Find what you love

“The government is cutting music programmes in schools and slashing Arts grants as gleefully as a morbidly American kid in Baskin Robbins. So if only to stick it to the man, isn’t it worth fighting back in some small way? So write your damn book. Learn a Chopin prelude, get all Jackson Pollock with the kids, spend a few hours writing a Haiku. Do it because it counts even without the fanfare, the money, the fame and Heat photo-shoots that all our children now think they’re now entitled to because Harry Styles has done it.

Charles Bukowski, hero of angsty teenagers the world over, instructs us to “find what you love and let it kill you“. Suicide by creativity is something perhaps to aspire to in an age where more people know Katie Price better than the Emperor concerto.”

– James Rhodes,  ‘Find what you love and let it kill you

Email wins

Five really easy email wins

Ready to press send on your latest email? Hold off for five minutes! There’s a few things you can do to make your next mailer more impactful, improving your open and click through rates.

1. Concise content means you can use a bigger font, it takes less time to read and can be consumed on the move; while sitting on the bus or in line for the check out. Think mobile first, and ask yourself; if you’ve cut something out, did you really need to say it in the first place?

Nordstrom email

2. Make your content single column – this is a lot easier to resize in mobile and have it display well (ditch those massive margins).

3. Design for touch and fat fingers – make your buttons big, e.g 44px², and spaced out so users don’t misstep or miss-tap. I like this email from Lomography, with its unmissable calls to action:

Lomo email

4. Subject lines viewed on iPhones cut off at 35 characters! When I found out this one I was gobsmacked. At 35 characters, well that’s only a quarter of a tweet. The rest of your words just… vanish. You don’t want your readers missing anything crucial, so make sure the key information you want to get across is up front (e.g. lead with ‘Win’). Even better, rewrite your message so it fits in that space.

5. Check your alt text and pre-headers are in place – remember not all images will display. Here’s one example from Frankie magazine that shows the value of double-checking:

Preheaders - are they in place?

Whether you’re a one man brand or talking to hundreds of thousands of people, hopefully these little tips and tricks will help you out, and power you to the end goal.


Prague Castle

Praha – Prague

June 2014. Thom and I flew to Prague on a Sunday afternoon, for a few day’s exploration of central Europe. Once we arrived at our hotel, we found a cute, compact city with loads of cheap beer. It was a whirlwind trip – we only had just over a day before we headed off to Budapest, but it was fun.

PragueEven though I have lived in a city with an underground for nearly three years, I find them endlessly interesting. They same goes for beautiful old buildings. I can’t resist pastel coloured architecture.


The famous medieval astronomical clock, the first mention of which was recorded in 1410 . If you’re lucky enough to walk by on the hour, there is an animatronic display – with a bell ringing skeleton and a shuffling of apostles in the windows above the dial.


Two favourites in one image: Thom checking out the view from Frank Gehry’s Dancing House, which overlooks the Vltava river. The beer is at the Prague Beer Museum – a fantastic name for a pub! I had a sip or two of Modra Luna, a sweet blueberry lager.


One of the more pronounceable subway stops and a tourist selfie at Prague castle. (Hi parents!)


A Soviet era vehicle in stylish brown, and the author posing on one’s 70’s era couchette seat on the night train to Budapest. Shortly after this photo was taken we were off, tucked up in bed and chugging through the Czech Republic with a 5:00AM appointment in Bratislava to keep.



Kitchen diction

Let’s play a game of kitchenary… and demystify some of the language of food.  Despite my love of food and great hoard of cookbooks, some terms still escape me. Especially when I’m sat looking at a menu for 3.5 seconds while a waiter huffs down at me – I go blank and feel kind of dumb.

But as they say, knowledge is power and I’m taking the power back! These a few of the mysteries I unravelled over a meal with friends at Beagle, Hoxton on Saturday night:


GIROLLES: Small and fragrant, these golden mushrooms are also known as chanterelles. They have an ‘almost fruity and quite peppery’ taste, and are wonderful enjoyed simply sautéed and on toast. You’ll find them fresh between June and October in Europe- so they’re at their best now.

GNUDI: This is a fun one to say. Partnered with the girolles in a sage butter sauce, gnudi are a close cousin of gnocchi. However, you’ll find these dumplings are simply made with flour and ricotta. This undoubtedly will be making an appearance in my kitchen soon, as they were utterly delectable.

PERROCHE: A soft white fresh goat cheese, with a subtle lemony taste. I had this with a light summer veg salad, including freshly podded peas – however it looks like broadbeans and artichokes are also exceptional partners.

VICHYSSOISE: If vichy means water in French, vichyssoise is the feminine. In cooking, this usually translates to a thick soup made of puréed leeks, onions, potatoes, cream, and chicken stock. At Beagle, they serve theirs with watercress and buttermilk, which sounds light and delicious – but I am yet to try it.


Margate rain

I’ve been cleaning up my desktop, and I found these photos from the day I caught the train to Margate with my mum a few months ago. For a trip to the seaside; the weather was miserable (demanding we purchase cut price beanies and gloves from Primark) and the glamour was crumbling. We did try to make the most of it though, by heading to the Turner gallery.

The Turner Contemporary gallery is a pristine space perching on the edge of the tumultuous North sea. Opened in 2011, it’s a sight for sore eyes on the lacklustre sea front. You can see it peeping out on the far right of the picture below.




As for the other delights of Margate? Well, we didn’t find that many. There’s vintage shopping to be had in the old town, along with a few quirky antique shops and the occasional palm reader.


Margate foc


To be fair, weather probably played a big part in this trip… It would be nice to zip down there this summer, when hopefully it’ll all be bathed in sunshine. Come on, England.


Just read Oliver Burkeman’s latest column in the Guardian. This week it’s about the wonderfully named “what-the-hell effect” – the idea that just one won’t hurt, we can try again tomorrow. This part struck a chord:

“The what-the-hell effect is usually interpreted, rightly, as an argument for setting more realistic goals. Instead of promising you’ll eat no unhealthy foods, or spend nothing on fripperies, build in a safety valve: permit yourself one self-indulgent item a day, or a certain amount of money a week. Better yet, replace “inhibitional” goals – the intention to stop doing things – with “acquisitional goals”, focused on obtaining or achieving something.”

by Amber Parkin