Thursday, 28 November 2013

Behind The Scenes at the Horniman Museum and Gardens, South London

Working behind the scenes at the Horniman Museum and Gardens in South London, we get to open boxes containing artefacts that may not have been seen for years. These glimpses into the stored collections can be an almost magical experience at times, invoking a variety of reactions, from curiosity to disgust, to pure joy.

For a long time this was something we longed to share with a wider audience but did not have an outlet to do so. Happily, now that the heritage sector is increasingly embracing social media, we can share that experience beyond our own four walls, and our stored collections are increasingly available to a wider audience.

We set up our Tumblr account, In the Horniman, in 2012, as part of our Collections People Stories project, a three year physical review of our anthropological collections. So far we have highlighted 500 objects on Tumblr, and attracted nearly 20,000 followers.

Anyone in our team of reviewers, conservators and curators can contribute to Tumblr, and our criteria for posting an object is basically anything that makes us, for whatever reason, say ‘wow’. If something has made an impression on us, then it is likely to appeal to others.

We typically post an image of the object – we’re taking photographs for documentation purposes as part of our project – with a little text about what it is, where it’s from and its uses. Occasionally we ask people reading the blog to tell us more or suggest their own interpretation of an object.

It’s great being able to post and straight away see others share in our enthusiasm through likes and reposts. It can turn what could be an ordinary day at work, into a day to remember.

Some of us working on the project are big animal lovers so objects that look like or are made of animals tend to feature often. Last week we posted a buffalo foetus bag and a walrus bladder bucket. These are the kind of unusual and wonderful items that deserve to be seen by everyone!

We also post things that happen in the store that help give an insight into our daily work. Recently we posted the photography and remedial conservation of our Egyptian mummies.

We have had lots of lovely messages from people, saying how much they love the museum and are enjoying seeing inside the store. The most popular post so far was about a beautiful, intricate helmet from a Chinese theatrical costume, which attracted 325 ‘notes’ in response (see image at top of article).

This sharing of collections, knowledge and the reactions and discussions they bring about, is something I am sure that Mr Horniman would have approved of and encouraged. The collections, after all, belong to all of us, left to the people by Frederick Horniman to be enjoyed by all.

Laura Cronin is Collections Assistant at Horniman Museum and Gardens. For more information, visit For Tumblr, visit In the Horniman and Twitter, follow @HornimanWalrus

Photo credits: Horniman Museum and Gardens

Friday, 22 November 2013

Staying Healthy During The Party Season by James Haskell, Professional Rugby Player

Wearing my professional rugby player’s hat, I would suggest it’s actually not that hard to stay healthy during the up-coming party season. However, I am acutely aware that being and indeed staying healthy and fit is part of my job; the fact we have to continue to play over Christmas is also a big contributing factor!

So while I appreciate most of you will be reaching out for a sugary treat or flagon of ale, I’ll be trying my best stay on water and a high protein diet. No doubt for most of you that sounds hideously boring and extremely dull. So instead of standing in my ivory tower preaching, I am going to give you some top tips to try and help you stay in the best possible shape whilst enjoying yourself.

The key foundation is to get your base day-to-day diet right. Achieve this and there is no problem in indulging and eating the foods you want providing the meals you have the rest of the time are good and healthy. Try as a firm rule to stay away from processed foods; high sugar and salt content meals as well as white carbs. For example white bread and white pasta.

Sadly most of the Christmas and New Year treats you want will contain sugar and other rubbish, so you’ll get your fix from these. Try to have a lot of vegetables with every meal. The more colours you can have on your plate the better it is. You can’t overdose on vegetables, so please don’t panic! This should give you a good hit of vitamins and nutrients, as late nights and big drinking sessions can run you down and lead to illness. Every meal should have a good source of protein as well. Please don’t fill-up on potatoes and starches, as that will only have you head-in-hands when you look in the mirror in the New Year.

Good hydration is absolutely key. All those office parties, Christmas drinks and drunken sessions are going to mean you consume a lot of alcohol. So before you stumble into bed, try and take on some water, which should reduce your hangover to some degree.

The morning after the night before is going to be pivotal in getting you back into some reasonable shape. So drinking lots of water and electrolytes will help you along the way. It can be as simple as putting a little bit of salt in some water, or my favourite trick is to take a sachet of Dioralyte, if I ever find myself hung-over. A good sign of whether you are hydrated again is if your urine runs clear. Bright yellow and you are most probably dehydrated.

What you drink has a great effect on the number of calories you consume; how you will feel the next day; the state of your body weight and so forth.  If you normally put on a bit of festive padding over Xmas then it might be a good thing to watch. I would say try to avoid drinking loads of carb-heavy drinks, although I appreciate we all need to let our hair down.

Try and think about avoiding really sugary mixers or the dreaded Alchopops. If you want to have a drink have a trusty Vodka, fresh lime and soda - it's the drink of champions. It won’t make you want to die the next day. If you like drinking, then try to enjoy more high-end alcohol like pure agave tequila, as following this, the less likely you are to have impurities or rubbish. Cranberry juice is another good mixer to have if you don’t fancy the lime and soda approach.

Try to make sure you set some realistic training targets during this period. It’s often a really busy time for everyone and feeling bloated and hangover, you are less likely to want to train. So instead of saying you are going to do a one hour training session, why not set yourself, some basic and readily achievable fifteen minutes sessions of some circuit training with some cardio work thrown in. Making sure you get a sweat on and some calories burnt!

Try to maintain your current level of fitness, or use this party period as a time to actually get off the sofa and do some exercise. Walking the dog, or going for jog with some mates. By doing this I find a blow out and party feels way better and guilt-free once you have done the work. If you do the crime, you need to do the time.

You can always look to boost your health by taking on some supplements. I would recommend taking Vitamin D, as this can help with recovery! We would normally get this from the sun, but seeing it during the party period sadly a few rays are few and far between. I would also suggest taking some Omega 3 (EPA) fish oils which most people are deficient in. Omega 3 helps in growth and repair, as studies have shown it can be a factor in helping prevent disease.

You should add Virgin Coconut oil to your diet to help with immune boosting. It’s a great saturated fat that your body needs, and is full of MCTs to provide energy. It is very high in Lauric Acid and Monolaurin, which help support the immune system, killing bacteria and pathogens, which makes it ideal for people suffering from any digestive complaint. I suggest using to cook with, or have with a cup of coffee to boost your day.

Finally, sleep and good quality is also key to trying to remain healthy during this period. It sounds simple but if you know you have a big night planned or a party, then try and make sure you get a good night's sleep pre the event and then post, try and get your recovery in. Having an afternoon nap, if you can do it, will help you stay fresh. Try and do no longer than an hour.

Remember, if you push your body you need to make sure you equally push the recovery. 

If you want to try coconut oil, please visit James's website, and look out for Tagaloa extra virgin organic coconut oil.

James Haskell is a professional rugby player, who plays for London Wasps. To find out more, visit and follow him on Twitter @jameshaskell and Facebook.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Using Legal Documents To Your Financial Advantage by Mark Edwards at Rocket Lawyer

Mark Edwards is General Manager at Rocket Lawyer, the online legal service providing businesses and families with easy-to-use legal documents and affordable access to specialist lawyers. In this article, Mark shares some ideas for raising some extra cash.

We know the feeling. Money is tight and time is sparse but there’s only so much we can squeeze out of our income, so we have to turn to more innovative ways of making a bit of extra cash, especially in the run up to Christmas when budgets are even tighter. One such way is to use legal documents to our financial advantage and here are our top tips on how you can do it yourself.

Rent out your car parking space

Renting out your parking space can be a good way of raising some extra cash. You can advertise your parking space for free on Gumtree, or there are websites that will manage the advertising and rental for you for a price. It's best to put things in writing from the start by creating a car parking licence so that everyone is clear on where they stand. The licence helps you to formalise the arrangement and be sure of getting the space back when you want to and it covers everything from the fee to your and the licensee’s responsibilities and indemnity for all claims arising from the use of the space.

Take in a lodger

If you have a spare bedroom, take advantage of the government’s ‘Rent a Room’ scheme which allows you to earn £4,250 a year tax-free. As long as you get the details right, a lodger can be a tax efficient way to raise some extra cash and give yourself a bit of company. Again, there are websites for advertising rooms, such as A lodger agreement covers the rent, deposit and responsibilities on each side, as well as ensuring you can easily get the room back or have a lodger leave when you need to.

Turn your spare room into an office

If you work from home or operate through a limited company, you can formalise the arrangement by creating a home office space contract for yourself, so you can claim back the overheads in running the business for tax purposes. Such contracts cover the fee payable for the space, the rights given to the user as well as termination details so you can get your space or room back when you need it.

Rent your property as a holiday home

If you’re going to be away from home for a while, why not rent out your home for the duration you’ll be away? Not only will you be earning a bit of extra money, it also means your house won’t be sitting empty – ideal burglar bait. Make sure you have a holiday letting agreement in place beforehand though to protect yourself as well as your tenant. This agreement makes it simpler and quicker to remove guests who refuse to leave or cause damage to your property. It also lays out payment terms and highlights both your obligations and your guest’s rights.

All the aforementioned documents can be created on Rocket Lawyer. Should further guidance be needed, you can connect with an On Call lawyer who will be able to help. Your first document is free but there is also a three day free trial in which you can create as many documents as you wish. Membership thereafter costs £25 per month and includes unlimited legal documents, 30 minute free consultations with lawyers and up to 33% off additional legal fees.

For more information, visit  Rocket Lawyer and for news and updates, please visit Rocket Lawyer's blog at

Friday, 1 November 2013

Q&A with SW Foodie, Lydia Wilkinson

Home is…SW London, Parsons Green in a little 1 bed we renovated last year, and I cannot imagine living anywhere else, I love it!

What made me start blogging... I wanted to document my cooking as a means of keeping a food diary, as I don’t often use recipes. I then combined restaurants into this and it took off from there. I find it strangely therapeutic and a good wind down from work...

Have I always been into cooking… Yes, as far as I remember! Cooking and eating out has always been a big part of my life. I was brought up eating weekday suppers and Sunday lunch together as a family and making time to be together. This is something I hope to carry on should I have my own family as I think it’s important to catch up and relax with each other with the television off.

Most memorable restaurant… I have been lucky in that my other half (Mr D) is hugely foodie. So we’ve had some gorgeous evenings out. L’Enclume in Cartmel is the one place that sticks out by a country mile for every aspect: wine, food and atmosphere. It is very, very, special. In London: Duck and Waffle for its dramatic backdrop of our vibrant, pretty city and innovative brunch menu.

Earliest food memory… I have always loved Asian foods and in particular Chinese. When I was about five years old my Aunt was astounded as I requested two portions of crispy seaweed and ate it all myself… unsurprisingly I felt rather sick afterwards. However I still love the stuff!!

Best food memory… My Mamma (grandma) eating lobster for the first time at her 80th birthday and having the same views as I do exclaiming, ‘I’m not sure what the fuss is about.’

Favourite blog… I have several. However the ones I regularly follow are The London Foodie, his style of writing and pictures always make me want to go to where he has been. The Londoner, who can’t love Rosie’s joie de vivre and fabulous photos?! And last but not least Hollow legs, some incredible home cooked Asian dishes and also well documents restaurant reviews.

Favourite chef… A toughie, I have 3… Tom Kerridge for his Michelin starred pub grub. Simon Rogan for his delicious foraged finds and incomparable dishes and Adam Byatt, how Clapham’s Trinity hasn’t got a star is beyond me.

Food heaven… Chillies, I cannot and will not live without them. I haven’t them on almost everything. A chilli ramen is my ideal winter warmer.

Food hell… Cooked fruit. I cannot stand the stuff. Whether this has stemmed from school and soggy puds- it gives me the heebie geebies… sadly thus meaning I miss out on a good old crumble.

Favourite local restaurant… We are so lucky in that there’s an abundance of fantastic restaurants right on my door step on the Fulham Road. One that I go back to constantly is Claude’s Kitchen which is also above one of my favourite bars, Amuse Bouche. Claude serves up exceptional locally sourced food with flare and finesse. Constantly busy, a great atmosphere and the staff always have a smile on their face.

On the hit list… So many places, I keep a list on my hard drive and tick them off as I go along. The only problem is this is added to on a daily basis. But I am mostly looking forward to Pollen Street Social for my father’s birthday next month – the dessert bar is fantastic. I am desperate to get a table at Sushi Tetsu and also to visit Pescheria Mattiucci in Notting Hill, it looks so cute!

Other hobbies… Interiors, we’ve been in our pad just over a year now and I’m itching to get onto another project already!

Lydia Wilkinson lives in Fulham; she loves family, food, friends and shopping. Lydia's blog,  gives a 'small insight into her foodie life, recipes, restaurants and hunger enhancing pics.' Follow Lydia on Facebook and Twitter @aSWfoodie.