The founder of Muddy Stilettos, the online urbane guide to the countryside, gives us the inside track to her life online.

This is Hero Brown. She is the founder and owner of the influencer network and online magazine, Muddy Stilettos, a digital publication targeting urbane, smart, fun-loving women living outside of London. Before moving to rural Buckinghamshire, Hero was a glossy magazine editor; she edited the lifestyle magazine at The Independence on Sunday and was subsequently Deputy Editor at Red Magazine. Now Hero runs Muddy Stilettos, the self-styled ‘urban guide to the countryside,’ considered the most influential lifestyle site in the UK for women living outside London. Her website covers everything from eating out, beauty, fashion and travel in nineteen counties and is compiled by a team of national journalists; each editor covering the county in which she lives. Here Hero recommends her favourite sites, apps and podcasts.

My favourite website… for arts and culture, my go-to is The Guardian. It’s hard to beat Anthropologie for shopping, though I’m more of a browser rather than a buyer online. I still like to touch and feel and try stuff on. I’m not above the Daily Mail showbiz coverage when I’m feeling morally weak either.

My favourite app… Seven - It’s a fitness app that whistles at you and asks if you have seven minutes to exercise as that’s all you need to do its mini workout. I never ever take the seven minutes it asks as I’m so relentlessly busy but I love being asked.

My blog of choice… I’m not madly into blogs these days – ironic I know! But one I respect is That’s Not My Age - Not because I’m ‘that age’ (quite yet!) but because the best blogs have a real truth and editorial integrity to intelligence too, and this is definitely one of them.

My internet hero… It has to be Ada Lovelace doesn’t it? It’s pretty amazing to the creator of the first computer program. Or, not exactly ‘internet’ hero but I think Bill Gates is amazing – so generous to give away his fortune to brilliant causes. Liberating too I bet.

My favourite podcasts... The Guilty Feminist is brilliant. And I’m a bit obsessed with Griefcast, Cariad Lloyd’s podcast about death. Much funnier than it sounds! All the comedians seem to clamour to come on the show which makes it hilarious as well as poignant.

My most recent buy online… a pair of swimming fins and hand paddles. I want to do a triathlon with my daughter next year so I’m taking swimming lessons. I’m desperately unfit so it’s a total embarrassment, but I’m loving the sporty toys.

Book just downloaded/read... I tend to download in enormous blocks of books, usually when I’m about to go on holiday. Most recently, Vanity Fair (inspired because it was on telly and I hadn’t read it since I was a teen), Ma’am Darling (which I totally loved – an untrustworthy memoir of Princess Margaret, Grace: The American Vogue Years (by Vogue Creative Director Grace Coddington) and Undertow by Elizabeth Heathcote who is an old friend of mine and now brilliant crime noir author.

Favourite tweeter… In my opinion you can’t fault James Blunt on Twitter! Witty, self-deprecating, caustic and charming all in one.

Favourite instagrammer… National Geographic Traveller - My adventure fix. I have three young kids and rarely go anywhere without a beach and kids club involved, but one day I’ll do something off grid again.

Social media allowed me to meet… most of my team!

Most worthwhile newsletter subscribed to… Brain Pickings - I subscribed to it years ago – it’s a very grown-up, self-reflective site that often uses literature as a jumping off point to talk about life. Strangely life-affirming!

Pet hate about life online… I spend way too much time sitting down at my computer. Must stretch more.

Stand out online memory… When I first started Muddy Stilettos and middle-aged men from the Home Counties started getting in touch with what they thought was a fetish site. That was an eye opener.

December 2018