NHYM in Harper’s Bazaar July 2015


I was interviewed by Rachel Johnson for an article she wrote about the Highs and Lows of Notting Hill for Harper’s Bazaar, to promote her new book, ‘Fresh Hell.’


Ok, so my interview ended up being more just a one-liner quote in the article, but hey, I am still pleased to have made it in Harper’s Bazaar!





Reviews, Uncategorized

Summer Social Season Starts: Queens Tennis Club Championship


Queen’s Club Centre Court NHYM 2015. All photos in this post belong to NHYM 2015. 

The British Summer Season is already in full throttle. Horse-racing, cars, flowers, regattas, sailing, polo, Pimms, strawberries & cream, tennis, garden parties, music festivals, royalty and lots of Summer Parties. There is really something to suit everybody’s taste. It celebrates everything British and reminds me of why I love living in this country. Often, as an expat, it is easy to stay within your pre-destined cultural and social group, without really needing to mix with anyone of any other nationality, which I often lament.


Queen’s entrance. NHYM 2015. 

So, the other night, I serendipitously ended up at a quintessentially British dinner with some kind of Lord/Baron the 16th and some proper Brits who say things like ‘whilst.’ Brilliant! It was talk of the British countryside rather than the Med for holidays, and talk about British politics (all Tories, of course), British business and British politicians (one of them impersonated David Cameron brilliantly). The Brit Lord/Baron the 16th was telling me about his Great Aunt who was quite a socialite in her heyday. She had her whole existence based around the British social season. She migrated to sunny Florida for the winter months (January to May), came to London for the ‘social season’ (June & July), retreated to the countryside (August – November) and back to London for the Christmas Parties (December). That’s the life ;).


Queen’s Practice Courts & VIP area NHYM 2015

This year, I am a little late coming into the social season. Last year, I started well in time with the Chelsea Flower Show, but this year, with birthday parties et al. I’ve only managed to start with Queen’s. I think of Queen’s as the mini-Wimbledon, with less people, more intimate and more manageable. Wimbledon is like a massive ColdPlay concert at the 02, while Queen’s is an intimate Coldplay concert for 1,000 people. Ok, so Coldplay may not be the best analogy, but it’s the best I could think of: British, intense and very proper.


Queen’s Centre Court. NHYM 2015. 

So, off I went to see Andy Murray win at Queen’s. Andy Murray is a polarising sportsman. Many people love to hate him, and even Mr. X who likes everyone, thinks that AM is just an old grouch. Other reactions I’ve had: ‘that rat,’ ‘grumpy old man,’ and ‘twat.’ But I am one of his supporters. Why? Well, as I said, I have come to love everything British, even Andy Murray. He also happens to be one of the best players in the world, so he should be able to do whatever he wants. So what if he is grumpy, arsy to the cameras and to the public. He’s not here to please you. He’s here to win.


Moet et Chandon Lounge, Queen’s Club, NHYM 2015. 

Along with all of these social summer events, comes drinks and lounges. It is trendy to have ‘lounges,’ ‘daytime clubs’ and ‘dance music’ etc… at all of these events. Really these events have become just an excuse for daytime drinking and socialising. I, for one, actually like watching tennis, but I did spot a British socialiser-ex-club-promoter who was at Queen’s just to ‘see and be seen’ without having a ticket to Centre Court, but just lounged outside in the parking lot and the Moet Lounge. Other friends who went to Ascot described that the day ended with very drunk people in very posh outfits. Not necessarily a pretty sight. I remember the days, 15 years ago, when going to Polo Cartier was the most exciting event of the year, but it unfortunately has become more of a free-for-all-drunk-Chav-fest- in more recent times. Perhaps your scene, but not quite mine. Queen’s still manages to stay posh & proper to a certain extent, as we were sitting next to older-generation-Brits with panama hats. For now. In Centre Court.


Andy Murray Queen’s. NHYM. 2015. 

Murray was in excellent form for his warm – up to Wimbledon next week. He showed off some of his amazing skills that do remind you that he is one of the top players in the world.


Andy Murray Serve Queens NHYM 2015. 

It was great to see that he won his fourth Queen’s title, entering the ranks of McEnroe and Roddick. Good for him. On the side lines, Kim Sears Murray sat cheering him on, and like a young loved up child, he kept looking over at her, as if to get the approval of the great woman behind the great man.





Social Commentary

‘Please take care of Y(our) daughters…’


I was having a rather disturbing conversation with a mother of a tween and teen who sends her daughters to arguably the most academic and rigorous girl’s school in Central London, which promises futures of Oxbridge and of ruling the world. She told me that about 50% of all the girls at this said school were suffering from moderate to severe psychological problems, which if you compare it to the normal teenager’s prevalence of 20%, is rather shocking.


She described all kinds of psychological problems in these girls; depression, self-harming, eating disorders, anxiety and suicidal thoughts. It is normal for teenagers to have a higher than normal rate of psychological illness, during a time when hormones are raging, identities are being questioned and formed, and when teens are just more vulnerable and sensitive than most. It is not normal for it to be 50%. That is one out of two girls with bulimia or anorexia, depression or anxiety and others who end up with diagnoses and therapists. Some girls are throwing up during lunch breaks or eating appetite suppressant pills to lose weight. Others discussed their suicidal thoughts with their peers, almost as if it was ‘cool’ to be suicidal, calling their friends and telling them they were going to ‘do it’. Others yet are being diagnosed with more complex illnesses such as Bipolar Affective Disorder and Personality Disorders, requiring inpatient treatments and hours of therapy.

‘I can’t understand why this is happening’

The mother, whose children are well-adjusted and happy, couldn’t understand this shocking phenomenon and couldn’t explain why it was happening. Some people have idiopathic depression, when depression just happens without a cause and may be genetically linked. But in this very specific case in a closed school environment, where there is a higher than normal prevalence of psychological problems, it is obvious that there are triggers. Is it the school, the parents, social media or the peers? The answer is probably a bit of everything and probably dependent on the individual.

The School?

She thought that it wasn’t just in this particular school, but that these problems were apparent in many of the top London schools. The pressure that teens experience every day comes from everywhere: top academic schools which push children academically, even those pupils who probably shouldn’t be at these schools. Pressure from parents who push their children to excel and also fill their days with academic and extra curricular activities. Peers who compare themselves to super models. The ‘myth’ that parents tell their children that they ‘are always the best’. www://

Another parent, this time from a boy’s school of equal scale, thinks it is a personality type, that hyper-competitive, bright and academic types tend to have behavioural issues, boys in a Asperger’s Syndrome and compulsive kind of way and girls with Eating Disorders and mental health issues. He mentioned that the top boarding schools also have problems, and that it isn’t just endemic in London schools. One of his friend’s daughter had to leave her top-of-the-league boarding school under distressing and difficult circumstances.



We all know pushy parents. Need I say more?

Malaise of the Rich

One mother, rather unsympathetically, thinks that it is the malaise of the rich: they have no ‘real’ problems that they create problems for themselves. The poor in Sudan and Ethiopia aren’t worried about how small their waist line is. They are just hungry. The Syrian refugee children don’t worry about which top school they will get into, they just want a roof over their head. The ‘rich malaise’ may have some impact, but I don’t think it is the only or the root cause of all of these problems.

Control & Attention

Teens are in that awkward, transitional stage where they don’t completely depend on adults but also can’t be completely independent. There is a lack of control of their surroundings, unable to exert their independence yet wanting to. They have, in fact, little control over anything. Their bodies are changing. School at that age is prescriptive. They don’t have a choice how late they stay out or how they spend their money. Their parents splitting up and using them as a bargaining chip is beyond their control or understanding. This lack of control sometimes manifests itself in controlling what they can: eating. Bulimics and Anorexics use these tools as a way of gaining control of what is out of their control. Often there are problems at home or at school and this is their way of expressing themselves. Sometimes, it can be a call for attention and that something is not right in their life.


Societal Pressure

The pressure on teenagers in urban schools is beyond what most normal teens have to endure. Not only do they have excel academically to ‘get into Oxbridge/Ivy,’ they have to excel at extra-curricular activities, be popular, and look like Gisele Bundchen. These are unrealistic expectations that are placed on our children by parents, schools, the external world and society. Yes, it’s lovely to have Natalie Massenet as your role model, but it’s OK not to be her. Of course, it would be lovely for our children to succeed and achieve, get that 1st class honours from Cambridge, become Stephen Hawking, but that is obviously not the destiny for most.

Social Media 

It has just been revealed that the level of Eating Disorders hospital admissions to specialist mental health centres for adolescents 13 to 19 y.o. has nearly doubled in the last few years, from 959 in 2010/2011 to 1,815 in 2013/14 Dr. Carolyn Nahman of the Royal College of Psychiatrists believes that social media is a huge concern as it creates social media pressure for these young girls to look perfect and model-like. There are ‘thinspiration’ websites that glamourise being thin and there are pro- anorexia ones which will wake you up with what is happening on the net. This is a general societal problem rather than just a problem of the super academic and the super rich, but how do we address it?



Family problems can be a cause of stress and anxiety on young, vulnerable teenagers. Parents fighting, parents divorcing, or not having a stable family. Parents should sometimes look at their own behaviours and look at how they may be impacting their child’s. We may overestimate our children’s abilities to cope, just because they may not overtly express their emotions, mostly because they don’t fully know or understand their emotions yet.


Teens are highly susceptible to the effects of stress but most parents either don’t see it or can’t see it. For those over-scheduled teens who suffer from mental illness, it would be useful to take a step back and look at their lives. Many of them have a rigorous academic schedule and exams which all lead to Oxbridge or the Ivy Leagues. Then they must excel at Netball or swimming or Track and Field to stand out from the rest. There is little time left to be a child, or even to spend quality time with their parents and friends.

If you look at the stress curve, there is a certain level of stress that is beneficial to people, which motivates and drives them and increases their productivity, but once you pass that beneficial threshold, it becomes a detriment to the work and then to the person. For many of these teens, they have gone past the threshold that is beneficial and quickly enter the panic/anxiety part of the curve, missing out on the exhaustion part because they are young, resilient and have more energy than you or me.


I think that parents, schools, and other external factors are all pushing our daughters over the limit of their thresholds and we aren’t stopping them in time. Whatever the child’s problem, it is the parent’s duty to try catch it and try to address it, even though sometimes it is impossible. But it is our duty as parents to at least try and be aware of it.

What to do? 

As I see my daughters growing up, already mimicking and role playing Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, asking who is the ‘most beautiful of them all’, I wonder how I will protect them from the world and these overwhelming feelings that you can have as a teenager. What would I do if my child was suffering from depression and self harming I think to myself. Perhaps it would be important to look at their life as a whole, their home, their school situation, their friendship situation and then make some major changes. Perhaps it is our duties as parents to try to provide them an environment that is more suitable to them rather than put them in a situation that suits us and society. We all hope to have brilliant children, and although some thrive in their brilliance, others are crippled by it and it manifests in these psychological conditions.


Having been through the teenagers years, I sympathise with these girls, who don’t yet have the coping skills that are acquired over a lifetime to deal with new emotions and challenges, and resort to these detrimental behaviours. For any parent that has a daughter or a son with behavioural problems, beware of the creeping clues and signs in their behaviours and do your best to address them early on. It can take years for mental health problems to develop, so perhaps spending more time with your children will let you see these problems crop up sooner than later, or maybe enable your child to confide in you if they are having difficulties. Getting into Oxford is after all not that important, but having a happy child certainly is.





Review: Little Social & Pollen Street Social Restaurants


Little Social Bar. All Photos in this Post courtesy of NHYM 2015. 

Little Social 

Tel 02078703730

5 Pollen Street, London W1s 1NE

Food: 4.25 stars

Atmosphere: 4.25 stars

Design: 4 stars

Service: 4 stars

Overall: 4 stars

As previously mentioned in my last post, it is ‘birthday month’ and I am featuring new restaurants that I have been meaning to go to but have never gotten around to. When it came to organising a birthday dinner for one of my oldest friends, literally almost 40 years of friendship and hateship, Little Social popped in my mind. For the uninitiated like myself, Little Social is one of the many restaurants sprouted by the chef extraordinaire, Jason Atherton. I am quite behind in the times, having not been to a single one of his restaurants apart from Maze. I mean where have I been? (Well, Chiltern Firehouse & West 36 have been keeping me quite busy). Perhaps it was because I really did not like Maze the time I went there, which he headed under Gordon Ramsay, which kept me away from JA for so long.


Little Social Staircase. NHYM 2015.

I had heard lots of good things about Pollen Street Social but decided against it, because I don’t really need another white-tablecloth-1-star-Michelin-too-many-ingredients-on-a-plate-lots-0f-sauces-restaurant experience. Yes, completely blasphemous, but my stomach can no longer handle foods that taste like something else they are supposed to taste like (i.e. ice-cream that tastes like pork belly anyone?) or having three main ingredients and twelve accompaniments on one plate. I wanted something more casual, and I felt that Little Social was a good place to re-start my Jason Atherton experience. (Social Eating House will be next on my list, but dining with a bunch of French people made me think that Little Social would make them feel right at home).


Little Social Poster 2015. 

Little Social is a French brasserie-style restaurant on a quiet Pollen Street, and across from its more famous sibling, Pollen Street Social. From the outside, you could think you were entering a casual bistro/brasserie in the Marais, but there is something about it that makes it much more glamorously sophisticated. There are the same old French posters you see everywhere, but it’s bar is very attractive, and the banquette dining is intimate for sinful conversations. The crowd is a mixed international crowd, you could hear some finance sharks, lots of French and German continentals, and a few foodies in the mix. But I am liking it so far.


Little Social Menu. NHYM 2015. 

The menu has lots of appetising starters and mains, with lots of mushroom dishes (tagliatelle & risotto) and grilled steaks. My friends ordered the steak tartare as starters, which is a bavette tartar, usually a lesser cut, therefore which you could overlook as being as good as it was. I ordered the roasted quail with confit leg, foie gras and cherries. Ok, so perhaps not as casual dining as I had anticipated, this is elegant food after all, and the combination of cherries and quail was really delicious.


Mushroom tagliatelle & Sirloin Steak. NHYM 2015. 

For our mains, my friends all opted for the mushroom tagliatelle and mushroom risotto while I stuck with what I do best; eat meat. I ordered the sirloin steak (since I had had a rib eye the night before). The Sirloin had been appropriately aged 28 days and was very good. We were very happy indeed with our food. Table talk consisted of what happened to transgenders’ sexual orientation after a sex change. For example, as a man who becomes a woman, do you still want a woman or do you start to like men? It then veered towards the late-in-life sexual discoveries, like that husband’s wife who left him for another woman (just like Ross’ first wife in friends who leaves him for another woman), or the father of a friend’s friend who left his wife for his driver. It takes all kinds of people to make this world interesting. We concluded that we were very happy for Bruce Jenner’s choices.


Crumble & Carrot Cake. NHYM 2015.

For dessert we shared a crumble and a light and fluffy carrot cake (not what you’d expect, I know), which were both yummy but the piece de resistance came later, when we went across the street to have a drink at Pollen Street Social. Pollen Street Social has a very large bar that you could go to, just for a drink, and not look like you are waiting to be seated. It is a bigger version of the Little Social bar, just a more elegant and refined version with sofas and seats you could sit on for hours. We ordered cocktails, which were summery and minty with a flower adornment, and with that came an assembly of desserts that made us regret even having ordered the previous dessert.


Pollen Street Social After-dinner Drinks & Dessert. NHYM 2015. 

There was a small chocolate mousse as an amuse bouche, an almond petit four to share and a white-chocolate ball on top of a cone looking like an ice-cream (like I said, foods looking/tasting like other foods). They were absolutely divine. I would come back just for the cocktails and desserts. This night was a perfect combination of casual, brasserie dining, followed by a gorgeous bar, cocktail and second desserts at Pollen Street Social. I may be won over by Jason Atherton after all. The design, food and atmosphere were spot on, but it was those cocktails and yes, that chocolate ball looking like an ice-cream, that really won me over.





Pollen Street Social Drinks Cart. NHYM 2015. 
Click to add a blog post for Little Social on Zomato

Reviews, Uncategorized

Lunch Review of West 36’s Terrace

West 36 

36 Golborne Road London W10 5NR

Tel 020 3752 0530

Food: 4.5 stars

Service: 5 stars

Decor: 4.25 stars

Value for money: N/A as this was a complimentary lunch

Overall: 4.5 stars


West 36 outdoor terrace. NHYM 2015. All photos in this post courtesy of NHYM. 

June is for me, the ‘birthday month,’ with so many birthdays to attend, I am trying out all sorts of new or need-to-try restaurants, so you will see lots of restaurant reviews coming up. This week, I have 3 birthdays to attend/organise/surprise. So, when I needed to take one of my dearest friends out to lunch and I was simultaneously invited to try West 36’s lunch, the timing couldn’t be better. I booked myself in for lunch with Anna at West 36 this past Monday.


Anna enjoying the sunshine while waiting for my arrival. NHYM 2015. 

When I arrived, the waitress led me to the best table on the terrace, where my gorgeous friend Anna was waiting and a few other people were finishing their lunches. West 36 has a lovely outdoor terrace on their first floor, which seemed highly under-used on a warm day. They had immediately offered her a glass of Champagne on arrival, perhaps mind-reading that it was her birthday. Or perhaps just because they were trying to impress me. Either way, it was a very nice touch and I like being impressed. The terrace itself is cosy, with striped grey and white cushions to sit on, channeling a Shoreditch House vibe, with hanging lightbulbs and and an industrial landscape. The music in the background was Cafe-del-Mar-like, putting us a in a light and happy mood confirming that, yes, it is really the start of the summer.


Raspberry mules posing for the camera. NHYM 2015. 

Our lovely waitress brought us some raspberry mules cocktails. Vodka cocktails for lunch you may ask? Well, it was her birthday, and I was celebrating a day of hard work in the land of blogging. Could be worst. She was wearing the requisite bowtie and suspenders, which I personally love, and made the affair even more theatrical and enjoyable. Later, she brought two more glasses of Champagne. It’s been a long time since someone (anyone) was trying to get me drunk.


West 36 menu 2015. 

Now for the food. Usually, the food at West 36 tends to be on the heavier, meatier side, but we were able to find lighter fare on the menu and prepared ourselves for a light lunch. We were salivating at the Cheeseburger next door, but our lunch ended up in pure decadence, with our multiple courses.


Grilled squid starter. NHYM 2015.

We started with a grilled calamari starter with broad beans and a summer salad, drizzled with fresh lemon. Summer succulence at its best. It was light, tasty and perfectly grilled. This could have been enough as a main salad for lunch, but as we were sharing, this was just the beginning.


Mains of Chicken, lemon sole, and artichoke. NHYM 2015. 

I ordered the lemon sole, one of the few sea-dwelling dishes on the menu apart from lobster and the shellfish platter (I did think twice about ordering the shellfish platter, but felt a smidgen guilty about this Monday afternoon decadence). As a side dish, I had the artichokes and broad beans, with mint and raisins. The actual fish taste and texture was OK for a sole, nothing terribly special, but not necessarily the chef’s fault. Not all fish are created equal, and perhaps I just got the luck of the draw of a mediocre fish. The tarragon butter and and sea kale did lift its spirits up, which made up for it, and the artichokes were great. I loved the mint, a summer herb which fills me of memories of Pimm’s and fresh summer salads. My friend had the half chicken with herbs, which was huge, as the portions are known to be here.


The famous Apple Pie. NHYM 2015. 

When we were asked if we wanted dessert and we were told the apple pie would take 15 minutes to make because it would be freshly made, we thought, well we’ve been here already almost 2 hours, we might as well make it a record. We ordered fresh mint tea and continued our long discussion on life, the difficulties of raising children, and how fast the passing years seem to be now that we have children. Yes, I know, but this was after 2 champagnes and cocktails at 1pm. We had a good excuse for our nostalgic narrative. The Apple Pie was excellent, much better than the last time I had it here, perhaps because they were trying to impress, or perhaps because it is just very good.


Two and a half hours later, we stumbled out of West 36, filled with great food, great conversation and lots of bubbly. This had been a perfect lunch on a perfect afternoon with great company. Off we went in our separate directions for school pick ups, worried that the other mums would notice our tipsy states and start whispering about our mid-day alcoholism. West 36 is great for lunch, although it was quite empty. But the good news was that 1) the service was excellent 2) we had plenty of room (which were some of my previous complaints) and 3) we could gossip all we wanted without anyone listening to our conversation. You can’t have it all.

For those who find West 36 too busy at night, the daytime, during-the-week alternative is just the opposite, quiet, relaxed, and understated, and it is wholly being missed out by many, probably due to its out-of-the-way location. But next time I am looking for a terrace to sit at on a lovely sunny day, this terrace is one to book.






‘Planet of the Apps: Review of At-Home Massage’


Soon, there will be Apps for just about anything. In fact, I think there already are. There are Apps for dating, eating, fornicating, cheating, dog-walking and babysitting. There are even wars created by Apps, headed by Uber, who has taken on the entire world’s taxi community, and by the looks of it, winning. So, it’s no surprise that there are 1,001 Apps for beauty and wellness. When, the Uber of beauty treatments, offered me a complimentary treatment, there is little I could say but, ‘yes, absolutely’. When it comes to beauty and wellness, my one top choice of treatment is a massage. It’s mood enhancing, it decreases cortisol levels, and it just makes me a happier and nicer person. Everyone wins. Which is why everyone gives me massages for my birthday. They know that they will see the improved version of myself, which makes it a much better experience for everyone.

I’d like to say I am an expert on massages. Of course, the best therapists in the world are Thai therapists who cost all but $30 a go for an expensive one. They have magical hands who just know what to do. The worst massage I’ve had were in Egypt by a male masseuse whose hands were way too wandering, or another one that left me with torticollis for a week or the female masseuse with sandpapery, rough hands. Doesn’t she realise that having a massage is not the same as having a body scrub with industrial strength sandpaper? It’s like asking for a smooth chocolate mousse and they bring you one full of sand? And then there are the ‘out-of-the-world’ expensive massages, like the one at Sandy Lane Barbados where for something like $450, you can get the same massage as the lovely Thai therapist on the beach in Phuket. Another big no.

Every woman I know loves massages, so men, whenever you want to redeem yourself (ie. I ‘need’ to watch that Chelsea-Arsenal game while you take the kids to ‘another’ birthday party), just give them a massage and all will be well in the world. But I am diverging. Coming back to my GoPriv massage. The booking process was not the usual one so I cannot comment on how practical the App is. I can tell you about my lovely therapist Kelly who arrived (slightly late), but cheery and accommodating (always good). She brought her massage table and accompaniments, music, fleece towel and oils which she quickly set up in my living room.

Poor woman had to barricade my living room door since, as an NHYM, I am renovating and have swarms of builders ‘living’ in my house. I really did not want the builders to see me in my massage robe while they were toiling away fixing my bathroom. This would definitely be sending off the wrong messages (unlike one NHYM rumoured to be having an affair with her Polish builder). The massage itself was really quite lovely. She had hole in the massage table for my head (essential) and put on some lovely waves-crashing-ocean-spa-music, which covered some of the drilling going on next door. We were interrupted twice in NHYM style; the plumber needing to bleed the radiators and my housekeeper asking about the ‘school run pick up.’

Kelly, my therapist, specialises only in massages, so I had high expectations. I pretend that I’m the expert, but really I’m not, she is the real expert, and her hands certainly knew what they were doing. She gave me an excellent massage but my only problem is that my home is in a dysfunctional, upside-down state that I was embarrassed about letting her in my layer of dust and renovation, that I apologised, knowing that these were not exactly the perfect massage circumstances. Needless to say, I would book one again, but in the meantime, I’ll have to find a new home.