The extraordinarily multi-talentented artist Jessica Zoob

I won’t try to pretend to have an educated view on art ( my university degrees are in banking & journalism )but I love going to art exhibitions and learning something new about the world, the artist and the perception that art gives us. For me, it’s not about the artist being well-known or being heralded by the press and art critics, it’s to do with the artist moving your soul, bringing some kind of emotion ( hopefully positive, rather than negative ) to the surface & giving you pause for reflection. A few years ago I saw the most beautiful paintings by the artist called Jessica Zoob at Medici Gallery in Central London. The paintings were as dramatic, as they were colourful and the memory of them continues to linger. Then one day last September, an interior designer friend of mine Davina MerolaSpace Alchemy Interior Design LTD ) mentioned Jessica’ exhibition

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Shay & Blue British perfumery & interview with its founder, Dom De Vetta

Perfume-what does it mean to you? A memory, an emotion, an item that completes your beauty routine, before you leave your home and go out into the real world?

I grew up with the appreciation of the scent read more

Zero Dark Thirty-the movie that leaves the audience deep in reflection

Not often I get to see the movie which leaves such a lasting impression on people that they get up from their seats at the end of the film in absolute silence, occasionally muttering single words like ‘amazing’, ‘incredible’ and then going back into deep thought-Zero Dark Thirty is that type of a movie.

zero dark thirty

Last week my plan was to go and see Les Miserables but having watched the trailer, I decided that I will wait until it comes out on DVD and made a quick decision to book the tickets for Zero Dark Thirty, having seen Django Unchained ( Christoph Waltz & Leonardo DiCapriogive extraordinarily powerful performances, blowing you out of your socks-forgive the pun-with their humour, intelligence and unrivaled artistic skill, delivering sharp Tarantino lines ) the week before, I had a definite upper hand on the movie selection.

Zero Dark Thirty was directed by Kathryn Bigelow, an American award winning director. It tells the story of the painstaking efforts to find Osama Bin Laden. This movie could have been a soppy patriotic vehicle, instead it is a poignant, meaningful story of a CIA agent called Maya and many people whose work bears impact on the security and safety of people around the world. The movie is an honest look at how events unfolded and I left the theatre with a distinct feeling of tremendous respect and empathy for the professionals whose daily work makes our world a safer and better place. At the expense of their personal life and security, those people tirelessly and expertly piece the parts of the puzzle together, in order to solve the problem of the ever expanding terrorism networks.


Kathryn Bigelow made a movie that is honest and respectful, she assembled and directed a wonderfully complimentary to each others efforts cast (Edgar Ramirez, read more

Honey Tree Bespoke Stationers-or it’s not just Smythson that you can order your stationary from

I consider myself a modern woman in many ways but my love for stationary might seem old-fashioned to some, as we live in the world where increasingly people are more likely to exchange e-mails than write hand-written notes or thank you cards.

When I was born, my paternal grandparents were living and working in Rome, so my grandfather has been sending me cute cards weekly, until the time came for him to come to Moscow and meet me in person. And when I moved to London in my teens with my parents, as my father worked in the City, both my grandfather and grandmother wrote touching & detailed weekly letters, describing their life to me and asking me a million questions about mine-I still have them and they mean a great deal to me. It is actually one of the reasons while I prefer sending handwritten cards, thank you notes, Christmas or birthday cards-they are personal and meaningful. When I was recently approached by Honey Tree Publishing, who create illustrated and personalised stationary, I found it hard to contain my delight, because their online shop seemed like the treasure chest brimming with wonderfully exciting products.

Honey Tree Bespoke was founded in 2008 by Lizbeth Holstein & Sebastian Galbraith-Helps. The idea came about out of Lizbeth’s own frustration at finding personal thank you cards-not just plain correspondence cards or the ones where art was generated by the computer. Lizbeth started doing illustrations on plain cards for friends and colleagues and eventually the concept came into focus, backed up by the constantly expanding portfolio of Lizbeth’s own illustrations that a customer can choose from, on any type of stationary. The company retains ‘recommended illustrations’ in order not to overwhelm you with the choice-but take my word for it, you will feel very spoilt, like a child who all of sudden found himself in a candy store with noone to stop him from grabbing what he likes .) The company personally prints all orders in order to control 100% of business and you can choose artworks for 30 stationary products that Honey Tree Bespoke currently offers.


The customer base of Honey Tree Bespoke Stationers is quite variable-from babies ( when their proud parents order birth announcement cards ) to children ( when their mothers order birthday party invitations or play-date invites ) to young men and women ready to announce their entrance into the professional field ( with business cards ) or into a serious relationship with engagement/marriage announcements, to personalised stationary or household labels and gift tags.

The products that Honey Tree Bespoke Stationers offer can be divided into the following groups:

Personalised Stationary ( business/correspondence cards, change of address, personalised invitations, premium writing paper or thank you cards etc  )

Invitations & Announcements ( you can have bespoke solutions to invitations and anniversaries, as well as baby shower invites, corporate invitations, christenings, RSVP cards or commissioned artwork etc )


Christmas ( perfect for this time of the year, so do check the current offers and dates for Christmas correspondence cards, gift labels & tags or New Year party invitations ). At the moment you can have a 10% on your order of Christmas or New Year cards, as well as free postage and packing. There is something so charming to be able to use the design that you actually like and to have a personal message inscribed inside, not just the general wording that you get from store bought ones! Another incentive is that £1 from every pack sold is donated by Honey Tree to Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centres, really helping to fight this terrible disease that affects so many people, irrespective of their age.  

The cards are available as a set or individually and include matching envelopes.


Wedding Boutique ( bespoke studio, wedding invitations-including a free sample, order of service with ribbon & printed insert, save the date cards, hen party/stag do, name place tags etc. )

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Mademoiselle Julie at the Barbican theatre

Isn’t it wonderful to have friends who are very cultural and keep an eye on interesting developments in the arts domain? Last year I received a call from my girlfriend Louise, who wanted to know if we would be interested in joining her and her husband on a theatre date to see August Strindberg’s play ‘Mademoiselle Julie’ with Juliette Binoche at the Barbican Centre.  Without thinking twice I, of course, said yes and was very impressed with Louise’s organisational skills, as they play would be running for a week in September 2012-that’s what I call planning ahead .)

Mademoiselle Julie

The play is directed by Frederic Fisbachand is in French ( my husband wasn’t too impressed with me, as he doesn’t speak French, but there were subtitles ) and the costumes were designed by no other than the master himself Albert Elbaz who has been taking the house of Lanvin to new heights with his every single collection-so far, so intriguing, right?

Mademoiselle Julie is a very well-known and popular play in the theatres around the world, but it was the first time that I saw it. The theatre at the Barbican is very intimate and cosy and thanks to Louise, we all sat fairly close to the stage (but not too close).

The play tells a story of the Count’s daughter, Mademoiselle Julie, who starts an affair with her father’s servant during Midsummer’s night, that leads to dire consequences. It was very cleverly adapted to our present times and the dialogue flowed so beautifully that at times I felt very intimately engrossed in what was going on before my eyes, even when some of the dialogue felt a little bit disturbing.

The adaptation of the play is not only modern, but vibrant too, even though at times the lights were too bright and the mesanscene a little confusing-in one scene you had a rabbit and a tree? (a yeti ?) standing motionless on the stage and some people in the audience tried to stifle a quiet giggle of amusement ? or bafflement…..

Juliette Binoche is absolutely mesmerising on stage-initially, in part, due to the stunning molten gold dress that she is dancing and performing in, and later, when she is dressed very casually in a jackets, top, trousers and trainers ( which feels almost as if she was stark naked on stage-just her and the audience ) when nothing can deter from the strength of her talent and her power over her audience-she is humorous, tender, nervous, hysterical….And she nails her heroine with such perfection and poignancy, that I times I felt really rattled or even disturbed by the events that unfolded before my eyes.

Her main partners on stage, Nicolas Bouchaud who plays Jean, the servant and the maid and Jean’s fiancee Kirstin ( played very touchingly and with feeling by Bénédicte Cerutti ) are absolutely fantastic and easily stand on their own or partner one of France’s biggest movie stars of today.

The pace was fast and so was the dancing, but the dialogue wasn’t hurried, you could hear every word and they resonated with their poignancy. The stage was spectacular with glass partitions that separated the rooms in the house-living room, bedroom, kitchen etc and even birch trees in the distance. The only slight discomfort was caused by the above mentioned too bright light and the need to look at the subtitles if you were a non-French speaker-my husband almost gave up at some stage and said that his eyes felt really strained.

For me theatre is a great pleasure, particularly when you don’t go to see plays weekly or at times even monthly, and this play and the actors certainly created such magic that I will definitely be reminiscing about this play and the actors, when I look back on my past cultural experiences.