Quote of the day, Reviews, Social Commentary

My Book Is Coming Out This Summer!

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A few days ago, I submitted my final manuscript to my publisher and she sent me back a timeline of the publishing schedule. It has been a long, hard road full of sweat and lots of tears, but I have now finished a novel that I started two years ago, The Beta Mum, Adventures in Alpha-Land. It hasn’t been easy, but this summer, I will finally be able to hold the paperback copy of my book in my hands.

10 Things You Need to Know About My Book: 

  1. It is fiction. No, I am not the main character. And the evil, mean mum does not exist. This is purely a product of my imagination. Of course, experiences and stories overheard may have influenced my book, but it is a work of fiction. Everything else is coincidence.
  2. It is about fulfilling a dream. I’ve always wanted to write a book and for those who know that feeling, it remains a dream until you sit on that chair and write those 70,000+ words. It may not become a bestseller, but it is finished and it has a beginning, a middle and an end, and it makes sense. To me, that is a great achievement.
  3. It is a silent achievement. As a writer, no one is around when you get to the finish line. No one cheers you on or tells you how great you are. It is purely a personal achievement that I always hoped I would fulfil and I am so proud to have finished it.
  4. It is so bloody hard to write a novel. I can’t tell you the times I’ve wanted to give up, when I wanted to throw it all away and never look at it again, and the times I wanted to quit. The plot holes, the unrelatable characters, the writing, the negative criticism etc… Even my pen name, Isabella Davidson, took hours of discussion and debate in my head. With writing, it is 99% about perseverance and determination. All writers will tell you, it’s about sitting on that chair and starting to write.
  5. It is not perfect. And the moral of the story is that none of us are perfect and that we should try to be understanding and tolerant and kind to each other. Ultimately, it is about kindness, although you may not see it that way when you read the book!! This is my first novel and I have learned so much through this process. I wish I knew all of what I know now before I started.
  6. It is not Dickens, Dostoevsky, or Dumas. It is a light, summer read which is more like a gossip-session with a friend than a life-altering book. So this summer, put it on your ‘Summer Read’ list! It is not meant to be taken seriously but does deal with issues of modern motherhood.
  7. They say to write about what you know. So, I’ve written about what I know best right now: the struggles of motherhood in London. It is about loneliness, relationships, losing your identity after becoming a mother, competitive mothering, trying to be the perfect mother, and trying to find the balance between being a parent and being an individual.
  8. All West London mums are not horrible. Although, reading this book you may be led to believe so. Most London mums are absolutely lovely and wonderful (I am one and most of my friends are!), but no one wants to read a book about mothers all being lovely and nice to each other! There would be no story to tell and that would just be very boring and no one would read it. So, I’ve piled on the bitchiness and horridness on a few of my characters (And we’ve all come across one or two ‘Mean-Mums’ or super-competitive mums…) Hopefully my next book will be more positive!
  9. I have mixed emotions about it. I am full of excitement but am also full of self-doubt (Will anyone buy it? Will anyone read it? Will they hate it? Will they hate me?)
  10. Please be kind. An author’s ego is so fragile and vulnerable, so please tread gently.

 

It won’t be ready until this summer, but I will post the book blurb soon so you get a better idea of the book. I hope you read it and laugh with it! A few quotes from my readers so far:

Thanks for a cracking read!’ 

I didn’t want to stop reading!’

I really enjoyed it and it did make me laugh. Great characters and setting.’

xx

NHYM

http://www.nottinghillyummymummy.com

@NHyummymummy

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Reviews

Happy New Year & Nama!

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nama restaurant. Copyright NHYM 2017. All photos by NHYM

I hope everyone has had a joyous New Year and start into 2017! Apologies for not writing in a while, but 2016 didn’t provide me with the right inspiration with all its tragedies, unexpected surprises and tumultuous times. I am hoping that 2017 will be a much better year all around and that you will  be hearing a lot more from me!

Like every new year, I make a note of my resolutions and what I want to improve in the new year. As always, ‘being healthy’ makes the top of list, but quickly slides down to the bottom of the list as soon as birthday cakes and cocktails pass my way. So when nama invited me to try their new winter menu, I thought this would be the perfect way to start the year.

namashelvesnhymFor those who don’t know nama, it is a ‘Raw Food’ restaurant based in Notting Hill and is vegan/organic/gluten free/processed sugar free etc… For those of you who don’t know me, I am a little more ‘steak with fries’ than ‘supergreen and nuts’ when I order in a restaurant (My friend this past weekend told me she loved me because I ordered a rack of ribs the size of a small lamb), so it takes a lot to impress me when it comes to ‘Raw Food.’

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But when the waiter showed me the menu and raved about the truffle pizza and truffle pasta, I have to say that I was impressed. This was not your usual supergreen offering and these actually both sounded delicious. I love my truffles maybe even more than I love steak. It was an easy choice to make.

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Not only did the Truffle pizza look great, it was actually really delicious. I was expecting another version of quinoa/sweetpotato/kale/pomegranate salad from this restaurant but this was completely different. The truffle spread sent my tastebuds to paradise…. And even if the walnut pizza didn’t really taste like pizza, I didn’t care as it tasted so good.

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Next came the truffle pasta made with thick courgette spaghetti. OK, it didn’t taste like pasta, but again, it really tasted quite wonderful. And I wasn’t going to leave this place feeling like I had eaten birdseeds or rabbit food. This is proper, filling, hearty winter food. And I actually really loved it as did my friend who even asked if they delivered.

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For dessert, we had the salted chocolate caramel cake, which was rich, thick and satiates any sweet craving you could have. I have to say that I didn’t expect to like my meal as much as I did. This is a little hidden jewel and I could have that truffle pizza any day. Try it, it may really surprise you.

Thank you nama for inviting me to this wonderful lunch!! 

nama

110 Talbot Road

London W11 1JR

http://www.namafood.com

xx

NHYM

http://www.nottinghillyummymummy

@NHyummymummy

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Reviews, Spotlight On...

Spotlight On: Julia Von Werz Furniture & Fashion Pop Up Shop

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Julia Von Werz Furniture & Fashion Pop up Store Notting Hill. Photos courtesy of NHYM unless otherwise indicated. NHYM 2016.

I was recently invited to the launch party of Julia Von Werz’s Furniture & Fashion Pop up store in Notting Hill this past Wednesday. It runs from November 2nd to the 14th and is the collaboration of two friends, architect Julia Von Werz and fashion designer Min Min Peng.

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Launch Party 2/11/2016. NHYM 2016

Julia Von Werz, who invited me, is an architect and furniture designer who has been running her own practice for over 10 years. She studied architecture in Vienna and Berlin and began creating her own individual, bespoke furniture pieces for her own architectural projects.

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Julia Von Werz. Photos courtesy of Alexandra PR. NHYM 2016. 

Julia also happens to be a mother of two who lives in the area (Holland Park) and is inspirational for her creativity, humbleness and openess.

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Edgewood sofa. NHYM 2016. 

She designs sofas, tables and coffee tables, lamps, and beds. Her style runs from luxurious, velvety sofas, to angular, wooden, Danish-inspired tables.

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Millbrook lamp. NHYM 2016. 

Her Millbrook lamp is one of my favourite pieces there and showcases her taste of the geometrical and the textured.

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MinMin fashion. NHYM 2016. 

Her friend and collaborator Min Min also has beautiful clothes on display with poncho-style jackets, lots of sequins and sparkles.

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Feathers and Sequins. NHYM 2016. 

Her creations are meant to make a statement, whether with unique designs, sparkly sequins or feathery coats. They are definitely worth seeing if you are looking for a unique piece this winter.

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Napier Table. NHYM 2016. 

I really enjoyed both the furniture and the fashion at Julia’s Pop Up shop. Here, you can find unique pieces that you won’t find in the mass produced fashion and furniture industry. This is what they are attempting to do: create original pieces that you will fall in love with. So if you’re looking for a special new dress for the party season or for a new sofa for your house, I would highly recommend stopping by to check it out.

Julia Von Werz Pop Up Shop

2nd Nov to 14th November

1 Lonsdale Road

London W11 2BY

http://www.juliavonwerz.com/pop-up-store/

xx

NHYM

http://www.nottinghillyummymummy.com

@NHyummymummy

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Reviews, Travel

Lake Como & The Grand Tremezzo

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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.

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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.

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Villa del Balbianello. NHYM 2016. 

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

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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.

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Mussolini’s villa. NHYM 2016. 

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

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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:

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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:

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Corner room with two views. NHYM 2016. 

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View towards Bellagio. NHYM 2016. 

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

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Wonderful grand entrance. NHYM 2016. 

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

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Front Pool floating on the lake. NHYM 2016. 

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Back pool. NHYM 2016. Lovely for children. 

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Tremezzo Terrace. NHYM 2016.

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

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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.

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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 ;).

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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.

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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.

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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.

xx

NHYM

http://www.nottinghillyummymummy.com

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A Taste of Frieze 2016…

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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.

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

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And these pink objects which were very popular.

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

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

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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.

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

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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!

xx

NHYM

http://www.nottinghillyummymummy.com

@NHyummymummy

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Meditation @ Redemption

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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.

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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!!!).

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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.)

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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.

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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.

xx

NHYM

http://www.nottinghillyummymummy.com

@NHyummymummy

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Restaurant Review: Park Chinois

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Address: 17 Berkeley St, London W1J 8EA

Phone: 020 3327 8888

https://parkchinois.com

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Decor: 4.5 stars

Ambience: 4 stars

Food: 4 stars

Value for money: 3 stars

Service: 5 stars

Overall: 4 stars

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Overall

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.

xx

NHYM

http://www.nottinghillyummymummy.com

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