5 Tips to Get Back in the Saddle

Woman on bike

I’m off on holiday, so I’m excited to have Catherine Ellis of Hill & Ellis as a guest blogger this week. I had my first grown-up bike as early as when I was 3 (my great uncle loved to splurge, I guess…) and while I was still in Central London it was not unusual to see me in the saddle (including cycling the whole of Hyde Park in one afternoon on a Boris bike). You know me, though, I’ve never been one for the sportsy aesthetic, more like the “going to a market in Paris” one, and that’s why I fell in love with this brand. Today, we talk about how to get me (and you, if you’re in the same boat as me) back on the saddle. 

With cycling in the spotlight are you planning to get back in the saddle? Here’s what you need to know.

The revival of cycling over recent months has been both unmissable and unstoppable, with many taking up cycling during lockdown for their daily exercise, followed by people swapping public transport in favour of a bike when commuting to work. Numbers are likely to increase further as the government invests in cycling infrastructure, as well as recently offering the £50 bike service voucher scheme to encourage people to get back in the saddle and get fitter.

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How turning 30 changed my idea of modesty

Woman in field

I hope you can forgive me for bringing the subject up again when The Discourse appears to have died down on the subject, but part of the reason for it was that I wanted to mull over a few things because a lot of the discourse is an endless repetition of the same themes. But, as I’m now in my 30s, I see the question of modesty differently than it was in the previous decades. There are still things that annoy me about the approach of Christians across the board, mainly three.

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Adele: my favourite looks

Microphone on stage

It’s Adele’s birthday, and one of the most beautiful voices in pop music in recent years is 32. She is only one year older than me, and has under her belt 120 million records sold, 15 Grammys, 18 Billboard Awards, 5 AMAs, an Oscar, a Golden Globe, the fastest-selling album in iTunes history and the best selling album of the year 4 times in a decade (according to Joe Sanders on Twitter). Still, somehow, in our diet-obsessed culture, everyone is just focusing on the fact the picture of herself she released to mark the occasion shows her significantly thinner than she has been in the past. 

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My Week in Mia Tui

It can’t be just me who follows #myweekinbeulah on Instagram! Since I don’t really have the slender body of a Made in Chelsea star, my birthday present hasn’t been their velvet jumpsuit I have been lusting over since the new collection was launched. Still, birthday money coming in has resulted in me finally getting around to replacing some things that had been in dire need of retiring for a long time. Thanks to the sales I was also able to throw in a smaller bag that I didn’t really need but is helpful to have now I’m one clutch down because one broke just a few weeks ago.

I had been keeping an eye on Mia Tui ever since Jenna from A Balanced Belly and the Bloglancer reviewed one of their bags. What I liked about them was that not only they were stylish vegan leather bags, but they were made with the modern woman in mind. I already feel as organised than my mother, whose bag makes a Marie Kondo-decluttered home look like a mess despite the amount of stuff it contains. I also haven’t lost my keys for the whole 2 weeks since they got to me with next-day delivery (I had an extra £5 off on signing up and who wants to wait 3-5 days for a birthday present?), and if you have ever stayed with me you know what a change that is. The key clip alone is worth the money for me.

What I like about Mia Tui, which is the reason I went back to Busy B for my diary after trying one last year, is that the item is designed around the life of a modern woman instead of the life of the modern woman having to adapt to the item. I never look like a polished human being when travelling: by the time I am two doors down on the street, my bag has fallen off my shoulders about 10 times and the stress and effort to put it back all the time has already me sweating like I’m playing the final at Wimbledon (maybe I should wear a headband when I travel). It’s even worse if I attempt to put my bag on my suitcase, but the Jennie travel bag has been designed to fit on the handles so that I can put my bag on my suitcase and be very zen up until I realise that I’m going to be late because the trains are delayed. Then I’ll still have a panic attack and begin to pray for time to stop. That part of the bag also has a decent-size external pocket with a zip, and it works really well to hold drinks when the bag sits on your lap and gives it the support not to fall through the crack (tried and tested, by accident- as all the best inventions are!)

The Jennie is meant as a travel bag, and unfortunately, I haven’t yet used it as such, but my hand luggage never really contains much more than what I usually take out with me on a day working out of the house, and I’ve once put the gym kit in it with everything else so it’s big enough to double as a weekend bag too. At first, it seemed massive to carry around, but I’ve got used to it. In addition to the elastic key clip, it comes with three pockets of different sizes, two insulated pockets for bottles, and two spaces for pens. It also had a transparent bag that is now my gym toiletries bag but will be good for flying whenever I fly next, and a pouch that can be also used as a small crossbody bag (the main bag can also be made crossbody). I bought it in Scarlet, so it goes with all my clothes and looks a bit less boring than other colours (I already have a mustard yellow bag, I just don’t like to use it as a work bag as the handles aren’t good for carrying a laptop around). They have a very nice range of work bags but I’m trying to scale down my wardrobe and I like a good multitasking piece. I don’t exclude the possibility of buying another bag in the future, especially if any of the ones I have reaches the end of its life and cannot be repaired further.

The other bag I bought was the Megan in teal. It’s a small bag that can fit the essentials, although my wallet is massive and I need to scale it down if I want to fit that and my diary at the same time. The downside to that bag is that it won’t fit my water bottle, but it may fit in a smaller one and anyway, if I go out of the house for a limited time I won’t take one unless it’s 30º and I would die (= get a migraine) without constant hydration, so I’m not in a rush to find a bottle small enough to fit it. It’s mostly a day bag, but it looks smart enough to be a casual evening bag so I’m sure it’ll get used more as time goes on. So far I took it to have coffee with friends and to the cinema, and used it over the shoulder even if it should fit crossbody (it doesn’t with the massive hoodie on my winter parka). I’m too clumsy not to keep putting the bag back on the shoulder as I have a slight imbalance and one shoulder is lower than the other (you can’t see it but it’s there), but I don’t think there’s much that can be done to make it stick on the shoulder a bit more, which is a pity as I really like the look of it on the shoulder instead of crossbody.

If you (or a woman in your life needing a present) are a woman on the go and known for having the content of a house with her in her bag, this is a brand you want to look at. The price is reasonable and, as I said, the leather is vegan, but you couldn’t really tell as it’s so soft.

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Made in Chelsea: the history of Chelsea Boots

Chelsea

The weather in London has been dreadful for the past week, with strong winds and enough rain to feel like you were bathing under a fall on the mountains. I have been forced to put aside my standard ballet flats and give in to the more masculine option of boots. I have been surfing the net in a waiting room with the lady next to me giving me advice, but our individual taste had no common ground. I’ve even been looking into replicas of the boots of a Victorian can-can dancer, but there was very little I liked.
In the end, I’ve settled for something that is making enough of a come-back to be sold for 20£ in New Look, the Chelsea boots. Something I would easily associate with teenage crushes on members of indie bands, not me.

Chelsea boots have an interesting history. It is thought that the name comes from the mod culture on King’s Road in the 60s. However, the design comes from the Victorian age. They are a patent from Queen Victoria’s shoemaker and they were, no surprise there, walking boots. Something that would have fit the way Chelsea looked like when it was St Thomas More’s land, and it would have been like the countryside walks of a romantic novel. By the 1890s, Chelsea was the quartier des artistes of London. 34 Tite Street was the London residence of one of my literary favourites, role model and subject of extensive studies Oscar Wilde. Maybe they would have been seen as bohemian enough for certain salons.

The Gentlemen’s Chronicles defines these boots as the casual to smart staple of a modern’s man wardrobe. I must admit there is something pleasing about them matched with a slim cut suit. I’ve always found the Mod culture fascinating. Contrary to other youth subcultures, despite the fact that they were rebelling against the status quo, they had very elegant clothing. There was something polished about the looks that really contrasts everything else about it.

Chelsea itself retains this character, which has been partly lost in Carnaby Street, with its big American Apparel store and hipster independent coffee bars. Maybe not King’s Road itself, but there is something at the same time polished and bohemian about the red brick houses of the side streets. Real-life Chelsea looks so different from the modern and edgy portrait that is shown on Made in Chelsea. Maybe having an old nostalgic soul is like tinted glasses that will always show a different reality than everyone else’s.

My London wardrobe doesn’t have that many clothes that would betray I’ve ever been someone who’d have driven for quite some time to be at Twist and Shout, although the great thing about fashion is that it gives you a chance to play with it and dress like yourself. And yet, somewhere inside me, that girl is there, and she’s now walking with a spring in her steps in a shift dress and Chelsea boots.

If you want to join the club, despite the low price and high street brand they are surprisingly comfortable, and they come in Tan which is the most versatile colour if you, like me, wear blue a lot (my favourite colour regardless of the party) and have a Longchamp LePliage as your go-to bag.

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