February Favourites – Ruth Crilly

Five February Favourites, including the very timely rediscovery of an absolute skincare marvel and an incredible book of short stories.

But let’s start with the boots I’ve fallen for. Oh, the boots. If I told you that I’d been searching high and low for the perfect western-inspired boots since October, would you believe me? It’s true. And I’ve had a grand total of eleven different pairs of black leather boots, all subtly different, delivered to the house and then unceremoniously sent back.

Ad info: no paid or sponsored content. Contains press samples (face cream and mask) and affiliate links are marked *. 

How I didn’t see these Whistles beauties when they were right under my nose I do not know. They were just so much more amazing in real life, I suppose – it was actually my daughter who spotted them when we walked past the local store in Bath and I nipped in to have a hold and a stroke of them. They didn’t have my size but I ordered them in a 39 the moment I got home!

They are just the perfect “western boot but make it smart”. No pointy toe or embellishments or fringes or buckles, just that wonderful chiselled shape that somehow looks so modern at the moment (maybe it’s the way the heel slants, it’s very elegant) and the supple, highest-quality leather.

To say I’m in love is an understatement: they also happen to be extremely comfortable and they go with just about everything in my winter wardrobe line-up. Especially good with black leggings, or tights, or skinny jeans. They have sold out in most sizes at Whistles (see here* for remaining) but they also have them at John Lewis here*.

What a find. Right at the very end of winter, so that’s helpful, but we will ignore that and look on the bright side.

Next favourite: the beauty rediscovery. I remember when La Roche-Posay’s Toleriane Dermallergo Night (here online*) launched and it was an incredible night cream then; it’s still pretty much unbeatable if you have skin that constantly feels sensitive, with no sign of letting up. LRP’s Dermallergo reduces signs of sensitivity with each use – it helps to break the cycle, essentially, of skin that is always dry, tight and irritable.

I wrote about the older version of this cream at launch – if you want a bit more info then you can take a look at that post here (typically idiotic title, apologies):

Skin Sensitivity and Satan’s Bicycle

And I know that this is a small point, but I do love the fact that this night cream is packaged in a massively convenient way. A lightweight pump-action bottle with no padding or extras, it’s slimline and easy to throw into your makeup bag if you’re travelling. Also incredibly hydrating without any greasiness. It gets top marks from me – it’s £25 at Superdrug here*.

Staying with the bedtime theme: I tested out the Drowsy sleep mask this month. You may have seen this advertised online; it’s a very large, padded sleep silk mask that covers a good half of your face and blocks out all light. I already had silk sleep masks and so hadn’t thought about giving the Drowsy ones a go but an opportunity presented itself (I was on a press trip with Elizabeth Arden and it was in the welcome pack) and I have to say that I am hugely pleased with myself for giving it a go.

It’s quite simply brilliant.

And I know there will be cheaper versions, non-silk versions, dupe versions on Amazon but I cannot speak for those: I have only tried the Drowsy ones. (Please tell me if you’ve tried alternatives and have any feedback!) It’s definitely a luxury buy, but in terms of quality and usefulness I don’t think it would be a thing you’d ever regret getting, if you’re a regular sleep mask user. Wrapping it around your head is like being cocooned inside your own little sleep sanctuary, the padded sides gently muffling ambient noise (ever so slightly) and the eye bits blocking out the glare from the lamps that I have to leave on when I travel because I irrationally think that they scare off hotel burglars…

You can find Drowsy online here – they’ve kindly given a code to get 15% off – use RUTH15.

My fourth favourite this month is a play. Emma Rice’s Blue Beard. Even if you don’t like plays, I think you’ll like this one. You might say I’m biased, because she’s a mate, but this is the first play that Emma Rice has both written and directed and there wasn’t a single second of it that didn’t have me wanting to do a spontaneous standing ovation.

If you know the grim story of Blue Beard then prepare to turn it on its head a bit; this is a story of horrendous misogyny and violence but told via the trademark Wise Children (that’s the theatre company) sensory assault of song and dance and acrobatics and wry delivery. Every part of a Wise Children play seems to be presented to you with a bit of a wink and a twinkle and this play is no different – the first half feels as though you’ve entered a magical circus tent.

But the ending. Totally unexpected and powerful and nobody in the theatre knew quite where to look other than the ceiling, to stop the tears from rolling down.

I’ve dropped a little bit of film into the favourites video (below) where Emma Rice talks about the production and the story behind it – you can find out which theatres still have Blue Beard tickets on the Wise Children website here.

And finally a book. Also with tales of misogyny and familiar-sounding stories turned on their heads, this is a collection of short stories by Claire Keegan: Antarctica. (Here online*.) I’ve written about Keegan’s short stories before; they’re like little jewel boxes just packed full of treasures. Every sentence so perfectly formed, every tale told in a slightly new and unexpected way. The opening story in Antarctica had me curling my toes from start to finish and not in a particularly good way; it left me feeling completely empty and disillusioned with the world. You’ll just have to read it to find out why – let me know what you think!

I wouldn’t mind doing some kind of book club if anyone has an interest; I’ve been trying to work out how to do it, logistically. If you have any good ideas on how one could possibly be arranged then let me know in the comments, because all of my ideas involve me sitting on my own (possibly on a stool in an empty room) talking into an echo chamber…

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