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London to Brighton Bike ride: thoughts about life and hitting the road

The sun was shining and I beamed at it after tightening up my trainers and putting my helmet on. It was about 6.40 and I was more excited than scared. 54 miles is not such a big thing and if I was too shattered to cycle up Ditchling Beacon I could always push my bike up… couldn’t I? Nothing to be afraid of. Cool. Got my card stamped and off I went!

This year the London to Brighton bike ride was celebrating it’s 50 years anniversary and around 28,000 people were participating.  Amongst the welcome pack there was a paper heart to attach to your shirt telling why you were riding. Some said simply “Dad” or “Uncle Ted” some had a few lines in them… some people were wearing a full on picture with dates of birth and death laminated on their backs. Some printed on their shirts. I personally did it because just wanted to participate in what seemed a fun day, getting my mind off things and ultimately raising some money for charity. Although looking back, I think my own heart needed it a bit. I’ve been lately too stressed and coping with lots of personal drama, and my heart needed the exhilarating thrill of such massive event and the fresh air of the country side.

I can tell my experience of the first 20 some miles. Just before Gatwick. I was tired up until there and I must admit that I had by then already pushed my bike up a few hills, a bit because of the pain in my quadriceps and bit because of the amount of people cycling up in narrow roads made it twice as difficult to manoeuvre. All in all, I was happy and still full of energy and the excitement of the crowd around me.

At some point near Hoorley, someone tried to overtake me without warning me and when he did his handle bars got tangled in mine. I was going pretty fast (I’m not bragging I was!) and I must have instinctively braked… I say I must, because the next thing I remember is opening my eyes facing the surface of the road with my face flat of the ground and one of the worst pains I have ever felt in my life. I probably flew over my bike, and landed on my head (thank God and Molly who lend me her helmet) hurting by action of inertia my face, right shoulder, elbow, hips, knees…to cut a long story short, I ended up on an ambulance for the first time in my life and spent 2hs on a first aid post until my husband came to pick me and my poor shattered bike and took me back to Brighton. Not exactly how I planned it would finish.

Before all this drama, I was thinking how much life resembles experiences like these. How life sometimes feels like a long bike ride, how we struggle with the up hills, in pain and discomfort and how quickly the pleasure and fun of the downhill blissful wind on our heads passes; and how no matter what how tired we can get sometimes there’s no options but to keep going. So how does an accident fit into the picture? I guess the same way that a heart attack affects a family. An abrupt, painful experience that puts on hold the life of who suffers it and of the people around them, and those who survive live with the scabs of a fragile heart  leaving the bruises of the edge on life and death fear to their love ones.

So although I didn’t finish the bike ride in Brighton as I expected, you can agree that I suffered for the cause quite a lot; so please help donating  to this great charity who daily battles heart decease in England. 

I’ll be doing it again next year. Just look for the girl in the Michelin costume.

For more details about The British Heart Foundation and how to donate visit my fundraising page or for other pages and ideas on how to help visit

Words and photos: Mariana Moyano



Bloggers for Japan - March 26th 1pm

The devastating earthquake that took Japan by surprise on the 11th of March has left us, once again, facing the overwhelming power of nature and the reassurance of how fragile our lives can be. Fortunately, it is always in moments like these that our own human nature recovers its limitless power, its protective instinct, its enormous ability to help a fellow human on the other side of the world.  

About a week ago, Katie Antoniou, fashion journalist, blogger and stylist for the gorgeous Gabby Young, contacted a bunch of her fellow bloggers with the simple idea of doing something for the victims of the earthquake; and what initially started as a collection of unused items to sell has turned into a huge event with the collaboration of artists, writers, bloggers, stylists and wonderful people of all kinds willing to give their time and talent to raise money for charity.

This Saturday 26th, from 1pm until 5pm, pop by The Horatia (98-102 Holloway Rd – London N7 8JE) where you’ll be able to buy clothes, beauty products, jewellery and more. There will be also a silent auction with some amazing products and experiences to grab and make a perfect Mother’s day gift!

Signed books by Gisele Scanlon (The Goddess Guides); Tamsin Blanchard (Green is the New Black); Zoe Berkeley (Bake-a-Boo bakery cookbook) and Rosie Lovell (Spooning with Rosie). Also a Vintage Styling Session with Lena Weber, founder of The Vintage Guide to London, a Shoe  Workshop session from I CAN Make Shoes and jewellery from Swell Vintage, The Vamoose, Clare Hynesand more.

The will be also some amazing artwork by Little Doodles, which I’m really looking forward to see and maybe grab one myself, and exclusive Japan postcards, prints and t-shirts by Nikki Pinder.

I will be there with other fellow bloggers, writers and collaborators, so please stop by to help this great cause. If you wish to donate, please contact me at or via twitter @Emmes11.

100% of the procedures will go to the Red Cross.

Hope to see you all there.


Mariana Moyano Menta



What do girls run for?

A few weeks ago when I was still on a high from my lucky Lanvin for H&M acquisition (we all know it was a cat fight wasn’t it?) I received a text from my friend Reena Rai. She had been invited as writer of Fashion Daydreams to participate in the “Course en Escarpines” or Race in High Heels organised by Sarenza and had a plus one to share with me which implied a free weekend in Paris. You can deduct that my happiness had no limits!

Sarenza is a huge on line website dedicated exclusively to shoes for the whole family. They launched in France firstly where the brand is widely known and later in the UK, and since 2008 they annually organised a relay race where teams from the UK race against teams from France for a juicy price of EUR 3000.00 worth in shoes. The only condition is that your running footwear has a minimum of 3.5inches heels.

To make things a bit more interesting, the ladies involved had to dress up on particular theme: English eccentric for this side of the Channel, French chic for our rivals. The venue was nothing far from amazing: an old abandoned swimming pool, converted into a bizarre suburban club covered head to toe in graffiti that looked ever more amazing under the purple and pink shiny lights illuminating the brand colours.  

Reena’s team was, to my delight formed also by the lovely Tor writer of Fab Frocks and the divine Amy from Wolf Whistle who I had known for a while. The Fab Frocks on Foot team decided –after numerous tweets, emails and long deliberation- for Alice in Wonderland as our fancy dress of choice.

 From left: Me as Cheshire Cat; Tor as the White Rabbit; Sara Martin from Sarenza; Amy as the Mad Hatter and Reena as Alice


Not everything though, went out as planned. Mr Winter had a wicked surprised under his sleeve, and heavily snowed England complicated our endeavours, and a trip that was supposed to take 2 hours took incredibly longer, even more for me, when the usual 50 minutes that takes me to get from Brighton to London turned into 3 hours due to the snow and train cancellations. But we finally made it, and even though Fab Frocks on Foot didn’t win the race, we had a great time at the event and on our free time in Paris, when Reena and I spent our good share of time walking around Champs Elysees, visiting the Louvre and enjoying the city sights of snowy Paris.

One question reminded in my mind during the trip. What do girls run for? Sarenza can answer me that is for shoes, or for country, but after seeing myself, and my friends running against time to catch trains, to be sure their friends and families are comfortably out of the cold, to ensure we all had food and rest after long hours waiting for delayed trains, and crowded Metros, my conclusion is that girls really run for those who care the most; regardless of tiredness or footwear. And for that conclusion Sarenza, I thank you.

And you? What do you really run for? 

Have a look at Sarenza:

Words: Mariana Moyano Menta 

Photos: Courtesy of Sarenza



Obai & Hill launches in Bahrain

Obai & Hill is part leader part creator. Our collective mission is to create and share innovative concepts and solutions through the use of social media. Our arrangement also directs us in managing Sketchbook illustrative magazine and their many corporate ventures.

Agency Obai and Hill is a network of young emerging creative’s in the graphic design, illustration, animation, photography, fashion styling & PR fields based in the UK. The directors’ knowledge and contacts of clients in the consumer brand, financial and corporate industries and the creativity and innovation of our pool of talent, leads Obai and Hill in the position of opening an additional branch in the autumn of October 2010 in Bahrain.

We aspire to supply work for and alongside the young emerging designers we meet, getting them involved with innovative projects and solutions and making a success of themselves. The aim of our agency is to both network and inspire those we cross paths with.

To request more information or enquire about our services, please email us at: 

Visit our website: and take a look at our client list.

or follow us:

Obai and Hill on Twitter

Obai and Hill on Facebook



Somewhere Sometime

Recently, Sketchbook received an invite to Somewhere Sometime, an exhibition at the East Gallery, showcasing illustration and design work from fifteen up-and-coming artists, launching themselves into the burgeoning contemporary illustration scene in London.

Although the East Gallery is small, the exhibitors filled it well. Each artist had their own little piece of wall space, where they displayed some of their best and most-loved pieces of work. Some of the our favourite illustrators on display included Laura Wesson, whose beautifully inky feminine illustrations adorned the corner of the room, and the trademark whimsical pastel drawings by Rachel de Ste. Croix, who has previously illustrated teenage blogger extraordinaire, Tavi, for Sketchbook Magazine.

Wandering through the exhibition, we encountered work that incorporated all manners of artistic methods, from the pen and ink surreal animal/human hybrid illustrations of James ward, quirky character illustrations in watercolours and acrylics by Lisa Lee and the paint/embroidery creations by Natasha Baker. These gifted artists left no medium untouched, experimenting with pens, ink, embroidery and paint to name but a few, ensuring that each illustrators work was just as exciting and unpredictable as the next.

As with all good things, Somewhere Sometime was open for a limited time only, but for those of you who missed it, never fear, I doubt this is the last we will see of the talented graduates. Most of the illustrators exhibiting also have their own websites displaying their portfolios, so you can check out the work of some of London’s most talented emerging young illustrators without having to leave the comfort of your own home!





Harvey Nichols Loves Lula Magazine

Lula magazine has recently launched its long-awaited inaugural pop-up shop in Harvey Nichols’ newly revamped concept space on the 4th Floor, to celebrate the magazine’s 5th birthday. Lula magazine, the brainchild of ex-Vogue staffers Leith Clark and Becky Smith, burst onto the scene a short while ago and has since garnered a serious, a cult following. Now on its fourth issue, it’s obvious that what Lula may lack in age, it more than makes up for in substance and has proved to its counterparts that it is definitely a force to be reckoned with and one, which requires them to sit up and take notice.


The space, which has been designed by Fiona Leahy and curated by the magazine’s editor-in-chief Leith Clark, could easily resemble the boudoir of many a die-hard fashionista/”Lula girls”. Festooned with items to suit the ‘modern eclectic woman’, the pop-up store and the limited edition pieces stocked therein, as expected, flow perfectly with the Knightsbridge department store’s chic aesthetic but also adds a quirky twist in the form of heart-shaped motifs in a variety of shapes, sizes and colours; neon name plaques, and Polaroid-adorned wallpaper depicting the quintessential Lula girls. This aside, Clark has taken the time to personally hand pick her favourite exclusively designed pieces from the likes of Miu Miu, Erdem, Rodarte, Sonia Rykiel, Charles Anastase, Lover and Rachel Antonoff. Clark has also gone a step further by catering to the less fashioned-minded shopper, too by offering books and music courtesy of Liz Goldwyn, Melissa Auf Der Maur, Derek Blasberg, Daisy de Villeneuve and Karen Elson, too.


Prices start at around £75 for a Rodarte t-shirt, Miu Miu shoes at £420 and £2,095 for dresses; and although the space itself is definitely well worth a visit, non-Londoners also have the luxury of snapping up some pieces online at Happy shopping!





Sketchbook Magazine at Pecha Kucha Night, Bahrain

Pecha Kucha. 20 x 20. Your life in 6.40 minutes. Start!

To some, this line may make all the sense (albeit those some being architects and a few scattered creatives) while others are likely to drop you worried or concerned glances, hoping you didn’t develop a speech impediment in the past five seconds.


In my case, using that line amongst friends also meant a case of the ever so pleasant shoot-me-before-its-over ‘Pecha Kucha’ pronunciation game, which as you can imagine, can drag on longer than an architect’s critique of a Nouvel project, i.e. no final conclusion. 

 Pecha Kucha, pronounced as ‘Pechak Cha’, started off in Tokyo in 2003 and named after the sound of ‘chit chat’ in Japanese, has fast become the event for creatives to gather around casually, flip on a presentation and explain their works in 20 slides within 6 minutes and 40 seconds, or, 20 seconds per slide.

Devised by architects ASTRID KLEIN and MARK DYTHAM of KLEIN DYTHAM architecture, the idea was to get creative people to share images of their work whilst being concise and basically not taking forever, hence the earlier architect/ Nouvel reference.

Now in its seventh year, Pecha Kucha takes place in over 230 cities around the world, one of them being our dear second home to Sketchbook magazine, Manama, Bahrain.

So when Sketchbook were invited to not only cover the event this month but participate as well, I grew a bit wary but thought, talking for six minutes and 40 seconds about Sketchbook magazine couldn’t be that difficult, could it?

Heading to the Pecha Kucha Night at the Bahrain Society of Engineers, where the event was being held, nervous and with no papers to prep with, seeing those in the line up made the jitters slightly worse for wear. We told the Sketchbook story through slides starting from the very beginning (Starting up, Issue 1, Issue 2, the Pop Up Shop, Live issue and other projects).

From architectural and urban & spatial designers to visual and conceptual artists, to an orchestrator and a media archivist, to magazine publishing with yours truly - the range of members from the Bahraini creative field was impressively diverse.

Highlights included PERRYHAN EL-ASHMAWI’S visual art from childhood to adulthood on display whilst QAIS AL DOSSERY, Head of Library & Archive for Bahrain Radio & Television, showed a striking excerpt of Bahrain’s history in the 1950’s.


Design Roads, a project managed by DAROTTAKWIN’S HALA EBRAHIM, presented a very exciting event of bringing in leading Spanish designers in the field of graphic, interior, floral, setup and other forms of design to hold workshops and seminars to creative professionals and students in Bahrain. All in all, a creative, brief, concise and somewhat nervously exciting event for all.

A big congratulation and thank you goes to organisers MOHAMMED JANAHI, DANA ABDULGHANI, YACOUB AL SLAISE and ZEYAD DARWISH.


Images: Courtesy of PECHA KUCHA



Louis Vuitton’s New Bond Street Maison

For all those a bit out of the store opening loop, New Bond Street saw the opening of the latest in the Louis Vuitton chain of stores, boutiques and elegant maisons. Last Tuesday the world of fashion and celebrity glitterati gathered for the launch event. The crowd included Louis Vuitton designer Marc Jacobs, Gwyneth Paltrow, Elle Mcpherson, Carine Roitfeld, Thandie Newton, Gemma Arterton and Natalia Vodianova.


But this is no ordinary designer boutique. This is not even known as a store. They’re calling it the Louis Vuitton New Bond Street Maison and its architect, PETER MARINO, describes it as “the most luxurious Louis Vuitton Maison in the world” – quite a steep claim! The maison is certainly not just about shopping, in fact it’s really more of an experience. Stacked high to the ceiling are fabulous art installations that aren’t your usual stuffy sculptures. Thanks to Marc Jacobs’ direction at Louis Vuitton, the numerous artist collaborations are reflected in the maison.

The 15,000 sq meter, three-floor space features the usual metal grill casing that all the Louis Vuitton stores have. Art encased in glass containers in the front windows creates a grand spectacle even before entering the store, and then you are faced with an almighty, shiny grilled wall stocked to the very top with luggage. Panels on the wall slip and slide around like puzzle pieces, containting silk scarves and hand bags and you feel like it’s all a bit too clever for a shop. This is more like a theme park attraction for glamorous adults.

One of the most impressive art installations in the maison is the exhibition by Katie Grand. She has designed a selection of mannequins, which stand in a temporary exhibition space, wearing pieces from past season Louis Vuitton ready to wear collections. The seasons have all been muddled together and this has curiously created a collection of its own entirely. It’s an interesting take on a celebration of Louis Vuitton ready to wear, much more creative than just having a carbon mannequin copy of catwalk looks.

As you walk around the store – or maison, although there are some fantastic and creative designs and architecture, you never get the impression that that’s all Louis Vuitton are trying to do, just give you an experience. Clothes and accessories have been specifically placed around the shop and there is definitely a focus on the products. Whether we’ll all enjoy this type of shopping environment is another matter. But one thing is for sure, Louis Vuitton have worked hard to make their customers smile and they have geared everything in the store towards celebrating the brand. 




Live blogging with Sketchbook Magazine at The Live Issue launch on May 5th at the The Future Gallery in London.