Showing posts with label Marks and Spencer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Marks and Spencer. Show all posts

Saturday, 8 September 2012

The new Marks & Spencer ad - and dressing for middle-age

Thank goodness Marks & Spencer has seen sense and ditched those annoying ads starring Dannii Minogue, Myleene Klass and Twiggy in favour of a campaign featuring professional models.

The new line-up ranges from 20 to 56 in age and from the curvy to the slender.

Actually, the oldest model is the most stunning of the lot. With her long grey hair, high cheekbones and glowing skin, Yasmina Rossi is like a breath of fresh air. She shows women of, ahem, indeterminate age that it’s perfectly possible to age in style.

The clothes look pretty good too. When I popped into M&S at London’s Westfield this week I spotted loads of covetable outfits – elegant tailored coats, pencil skirts and (I can’t believe I’m saying this) a rather fetching pair of floral Jacquard trousers. There wasn’t a flouncy skirt or asymmetric cardigan in sight.

I hope that all the other high street stores follow suit. It’s about time they realised that when women hit middle age they don’t suddenly yearn to dress in beige twinsets and trousers with elasticated waists.

Mind you, it doesn’t mean that we want to copy Carol Vorderman’s tightly-cinched dresses or Kate Garraway’s alarming new hair extensions either. We don’t!

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Hopelessly addicted to tea - and my own special Teapigs blend

From PG Tips to M&S’s Empress Grey, I’m hopelessly addicted to tea.

I drink about eight cups a day, and very often have two on the go at once. When we cross the Channel to France I make sure I’ve got a few packets of tea stashed in my luggage because French tea just doesn’t taste the same at all. And when I gave up alcohol in the New Year, the only drink I didn’t get sick of was tea.

So you can imagine my excitement last week when I got an email from a fantastic tea company called Teapigs. I’d entered a competition to write a 60-word paragraph about my passion for tea and guess what? I was one of the lucky winners. The prize? My very own special blend created by tea taster Louise (above).

And sure enough, on Saturday morning a packet of “Emma’s special blend” arrived in the post. It’s called Super Power Earl Grey and it’s delicious. I’m rationing myself to one pot a day – and when I get to the end of the packet I’m going to be utterly bereft. Forget haute couture fashion, I’m now a devotee of haute couture tea…

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Queuing for a free Hummingbird Bakery cake

The queue of expectant customers snaked out of the shop, along the pavement and right round the corner. The occasion was the opening of The Hummingbird Bakery’s fifth London shop and they were giving free cupcakes to the first 1,000 customers to visit. News had spread fast via Twitter and Facebook and the mood was very party-like for a chilly Friday morning in January.

I had a meeting near Angel tube station so I jumped at the chance to line up in the sunshine and get my brilliantly named red velvet cupcake (plus buy three more for everyone at home – they’d be furious if I’d arrived back empty-handed). 
When I reached the front of the queue the staff were charm personified – and impressively smiley considering they’d been handing out cakes at the rate of knots. A couple of hours later the shop posted the following message on Facebook: "Islington, you managed to munch your way through 1,000 cupcakes in just over two hours! That's some incredible cupcake love."

Judging by the turnout, I’m not the only one partial to a freebie, especially in these bleak economic times. Actually, I’ve been really lucky this week. First my local cinema, the Phoenix Picturehouse, offered members the chance to see a free preview of Carnage, the new film starring Jodie Foster and Kate Winslet. Then my daughter, now a Friend of the Royal Academy (a great birthday present from my sister) sweetly took me to see the fabulous David Hockney exhibition as her guest. 

Like everyone I know, my wallet is stuffed full of bits of paper offering discounts and bargains. I’ve got a coupon from Marks & Spencer offering £5 off if I spend £25 by Tuesday and a £2.50 one from Tesco. The only voucher I’m mystified by is the Sainsbury’s Brand Match one promising me the princely sum of 7p off my next shop.  Still, as the Tesco’s saying goes, every little helps...
The Hummingbird Bakery, 405 St John Street, London EC1V 4AB

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Pret A Manger goes to Paris

The most memorable lunches I’ve ever eaten have been in France.

From a posh restaurant lunch in a medieval hilltop village near Cannes to a freshly baked baguette and some brie de meaux under the plane tree at the House With No Name, le déjeuner in France is special. It’s certainly not something to be gobbled at top speed in between phone calls at your desk. When my daughter started school at the école maternelle round the corner from our house in Orléans, classes stopped for an hour at noon and virtually every child went home for a proper lunch.

Most French people I know take time over lunch They wouldn’t dream of going to a sandwich shop or takeaway – which is why I was taken aback by the news that Pret A Manger has just opened its first branch in Paris. A cheery notice on the Pret website reads: “We've opened our very first shop in  La Défense, Paris... and we're 
really very excited! So, if you're planning a trip to Paris any time soon, do pop in and say bonjour! Our second shop on Marbeuf, Paris, opens in a few weeks (our builders are on a roll!)…”

I’m a big fan of Pret A Manger – the Pret sweet potato and lentil curry soup is sublime – but I’m not convinced the French are ready to give up their traditional long lunch break to eat sandwiches. And what they’ll think of the plastic cutlery, triangular bread and indeed the name Pret A Manger is another matter (strictly speaking Pret should be Prêt after all…)

But maybe there are enough time-pressed office workers and ex-pats to make the venture a success. When we lived in France I remember making special trips to buy Cheddar cheese at Marks & Spencer in Boulevard Haussmann every time I was in Paris. My husband got very irritated. “It’s absolute sacrilege to buy English cheese in France,” he said. But I still did.

PS: The old M&S in Boulevard Haussmann closed in 2001. But M&S recently opened a new store - on the Champs-Elysées, no less. 
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