A few of our favourite things

From books to cafes to photography exhibitions, here are a few things to help feed mind, body and soul this month, tried, tested and recommended by fellow 26ers.


Platform-Get-NoticedAn incredibly useful book

Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World by Michael Hyatt is a practical and accessible guide to promoting your project/self via social media. Full of actionable advice and not even too American in tone (mostly). Incredibly useful stuff, although if it were up to me we’d all still be using quills and parchment. Roger Horberry

Delicious soup

For a simple, mouth-watering bowl of soup and a hunk of homemade bread this winter I recommend The Orchard at 116 on Kensington Park Road, W11. Started a few months ago by Natasha Abraham, ex-chef at the critically acclaimed River Café, The Orchard hits the spot and leaves the wallet unscathed. The small, simple café serves a selection of homemade soups, light lunches and original desserts. When I recently visited the Notting Hill upstart, the menu included parsnip, chestnut and bacon soup, poppy seed bagels from Carmelis bakery in North London topped off with smoked salmon, Cedro lemon and capers or fennel salami with buffalo ricotta. And for dessert I succumbed to a few delectable Apfel Kuchleins. These are bite-size apple doughnuts sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and finished off with luscious vanilla sauce. Elena Bowes

How-to-climb-Mont-BlancA book about female explorers

I recommend How to Climb Mont Blanc in a Skirt by Mick Conefrey. It’s inspiring (especially in February!) to hear the tales of our great lady explorers. Sara Sheridan

Interviews with writers

The Way We Write is a collection of interviews with novelists, poets, playwrights, screenplay writers and children’s writers. Each writer gives a unique insight into their craft: the battle with the blank page, the struggles, revisions and their love for the written word. Inspiration for anyone interested in writing. Laura Hunter



Arresting ads by Dunhill

When I read a magazine, I skip the ads. But Dunhill’s latest series of arresting black and white photographs of cool dudes accompanied by their thoughts on life caught my eye. There’s the stunningly handsome and intelligent looking Don McMullin, a 77-year-old retired war photographer. McMullin describes how “war is total madness” and during his career he frequently behaved recklessly, snapping photos in the midst of shells exploding. He likens it to playing a game of Russian Roulette where he won. My favourite Dunhill ad is the one of musician Brian Eno. He describes how he gets inspired to write songs: Eno tidies his studio. This mundane task readies his brain, allows him to daydream and eventually he’ll notice something interesting happening with his thoughts. It’s a lot like writing a novel. Sitting at my computer, organising my notes, writing whatever comes into my mind until something interesting starts to happen. Eno says “luck is being ready, because luck is noticing chances and acting on them…” That’s what I’m hoping for now. Elena Bowes

A stunning biography of a poet Now-All-Roads-Lead-to-Franc

Edward Thomas was just a name to me before I read the stunning biography by Matthew Hollis, Now All Roads Lead to France. Hollis doesn’t shy away from the unpleasant side of this remarkable poet, whose verse flourished in just a few short years before his death in the First World War. Writers will recognise a kindred spirit, undervalued, unrewarded and always looking for someone to publish his work. Tom Collins

A great document of human history

OK, I confess, I would not have read Rights of Man by Thomas Paine had it not been for the 26 Norwich project, but how glad I am that I did. Reading one of the great documents of human history makes you realise how average most writing is, even the books that you think of as your books of the year. Even if you can only find an old copy and dip in for a couple of pages, you’ll be reconnected to prose of such quality that it will make you sigh with joy. And if you end up reading the whole thing, you’ll have the happy thought that, at its best, words can inspire changes in human history that last for centuries. Martin Lee

White-dogBeautiful photographs

Don’t miss talented German fashion photographer Juergen Teller’s show at the ICA. Juergen likes to take pictures of naked people, and not just the beautiful ones like sex kitten Kate Moss and the voluptuous Lily Cole. Don’t get me wrong, the captivating show offers up plenty of naked models staring straight at Juergen’s lens. But once I got used to the nudity, I appreciated the artistic aspects of the images. The show opens with an over-sized photograph of fashion doyenne Vivienne Westwood lying regally on a sofa, a modern take on French painter Edouard Manet’s Olympia. Older actress Charlotte Rampling exposes all in a series of bold shots with a naked Juergen playing her toy boy. My favourite image is also the most innocent – a small white dog getting a bath in the sink next to a white pitcher of fresh pink roses. An everyday image made beautiful by a talented artist. Elena Bowes

Vivaldi recomposed

The Four Seasons is a guilty pleasure. On Deutsche Grammophon, this reworking by composer Max Richter is a revelation. It’s familiar and yet so strange; I am sure Vivaldi would have loved it. Daniel Hope’s playing is breathtaking. Tom Collins


This production at the Lyric Hammersmith (now closed, sadly) was absolutely fantastic. A cleverly designed set and very talented acting means Gregor’s adversities are brilliantly portrayed. I took away more from seeing the play than from the book alone. There is the addition of music, which was incredibly affecting. Jenny Lindop

LincolnGreat cinematic acting

Lincoln is a must for anyone inspired by great cinematic acting. Daniel Day-Lewis’s reimagining of Lincoln’s complex character – rooted in his humble origins yet conveying the towering authority of his last years in office – was so mesmerising that, when he wasn’t on screen, I missed him. See it and marvel! Francis Glibbery

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