20th November 2019

Poilâne’s edible advent calendar

Grown up advent calendars are having a moment. We’ve got our eyes on the first ever calendar from Poilâne, filled with delicious edible treats. Whisk off to Paris with imagery of the original bakery in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, whose 24 doors will open to reveal specialities of biscuits – including their famous shortbread – chocolates and sweets by French Houses that Apollonia Poilâne has hand-picked, including Abbaye De Fleury, Jacques Genin, Jean-Paul Hevin and Anne Benoit Chocolat. Yum.

20th November 2019

Tea Bars: London’s Coolest Cuppa

There was a time when the Flat White reigned supreme. Now Londoners have a new obsession: loose-leaf tea. Thanks to this emerging scene of hip tea bars, it’s never been cooler to sip a cuppa.

Jing: experience a tea flight

Jing tea is served at some of our favourite places from the Savoy and the Connaught to Gail’s and the Tate. This week the experts opened their first bricks-and-mortar space in St Christopher’s Place, all pale wood and glass teapots. Particularly cool is their polished marble tea bar where they are now offering ‘Tea Flights’. Much like a wine or whisky flight, these 45-minute experiences offer informal tastings of select Jing teas. Pull up a stool and listen to a master share the fascinating stories behind each of the six types of tea: white, green, yellow, oolong, black and puerh. Despite being avid tea drinkers – even going so far as to pack Twinings Earl Grey tea bags in our suitcase when we go abroad – we soon realise just how little we know about the origins of tea. We learn that all tea comes from the Camelia Sinensis plant, and it is the terroir and treatment that form the differences we taste. For example their delicate Jasmine Silver Needle is made by laying fresh jasmine flowers over the tea tips for up to 5 days to infuse with flavour – cheaper jasmine teas may simply be sprayed with fragrance resulting in a delicious smell but no taste. Jing taste thousands of teas every year to select the very best from growers’ and farms all over Asia and their suppliers can vary year-on-year depending on weather, crop quality and so on. Sourcing so carefully no doubt results in their fine selection, each brewed expertly for 3-minutes before it’s your turn to taste. Watching the leaves swirl about whilst the tea brews is mesmeric; a reminder of just how relaxing it is to stop and enjoy the ceremony of making a cup of tea. Once you’ve tasted and learned about the teas, you can of course buy delicious packages to take away. As well as loose-leaf teas and teabags there’s chic and practical teaware including a clever on-the-go Matcha shaker and the essential glass tie-iere tea infuser. Booking someone a tea flight experience would make a lovely Christmas present, £25 per guest.

Jing, 18-19 St Christopher’s Place, W1. Open Mon – Sat 10am – 7pm, Sun 12pm – 6pm jingtea.com

Teatulia: cocktails and books

Tea cocktails are order of the day at Teatulia, a tea bar in Covent Garden. Perch at high stools or recline into a cosy nook to sip an Oolong Old Fashioned or a Builder’s Bourbon made with black tea syrup. All of Teatulia’s garden-to-cup teas are organic and grown on their Fairtrade cooperative in Bangladesh, and can either be drunk as they are by day along with a tea-infused cake (try the rich Dark Chocolate, Black Tea & Cherry Brownie) or blended into zippy cocktails come the evening. As well as delicious tea, Teatulia is a cool place to hang out. Owned by a poet and writer, there’s a ‘library’ here where people like Tilda Swinton, Esther Freud and William Boyd have suggested their top 10 books, arranged on various shelves. There’s also a tiny post box at the back of the bar with postcards and pencils ready to use – write a note to someone, post it into the box and Teatulia will mail it for free.

Teatulia, 36 Neal St, London WC2H 9PS. Open Mon – Fri 8am – 10pm, Sat 9am – 10pm, Sun 9am – 7pm, teatulia.com

Good + Proper: tea and crumpets

Whilst there’s no end of take away coffee shops in London, tea-drinker, Emilie Holmes spotted the gap in the market for anywhere to buy a decent take-away cup of tea. Quite simply, it wasn’t as good as you’d get at home. So, she launched Good + Proper in 2012, converting a 1974 Citroën-H van into a mobile tea bar and selling loose-leaf brews at festivals and street food markets in London. Enormously popular, a flagship followed in Clerkenwell where exposed bricks and houseplants reinvented the tea room into a Tea Bar. Here you can order something as familiar as an English Breakfast with a warm, buttered accompaniment  – but at Good + Proper expect that tea to be loose-leaf and brewed to perfection and served with one of their famous square-shaped sourdough crumpets topped with ‘House Notella’. Traditional teatime made contemporary and cool.

Good + Proper Tea, 96A Leather Lane, EC1N 7TX, open Mon-Thurs 8am – 6pm and Fri 8-5pm. Saturday’s and Sunday’s closed. One Saturday per month the van pops up at Brockley Market. goodandpropertea.com

20th November 2019

Christmas gift guide: Impossible people to buy for

Some people are rather difficult to buy for but don’t fret, we’ve come up with the perfect presents:

Comfy yet winsomely elegant, Emilia Wickstead Pyjamas, £529 from MATCHESFASHION

This one’s a keeper: Lucien Freud framed Still Life with Lemon, 1947, £35 from the Royal Academy of Arts

A two-for-one present: once you’ve burnt the wick to the bottom, use it as a stylish pen pot. LaDoubleJ Candle, £89 from MATCHESFASHION

We’ve got our eyes on the Jesmonite White Margit Wittig 5 Pearl Candlestick but really – any colour will do, £155 from Margit Wittig

Divine crockery: vintage Alsace Bowls, Set of 5 for £400 from Cabana Magazine

Seriously stylish and super comfortable Gram Boots, £995 from Sweethearts of the Rodeo

Never lose your charger again – iPhone charger leather sticker and iPhone case, from £60 at Chaos

A perfect house present for your Christmas host: clear star carafe and glass, £55 from Pentreath & Hall

Hand coloured, printed and bound in Florence, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland Notebook, £38 from Summerill & Bishop

Who wouldn’t love these personalised scallop-edged notecards from Matilda Goad for Papier.com? £20 for 10 at Papier

20th November 2019

A very special Christmas Sale

Please come along to a very special Christmas sale from two of A Little Bird’s own editorial team. Held at the private home of contributor, Annie, there will be afternoon tea, drinks and merriment plus excellent shopping. Annie, founder of Lucky Finds will be selling vintage treasures like cider carafes, bedspreads, jewellery, candles and Christmas decorations as well as her own handmade cushions, totes and knickers. Daisy will be putting her green fingers back into use, selling her homemade wild wreaths full of seasonal foliage, berries and seed heads, ready to be strung from the front door on silk and velvet ribbons. She will also have great branches of mistletoe for your hall – if you’d like to pre-order please do so here. There will also be stalls from West London boutique, Cocktail, as well as Kiki Zaza jewellery, Charlotte Knapman’s beaded earrings from Cape Town, Ila beauty, Coco chocolate and St Eval candles. Please do come along, we hope to meet you there!

20th November 2019

Winter Tablescapes

Laying the table has never been so fetishised, so much so that there’s now an official term for it: ‘tablescaping.’ Whatever you want to call it, it’s great fun to create a festive table at this time of year. Here’s how:

Best for traditional Christmas: Alice Naylor-Leyland’s curated tablescapes 

Alice Naylor-Leyland has long posted pictures of perfect table settings on her instagram account @mrsalice. Now you can recreate the look at home thanks to her readymade kits that you can buy online. Choose from the Winter Woodland tablescape in minty greens and silver or our favourite, the Jolly Nutcracker in red and white. Each kit costs £280 and contains nutcrackers, glittery reindeer, scalloped napkins, velvet bows, green candlesticks and more. In addition to the tablescapes you can shop individual elements like bamboo cutlery and gold crackers. Be quick if you want to order the Jolly Nutcracker set – the first batch sold out fast, but will be re-stocked to ship again from 27 November. alicenaylorleyland.com

Best for Flowers: Travelling Tablescapes from Kitten Grayson

For anyone tight on time and low on energy, Kitten Grayson’s new ‘travelling tablescapes’ will appeal. Each one consists of five small floral arrangements and three tapered candles to compliment them to run along your table. Choose either fresh flowers – in classic reds and golds or dried flowers in a playful palette of burnt oranges and pink. Flowers arrive arranged in bud vases ready to go directly onto the table, so all you need to do is light the candles. £230 for fresh and £330 dried, delivery priced on request. If you have a longer table you can up the numbers of bud vases and candles as you like. kittengrayson.com

Best for Children: Meri Meri 

Meri Meri may not do readymade tablescape kits but they have all the elements to create a wonderful table setting if you have small children. There are so many lovely crackers to choose from – we love the angels, the reindeer and the nutcracker set or how about the sausage dogs for dauschund households? Then add candy cane paper napkins, sparkly plates and cups and mini elf party hats. merimeri.co.uk

Best for adding to your collection: Cutter Brooks

We’re mad on Cutter Brooks tablescapes, but the lovely thing about their Christmas selection is that it’s not strictly Christmassy, but just gives a wintery feel. For example, these lovely paper hellebores (handmade by Livia Cetti) would be welcome to stay out well past December into January and February too. From £45 at cutterbrooks.com

Best for DIY: Petersham Nurseries 

Petersham’s wreath workshops are always so popular, but how about learning how to make a table centrepiece instead this year? Join a masterclass on 21 December and learn how to use fresh flowers and festive foliage to create a garland that can run along your table over the Christmas period. Just add candles and you’re done. 21 December 6-8.30pm in Covent Garden, £110 at petershamnurseries.com

20th November 2019

Glossier lands in London

Brands must dream of the kind of buzz that Glossier have generated at their London shop that opened on Floral Street, Covent Garden this week. Groups of young women bounce about a floral carpet, excitedly applying lipgloss and posing for selfies against maximal matching curtains.  Products lie invitingly on island stations, waiting to be picked up and played with like pens in a stationery shop and as delicious-looking as sweeties in jars. Encouragement is everywhere – ‘you look good’ is written on the mirrors, and fresh-faced staff are engaging and chatty, clad in millennial pink boiler suits and Reebok Classics. It’s a sharp departure from the department store beauty concessions we’re familiar with where taut assistants wait to pounce; here music sets the tempo and there’s a sense that everyone’s brought their friends to the party.

Designed by Glossier’s ‘in-house experiential team’, the pop up space is big, with a series of different rooms opening onto one another, each decorated around a colour theme. It’s instagram click-bait with flowers everywhere (a nod to its position on Floral Street) and even has a ‘Glossier Rooftop’ installation at the very back, where people queue to take their picture amongst a pink London skyline.

It would be easy to dismiss this as gimmicky if it wasn’t for the fact that the products are just so brilliant. The names and design are appealing – think ‘Cloud Paint’ (blusher), ‘Zit Stick’ in a chunky marker pen and the new ‘Futuredew’ – that promises an irresistible dewy glow that lasts. But more than looking and sounding good they actually seem to work. Last year Glossier sold one Boy Brow every 32 seconds. We’ve been loyal devotees to their original wonder product – a sort of soft mascara wand giving a slick of colour for perfect eyebrows – for several years. Now there are 36 products that each follow the Glossier philosophy of ‘skin first, make up second’. Our favourites as well as Boy Brow are the Solution (an exfoliating ‘skin perfector’) and the lightly-scented You perfume, so-called because ‘it smells like you’.

Indeed, this emphasis on you – the Glossier customer – is at the heart of the brand’s success. Founded by 34-year old Emily Weiss in 2014 on the back of her hit blog, Into the Gloss, Glossier is all about community. Gone are the days of aspiration involving celebrities as ‘the face of the brand’, now it’s about inspiration: cultivating an exciting shopping experience and an active comments section online. And so, instead of inimitable red carpet glamour it’s about real people having fun. With shops in New York, LA, Miami, Seattle, Boston and Austin, and now Covent Garden, we’re glad to be a part of the family – until February at least.

20th November 2019

VIP access to the Longchamp Sample Sale

With ready to wear for women plus a huge range of accessories such as handbags, leather goods and shoes, this is the perfect sale to get started (or finished!) on your Christmas present shopping. VIP access for A Little Bird readers is from midday to 8pm on Wednesday 27th November and general access is from 9am to 7pm on Thursday 28th November.  Show the invitation below (if you can’t see it below, please click here) and you can take two other people with you.  Happy Shopping!

20th November 2019

Timothée Chalamet and Eileen Atkins on stage

Well, this is very exciting!  Two of our favourite actors are going to appear on stage together in Amy Herzog’s Pulitzer Prize nominated play, 4000 Miles, next Spring. Matthew Warchus directs Eileen Atkins and Timothée Chalamet in the play about a 91 year old grandmother, Vera, who finds her grandson Leo, has turned up on her Manhattan doorstep in the middle of the night whilst he is supposed to be on a cycling trip across America with his best friend.  Tickets go on sale tomorrow Thursday 21st November to the Artistic Director’s Circle and the Producer’s Circle; to Benefactors and Patrons on Friday 22nd, to Associates on Tuesday 26th November, to Friends from midday on Friday 29th November and to the General Public from midday on Tuesday 3rd December.  Get those credit cards ready!

14th November 2019

Win a pair of tickets to see Phoebe Waller-Bridge on stage

It’s completely sold out but we are thrilled to say that we have a pair of tickets to give away to hear Phoebe Waller Bridge speak at the Southbank Centre on 8th December.  Starting at 7.45pm, Waller-Bridge will be talking about her new book Fleabag: The Scriptures to Deborah Frances-White, the comedian and writer of the podcast The Guilty Feminist, which has had over 50 million downloads in under three years.  The pair of tickets also includes two discounted copies of Fleabag: The Scriptures for £15 (RRP £20), to be collected at the event.

Just enter our prize draw below and we will pick a winner at random after 5pm on Wednesday 27th November 2019.  Please note that the Southbank ask that the ticket holder arrive with Photo ID and we will need transfer ownership of the tickets to the winner.  We will therefore e-mail the Southbank with the winner’s details so they can make the transfer and the winner will receive an e-ticket up to a day before the event.  A Little Bird are not responsible if there any problems with entry or transfer of the tickets.

14th November 2019

Hats, Scarves & Gloves for now

There’s been a chill in the air this week, wrap up warm with these woolly accessories including Laura Bailey’s fingerless gloves for Brora and beanies by Quinton Chadwick:

Super long and soft, this Millie striped scarf is made from wool with a dash of cashmere, £150 at Cleverly Wrapped

This lambswool Quinton & Chadwick Mosaic scarf in Foliage would be perfect for a walk in the country, £80 at collenandclare.com

Long and skinny with a chunky patchwork wool cable, we love this Patch scarf, £90 at Alexa Chung

We could live in these fingerless gloves all winter long. Designed by Laura Bailey for Brora, cashmere Breton stripe wrist warmers, £89 at Brora

From Edinburgh-based designer, Jo Gordon come these fabulous bobbled gloves

Mittens Scarlet & Medusa in red, grey or yellow as the primary colours, £73 at Jo Gordon

Expensive but oh so soft cashmere fingerless gloves, £145 at The Elder Statesman

Merino wool bobble hat with nice ribbed construction to fit all head shapes. Green Thomas woollen hat £45 at collenandclare.com

Another super stylish pom pom beanie. This one is on my Christmas list. Quinton Chadwick pom pom beanie, £50 at Liberty

The softest beanie we have found. Cashmere blend beanie in dark and light grey £88 at All Saints

New this season at Penelope Chilvers are these Tam O’Shanter wool berets knitted in Scotland. £55 at Penelope Chilvers

Stand out from the crowd with this traffic-stopping Fairisle pompom beanie, £33 at J Crew

Finally one for the fashion squad – think sleek emerald skirt, floaty coat, topped off with this chic Alpaca merino blend beret £25 at Arket

13th November 2019

Rita Konig’s farmhouse for rent

Even looking at the pictures brings us joy so we can’t imagine how happy-making it would be to wake up at Rita Konig’s North Farm. Book it for Christmas or New Year (it’s just come up for rent but you’ll need to be quick!) and you could have a very merry house party of friends to fill the 7/8 bedrooms. Surrounded by 380 acres of countryside near Darlington, return from wintery walks to snug sitting rooms with plump cushions, and baths with views and plenty of hot water to go round. It’s yours for £4,500 per week over Christmas and New Year, or from £2,500 a week at other times.

13th November 2019

Book now: Uncle Vanya starring Richard Armitage

Sonia Friedman Productions recently announced yet another hit-in-the-making production:  Conor McPherson’s (The Weir, Girl from the North Country) new adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s masterpiece Uncle Vanya directed by Ian Rickson (Jerusalem, The Seagull) will run at the Harold Pinter Theatre from 14th January 2020.  It’s the first time Rickson has returned to Chekhov since his award winning production of The Seagull in 2007 and it will star Toby Jones, Richard Armitage, Aimee Lou Wood (from Sex Education) and Ciarán Hinds.  Running until 2 May 2020, you can book tickets here.