February 27, 2017

Indie Mags – Phox Pop

The lateness of this review doesn’t reflect how quickly I read issue 2 of Phox Pop* magazine; it was devoured within a couple of days over Christmas. (Lack of natural light and knee-deep wedding planning conspired to keep me from blogging!)

Phox Pop is a well researched, engaging and beautifully designed magazine. It defies easy categorisation into a broad independent magazine theme. Instead, Phox Pop is driven by curiosity; the website simply states Phox Pop is ‘a free-range selection of stories’. Meticulous research has gone into every page, bringing together tenuous topics such as the origin of the banana; urban geodes; and how to become a wine god/dess. Since when did multicultural Australian identity sit easily with monarch butterfly migration? Each page turn leads to more detailed and fascinating facts, as delightful as they are intriguing.

Phox Pop is created by Amy Freeborn, who has a background in newspaper journalism, digital publishing and editing. With Phox Pop she says that she ‘made the magazine that I would want to write for, and read, myself: rather than pitching ideas to multiple other titles, I would write them all for my own title, and hope that other people would be as interested in reading them as me.’

I love that issue 2 of Phox Pop hasn’t been moulded into a theme; that the topics are diverse. It feels like a labour of love, as if any interesting facts that Amy has heard, seen or experienced have been plucked and polished for Phox Pop. They are much shinier and engrossing facts than skim reading the same information on Wikipedia due to personal stories that root the research; from female astronauts to hunters of render ghosts – reading about their lives widens our own world.


*So where does the name Phox Pop come from? It comes from the phrase ‘vox pop’ an abbreviation of a Latin phrase that means ‘voice of the people’. The ‘v’ has been replaced with ‘ph’ from the Greek ‘phos’ (light) to indicate different art forms.

Phox Pop website / Twitter / Instagram / Facebook

Phox Pop issue 2 is available to buy online and issue 3 is due to be released on 20th March and can be pre-ordered

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January 26, 2017

On My Bookshelf: I Capture The Castle

On My Bookshelf is a series of my most favourite books, frequently recommended to friends, family, and now to you!

I write this sitting in the kitchen sink. That is, my feet are in it; the rest of me is on the draining-board, which I have padded with our dog’s blanket and the tea-cosy.

When a friend recommended I Capture the Castle to me several years ago, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t already read it. It’s one of those books you can return to year after year and still find utterly enchanting. Cassandra Mortmain’s diary mirrors the frenzied attempts I had as a teenager to document every moment; the fights with my siblings; the longing for life to be interesting; falling in love for the first time. Her eccentric father, bohemian step-mother and the family’s hand-to-mouth lifestyle living in a crumbling castle are far more romantic than my teenage-hood ever was!

January 22, 2017

Indie Mags: Little White Lies

Little White Lies Rouge One cover

Just before Rogue One, the newest Star Wars film, was released in December, Little White Lies released an a special Star Wars colour-in edition. The joy of colouring in never really leaves you when you grow up, and it was lovely to have the time (and excuse!) to get out a fistful of colouring pencils and imagine what the final film might look like.

I’m a Star Wars fan by proxy. All of the times I’ve watched the films it’s been with my cousins, brother or my fiancé, who have been real enthusiasts of the series. I’ve enjoyed all of the recent films in the cinema, but I’d be hard pushed to explain the intricacies of the plot! Thankfully, Little White Lies took a broader look at where Rogue One fits in to the Star Wars series. A profile of Felicity Jones’ career (remember her from Chalet Girl days?) and an article about how her character, Jyn Erso, continues a cinematic tradition of tough women who take action made me pretty excited about the upcoming movie.

Did you see Rogue One? Are you a colouring-in fan? If both answers are yes then get yourself a copy of the Little White Lies Star Wars colour-in edition if you haven’t already!

Little White Lies The Chosen OneLittle White Lies colouring inLittle White Lies Star Wars edition coloured

Little White Lies website / Twitter / Instagram / Facebook

Little White Lies 67 Rogue One: A Star Wars Colour-In edition is available to buy online 

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January 8, 2017

Happy 2017!

January 2017Happy new year! I’m enjoying a brand new year with new resolutions underway. I’m calming down the eating and drinking post-Christmas with my first dry January and a (nearly) veggie month of eating. I’m also following Lauren Laverne’s advice to only take on one task at once, ‘single-tasking’, to stay more relaxed. This year is the year I get married (only 4 months to go!) and juggling work and wedding preparations was quite exhausting last year; I’m determined I won’t be a stressed-out bride this year! Have you got any new years resolutions?

I really enjoyed delving deeper into the world of independent magazines last year on Arts Bites, and I’m looking forward to continuing it this year! I’m also considering a book series too as it’s been something I’d like to write more about for a while. I’m hoping to continue posting fairly regularly this year, however I’ve found wedding plans eating into my non-working time pretty easily so we’ll see how that goes in the first 6 months!

I hope you’re having a great start to the new year!

December 17, 2016

Indie Mags: Peppermint

Peppermint magazineA few weeks ago I wrote about reading frankie, an Australian independent magazine whose summery pages helped make the UK winter feel a little less severe. Recently it’s been so dull and grey outside that another trip down under, this time with Peppermint magazine, has helped to brighten things up!

Peppermint is an Australian quarterly magazine, focused on natural living and sustainability. I picked up a copy of issue 30, as I was drawn to the tranquil beach cover photo! Inside, I loved the feature about THINX, underwear designed to be more ecologically friendly than tampons, and a profile on Yassmin Abdel-Magied, a Muslim immigrant activist who co-founded Youth Without Borders, works on an oil rig, and is an amazing role model for young Muslim women.

Peppermint magazine THINX underwearPeppermint magazine Yassmin Abdel-Magied


Although, at times, Peppermint felt slightly too ‘old’ for me to be reading, I really appreciated the age range of the women Peppermint represented and the variety of different crafts and projects that had been written about so passionately.

The white spaces in Peppermint’s pages reflect their natural living ethos. The magazine is pitched at women in their mid-twenties to thirties and most likely with young families, due to a focus on family-run independent businesses, whether that be a husband and wife couple, or with idea-generating kids involved! Although, at times, Peppermint felt slightly too ‘old’ for me to be reading, I really appreciated the age range of the women Peppermint represented and the variety of different crafts and projects that had been written about so passionately.

I am so glad that I’ve been able to buy such dynamic independent magazines from the other side of the world here in England, however disorientating it is seeing a brand in an Australian magazine and thinking ‘Perhaps I’ll buy that!’, only to realise that the shipping costs would be astronomical!

Peppermint magazine issue 30Peppermint magazine I'm every womanPeppermint magazine Toy StoryPeppermint magazine wild and woolly

Peppermint magazine website / Twitter / Instagram / Facebook

Peppermint is available to buy online 

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November 20, 2016

Indie Mags: Frankie

frankie issue 72 cover

Frankie issue 72 inside

I’m in denial about it being autumn; I miss the long sunny evenings of summer and Christmas is not quite near enough to get excited about yet. So when I picked up a copy of frankie, an Australian independent magazine, and found that it was infused with the down under excitement of ‘summer is just round the corner’, it was the best antidote to the cold, dark pre-Christmas days in Britain. continue reading

November 6, 2016

Indie Mags: Ladybeard

Ladybeard Mind front cover


From the moment I opened Ladybeard magazine and read the first page, I knew it was a magazine I wanted to continue reading:

We platform the voices you won’t hear in women’s magazines; voices of the people who live any and every deviation from the straight, white, cis, able-bodied ‘ideal’. Working in themed issues, we open up old topics to vital new perspectives.

We are feminist but we are not just for women. We want to play with gender, sexuality and identity, rather than dictate their terms.

This begins with our name: Ladybeard.

The second issue of Ladybeard focuses on the mind. Some parts of the magazine are about things I easily associate with the mind; mental health; depression; anxiety; dementia, the deterioration of the mind with old age. Others are less obvious. Google it? The New Mind Control by Robert Epstein was a piece that particularly stood out for me. It gives an alarming perspective of what 21st century developments in technology will do for privacy and control. Likewise, I was struck by The Veil, as it revealed perspectives I wasn’t expecting to encounter. The piece explores the experiences of 3 women and their reasons for wearing a headscarf or niqab. One of the women interviewed came from a middle-class Christian family and it massively challenged the presumptions I held of women who cover their heads. Believing the practice to have formed through male control, to learn that others feel it offers safety and psychological distance from the male gaze was strangely uncomfortable. It was odd to realise that, although I am aligned with these women in believing that they shouldn’t face discrimination for wearing a headscarf, I hadn’t examined their reasons for wearing one very deeply. I learnt more about my own mind than theirs in the article.

No matter what angle they write from, every piece Ladybeard have printed is meticulously researched and presented, whether it’s experiences, stories, historical outlooks or scientific discoveries. Many independent magazines print beautiful photographs of the cities and environments they write about, yet Ladybeard have chosen, perhaps partly due to their inward focused subject matter, to illustrate most of the magazine in bold, colourful abstract patterns. The magazine’s artwork is some of the best I’ve ever seen.

Ladybeard is thick, and I mean thick; this is a magazine that real time and energy has gone into creating. The first issue focused on sex, and was published nearly a year before the Mind issue. Already, the Ladybeard team have announced the their third issue will be about beauty. These are all topics that are hugely important to explore from a feminist perspective.

If you want to hear more about how the Mind issue of Ladybeard was created then I suggest you give their interview with Stack a listen. I went along to the event, hosted by Stack, which was a brilliant way hear from the creators behind the magazine. Frustratingly, the interview at the event didn’t record, but Steve faithfully re-recorded it with the Ladybeard team.


Ladybeard magazine website / Twitter / Instagram / Facebook

Ladybeard issue 2 is available to buy now online or from stockists

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October 4, 2016

Indie Mags: Flow Magazine

Flow Magazine cover issue 14
Flow dedicate themselves to paper. Not only do they publish a magazine eight times a year, but they also produce a yearly calendar, diary and Flow special books about specific topics like mindfulness. Based in the Netherlands, alongside their Dutch publications, they also make four English editions of the Flow magazine every year. I’ve been eyeing up their Flow Book for Paper Lovers for a long time (all those paper possibilities!) but decided to test the waters first with their latest issue of Flow magazine in English, issue 14.

Flow magazine issue 14 long readFlow magazine issue 14 Albania
Flow magazine has a similar tone to magazines such Oh Comely and Betty; creative; inspiring; focused on the art of slowing down; and filled with illustrations and ideas. Their travel section focuses on little-visited places with, such as Albania. It was great to discover some long-read pieces in Flow, such as ‘Small, Smaller, Smallest’ where practical advice and perspectives are offered to readers about the conundrum of the grass is always greener. It felt like the advice column response that would never be published in mainstream media; the advice that a real friend would give.

Alongside brilliant content, Flow play around with form: different sizes and thicknesses of paper have been inserted throughout the magazine, making the magazine feel like an introduction to their special books. About half-way through there’s an art journalling section to encourage readers to grab a pen or pencil and get creative. It’s lovely to have the space dedicated to artwork, rather than just ideas of creative things to do later. Not only is Flow a fantastic magazine for paper lovers, but they cover a wide range of ideas insightfully with an artistic focus. Far from feeling left out (I am not a natural born artist!) the magazine has inspired me to be more creative in my everyday life. Art journalling here I come..!

Flow magazine issue 14 artFlow magazine issue 14 full page spread

Flow magazine website / Twitter / Instagram / Facebook

Flow issue 14 is available to buy now from stockists

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October 1, 2016

Weekend by the Sea

At the beginning of September, my fiancé Dan and I went to Brighton for the weekend, ostensibly to celebrate dating for 4 years, but with our eyes on a whole lot of great places to visit and eat delicious food at, regardless of the special occasion.

First stop was the mecca of Magazine Brighton. I picked up the latest issues of Peppermint, Frankie, Flow and Makeshift (reviews coming soon!) but it was hard to resist buying whole shelves of beautiful independent magazines. Once I had prised myself away we spent some time at Resident Records, Bella Union and Cult Hero to stock up on vinyl records for our little flat.



Starting the weekend off we had delicious thalis and mango lassis at The Chilli Pickle for lunch. As dinner was a special occasion, we chose to go to Silo, the first zero waste restaurant in the UK, where we dipped into the omnivore and vegetarian 4 course menu and ate some of the most inventive and tastiest British food I’ve ever had. For lunch the following day we popped into The Creperie for crepes filled with gooey French reblochon cheese and bacon, just the thing to pretend you’re actually on holiday in France!





It was lovely to spend some time in Brighton together and see how the city has changed since I was at university there a few years ago. I only wish I was still a student in the city sometimes, as there’s so many new independent shops, cafes and restaurants to explore. See you again soon, Brighton!


September 11, 2016

Indie Mags: Drift

Drift magazine with coffee

Drift magazine is a fascinating look at coffee culture around the world. Each volume focuses on a different city and their distinct coffee traditions. New York, Tokyo, Havana and Stockholm have been featured so far. Volume 4: Stockholm found its way to me through my Stack subscription over the summer.

Last week’s featured magazine, Peeps, knitted together a smorgasbord of cultures and concerns, whereas Drift focuses on one thing only: coffee. I do enjoy a good cup of coffee, but I’m by no means a coffee connoisseur, so I did wonder if I’d find a whole magazine dedicated just to coffee just in Stockholm a bit repetitive.

However, Drift use coffee as a springboard to explore Stockholm’s current events, people and history. The first few pages delve into the daily Swedish ritual called fika where people take a break together to chat, drink coffee and eat pastries, even while at work. Fika is then explored in more detail in various contexts through the magazine, such as the importance of fika to the integration of refugees to Sweden; how fika helps morale at work, and how it is so embedded in the psyche of Swedes that American companies in Sweden have adopted it; and how different generations chose to ‘fika’, whether at home or in coffee shops.

Every aspect of coffee in Stockholm is dissected in Drift: from how much Swedes like their coffee roasted (a lot, most people like it dark and bitter); the success of the company Oatly, who make a plant-based milk from oats; to the possibilities for waste products of coffee, such as using chaff, usually discarded after the roasting process, as fertiliser or flour when baking.

Not only did I learn a huge amount about Swedish culture through their coffee in Drift magazine, but the photography is stunningly beautiful too. I can’t wait to see what city the creators of Drift chose next. I’m quietly hoping for London, so I’ll know exactly where to go to get a great cup of coffee…

Drift Magazine issue 4: Stockholm coffee beansDrift magazine issue 4: Stockholm peopleDrift magazine issue 4: Stockholm Fika

Drift magazine website / Twitter / Instagram / Facebook

Drift, volume 4: Stockholm is available to buy now from stockists