Money-Saving Monday – Summer Holiday Fun

August 2, 2011 § Leave a comment

(Apologies to non-UK readers, this series is British Isles-centric.)

  • You can download your kids eat free voucher at the Frankie & Benny’s website.
  • For a treat, head to Zizzi’s – but with this 25% off voucher it won’t cost the earth.
  • Or spread their culinary wings at La Tasca; sign up (for nothing) to the La Tasca Club and get £5 off when you spend £20.
  • After all that food, perhaps rollercoasters are a bad idea; you’ll want to take advantage of the 20% off Alton Towers online bookings, though.
  • All the family can enjoy 15% off at Boden and free delivery, if you sign up for their newsletters. There’s free entry into the lucky dip with every order, too – and everyone wins at least a discount voucher.


And something for the adults:

  • Don’t cry folks, but Habitat is going into administration; silver lining – there’s up to 70% off at the quality interiors store.
  • Twinings are giving out two free samples of tea to anyone who asks; a great chance to dabble in a new flavour without risking wasting money.
  • You’ve got to do the sales right, bearing in mind what suits you and what you actually need. You’ll be guaranteed to find quality choices (up to 80% off in their archive sale) at Toast, and well-made Japanese basics at Uniqlo.
  • Wander into an Oasis store; they’re handing out discount cards which are valid until September.



Don’t Sit Under The Apple Tree

August 1, 2011 § Leave a comment

The Andrews Sisters

I re-watched The Chronicles of Narnia recently, and that brilliant hide-and-seek scene had me Youtube-ing ‘Oh Johnny Oh’. Which, of course, had me obsessing over noticing the revival potential in all those friendly nicknames.

My money’s on Glenn to rise once Finn and Flynn are tired out. Do you have any favourites from this era? Any great ones I missed?



Grace “Gracie” (Fields)

Helen (Forrest)

Jo (Stafford)

Liese-Lotte “Lale” (Andersen) – LEE-za-lott-a

Martha (Tilton)

Maxene (The Andrews Sisters)

Patricia “Patty” (The Andrews Sisters) – potential as a nickname for Patience, instead

Peggy (Lee)

Vera (Lynn)



Bernie (Mackey, The Ink Spots)

Bill (Kenny, The Ink Spots)

Bud (Flanagan)

Charlie (Fuqua, The Ink Spots)

Donald (The Mills Brothers)

Edward “Duke” (Ellington)

George (Formby)

Glenn (Miller)

Harry (The Mills Brothers, and “Bing” Crosby)

Herbert (The Mills Brothers)

James “Jimmy” (Dorsey)

John (The Mills Brothers, and “Johnny” Mercer)

Louis (Armstrong)

Noel (Coward)

Orville “Hoppy” (Jones, The Ink Spots)

Samuel “Sammy” (Kaye)

Thomas “Tommy” (Dorsey)

Vaughn (Monroe)


Will these make it back? –

LaVerne (The Andrews Sisters)


Chesney (Allen)

Jerry (Daniels, The Ink Spots)

Ivory “Deek” (Watson, The Ink Spots)

Lindley “Spike” (Jones) – can see some parents grabbing this for their daughters.

Harry Potter and the Smoking Diptych

July 29, 2011 § 1 Comment

Or, My Two Most Recent Viewings:  Harry Potter, and Smoking/No Smoking.

I liked them both, in very different ways. I  would have preferred if the HP series had been a bit more thoughtful and a bit madder, made by someone like Tim Burton and making full use of his talent for weaving a dark fairy story. But the special effects are great, the story is exciting, the ’19 years later’ fulfilled all my needs for a happy ever after, and Rupert Grint (Ron) and Tom Felton (Malfoy) are great actors. I was sad not to see any Lavender Brown, actually, as I thought she and Helena Bonham-Carter were the only redeeming points of the sixth film.

Oh shh, they made loads of money, I’m sure they don’t mind if I’m a bit harsh.

Smoking/No Smoking was on for just two days – whereas we all know Harry Potter will be showing for the next ten years – at the BFI, which has awesome stuff all the time and is really worth a visit if you’re in London. It’s an adaptation of Alan Ayckbourn’s Intimate Exchanges, and is actually two films which follow the different chains of events set off by whether Mrs Teasdale has a cigarette or not. This is no Sliding Doors, though – Alain Resnais, the director, makes theatre-cinema, achieved by having two actors play all the parts (surprisingly subtle and adding a nice dose of irony) and limiting the camera’s reach – in Smoking, for example, we see the couple in their living room, but the shot is through the open window so that the audience doesn’t leave the garden, giving the illusion of a limited acting space. In my mind, this film has only two negatives:

1)      Both films are over two hours long, and to see them one after the other was a bit much. They’re so long because they include multiple ‘Or perhaps …’ scenarios. It’s a strange mix of realism and surrealism seeing that on screen, as it both reminds you that you’re definitely watching a fiction, and sticks more truly to the not-so-clear-cut nature of real life. While we’re talking about surrealism, the plays are set in Yorkshire, but the characters speak French. Just roll with it.

2)       I’m almost positive the film isn’t available on DVD. If I’m wrong, someone let me know where to get hold of a copy!

Have you seen Harry Potter? Did you like the series, and what would you have done differently?

Your College Beer Keg Is All Grown Up

July 17, 2011 § Leave a comment

Here’s lookin’ at … Sarah Raven’s Kitchen and Garden

These beautiful drinks dispensers (coyly dubbed ‘water carriers’ by the website, but suitable for any cold beverage) will more than earn their keep in saved waitressing time for any hostess, as they allow guests to fill up their own glasses in a novel, non-messy way. This kind of more relaxed entertaining is a la mode in the current era ofindie family festivals, and the kegs’ communal nature and colourful, gypsy caravan designs mean that they really hit the trend on the head. Best of all, right now they’re reduced from £95 to £66.50, great value for an extremely sturdy 25-litre container. While you’re there, how about some biodegradable sky lanterns for a magical evening gathering, or these sweetly simple planting jugs?

A Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde Moment

July 17, 2011 § Leave a comment

By Norman Rockwell


Or, Why has the blog’s name changed?

Simple, really – I thought it was a better indicator of what the blog does. Happily, I’ve received lots of questions (and will hopefully continue to – contact me at, and so this blog is, for the forseeable future, going to be around 50% Agony Aunt-style stuff, and around 50% tips and recommendations based around what I’m loving at the moment. The blog’s URL has stayed the same partly because I love that Winnie the Pooh quote, but mostly so that it was easy for readers to find me again.

Hope that clears up any confusion x

Pencils and Whatnot (Ask Lola) Is Back

July 14, 2011 § Leave a comment

I’m back and excited to be posting again, on an all-round much more organised site. A word on the categories at the side – I’d love to have tabs at the top of the page that you could rifle through, like the Pioneer Woman or Design Mom, but to do that I’d need my own site (not one run on WordPress). So for now, we have the Categories System. To allow you to find the advice most relevant to you, queries and other posts have been sorted into six main sections:

1) About Ask Lola  – updates on how the site works and other important announcements go here, as well as my weekly editor updates which let you know all the things I’ve been loving and answering over the past seven days.

2) Culture – movie, book, theatre, exhibition and artist reviews and recommendations can be found here.

3) Design – comments on everything from advertising to interiors and clothes.

4) Food – recipes, as well as information on newly discovered shops and brands.

5) Miscellaneous – as of the moment, I’ve received the most questions about culture, design, food and naming, so those are the categories I’ve created. Anything else will go in here, but of course if I begin to get a large volume of questions on another topic, it’ll probably get its own major section.

6) Naming – themed inspiration and the answers to your questions, including those posed via a Name Consultation (see the Naming Consultations page over to your left for more information).

Sub-categories will let you narrow the field further.

Possibly more excitingly, there’s a whole new feature! Over there <—— you’ll see a page named Eye on the Prize. Love an outfit, but it’s too expensive? Ask Lola will follow it for you, and send you an update as soon as it goes on sale or your size becomes low in stock – for FREE. For that and the usual advice service, email

Sorry for the scaffolding

July 3, 2011 § Leave a comment

I’ve been away a few days, working on an improved site layout. Give me a little longer to weigh the pros and cons of various ideas (e.g. separate sections for different topics) and I promise Pencils and Whatnot will be back soon, more fabulous than ever … possibly even with a new name.

Any ideas of what you’d like to see?