tactic. Despite all of this, for all the wrong reasons Lemonade puts Beyonce on an ever ascending pedestal that no amount of adultery or publicity can knock down. And I don’t mean Beyonce the person, I mean ‘Beyonce’ the brand.

My feelings about B aren’t informed by her music. Her songs are fine. I would sing my heart out to them in a club (although I would do the same to the Pokemon theme tune so that isn’t saying much.) My issue is with ‘Beyonce’. She isn’t a real person. She’s a creation of many minds, an image, a project, a worldwide symbol of what a woman should be. And I don’t buy it. However real Lemonade may be, Beyonce isn’t; she’s an ideal. She’s married with a child, she’s gorgeous, she donates millions to charity. But don’t forget she’s also Sasha Fierce: ‘sassy’ and strong and feisty. She seemingly never has a bad day; even when her sister punched her husband, ‘Beyonce’ was left virtually unscathed. The media constantly pushes her brand of femininity as a goal for all women. But hi, femininity isn’t real. It’s a totally made up thing that men projected onto women of olden times to make them behave subordinately. It’s scary that the person so many call ‘Queen’ isn’t a person at all, but a brand, a puppet. Beyonce shouldn’t be ‘goals’. You don’t have to be Beyonce. Even Beyonce isn’t Beyonce. Do what you want. Be who you want. You’ll never be Beyonce. I don’t blame Beyonce or her lemony fizzy goodness. After all, she’s just the face of a brand, the commodity used to sell the brand.

I blame her puppet master.

(Hope this wasn’t too intense and I hope I still have friends! Like I said, my issue isn’t with the lady herself, it’s the dishonesty/danger/delusion of mainstream media.)

Lots of love

Alex xoxo

 

Unchartered Territory

Dear Alex,

We are in unchartered territory. Today I have written a cover letter with a difference for a job application. This blog is the only copy and I hope you enjoy it, for whilst a cover letter is not something I would usually write to you, the content is, and has been, something I would write about. So in addition to this being to you and perhaps something you may find interesting, it is also for the eyes of a well-known publisher’s careers team.

SO. Dear All,

hungrycat.jpg

I have been reading ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ to all of my classes of 3-5 year old Spanish children this week. Teaching this age has been my biggest challenge during my time as an English assistant. The inevitable barrier of teaching those who find their own language difficult, let alone another, has at times been a hurdle I have had to retreat from in order to find another way around. However, this week has restored my faith in my ability to remain clam and collected when faced with a problem, and be an organised, patient and capable leader.

I have gained a certainty in the universality of stories, and the power of this particular story. From the moment I pulled out ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ my usually loud and feisty infant classes were as captivated by the story, and the intensely magical illustrations, as I have been since their age.

I have always loved the drawings and story of this book, even related to its ‘eyes bigger than its stomach’ attitude and even at the age of twenty-two I am still finding new ways to love it.

It is is the best teaching tool. Cries of ‘Oruga’ and ‘Mariposa’ (my all time favourite Spanish word) turned to ‘Caterpillar’ and ‘Butterfly’. Children were calling out numbers; fruit and colours in English with such delight it made pride and happiness bubble inside me. All because of one gloriously colourful story that surpassed different languages and childish impatience. Its greatness exceeded my expectations.

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I have re-found a love for children’s books now that I have to read them on a frequent basis and this love promises to continue through my adulthood with the rebranding of the Ladybird books featuring ‘The Ladybird book of…’ for adults. A take on the classic children’s book for adults and titles including ‘The Ladybird book of the hipster’ which has got to be my favourite.

The publication of these books is what made me stand up and take notice of Ladybird now that I am to all intents and purposes an adult. It was ingenious. The publication of ‘The Ladybird book of…’ books combines a symbiosis of adult humour and content with a nostalgic reference to childhood and tradition. In an uncertain digital age, people are seemingly craving a simpler time of paperback copies and classic stories and Penguin Random House seized upon this in a spur of brilliance that has sold over a million copies.

What a joy it would be to work on these kinds of ideas and help launch a rebrand trademark as captivating as Ladybird for the modern day.

 

I hope everything is going well with you and you have recovered from your idyllic trip to Italy.

Love T xxx