Reviews

Private Tour of the Victoria & Albert Museum

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V&A Entrance. All photos courtesy of NHYM 2017. 

BETTER IT IS TO GET WISDOM THAN GOLD.

This week, an amazing writer friend of mine who happens to work at the V&A (he is an actual couture expert and teaches in the History of Design MA – incredible!) gave my writing class a private tour of the Victoria & Albert Museum in South Kensington. I didn’t know much about the V&A apart from the fab couture exhibits like the Alexander McQueen exhibit, and last year’s Indian jewellery exhibit, which was equally as fabulous, so I was more than excited to join in.

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Inner Courtyard. NHYM 2017. 

As we stood in the inner courtyard where quotes like ‘Better it is to get wisdom than gold’ are inscribed in the museum’s facade, he started with a little history: the museum was founded in 1852 by Queen Victoria & Prince Albert as a place where the best art and design from around the world would be displayed to teach the English about design. It has since then become the largest decorative arts and design museum in the world.

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Persian Rug. NHYM 2017. 

Art and Design is such a broad subject and has such range that it is an enormous museum with 5.5 million objects of art and design, from around the world and through the generations. There are international collections including Asian Art and this Persian rug which has a specially built case that is deprived of light to preserve it – except when it is turned on for 10 minutes every 30 minutes for museum goers to see it.

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Hallway and Staircase. V&A. NHYM 2017. 

There is a blending of the old and the new at this museum, as you can see from all the Italianate designs and paintings – which at the time were the epitome of art and design -and the modern water feature in the main courtyard.

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The Cafe. NHYM 2017.

Here, you can see the modern design of this light – which I love – against the stained glass and ornate decorations in the background. The V&A was the first museum to have a cafe inside and it is still a hub of activity, especially on Friday nights where events like jazz concerts are held.

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Jewellery Collection. NHYM 2017. 

Of course, I wanted to go straight to the jewellery collection which showcases beautifully crafted jewels of amethysts, topaz and diamonds that illustrate the handicraft and tastes of the time.

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Diamond brooch. NHYM 2017. 

This above diamond brooch is one of my favourite pieces, which looks like it inspired the Chanel camellia range:

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Chanel Camelia Ring. Courtesy of the internet. NHYM 2017.

Unsurprisingly, the Chanel ring has been on my ‘Lust List’ for a while. The Boodles Raindance ring, also one of my favourites, is also part of the jewellery collection.

Unfortunately the fashion exhibit was shut as they are preparing for their next exhibit, Balenciaga, which is opening in May.

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Theatre Posters. NHYM 2017. 

There is an entire theatre and performance collection, which has posters and costumes that even your children would be interested in seeing.

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Lion King costumes. NHYM 2017. 

Speaking of children, this is a museum I would happily bring my children to, especially the paddling pool in the main courtyard that allows children. And then there is an entire Beatrix Potter collection, where you can see the works of one of the best-loved children’s authors.

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Peter Rabbit, Beatrix Potter. NHYM 2017. 

This is apparently the original Peter Rabbit that Beatrix Potter once drew in her South Ken home.

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Modern Collection. NHYM 2017

In the modernism collection, modern designs of furniture and objects, as well as photographs are shown. Apparently, to continue collecting modern design, V&A collectors are sent out to the streets of London to pick and choose random pieces of modern design to keep in the collection.

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Boom box. NHYM 2017.

But what made me feel really old is when I saw this old boom box from the 80s encased in a special glass framed case, like a shrine. It doesn’t seem that long ago, but show it to a teenager and they will think it was a relic of olden days….

For anyone who loves jewellery and fashion, theatre and music, the new and the old, design and art, this museum is a hub of beauty and creativity, modernity and history that not a lot of museums bring together like it does. Two upcoming exhibits I do not want to miss are the Pink Floyd and the Balenciaga exhibit. Can’t wait!

Thank you so much for the tour of the V&A, it was amazing! 

https://www.vam.ac.uk

xx

NHYM

http://www.nottinghillyummymummy.com

@NHyummymummy

 

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Photos, Reviews, Travel

Hotel Review: Carlisle Bay, Antigua

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View from the water. NHYM 2017. All photos courtesy of NHYM. 

Overall: 4.2 stars

Hotel: 4.3 stars

Beach and location: 4.5 stars

Rooms: 4.4 stars

Food: 4.4 stars

Service: 3.5 stars

Value for money: 3.8 stars

As you – my readers – all know, I have a slight obsession with the Maldives (it is after all, my ‘happy place’). But this year, we decided that we needed to try something different. So, after discussions with many friends, it was decided that Carlisle Bay in Antigua would be our next destination.

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View from the beach Carlisle Bay. NHYM 2017. 

One friend said that ‘it is as close as what you get in the Maldives’ : a luxury, family friendly hotel with beach front villas, a great Kids Club, and clear, shallow waters for the kids. (But I was also told to manage my expectations, because it still isn’t quite the Maldives).

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The Beach, Carlisle Bay. NHYM 2017. 

THE HOTEL

As soon as I arrived, I realised why my friends had sent me here: beautiful hotel grounds, a restaurant right on the beach, and the incredibly beautiful and idyllic beach and bay, Carlisle Bay. The beach was one of my favourite parts of the hotel, you couldn’t fault it.

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Hotel Grounds. NHYM 2017.

Antigua is only 8 hours from London, which already gets points for being one of the closest tropical island destinations (Maldives: 10/11 hours, Mauritius 11/12 hours, Asia/Thailand 13+hours). And, you can fly there on British Airways on points.

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The Room. NHYM 2017.

It is an all-suite hotel, and we were given a family suite which was the perfect set up for a family: a large main bedroom with living area and a second bedroom with 2 twin beds for the children. This set up, I have to say, was perfect. The room was bright, clean, and crisp. It provides what you ask for. (The only thing I would comment on is that the common stairs were not cleaned regularly which is something they could work on).

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The pool Carlisle Bay. NHYM 2017. 

The pool is nice enough, but nothing spectacular. It is also set back so there is no view of the sea from the pool, something I do really love and find in most hotels in the Maldives. The other disappointment was the service around the pool was quite slow at times: ie. we ordered our children’s dinner at 5pm and it arrived at 6pm and as you can imagine, hungry children make for very irritable parents (Free children’s dinners from 5-6pm).

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View from our room. NHYM 2017.

Another annoying thing was that there was a Mercedes conference/convention while we were there, and we had to change rooms because of the noise they made one night. I would definitely check with the hotel to make sure there isn’t a conference when you are staying there, as it does change the vibe of the hotel.

ACTIVITIES

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View from Shirley Heights. NHYM 2017. 

There are plenty of activities to choose from, from visiting Shirley Heights (above), to going to Stingray cities to pet stingrays (the kids loved it), to going snorkeling on a reef nearby (complimentary). We were spoilt for choice and the hotel does a good job encouraging these activities. We missed out on sunrise yoga on the pier and a hike through the jungle. Another time.

There are also a lot of cool beach restaurants like Catherine’s Cafe and Jacqui O’s that are great fun both for parents and children.

KIDS CLUB 

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Kids Club NHYM 2017. 

Oh Kids Clubs. They can make-or-break a family holiday. But luckily for us, my children LOVE Kids Clubs. I have trained them since the age of 11 months old to love Kids Clubs. So off they went happily every morning, even though there weren’t many children because of the Mercedes convention. As my husband says, we got free babysitting by a bunch of adults.

One of the highlights was on our last night (after the Mercedes gang had left), when they organised a Pyjama Party from 6:30-9pm with music, cupcakes and games. As you can imagine, all the parents dropped off their kids and went for romantic dinners. Everyone was happy: happy kids, and happy parents. There were also great activities for older children: kayaking, going to stingray city, to water parks, tubing etc…

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Sunset while my kids were at the Kids Club Pyjama Party. NHYM 2017. 

FOOD

The food was in general very good. We have had mediocre food in the Maldives and in the Caribbean, so we were very pleased with the quality. The only slight comment was that the breakfast buffet didn’t have that much choice relative to hotels in Asia and in the Maldives, but the a la carte menu was very adequate. What was great was that the kids would be happily playing in the sand on the beach while we slowly enjoyed our cappuccino. Bliss.

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Sunrise from our room. NHYM 2017.

SERVICE

There were a lot of good things about the hotel as I mentioned above, but the service was one thing that was really hit-or-miss. We had some excellent waitresses like Georgie, who was so nice to the kids and great waiters at dinner time, but we were also faced with some waitresses that looked like I was asking them a HUGE favour to order breakfast, as if they really couldn’t be bothered. For the price we pay (it isn’t a cheap hotel), the service should be 100% top notch, but sadly it failed on a number of occasions, ie. The coconut incident: I ordered a coconut at 10:30am and was told it would take a while: it arrived at 4:30pm!!!

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OVERALL

We did have a lovely time at Carlisle Bay and the kids loved it, but we were slightly disappointed in the service, given the standard of the hotel. The beach days and activities were great, the Kids Club kept my kids happy, and the breakfast was really good (my favourite meal of the day). There are a lot of repeat guests because it is an easy hotel: easy to get to, easy to get on the beach, easy to leave your kids in the Kids Club. So as long as you don’t go when there is a Mercedes conference and you don’t order a coconut, you should have a great time.

xx

NHYM

http://www.nottinghillyummymummy.com

@NHyummymummy

 

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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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Reviews

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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