November 6, 2016

Indie Mags: Ladybeard

Ladybeard Mind front cover

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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.

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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.

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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

See more reviews of independent magazines.

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.

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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!

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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!

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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

September 3, 2016

Indie Mags: Peeps Magazine

Peeps Tracking cultural shifts around the world

Issue 2 of Peeps Magazine Crossing Thresholds, true to its name, explores people across the world; their outlooks; their lives. I loved reading a magazine where the loss of work for prostitutes in Paris shares editorial space with Maori beliefs that rivers are legal people with their own rights. Although such varying cultures, both share themes of nostalgia for the past and determination to fight for a better future.

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August 14, 2016

Indie Mags: LOST iN Amsterdam

LOST iN Amsterdam magazine

Last month I was in Amsterdam (read all about it) and while wandering the leafy, canal-lined streets we came across a beautiful little shop called Property Of… selling Scandinavian bike bags and independent guides to popular European and US cities. I’m a big fan of getting the local guide to a city, and even though we only had 1 day left in Amsterdam, I picked up a copy of the Amsterdam issue of LOST iN out of pure curiosity.

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July 31, 2016

Exploring Amsterdam

At the beginning of the month we spent a weekend exploring Amsterdam, something I’d planned as a surprise birthday present for Dan. Neither of us had been to Amsterdam before and the city far surpassed our expectations. We cycled leisurely around the beautiful canals and neighbourhoods on hired Dutch bicycles feeling very like locals, but probably looking very like tourists!  We found some great little shops selling hipster cycling gear and independent magazines (more to come on that!) and bistro restaurants like Seasons where we ate sublime food from fairly cheap set menus!

I’ve wanted to go to Amsterdam since reading The Goldfinch and The Miniaturist, both set in the city. I’ve always imagined Amsterdam as a gloomy, damp, brooding city but it couldn’t be more different, in July at least. I’ve never seen so many urban flowers growing in city streets or such laid-back leafy city parks – Vondelpark was a big hit!

My main tips would be to hire bikes as soon as you get to the city and use them instead of walking; they’re relatively inexpensive; safe and allow you to see so much more of the city. Also, book ahead for the Anne Frank house museum as it is extremely popular and has queues of up to several hours to get in without pre-booked tickets. We were lucky to buy some tickets online while waiting in the 2 hour queue but you can book tickets well in advance online.

Lastly, Amsterdam seemed to cater for a wide range of different diets and many places we ate at were very clued up on intolerances, meaning that finding gluten-free food was relatively easy. Beans and Bagels even made delicious gluten-free bagels and I’m hoping they expand their chain to the UK!

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June 28, 2016

Indie Mags: Amuseum

Amuseum coverAmuseum cover side view
Amuseum idiomsThe front cover of Amuseum tells you all you need to know about this magazine. Archimedes dressed as a transvestite? It’s funny, it’s random and it’s completely off the wall. Just like everything inside.

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May 29, 2016

Indie Mags: Print Isn’t Dead

Print Isn't Dead front cover

When the lovely people at Stack popped Print Isn’t Dead Element 004 through my door, it took me ages to work out what the name of this colourful design magazine was. Every time I saw ‘Print Isn’t Dead’ I assumed it was a slogan, y’know, like all us independent magazine lovers hashtag our social media posts? Am I right?

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May 23, 2016

What’s the story in Tobermory

Tobermory bay

A WEE TRIP TO THE ISLE OF MULL

Earlier this month we headed up to Scotland to take in some beautiful scenery and catch up with some friends on the Isle of Mull. The unbelievable views started on the train journey from Glasgow to Oban on the West Highland line, known as one of Britain’s most scenic train journeys, past Loch Lomond and through The Trossachs National Park.

I didn’t know much about Mull, except that the kids TV show ‘Balamory’ is based on Tobermory, the main town on the island. We headed there as soon as we arrived to see the famous coloured houses along the seafront. continue reading