JOURNALISM

I have been writing features for newspapers, magazines, blogs and websites, plus the occasional radio article, for the past fifteen-odd years. I am mainly interested in Heritage, London, Food and Travel, though am often inspired by something left-field that I just HAVE to write about.


I love music, especially that of the 1940s and 50s - I wrote a long-running column about the lives of the great jazz vocalists for The Singer  magazine - and I adore the worlds of rock & roll, swing and rockabilly.

I have been known to take photographs but really my medium is words - I would always rather work with a professional photographer than as one.

TRAVEL WRITING


What's a Texas drive-in movie without popcorn and a stupid hat?


Over the past ten years, I have covered stories all over the world – from Bali and Brazil, through to Texas and Turkey.



I prefer the quirky side of things – drive-in movies  in Texas (left)  abandoned Prohibition brothels in Bible Belt America, puffin-rescuers in the Farne Islands (below), for example, or underground cities in Italy,


Puffin rescuing onthe Farne Islands
cosmetic surgery in Eastern Europe,
 snow-shoeing in Vermont, finding the real Carmen Miranda in Brazil - and losing my paralysing fear of heights ‘by any means necessary.’ See the results of that one below as I walk across a 70-metre-high walkway in the Brunei rainforest. It was horrid - but I did it...
That 70-metre walkway over the rainforest canopy...








Generally, I'm not much of an 'adventure' traveller. I will occasionally dip a toe into something active but on the whole I'd rather see things than do them. 

On a long boat up the Brunei river
I
A wounded toucan recovers on a farm near the Brazilian rainforest
Vanentie rebuilt her life, becoming a coffee farmer after the Rwandan genocide
I have done some gritty global reporting – interviewing victims of the genocide in Rwanda for example, (for Marie Claire, below) or finding what the life of a Geisha actually entails (Real) but generally I'm far too much of a coward to visit anywhere really dangerous…





I have been writing a monthly two-page column, Around London with Sandra Lawrence, in the American magazine British Heritage for the past seven years.  

In fact I've been specialising in UK quirk for the past ten years, writing for many magazines and national newspapers on everything from Well Dressing in Derbyshire to crabbing in Norfolk. 
Channelling Elizabeth Bennet for a story following her fictional visit to the Peak District



FOOD WRITING



Recording a package for BBC R4's  Food Programme

I have written many features about food for THE TIMES and wrote several reports for various publications including BBC GOOD FOOD and RADIO 4’s THE FOOD PROGRAMME about coffee, travelling extensively in Brazil and Rwanda. I also write for the Telegraph's Weekend section, often but not exclusively indulging my sweet tooth with features such as the long-lost chocolate kitchen at Hampton Court or the delightful little Maids of Honour tarts made just down the road at Kew.
The extraordinary Winston Tea at Blenheim Palace


 I love to write about individual ingredients - such as cooking with violets (Telegraph) or balsamic vinegar (My Wiltshire). I review LONDON restaurants for the American magazine British Heritage, Eat Travel Live and Londonist. I am particularly interested in finding the perfect afternoon tea in the Capital.

Hampton Court's Lost Chocolate Kitchen
Three loves of my life: Vintage, Baking and Champagne, not necessarily in that order.




LONDON WRITING


I have lived in London all my life - born in the East, moving North and finally ending up South of the river. I love London with a passion and will happily bore the backside off anyone foolish enough to ask.

I have been the London columnist for the American magazine British Heritage for many years, expounding on what I've been up to in the last month - everything from restaurants, shows and exhibitions I've visited to funny little places I've discovered, odd museums, strange clubs, weird happenings - anything and everything that makes up this incredible city. I also write about the city for newspapers, magazines, websites and the online first-port-of-London-call Londonist.

I particularly love the contrast between the classy, urbane image that London likes to put forward about itself and the dark, seedy underbelly often just yards away. This picture is of Somerset House and somehow shows both those states in one photo (right.)

I like the weird, quirky stuff best, but I'm always up for trying a new eaterie, checking out that odd-looking exhibition, testing a new walk, sneaking round the back of things and going underground for any reason at all, haunted crypts, secret basements, creepy tunnels, post-mortem photography - send 'em my way, baby.

 I'm a sucker for anything folklore-related, the less believable the better.


HERITAGE AND VINTAGE WRITING

A bronze statuette at Carlton Towers, East Riding,Yorkshire


I have a personal interest in heritage issues, and am always looking for excuses to write about them. Some are straight-forward – COUNTRY LIFE and HOMES AND GARDENS, for example, but sometimes a little left-field thinking is necessary, such as a feature about Henry VIII’s armour for the TIMES EDUCATIONAL SUPPLEMENT.

For many years I had a monthly column in PERIOD HOUSE magazine about practical problems that can be encountered in a period property, and experts in the field of conservation and restoration of old homes and their contents.
The Salon Project. Yes, that IS a bird on my head
The Regency Ball



My column in the American magazine BRITISH HERITAGE covers all aspects of London, but I also write features about general heritage issues for the rest of the magazine.

I'm always up for testing out new things, especially if I get to dress up for them - such as the Regency Ball, the annual Tweed Run,  the Salon Project...
The Tweed Run
Vintage Frock-Shopping



 


Two glamorous "Atomic Bombshells" at new vintage festival ATOMIC

I love to put my personal knowledge of the vintage scene to practical use, writing for specifically vintage publications such as The Chap and Vintage Life as well as more mainstream features such as this roundup of vintage festivals for the Daily Telegraph or articles on  collecting - like this piece on Bakelite for My Wiltshire or this one on antique hunting in Texas for the Financial Times. 

I also review vintage festivals, bands and events, from the brand new Atomic Festival through the Tweed Run to the Glastonbury of Vintage, Twinwood.

MUSIC WRITING

Over many years I wrote regularly for The Singer, Jazz Express, Hot News and Jazz UK,  mainly on issues around jazz, singing, rock & roll and swing music, including a long-running column in The Singer  on major vocal stars of the Golden Age of Jazz - everyone from Sammy Davis Jnr, Carmen Miranda and Eartha Kitt to Danny Kaye, Louis Armstrong and Fred Astaire.


I have been lucky enough to interview many fabulous vocalists - from Pink Martini's  China Forbes and The Tiger Lillies'  Martyn Jacques to Cuban harmony-meisters Vocal Sampling,  Brazilian dreamboat Marcio Faraco and ultra-glamorous French chanteuse Liza Michael. My two all-time favourite meetings were with Italian superstar Paolo Conte and jazz legend Anita O'Day, but my nuttiest has to be the double phone interview I did with Eurovision-hopeful John Shuttleworth and his creator Graham Fellows, where Shuttleworth's manager Ken was allegedly tied up in the corner and his fictitious wife was complaining that his new song 'My Wife Died' was insensitive...

I also review bands, events and festivals, from the Rhythm Riot each November, through Atomic, and Salute to the Forties, to the gigantic Twinwood and Goodwood Revival festivals. 


GARDEN WRITING

My slightly messy allotment
I have written about gardens and gardening for publications such as Homes & Gardens, Times Weekend (All hail the God of Beetroot!)and British Heritage (including a perhaps ill-advised piece about my allotment  that has seen a stream of US visitors wanting to visit it...).







The fabulous floating gardens at Amiens

I enjoy writing about the nitty gritty of growing particular plants but just as much I like writing features on garden features, like this one on fountains for My Wiltshire.


I particularly loved writing a feature for the Times on the incredible floating gardens (hortillonages)  at Amiens  in France and the delightful (but with arcane opening hours) garden at St Johns Jerusalem tucked away just inside the M25 for British Heritage.


I am a sucker for 'lost' gardens - such as the mysterious, romantic Warley Place in Essex, once one of the finest gardens in Edwardian England, now a haven for strange ruins, wildlife and beautiful native plants.


The mysterious ruins of Warley Place



St John's Jerusalem