Journalist, author and chatelaine of Cliveden House, Natalie Livingstone is one busy woman. Residing in London with her husband Ian, three children and 10-year-old Caverpoo, Natalie juggles family life whilst writing and organising the superb Cliveden Literary Festival – now in its fifth year.
We asked Natalie about her typical morning as part of our series on morning routines for happy women.
What wakes you up in the morning?
I just want to say there’s not a human being on the planet who is happy every day. We all have good days and bad. I get very anxious before the festival. I just want all the guests to have a good time. That said, I’m nothing without coffee.
What’s the very first thing you do on waking?
Every morning I get up and go into my five-year-old daughter’s room.
Do you bounce out of bed or do you need to be dragged from the bed, still clutching your duvet?
If I could find someone to drag me out of bed that would be amazing. But no, when you have children you just have to get up and start the day.
What’s the first thing you eat/drink?
Coffee. I cannot function without it – and it has to be Nescafé Gold Blend. Nothing compares to it. Whenever I’m away, I take a jar with me. As for food, I tend to eat the scraps of my daughter’s breakfast plate. Usually the crusts off her toast.
How do you set the mood for the day?
It’s important for me to try to enter into the day positive and grateful. I also like to be very organised and write endless to-do lists.
Who else shares your morning space?
My husband, Ian. He has is own routine. It’s usually just me and my children doing very normal stuff: breakfast, school run, dog walk.
What’s on the radio/podcast/TV?
Radio: I love Chris Evans’ Breakfast Show on Virgin Radio. He is so brilliant and is a joy to listen to.
Podcast: The last one I listened to was a Chanel podcast. They are brilliant cultural conversations with talent from film, art, architecture, dance, music, and fashion. If you’ve not listened to one yet, I’d definitely recommend them.
TV: I absolutely love watching TV. I’ve just watched Sky Atlantic’s White Lotus. It’s hilarious. So many great characters. The teeangers were so funny.
Books: I love reading! The books I’ve recently finished: Sally Rooney’s new novel Beautiful World Where Are You?… obviously. I’ve just finished reading The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack The Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold. And I adored The Duchess Countess by Catherine Ostler. She writes so beautifully.
From left: Helen Fielding, Kate Weinberg, Paula Byrne and Natalie Livingstone at Cliveden Literary Festival 2019. Image: Cliveden Literary Festival
What inspired you to start the Cliveden Literary Festival?
It originated from my research into Cliveden’s women for my first book, The Mistresses of Cliveden. I discovered Cliveden had hosted many great writers like Alexander Pope and Jonathan Swift to Tennyson. Anyone who was anyone from the global literati was a guest at the house. George Bernard Shaw, J M Barrie, Rudyard Kipling – the list goes on. So the literary festival is about reviving that tradition. Today it’s a very inclusive event where the world’s most interesting thinkers come and talk about things we all ponder. After some of the talks you walk away feeling quite clever.
We have an phenomenal line up this year– Emerald Fennell (Oscar winning writer of Promising Young Woman and one of the Camillas in The Crown); the former head of the CIA General Petraeus will be talking about Afghanistan, Sasha Swire will be debating the power of the political diary, Catherine Ostler will look at the Crazy Rich Georgians, the list goes on. It is an unbelievable privilege to play a part in Cliveden’s history.
What skincare/beauty products do you swear by?
If you can find a product that really works, please let me know. I’d like to have a routine, but sometimes you just have to splash and go. My mum, on the other hand, is fastidious about her skincare routine.
What’s the first thing you do outside?
After the school run. I walk my 10-year-old Caverpoo. Speak to my friends and then start work. I mostly work from home, or I’m in the library, or I’m on an archive trip.
How do you choose what to wear?
If I’m having a writing day. It doesn’t matter what I where. For a meeting I try not to look smart. I’m a sucker for heels. I love shoes. There’s not a particular pair or brand, as long they’re a gorgeous pair of heels.
Can we expect a new book soon?
The Women of Rothschild comes out in November, but you can pre-order. It’s the untold story of the world’s most famous families. The books has taken six years to research and write, so it’s a bit of a labour of love. All of the Rothschild women are extraordinary in their own way. The one who stood out for me is Miriam Rothschild. She was born in 1908 and died 2005. During her lifetime she decoded German wireless messages at Bletchley Park, was a world experts on insects and was given eight honorary doctorates from Oxford and Cambridge.
Cliveden Literary Festival is on 23 – 24 Oct. You can see the full programme here. Saturday, Sunday and Weekend tickets are available and you can get 10% off using the code MUD10 at checkout.You also can win two tickets to the Cliveden Literary Festival, worth £220.