Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Mind, Body and Soul: The Lake District






Required seclusion

A FRIEND OF MINE WAS RECENTLY TOLD THAT WHAT SHE REALLY NEEDED WAS "A WALK IN THE COUNTRY." IT DIDN'T SEEM LIKE THE MOST REVOLUTIONARY ADVICE AND PROBABLY SOUNDED A BIT PATRONISING. MY FRIEND EVEN ARGUED THAT ALL SHE REALLY NEEDS IS "A PACK OF FAGS AND A FEW PINTS!" BUT I MUST ADMIT, I'VE COME TO SEE THE MEANING BEHIND ALL OF THIS COUNTRY TALK, AND AFTER WEEKS OF FRENZIED WORK SCHEDULES AND BARELY COMING UP FOR AIR, I DECIDED TO TREAT MYSELF TO A COUPLE OF DAYS AWAY. ALONE.

I cannot recommend enough going somewhere all on your lonesome. When I mapped my journey to the Lake District, I didn't have to get train time approval from anyone, I just bought the tickets. "Where should I stay?," I thought. "Wherever you damn well please," I answered.

Feeling weightless and without any hassle, I grabbed my fully-charged Ipod, two books, a few cereal bars and headed for the hills of Grasmere. The train ride itself was good for the soul and the hours slipped past nicely knowing that I was distancing myself from my busy little corner of the world back here at home.

In the two days that followed, I discovered the village and its surroundings at my own pace. I had no one to feel embarassed around about the fact that I wanted to go directly to William Wordsworth's grave (three times) and to both of his homes. Cheesy tourist, yes, but it has to be done for certain heros and embracing the spectacle was fun, especially when I had his poetry read to me through headphones at the museum. Imagine the impatient companion I could have brought with me!

During one of my hikes (I did more pausing and wondering than anything), I found myself in front of a waterfall amid staggeringly beautiful, bizarrely rugged hills. The sun had just begun to show itself through the rain and a rainbow only enhanced this unbelievable backdrop for a bit of reading. I even made friends with some sheep as they made their way up the stream that rushed nearby, a sound so sweet that I had to turn off my tunes and enjoy it. And as I breathed in this scene, I knew that a walk in the country was what I really needed.

Also in the Relaxation pages of the Sept/Oct issue of Bite Life Magazine

Designer of the month: Eclectic Shock Jewellery



Get blown away

STUMBLED-UPON TREASURES ARE THE SWEETEST, ESPECIALLY ON A DAY WHEN YOU EXPECT NOTHING MORE THAN A FEW MORE HOURS OF RAIN! ON THIS PARTICULAR SUNDAY, MY FRIEND AND I ALMOST WALKED STRAIGHT PAST THE WEST END'S ARTS AND CRAFTS FAIR BUT THANKFULLY, THE UMBRELLA DIDN'T COMPLETELY BLOCK OUR VISION AND WE SOON FOUND OURSELVES IN AWE AT THE THINGS WAITING TO BE DISCOVERED.

The fair that we found is just one of the many events at which designer Louise Pringle showcases her extraordinary work. When she graduated with a textiles design degree five years ago, her focus was specifically integrating knitted and beaded wires around the cuff and neck area within couture-style garments. What her creations have evolved into now is masterpiece upon masterpiece of reworked vintage jewellery. Every piece is wildly different from the next and therefore makes for truly special stuff as well as a job that never, ever gets boring!

Also working part time as a window-dresser, Louise has an enviable knack for putting combinations together. One necklace can easily have around a dozen of different pieces attached such as a painted brooch, a miniature watchface or a locket. Her parents instilled in her an appreciation for antiques and so she's developed relationships with dealers who know what she likes and hold certain items aside for her next article of ingenuity. It's entirely necessary for her to have a vast amount of material at her disposal in order to compose the perfect piece but once everything is in place, Louise can whip up one unforgettable piece of jewellery in just under half an hour.

Commisions are always welcome and it's not uncommon that she designs extremely sentimental pieces using precious items from a relative's old jewellery box. She calls the service 'Reviving Your Own Jewels' and it's even been used by a certain famous actress after her mother died. Weddings and similar special occasions are also seen as the perfect time to preserve your gems or to simply purchase a previously created piece that is certain to be one-of-a-kind.

Eclectic Shock Jewellery is all over Edinburgh, including at Wisteria Lane, Scosh, Just Scottish and the National Gallery of Scotland.

Eclectic Shock Jewellery - www.eclecticshock.net

Also in the shopping pages of the Sept/ Oct issue of Bite Life Magazine

Spotted at Barfly: Modus



SPOTTED...AT BARFLY

Modus (Mod. Us. Get it?)

TRUE, WE NORMALLY PROFILE AN INDIVIDUAL WHOSE ATTIRE CATCHES OUR EYE, BUT ONCE WE CAUGHT THIS BAND LIVE, THERE WAS NO IGNORING THEIR ALL-ENCOMPASSING MOD STYLE. WITH MISS MODUS AND HER MYSTERIOSO CHARISMA ON LEAD VOCALS, THE GROOVY WAILS OF A HAMMOND THROUGHOUT AND CATCHY SONGS ENTITLED DO THE GO-GO SHAKE AND CLUB SOUL MAGIC, THIS FIVE-SOME BRING ENERGY AND NOSTALGIA TO THE STAGE, LEAVING EVERYONE WIDE-EYED AND DANCIN' FOR MORE. BITE LIFE CAUGHT UP WITH MEMBERS ROD, SCOTT AND MEL TO QUERY THE LOOK THEY'RE SO DEVOTED TO, BOTH IN AND OUT OF MODUS-MODE. IT IS A STYLE DEFINED BY SCOTT AS "THE UNENDING, NEVER-SATISFYING ATTAINMENT OF IMPECCABLE TASTE."

BL: What is your favourite thing(s) about the (mod) style?

Scott: Bespoke hipsters, 4 ½ inch rise, 2 inch belt loops, tapered boot-cut, in black mohair.

Mel: Despite the hijacking of the suit in the corporate world, and its degradation to just a uniform of sorts, nothing really looks quite as sharp, nothing says you mean business on-stage, nothing singles you out from the crowd more than a good suit. If it's a little bit reflective under the stage lights, has just the right number of pockets and buttons, and a nice psychedelic lining, then so much the better

Rod: The neat lines and cool clothes. It seems to have infiltrated high street fashion and is part of everyone’s life now so it looks like I wasn’t wrong!

BL: Where do you shop and what lengths do you go to in order to achieve your style?

Scott: I find clothes everywhere and anywhere, pretty much on a constant shopping spree. Do quite a bit on-line, Costco (great for American import Levis), Jenners, John Smedley in Leeds. I spend about as much on having clothes altered at the tailors as I do on the items themselves; this generally involves having shirts shoulders re-aligned, darts inserted in the back panels, trousers taken-in/tapered.

Mel: Hmm, I've not actually bought a lot of gear, it's sort of been acquired over the years. I take advice from the guys on this but I also love Merc suits, especially the Tonic suits.

Rod: I don’t shop anywhere in particular though there are certain things I search for here & there (not in 2nd hand shops though to destroy a myth). I usually get the stuff made for me, then it's exactly what I want and no-one else has it. I’m lucky enough to be friendly with designers who make shirts for me and a variety of tailors who make my suits and trousers.

BL: Favourite item of clothing, shoes or accessory and is there a story behind it?

Scott: An immaculate 1966, double breasted, high collared, black smoking jacket with lime green silk lining. A once in a lifetime find. The condition of the jacket is amazing.

Mel: I like my blue Merc Tonic suit but it's worn out from stage use...so another is on the cards. Maybe in red ;)

Rod: My black shirt with the red collar cuffs. I love that with a big buckled belt, a pair of black Chelsea boots and some black hipsters I got made in Edinburgh. I got the shirt made in Italy and was so distraught when it started fading (through wearing it too much) that I went over and got another one made. I do have other shirts, another 59 in fact, but I just love that one best.

BL: If you had to name a fashion icon, who would it be and why?

Scott: A guy called Robert. S. Lee. He appeared on the cover of a horrible ‘revival’ album from 1979 called, appropriately enough, ‘Mods Mayday ’79’. It’s a black and white photograph of him sitting on a scooter. It’s been 27 years since I first saw the image and it’s still a valid style reference point for me.

Mel: Phew, tough call. Errr...you know, it's an easy answer but I do think Weller does well for himself these days, apart from the increasingly dodgy haircuts (says me!). Other than that...millennium version James Bond. Who can argue with an Aston Martin and Savile Row's finest? Not quite mod, but sharp all the same.

Rod: Mmm difficult one. I don’t really have a fashion hero as such but if I had to say anyone it would be Paul Weller as I admire and identify with his contemporary Mod outlook without looking like a 60s throwback. He has his fair share of off days though.

Modus will play at Bannermans in Edinburgh on November 4th.

In the fashion pages of the Sept/Oct 08 issue of Bite Life Magazine