Born and raised in London where she still lives today, Alice kindly agreed to give us an insight of British families’ winters by sharing about hers.
Can you please present your family and yourself?
I live with my husband, two children and tiny dog Coco. Our daughter Honor is five and our son Kit is three. Since University, I was fortunate enough to work in fashion journalism as Jewellery Editor, first at Tatler magazine and then at the Sunday Times Style magazine and Times LUXX magazine. After a year working for Mayfair jeweller Jessica McCormack, I decided to take a leap and start my own stationery business which launched this Autumn. It is named Memo.
What is your favorite family activity for cold rainy days?
Rainy days are certainly something we know quite a bit about in London. However bad the weather my family and I try to wrap up, put on our wellington boots and get outside, though we never last long and even our little dog wants to get home after about half an hour.
Luckily, both my children absolutely love any arts and crafts, I've learned never to underestimate the joy of a giant cardboard box (once it's contents have been emptied, I'm an expert level online shopper). We've built rocket ships and taken them to the moon, flying cars like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (a book from Ian Fleming turned into a musical, a classic in the UK) and pirate ships to sail the high seas, all out of cardboard boxes.
If you need inspiration, here are lots of fun cardboard craft ideas.
What are your favourite Christmas traditions?
It's hard to choose my favourite of all our traditions. Perhaps my most precious is watching the Nutcracker with my daughter. We have been going to see this ballet together for the past three years. It's such a special day we both look forward to. I first took her when she was just two and a half! After the interval she was a little tired but miraculously sat through the entire first half utterly mesmerized.
My other favourite part is planning presents, puzzling over what to get each person in my life, and the deep satisfaction when you find something you know they'll truly treasure.
I also have an obsession with second hand hardback books for my children, the older the better. After days of searching, I just found one of my favourite books from when I was small called "One Snowy Night". The hardback version is out of print but I found an old copy of it online and we've been reading it ever since. My father kept my copy of "One Stormy Night" which is all about the same characters in Autumn and he reads it to my children whenever we go to stay. Last Christmas, I bought a copy of Poppy Fraser's anthology of poetry for children which is wonderful too.
Cooking is something I love and always wish I had more time to do, slow roasted shoulder of lamb is always a hit at home. It's deceptively easy and perfect for this time of year. I always use the Jamie Oliver recipe (famous British chef), with lots of warming Ottolenghi salads to accompany it. Yottam Ottenlenghi and his team not only have restaurants but also an online shop with exciting new ingredients to fill our cupboards and great recipes.
Can you please share a gift idea for children?
Books, books and more books, especially beautiful copies of classics. Even if it's not the latest plastic toy they want, the magic of stories wins out eventually. On my list this year for my children and god children are several classics : Ballet Shoes (also known as the story of Three children on the stage), the Secret Garden (one of the most delightful and enduring classics of children's literature) and Ann of Green Gables (the adventures of the spirited redhead Anne Shirley).
This winter is quite unlike any other, it has changed our habits and routines. What have you learned?
Goodness, hasn't it. Like everyone I'll be relieved to see the close of 2020. That said, for me it's highlighted just how incredibly fortunate and privileged I am. From the family and friends I adore and have missed seeing properly but never felt closer to, to having a warm and safe home with everything I might need. I hope to never forget how lucky I am and to slow down and appreciate it.
Do you have a word of encouragement to share to mothers?
Everything is just a phase. And I mean both the good and the bad, whether it's terrible sleepless nights with newborns or the joy of watching first steps, all of it is a phase to be weathered or relished. Also you're not alone, there are women all around you who can help, be them friends already or mothers you haven't met yet, if you need help be brave enough to ask for it.
Can you share some of your favorite Instagram accounts please?
That might be your hardest question of all. I love a beautiful book account called Misty Angel of Sky, bear with me as I know it's an unusual name but it's such a lovely account.
Polar Post is also the most enchanting account, run by Charlotte and her elf helper called Tiddlywinks, they send out the most beautiful calligraphed letters from Father Christmas, I defy anyone not to fall in love with them.
Last but not least can you tell us a few words on Memo?
My vision was to make stationery as beautiful as it is accessible. Years of searching for the perfect paper and cards (and several pay cheques later) had presented me with two dilemmas: traditional, high quality stationers often required large orders for anything personalised; and the lack of decent greetings cards. I therefore decided to create my own!
Many months of research and plenty of calligraphy practice later, and here is Memo : beautifully thick writing hand personalized paper and note cards made in the UK, with matching or contrasting envelopes, as chosen by you. In an age where communication is more transient than ever, Memo is designed to elevate the art of putting pen to paper. We hope it inspires you: to record, and to celebrate, life's special moments.