Top 10, Travel, Uncategorized

Top 10 Travel Tips: Sardinia in September


Sardinia. All photos copyright NHYM 2015. 

September is a bittersweet month. On one hand, it is great to come back to a daily routine of school runs, dinners and socialising and the comfort of one’s home. On the other hand, it is good-bye to summer and outdoor BBQs, and the realisation that the next summer is 10 months away.

So, as a tradition, we try to go away every September for our wedding anniversary. This year, we chose Sardinia, because a) it is only 2 hours away (yes, I know it’s with Easyjet, but sometimes I need to temper down my inner brat) b) my mother and friends told me to stay away from Turkey because of all of the unrest (where I initially wanted to go to) c) Mr. X had never been and it’s been years since I had been. d) And finally, because it is a rather beautiful melange of rustic and chic.


Porto Cervo NHYM 2015.

Here are my Top 10 Tips in Sardinia:

  1. Check out the beaches. There are so many to explore, but my personal favourites are in Southern Sardinia, where there are less foreign tourists and the translucent water and rocky outcroppings remind me of the Seychelles. The beaches in Maddalena are equally spectacular.
  2. Porto Cervo, home to Flavio Briatore’s Billionaire Club, must be seen. It was created by Prince Aga Khan and reminds me of the Terra Cotta Hotel Byblos in St Tropez. It doesn’t have much charm, but has to be seen… as one of the most expensive real estates in Europe. Check out ‘You Porto Cervo’ for a cocktail.PortoCervo2NHYMView of Porto Cervo. NHYM 2015
  3. The Maddalena archipelago is the opposite of Porto Cervo: quiet, rustic and a has beautiful nature. I already mentioned La Casitta in another post (, best for its remoteness and seclusion
  4. Charter a motor yacht/sailboat/gulet to visit Sardinia’s wild nature and beaches and nature reserves. There’s nothing like waking up in an undiscovered cove on a boat with a cappuccino in hand…
  5. See the Grotto di Nettuno, Sardinia’s most famous cave.SardiniaViewNHYM
  6. Try one of the many Agriturismo farmhouses to get back to basics:
  7. Go to Phi Beach for the sunset and a cocktail. Great views and atmosphere.SardiniaBeach2NHYM
  8. The Cala di Volpe hotel, one of the most expensive hotels in the world, once featured in the 1977 ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’ Bond Film. It may be the most famous hotel in Sardinia, but it seems a bit dated to me and is not by far one of my favourites. Personally, Il Splendido wins hands down. CalaDiVolpeNHYMCala Di Volpe
  9. Visit Nora in the South, an ancient Roman and pre-Roman town, where you can see a Roman theatre, temple and mosaics.
  10. Enjoy the food… It is Italy after all. Try La Gritta with views of the Maddelena, I Fratti Rossi for its seafood, or Il Pescatore purely for the best setting and view of Porto Cervo.





Social Commentary

Top 10 Tips: Children & Screen time


Photo courtesy of the internet. NHYM 2015. 

I was reading an interesting article on children and screen time this weekend in the Times, Screen time and your child: what every parent needs to know, so thought I would share the most salient and pertinent points of the article:

  1. Professor Sonia Livingstone at LSE, a researcher on children and technology and an advisor to the UK Council For Internet Safety, thinks that parents need new guidance away from thinking purely in terms of time limits, towards sharing more of what their children are doing online.
  2. All screen time is not equal; we need to look at the quality of what our children are doing online; are they creative or passively consuming. ‘The challenge is for parents to work out whether they are doing something creative and imaginative or something mindless.’ says Professor Livingstone.
  3. On setting time limits: ‘If they are getting the grades you hope for and expect, if they are lively, creative, talkative and able to develop interests and hobbies, those are indicators that your child is fine.’
  4. Keeping an eye on the balance is key: Are they playing sports, going outside enough, and getting enough face to face interaction?
  5. More than three and a half hours a day on social networks is linked to low self esteem and depression. One study showed that the happiest 10-15 year olds spent no more than one hour a day on social networks.
  6. Aric Sigman, a psychologist, has come up with some time limits. He recommends 30 minutes to 1 hour a day of recreational screen time for 3 to 7 year olds, one hour for 7 to 12 year olds, 90 minutes for 12 to 15 year olds, and two hours for teens aged 16 and over. Wishful thinking. But it’s a good goal.
  7. Start having screen time with the family: make time each week where the whole family goes online and shows each other interesting sites or fun things they’ve discovered. Livingstone recommends one hour per week.
  8. For 15 years the American Academy of Paediatrics has recommended no screen time at all for under twos, but there is evidence that short bursts of time on interactive educational apps can help two to five year olds learn, says Dr. Gummer, a psychologist and play specialist.
  9. Teach your children responsibility about screen time. For younger children, you may need to set time limits and routines, for example two hours a day is accepted by many experts and police them. For older children 11 and over, it’s important to involve them in the process. ‘Parents should help them make decisions rather than trying to control every click which is impossible anyway. They need the skills and resilience to make sensible choices, which are the same skills they need to do their homework and going to bed. Parents can help them get into routines and explain to them that more than two hours a day of screen time is too much.’ says Dr. John Coleman, a teen psychologist researching a book on parents and screens.
  10. Have a screen free day. Boredom is a very important educational skill  because it gives them time and space to create and think about the things they want to do. Coleman recommends one totally screen free day maybe once a week.

Excerpts from The Times Saturday September 12, 2015 






Review: Nailed! A new nail salon in Notting Hill…


All photos courtesy of NHYM 2015. 


70 Chepstow Road

London W2 5BE

Tel 0207 221 6685

A few girlfriends of mine mentioned a new nail bar in Notting Hill over the last few months, so when I received an invitation to try out the new Nailed on Chepstow Road, it wasn’t hard to convince me to go. Nailed opened in April by Richard Naylor, ex-management consultant, who has a background in business with an MBA and having worked in the city.


Indoor Nailed Salon Bar. NHYM 2015. 

When I came in on a rainy Tuesday afternoon for a mani-pedi, I was warmly welcomed by Richard who set the girls on me right away. There are two pedicure reclining chairs at the back and four manicure tables in the front. He is also planning on starting waxing and eyebrow treatments downstairs in a few months. There are all the ESSIE and Shellac Colours you can ask for, and he mentions specialised, bespoke nail extensions that sound rather impressive.


Adrienne my manicurist. NHYM 2015. 

Adrienne (or was it Arianne?) my manicurist was lovely, as was my pedicurist. The salon is bright, clean and warm. The herringbone wood flooring is great, and there are flowers adding some life to the place. There are a lot of nail salons that can end up looking a bit sad or grubby, but this isn’t one of them. It is clean and modern. Richard explains that he wants to provide a clean, professional approach with loads of great customer service. That day, I must admit that the customer service was 5/5. I had three people fawning over me, which is always a nice feeling.


He tells me that the salon is doing very well, he even had Kate Hudson come in over the summer with a friend. His hopes are that he can open a second salon next year in St. John’s Wood. He has a whole business plan worked out in his head, and it seems to be working so far.


Nailed Manicure. NHYM 2015. 

Time flies as Richard gives me the history of his lifelong dream to open a nail salon, which all started during a year abroad at McGill University. My mani – pedi is done and I didn’t even get a chance to see what the girls were doing. But the results are good. I really like my manicure, which is subtle. My toes are not in the best of shape after the summer, so they are not photo-worthy at the moment.

Richard is a lovely, friendly guy who could talk to you for days about his adventures, girlfriends, and godchildren. He makes the place what it is. The salon is open until 9pm on some nights to cater to the professionals, and he is there each and every night. But he loves it he says. It doesn’t even feel like work, it’s a party every day.






Restaurant Review: Casa Cruz


Owner Juan Santa Cruz in front of his new restaurant, Casa Cruz. Photo courtesy of the internet. 2015.

Casa Cruz

123 Clarendon Road

London W11 4JG

Tel 02033215400

Design: 3 stars

Atmosphere: 3.5 stars

Service: 3 stars

Food: 3.75 stars

Price/Value: 3.5 stars

Overall: 3.5 stars


Bowler man. NHYM 2015. 

The first thing that struck me as I arrived at this new restaurant on Clarendon Road, was the large imposing copper door that I mistook for a vault door rather than the entrance. In front stood a bowler-hatted gentlemen who opened the door for me. I was confused, having used a different entrance in all the various incarnations of this restaurant; Wiz (or Woz?), which served a mishmash of international plates, The Notting Grill by Anthony Worrall Thompson (which sadly closed during the recession), and the Clarendon, a Gastropub which was too loud to hear yourself speak and where I would often run into Nico, Pippa Middleton’s on-off boyfriend. This spot has a long restaurant history, which has all ended in closure, so hats off to Juan Santa Cruz if he can make this a long-standing success.


Photo courtesy of the internet 2015.


First off, we’ve really got to talk about the design. It’s owner, Juan Santa Cruz, former banker/private equity/finance guy turned restaurateur/designer, already made his mark in Argentina with three restaurants including the original Casa Cruz. In this version of Casa Cruz, there is an avalanche of copper than landed in the middle of W11. Not sure what it’s doing here, but it is everywhere. The bar, the walls, the doors and anywhere else you happen to look. The walls are panels of copper, on top of alternating wood panels, which are backlit.


Photo courtesy of the intent. NHYM 2015. 

Friends have likened it to an S&M room where this could be Christian Grey’s Copper Room next to his Red Room.  Another friend called it a crash between Stringfellows and a chalet. Ok sure, Chile is the number one exporter of copper (where Santa Cruz is from), but too much is too much. I liked the two bars, that had enough copper on their own for the whole restaurant. The art deco tables downstairs are very nice, as are the Hermes-leather-boud menus. Then there is the mirrored staircase, which takes you back to the days of Mirror Mazes in fun fairs. Not an experience I particularly want to revisit. Thankfully, the upstairs terrace gives you a breather from the copper and the mirrors, where I saw the whole cast of ‘Wannabe-Made-In-Chelsea’ having a birthday party.


Stag’s head Ground Floor Casa Cruz. NHYM 2015.

Service & Atmosphere

Then there is the Stag’s head staring at you on the ground floor, not sure what it adds to the room, but adds to the ‘chalet feel’ of the place. The restaurant isn’t full when we arrived at 9pm despite being told that there were no earlier seatings before 9:30pm on a Saturday night. This is a restaurant which should be fully booked and every spot taken to create a buzzing and cool atmosphere. Instead, I feel duped by the reservations team who told me there were no earlier seatings. Needless to say, we were seated at 9pm which suited me much better than 9:30pm. (This happened to me another time during the week when they gave me a 9pm reservation, but the restaurant was half full when I arrived at 8:30pm). Maybe this is because I heard that this was originally meant to be a member’s club as well, with one of the only perks being that members could get a table at any time they wanted. I just don’t like being lied to, so this just bugs me.


Photo courtesy of NHYM 2015.

The Food

I liked the look of the menu, but it was rather simple and concise. The starters consisted heavily of raw food. We tried the sea bass carpaccio with lime, but truthfully, Nobu or Roka could give the chef a tip or two on how to choose and season it. It was chewier than the divine sea bass sashimi at either of these restaurants, leaving me pining for the Roka sea bass sashimi. It’s never good when you are coveting another restaurant’s food. The other vegetables and burrata starters were fine. Nothing out-of-this-world, but decent nonetheless.

As mains, we opted for the Steak. I mean, it’s an Argentinian restaurant right? The portions are quite big so are good for sharing. Happily, we all enjoyed the steak and even ordered an extra portion. I hear that the blackened chicken is also quite good. As sides, we tried the blackened broccoli, which is usually quite good, but I once had it with too much chilli and flavours that clashed with the tenderness of the steak. The quinoa side also had too many flavours mixed in, which I felt took away from the main dish. I liked the corn, but it also had quite strong flavours. The point of sides is to accompany, not overpower. I felt that these sides tended to overpower rather than let the mains do the talking. This is not finessed cuisine, but Argentinian cuisine isn’t necessarily known for that. Finally, as a dessert, I had the dulce de leche ice-cream, which I really enjoyed.


Very cool wine fridge. Courtesy of the internet NHYM 2015. 


We ran into different groups of friends the Saturday night we went, who had enjoyed their meal. Still, the copper-tone feel to the place is overwhelming, as were some of the flavours. There were some things that worked, and some things that just didn’t. It still seems disjointed and is trying a little too hard to feel exclusive. I think if it was full of people having fun, the atmosphere could be improved. The food is good at times, but not good enough to be the strength of the restaurant. Rumours have it that Juan Santa Cruz wanted the atmosphere first, and the food was secondary. Unfortunately, I think he hasn’t managed either well enough to make it somewhere I am dying to go back to. It still has some potential, so hopefully he will make some important changes that could make it much cooler and much yummier.





Photo Courtesy of the internet. NHYM 2015. 
Casa Cruz Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato




Apple yard Flower Bouquet. All photos NHYM 2015 Copyright. 

As you probably know, I love flowers. I’ve already mentioned that I went from Club Hopping to Flower Picking since becoming a mother: and that men should know that women can always be perked up by a beautiful bouquet of flowers.


I’ve also decided that I want my daughters to become florists. Why you may ask? Well, it has been proven that being a florist is the happiest job! Oh and please note: bankers were the unhappiest.

Here’s the full list:


Apple yard Flower Delivery Service. NHYM 2015. 

So when Appleyard Flowers wanted to send me over a bouquet of flowers, I was more than happy to accept. Flowers make people and a home happy. There are instant happy chemicals released when you look at flowers (same with the sea, if you wanted to know). And after all, it’s never to early to expose your child to creativity and aesthetics for their future career…


I went online and ordered my beautiful bouquet of flowers on: and chose the Violet Orchid Bouquet. There is a large choice of beautiful bouquets to choose from and they can be delivered any day you like. I received the bouquet in a large cardboard box, which revealed a gorgeous array of orchids, roses, thistles and other flowers I can’t name. But wait – it wasn’t exactly the bouquet I ordered, there were red roses instead of light purple ones. I didn’t like the colour scheme as much, so I took out the red roses and put them in a separate flower vase.




Which meant that I now had 2 flower vases to look at. Even more happiness to spread around.


Despite the hiccup of not getting exactly the bouquet I ordered, the bouquet is still really stunning and the flowers fresh and vibrant.



Thank you Appleyard for the wonderful bouquet!

To cheer you up that summer is over, Appleyard is offering a 33% discount to my readers, please quote BLOG33. 

Send Flowers
Next day flowers
Flower delivery Notting Hill






Top 10, Travel, Uncategorized

Travel: Woolley Grange Hotel Review, Wiltshire


Woolley Grange Hotel Main House. All Photos Copyright of NHYM 2015.

Woolley Grange Hotel 

Woolley Green


Wiltshire BA15 1TX

Tel. 01225864705


Hotel itself: 3.75 stars

Children’s Amenities: 5 stars

Service: 3 stars

Restaurant: 4 stars for dinner, 3 stars at lunch

Room: 4 stars


Woolley Grange Front Lawn

Let me preface this post by saying that this is NOT what I would consider a ‘family-friendly hotel’. Au contraire, I would call it a ‘child-centered’ hotel, or one that is dedicated to children and that allows parents to join if they so please. This should be clear from the outset, in case you were looking for a 5* hotel that catered to children.

I say this because:

  1. There are children everywhere. When we arrived there were children on the front lawn swinging/jumping/fishing/swimming/playing.
  2. The lunch menu for children is much more elaborate and appetising than the adult menu (For children: steak, roast chicken, spaghetti. Adults: Sandwiches & Light Bites)
  3. The ‘Movie Room’ only plays children’s movies
  4. The table settings are named with your children’s names, not yours.
  5. The ‘Candle-lit’ dinner reserved for adults still has children running all over the place while you dine by ‘candle-light’
  6. The beautiful front lawn’s view is encumbered by a trampoline, a football pitch, a mini-tennis court and plastic playground toys.
  7. Did I mention there were children everywhere?
  8. Every hotel guest here comes accessorised with at least one, two, or three mini people and possibly a granny or grandpa thrown in for good measure.
  9. In the lounges, instead of House & Garden or Country Life magazines, train sets and baby books fill the coffee tables.
  10. Activities here are children focussed: films, egg collecting, kids club etc…

So, now that I’ve gotten this out of the way, you will be prepared for a lovely children’s weekend/holiday in the country. The upside is that you don’t need to be embarrassed when your child throws a) tantrum b) hissy fit c) their food all over the floor d) a toy at their younger sister/brother/your head. As this was our first ever ‘Children’s Hotel’ it took a little adjustment. Best for children 0-9.


The Main House. NHYM 2015. 

The Hotel

The hotel itself is a beautiful Jacobean Manor house that accommodates 25 rooms and suites for all kinds of family arrangements. There are interconnecting rooms that are perfect for a family of 4 or other rooms that can fit smaller families. It is old, kitschy and creaky, with thick carpets and small nooks and crannies interspersed in the house. It is not what I would call a five star hotel, with blue thick velvet carpets that show mud and crumbs left behind by children, and service that comes by to only hoover and tidy beds. (Other 5* stars generally try to tidy up clothes and toys, but not really this one).


Front Entrance Woolley Grange Hotel. NHYM 2015. 

In addition to the main house, there is a small spa with an indoor swimming pool, which both looked quite nice but we never managed to use the pool because it was closed while we were there. And no, I never found time to visit the spa. There is also an outdoor pool available for proper British families who braved it out in the rain and cold at 13 degrees. I mean, yes I know it is heated, but really? No, you won’t get me in that pool with this great British weather….


The walled garden. NHYM 2015. 

Children’s Amenities

Like I mentioned before, this hotel is all about kids. For our urban-kids, there was plenty of things to enjoy at this hotel: a swing and trampoline on the lawn, a small playground out back, and a walled garden. The walled garden had toy houses, ducks, geese, hen, a tractor and apple picking.


Woolley Grange Tractor

There was egg collecting from the hen house.


Hen House & Chicken Laying Eggs. NHYM 2015. 


Ducks and ducklings. NHYM 2015. 


Pumpkins in the Walled Garden. Or are they squash? NHYM 2015. 

The Kids Club was cute, nothing to go crazy over, but available for 2 hours per day, just enough time for a coffee and a read of the newspaper. It was mostly geared towards younger children under 5 years old, but still had some jewellery making for older children and a breakfast club on a Sunday for an extra hour and a half in bed.


Kids Club. NHYM 2015. 


Simon the Rabbit at the Kids Club. NHYM 2015.

The Room & Service

We had a very spacious family room with 2 interconnecting rooms, which fit us perfectly. The children had their room with two twin beds while we had a large King size bed with very comfortable beds. The Service… well, let’s just put it this way: the hotel was full of Uni students working during their summer holidays to earn a little cash for the year to come. There were no professionally trained French Maitre d’ or fully trained concierges (‘Uhm, sorry, you booked Longleat tickets through us? No one told me!’) Not quite what we are used to, but very friendly and genuinely nice.


Did I mention everything is for children here? NHYM 2015. 

Outside Woolley Grange

What the children really loved outside the hotel was Longleat Safari Park, probably the best drive through Safari Park in the UK (unlike Whipsnead which is not a proper drive through Safari Park), which also has an Adventure Park and a beautiful house to visit. You could spend days there and it is a sure hit with the kids. The Safari Park has plenty of animals to see; giraffes, zebras, lions, tigers, and lots of Monkeys that love to sit on your car mirrors! The Adventure Park also has loads of fun playgrounds and more to see. The Jungle Cruise had hippos, gorillas and a chance to feed sea lions. We were there for a whole day and didn’t manage to see it all. Definitely worth a visit.


Longleat House. NHYM 2015. 




Nico the 55 year old Gorilla. NHYM 2015. 


Despite the often 3* rather than 5* service, this place is great for children. It’s a quick escape from the city and a great base to explore the countryside. We saw more animals there than we have seen in all our years in London (we also managed to feed goats, pigs and ponies at a little farm in the vicinity). It’s a great place for kids, although where parents can sometimes feel like second class citizens, but since we’ve had plenty of adult time in our day (see: Santorini, Greece:, we sucked it up ;0. There’s plenty to do around there, like visit Bath and Bradford-on-Avon, which we also enjoyed (a new rest the Weaving Shed in Bradford was a nice surprise). We would recommend it to anyone who is looking for some quality time with kids, and save the following weekend for time with the adults.