Friday 29 April 2016

Reggie Yates Unzips The Fur Trade

In a shocking expose for the BBC, presenter Reggie Yates finds out what conditions are like inside a Siberian fur farm.

As part of his latest documentary, Inside The Billionaire's Wardrobe, Reggie travelled to Russia to explore the fur trade. It's big business: sable and mink coats trade for six-figure sums, and the market is expanding. Despite protests and shifts in public attitudes, there's been a 70% increase in fur sales over the last decade.

The show is wide and broad in its remit, travelling with Reggie to Indonesia, Australia and Siberia to examine the skin trade in all its forms, from python skin to all sorts of fur. But it's in Siberia that we see the most affecting footage.

Reggie, on a visit to a Siberian fur farm, is shown the conditions in which the mink and sables are kept. Racked in cages that are clearly too small, they constantly scamper and wheel about. "They need to keep moving to stay warm," the breeder tells Reggie, oblivious or uncaring to the fact that the cages are open to the brutal Russian winter outside. Reggie's insistent questioning that perhaps the cages aren't humane are met with glib excuses – "the cages are sufficient for their needs." One look at the footage, which clearly shows how distressed these active, intelligent animals are in captivity, will persuade you otherwise.

Reggie Yates keeps a proper journalistic distance from the subject, allowing us to judge for ourselves. The fur trade is notorious for its callous attitude towards the creatures it exploits for profit, and Inside The Billionaire's Wardrobe puts a bright light on that gilded, brutal world.

Broadcast on Tuesday, you can watch the show through the BBC iPlayer until May 25th. It's well worth a look, if you want some perspective on why so many people are angry about fur.

Wednesday 27 April 2016

POP: Grimes And Stella McCartney Team Up For Sustainability

We're naturally big fans of Stella McCartney here at The Pier. She's one of the big voices calling out for sustainable fashion, and she walks it like she talks it. Her clothes have taken the lead in ethical sourcing with a clear sense of mission and forward thinking. She's a bit of a hero round these parts.

Like every other big-name fashion designer, Stella also has a range of perfumes. With the launch of her latest scent, POP (yes, it's all caps), she's amping up the sustainability message, with the clever use of a very unexpected face to showcase the brand.

It would be easy to get a music star on board to promote POP–the clue is in the name, after all. But instead of a boring mainstream choice, Stella has chosen to work with Claire Boucher, the edgy electronic artist better known as Grimes. Claire's latest album, Art Angel, has been lauded as one of the best releases of last year by many music journos, and she's become a pretty big name in the charts.

Grimes shares a lot of Stella's values. She's vocal on environmental issues and animal rights, supporting causes like The National Observer, a magazine that reports on the environment for whom she auctioned off artwork last year. The pairing of Stella and Grimes is a natural fit, and the just-released advert for POP makes the chemistry obvious.

The connection goes deeper, as in the ad Grimes explicitly talks about sustainability in fashion. It's a clever move, slipped into an advert that could otherwise have been a generic perfume promo aimed at young women. But the clues are there throughout. Stella has said of POP:

“POP is a spirit. It’s about capturing and celebrating that very special and exciting time when you are finding yourself and coming into your own. It’s about freedom, and starting your life away from judgments or labels.”
By choosing Grimes to front the campaign, Stella is making a sharp point about the fashion industry in which she is trying to make changes. It's not agit-prop by any means, but the message couldn't be clearer–sustainable fashion is a cool, smart choice for free-thinking girls.

Check out the ad below. POP is available wherever perfume is sold.

 And while we're at it, let's have a little something from Grimes' day job.

Tuesday 26 April 2016

One Year On, The People Of Nepal Still Suffer

It's been a year and a day since the devastating earthquake in Nepal that took hundreds of lives and left thousands stranded in remote areas without aid. A disaster like this causes all manner of changes, flipping an ordered and quiet existance upside down in a moment.

You hear a lot of grumbling about foreign aid from certain dark corners of the press and even government, but the fact remains that disaster relief funds are usually raised quickly, and in large amounts. It's estimated that £3bn was donated within the first month of pushing out the call for donations.

But many of those directly affected by the disaster are still yet to see a rupee of the money promised to help them rebuild. After initial supply drops of emergency food and shelter, there has been a big load of nothing for thousands of people who are still living in supposedly temporary shacks next to the rubble of their homes.

The problem is twofold–bureaucracy and corruption. The release of funds to villagers who want to rebuild is tied to a set of restrictions and safety relegations that are nearly impossible to comply to. Houses have to be built according to strict guidelines for earthquake preparedness, and approval is a lengthy process. Many, sick of the wait, have begun reconstruction without waiting for this approval, instantly rendering themselves ineligible for aid. The amount of money on offer is also contentious–many claim that the grants would barely cover the construction of one room, let lone a house.

None of this is helped by the fact that the price of building materials themselves have gone through the roof. Fuelled by a month-long blockade of the Indian border by protesters of a new Nepalese constitution, the cost of basic supplies like sand for mortar has gone up by more than 40%.

The big problem for charities and NGOs on the ground is that they are now viewed with mistrust by the very people they are trying to help. As funds disappear into bureaucratic black holes or the pockets of corrupt local officials, somehow the blame for the slow dispersal of funds has fallen onto the shoulders of organisations like Save The Children and the World Food Programme. A widely shared article in a Nepalese newspaper, Himal Kubar, accused NGOs of hanging onto 40% of donations for administration and salaries. Charities are now fighting a PR battle, forced to defend their choices–salary costs, for example, are most likely to go to the cost of doctors on the ground rather than simply doling out wheelchairs and crutches. As ever, the losers of this fight are the earthquake victims.

Our View: It's terrible to see that, over a year after the disaster, help is not getting to the people that need it the most. Nepal, mired in political infighting, bureaucracy and corruption, should be doing better by its people. At the moment, though, that seems like an almost impossible task.



Friday 22 April 2016

He Got The Look

It's very difficult to stick to the usual remit in the face of awful news, and the untimely passing of Prince Nelson Rogers has thoroughly distracted me. His death has sent most music fans, and especially the generation that grew up loving his music, into a flat spin.

How do you try to sum up a career that spanned not just music but film, performance and (most importantly for this blog) fashion? Let's face it, the guy looked good. All the time. Even when he looked ridiculous he pulled it off. No other male performer could wear stack heels and a belly shirt and still be so inarguably powerful. He had the cheekbones. He had the strut. He redefined what it was to be both manly and sexy.

Prince's fashion choices were always unusual, yet locked into the work he was doing at the time. From the thigh-boots and raincoat of the Dirty Mind years, to the peach and black of Sign O'The Times, to the three-eyed shades and Afro of his most recent project with the band 3rdEyeGirl, everything he did was carefully considered and project-relevant.

Yes, he was eccentric, irascible, contrary. His stance on the Internet, on file-sharing and copyright, on his own status within a corporate structure (remember The Artist Formally Known As Prince years?) seemed to be at best counter-productive, at worst downright regressive. He was secretive, gnomic, mysterious. His complex at Paisley Park in Minneapolis is filled with hidden, never-released musical gems. Will we finally start to see and hear the pick of them? Who knows? Maybe there's a codicil in his will that has all his master tapes loaded into a giant purple Viking barge along with his body, towed into the Minnesota River and set on fire. I wouldn't put it past him.

Prince's influence is almost absurdly long-reaching and deep-set. The very fact that monuments around the world were lit purple last night tells it all. The dude had his own signature colour.

It would be easy to end this with a well-known track, but instead let's finish with a moment that sums Prince up perfectly. It's taken from a concert celebrating George Harrison in 2004. He doesn't even show up until late in the performance, but when he does, boy, he takes over. That was Prince all over. Show up late, look good, blow the roof off the joint. Watch for the moment just before he leaves the stage when he sheds his guitar and flings it into the air. It never comes down.

Just one more of Prince's little miracles.

Praise B 2 U.

Wednesday 20 April 2016

H&M: A Transparent Need For Change

In a week when H&M have tried to muscle into the events leading up to the anniversary of Rana Plaza, some news has emerged that the high street giant might not want us to know about.

It's emerging that the company has faced criticism and demands for urgent remedial action after many of their supplier factories were found to have inadequate or fire exits. This was, of course, one of the main reasons that so many people lost their lives in the Rana Plaza disaster–workers simply couldn't get out of the building in time.

An inspection for the Bangladesh Accord, undertaken after a fire at one of H&M's suppliers in February, found that dozens of deadlines had been missed to bring safety standards up to code. Exits were blocked or locked, and the only reason that more workers were not injured or killed was that the fire broke out early in the morning, before most people had arrived for their shifts.

In response to H&M's foot-dragging over work that they explicitly agreed to carry out as signatories to the Bangladesh Accord, a coalition of protest groups including Clean Clothes Campaign and the International LAbour Rights Forum have called for a week of protests. These will culminate in demos in Sweden to coincide with H&M's AGM on May 3rd. Find out more about the protests at

This is not the story that H&M wanted us to be talking about, as they go full-tilt into World Recycle Week, a stunt that aims to give the brand some serious ethical kudos. Unfortunately for them, protests have already taken place outside stores in London's West End, and the noise is only likely to grow as campaigners demand real change.

It's not all bad news for H&M, though. They've featured very highly in Fashion Revolution's new Transparency Index, which aims to show how open the big brands are being about their supply chain. In fact, they're one of only three companies to make it into the top rank, alongside Inditex and Levi Strauss. Ordinarily, that would be something to shout about. Sadly, it looks like that good news may be drowned out in the face of cries for H&M to start delivering on their promises.

Tuesday 19 April 2016

How To Start A #FashionRevolution



It's a busy week for ethical fashion as we move towards the anniversary of the Rana Plaza disaster on April 24th. You may have already seen the adverts that H&M have launched for their Recycle Week, featuring rapper M.I.A.

As we've already mentioned, the H&M event is something of a newbie, and may even be treading on the toes of the independent celebration of ethical fashion that is Fashion Revolution. Here at the Pier, we believe that FashRev is a great way to shout loudly about the issues affecting modern fashion, and getting the big brands to pay attention.

So what's it all about? Founded in 2013 by eco-fashionistas Orsola De Castro and Carry Somers, Fashion Revolution aims to get us talking about the people that make our clothes–people like those that lost their lives when the criminally unsafe Rana Plaza building collapsed and took the lives of over a thousand workers. It's a week of protest, sure. But it's also a week to have fun.

Vloggers and bloggers across the globe are sharing their #haulternatives–a response to YouTubers bragging about their latest fashion purchases. With pics and videos of their latest thrift store or pre-loved buys, and tips on how to upcycle and restore the hidden treasures in your wardrobe, the focus is less on consumption than creation. The popularity of #haulternative videos and blog posts is only growing. Check out the hashtag, and if you're that way inclined, why not make your own?

Here's another hashtag for you: #whomademyclothes? This idea first put FashRev on the map, focussing attention on the people behind the clothes. The idea is simple. Take a selfie wearing an inside-out item of clothing that clearly displays the manufacturers label. Then reach out to that brand on your favourite social media vector, asking them a simple question–who made my clothes? It's a protest, a way of showing awareness and in some ways a neat inversion of fashion narrative. The one thing you're not supposed to do when taking pics of clothing is show the label.

Brands across the planet are already seeing their Twitter and Facebook feeds taken over by #whomademyclothes, and the pressure is only going to build as the week goes on. It's a great way to get involved in one of the cleverest protest movements of the past few years, and it means you get to show off one of your favourite garms in the process!

Well, in an inside-out kind of a way.

This year FashRev is going a step further and releasing a Fashion Transparency Index, applauding the brands who are prepared to tell us who made our clothes. That's going to be a document that changes, and I get the feeling that change could be rapid as more and more people start asking the same question.

Joining the revolution couldn't be easier. Get yourself over to and find out more, then start sharing your inside-out pics.

Forget H&M. This is the movement that's really going to make a difference.


Thursday 14 April 2016

Ethical Silk: Luxury With A Conscience.

Silk brings many associations to mind. Luxurious, expensive, indulgent. But ethical and good for you? Probably not. Well let's reconsider that.
Despite its feather light feel and breathable quality, silk is incredibly effective at temperature regulation. It helps the body retain warmth in colder weather and expel heat in warm weather, making it the perfect, all year round wardrobe staple. It boasts hypoallergenic properties and the fabric's extremely soft texture also makes it a wonderful option for individuals suffering from sensitive skin conditions. All in all, a sensible choice if, like me, you're a sensitive soul.
With that in mind, we're delighted to highlight an Irish-based boutique who specialise in silk with an ethical twist. The Ethical Silk Company are launching a new range of loungewear, but they have always had a good base range of items crafted from speciality Ahimsa Peace Silk.

Silk is, of course, a naturally produced fibre made by silkworms. But the Ethical Silk Company only use mulberry silk, sourced by an Indian company, Ahimsa Silk, that supplies the fibre extracted after the worm has completed metamorphosis and emerged from its cocoon. This non-violent and eco-friendly harvesting technique is obviously more animal-friendly, and ties into an ethos that respects every part of the process that goes into making the garments. Once harvested, the Ethical Silk Company tasks Jaipur based fair-trade tailoring unit Mehera Shaw to precision craft every item, ensuring exceptional quality.

With a focus on both style and comfort, the new loungewear collection is the perfect way to indulge this summer. Garments include sumptuously soft silk robes, sexy camisole and short sets, elegant under slips, versatile vests and ultra-comfortable palazzo style pants.
This new collection introduces the artisan craft of block printing. The silk is printed by hand to create unique pieces, a centuries old tradition in India. The range is available in four colours - ivory, the natural colour of mulberry silk, lunar grey and two original block prints - teal and grey/coral and grey. Designed so the pieces can be matched and interchanged with any of the colours of the range, this new collection celebrates versatility and style while enjoying the pure comfort of natural mulberry silk.
Eva Power, founder of The Ethical Silk Company says:
"We've been working on a new line for several months now and can't wait to unveil the collection. Subtle, stylish and inherently opulent, the loungewear range is the perfect way to bring a touch of luxury and comfort to indoor wardrobes."
But there's more. The Ethical Silk Company also stock pure silk pillowcases–a luxurious gift with unprecedented benefits for the skin and hair. The pillowcases are indulgent yet practical, perfect for women who want to look after their hair. Did you know that sleeping on silk helps to retain hair's natural moisture and prevent breakage? Silk pillowcases are the perfect luxury present for someone who has everything with the added bonus of being machine washable.
True to its name, The Ethical Silk Company not only sources responsibly harvested silk but is also an active contributor to global communities. 10% of all profits are donated to charity - 5% to homeless cause Focus Ireland and 5% to Thenis Jeevan Jyothi AIDS Centre in India.
For more information on the Ethical Silk Co and to browse the online collection of stunning silk creations, visit:

Wednesday 13 April 2016

The Long Walk To Delete Blood Cancer

We're happy to support our friends in the charity sector, and Delete Blood Cancer are a cause that is always worth bigging up. Their mission: to get people involved in blood stem cell donations with a simple five minute cheek swab, and help rub out one of the most pernicious forms of cancer.

A couple who are relatively local to the Pier32 compound are taking on a big challenge to raise funds and awareness for the charity. Tom and Mandy Giannandrea, who are from Caterham in Surrey, hope to raise hundreds of pounds for Delete Blood Cancer UK by walking from London to Brighton on the 28th and 29th of May.

A blood stem cell donation is the only chance of survival for many blood cancer patients who will die if a matching donor isn’t found for them. The problem is in finding that donor. If you're not registered, you could potentially be holding the key to saving a life, and yet no-one will know. A matching donor not being found doesn’t mean that there is nobody with a tissue type compatible with the patient. That's why Delete Blood Cancer UK works so hard to increase the numbers of people registered as potential blood stem cell donors.

Mandy tells us the story of why she and Tom decided to burn shoe leather for Delete Blood Cancer:

“We have been inspired to do this after watching a little girl I used to care for called Evie fight blood cancer. Evie has been fighting leukaemia and myelodysplasia since 2014, and last year she was told that in order to survive she would need a blood stem cell donation. Against all of the odds, a match was found in America and she received her donation. Evie has been through so much at such a young age, but amazingly, through it all she has always had the biggest smile on her face. This image will help us to complete this challenge!”

Jenny Clegg, Head of Communications at Delete Blood Cancer UK, is full of praise for the plucky couple, saying:

“It is fantastic that Tom and Mandy are walking from London to Brighton to help those in need of a blood stem cell donation. We are so grateful to them for fundraising for us. Not only will it raise valuable funds for the charity, it will raise awareness of the importance of registering as a potential blood stem cell donor.”

You can support Tom and Mandy by donating at:

Just as importantly, why not consider registering as a potential blood stem cell donor? You can register in five minutes online and request a cheek swab kit. It will enable you to do your own tissue test and get on the database to maybe one day become a blood stem cell donor. Your first stop is the Delete Blood Cancer UK website:


Here at The Pier we wish Tom and Mandy all the best and good luck for the long walk ahead. May the road rise up to meet you.


Pier32 supply Starworld t-shirts and sports vests to Delete Blood Cancer in two different styles:


Monday 11 April 2016

Breaking The Chain

The global supply chain. If there's one motor for the fast profit-driven ride that fast fashion has undertaken, it's the ability to source, manufacture and import goods from anywhere on the planet. Cheap labour and material have driven down prices (and, many would argue, quality) to the point where clothing is often now viewed as a 'buy, wear once and bin' convenience item.

But the global supply chain is a hugely complex beast, and it has its weak spots. The British Standards Institution (BSI) have just released their annual report which lists the threats and problems that give high street giants a multi-billion dollar headache every year. It makes for a fascinating read.

Take piracy. BSI estimates that over $22bn of losses last year were due to cargo theft. A new wrinkle is the massive growth in South Africa and China of raids on cargo trucks, easy pickings for the dandy highwayman. This type of vehicular crime was up 30% on last year, and is set to rise further as more naughty chaps get in on the road games.

Global warming and natural disasters are also a big problem for stretched supply chains. Weather disruptions from storms caused by El NiƱa have caused breaks in the chain totalling $33bn. This is before we start factoring in the potential losses from crop destruction that led to a strong showing from many global fashion brands at last year's big climate summit in Paris.

When you look at events on a global scale, you see how everything is connected. Terrorism and the refugee crisis all have impacts on the efficient movement of goods across the planet. Road, sea and rail links can become blocked, and terrorist events go after everything–transport hubs being a prime target, of course.

There are more subtle sources at play, too. The shift of manufacturing to South-East Asia and a general slowing in demand is hitting the Chinese labour market. The result? An uptick in industrial action, slowdowns and stoppages. Factory strikes in China were up nearly 60% last year, as owners struggled to pay their employees. The BSI also notes that even if things improve, strikes are still likely, as emboldened workers become less tolerant of abuses from their employers. These days, garment and footwear workers have access to tips on better jobs with improved pay and conditions thanks to mobile technology. The Chinese workforce is more likely than ever to vote with their feet if they find their management isn't up to scratch. It's just another example of how the most unexpected of influences can have huge effects on a global trade.

Our View: Global fashion is a multi-billion dollar industry, and it's clear there's a ton of money to be made–and lost. Business models depend more and more on just-in-time delivery, and factories and farms that play nicely with spreadsheets and carefully-modelled computer predictions. As we've seen, the world has a way of taking that idea and merrily stamping on its toes.

You can read the whole BSI report here.


Friday 8 April 2016

Are H&M Stepping On Fashion Revolution's Toes?

We're coming up on Fashion Revolution Day. Founded to commemorate the Rana Plaza collapse by Eco-fashionistas Cary Somers and Orsola De Castro, the purpose of the event is to highlight ethical issues such as transparency in the supply chain. But it's done in a beautifully simple and irreverent way. Last April, the #hauternatives initiative, in which vloggers celebrated vintage and upcycled fashion finds, gained 24 million impressions on social media. It's a real ethical success story.

And it's about to be hijacked.

High street juggernaut H&M, whose loudly-espoused ethical credentials are viewed with suspicion by many in the know, are choosing the same week as Fashion Revolution Day to launch their own initiative for 2016: World Recycle Week. Essentially it's a drop-off scheme similar to those already in place by M&S, Gift Your Gear and others. You drop off your clothes, you get H&M vouchers, and the brand pledges to recycle those items into fresh clothes.

In a scathing article, ethical fashion writer Lucy Seigel tears into both the timing and the mechanics behind World Recycle Week. H&M are pledging to recapture 1000 tons of fabric for recycling. But there's no clear idea of how they're going to do this with mixed fibres and items where a tiny percentage of the total weight is suitable for recycling in the first place.

But it's the choice of calender date for the event that really angers Siegel. Why choose a week that already hosts a successful independent ethical fashion initiative? You have to wonder if it's a coat-tail riding exercise or worse, an attempt to lessen the impact Fashion Revolution Day has. Lucy says:

"To some this may sound an eccentric turf war, but it’s much more important than that. Fashion Revolution is one of the only chances an active engaged citizen – note the reprieve here from the term “consumer” – gets to challenge the fast food, fast tech, fast fashion, hegemony without interference from corporations. It must not be hijacked and greenwashed.

The View will of course be celebrating Fashion Revolution Day with gusto, as we have since it was founded. In some ways, I guess we can view H&M's bullying attempt to get in on the action as a kind of compliment. At least they're taking this whole ethical fashion thing a bit more seriously now.

Wednesday 6 April 2016

School's In! How Bangladehsi Garment Workers Are Getting An Education

It's very easy to to turn the garment workers of Bangladesh into victims. They are poorly paid and treated, often working in awful conditions and with little in the way of prospects. Oh dear, what a shame. Let's donate to a charity fund and move on.

Of course, the story is much more complex than that, and the people behind that story have hopes, dreams and ambitions beyond the factory floor. Allowing opportunity into the workplace can have surprising benefits.

Sarah Lazarus for The Guardian recently reported on a scheme launched by the Asian University for Women (AUW), that offers garment workers a free education. It can be a huge step forward for women who are expected to spend their lives supporting their families on little money.

The AUW was founded in 2008, with funding coming from The Bill And Melinda Gates Foundation and The IKEA Foundation. It's a regional university, which allows students from 15 countries across India and Asia to attend. The focus, according to founder Kamal Ahmed, is on talent rather than profit. She says:

“...our cardinal principle is to recruit the most talented people, irrespective of background”.

All of which seems fine in principle, but there's still a tricky balancing act to be performed to get female garment workers into college. For one thing, their employers have to be persuaded to keep paying their wages while they are studying. Without that money the women would simply be unable to attend.

In a perverse way, the Rana Plaza collapse has helped the cause. Bangladeshi garment factories have suffered from an awful reputation since April 2013. Letting managers publicly support their workers in such an altruistic manner is a great way to improve their standing. So far, five factories have signed up to the scheme, and 22 workers have made it into this year's intake. Competition was fierce, with over 650 applicants fighting for a place. Let's be clear: this is no giveaway. Applicants need a high school education to make it onto the list in the first place, and the entrance exams are tough. The idea is to inspire and encourage the hidden talent forced into a poorly-paid and unstimulating job due to family and financial pressure.

The other big takeaway from the scheme is the spotlight it puts onto women's education as a whole. Rather than the traditional Bangladeshi view that it's a waste of time to send women to school, there is a major uptick in interest, as Sonia Akter, in her fourth year at AUW discovered:

“When I left my village, members of the community criticised my mother for allowing me to go, but their attitudes are changing because they have seen what I’ve achieved. To visit home, I have to walk from the bus station to the village. It used to take 30 minutes. Now it takes at least two hours because so many people come to talk to me. The same people who used to believe that educating girls was pointless are starting to want the same for their daughters. If I can make female education popular in my village, then I can do it for the whole of Bangladesh.”

Our View: any scheme that makes education more accessible is a very good thing. Giving garment workers the chance to transcend their backgrounds and likely career path is even better. This is a story that has no down side, and shows that even on the factory floors of Bangladesh, there can be hope for a better tomorrow.


Monday 4 April 2016

A Bag For Life

Every since the ban on free plastic bags in the UK came in late last year, there has been a boom in what are euphemistically called 'bags for life'. That is, slightly sturdier plastic bags that you're supposed to reuse until they wear out, after which the store you bought them from will replace them for free.

What happens, of course, is the darn things still end up breeding under the sink. And because they're sturdier, they'll be there for a looooong time.

There are other alternatives. The clever little zip-up bags made out of recycled drinks bottles are a pretty reasonable alternative–they close down into such a tiny package that you can stick them in a pocket. Or there's the good old tote bag. Durable, good-looking and long-lasting. A shopping bag for the ages. But you have to pay for them.

Well, actually, no you don't. If you use this clever tip from Skillshare, you can quickly and easily make a tote from an old t-shirt. Best of all, if you're a fumble-fingered twerp like me, there's no sewing involved! Five minutes with a pair of scissors and a few knots and you have the perfect bag to get your weekly veggie run home in a stylish fashion. And of course, you're doing your bit to keep that t-shirt out of landfill. Well done, you!

For all the details, head over to Skillshare and check out the video. There are plenty of other hints, tips and wrinkles on the site as well, helping you to make the best out of what you already own.



Friday 1 April 2016

A Change Of Direction

Gerry's recent announcement of a career break has had me thinking. I'm proud of the View From The Pier and what we've achieved with it, but it's a good idea to freshen things up a bit

So I'm excited and pleased to announce that starting today, April 1st, The View From The Pier is changing direction. We are now a site dedicated to food and cookery, with a focus on sustainable ingredients. With that in mind, and as it's Friday, let's start with a fish dish: Cod With Peas And Parsley. This Spanish-influenced dish will brighten up dinner time, and it's a snap to put together. So whaddya say? Let's get cooking!

In a cold pan, combine a couple of cloves of sliced garlic with a good glug of olive or English rapeseed oil. Bring them to a gentle simmer over a medium heat, while you finely chop a handful of flat leaf parsley. When the garlic is golden and fragment, stir a tablespoon of flour into the pan, and mix to form a roux. Let it cook until the raw smell of flour is gone–it should take no more than a minute. Throw in your parsley at this point.

Then add a glassful of white wine (a white Rioja would be perfect for this) and simmer briefly, before adding a little stock (fish, preferably, but chicken stock will do). You should end up with a sauce that's about as thick as double cream.

Now throw in a handful of frozen peas, and let them cook for another minute.

OK, time for the fish. A couple of fillets of sustainably-caught cod (or hake makes a great and even more ocean-friendly alternative) cut in half width-wise. Add them to the pan, skin-side down, and let them cook for three minutes. Turn them gently at this point (the fish should be fragile and may fall apart a little) and cook until the fish is cooked through–another three minutes should do it.

Once you've turned the fish, a great addition is seafood. Clams work brilliantly, but prawns or mussels will also do the job admirably. If you're using prawns or clams, cook until they open, for prawns until they go pink.

And that's it! Finish with a little more chopped parsley over the top, and serve with bread or rice to mop up the sauce. I think that's a great little dish to celebrate Spring flavours, and quick enough to serve as a weekday supper.

Here's a link to the full recipe.

Happy eating!