Reviews, Travel

Lake Como & The Grand Tremezzo


Lake Como in the morning fog. Villa Melzi in the distance. All photos in this post courtesy of NHYM 2106. 

Lake Como

As is our tradition, Mr. X and I go away for a weekend on our own at the end of September, since I usually spend the entire summer running around like a clown entertaining my children and need a little ‘Ahhhhh’ breather by the end of it. Each year we choose an appropriately romantic and warm place (Sardinia last year, Santorini the year before). This year, we chose Lake Como, which had been on my to-visit list for some time, but this year it moved up to pole-position. No, I didn’t choose it for George Clooney sightings, but clearly he put Como on the map for many Americans.


Bellagio View from the boat. NHYM 2016. 

Of course, as we all know, I love boats and being on the water, which is one of the reasons I wanted to go to Como. So, as soon as we arrived, we hopped out of the car, and into a boat to visit the lake to do some villa-lusting.


Villa del Balbianello. NHYM 2016. 

One of the most famous villas is of course the Villa del Balbianello, which starred in Casino Royale:


Richard Branson’s villa. NHYM 2016. 

La Cassinella, Richard Branson’s villa, is right next to Villa del Balbianello and can be rented for a mere €90,000 per week.


Mussolini’s villa. NHYM 2016. 

This villa is purported to be one of Mussolini’s villas and near where he was executed in 1945.


Grand Hotel Tremezzo. NHYM 2016. 

The Grand Hotel Tremezzo

We stayed at the Grand Hotel Tremezzo, which immediately made me think of the Grand Hotel Budapest:


A friend recommended this hotel and I really liked it. Firstly, location, location, location. It has a 180 view of Lake Como, sitting across from Bellagio. And it mixes old and contemporary in a seamless way. The photos can tell you the rest:


Corner room with two views. NHYM 2016. 


View towards Bellagio. NHYM 2016. 


Other view from our room towards Villa Balbianello. NHYM 2016. 


Wonderful grand entrance. NHYM 2016. 

 Beach Club. NHYM 2016.
The Tremezzo even has a trendy beach club, great for a drink or dip in the pool.


Front Pool floating on the lake. NHYM 2016. 


Back pool. NHYM 2016. Lovely for children. 


Tremezzo Terrace. NHYM 2016.

From the terrace of the hotel, I was reminded of The Splendido in Portofino, one of my favourite hotels.


Breakfast at the hotel. NHYM 2016. 

Breakfast on the terrace is peaceful and truly wonderful with a panoramic view of the lake. (The food for dinner on the other hand wasn’t my favourite). We overheard two American couples, one of which was headed to the Splendido that very day.


Villa D’este. NHYM 2016. 

We went to dinner at the Villa D’Este one night and it did not let me down. The place is stunning, stupendous and splendid, but I don’t necessarily need to stay there: it looks like it hasn’t had a makeover since 1856 and feels like you are staying in a museum or Versailles Palace. Not so cosy or warm. And it’s definitely a ‘see-and-be-seen’ place and people were staring at us everywhere we went. Perhaps they thought we were Clooney and Amal from behind😉.


The gardens Villa D’este. NHYM 2016. 

The gardens are really quite spectacular and feels like they are part of a palace rather than a hotel.


Villa Carlotta. NHYM 2016. 

Villa Carlotta is conveniently located right next to the Tremezzo, another plus for the hotel and has beautiful botanical gardens from rainforests to Japanese gardens and an impressive art collection.


Villa Carlotta Front Gardens. NHYM 2016. 

Lake Como was a wonderful escapade away from the frenetic frenzy of London and I was reminded of how much I enjoyed sightseeing and walking into a museum without two monkeys hanging off of each of my arms seeking my attention. It was gloriously peaceful and quiet and I can’t wait for next September for my next to-visit weekend.







A Taste of Frieze 2016…


Frieze 2016. All photos courtesy of NHYM 2016. 

As always, Frieze kicks off the London art month. Frieze week sets off the Frieze Masters, Frieze, PAD, the African Art Fair and many more art events around the city. So, here’s a brief snapshot of last night’s Preview night at the Frieze.


One of the themes that emerged was monochrome colours including sculptures, installations and paintings, such as this white library and furniture.


And these pink objects which were very popular.


There was a lot of installation art that blended art and technology, including this virtual experience below:



I really liked this ‘bubble deer’ and the below Yayoi Kusama painting:


As you may know, Yayoi Kusama is my artist-of-the-moment, and I enquired about this above piece. Unfortunately, it was already sold. For £1.1 million.


On the other hand, this above exhibit was really creepy, with robots taking over the world.


Speech bubbles. NHYM 2016. 

Love it or hate it, the Frieze is always an interesting fair to visit, half for the art, half for the people watching. There’s so much creativity and buzz in here that it’s worth going just to see what is going on in the art world, no matter how foreign it may seen. Through it all, you can always find a few pieces that you appreciate, and a few pieces that you are happy to leave behind.

Hope you have a good weekend!





Meditation @ Redemption


Redemption Restaurant. Photos courtesy of NHYM 2016. 

This week I was invited to a new event, Soul Food, by Sophie Purvis, a Yoga and Meditation instructor. The event combines a 30 minute meditation followed by a lovely and healthy lunch at Redemption, ‘the healthiest bar restaurant in London,’ at their Notting Hill location. Now you all know how stressed I’ve been and the beginning of the new school year has piled on extra stress as quickly as I piled on extra pounds during the summer holidays. Meditation + healthy eating sounded like just what I needed to settle my mind.


Redemption Restaurant. NHYM 2016. 

Redemption is located on Chepstow Road and I have been meaning to try it for ages, but somehow time has flown by and it has already been open for a year. I am amazed at all the ‘healthy,’ ‘organic’ and ‘vegan’ places that are sprouting up faster than mushrooms on a wet day. First there was Planet Organic, then came Daylesford and now the restaurants have followed suit: NAMA, Redemption, Farmacy, and the latest JUSU brothers. I mean, Notting Hill is fast becoming San Francisco. Next thing we know, everyone will be swapping their cappuccinos for juice cleanses (Noooo!!!).


Sophie Purvis in the foreground, Catherine Salway in the mirror reflection. NHYM 2016. 

Back to the event. I went along on Monday not knowing exactly what to expect. When I got there, Sophie Purvis introduced herself and immediately I thought I was in good hands. Sophie has the most soothing, calming voice and aura that immediately put me in the right mind set. She usually works out of a studio in Parsons Green but found this great collaboration with Redemption here in Notting Hill.

We started the guided meditation, which is a type of meditation I particularly like because all you have to do is listen: Sophie does the rest. Her calming voice told my mind where to go and soon enough, the knot in my stomach relaxed and I could feel myself become less tense. It was a lovely 30 minutes. The only thing I would say is that the meditation is done in the restaurant so you do hear the buses go by and you do feel slightly exposed. (I mentioned this to the founders and they are looking into putting up curtains to create a warm cocoon – much better I told them.)


Redemption food and detox tea. NHYM 2016. 

After the meditation, we were treated to a lovely lunch and detox tea. Everything I would expect from a vegan restaurant: sweet potato, quinoa and pomegranate salad, raw chickpeas, carrot salad and a few enoki. The food was very good, tasty and filling. Catherine sells her place as a place away from ‘temptation’, wheat-free, sugar-free and alcohol-free. Stella McCartney is apparently her biggest customer and orders staff lunches from here. The restaurant itself is sparsely decorated and has lovely touches like the pineapple lamps, the antique French farmhouse furniture and plush velvet banquettes, but I feel that the decor could use some cohesiveness.


I had a really lovely time at Redemption – thank you Sophie and Catherine! The meditation was lovely and the food equally so. I felt lighter and healthier coming out of it, as if I had gone on a mini-holiday. For anyone looking for a little peace and soul-feeding in the city, this is one to try out.





Restaurant Review: Park Chinois


Address: 17 Berkeley St, London W1J 8EA

Phone: 020 3327 8888


Decor: 4.5 stars

Ambience: 4 stars

Food: 4 stars

Value for money: 3 stars

Service: 5 stars

Overall: 4 stars


Ground Floor Restaurant. NHYM 2016.

Park Chinois is located on the golden square of restaurants: Berkeley Square. It all started with Nobu about 10 years ago who replicated its twin in the Met into a more ‘cool’ happening place. And thus began the domino effect of high end, luxury, and super expensive restaurants: Hakkasan, Novikov, Sexy Fish and finally Park Chinois. And Berkeley Square’s members club are also high in demand: Annabel is having a makeover, the Arts Club just recently opened its hotel and there is a new ‘business’ member’s club which also recently opened. But back to Park Chinois.


The Restaurant

Park Chinois is a ‘lifestyle’ (his words, not mine), dinner and dance experience by Alan Yau, the man behind Hakkasan, Yuatcha and Wagamama. Now, perhaps you could think that there are enough iterations of high end Chinese restaurants, but not Mr. Yau. Here, he has upped the luxury game and created a £16 million + place to compete with the opulence next door of Sexy Fish. From what I gather, Park Chinois divides people: you either love it or hate it. I went for the third time last Wednesday to make sure I knew which camp I was going to root for.


Lounge Singer. NHYM 2016.

The Design

When you walk into Park Chinois, it successfully takes you to bygone years of dinner & dance, louche Chinese clubs from the 20s and 30s, where everything is opulent and where affairs, business and otherwise, happen in dim light. Upstairs, there is live music, whereas downstairs is the Park Chinois ‘Club’ where the lighting is dimmer and it is the cooler version of the two with club music playing in the background. The favourite colours of this place are decidedly gold and red, and it is everywhere. Every detail is so thought out from the lampshades to the the corniced ceilings.


The Menu. NHYM 2016. 

The Food

Since I’ve been here three times, I can safely say that I have tried the food thoroughly. The first time I came, it was in a large group with a pre-set menu which included a good sampling of the menu. The Duck de Chine, their famous roast duck, comes at a cool £85 and requires some advance notice. It was good – don’t get me wrong – but frankly, I could get a similar, or better version of it at Gold Mine on Queensway. The other dishes were also good: the fried squid, (which tasted more like batter than squid), the vermicelli clay pot (one of my favourite dishes there), and the dim sum and gyoza were all very good, but again, I could get them at Royal China, also on Queensway, for a third of the price.


Chilli squid with green papaya salad. NHYM 2016.

The Service

I have to write a special note about the service at Park Chinois; it is really excellent. I have trouble eating at Chinese restaurants because of soy and MSG intolerances and each time I have been the waiters have been really excellent at discussing all my options with the chef. For me, it is one of the standout features of this place.



I am definitely in the more-love-than-hate category when it comes to Park Chinois. But, it is true that the restaurant was not full on a Tuesday, whereas Sexy Fish next door was heaving. There are no windows in the whole restaurant and one friend thought it felt like a cruise ship, with its lounge singer and draped curtains on the ground floor, but I still like it even though I prefer the downstairs. I have to give it a lot of credit for what it is trying to do; bold, dreamy and different. And I love that London is a place where risks are taken to create places like this. It is a great place for those who love Hong Kong and yearn for a little nostalgia of bygone years. For the food, you could always go to Queensway.




Social Commentary

Hello & Welcome Back!

Hello and welcome back!

Sorry I haven’t posted in a long time, but summer took over and then as soon as I returned to London, within 24 hours, a series of misadventures occurred: I lost my phone (gasp!), my cleaner didn’t show up on Monday when I had a mountain of sandy clothes and suitcases (double gasp!!) and my nanny quit (triple gasp!!!). It has been a stressful return back to London, to say the least. But I am positive that it can all be seen in a positive light. Firstly, a lost phone is a forced digital detox. We all know that we spend way too much time on our phones: texting, phoning, instagramming, photo-taking. So this is an enforced tech abstention, which really should be an annual ritual like going to Mayr’s clinics.

Then, the nanny issue happened. That dreaded moment when your life literally starts to fall apart: your nanny leaves you. Even though for reasonable and valid issues (looking after relatives etc…), it is still dreadful. Yes, I know, upper-middle class problems all the way, I really shouldn’t be complaining, but it is heartbreaking. It leaves you bereft and crestfallen, like a break up. It feels like your perfectly controlled and stable life is being hit by a tornado and that respectful relationship you’ve spent so much time creating and crystallising is breaking up.

You want to ask them ‘why?’ ‘Don’t go!’ ‘let’s try to make it work,’ even though you know the reasons are valid and understandable and there is no way to fit the needs of both parties. And then there are the children, who believe that your nanny is part of the family and you know that tears and tantrums are around the corner when the nanny leaves. Not to mention the process of hiring the new nanny: finding her, interviewing her, training her, and then finding out that she had other plans/has been hired/wants more money (one friend just told me yesterday that she had hired a nanny for September and 2 weeks before she was meant to start, cancelled on her. We were nanny-commiserating at Nannies Anonymous).

Anyway, nanny searching is stressful, tiring and emotional. But on the positive side, I probably needed a change anyway because my children have different needs, but it is still difficult to let go. She nudged me in the right direction, so here we are, on the edge of the abyss looking down on nanny agencies, gumtree, word-of-mouth, Facebook nanny pages and aupair world.

On a completely different note, I am probably not going to write much on the blog in the near future sadly because I have been working on an exciting project (well, for me anyway), and as soon as it is ready to be public, you will be the first to know. Of course, I may fall flat on my face with it, prove an embarrassment to my family and friends (and maybe lose all my family and friends), but it is something I have been wanting to do for a long time. But most bold and exciting projects are risky and have a large chance of failing (am thinking of all the entrepreneurs whose success rate is less than 10%).

So here we are at the beginning of a new school year, full of frazzled mums and dads doing the school run (myself included), but also feeling really positive, despite my misadventures. Good luck with it all and have a happy new school year!





Reviews, Social Commentary

Serpentine Summer Party 2016 & Gomez – Gracia


Serpentine Summer Pavilion 2016. NHYM 

The Serpentine Summer Party is the one summer event not to miss – in my opinion. It’s the one time of year when I can pretend that I am still young/cool/fun and get a chance to dance under and with the stars. This year’s Pavilion was designed by Bjarke Ingels, a Danish architect, who has won numerous awards and designed the Pavilion to be a ‘solid wall that has been unzipped.’


As you know, the Serpentine is closely linked to fashion, with fashion models and designers all in attendance, and this year, designer-to-the-stars, Patricia Gomez – Gracia is ‘dressing me.’ Her dresses have been spotted on the likes of Carrie Underwood, Katie Holmes, Kristin Stewart, the Kardashians,  et al… So, when she contacted me for a collaboration, the Serpentine Summer Party was the ideal event.


I went to her studio and showroom in Notting Hill for a fitting and to choose a dress. I immediately fell in love with her ‘Fairytale’ dress. My choice wasn’t rock ‘n’ roll/hip/cool, it was purely instinctual; I chose it because it was the most beautiful dresses I saw.


At her studio, I saw the whole creative process and her work in progress, from sketches to mood boards and textures.


It was great seeing what happens behind closed doors of her design studio, to see the beginning to the end of a finished product. I had a lot of fun choosing and trying various dresses, leading up to the big night.


I was thrilled to wear my ‘Fairytale’ dress on the big night, it was fun, romantic, glamorous, beautiful and sexy all at the same time. As soon as I walked into the Pavilion, I was accosted by people complimenting the dress. ‘Stunning,’ ‘You are the best-dressed, hands down’ ‘Everyone else should just go home’ ‘We’ve been staring at you all evening, we love your dress’ and finally I even got a ‘Will you marry me?’ Literally, everyone was staring at me as I walked by, which was quite fun. Even the celebrities were coming up to me to tell me how much they loved my dress, from Cressida Bonas to Anna Friel  and Heather Kerzner. It was a show-stopper and it literally made me shine.


This year’s Pavilion is an amazing geometrical, square themed, structure that you can walk through and had lighting that literally and figuratively ‘lit up’ the space.


Square shaped structures. Fearne Cotton bottom right. 


Inside the Pavilion with Heather Kerzner


Sienna Miller and Jade Jagger NHYM 2016.

Of course, there were celebs galore as usual with the usual English celebs & models: Kate Moss, Sienna Miller, Naomi Campbell, the Jaggers (Jade and Georgia May), Prince Harry’s exes (Cressida Bonas and Chelsy Davy, who is much taller than I expected), Tommy Hilfiger (hosting the party), etc. etc. etc. but the most exciting star spotting was Maisie Williams from Game of Thrones!

attends The Serpentine Summer Party Co-Hosted By Tommy Hilfiger at The Serpentine Gallery on July 6, 2016 in London, England.


Beautiful Gabriella Wilde checking me out while I was checking her out. Her friend came to tell me how much she loved my Gomez-Gracia dress. NHYM 2016


Sophie Dahl NHYM 2016


As the sun set and the night descended, the colours on the Pavilion became brighter and more colourful, turning into a surreal, fantasy.


Although this year the music was somewhat of a let down (there were no big performances, which is a shame after great ones in the past by Dizzie Rascal, Pharrell Williams and last year’s Mark Ronson), the Pavilion was stunning and one of our favourites so far. We still had a fun night of dancing, mingling, drinking, laughing and making new friends through the dress.


I may not have been the most famous person there last night, but my dress was certainly voted the most popular dress of the night. Photographs do not do it justice, you can ask anyone that was there, everyone loved it. For one night, I really was in a ‘fairytale’ thanks to Patricia Gomez Gracia!




Social Commentary

Sorry, I can’t meet up, I’m Suffering From Busyness-itis


The other day, I was sitting at Egg Break catching up with a friend I hadn’t seen in a while when I answered the question ‘how are you?’ with the dreaded words, ‘I am soo busy,’ that vague, annoying, I’m-so-important, type of answer. Not really believing me, she asked me to go through my week, event by event. (I am guilty of overusing those words when I can’t formulate an interesting enough answer to that question in a concise manner). So, I went through my week, play by play, when she said, ‘Oh. Ok. Maybe you are busy.’

Most people look at me like I am humble-bragging when I use those words, I mean I’m just a jobless, stay at home mum with kids in school, but the truth is, it’s really how I feel. Like my life is slipping away out of my control and I go through the motions just to keep up. It’s this time of year, when schools, parents and PTAs go on overdrive and schedule 1 million things for your child/you to do and I have lots of loose ends to finish before summer starts. My children go to two different schools (let’s call them school A and School B), and I usually try to attend most of the events.

I am a ‘YES’ person, who feels obliged to say ‘yes’ whenever someone invites me, because I get really annoyed (as you know), when people come up with ‘veiled bullshit excuses.’ So I say yes. Yes to the parents’ dinner of school A, parents’ drinks of school B, mum’s dinner school A, mum’s lunch school B, mums coffee morning school A, class drinks school B, school drinks of schools A+B, sports day schools A+B, Parent-teacher conference school A+B, readings/assembly/open days/summer parties/birthday parties (oh the last minute cramming-of-birthday-parties-before-summer is an epidemic) etc… etc… etc… And now I know I have completely exhausted you by just reading this.

I haven’t even begun talking about time spent writing the blog/organising Summer 16 Winter 17 holidays/organising playdates and doctor’s appointments/window cleaning/fixing leaks/paying overdue electricity bills (Yes, I am different to the superrich). Everyone always asks me how much time I spend on the blog each week. The answer is a few hours twice or three times a week. I need time to think about the content, write the content, meet future collaborators and think of how we can work together. That last part I really love because I get to meet so many interesting entrepreneurs with a vision, which is one of the main reasons I keep on writing. I don’t make money out of this blog, but it takes up a bloody lot of my time.

Well, that is my constant state of being these days: exhausted. These are not ‘crucial’ life or death events that I need to attend, they are events that are made up by parents and people who try to make our lives more interesting/fun/social, and I respect that. Perhaps, I should learn to say ‘NO.’ (I look at those women who tell me they aren’t going to XYZ school event because they ‘can’t be bothered’ in complete awe. Wow, if I could only do that…) But that’s just not me, and I, for the most part, end up dutifully going to all the events but sometimes (many times) I would rather stay in bed because not only can I not bear to look at my same-old-clothes closet one more time to look for an appropriate outfit, it’s really because I can’t get out of bed from pure small-talk-exhaustion.

The point is that when I tell you I can’t schedule you in until next September (which I have been known to do), it’s not because I am so important, or that I am so popular, or that I-have-so-much-to-do-you’ll-get-FOMO, on the contrary, it’s because I am a YES person, and I always think about the effort people have put into organising school parties or events, and that if it were me, I would want a lot of YES people in my crowd. Is it the schools’ and parents’ fault for over-organising or my fault for saying yes to everyone? I’m not sure. But if you hear me say ‘I’m so busy,’ just know that I am not trying to humblebrag. Most likely, I’ll be sitting in Bramley’s for yet another soft play birthday party thinking that I’d rather be having a coffee with you.