Beauty Tips

A Shed Of One’s Own

beach huts

If Virginia Woolf was writing today, she could well have titled her famous essay A Shed of One’s Own, rather than A Room of One’s Own. With property prices the way they are, the chance of having the luxury of an entire room to yourself are pretty slender – at least until those human fledglings fly the nest and you can cartwheel naked round the kitchen to The Rolling Stones to your heart’s content. But for most women, it’s still hugely important to have a place to go at home – and increasingly, that’ll mean at the end of the garden – where we can get away from it all for some ‘alone time’.

This is hard when you’ve children careering around, a husband who can’t so much as scramble an egg or work a washing machine, elderly and befuddled parents – or, in my case, when you have people who come to work in your house every day. So, going beyond ‘me-time’, I am a great believer in carving out some ‘me-space’. It might be a nook off the kitchen. A corner of a bedroom. A desk or a chair on a landing. Or – the dream – a shed. Read More…

Apps That Can Make You Happier

floatinf island meditation

There are those who say that being wedded to our phones is bad for our mental health. But – notwithstanding the fact that in 2018, I am setting a time for a maximum of five minutes on social media at any one time (to avoid being sucked ever deeper into that rabbit hole) – I actually think that our phones are good for our minds, bodies and spirits, too.

OK, your phone is not an ashram. It’s not a yoga class. It’s definitely not a shrink. But I definitely think it’s perfectly possible to change your smartphone from a time bandit to a life-enhancing gadget. Personally, I rely on several different apps in the course of a single day to de-stress, to take some time out from the frenetic pace and just chill, to sleep better – and even to up my fitness levels.

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Never Too Late To Learn


Hands up who hated school? I’m rather anticipating a sea of hands, here – but mine will probably be the most eager, the one reaching most determinedly sky-wards – because pretty much as soon as I’d learned to read, I was over mine. Upshot is I left at 16 with a total of six ‘O’ levels to my name (and one of those was Art), leaving a pair of grey school knickers hoisted up the flagpole as my ultimate farewell gesture while I skipped, danced and cartwheeled down the street. Marking the occasion with a final, joyful flourish by carefully placing my loathed school straw boater hat under the front wheels of a 119 bus.

I then, however, enrolled in what we all call ‘the university of life’. There are those who don’t know what they don’t know – but I did know what I didn’t know. So I became a human sponge, determined to make up for my lack of qualifications by spending time in the world’s art galleries and concert halls, convinced that travel itself also broadened the mind. But formal learning? Not my thing, I was always convinced. Read More…

The Joy Of Cold


There is a Danish saying I’ve always loved: ‘There’s no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothes.’ And it’s so true. As long as we’re togged up with thick gloves, puffa coat, faux fur scarves (check out the hot pink/red colour-blocked option from Warehouse – Trinny Woodall loves it too!), and of course a HAT, anyone is pretty much weather-proof in even the most Arctic conditions.

And I know there’ll be those of you out there who think I’m off my rocker for saying this, but I am a huge fan of cold weather. (Not least because it decimates the slug population.) Just as we have different body clocks – I’m a lark, you may be an owl – I think we have different ‘weather clocks’, too. Come summer, I’m wilting like a week-old lettuce, wafting around ineffectually with a brain barely functioning. Come the cold weather, my brain’s crisp as it gets, my senses invigorated, and I feel utterly alive. You can stay under the duvet till April if you like. But I’ll be out there feeling the chill Northerly wind on my cheeks, and loving every glad-to-be-alive moment. Read More…

Something’s Got To Give – And It Better Not Be Me


I’ve always rather prided myself that I wasn’t one of those people who habitually – or even occasionally – lose their phone. (If you’ve ever lived with a teenager, chances are you know one of those.) But a few days ago, distracted after a work event, I left my phone in an office that was then locked up for the night. Unfortunately, this was in Manchester – and I was flying to Dublin next morning. There was nothing for it: my phone and I had to be parted, at least temporarily.

It took a lot of deep, rhythmic breathing to accept that this wasn’t, actually, the end of the world as I know it – because like most of us, I have become wedded to my phone. (I blame Steve Jobs, but there you go.) But over the coming hours, I realised: I’m an addict. Utterly dependent. And it ain’t healthy.

‘Oh, I’ll just call Craig [husband] and explain why he can’t get hold of me.’ Only of course, I couldn’t. (Though I could at least remember his phone number, unlike 99.9% of those in my address book.) Beyond that, I couldn’t Instagram, or Facebook, or even take a photo. I couldn’t add to my Ocado order. I had to meditate – WITHOUT ANDY PUDDICOMBE’S SOOTHING TONES COMING FROM MY HEADSPACE APP. And most guttingly of all, I wasn’t notching up any steps, because my Health App was sitting sedentarily in someone’s office drawer, on my iPhone. Aaaargh, aaaargh, double-aaargh! Read More…

The Joy Of Routine

faceless clock

Thanks, Julianne Moore. Why? For a little phrase she quoted in an interview with a Sunday supplement recently, which really helped put my daily life back on track. Actually, it sounds a lot less poncy to quote a Hollywood actress than a French author – but in truth, the quote belongs to Gustave Flaubert (Madame Bovary, etc.) It reads: ‘Be regular and ordinary in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.’

Now, what Gustave/Julianne mean isn’t actual violence as in thumping your colleagues, of course. It means creativity, inspiration, spark. And what this reminded me of is how hard it is to tap into that when your life’s in disarray and chaos. So I promptly printed this out, pinned it to my office wall – and even Instagrammed it. (@jofairley, if you’re interested. Got lots of likes, it did, too.) Read More…