Time for a bit of Honestea – how honest are Londoners?

I’m a Northern lass at heart, and have often wondered how the folk down South compare in terms of honesty and integrity. It’s often the source of many a joke, but it was interesting to see the differences just between North and South London in a recent social experiment from the people at chilled organic herbal and fruit tea drink brand, Honest.

UK Honest Tea

Lemon with Honey and Pomegranate and Blueberry Honest Teas – yum!

An honest experiment…

Based on a similar experiment conducted across the USA, called the Honesty Index, the Honest team in the UK set up an honesty box where they left some goodies out across a number of London hotspots at an unmanned stand with a “Take one, leave £1” sign for three weeks. The results were pretty extraordinary!

Some payed the full £1, others some left small change, foreign currency, or didn’t pay at all. Some lovely peeps donated £1 without taking a bottle! 85% paid at least something for their bottle of Honest, and a reassuring number of only one in seven didn’t pay anything.

So, how did the different areas of London compare?

1. East London – 94% honest
2. West London – 93% honest
3. Central London and North London – 84% honest
4. South London – 80% honest (am a bit shocked by this compared to the other regions – buck your ideas up, South London!)

Are women more honest than men?

Women in London seem to be the most honest by a small margin, with 86% donating compared to 84% of men. In the experiment, women were most likely to donate small change, or at least something in order to at least appear honest, while men would either pay the full £1 or leave nothing at all.

Don’t judge a book by its cover…

The Honest experiment found that brunettes, at 88%, were slightly more honest than blonde, who were 83% honest. Both were more honest than those with black hair, of whom only 78% were honest. Brunette women were also found to be the group most likely to stop for a bit, look at the ingredients on the bottle, and then donate. (Not sure what to make of this – most of my close friends are brunettes, one’s blonde, one has jet black hair, and I’m part blonde, part brunette. Hmm…)

– 91% of bespectacled Londoners were honest
– 78% with visible tattoos or piercings were honest
– Men with beards were 69% honest
– Bald people were very honest at 93%, compared to those with hair (84%)
– Men with long hair seemed to be the most honest group overall

Only in London…

Some of the weird and wonderful highlights of the experiment included:

– One woman paying for two bottles – one for her, and one for her hairdresser
– A very nice chap bought five bottles for his colleagues with a £5 note
– A dog lover paid for a bottle, showing it to the dog for approval
– One person paid with a Euro coin, another paid with two Nuevos Soles (from Peru)
– Mums used the opportunity to explain to young children the concept of honesty – and then encourage their little ones to pay for a bottle
– A driver stopped his bus full of passengers to nip out and pay for a bottle for him and a colleague who was driving behind him!
– One woman stopped her car at a red traffic light, paid £1, grabbed a bottle and whizzed off!
– A homeless man selling flowers paid the full £1 for a bottle just as a man in a suit grabbed a bottle without paying (this one makes me very ashamed of some unscrupulous Londoners!)
– Couples were most honest, with 92% paying the £1, compared to 84% of people who were on their own

Seth Goldman, co-founder of Honest

Seth Goldman, co-founder of Honest

Seth Goldman, co-founder of Honest, and long-time fan of the UK and London, was delighted by the experiment and its results: “Bringing Honest to the UK is one of those pinch-me moments – being able to conduct the Honest Index here after the success we’ve had in the US is really something. We thought we’d try the Honest Index in London, and it’s great [to hear] such positive and heart-warming results.”

Check out the video for more.

How honest are you, my tea-drinking friends? Would you have left £1 for a lovely bottle of Honest?

I know I would! (♥Rubs halo…!♥)

Food for thought…

Rachael xx

The Great British Brew – Part Two

Happy New Year! Well, better late than never…!

I’ve been taking a bit of an extended tea break over the past few months. As well as getting some much needed rest, I’ve had a few fun tea adventures along the way.

London New Year fireworks

Happy New Year!

With a New Year, comes new hope; and renewed resolve.

I love the timeless quotes that Sykes Cottages picked out in their recent Great British Brew survey – this one is very appropriate at the start of a shiny new year!

Where there is tea, there is hope

Where there is tea, there is hope…

A rather different cup of tea

Massis Tey Latte

The award winning MASSIS tea Tey Latte

Awesome Person

Confidence in a cup from MASSIS tea

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not long before the festive break, I had the pleasure of attending a very special event for MASSIS Tea. From their fab, creative home, The Madd Hatter’s Cafe, in the heart of London’s West End, which twinkled with pretty festive lights and decorations, we were serenaded by a number of excellent bands and singers, and had the opportunity to try some exotic taste combinations.

MASSIS tea are the creators of the unique Tey – an espresso-like tea shot, made with a signature blend of tea leaves using a conventional espresso machine, that was designed to redefine the nation’s favourite drink and do something truly different with the Great British Brew. Tey works particularly well in lattes and tea cocktails.

Festive decorations

Festive decorations at the MASSIS Tea Concept Store, the Madd Hatter’s Cafe

On this freezing December evening, I was looking forward to trying a Gingerbread Hug – a Tey Latte – excited at the prospect of combining two of my favourite things, tea and gingerbread! I certainly wasn’t disappointed by this warm and toasty hug in a cup!

I also enjoyed a wee tipple in the form of a tea cocktail – a beautifully fragrant and flowery blend including gin and rose petals. A great source of inspiration for parties – and it was great to see that they have something to suit different tastes and seasons. It’s not difficult to see why MASSIS tea won a 2015 Sussex Life Award for Food and Drink Innovation of the Year, with their combination of “creativitea” and a knack for what flavours go together.

Tea cocktail

A MASSIS tea Tey cocktail – almost too pretty to drink! Almost…

I will definitely be popping in to their concept store again for a cup of something different when I’m next near Covent Garden, and look forward to seeing more from the very enthusiastic and knowledgeable MASSIS tea team.

Adventures in hospitalitea

Gluten free afternoon tea at Beatons

A specially made gluten free option for my afternoon tea at Beatons Crowthorne

The Beatons tea menu

Plenty of tea choice at Beatons

My tea adventures have thankfully continued into 2016. Just last week, I was delighted ti be invited to the unofficial launch of the latest of the lovely Beatons Tearooms and Bookshops, the nearest one to my home yet, in Crowthorne. Welcomed by our gracious hosts, Paul Mitchell, franchisee of the Crowthorne Beatons, his friendly team, and Beatons’ expert Creative Consultant, Liz Darcy Jones, I was honoured to join a table of distinguished guests, including journalist and TV presenter, Juliette Foster.

Delicious cakes at Beatons Crowthorne

The delicious selection of cakes at Beatons Crowthorne

I thoroughly enjoyed a couple of lovely pots of tea, including a rich, earthy Assam and the signature Beatons blend; along with a carefully made, gluten free afternoon tea – even though it’s not officially on the menu, they had a number of great gluten free options for me to indulge in, such as delicate finger sandwiches on gluten free bread, a moist and delicious orange and polenta cake and even gluten free crumpets!

It was a cosy and very enjoyable afternoon of fine, loose-leaf teas, great food and intelligent and enlightening conversation with some lovely ladies.

cakes and chandelier at Beatons Crowthorne

The delicious cakes and sparkling chandelier at Beatons Crowthorne

The official opening of Beatons Crowthorne will be on 30th January, in aid of Berkshire’s Alexander Devine Children’s Hospice, where they will be joined by the Mayor of the Borough of Bracknell Forest and best-selling Berkshire author, Virginia Macgregor. I’m sure it will be a fun filled event to celebrate Crowthorne’s new bookshop, where guests will enjoy signature teas, carrot cake, live music from the local Skin and Blister Sisters, and even some poetry!

New Year’s Resolutions – Green Tea

Tea features heavily in my New Year’s Resolutions – I intend to drink more of it and try out new blends, as ever, but also plan to increase my intake of healthy green teas. I was kindly sent some rather special green teas from the lovely, entrepreneurial ladies at Tg Teas, Sophie and Hua, including a delicately flavoured ginger and lemon zest green tea and some healthy, low sugar iced green tea drinks, which proved rather a hit with my colleagues in the office, particularly following festive indulgences!

 

Tg Teas Ginger and lemon zest green tea

Ginger and lemon zest green tea from Tg Teas – healthy and delicious!

 

Tg’s ethos, to get people off the sugar and drinking healthy green tea, really resonates at this time of year, and their approach to tea, from their packaging, to their branding, to the all natural ingredients used in the tea, is really refreshing.

Here’s to a healthy, happy New Year!

Be sure to enjoy lots of tea in 2016 – I certainly will!

Douglas Adams quoted about the restorative power of tea

Douglas Adams on the restorative power of tea

Rachael xx

Reuse, Recycle, Relove – Sustainable Fashion

Vintage Gap jumpsuit bought on Vinted

My lovely vintage Gap jumpsuit bought on Vinted. Photo credit: Yi Ling Huang

Vintage dresser for my vintage clothes and accesories

My vintage dresser to house some of my vintage clothing and accessory finds

I have always been a bit of a hoarder, particularly when it comes to fashion. I keep clothes and accessories for years and years, and often wear a mixture of old and new pieces, lovingly matched and coordinated. I do love to be “matchy-matchy” with coordinating colours across all my clothes and accessories! I have luckily not really changed size too much since my late teens, meaning I have been able to keep and continue using old favourites and bring them back to life with some new additions to the wardrobe.

 

I also love vintage fashion and buy a lot of it online, from like-minded ladies on Twitter, where a group of us meet up every wednesday at 8pm for #vintagefindhour, organised by the lovely Sarah-Jane Hosegood (find her on Twitter at @vintagefindhour or @vintagehomeshop), through using handy apps such as Vinted and Etsy, and regularly combing charity shops, vintage and secondhand designer clothes stores for vintage bargains.

I also love a nod to vintage styles, such as historical fabrics and prints from Liberty or the V&A. I was very excited to see that the V&A had recently collaborated with Oasis, one of my favourite high street shops, on a range of stunning clothes and accessories with vintage prints. I bought a number of pretty tops – my favourite is this silky electric blue number, which I have worn and worn!

Lovely blue top from V and A and Oasis collaboration

My favourite top from the beautiful V and A and Oasis collaboration

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is something that has been passed down to me through the generations: I have a very glamorous grandmother who always has beautifully matched and coordinated outfits, as well as a very impressive shoe and handbag collection – including a pair of shoes with Wedgewood heels from the 70s – with many items dating back through the years. My mum, also glamorous and youthful, also keeps her good quality items for many years and, like me, matches with new items or vintage treasures that she has a particularly good eye in seeking out.

1980s YSL jacket from a charity shop

Fab charity shop vintage find – a 1980s YSL jacket

While I love shopping and browsing fashion magazines, keeping and reusing my clothes and accessories has always been important to me. I’m a firm believer in reloving and reusing classic items and mixing fashions from different eras. And it’s stood me in good stead – everything comes back into fashion again (I knew I shouldn’t part with my super-flattering 90s flared jeans when skinnies took over – and I was right!)

These days, it is more important than ever to be eco conscious, so by reusing, recycling and reloving your clothing and accessories, this is a a real and easy way to be able to make a difference and contribute to the sustainable fashion movement. Certain high street shops are also now doing their part – H&M gives a £5 voucher for every bag donated to their textile recycling bin, where you can also – very usefully – recycle your unwanted household textiles. Marks & Spencer has a similar donation box and scheme to take your unwanted clothes. Both H&M and Marks & Spencer also offer Earth friendly ranges made from sustainable and organic fabrics.

I was recently interviewed as a case study for a national newspaper about using Vinted and some of the fabulous items I have purchased on there, taking some pictures and sharing some of my fab fashion finds – another post to follow once it’s been published! I also sell a number of items of clothing and accessories on there – adding some items every few weeks. I even managed to pay for our removals last time we moved house with the proceeds of my sales so far. There is a real sense of community among “Vinties”, and I have found it very enjoyable both hunting for bargains and selling a few of my own.

I also love the camaraderie within the vintage community. The lovely people who join #vintagefindhour each week are vintage enthusiasts across the spectrum – they all sell or buy vintage items, from antiques and upcycled furniture, to vintage clothes from the 1920s-1980s, to vintage china, crockery and homewares. I discovered this wonderful group a couple of years ago now – and, as well as finding a number of fabulous vintage bargains, have found some lovely, likeminded friends. We even try to meet together when we can for an in-person meet up, but I have yet to be able to make one of those with a pretty hectic schedule. Definitely next time, though!

Vintage patterns

Lovely vintage inspired patterns from Oasis

Vintage Chanel shoes and Oasis patterned trousers

Vintage Chanel shoes with brightly patterned trousers from Oasis

 

Until next time, why not embrace the joys of reusing and recycling your own wardrobe? It’s really good fun to rummage through your own clothes, bags, shoes, jewellery and scarves, and to rediscover past favourites or items that have come back into style. Even if you’re not interested in collecting or buying vintage clothes and accessories, by making the most of the wardrobe you already have, you may well find some undiscovered treasures, some fab new outfits, and who knows – perhaps the vintage of the future?

Wearing my blue V and A and Oasis top in London

Me wearing my favourite blue top out and about in London

Tea and vintage

Enjoying a nice cup of tea in my vintage Gap jumpsuit, bought on Vinted

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have fun!

Rachael xx

An inspiring evening with Ilene Steele, jewellery designer

Last week, I was privileged to be invited to a “Meet the Maker” evening with the jewellery designer, Ilene Steele, organised by the fab people at Thinkers PR. The evening was an intimate gathering of bloggers and writers, offering a unique opportunity to introduce the fabulous new collection and to meet the lady herself in her studios and workshop in London’s jewellery capital of Hatton Garden. I was excited to attend, having seen pictures of some stunning jewellery and some really different designs on Ilene’s website, so was thrilled to travel across London with my fellow blogger friend to see where it all happens, to meet Ilene and her delightful daughter, the Thinkers team and a group of lovely like-minded bloggers.

IMG_2184

 

IMG_2150On muggy, sunny, evening, it was a little too hot to sit down and chat over a cup of tea (or coffee, being Ilene’s hot drink of choice!) but I did get the chance to try on and view Ilene’s beautiful latest jewellery collections and to natter with her and other guests over an ice-cold drink and some amazing home-made Guacamole (made by the designer herself, naturally)!

Originally hailing from New York, (one of my favourite cities – more on that later!) Ilene lives in East London and loves the creative, vibrant atmosphere of Dalston and the surrounding areas, which remind her of parts of the Big Apple! Ilene told us that the hustle and bustle of city life is one of the key inspirations for Ilene’s work, reflecting the ‘sea of life’ that is experienced in a busy metropolis, “I draw inspiration from the urban environment: the architecture, the swarms of people, the pace of life…” I can completely identify with that as a source of energy and inspiration, particularly the buzz that you get from New York, and I’m not even a native New Yorker (though often wish I was)! I am also always inspired by water and the sea in particular, so this collection certainly struck a chord with me.

My favourite piece from Ilene’s Wave Collection is this blue ring, in 18-Carat White Gold with an emerald-cut stone and strikingly different band. The ‘wave’ effect is created using a cuttlefish, bringing togetheIMG_2155r inspiration from the sea and modern life in one stunning piece of jewellery. It reminds me of waves on the sand, and Ilene mentioned that it is one of her favourite pieces, too!

Ilene’s work is genuinely different in that the sparkling precious stones in the jewellery actually face the wearer – implying special meaning or significance for the wearer themselves. It’s also a cheering sight to see a little bit of sparkle on a gloomy day! This makes it so much more appealing than mass-produced items, and means you can have a piece of jewellery that is really unique to you, and you alone. This also particularly appealed to me, as each and every piece of jewellery I own or have owned has always held special meaning for me in some way, and reminds me of specific life events, people, or thoughts.

IMG_2163Bringing together all this creativity into such high-quality pieces of jewellery is clearly no mean feat – it’s very hard to believe that Ilene has only been designing jewellery for four years! “I’ve never thought of myself as a particularly practical or creative person,” laughed Ilene, “I come from a very academic background. But I find designing and shaping the pieces therapeutic – always learning as I go, and in turn learning from each mistake! I discover new techniques, styles and inspiration along the way.”

IMG_2165I found it a truly inspiring evening, and was delighted to meet Ilene and find out more about her work and what makes her tick in an informal and intimate setting.

Ilene will feature again in my New York/London piece soon, but in the meantime, I am jotting down a few of her styles on my wish list! There’s still my wedding anniversary and Christmas left for not-so-subtle hints this year, so who knows?! 😉

Keep sparkling! X