Reviews

Round Up: New Notting Hill Restaurants

It’s been a while since there were any restaurant openings in NH, but all of a sudden, a flurry of Notting Hill restaurants have opened their doors, from Michelin-star-ambitious restaurants to hip-Shoreditch competitors:

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Core by Clare Smyth

https://www.corebyclaresmyth.com

Notting Hill still has an appetite for Michelin starred restaurants with the opening of Core by Clare Smyth, the ex-Gordon Ramsay chef who has accumulated 3 Michelin stars in the past and finally opened her own restaurant. Already booked months in advance, it already seems destined to be a star.

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108 Garage 

http://www.108garage.com

With its exposed brick and eccentric decor, this restaurant could easily have been in Shoreditch, but luckily it has arrived in Notting Hill with plenty of fanfare around its food. Opened by some interesting fellas, Luca Longobardi and Chris Denney, the story behind it is quite intriguing. Luca Longobardi’s life is interesting enough that he has written a book about it and found Chris Denney on Gumtree. The result: one excellent restaurant and a another one just opened, Southam Street.

Southam Street

http://www.southamstreet.com

The guys behind 108Garage are behind this barely opened restaurant that has already attracted half of the people I know the night I went there. On the ground floor, it’s a robata grill – the rump steak is excellent and worth going for alone, with exposed brick walls painted white and Danish inspired chairs. Upstairs is the sushi bar, that I heard is also good. The upstairs ‘member’s’ area is still not opened as they are waiting to receive their late night drinking license, but if all goes to plan, this could become a foodie destination.

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The Italian Job

http://www.theitalianjobpub.co.uk

This is the third Italian Job by the guys who opened up the first one by raising £400K through Crowdfunder. Anything is possible these days, and here’s to prove that you just need passion and some tech savvy to open up your dream Italian brewery.

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ULI 

https://ulilondon.com

Uli is not technically new, but it has relocated from All Saint’s Road to the Notting Hill Gate area on Labdroke Road. They recently invited me to check it out and I especially liked the restaurant’s design and found the food quite good. For a local Asian in the neighborhood, Uli is a good choice.

xx

NHYM

http://www.nottinghillyummymummy.com

 

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Reviews, Social Commentary, Travel, Uncategorized

Review: Soho Farmhouse

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Courtyard at Soho Farmhouse. NHYM 2017. 

‘Celebrity rural retreat Soho Farmhouse is unrealistic, silly, utterly  contrived – and absolutely fabulous.’ – The Mirror 

It’s been a while since I’ve wanted to check out Soho Farmhouse – I’d heard how uh-mazing it was about a million times – but a few things had been in the way of me and the milk float that takes you around to rural bliss. But this past half-term, the perfect opportunity came up for me to check into one of their ab-fab cabins and I took the chance before I could say, ‘Old-Nick-Jones-Had-a-Farm’.

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Cabins on the river. NHYM 2017.

As soon as you arrive to Soho Farmhouse, you are whisked off in a 1950s milk float to the cabins, which are interspersed along a ‘river’ (stream) that intersects the main grounds.

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Our cabin No.1 had a great, central location. The standalone cottage is seen behind. NHYM. 

But let’s get one thing straight. This is not ‘real’ country. This is for city folk pretending to be country folk. Just like me. Each cabin is equipped with bicycles which are the official mode of transport around the grounds. But if that’s not your thing, don’t worry, BMWs are available to pick you and drop you off at your leisure, so you never feel completely out of your comfort zone.

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Inside the cabins. NHYM 2017.

The cabins were my favourite part of the whole Farmhouse ‘experience.’ As someone wrote, it’s less ‘Little House on The Prairie’ and more ‘Little House on La Prairie.’ They are cosy, comfortable and warm and you could really just spend your whole weekend watching movies, taking baths and playing old records without ever having to leave. (There was an old record player that our ‘Farmhand’ didn’t know how to use, his excuse: ‘this was before my time’. I had to laugh)

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Kitchen in the Cabin. NHYM 2017. 

There is a kitchen for those who want to pretend they want to cook, but really, the restaurants will very happily fill you up without having to raise your little finger. The facilities at Farmhouse are great too, including the indoor-outdoor swimming pool that must be amazing in the summer, the Asian restaurant next to it and the heaven-on-earth-for-a-4-year-old kid’s club, which unfortunately is only for members. There are chickens, pony rides and zip lines that would put any 4 year old in hysterics. There is even a horse-and-carriage that will take you around the grounds, crazy golf and pigs rolling around in the mud.

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Outdoor tents. NHYM 2017. 

There are also new tents that have been erected for those who want more of a ‘be-at-one-with-nature’ experience but people we ran into who spent the night there came out freezing and in their bathrobes: there are no toilets or bathrooms in the outback. Which leads me to the fact that within 24 hours we ran into 5 people we knew: work people, school people, neighbours and even distant relatives! This is not where you go to have a quiet, relaxing weekend. This is where Central London convenes and puts on a Barbour jacket and Gucci wellies instead of owning a country pile to inhale the fresh air.

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Inside the tents. NHYM 2017. 

It’s so popular with Londoners that David Beckham is building a farm literally next to Farmhouse, that’s how much he loves it, but doesn’t want to slum it in one of the cabins.

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Inside the Barn. Courtesy of the Internet. 2017.

Soho Farmhouse is a Disneyland for adults, a Butlins for Toffs, a Center Parcs on luxury steroids. It is equally fabulous as it is fake, but it is a whole lot of fun. It is ‘the’ place to throw a birthday party, and it is a dream place for kids too – my daughter cried when we had to leave…

But, one of the main downsides is that non-members are no longer allowed to stay at the weekends, and there is a slight ‘members’ vs ‘non-members’ taste that irritated me when they told me the kids couldn’t go to the kids club. Very smugly irritating. Especially when Ron Burkle, a complete suit, owns pretty much 60% of it…. So despite how wonderful it is, I probably won’t be staying again any time soon – but I’ll just have to find someone to throw a fab fortieth to get into that milk float again.

xx

NHYM

http://www.nottinghillyummymummy.com

 

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Reviews, Social Commentary

Frieze Art Fair London 2017

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Damien Hirst Butterflies, Frieze Art Fair 2017. All photos courtesy of NHYM 

Last night was the Preview night of the Frieze London and it was full of bright colours and patterns. To me, it demonstrates a reaction to the difficult world we live in today with news reels filled with terrorism, gun violence and nuclear weapons waved around by complete goons, Trump v Kim. It is a dire and dark world and artists in reaction are creating pieces to take us away from it all.

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There is something to be said about going back to comforting places. The colours and techniques felt very familiar this year and less eccentric than the past years. These above Gauguin and Matisse-inspired pieces induced a feeling of comfort in me, as if I had seen them before.

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These geometrical patterns and colours above felt similarly influenced by greats like Rothko. There were a lot of cartoon-like art reminiscent of Roy Lichtenstein as well.

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I particularly loved this piece, which was made up of four screens of a film of moving water, which was a soothing and peaceful scene in the middle of the crowded and frenetic art scene.

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This was an interesting political, social and cultural commentary on South Korea.

Patterns: 

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There were a lot of patterns on display which creates a feeling of routine, familiarity and comfort, which I think the world feels and needs at the moment.

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People Watching: 

Of course the people watching was almost as great as the art. Preview night always promises colourful outfits and characters and this year did not disappoint with balloon woman:

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I mean, how does she breathe??? I still haven’t figured this one out, but she was great ‘live art’ to watch, and the silver headed man was pretty entertaining too.

New To The Frieze: 

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This year, a new American Express Centurion Lounge opened at the Frieze for certain American Express card holders. They are opening airport lounges for their card members and have already 7 in the US and a few around the world like Hong Kong but plan to open them globally and this one is to showcase their new venture.

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Inside the lounge, well, it does look like an airport lounge, but it offers complimentary champagne, snacks and even sandwiches, so when you are in need of an art-break, it is definitely worth stopping by for a drink and art-discussions. There is also a new BMW lounge, which you could sign up to and a VIP Lounge at Frieze Masters by the guys behind 1 Grovesnor Square.

Frieze keeps growing year after year, with parallel art, fashion, design and architecture events around London and now even airplane lounges, cars and luxury developers have joined the party. This year, to me, it was about comfort, routine and light and bright, which feels is what we are all needing these days.

xx

NHYM

http://www.nottinghillyummymummy.com

@NHyummymummy

 

 

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Reviews, Social Commentary, the beta mum book

Fashion Week 2017: Anya Hindmarch & Ralph Lauren

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All photos courtesy of NHYM 2017. 

This week has been bustling with activity for London’s Fashion Week Fall ’17. Mums have been dropping off their children at school and then rushing off to fashion shows or events, dressed-to-impress. I am someone who appreciates fashion: I enjoy looking it at and wearing it, but you wouldn’t say I am a ‘fashionista’ unlike friends of mine including Smart Fashionista who has 167K followers because of what she wears (hey, we all have our strengths). I am not fashion forward enough, and I like my clothes comfortable (read: leggings and sweaters uniform) for the school run.

But this week, I was busy with my own fashion collaborations with a book signing and talk at Anya Hindmarch on Tuesday for my book The Beta Mum, Adventures in Alpha Land. On Thursday, I was invited to an exclusive ‘Cars and Fashion’ Ralph Lauren event.  I love both brands and actually have both brands in my closet so makes for the perfect fashion week invitations. (Let’s face it, there is some fashion that is great to see on a runway but not necessarily to wear).

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My book signing table! Loved it. NHYM 2017. 

On Tuesday, I was invited to do a small private talk, reading, book signing and Q&A session  at Anya Hindmarch in their Sloane Street shop with the Kensington and Chelsea Women’s Club, a group of international women in London. They were a lovely, thoughtful and enthusiastic group.

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It was also a chance to browse Anya Hindmarch’s new Fall ’17 collection, while sipping on wine and discussing the trials and tribulations of writing a book. This fall’s highlight to me was Anya Hindmarch’s ‘Build a Bag’ concept, which is great fun. You take a bag, and add lots of fun accessories. I particularly like the fluffy pompoms to add to any bag (or at least my girls would love them).

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Anya’s fall collection was a perfect collaboration because it is playful, fun and colourful, which is how I think The Beta Mum should be read.

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Next up, I was invited to a cars and fashion Ralph Lauren event at their New Bond Street store last night. The perfect combination, it appealed to men and women: boys and their toys and girls and their dresses. Some things never change whether you are 5 years old or 50 years old.

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The event was hosted by the beautiful Yasmin Le Bon and had lots of Ferraris around.

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This was my absolute favourite room with a red, black and white palette of colours; sleek, sophisticated and luxurious. I love RL for those reasons and hopefully there may be a future collaboration in the making.

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I loved both events, although they were very different. Anya Hindmarch’s collection is channeling colours and fun, while Ralph Lauren is channeling sleek and sophisticated, but I’d like to think that I can work both styles! Another Fashion week comes to an end and the fashion houses can breathe again next week, until the next one.

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Thank you Anya Hindmarch for hosting my book signing and thank you Ralph Lauren for inviting me to this great event!

xx

NHYM

http://www.nottinghillyummymummy.com

@NHyummymummy

 

 

 

 

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Photos, Reviews, Travel

Florence…With Kids!

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Florence view from Villa San Michele. All photos NHYM 2017

As we all know, traveling with kids is just not the same as travelling without kids. I laugh at my friends with young babies who tell me ‘But, holidays are just not holidays with kids!’ And then the children grow up a bit and you can leave them in the Kids’ Club and have a few hours of peace on the beach with a book and cocktail in hand. I am now at the age where my children are – just about – ready for cultural holidays.

VillaSanMicheleNHYM

So this summer, we decided to take the plunge and take a ‘plane-car-boat-train-road-trip’ from Florence to France. Florence, I thought, would be a great place to start exposing them to sight-seeing and cultural holidays. It’s rich in culture, art, architecture and history, while being quite manageable in size. Oh and it has some great hotels and great food.

VillaSanMicheleFacadeNHYM

The one thing about getting older – and I am – is that it’s the time to fulfil your dreams. As children and as we grow up, we create our dreams in our minds, but as an adult, you get to make those dreams – hopefully – happen (or so I tell myself so I don’t get too depressed about getting older). Villa San Michele is one of those places I had read about twenty years ago and always wanted to go. It is an old monastery with a facade by Michaelangelo, which was converted into a luxury hotel. It is one of these places where you feel like you are absorbing history just by staying there. Some people may find it too old/cold, not-as-great as-it-once-was, but I loved it and was very happily not disappointed. It has the most wonderful views of Florence and is up in the hills where it is cooler than the valley where Florence resides.

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We loved our room, a Garden Suite, which we got as an upgrade and it was huge and perfect for a family of four. Not sure how or why we got such a great upgrade, but it ended up being the most value-for-money hotel we stayed in for the entire trip.

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The trick I realised with cultural holidays, is that you should spend 3 – 4 hours sightseeing with the children, and then make sure there is a pool at the hotel where they can spend the rest of the day. It was the perfect balance for them and for us.

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Top 5 Activities To Do With Kids in Florence: 

  1. Ride a Tuk Tuk or any other kind of fun transportation through Florence to see the main landmark places such as the Piazzale Michaelangelo, the Duomo, and the Ponte Vecchio so you don’t have to hear ‘I don’t want to walk anymore!’ http://www.tuktukflorence.net/tuk-tours
  2. Do a treasure hunt through the museums and palaces like the Palazzo Vecchio with a tour guide looking for flowers, turtles and mystical creatures. (Dr. Alessandra Bernabei is great – although on the expensive side +393398517317)PizzaMakingFlorenceNHYM
  3. Learn how to make your own pizza and gelato. And then eat them for dinner. https://www.florencetown.com/161-pizza-gelato-cooking-class.html
  4. Take a trip to surrounding areas such as Chianti, Forte Dei Marmi or Cinque Terre. http://www.marklimotours.com – Mark speaks perfect English and will take you anywhere you want.
  5. This one’s not really for the kids but has to be done. Leave the kids in front of a DVD and have a romantic dinner at La Loggia restaurant in Villa San Michele. Utterly beautiful views and sunset to try to get a little romance back. SunsetVillaSanMicheleNHYMThe children learned about the history of the Romans, the Medicis, about architecture and religion, about pizza and gelato making and about Michaelangelo and the Renaissance. It was a really culturally enriching trip and fun for the whole family. For anyone thinking about going to Florence, I highly recommend it!

xx

NHYM

http://www.nottinghillyummymummy.com

@NHyummymummy

Recommended hotels:

Villa San Michele

https://www.belmond.com/villa-san-michele-florence/

Four Seasons Florence

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Reviews, Social Commentary

Serpentine Summer Party & Royal Academy of Art Summer Exhibit

Royal Academy of Art Summer Exhibit

RoyalAcademyILoveYouNHYM

Royal Academy of Art Summer Exhibit. NHYM 2017

It has been an ‘artful’ week with both a private view of the Royal Academy of Art Summer Exhibit and the Serpentine Summer Party 2017. Yes, the summer season has officially started with events such as Queens, Wimbledon and Henley, but I have chosen the art scene to fill my nights. On Tuesday night, I attended a private view of the Royal Academy of Art Summer Exhibit.

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The Summer Exhibit was more modern than the last time I attended, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. This painting ‘Art Makes Children Powerful’ set against the sculpture of this child was very powerful. Our children are our future and in all this instability, art provides stability and an outlet for expression.

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Not only was the art creative, but these hors d’hoeuvres were absolutely brilliant! They really looked like the real thing.

Serpentine Summer Party

Next, on Wednesday night was the Serpentine Summer Party!

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The Serpentine Summer Pavilion 2017 was designed by Francis Kere, influenced by growing up in Burkina Faso and his schooling in Germany. It is based around the symbol of a tree as a place where people gather together, where everyday activities play out under the shade of its branches. Symbolically, I appreciate its construct, but visually I admit that I preferred last year’s pavilion.

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As a new feature, this year had a pop-up restaurant dedicated to Coco Chanel, therefore called Coco’s. Chanel sponsored the party this year, but sadly Karl was not in attendance. The restaurant offered crudites and a main – stone bass or burrata – that was meant to be eaten in 20 minutes. Mr. X and I loved the concept and were very happy to try it out.

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But of course, the private concert is always one of the highlights of the night. That night, despite the freezing cold weather, Rita Ora played some great music to get the crowd moving. What I like is Rita Ora’s story. She is a proper Notting Hill girl and was involved in the Rugby Portobello Trust, which has proven to be truly inspirational in the wake of the Grenfell tragedy. She truly illustrates the power of dreams and of working hard to fulfil those dreams.

Of course, the people watching was, as always, brilliant. From Damien Lewis to Claudia Schiffer, to Dame Shirley Bassey to Mario Testino and stalwarts like Grayson Perry. The amount of talent, artistry and creativity in one place is incomparable to any other party. And for normal people like me, we hope to absorb some of their creativity.

It was a great night as always!

xx

NHYM

http://www.nottinghillyummymummy.com

@NHyummymummy

 

 

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In the Press, Reviews, the beta mum book

Thank you to all my reviewers!

As the last week until my book launch approaches, I wanted to share some of the wonderful reviews that have started coming in from book reviewers, mum bloggers and also Goodreads Advance Copy readers. I am humbled by the words that people have used to describe my book, The Beta Mum, Adventures in Alpha Land. I couldn’t hope for more wonderful words, and as a writer, this makes the hours of hard work, solitude and perseverance all worth it. So a very BIG thank you to all of you who have taken the time out of your busy days and lives to read my book and write down your thoughts on it. Without readers there would be no writers. xx

‘Intelligent, thought-provoking fiction that you want to keep reading…I completely bought into Sophie. I wanted to give her a hug. It’s a couple of days since I finished the book, but I keep wondering how she’s getting on. She’s not alone though – all the characters come off the page and into your life. It’s a great story too: I read it in a couple of sittings…’ The Book Bag.

‘Beta Mum is a brilliantly written, engaging novel, I literally can’t put it down. I hope it’s adapted into a TV series or film asap.’ Vicki Psarias, Honest Mum. 

‘This is a must-read…It is brilliant, witty, fun, sad and thought provoking. I couldn’t put it down. There were also plenty of things I could relate to and recognise… I wish there were a sequel.’ Karin Thyselius-Schumacher, NW8-Mums.com

‘What can I say? I absolutely LOVED this book!…It made laugh out loud, cringe and hold my breath. It’s so relatable… I think there’s scope for this to become a series and I for one cannot to wait to see if it does!’ Purple Book Stand

‘Keep an eye out for blogger and new author Isabella Davidson. Her debut novel, The Beta Mum, Adventures in Alpha Land is funny, relevant, entertaining, a bit suspenseful and very reminiscent of Sophie Kinsella and Liane Moriarty’s love child…if they were to ever have one…you know in chick-lit land.’ Jennifer Castro, Goodreads

‘Forget politics…this is a world that’s more dog-eat-dog! The Beta Mum is the hilarious fish-out-of-water tale of Sophie, a Canadian, who ends up pitted against the rich, socialite mums of west London. Isabella Davidson’s debut novel really astutely follows her escapades as she tries to settle in and make friends, while finding her own place in this new, glossy world. Highly recommend!’ Ex – Harlequin Editor

‘What a great book!…A great debut book from Isabella Davidson, and I hope it will be the first of many.’ Heather Lou, Goodreads

‘I loved this fictional story that has a gallery of fascinating super rich mums…Book loving friends, you have to read this book with ‘rich’ characters you will want to read about.’ Suzanne Marsh, IReadNovels

‘I really enjoyed this book. It was funny and observant, and I really empathised with Sophie and her plight…Davidson has some really good insights into marriage after children and the effect that virtual life has on one’s real life. Hopefully this is the first of many books for her.’ Kaci Loves Books

 

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