Is the pressure okay? You know the masseuse is going to say it, but are you brave enough to answer the question honestly? After an early twenties of being terribly British and polite about the whole thing, I've spent the last five years unequivocally asking for a firmer massage. Until I found Flint + Flint’s bamboo version that is.
It's 7,187 miles from Hawaii to Birmingham and, I'll be honest, some Mondays it sure feels like it. Which makes the arrival Kuula Poké to the Great Western Arcade a city-brightening addition even before you've tucked into the food. And I'll get on to the food in two shakes of a salmon's tail.
What do Thursday evenings usually look like for you? If we're speaking candidly here, mine normally involves (literal) Netflix and chill. So in an unusual sociable twist, a few weeks ago on a rainy Thursday at 6pm, I joined Bloom Collective for a floristry workshop at The Barber Institute of Fine Arts.
I’m not saying I’m dog-obsessed but I am planning my next holiday based around seeing a dog. Rhubarb, and her owner Freyja, are residents at bed and breakfast The Sandy Duck in Falmouth and as charming as Freyja is, it was the doggo I was hoping to spot at breakfast every day.
I've always had a bad back. I tan well, smile a lot and have a spine that pathologically hates me. Or does it? Postural Alignment Therapy (or "PAT") isn't physio, or yoga, or osteopathy — it's a system of personalised exercises that works by addressing the causes of pain, rather than focussing on the symptom itself. It's about gently firing up weak, underused muscles and helping to switch off muscles that are taking too much strain.
During the early years of her biotech company Theranos, Elizabeth Holmes took to wearing a black turtleneck every day, in the style of her hero, Steve Jobs. She hired ex-Apple staff and brought in their iconic advertising agency TBWA\Chiat\Day. There's also speculation that she consciously changed her speaking voice to a deeper register, so she would be taken more seriously. And somehow, these are some of the less weird things Holmes has done.
It feels easier to blame my impressive content-binging on 21st century multimedia overload. It’s all Netflix’s fault that I consume a 20 part series in two weeks, okay? But the truth is I’ve never been able to make a good thing last. Just look back at my voracious Jacqueline Wilson days in the 90s to see I’ve always been like this.
If someone blindfolded you, put you on a train at New Street, and removed the blindfold only after pushing you through the doors of Sky By The Water, you probably wouldn’t think you were at Resorts World, or even in Birmingham. You’d probably also be like “Why did you blindfold me? That was kind of traumatic” but then “Wow this place is beautiful, can I live here now?”
I got eight hours of uninterrupted sleep on Friday night — those deep, refreshing sort of zzzs I'd give up most of what I own to guarantee on a regular basis. And the cause?
Marie Kondo seems like the sweetest person, probably ever. In her new Netflix show Tidying Up, the organisational goddess who became a household name in 2014 with her book The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up squeals with delight when she meets new people, and rolls around on the carpet, so happy is she when rooms have been cleared of clutter.
Italian food. Fine fine dining. Ridiculously strong décor by Tibbatts Abel; the same people that did Saint Paul's House and Opheem, Aktar Islam's other joint over the road. It’s very hard to find anything not to love about Legna, the newbie to Fleet Street (that's basically Summer Row to the uninitiated).
My Instagram explore page is 90% dog videos and 10% No Context Louis Theroux posts. I lose hours of my life watching Huskies try to find their hiding owners and German Shepherds catching treats in slow motion (with hilarious consequences, obvs). What I’m saying is, I can and do watch the most banal of dog-related content, so praise be to Netflix for creating some beautifully shot, tear-inducing, quality canine TV too.
Decapitated Barbies and pig-shaped macarons with eighties bangers for your soundtrack isn't exactly what you might think of when someone invites you for a spot of afternoon tea. But when this is the invite and chef patron Alex Claridge is the one in charge, you're not in normal town anymore. You're in new kid on the neon block, Nocturnal Animals.
You might expect a play based on a novel written 119 years ago to be a little, shall we say… old-fashioned. Well, let The Rep’s upcoming showing of Heart of Darkness, originally written by Joseph Conrad, change your mind.
Fans of Gone Girl, The Girl on The Train and that increasingly popular subgenre of pyschological thriller with a female descriptor in the title will want to add A J Finn’s debut novel The Woman in the Window to their ‘must read’ list.
Did you watch The Cry? Don't answer that, we can't hear you. But if you didn't, you really should. Written by Jacquelin Perske, and from the novel by Helen FitzGerald, Jenna Coleman leads in a psychological, chronological flip-flopping thriller that will merrily twist your guts around its little finger. And it will do so with double the torsion if you're a parent.
One egg is un oeuf, but two is waaaaay better at Purnell's, where the classics are classics for a reason. We could talk about at least five of the dishes we sampled in the Cornwall Street dining room, but we're going to focus entirely on two, which are as happy-making as they are accomplished.
If ever you needed proof that camping should be entirely reserved for festivals and that team-bonding exercises need to be illegalised stat, then Force Of Nature is it.
Escaping into someone else's world through a book is one of our very greatest pleasures. Doing so from a sun bed, supping a piña colada with nothing else to do all day — well that's the bestest. Yet to pick a holiday library? Young Irish author, Sally Rooney's debut ménage à quatre is well worthy of your shortlist.
When I signed up to yoga classes at the Glasshouse next to The Village pub in Moseley, my main motivation was to just move a bit more. My Monday to Friday sedentary office job sitch meant my step count barely reached 1,000 most days and a shoulder injury from teenage years was only getting worse.
This isn’t a book about freelancing. It’s not a book celebrating job insecurity. The Multi-Hyphen Method by Emma Gannon is a book about creating a new blueprint for the workplace and finding a career and a definition of success that works for you. Next time someone asks what you do, rather than say "I'm a Model-DJ-Actress-Instagram Influencer", just tell them you're a Multi-Hyphenate.
Confession time: we knew nothing about L.A. skin care peeps Murad until they announced their £10, 30-minute facial pop-up. Though loyal to our particular skincare regime, after reading some pretty bold claims, we booked in to see how much difference half an hour could make to our perhaps a little too sun-worshipped visage.
Booking into a completely new hotel is the sort of gamble we lose all the sleep over. Pick well and this will be the only year you can afford the vistas, the thread counts and the in-pool sofas (yep), but pick poorly and you've ruined a holiday.
Sounds like a 70s B-movie horror about a murderous flight of stairs and the uncanny number of accidents that befall those who descend them, right? It's not. But we'd probably watch that.
There’s a big difference between being a competent cook in your own home and being amongst a group of foodie strangers in Loaf's profesh kitchen. But if the idea is a bit intimidating, the reality is a delight.
One Artistic Director. One Associate Director. Two professional actors. 100 members of the public. The Rep’s production of Woyzeck is one helluva undertaking. What could possibly go wrong? We had a right good conflab with Roxana Silbert at The Rep ahead of the pioneering show about the story, the theatre and what it's like to produce a play with 100 non-professional volunteers from the community.
Chances are your local pub isn't really your local pub. You probably sidestep two or three sketchy boozers in order to get to somewhere you, you know, actually feel at home in. Heartbreakingly for us, we've fallen so unconditionally in love with The Hand and Flowers, that our new favourite local is 88 miles away. It's making the stumble home difficult.