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Buying Guide

Nine beautiful luxury sex toys

As sex toy designer Adele Brydges told Libertine about her ceramic collection (second image), "I wanted to design pieces that were beautiful in their own right." Here's our selection of intimate objects taking form and function in equal measure. Crowned Jewels' titanium products (first image), designed and made in Britain, are put through rigorous quality testing. "Titanium is very hard metal to work in and it has taken all our combined jewellery and engineering skills to achieve the products we make today," says goldsmith and jewellery designer Victoria Jane, Crowned Jewels' Creative Director. Coco De Mer's glass toys (third image) are handblown in England; Swedish brand LELO - famous for selling one of the most expensive vibrators in the world: a 24-karat gold plated vibrator that costs £9,000 - make sleek, sophisticated electronic products (fourth image).

Image 1: Crowned Jewels
From left to right: Mayfair dildo in titanium, £188. Buy here. Upminster butt plug in titanium, £138. Buy here. Sterling silver Ben Wa pleasure balls, £660. Buy here.
Image 2: Adele Brydges
Rose print small ceramic butt plug, £95. Buy here. Hot and cold ceramic dildo, £150. Buy here.
Image 3: Coco De Mer
Bottle Stopper small glass butt plug, £75. Buy here.
Image 4: LELO products, stocked by Sh! London
Smart wand, large, £109. Buy here. Lily vibrator, £69. Buy here.  

Buying guide: discovery

1. Big backpack, Bowndling, £118. Buy here. 15% off from April - May '15 with the code BxLIBERTINE15. 2. Passport cover, £32 and luggage tag, £15, Buy here. 3. Farmers' foot cream and hand cream, both £4. Buy here. 4. Libertine dateless diary and travel directory, £10. Buy here. 5. How to connect with Nature, Tristan Gooley, The School of Life, £7.99. Buy here. 6. NomadClip featuring a USB cable and a carabiner clip for charging your phone, Nomad, £26.59. Buy here. 7. Supersized salvage eye mask featuring material salvaged from planes, Here Today Here Tomorrow; £20. Buy here. 8. Momentum wireless black headphones, Sennheiser, £379.99. Buy here. 9. Where Chefs Eat, Phaidon, £14.95. Buy here.          

The rough with the smooth

In her essay The Used Future Manifesto, Kate Mew argued in defence of visible mechanics and against seamless design. We've interpreted the brief literally in this accompanying buying guide - which side are you on? Image 1: IMPOSTOR THEORY Clockwise left to right:

Multiplier desk fan, £219.99,; Georg Jensen ‘Alfredo’ limited edition teapot, £230,; Devialet integrated amplifier, from £4,490 at Image 2: THE DARK SIDE Top to bottom:

Teo by Lucy D teaspoon, £15,; Alex earrings by john + pearl, £29,; Mobius ring, £165, Image 3: SHOW YOUR WORKINGS....part 1

Clockwise from left: Revolver ring by Hattie  Rickards, £6,050 at Dover Street Market; Rotary skeleton pocketwatch,  £219,  Image 4: SHOW YOUR WORKINGS....part 2 Clockwise from left: Alex Monroe lock locket, £240,; Raw Crown ring by Hattie Rickards, £4,800 at Dover Street Market; Elyona hexagonal ring in black, £109, and gold with Swarovski, £140,; Image 5: 

EXPOSED! Top to bottom: Crystal bulb with fitting, £189,; Jadis i-35 integrated valve amplifier, £5,500,; Pipework Candelabra Two by Nick Fraser, £39, Styling Eoin Dillon, photography Nicholas Kay

Pretty in ink

Image 1: clockwise from left: Princesse Grace de Monaco Fountain Pen, mont blanC, £630; Intuition Platino Wood Fountain Pen in Grenadilla, Graf von Faber Castell, £695; Caelographe, Caran D’ache, £3,500,

Image 2: clockwise from left:

Intuition fountain pen in Terra, Graf von Faber Castell, £330; Guilloche Fountain Pen in Coral, Graf von Faber Castell, £280; Johnson & Boswell Fountain Pen, silver black and silver pink, both thomas lyte, £185

Image 3: clockwise from left:

Viceroy Grand fountain pen, Victorian finish, Yard-O-LEd, £570; Perles fountain pen, caran d’ache, £599; Anello Fountain Pen in Titanium, Graf von Faber Castell, £535; Esprit white diamond cut fountain pen, £400, yard-o-led

Styling Francesca Pinna. 

Photography Kevin Davis

What does Chinese wine taste like?

Chinese wine production has a history stretching back to 2,600 BC. Cultivation was still going strong when Marco Polo visited Xinjiang Province, and the first commercial winery, established in Yantai in 1892, is still operated today by Changyu, one of China’s largest wine corporations. But it's only in the last 30 years that the Chinese government has actively encouraged the development of vineyards and wineries. This was a prescient move: while the domestic appetite for wine may have slowed down slightly in recent years, for a time China was seeing a 25% annual growth in consumption and remains the fifth-largest wine market in the world. Today, most Chinese wine is sold domestically, but as more wines win gold medals at international shows that could well change.

Still experimenting
So, what does it taste like? Inspired by the famous wines of France and Germany, China has planted the majority of its vineyards to four varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay and Riesling. It also has two local grapes: Cabernet Gernischt (with a similar taste to Cabernet Franc) and Dragon’s Eye, which creates a white wine with a sweet floral note. Local winemakers are also currently experimenting with other grape varietals, to determine which grow best in different regions. The north is producing some excellent ice wines made with Vidal Blanc, Riesling and indigenous grapes. The majority of the wines are made in a lighter style, from 12% to 13% alcohol, with a fruity New World taste and no to moderate oak. However, some of the more expensive reds tend to emulate Bordeaux with heavier oak and complex earthy and herbal notes. The quality ranges from acrid, oxidized, bitter wines to exquisite, perfectly balanced award winners. Since most of the wineries in China are quite new, they won’t export until they know the quality is there. There are exceptions, however, such as ... More

Package tours

We asked the residents of eight cities to gather together the objects and ideas that most characterise the places they live in, box them up, and pop them in the post. The results lift the lid on daily life in some of the world’s most fascinating places.

Michelle Carey is Artistic Director of the Melbourne International Film Festival. Snack: Rum balls from Piedimonte’s supermarket. Drink: Pomegranate, cardamom and vanilla juice from Mitte Cafe. Postcard: Skipping Girl Vinegar sign, a Melbourne icon. Newspaper/magazine: The Lifted Brow, the place to go for new Australian writing. Tourist trinket: Street art stickers. Melbourne is famous for its street art scene. Book: The Danger Game by Kalinda Ashton is set in Brunwsick, an inner city suburb of Melbourne. Wild card item: A bike, the ultimate Melbourne accessory. What is your earliest memory of the city? Buying a gigantic bear in an artisanal city toy shop somewhere in the 80s. What most represents the city to you? Crossing the Merri Creek Trail bridge at sunset, looking at the skyline in all its neon majesty above the treetops while bats pass overhead. Insider’s tip: I love to visit any one of the great cafes near my home (Mitte is a favourite, as well as A Minor Place or Gypsy Hideout) with a good book.
Claudia Huber-Hicks is a nurse. She is from London but has lived in Singapore since July 2013. Snack: Mooncake is a Chinese baked delicacy eaten during the mid-autumn festival. It is filled with red bean or lotus paste and is very much an acquired taste. Drink: Tiger Beer was launched in 1932, and was Singapore’s first locally brewed beer. You see “It’s time for a Tiger” adverts almost everywhere you ... More

Trivia on tap

To me, beer is the most versatile alcoholic drink around. It goes with friends, sporting occasions, any kind of food, and it goes down well when you're having a quiet night in – what’s not to love? But I happen to know that for too many women their first experience with beer is generally a bad one.

A pint for the lady, by the lady?
Did you know that traditionally women were the brewers? The word ‘brewster’ meant female brewer and was probably coined in mediaeval times when the fairer sex brewed and sold nearly all the beer in England, which also meant they controlled the flow of booze to their husbands. This was also one of the few ways for women who had been cast off, divorced or widowed to earn a crust while vertical.
Nectar of the gods
Believe it or not, the oldest known recipe is for beer. When archaeologists discovered a 4,000-year-old Mesopotamian clay tablet, it turned out to be a beer recipe – handed down from the god Enki no less, the deity for water, craft and mischief. In the same region, the Sumerians were ardent worshippers of Ninkasi, daughter of Enki and goddess of beer. In fact, clay tablets have been found with hymns on them praising her production of this wondrous drink.
One for the long road
Those enterprising Babylonians made 16 kinds of beer, using everything from white and black barley to wheat and honey, and the ancient Egyptians weren’t averse to a pint or two either. In fact, the great Rameses II had massive breweries capable of producing 30,000 barrels of beer a year and if you wanted a tipple in the afterlife then your brew was buried with you.
The tippling point
Britain’s amazing brewing history continues to have a huge influence on brewing styles ... More

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