Discover more from The Rhubarb Society
Vol. 39 - One Year Of The Rhubarb Society
and nearly 10,000 members strong
Happy Sunday, everyone and Happy Anniversary to The Rhubarb Society! I’m starting the first draft of this week’s newsletter on a plane to LA (somewhat reminiscent of an issue I did earlier this year for those who have been around that long) because I’ve been summoned to Vegas for work…but more on that another time. To avoid flying halfway across the world for three nights for the second time this year, Henry has come with me, and we’ve decided to sandwich my work trip with a semi-holiday to LA. The lights have been dimmed; I’m half reclined with a cup of peppermint tea as AfterSun plays in the background. Yesterday, I woke up with a bit of a head cold, so whilst I think about the best remedy for this whilst suspended in the air (I’m thinking a makeshift hot toddy), I’m also considering what this issue should really be about. My notes list is scattered with one-liners, used as prompts for topics, that sometimes I begin to write before deciding to scrap altogether. A part of me feels as though I should be making this something momentous and grand. Maybe I should be learning how to code a giant cake and balloons into the page so that you are all given a colourful jumpscare when you open the issue. Or perhaps I should be delivering some shocking but exciting news to you all in a dramatic manner. Ultimately, though, at nearly 10,000 members strong, I don’t think there’s any need to change a good thing. To celebrate one year, I want to mix the old and the new. There will be a lot of OGs here who have diligently read every issue (and I love you for that), but there are also a lot of wonderful new members who have recently joined the community, which is why I want to start with a master list of previous issues and the topics they involve for quick reference. I’ll also be including the beloved ‘Film Club’ section (with films I’ve watched on this 11-hour flight) and my ‘Checkout Now’ choices for Autumn. I will also be including our new section which is the ‘Member’s Corner’ where I get to interview someone from our own community. Anyway, before we begin, please allow me to thank you all as sincerely as I can through a screen for sticking with me and supporting me and this community over the last year.
The First Ever Issue - My favourite seasonal sartorial picks from this time last year, as well as some of my hidden gems in London.
Want To Know How To Host? - In Issue 3, I cover my favourite hosting tips, and in Issue 9, I give a real-life example of my prep and setup for hosting on New Year’s Eve, from the menu design to the decorations and the food I cooked. Don’t worry; I do cover all seasons, like in Issue 22, where I talk in-depth about hosting for Easter.
The Phone Booth - For those who like to listen as they read, here are some of the issues that include my version of a podcast: Issue 13, where I talk about last year’s Oscar noms, Issue 17, where I discuss how much I hate the ‘old money’ aesthetic, Issue 26 where I talk about the Met Gala and Issue 36 where I discuss authenticity online.
For The Foodies - You can read all about the London restaurants that I think are overrated in Issue 5, my recipe for my famous roast chicken and potatoes in Issue 3, and a guide to Rhubarb’s favourite dog-friendly restaurants in London in Issue 10.
Getting Personal - I talk about how to deal with Imposter Syndrome in Issue 23, lessons learned in my 20s in Issue 15, the raw and honest truth about being an Influencer in Issue 7 and a personal essay reflecting on first love in Issue 32.
and of course, I have to end with everything Recommended By The Rhubarb Society.
It’s been a while since I’ve shared a list of some of my recent favourite things, and as you can imagine, there have been quite a few. I’ve whittled this list down to the following, which I’ve been using/wearing/eating obsessively and that also feel suitable for the season. Happy Shopping!
Kat Burki Bio-Correcting Cream - I was first introduced to this brand when they offered to take me on a short staycation with the founder to learn all about them. Of course, I did what every modern woman does and headed to their Instagram page to suss them out. I was intrigued by the concept of skincare powered by nutrition and the fact that Kat herself was (and still is) a nutritionist. When you are sent a lot of skincare, it can be hard to be impressed by brands, but the Kat Burki range blew me away. I couldn’t believe how quickly my skin took to it and the instant results. I’ve brought four of her products to LA with me because I couldn’t bear to be without them. Their products are on the pricier side, so if I were to recommend one thing, it would have to be the cream. It’s magic in a bottle.
Spearmint Tea - Tiktok told me this was great for hormone balancing, and who am I to question the validity of anything I see online? In all seriousness though, it’s great for reducing inflammation, soothing your stomach and helping your acne. It’s also a good go-to as someone who is trying to reduce their caffeine intake.
Short Uggs Grey - These have been glued to my feet since the weather even hinted at dropping below 20 degrees. I don’t care if people think they give clown feet; they’re warm, comfortable, and work with every shade of jeans.
Atis Butterbean Braise Bowl - I should buy shares in Atis due to how often I order from them, and as I’ve said before and will say again, they are the best salad in London. However, with the English weather, it would be insane to eat salads all year round, so I was relieved when they released an Autumn menu with hot options. I shit you not, I had their braised butter bean and kale bowl with added chicken, feta and a parmesan crumble three times in one week. It’s hearty and delicious and filling and all the other wonderful adjectives you can think of.
Rixo Coin Belt - I call this my cowbell because I jingle whenever I wear it, but I think it's a really chic addition to any outfit. It adds a little something something with the least amount of effort, which is exactly what I like.
Scout’s Honour Badges - Just when you thought there was nothing else to buy your dog, you were WRONG. I stumbled across these whilst at Daylesford and thought they would be the cutest addition to Rhubarb’s bed.
Ralph Lauren Cardigan - I bought this slightly drunk, whilst in Tenerife where it was 36 degrees, but none of these things could ever stop me from making a great purchase. I’ve worn it most days since I’ve been back in the UK so the cost per wear is already justifying my decision. I went up a size so that I could layer, but it’s also really flattering if you wear it alone. If you only do up the middle buttons, it cinches in the right places.
Dayelsford Cherry Curd and Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate Flakes - A double whammy from the home of Dayelsford as I did a HUGE haul whilst I was there, and these are the two items I’ve been using the most obsessively. I am a big lemon curd fan, so I just had to try the cherry version. It’s perfectly tart and sweet, and I love to stir it into my morning porridge or spread it on toast. Their hot chocolate flakes are also the most delicious of the various brands I’ve sampled, and they also melt the easiest in the pan.
Fable & Mane Massage Comb - I’m paranoid about premature balding for absolutely no reason, and this means I’ve been taking my scalp scare much more seriously. I also learned through my physio that I had an incredibly tense scalp, so this comb has been amazing at targeting trigger points and making everything feel a little more relaxed. Use it in tandem with some scalp oils for a two for one in scalp care.
Honey & Co Breads and Buns - This place opened up on the same road as Iris Avenue, so it has become somewhat of a ritual to pop in there after my mani/pedi/lash lift/insert any beauty treatment here. The main issue I have is that everything looks so good, and I can only buy a finite amount of things in one go, so there are still many things for me to try. However, the feta and caramelised onion challah bread is divine. I like to have it with garlic tomatoes and a cheesy fried egg. The Fitzrovia bun, baked cheesecake, and flourless orange cake are also all divine. One lunchtime I bought what looked like a very unassuming skinny, sesame breadstick stuffed with smoked salmon and cream cheese, and it was AMAZING.
Longchamp Roseau Hobo Bag - A few months ago, I was invited to their showroom for a meeting and to see the new Autumn/Winter collection, and at the time, I remember making a beeline for this bag in the suede and mint colour. Anyway, when they recently told me they wanted to work with me on a campaign around this bag, I of course, said yes. I very nearly asked for the exact mint and suede one I’d been eyeing up previously but decided to be sensible and go for an option that would work with more of my outfits. I ended up going for the grey suede in a medium (more room for snacks), and I love it. I immediately accessorised it with a keying, and so far, it’s been the perfect daily bag.
Paige Cowboy Boots - I usually gravitate to a black heeled boot come Autumn, so I was pleasantly surprised when I found these. They weren’t too offensive in the way cowboy boots can be outside of their usual habitat, and I feel perfectly comfortable stomping around London in them.
Dr Dennis Gross Daily Wipes - I’ve mentioned these before and that’s because I credit them as one of the key things that helped clear up my skin when it was awful at the start of this year. I use them 2 or 3 times a week instead of daily, but they give your skin a very gentle peel at home. They are amazing for oily skin, and if you are at your wits end with trying to find a solution for persistent acne, definitely give these a go. You can buy a smaller pack to start which is also more affordable if you don’t want to jump straight in with a 30 day supply.
I would love to know who is in charge of the film selection on the inflight entertainment because it is always wildly random. For long-haul flights, I like to start with a film I’ve never seen before and then move on to familiar favourites that can serve as background noise for the other various things I’m doing on the plane. If you are flying BA long haul anytime soon, you’ll be very glad to know that they have every single Harry Potter available, should you have previously wanted to have a marathon but could never find the time. Anyway, the first option that came up on my flight was Aftersun, the Paul Mescal film that had rave reviews for both his performance and for director (and writer) Charlotte Wells as her debut film. At the time of its release, I had wanted to see it purely because of its praise from critics and viewers alike, but for some reason, I could never bring myself to actually watch it. However, sitting on that flight, I had all the time in the world and a valid reason to procrastinate from reading the book I’d bought especially for the journey, so I finally caved in and clicked play.
Twenty years after their last holiday at a fading vacation resort, Sophie reflects on the rare time spent with her loving and idealistic father Calum. At 11-years-old, as the world of adolescence creeps into Sophie's view, Calum struggles under the weight of life outside of fatherhood. Sophie's recollections become a powerful and heartrending portrait of their relationship, as she tries to reconcile the father she knew with the man she didn't.
Straight up, his film is a slow burner that meanders aimlessly through its location and characters with no real purpose. I kept waiting for something to happen. There are moments between characters that are harmless and insignificant, as much of everyday interactions are, but in my head, I was writing new plots and directions for the story to go in. I was teetering on the edge of boredom throughout much of the film, with only the hope of something dramatic or scandalous keeping me going. At some point during watching the film, I had to pause it to talk to a stewardess. I noted that I had 16 minutes left until the end, and I remember thinking, ‘what a waste of time, what else can they cover in 16 minutes’?. I’d felt very little throughout, for both the characters and the writing, so I was just waiting for the whole thing to be over. And then it happened. The last ten minutes hit me like a freight train. It was the kind of feeling that exploded out of nowhere because I hadn’t realised how well I’d been suppressing everything. In those ten minutes, I understood everything about Aftersun. I realised how terribly boring and predictable it was of me to expect big, dramatic things to happen, purely because it was a film, when a lot of my favourite films had never relied on that. I realised how fallible our memories can be and why the small, fleeting moments can have more impact on us and our relationships with one another than the large moments that we believe define us. I saw an accurate reflection of what a childhood memory looks like, even though I didn’t recognise this at first. Aftersun is the sort of film that needs to be watched several times over in order to really feel and understand everything that’s happening. I think it’s the only way to give the small, unsaid moments the respect and attention they deserve. Do not watch this if you’re looking for instant gratification or to feel good because you are not going to get either. You also won’t be able to listen to ‘Under Pressure’ in the same way.
Will Freeman is a hip Londoner who one day realizes that his friends are all involved with the responsibilities of married life and that leaves him alone in the cold. Passing himself off as a single father, he starts to meet a string of single mums, confident in his ability to leave them behind when they start to ask for a commitment. But Will’s hope of a continued bachelorhood is interrupted when he meets 12-year old Marcus, in many ways his complete opposite.
After the crushing depression of Aftersun had finally worn off, I wanted to move on to something more familiar and upbeat. While About A Boy is still about parenting (and also mildly sad at times), it’s irreverent, funny, and unexpectedly warm in a way that only British films can be. When I looked up this film to see its release date, I was baffled to find it was over 20 years old. I remember us owning the VHS version. I also tried to remember the last time I’d watched it, and I realised it was probably over a decade ago. Anyway, About A Boy was adapted from the novel of the same name and features Hugh Grant, Toni Collette and Rachel Weisz, in their glorious early noughties prime. Hugh is a rich, playboy Londoner, of course, who is equally detestable and charming. I completely forgot how funny he was in this film —he is a master of deadpan humour, and a young Nicholas Hoult matches him perfectly. I also forgot how sharp the screenplay was. The writing is so quintessentially British and does a fantastic job of finding the funny side in what are some genuinely serious and heavy topics. For a film of that time, it was also refreshing to see the ‘romantic’ storyline and the love interests take a back seat and be entirely subverted — we become invested in the relationship blossoming between Grant and Hoult, and any romantic storylines only work to serve this, adding an extra layer of authenticity to the story. There are so many parts to the film that are just straight-up ridiculous but they never feel out of place or so unbelievable that you are taken out of the film. Not to be biased, but I do love how certain English films like this have an ability to make you feel something without shoving it down your throat. It's a straight-up English cult classic that I think should be required watching for everyone. At the point of writing this section, it’s been nearly a week since I watched it on the plane, and I still have ‘SINGLE PARENTS ALONE TOGETHER’ running through my head.
College student Beca knows she does not want to be part of a clique, but that’s exactly where she finds herself after arriving at her new school. Thrust in among mean gals, nice gals and just plain weird gals, Beca finds that the only thing they have in common is how well they sing together. She takes the women of the group out of their comfort zone of traditional arrangements and into a world of amazing harmonic combinations in a fight to the top of college music competitions.
I watched this franchise for the first time last year. I think I was sick at the time and wanted something silly and easy to watch, so I chose this because I felt like it was referenced all the time, and I wanted to know what the hell everyone was on about. Of course, I ended up loving it, which is why I made it my third flight film pick as the antidote to the depressing and dry films I had watched before it. For some reason, I’d had it in my mind that Pitch Perfect came out a few years ago, but it’s ELEVEN YEARS OLD?. Jumpscare. So, this film is ridiculous, and I know it’s supposed to be ridiculous, but it’s really dialled up to the extreme. I hate how cheesy it is. I hate how much it makes me cringe. But I also hate how much I enjoy it despite my visceral reaction to it. I also didn’t realise it was Ben Platt at first because it looks like Ben Platt wearing prosthetics, so that line of questioning took me down an internet rabbit hole as to whether he’s had surgery or been replaced by a clone. Anyway, I can’t tell you why this (and the following two films) are so great to watch and why it instantly lifts your spirits if you’re having a shitty day. Maybe I just enjoy the reimagining of classic pop songs, or perhaps I just prefer Rebel Wilson before she became all weird and dead behind the eyes. I *think* that a big part of this film being such a feel-good hit is that it really leans into the all-American, Hollywood cliches that make us cringe and sigh. It’s unabashed in its terrible attempts to make us care about the Bella’s, and I completely respect that. I didn’t care what the hell happened to them because I was just having fun along the way. If you haven’t seen it, just submit. You will only feel better for it.
A section where I get to interview one of our very own. Today, I am chatting to Arlyn from Australia.
Introduce yourself, tell us where you’re from, and how long you’ve been a member of The Rhubarb Society?
My Name is Arlyn and I currently reside in Sydney, Australia. I have been part of the Rhubarb Society since close to the beginning when it first started. It felt fun and interesting to read the conversations on my weekends.
What’s one non-negotiable in your morning routine?
On weekends, a Long Black and French pastry from my local boulangerie. Day to day, green mint tea and a biscuit to get me started, and of course daily skincare and a scorching hot shower.
Has there been anything you’ve recently discovered that’s been life-changing?
Gut health. As boring as it sounds, looking after myself as I transition into my third decade. I really needed to be honest with myself and understand your health should always be a priority.
One piece of advice you think everyone should hear?
Wear those damn heels. This is very much a fashion focus. I love fashion and my favourite part of the day besides food and dining out, is getting dressed in the morning. Don’t save everything for a “special” occasion, wear something you love for yourself. Fuck it, be like Carrie and wear those pretty red heels to walk the dog. Use that boujuee cutlery, burn those spenny candles, buy the Pellegrino, upgrade your flight to business class (if the bank account permits) treat yourself, if no-one else is.
What is one film you can watch over and over?
I will be naughty and name 3. Midnight in Paris, Marie Antoinette (by Sophia Coppola) & The French Exit. The 3min love letter to Paris at the beginning of Midnight in Paris is beautiful and romantic. I Love everything Sofia Coppola touches, and what she created in that film was a feast to the senses, The "I Love Candy" montage lives rent-free in my mind. I’m a huge fan of Michelle Pfeiffer, and I thought she was so chic and effortless in this melancholy film. I even bought a similar golden robe her character wears in the film from etsy.
And a book that you will always return to?
The Great Gatsby. I'm not an avid reader, and I think the reason why I go back to The Great Gatsby is because the writing provides great visuals. There is just something about Fitzgerald's writing that always pulls me back.
If you could only take 3 items to a desert island with you, what would they be? Book, sunscreen and red lippy.
Your favourite restaurant?
Bistro 916, in Potts Point. I love a Bistro, which is no surprise looking back on my previous answers. It's small, has cute blush pink table covers, and the food is a mixture of classic bistro and Asian influences and love it.
Your go-to recipe? French Onion Soup.
I found a classic recipe in Larousse Gastronomique, so simple and classic.
Your favourite item of clothing?
I recently bought a men’s cable-knit cricket sweater from Ralph Lauren. It has been on my wish list for so long, and the price was too high for me at the time, and when they were doing a sale, I couldn’t resist. It is so soft and well-made. It would be an item I will use again and again, and if looked after right it can be handed down.
Something that elevates your everyday?
Lipstick. I don’t feel like me if I don't have any on.
The best social media accounts you follow?
Many, I even have two accounts to separate my fashion obsession and the everyday. But I love following Jenny Walton, her life in Milan is my dream. I'm slowly building up my own antique furniture collection and one day I will own a wire-haired dachshund. Romilly Newman is also a fab woman. She is a chef, she is so sassy and self-deprecating and always looks amazing in Vampire's Wife (one day will take the plunge).
And one thing you would recommend to members of the society? (this can be absolutely anything)
I have a new Mexican snack obsession. If you love hot sauce, this one is for you. Salt chips (or crisp as the English would say), your favourite hot sauce and a squeeze of lime.
Lastly, where can everyone find you?
My Public account is enkelhed_ I don’t post much, but it is fashion-focused, and my original intention was to try and curb my shopping addiction by separating all fashion content from daily life and cooking inspo. Though... don't know if it's helping.
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