Every now and then I aim to showcase a business I really love and believe in – it’s great to champion the smaller business.

Many workout family members have asked about the various outfits that I wear that they’ve spotted on Instagram and so I thought I would showcase a fabulous lady called Natasha and her business, Nulu.


I’m Natasha Roberts and I run Nulu here in the UK and am delighted to be featured in one of Jo’s business spotlights.

Nulu is a South African brand of activewear and our pieces are bright and colourful, or have amazing prints and are really different from other activewear you can buy on the high street.

Often people ask if I’m South African, but I’m not … I’m very English, but I have family in Cape Town and did work there in my younger days! So I have close connections and visited frequently (pre Covid!), and Lucinda who founded Nulu, is one of those friends for many years.

Lucinda launched Nulu in 2009 when she spotted the trend in activewear whilst working in the clothing industry in South Africa. Originally Nulu was a purely yoga brand, but has developed to encompass activewear for not only yogis, but also those being active through pilates, gym classes, running.

As a niche brand, we hope that our customers will love wearing Nulu leggings, tops, etc that not everyone else is wearing, and will compliment other items in their activewear wardrobe! The brand is supposed to be fun and playful, making you feel good about what you wear.

For me, when it’s a rainy, dreary day in the UK I love seeing the latest designs and prints that Lucinda has chosen for a product range…..a bit of bright sunshine and colour from Cape Town.

I’ve really missed being able to meet customers over the last year as I used to sell Nulu at gyms, studios, house sales and fairs but am looking forward to getting out there again. Although you can buy online via our website or Instagram. I’m always happy for people to visit me at home to try items – just message me if you are in the South East!

So if you fancy a new pair of yoga leggings or a vest for a Pilates workout, please take a look at Nulu and I hope there might be something to tempt you. Our green palms leggings look fabulous on Jo, it could be you too!

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Hi! I’m Helen Gambarota and I am delighted to be back with Jo’s Weekly Workout Family to share my love of books with you.

I am a total book nerd. An avid reader and a compulsive book buyer, although I do need to slow down on the book buying as there are piles of books all around the house. I started reviewing books on Instagram as @BestBookFoward almost 4 years ago and I love chatting about books and sharing my passion for reading.

Each month I bring you my recommendation of a must-read book. I read a variety of genres so it could be anything from fiction, non-fiction, romance, historical fiction or a thriller and I really hope that you’ll enjoy each of them as much as I do.

If you’d like more book inspiration you can find my reviews on my Instagram account which is @BestBookForward, on Facebook or on my website bestbookforward.org

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Last month I took you back in time to 1950’s Florence with Still Life by Sarah Winman which I really hope you’ve enjoyed. This month I’m taking you on another journey, but this one couldn’t be more different – as it is a Post-Apocalyptic story.

I used to devour dystopian novels; The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood and 1984 by George Orwell being two of my favourites.

When The Stranding by Kate Sawyer landed on my desk, my first thought was I don’t know if I feel like reading this while living through a pandemic, but the premise was so original and interesting that my curiosity go the better of me and I just had to pick it up straight away.

Let me give you a quick spoiler-free rundown of the plot.

Note the cover has since changed – this was a preview copy.

The story is about a woman named Ruth who is leaving her life behind to head off on an adventure to New Zealand. When she lands in New Zealand there is chaos at the airport as news breaks that Europe has been destroyed. Ruth finds herself on a beach with a stranger called Nick. Together they decide to crawl into the mouth of a dead whale to try and escape what is coming. When they emerge they find that the world has been destroyed and that they are completely alone.

What follows is the story of how they decide to build a life together with what they have available to them; and that is all I’m going to tell you, as I don’t want to spoil it.

Now if at this point you’re thinking this isn’t the book for you, I really would urge you to pick it up. I know a lot of books in this genre can be pretty harrowing (I’m thinking of The Road by Cormac McCarthy) but The Stranding left me feeling really hopeful. Parts of the story reminded me of the very start of the pandemic. When we first went into lockdown, people were panic buying and there was just an awful feeling of uncertainty, but as the days went on, we learned to be more resourceful and kind to one another. We also saw nature healing, as the pollution levels dropped.

While we never find out what the event is that happens in The Stranding, I felt it was another brilliant reminder for us to be more mindful and to take greater care of our planet which we are so careless with.

The Stranding is Kate Sawyer’s debut novel and I am so excited to see what she will write next.

I had the opportunity to chat to Kate on an Instagram Live recently and she said

“I hope that it makes people think about what is important in life.”

I have to say it worked for me.

It’s a book that is so beautifully written, it is just captivating and it’s one that stays with you long after you turn the final page.

I really hope that you’ll enjoy it as much as I did.

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You can buy your copy from Amazon here, or from all good bookshops.

 

Katie Bishop is back with another recipe to make your mouth water – this month – it’s spiced oat cookies. Yum!

They’re super easy to make – why not involve the children during the school holidays?

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Overview

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Time to cook: 10-12 minutes
Serves: 6 people – if they have two each 😉

Ingredients

75g wholemeal flour
1 tsp baking powder
75g porridge oats
50g caster sugar
1/2-1 tsp mixed spice
75g butter
1 tbsp golden syrup
2 tbsp milk

Let’s get cooking …

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C, gas mark 4 and line a baking tray with baking parchment.
  2. Mix the flour, baking powder, oats, sugar and mixed spice together in a large bowl.
  3. Melt the butter, syrup and milk together in a small saucepan over a low heat or in the microwave, until just melted.
  4. Once complete, pour it over the oat mixture and stir everything together until evenly coated.
  5. Spoon the mixture into 12 rounds on the prepared baking tray – I like to use a round cookie cutter as a guide so they all end up about the same size – and do make sure you leave space between each biscuit, as they will spread during cooking.
  6. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until golden.
  7. As soon as the tray comes out of the oven, use a large heatproof cutter to ‘scoot’ the hot biscuits.
  8. Always wanted to know what ‘scooting’ means? Place the cutter over each cookie and swirl it inside the cutter to round the edges. That way they all end up the same size and shape! Leave to cool on the tray.

Watch a video of Katie making these cookies and ‘scooting’!

 

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Katie Bishop (@ktbishopcooks)

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Katie will be back next month with something else delicious to try.

In the meantime, you can find out more about her at https://katiebishop.co.uk or follow her on Instagram at @ktbishopcooks

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How to stay motivated to exercise – a question I’m asked regularly by my clients and members! I thought it was time to get some thoughts down in writing …

Everyone knows that regular exercise is so good for you. Finding the motivation to do it however is hard and requires real effort.

There are however plenty of ways to make it easier for yourself.

In the video below and within this article, I explore how to stay motivated to exercise and provide 8 different techniques.

Enjoy!

There’s a synopsis of this video below.

Technique #1 – Make it enjoyable

The easier you make something for yourself, the more likely it is to stick! That’s human nature.

It’s therefore essential that you pick an activity, a class or an instructor which you enjoy! You may take a while to find the right thing – the thing which suits you.

When you think you’ve found it – the ultimate test is to monitor whether you look forward to the next session.

If dreading your next workout becomes the norm – then you’ve almost certainly made the wrong choice – think about making a change.
If you generally look forward to the next class – then you’re giving yourself a much better chance of succeeding.

Life’s too short to do things that you don’t enjoy. With exercise – you’ve many choices – pick both the instructor and exercise type which is right for you.

If you’re looking test out something new – why not try my free pilates workouts page?

I go out of my way to make sure my workouts don’t feel like a chore – I hope you agree!

Technique #2 – Pay attention to progress

Human beings LOVE to see progress. This is so true, when it comes to boosting your motivation.

If you can see physical and mental changes going on within your body, whilst following an exercise routine, you are much more likely to continue following it.

The opposite also applies!

Changes are normally small and incremental and it’s very easy to look in the mirror or weigh yourself a month after starting a programme and be despondent.

Don’t be! Your body doesn’t change to order – it takes time to lose weight and gain muscle mass. Again, the opposite also applies – it’s rare to put on weight quickly – it happens incrementally over many months – and it’s not always obvious until big changes have occurred.

Motivation to exercise comes in lots of different formats

If you’re looking to change body shape – accept it will take time – and give yourself enough time. Be consistent and know that changes will come. When they do – take note – and your motivation will stay strong.

Seeing progress is a real motivator. Be patient waiting for that progress.

Technique #3 – Make it accessible

Whatever stage of life you’re in – no doubt your days are full. Time is short and is our most precious commodity.

So many people fail to do the things they’ve promised themselves they’ll do, as they’ve not embraced the constraints they have in their life. It’s so easy in a rash moment to make a pledge to do something regularly, without thinking about the logistical challenges. As soon as it gets slightly difficult – the priorities take over and the ‘nice to haves’ fall by the wayside.

Don’t let this happen to your exercise routine!

If you are considering taking up a class in a gym which is a 45 minute drive away away – then be realistic – it’s unlikely to be something you will still be doing 3 months later. Your motivation is bound to fall away.

Exercise has to fit into your lifestyle – don’t let it become a chore. Make it easy on yourself. Choose an online programme which is on-demand. Timed online classes have their place – but if you can’t get to them regularly, as your lifestyle doesn’t allow for it – then that consistency will soon fall away, along with your motivation.

Make an exercise choice which slots into your days and weeks and becomes a natural part of your life.

Technique #4 – Make it a habit

Habits are fascinating things. They are most commonly linked with giving up smoking or eating better, however they are so much more than that.

According to Duke University research back in 2006 –  around 40% of the actions we perform every day aren’t controlled by decision making but by our unconsious thoughts – otherwise known as habits! They are an incredibly powerful part of our lives and shouldn’t be ignored.

They can be leveraged to create lifelong good practices when it comes to health and wellbeing. The great news is that it’s simple to tap into them and embed them into our lives, by creating simple habit loops.

Habit loops can be created by recognising a trigger (perhaps waking up) … linking that to a routine (putting on your gym kit) … and associating a reward with it (enjoying breakfast with a healthy glow).

To make these loops stronger (and easier), create the right environment for yourself. For example. the night before a workout – prepare your clothes, your equipment and your space – give yourself the best possible chance of success the next morning. When you wake up, you know what you’ve got to do, because you’ve made it easy for yourself.

So many of the weekly workout family write to me and tell me that they’ve built workouts into their day or week – the monthly challenges have become integral to their lives. These same people also tell me how much they love seeing the benefits.

I hope you’re able to do the same and create the habit.

Technique #5 – Keep it varied

My business partner, Mark, has had a saying in his family – “Go with what you don’t know” – it’s his way of ensuring his children keep pushing themselves and moving outside of their comfort zones. It’s all too easy to “go with what you do know” – reaching for the same exercise every day or every week – it’s familiar – you know what’s coming next and surprise, surprise, you can manage it all easily.

After a few weeks – do you notice your motivation tailing off? Also – do you notice the effect it’s having on your body is also tailing off?

One of the phrases I live by (and the weekly workout family know this well) is to ‘Keep the body guessing!’

I say this mainly because it’s so important to challenge your muscles in different ways – it’s the best way to build strength and stamina. I also say it, because variety is the spice of life! If you wake up every day, faced with the same set of exercises – your motivation will soon tail off.

One of our members wrote to me recently and said:

“It’s like Christmas. Every single class I open is different – it’s like unwrapping a present”

– Weekly Workout Club member

And so – if you are looking for simple ways to keep motivated – keep those exercises varied! Have your favourites of course – but if you can ensure that for the majority of the time you’re doing something different – you won’t go far wrong!

Technique #6 – Notice ‘life’ improvements

Another way to keep motivated is to correlate improvements you see in your daily life with the work you’ve put in during your exercise routines.

As an example, I teach classes which improve balance – something which naturally tails off with age.

When you do focus on one aspect, such as balance – changes can be so small (as I described with weight loss above) – it’s hard to notice improvements – unless you’re on the look out for them.

So – if you’re focusing on balance or you’re looking to improve an aching back when gardening – remember to think about improvements three months down the line. Are you still having the same issues? Do you notice anything becoming easier? When you do – make sure you attribute those improvements to the work you’ve put in – there’s nothing more motivating!

When you see success, you want more of it – it’s a human instinct. Recognise that success, focus and repeat.

By the way – there are so many benefits to pilates I’ve written an article on it.

Stay motivated to exercise by noticing progress

Technique #7 – Track progress

There’s a theme here – isn’t there? Motivation comes from within and if you can see progress, you’ll naturally do more of whatever’s getting you there.

Habit or progress trackers are big business. Whether you use a habit tracking app, crosses in a diary or put marbles in a jar – a visual representation of your progress each week or month is hugely motivating. Humans like to rise to challenges. We like to not break chains. If you’ve exercised 4 times a week for 3 months – it becomes incredibly hard not to exercise 4 times a week ongoing.

Research says that it takes approximately 70 days to embed a new habit. Once a habit has been established – it’s incredibly hard to break.

Getting to that point is helped hugely by tracking progress.

My Workout Club has a progress tracker each month. Members print them out and stick them somewhere prominent.

Imagine how good (and motivating) it feels to see lots of ticks at the end of each 4 workout/week monthly challenge?!

Technique #8 – Enjoy the rewards

If I’m consistent with my exercise habit – then I know I can let my hair down at weekends – I can eat that piece of cake and/or have that glass of wine and genuinely enjoy it, as opposed to be thinking it’s a bad thing and have those feelings of guilt.

This is so important to me. Life is all about balance.

That thought is such a motivator for me. I hope that it is for you too.

How to stay motivated to exercise – a final recap

I hope these techniques on how to stay motivated to exercise are useful. It’s been cathartic writing them all down – I get asked about motivation so often.

It’s only natural to ‘fall off the exercise wagon’ once in a while. The important thing is to get back on it!

Re-establish that motivation or keep it in check by remembering why exercise, health and wellness is so important … visualise the health benefits … have that desire to remain as healthy as possible into later life.

If you’re looking for a new routine – why not try one of my free Pilates workouts? Click the link – and get started today – maybe you’re about to start a new habit today? I do hope so.

Each month, we feature one of our amazing Weekly Workout Club members here in our shiny wellness and lifestyle area.

If you’re a member, you’ll know that its really important to Jo that we are all in this together and supporting one another on our fitness journeys.  This is the reason why Jo always refers to the club as the ‘Weekly Workout Family!’

We thought it was time for members to get to know each other a little more and to share some stories and experiences.

Our July spotlight features Mette Boichat …

Tell us about yourself

I was born in Denmark but have lived in the UK for 40 years (mainly in North and Central London).

I had a big career in marketing but gave it up to look after my daughter, dogs and hubby (!) and moved to the Home Counties.

My daughter is 14 and I have had Bernese Mountain Dogs for over 15 years. I’ll no doubt be accumulating more dogs when the inevitable empty nest syndrome sets in in a few years!

What motivates you to exercise regularly?

I love exercising as it gives me energy and confidence and my motivation is driven by wanting to have a long and healthy life and be a role model to my gorgeous daughter.

I discovered Jo’s Weekly Workout classes in lockdown and absolutely love them.

I  can’t pick a favourite but every week is something new and different. I have been doing Pilates on and off for 20 years and I’m so happy to have found such a convenient way to exercise.

How else do you exercise?

I also love dog walking and have recently become a Peloton spin bike bore!

Some of your favourite things?

Here are some of my favourite things:

Food – pasta, pasta and pasta
Drink – Diet Coke ( bad I know!)
Book – The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Mark Haddon
Film – The Godfather

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Thank you so much to Mette for her wonderful spotlight article. We’ll feature another member next month and if you’d like to be featured – drop us a line!

It’s time to bring you our regular monthly meditation, courtesy of Amanda Penalver.

Amanda is a meditation expert and founder of True Rest®. Her work is devoted to challenging, inspiring & motivating her clients to live a more growth-full, rich & deeply fulfilling life.

Amanda offers True Rest classes & guided meditations to uplift, restore, replenish & re-energise you to live on purpose, fully awake, fully embodied & deeply connected.

We’re delighted to be able to offer June’s guided meditation for you below – Power nap.

Find out more about Amanda’s brilliant work at mandypenalver.com

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Power nap

Research has shown that power naps can improve memory, boost creativity &, mood, prevent stress increase productivity & enhance our overall wellbeing.

Use this meditation at any time of day to catch up on sleep, ease anxiety & refresh your mind & body.

 

How to maintain a healthy lifestyle? What does health mean to you?

Two questions I’m asking myself as I lie here on a lazy Saturday morning … and I wanted to jot down some thoughts.

Health to me is having a healthy attitude to life, training and food! And two words spring to mind …

“BALANCE” and “CONSISTENCY”

Health to me, is training and eating sensibly (most of the time) so that I can enjoy my normal everyday activities and the life I want to lead.

I exercise and eat healthily the majority of the time, so that I can enjoy myself (even more) the rest of the time!

It’s OK to eat cake!

How to maintain a healthy lifestyle with Jo Tuffrey

Sometimes the balance will tip and that’s ok! It’s ok to eat the cake and have a few glasses of wine – but not all the time – if you want to see results.

Friends comment how relaxed I am when I go round for supper or out for a meal and I order things deemed wrong, in order to stay slim.

I have recently just finished a weekend away on our boat and my staple food was bbq-ed sausages and burgers! Those times are my relaxed times and my fun times and so why wouldn’t I eat and drink what I want? Particularly, when I know the other 80% of the time I’m more disciplined.

To maintain health, it’s so important to find exercise you enjoy and even look forward to, to maintain consistency.

Find the training you enjoy  – make it a habit and not a chore or research has shown you will not stick to it! James Clear’s Atomic Habits goes into detail here and is well worth a read.

“At the end of the day, how long it takes to form a particular habit doesn’t really matter that much. Whether it takes 50 days or 500 days, you have to put in the work either way.

The only way to get to Day 500 is to start with Day 1. So forget about the number and focus on doing the work.”

– James Clear

I’m very transparent with the Weekly Workout Family (they know I love a figgy roll or two) as I release new workouts every week and chat in my classes about exercise and food.

The health of our members is paramount to me and my approach to teaching will always be balanced and consistent, both in the classes but also in my chatter throughout these classes.

I will always strive to help our members develop a permanent, healthy, happy habit for getting fit and strong – both with their bodies and minds and will always present a balanced view on training and eating. If my views and teaching methods help 1000’s of others focus on how to maintain a healthy lifestyle, then I can certainly sleep well.

So on that note – it’s the weekend and so I’m off to tip the balance …. because that’s ok!! 🥰

Happy weekends everyone ❤️

The benefits of Pilates are numerous!

I’m often asked the question – “Why is Pilates so good for you?” and so I’ve put this article and video together for you to explain just 6 benefits of Pilates. There are many more – but these are the ones I hear about most often from clients and my weekly workout family. They are also the benefits I believe in the most.

Pilates is so good for you in so many different ways and if you’re intrigued to find out more – click play on the video below or read about the benefits of Pilates in the synopsis below.

If you’re looking to start a new Pilates practice or get back into it  – then you might be interested in my Members Workout Club – which is Pilates focused. With two new workouts each week, 200+ videos inside the membership area and a “Pilates for beginners” programme – it’s the perfect place to learn and improve.

Ready to see those benefits? – click play below or read on …

Benefit  #1 – Weight loss

Pilates is brilliant for aiding your weight loss journey – but we have to look at a good diet as well.

Why will Pilates aid weight loss?

Because we’re working with our own bodyweight … we are working with our muscles. Muscle burns fat and the greater the muscular frame we have, the more metabolically active we are and so the more calories we burn.

If you have a higher muscle to fat ratio, compared to a higher fat to muscle ratio, then you will burn more calories per hour – just by being sat down!

So one of the key benefits of Pilates is to aid your weight loss, as long as you couple your practice with a beautifully balanced diet. It’s a brilliant win-win situation.

A picture showing the one of the many benefits of pilates

Benefit #2 – Body tone

Pilates is fantastic for toning and sculpting the entire body.

The important thing is is to choose the right programme – a programme which works on all parts of the body and as I like to say, ‘keeps the body guessing.’ Working solely on one part of the body each day OR doing the same exercises each week won’t give you the body tone you’re looking for.

My Tone with Tuffrey Pilates programme is just perfect for toning and sculpting.

I use small equipment too, such as weights, a band, a roller or even sliders – there are so many different pieces of equipment to help challenge the body.

Pilates is brilliant for body tone.

Benefit #3 – Posture

Another benefit of Pilates is that it really helps your posture.

First of all, it makes you aware of your posture.  Because we are ‘forward moving’ creatures … we are at our desks more … we are reading more and often we’re anxious more, Pilates is so important for opening up our front line and strengthening our back line, which in turn enhances our posture.

The second thing it does is to prevent injury through creating the right posture. This is one of the best benefits of Pilates there could be! The more that we’re stuck in bad posture, the more likely it is we can get injured, through the smallest of movements.

So, it’s really important to think of really opening ourselves up. The more we open up – the more we can work from our centre – then the more we will work our back muscles and release through the chest – helping to improve our posture on a daily basis.

A photo showing a pilates class to improve posture through stretching

Benefit #4 – Balance

As we get older, our balance becomes compromised. It’s a natural part of the ageing process.

Another brilliant benefit of regular Pilates practice is to help us to improve our balance.

We can achieve this by working all the muscles that help with balance. As an example – we often work with the feet. I know it sounds strange to hear this – but it’s true – and it’s why I like to work with both the ankles and feet regularly. Working the glutes and centre as part of the body’s kinetic chain can also help with our balance too …

So just a simple exercise, such as standing on one leg and thinking about the pelvis being level, whilst engaging into the glutes, can be a really good exercise to do regularly.  If we have weak glutes, we take the tension into our lower back.

To reiterate, balance is extremely important as we get older. Pilates can really help to ensure that it doesn’t deteriorate as quickly as it would do, as part of the ageing process.

Improving balance is another benefit of pilates. This image shows Jo Tuffrey instructing a class.

Benefit #5 – Core stability

You will always hear that Pilates is fantastic for bad backs. It’s often the reason that people turn to Pilates in the first place – through a recommendation from their physio. Pilates works all the core muscles to stabilise and strengthen our centres from the inside out.

Why is Pilates so good for bad backs?

Because a healthy back relies on core stability and strength and Pilates is all about working from your centre, with other parts of the body released and relaxed. Regular Pilates practice creates a beautifully strong, yet flexible centre.

The key however is balance (if you excuse the pun).

You should aim to achieve the right equilibrium, between strength, stamina and suppleness.

It’s important to not be totally core strong, with no flexibility. Your body needs a balance of all of the three elements I list above.

Any Pilates programme you choose needs to help you to achieve that balance. Any instructor should be mindful of that when devising a program. I certainly am!

When you have a strong centre and core stability – imagine it to be like the scaffolding around a building – it appears that it is propping the building up. It also makes the spine beautifully aligned so the body can move in the way that it was designed to.

This is why Pilates is of huge benefit when it comes to alleviating the pain of a bad back.

Benefit #6 – Mindset

Physical exercise plays such an important part of improving our mindset.

With more energetic classes, endorphins, (the happy hormone that makes us feel good) flood the body. For more relaxing classes, where we want to chill out and stretch our bodies, then we can take ourselves off into a different place, which is also amazing for our mental health. Relaxation is such an important component of a balanced life.

Breathing is a really important part of any Pilates workout and by focusing on your breath – it helps to keep your body released and gives you that complete relaxation and mind space.

It’s always good to to forget everything else for a moment once in a while and just be at one just with yourself. Pilates can help you to do this.

I have many stretch and relaxation classes in my Workout Club – and you can try a free pilates relaxation class right here. Why not drop me a line and let me know what you think!

In summary – 6 benefits of pilates

Hopefully you can now see there are so many benefits to a regular Pilates practise. You’ve got nothing to lose by trying a free Pilates workout. Click the link – and get started today – maybe you’re about to start a new habit today? I do hope so.

Every now and then I aim to showcase a business I really love and believe in – it’s great to champion the smaller business.

Many workout family members have asked about the various outfits that I wear that they’ve spotted on Instagram and so I thought I would launch this showcase section by introducing a fabulous lady called Lindy and her business.

Over the years I have bought many things from Lindy… most of my jewellery in fact and my various “floaty” dresses.

I shall leave the rest to Lindy…

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Hi, I am Lindy Harpham, owner of online retail store, Story in Bray in Berkshire, UK.

Jo has been a friend, ambassador and super-loyal customer of mine for years … everything looks fabulous on her so I was so thrilled when she was willing to include Story in Bray here in her lifestyle section.

I had an actual bricks and mortar shop in Bray Village for around 13 years where I sold gorgeous clothing, jewellery and interior pieces.  On this journey, I was lucky enough to meet loads of fantastic people and acquired a very loyal following who have remained with me to this day.

As the interior service side of the business grew, I decided to close my beloved shop in Bray and run the creative side of my business from my ‘den’ at home.

I have a huge love of clothing, jewellery and interiors and so continue to combine all three into a great little business.

One of our selling points is that we don’t stock a lot of anything and we tend to avoid big labels and instead, work hard to source unusual stock for our customers – generally timeless pieces that work together season after season.  We also stock super gifts too!

Have a peek at storyinbray.com

We generally use Instagram to announce new clothing. Do follow us if you like what you see!

Finally – you can see Jo in some of our clothing in the photos below …


Hi! I’m Helen Gambarota and I am delighted to be back with Jo’s Weekly Workout Family to share my love of books with you.

I am a total book nerd. An avid reader and a compulsive book buyer, although I do need to slow down on the book buying as there are piles of books all around the house. I started reviewing books on Instagram as @BestBookFoward almost 4 years ago and I love chatting about books and sharing my passion for reading.

Each month I bring you my recommendation of a must-read book. I read a variety of genres so it could be anything from fiction, non-fiction, romance, historical fiction or a thriller and I really hope that you’ll enjoy each of them as much as I do.

If you’d like more book inspiration you can find my reviews on my Instagram account which is @BestBookForward, on Facebook or on my website bestbookforward.org

Still Life by Sarah Winman

Over the past year or so I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought to myself I am so grateful to be a bookworm. As the world shut down and we found we could no longer travel or see friends I found myself feeling increasingly glad to be a reader.

Whenever I pick up a book I know that I can transport myself anywhere in the world, I can go backwards or forwards in time, I can even visit make-believe worlds and I can just escape the realities of life all by turning the pages.

Maybe you’ve managed to get away on a little trip recently or maybe you haven’t but I thought this month I’d take you all on a trip to Italy with the stunning new novel by Sarah Winman, Still Life.

The story opens in Florence, 1944 where we meet sexagenarian Evelyn Skinner, an art historian and possible spy. A woman who loves Florence and is trying to salvage paintings from the ruins while reliving her memories of the time she encountered EM Forster and had her heart stolen by an Italian maid.

As the Allied troops advance and bombs fall around, Eveyln meets a young British Soldier, Ulysses Temper. The two become instant friends and while they don’t get to spend much time together, their meeting will shape the following decades of their lives.

“This is just the most beautiful book to escape into; normally I tear through books at great speed but I wanted to savour this one and I never wanted it to end.”

Its a story about life, love and friendships and has the most wonderful cast of unforgettable characters. There are parts that are really moving and there are parts that will make you laugh and I really hope that you will love it as much as I did.

I’m going to leave you with the trailer for Still Life, which is one of the most beautiful book trailers I’ve seen. If I can’t convince you to pick this one up, this trailer will …

I really hope you’ll enjoy reading Stil Life as much as I did. I’ll be back next month with another recommendation for you.

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You can buy your copy from Amazon here, or from all good bookshops.