Sunday, 2 April 2017

A(nother) Packing List for Lapland

If once is human and twice is careless, three times is a certified addiction.

Judge me if you must but I just can’t get enough of the white stuff.  Forget the Alpine powder favoured by speed freaks – I’m talking about the purer kind of crystal found in the very far north.  Snowshoeing across Swedish Lapland’s frozen wetlands is my buzz of choice.

Packing for this kind of trip isn’t easy but, having done it twice before, I've nearly got it down pat.  Roughly speaking, an eight-night stay translates to an assortment of base layers, mid layers and shells, tonnes of socks and various skinny jean & cashmere combos for communal dinners by the fire.  It means bulkier baggage than I normally travel with, but -20c calls for certain concessions.

One concession that I refuse tto make is footwear.  A whole week without a Rossi or red sole is just too big an ask.

While the guesthouse provides ultra-insulted monster boots for Borealis chasing at midnight (yes, that's a thing - a really magical thing) it's nice to slip into something less stifling for sipping cloudberry liquor in the main lodge.  Remembering this from a previous stay, I figured that a pair of Jimmy Choo sneakers would be a practical way to provide me with the luxury indulgence I craved.

A change of shoes at the entrance to the lodge: My poor Choos, surrounded.

If only I'd realised that the socks that I wear with the monster boots are too thick for my Choos, which made my mealtime footwear swap a total pain in the tootsie.

Anticipating next years' Arctic Adventure already, I've decided my next sartorial investment:

Furry sandals by Celine.  One of those fashion WTF moments that suddenly made sense.

Style File Followers Take Note:

1.  It would, therefore, seem that I have two addictions - snowshoeing in Lapland and shoes in general.  But twelve steps require footwear so I guess I'm fucked.

2. Other packing tips for Lapland?

  - The crisp climate will have your skin begging for special treatment.  Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse after a sauna feels sensational, even if the scent is more Cote d'Azur than Arctic Circle.

  - For selfies' sake, bring lots of hats.  You might spend the week in the same ski jacket but careful cropping will keep your Instagram feed nice and fresh.
  - You can never have enough snoods.   Frozen breath and serious amounts of snot need management.

  - See Pinterest for more.

3. Lapland Guesthouse.  No excuses, now that you know how to pack.

Sunday, 14 February 2016

The Truth About Flowers

Men, listen up.  Ladies too.

Flowers suck as gifts.

No, I’m not bah-humbugging Valentine’s Day.  I’m just setting the record straight.

Sure, flowers are pretty.  Sure, they smell nice.  And yes, there’s the whole romantic headiness of a barely-open blossom tinged with the melancholy of impending decay…  It's damn fine poetic stuff.  But they still suck as gifts.

You see, when I buy flowers for myself, which I do from time to time, I buy them knowing that the lilies I choose are a perfect fit for my tall square vase or that two-dozen tulips will look great in my black ceramic jug.  When I get home I grab the appropriate vessel, just add water and voila; happy flowers, happy me.  One of life’s simple pleasures, as flowers are meant to be.

But that simple pleasure gets shot to hell when given as a gift.  Picture the moment when a dinner party guest arrives bearing an enormous arrangement, all fancily wrapped in tissue and cellophane and reams of raffia.  The hostess’ “Aren’t they gorgeous!” is code for “Aren’t you a bitch.”.

Because now, instead of joining her guests on the sofa with much-needed cocktail, she’s stuck searching for an outsize vase; a search which involves step-stools, dark corners and possibly cobwebs.  The arrangement then has to be unwrapped, producing more waste-paper than Christmas with the Brady Bunch.  Wayward leaves get everywhere, a few of which have to be fished out of the soup.  Stems need to be snipped.  And ouch, this sucker’s got thorns.

15 minutes of hard labor later, the slightly disheveled if not actually bleeding hostess walks into the living room carrying a heavy, water-sloshed vessel brimming with those blasted blooms - and nobody even notices because they’re already two drinks in.

Fast forward to Valentine’s Day, when millions of men around the world seek to say it with flowers. But unless that ginormous bunch of long-stems comes suitably contained, he might as well have gift-wrapped a vacuum cleaner because the message is the same: Here dear; now get to work.

So pardon me for saying so, but thanks a fucking bunch.

fig. 1

Style File Followers Take Note:

1. While flowers suck as gifts, flowers in vases do not suck as gifts.  In fact, they make fabulous gifts. They show foresight on the gift-giver’s behalf - and the vase will come in handy when the next asshole shows up with a random bouquet. 

2. To be honest, “just add vodka” is probably more likely to make me happy.

3. Nope.  Come to think of it, not vodka.  Champagne.  Specifically Pink Champagne and if you want to put a name to it, Billecart Salmon Brut Rosé.

4. Which is what you should bring to my next dinner party.

fig. 1 ~ The perils of receiving a mega-huge floral arrangement without an appropriate vase.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Cooking for Your Dog

According to The New York Times, Cooking for Your Dog was one of the most shared topics of 2014.   This intrigues me because I've just started preparing home-made meals for my dog and was completely oblivious to being so spectacularly “on trend”.   In my life and career I have always had a knack for predicting fashions and trends (and fyi, you too will be riding a tandem bicycle in a couple of years’ time) but I hadn’t registered the whole cooking-for-Fido thing.

Well, meet my Fido, aka Archie Lewoof.

Archie is a 6 year old border terrier and the love of my life.  (Don’t tell the guy we live with.)  He was recently diagnosed with a pretty nasty illness known as Spike’s Disease and although there’s no scientific evidence to back it up, all the bumf on the Internet points to it being best “managed” through diet.  A gluten-free diet, no less.  When he had a bad allergic reaction to the organic, gluten-free, designer kibble that I’d bought for the price of a small country, I decided to take a DIY approach to Archie’s nourishment needs.

Something you should know about Archie:  He loves to hunt rabbits.  The Bois de Boulogne is full of them (and prostitutes) and on most weekends you can find Archie in the park's thicket chasing wascally ones (not prostitutes) but ever failing to catch one.  While I’m secretly pleased by his lack of success (that’s a mess I’d rather not clean up) I do feel kinda sorry for the little guy, so…

What French supermarkets lack in curly kale and chia seeds they make up for in varieties of meat.   And what better meat to home-cook for Archie than rabbit!  Or so I thought.

With apologies to the squeamish, but if you’ve ever eaten rabbit you’ll know that they’ve got all sorts of extra little bones that presumably give the little critters added bounce.  These need to be removed before being served to your own little critter, which, as I discovered, is no walk in the Bois.  Nearly an hour into the unpleasant process I conceded that de-boning raw meat is best left to butchers and decided to speed things up by boiling those bunnies before adding them to the stew.  

After nearly 2 hours of a kitchen nightmare, the (finally) boneless rabbit meat was mixed with some beef, carrots, green beans and rosemary (apparently high in iron, calcium and vitamin B6 - who knew?) to produce a home-cooked dog food worthy of my four-legged pride and joy.

Even if this pet-foodie fashion becomes just a fad, I've decided to continue home-cooking for Archie:  He loves it and I'm certain it's healthier than processed foods.  And in case you're wondering if rabbit will stay on the menu, the answer is yes - I'm very happy to serve them stuffed.

Style File Followers Take Note:
1. It may have been The Guardian.  Or the Huffington Post.  Sometimes when it’s late at night all my news-source apps blur into a single liberal fog.
2. Or should I say, border terrorist, because that’s more accurate.
3. Archie inherited Spike’s - or Canine Epileptoid Cramping Syndrome - from his sire.  He must have picked-up the gluten-free thing from pasta-averse me.
4. When I last lived in North America, Chia was a pet.
5. And that would be the distant sound of an ex-boyfriend sniggering “You see?”.