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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Social Commentary, Travel

Welcome Back! And falling in Love with London again…

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Portovenere, Italy. All Photos Courtesy of NHYM. 2017.

I just wanted to write a quick note to say Hello and Welcome Back! I took the summer off from writing and promoting my book, The Beta Mum, Adventures in Alpha Land. Frankly, it was quite wonderful forgetting about book sales and anything related – although I did manage a radio interview with Irish Radio RTE sitting by the pool, and did manage to appear in The Sun! No, not as a Page Three girl but still.

This summer, I took the last few weeks of August and travelled around Italy and France with trains/planes/boats/automobiles and even Tuk Tuks, for our first cultural family holiday starting in Florence and ending in France. It was the Dolce Vita with history, art, cooking and geography lessons as well as showing my children how others live in small Italian towns.

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Vernazza, Italy. NHYM 2017.

Coming back to London the Sunday before school started was a big shocker. People ask how my kids are adapting to being back-to-school (they love it), but really they should be asking me how it feels to be back-to-reality. Yes, I know you shouldn’t feel sorry for me, most people have been working all summer, but I am having ‘re-entry-into-London-adjustment-issues.’ Friends of ours have left London to live in Spain/France/the countryside/Switzerland and sometimes when I return to the frantic-ness of school gates/school-uniforms/tutors/tests and stress, I always wonder whether this is what I want.

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Italy. Eco Del Mare. NHYM 2017

But then, I go about trying to fall in love with London, and it isn’t so hard after all. There is something special about London (when it doesn’t rain). We are in a vibrant, cultural, dynamic hub of Europe and as I receive invitations to great events, I am reminded that this is where things happen. The Frieze is coming up so soon, reminding me that London is an art centre of the world, as well as a talk from the CEO of Sotheby’s I am hoping to attend. I am in talks with a charity, which would hopefully involve me in something greater than myself or my ‘bubble.’  Finally, London is where I wrote and published my first book, which has overall been such a great creative experience. I have my own upcoming events, which are quite exciting. Next week, I am having an event with Anya Hindmarch on Tuesday, and in a few weeks time, I have an event with 3HouseClub in St. John’s Wood for NW8mums. Only in London would I get these great collaboration opportunities.

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How great is this e-vite? I absolutely love it so had to share it. (Please contact me on nottinghillyummymummy@hotmail.com if you are interested in coming to any of my events) I also have a potentially exciting project in the pipeline – which may or may not come to fruition, but even just having these discussions is creatively wonderful.

And of course, I am reminded every day how great it is to be in such an international, tolerant, open-minded, educated city when I look around the restaurants, the school gates, and even while walking down the street, and I know this is where I am meant to be right now.

So here’s to being Back-to-School, Back-to-Reality, and Back-to-London. I hope you have had a wonderful start to your – school – year!

xx

NHYM

http://www.nottinghillyummymummy.com

@NHyummymummt

 

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Reviews, Social Commentary

Serpentine Summer Party & Royal Academy of Art Summer Exhibit

Royal Academy of Art Summer Exhibit

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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.

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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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Social Commentary, the beta mum book

The Beta Mum, Adventures in Alpha Land is Out Now!

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The day has finally come! After two and a half long years, The Beta Mum, Adventures in Alpha Land is finally available to purchase on Amazon, The Notting Hill Bookshop, and Daunt Books. (It may take a few days for Daunt to have the books in-store but you should be able to order from them. The Notting Hill Bookshop has books in-store from today).

Just a reminder, this book is fiction! ALL the characters are fiction so if you see any similarities, I promise it is a coincidence! The only character who was influenced by someone is David, who is loosely based on David, the lawyer in The Good Wife (who is just a great character and I was watching a lot of Good Wife when I was writing it). What I did endeavour to do, is create relatable characters. Many of my reviewers felt that they related to my main character Sophie and my one male reviewer related to Michael. Please remember, it is a fun, light, summer read and should not be taken very seriously! No one should feel offended by it!

The setting may be in glitzy west London for entertainment purposes, but the themes are universal. The book is really about Sophie and the challenges of motherhood: loneliness, feeling like an outsider, trying to find your identity (and sanity) as a stay at home mum, battling mum guilt as a working mum, relationship issues and trying to balance being a mother and an individual. It is also about being kinder to one another and not judging others too quickly. I hope that this is a message to all mums: be nicer to each other. At least, I will try my best.

If you buy the book and enjoy it, please, please, please leave some reviews on Amazon! That’s really important to support me. After three years of writing for the joy of writing, now it is my turn to ask for some support!

Thanks everyone!

‘The Beta Mum is the perfect holiday read!’ Tall Mum in Manchester

I came away from The Beta Mum feeling like I’d been through it all myself and not quite ready for it to end. From the marvellous to the mundane, I wanted to read more.’ Me, Annie Bee

Best summer read? Yes…If you read, follow or write…then you need to get your hands on The Beta Mum, Adventures in Alpha Land as soon as it comes out…The reason I enjoyed the book so much was because of the mix of feelings it brought out in me. I felt like a friend to the main character…Conversations and situations are fantastically written…A great read when you have those minutes alone on a warm evening, sipping on something tasty and melting off into a world of uber Yummy Mummies.’ Mama Chic

I really enjoyed this book and read through it in one day…descriptive and well written, I’ll look forward to more from this author.’ Mrs. Blogg’s Books

xx

NHYM

http://www.nottinghillyummymummy.com

@NHyummymummy

Instagram: Notting Hill Yummy Mummy

**In honour of the Grenfell Tower Tragedy, The Notting Hill Bookshop and I will have a fundraising bucket today at the bookshop raising funds.**

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Social Commentary, Spotlight On...

Grenfell Tower Tragedy

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All Photos courtesy of NHYM 2017. 

On Wednesday morning, I woke up to this view from my house. It was an incredibly sad day for west London and North Kensington. I am best known for poking fun at myself and my life around Notting Hill, but on Wednesday, I only felt sadness and despair, alongside all my friends and neighbours in the area. That day, it wasn’t about being Labour or Tory, white or black, Christian or Muslim, Remainers or Brexiteers, rich or poor, that day was about being a human.

The Community 

I have never felt more proud to be a part of this community as I did when I went down to various relief centers to help out, where I saw everyone in the community coming to help, whether to volunteer or to donate clothes, bedding, toys and food. The incredible spirit of human kindness was apparent everywhere you looked, from the grandmother carrying a teddy bear to bring to a lost child, to the mother who piled her pram with nappies to bring to a baby in need, to the people who drove three hours from Kent to offer a helping hand. The response was incredible and overwhelming that no more physical donations are being accepted.  

The Rugby Portobello Trust has been a prominent leader from the start, offering shelter and food and accepting donations for the victims. Schools and neighbourhoods have all come together to donate, volunteer and raise funds. All the parents and teachers and community members have shown incredible and wonderful community spirit. Even though there is no silver lining in this tragedy, the solidarity exhibited by our community has gone over and beyond what one could have expected.

 

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The Heroes. Firefighters returning from Grenfell Tower. NHYM 2017. 

Volunteer Profile 

As I tried to do my small share of helping out, I met a lady from Eritrea, strong and enthusiastic, who had been volunteering all day before starting a shift at a nursing home that afternoon. In that moment, we found a common ground and goal bringing us together. She came to London over 30 years ago, escaping the war in Eritrea, when the UK opened its arms to her and welcomed her. ‘Here’, she said, ‘I have freedoms that I wouldn’t have in many other countries. This country has welcomed me, I love this country. Even though this was a tragedy, the UK had helped all these people in that tower.’ This event has been a constant reminder of what is important, of being grateful, and of being united.

The Aftermath

We will probably never know the identities of many who have lost their lives. What are now missing persons, will become the fatalities of the tragedy when they are not found. The process of recovery and identification in a fire like this will be lengthy, arduous and sometimes impossible. The building is not safe yet and who knows if it will ever be for the full identification and recovery process to happen.

But so far, more than £2M has been raised for the Grenfell Tower Tragedy and the number keeps rising. The tireless volunteers are still there helping out, day and night, and will be needed for days and months to come. And now, more than ever, I am proud to be a Notting Hiller and being a part of this community.

To donate to the Grenfell Tower Tragedy: https://secure.thebiggive.org.uk/grenfellhttps://secure.thebiggive.org.uk/grenfell

For donations specifically for babies and children:

https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/strawberryfields-grenfell?utm_id=100&utm_term=Eqjy48x9x

xx

NHYM

http://www.nottinghillyummymummy.com

@NHYM

 

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