Jewellery brand of the month: Miss J Designs

The jewellery brand for June isn’t one I’ve been aware of for very long, but they’ve caught my eye with some stunning designs recently. Let’s give it up for:


Miss J Designs is a brand based in Norfolk, founded by London Metropolitan University design gradauates Olga Jaszewska and Anthony Taylor. The inspiration for their designs is “urban simplicity and a focus on our immediate surroundings”.

The piece that’s really wowed me recently is this Harlequin mask necklace, available on Etsy for a limited time. Isn’t it stunning?

Harlequin Mask Necklace
Harlequin Mask Necklace

I also adore this Salvador Dali-inspired Telephone Lobster necklace, also available with a glitter red lobster!

Dali Telephone Lobster Necklace

The Koons-inspired Balloon Dog Brooch comes in a variety of colours.

Balloon Dog Brooch
Balloon Dog Brooch

Continuing the art theme, this Banksy-inspired Panda with Guns necklace is pretty cool.

Panda with Guns Necklace
Panda with Guns Necklace

The Geometric Elephant necklace is available in a variety of materials, and you can choose from other animals too, including a lion and an owl.

Geometric Elephant Necklace
Geometric Elephant Necklace

Miss J Designs also make 3D printed jewellery, which I think is pretty cool. Check out this Rhino brooch.

3D Printed Rhino Brooch
3D Printed Rhino Brooch

Follow the brand via the links below.






Tate Modern

Tate Modern

I love visiting art galleries in the summer. They’re lovely and cool when it’s hot outside. I popped into the Tate Modern one Sunday afternoon before going to the Globe. I’ve been before, but these days I don’t normally visit except to see the odd special exhibition. I decided to take another look at the permanent collection.

Welcome to Tate Modern

Tate Britain had been running for several years when the Tate Trustees announced their intention to create a new gallery for international modern art in London. The former Bankside Power Station was chosen as the site and the gallery opened in 2000. Recently, an extension to the gallery was unveiled, the Blavatnik Building at the rear (the original building is known as the Boiler House).

Turbine Hall

I entered the gallery via the River Entrance and came upon the Turbine Hall. This is one of the most impressive and iconic parts of the museum, its vast space playing host to a variety of installations. It’s also a lovely place to be during hot weather, as it’s nice and cool.


I worked my way through the various rooms in the Boiler House. Frankly many of them reminded me of how much I tend to dislike modern art, but there were a few gems, such as Salvador Dali’s lobster phone, pictures by Henri Matisse and Walter Sickert and sculptures by Edgar Degas. Rooms focus on themes such as ‘Artist and Society’, ‘Materials and Objects’, and ‘New Acquisitions’.

Blavatnik Building

I made my way over to the other side in order to explore the new extension, known as the Blavatnik Building. This was impressive but best thing about it is the roof terrace which offers great views over London (and also, infamously, into neighbouring flats).

View from the Tate Modern extension

Truthfully, modern art isn’t really my thing, but if you are a fan then the Tate Modern is a great place to go. For everyone else, it’s still worth visiting for the views.


Address: Bankside, London, SE1 9TG


Opening Hours: 10am-6pm Sun-Thurs, 10am-10pm Fri and Sat

Prices: Free (there is a charge for special exhibitions)

A few days in Cumbria

I used to go to Cumbria a lot when I was little, as my mam’s family all live there, and we used to go and stay with my nana. I don’t go half so often these days, so the prospect of going to stay with my mam’s cousin for a few days was too good to pass up.

View of the sea
Beautiful wedding venue

The chief reason we were there was my cousin’s wedding, which was great fun: it was a lovely day and it was great to catch up with family. It did mean, however, that my mam and I were both pretty hungover on the Sunday, so we didn’t get very far, driving out to Seascale for a bit of fresh air. I did have some unicorn ice cream though.

Ice cream at the seaside
Unicorn ice cream!

We also had a bit of a walk around the small village of Gosforth, which has a surprising amount of history. St Mary’s Church has two tenth century ‘Hogback’ Viking tombstones, while the ancient sandstone cross is the tallest such cross in England and bears a variety of pagan and Christian symbols.

St Mary's churchyard
St Mary’s churchyard
10th century cross
10th century cross

By Monday we were feeling better, but in typical fashion, the weather was worse. This didn’t stop us going out for the day, though. (I must confess here that it almost stopped me – it was only at my mam’s insistence that we went out to do something).

On the platform at Eskdale
On the platform at Eskdale

Our destination of choice was the Ratty, formally known as the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway. I was last here as a small child over twenty years ago. Naturally, things have changed a great deal since then, although I did find that I actually remembered some of it.

On the train
In motion

A specially exciting part of the journey was travelling past the mill where my ancestors used to live and work.

Muncaster Mill
Muncaster Mill

Luckily the weather wasn’t so bad that the journey was miserable, although we were freezing by the time we got to Ravenglass and had to have a cup of tea, which we had to drink hurriedly in order to catch the next train back.

Ravenglass Station
Ravenglass Station

Next we headed out to Wasdale and past Wast Water, England’s deepest lake (which happens to be next to the highest mountain, Scafell Pike). This was terrifying. Many of the mountains in Cumbria are quite bleak, which I usually like, but this was ridiculous. The glowering cliff seemed actively malevolent and the road runs uncomfortably close to the edge of the water. I had visions of the car sinking into the lake, which appeared positively gleeful at the prospect of claiming an unwilling victim.

Wasdale Head
The bleakest village green I’ve ever seen

I had a bit of a Withnail and I moment as we reached the end of the road and parked at the village green – the village which seemed to consist of one solitary house. We then had to head along a dirt track in the rain as bemused sheep watched. It all seemed to be worth it in the end though when we reached St Olaf’s Church. It’s a lovely little place: the roof beams are thought to have come from Viking ships.

St Olaf's Church
St Olaf’s Church
Inside the church
Inside the church

On our last day we visited Keswick where it absolutely poured down and my mam and I had to borrow her cousin’s cagoules, neither of us possessing anything sturdy enough to cope with the Cumbrian weather.


Despite the rain, both of us had a good time. It’s rare that I get to go to Cumbria now but in spite of the weather it’s a great place to visit. There are so many things I’d love to see – maybe next time!

Magnum Photos Now: New Approaches to the Archive

I went to this New Approaches to the Archive talk, part of Magnum Photos Now, a series of lectures about Magnum Photos in this year of their 70th anniversary, because I work in the field of libraries and archives and was interested to learn more about a photographic archive. I expected the talk to be more about the archives themselves, but actually the evening was fascinating even though it wasn’t really what I had expected.

The evening was made up of two talks. The first was delivered by Diane Dufour, director of Le Bal, Paris, who recounted her experiences with exploring the Magnum Photo archives and exploring the concepts behind the photos taken, as well as looking at the differences in opinions of the photographers involved. One section was particularly telling, with pictures of Jewish people settling in Israel, while another photographer’s work showing displaced Palestinians was not published anywhere.

Dr Mark Sealy, curator and cultural historian, then talked about the Eurocentric gaze of typical photography archives and made the important point that the first photographs appeared at the same time as slavery was just coming to an end in the UK – as part of a wider point that a photo shows just one aspect of the world at a particular time. He showed us photographs by and of black people during the twentieth century and emphasised the importance of having diversity among the people who are able to search the archives in the first place.

As someone who works in the field of libraries and archives, the talk was an interesting look at the varied uses which can be made of those archives, and their importance in terms of culture and history.

Secret Cinema presents: Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge!

Entrance to Montmartre
Entrance to Montmartre

I’d never been to a Secret Cinema event, although I’d heard of them. It was always at the back of my mind as something I’d like to do, but I never got around to it… until they announced Moulin Rouge! as the next film, at which point I knew I would just HAVE to go. This modern classic, released in 2001, happens to be one of my favourite films of all time.

I ended up going by myself – at first I was nervous at the prospect, until I reminded myself that I’ve been to plenty of immersive theatre alone in my time, and this probably wouldn’t be that different. As the day approached, I visited the website, filled in all the forms I needed to and gathered my outfit together. You are meant to register with the website once you’ve bought your ticket and you are allocated a character, complete with a backstory and outfit guidelines. My character was Nina Boucicault, a comedian. Here I hold my hands up and frankly admit I completely ignored my character’s suggested outfit. It involved trousers, but I haven’t worn trousers for years, and I wasn’t going to start now.

Full-length outfit photo

I don’t know what it says about me that I didn’t actually have to make any special purchases at all in order to dress up. I wore a dress I got from ASOS (mega sale bargain) a couple of years ago, with a corset over the top. I took a fan (that I think came from Accessorize) and wore my ‘She Walks In Beauty’ earrings from Alchemy Gothic.


I got changed in the toilets at work (classy) and then I had to get the tube to Canning Town station. Now I was a bit nervous about the prospect of having to get on the tube with all those commuters, but one of the reasons I love London is that no one pays any attention to you on the Underground (unless you’ve got a dog. Everyone loves dogs), so no one looked at me twice the whole way there. At the station, I began to see other people dressed in a similar way to me, so I knew I was in the right place.

The venue was really close to the station. It was supposed to be top secret, but to be honest, any locals or anybody passing through would notice the queue of people building up at around 6pm. We didn’t have long to wait, we were soon invited to enter the world of the Moulin Rouge. No phones or photos allowed, naturally.

Wow. Inside it was incredible, like stepping into another world. There were bars and storefronts, cafes and stalls, all designed to draw you in to the fin de siècle world in which the film is set. Costumed actors added to the atmosphere, and sometimes it was hard to tell the actors from the ordinary ticket-holders. I only saw one person without costume, and I felt quite sorry for her as she really stood out!

Everyone was so friendly. I didn’t talk to many people – I didn’t need to – for most of the event, but I got chatting to people in the queue to get in and in the ladies’ loos, and I even danced with some people at one point. There’s something about immersing yourself in something like this that makes you forget yourself and act much more confident than usual – I guess that’s true for me, anyway.

I spent the time before the film started just wandering around, exploring as much as I could, and sampling the drinks on offer (which included absinthe). I also won a bet on some lesbian wrestling (don’t ask). There were performances and songs and I was almost sorry when it was time for the film to start.

Almost, that is. There was still loads going on while the film was showing, with actors performing key scenes in front of the screen. I never did see Moulin Rouge! at the cinema, as no one wanted to go with me and at sixteen I was much less inclined to do things by myself than I am now, so it was so good to actually see the movie on the big screen.

By the time it finished I didn’t want to leave. I’d had SUCH a good time and it was an unforgettable experience. I wonder what Secret Cinema will do next year?