Summer is here, and the living is easy. And nothing makes it easier than keeping things simple. I love investigating places new and old, trying new foods, swimming in warm seas, and reading all the books, but all without any of the faff. So, here’s how I’m simplifying my summer.
As I wrote last year, while on holiday I’ve been trying not to share too many pictures, but to enjoy taking them instead. So because holiday snaps my favourite, here are a few tips for making those pictures really shine.
•Look for symmetry. It’s everywhere.
•Think in pairs; both the larger picture, and then a detail too when you get up close. Like a building and then a window of the same building.
Piles or crates of fruit: crop them, rather than going in too close.
I allow myself to score bonus points for aerial beach shots.
Overhead table pictures are some of my favourites. I love the way they capture happy times sharing food with friends and family. To keep your pictures straight, you can use the spirit level with crosshairs on the iPhone.
While we’re on the subject of food, I am currently completely obsessed with Alison Roman’s book Dining In. She calls her recipes ‘cookable’, and they truly are; I don’t want to cook anything else! It certainly helps that the food is so pretty too (the pictures in the book are taken by two of my favourite food photographers, Michael Graydon and Nikole Herriott). And the recipes are incredibly easy and simple. Roman works for Bon Appetit, so you can find many of her recipes over there, or on her website.
Salads are the perfect summer lunch. I’m always being asked about how I make mine. Since last year I’ve been following tips from Bon Appetit, and now I also have a salad spinner and salad dressing maker, which I find invaluable. And don’t forget to coat all the leaves with the dressing, preferably using your hands.
I tend not to watch many documentaries at this time of the year; tis the season for listening to podcasts while relaxing in the sun. Current favourites include The Allusionist, Death in Ice Valley, Slow Burn, Great Lives, Kitchen Cabinet, In the Dark (thank you Deirdre), Invisibilia, and No Such Thing as a Fish (thank you to my godson, William).
There’s no simpler pleasure than sitting in the sun with a book. I’ve been keeping track of all the summer book lists out there, and cannot wait to get reading. My Kindle is brimming with books of all genres, including: Small Country by Gaël Faye, The Verdun Affair by Nick Dybek, The Occasional Virgin by Hanan al-Shaykh, Social Creature by Tara Isabella Burton, Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie, High Season by Judy Blundel, and Crudo by Olivia Laing.
I’m also reading Venice: Four Seasons of Home Cooking by Russell Norman. I adore the way he writes about Venice and its food. And the pictures are taken by one of my favourite photographers, Jenny Zarins (check out her double exposures). Finally, some poetry: American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin by Terrance Hayes, Kumukanda by Kayo Chingonyi, and The Terrible by Yrsa Daley-Ward
Lip balm is my favourite simple thing to wear in the summer months. Current faves are Lip Glow from Dior and Orgasm from Nars. I’ve also been enjoying Water Lip Stain from Clarins; the colour lasts for hours, even when swimming! If you want to try a bright lipstick, then try Le Rouge Liquide from Givenchy—it has some kind of new magic formula which is like a lipstick, stain, balm, all in one. One swipe and you’re done. Amazing.
To help you get in the mood for it all, Chaka Khan’s latest music video is a banger! So much Boomerang action.