Social Commentary

The British Schooling (Torture) System


Images courtesy of the internet. NHYM 2018. 

Lately, all we’ve (the mums) been talking about has been exams: it is January when most of the 7+/8+/11+ exams are happening and it’s been dire: chatter about who’s taking what exam, to what school and who’s been getting interviews etc…and those that say they aren’t taking them and you see them at the 7+ hiding in the bushes. I have consciously not yet entered this quite cutthroat world, but eventually, I too will have to face it.

I was having lunch with a friend who is slightly panicking because she has never tutored her kids but now has the 11+ coming up next year and is worried about her child not getting into any school. She is adamantly against tutoring, but I told her that the problem is that everyone else is tutoring, so you need to know what you are up against. She then said ‘This is crazy. What are we doing to our kids? And to what end?’

I have heard of people going on anxiety pills for the infamous 11+ – and that’s just the mums – and children not able to sleep at night because of exam stress as young as 7 years old. Everyone is getting stressed: fathers losing their s*&t and mums taking a year off prestigious jobs to overlook their children’s progress. But it is starting earlier and earlier. Children are already being tutored in Reception and by Year 2, everything accelerates when those looking to do the 7+ are already learning the Year 4 curriculum. I’m being advised by a friend on what activities my child should be doing right now for her future university application. It’s all very fast, too early and too soon.


So, why are we doing this to our children? The most prestigious girls school in the UK has an extremely high rate of mental health issues: anxiety, depression, eating disorders and personality disorders. Until this changes, I would never send my children there. And the girls consortium who is trying to scrap their exam because of exam stress. Isn’t it all a bit much for 11 year olds?

I understand the statistics though: the better school you get into, the higher chance of going to a good university, and the better the university, the better chance of getting a good job. This is all true, by all means. But it’s not the only way. There are ways of getting to the top without these illustrious diplomas and distinctions.

My alma mater receives 30,000 applications for something like 1,500 spots. There is no way I would get into it these days. But I have hope that there are plenty of great schools/universities – perhaps not the best but very good – that will provide my children with a great education. So, let’s all relax a bit. If you’re not trying to be a billionaire/Fortune 500 CEO/Entrepreneur of the year, then you should relax too (and if you are, good luck to you). Most of us are lucky enough to send our children to good schools, and most likely they will end up in good universities. So, let’s just take a step back and realise that the world will be run by robots anyway, so your kids might as well have fun along the way.




Here’s some advice to parents from Hannah Ogahara, who runs a local tutoring agency Love Learning Tutors:

How to be involved in your child’s school life without being overbearing

It is easy enough to be involved with your child’s studies when they are young but what do you do when your child grows into one of those moody teenagers? We’ve all been on the receiving end of some harsh backchat. It can leave you feeling helpless when all you want to do is to offer your years of experience. Let’s face the facts, it may be a challenge to be your child’s best friend over the next few years, but here are some simple things you can do to ease tension at home and stay involved without becoming overbearing.

Actively listen

One of the greatest frustration that teenagers face is when parents make assumptions about what they should be doing. This is quite a general one and includes friendship groups and interests as well as school life. It may be that you don’t remember the particular teacher they are talking about, or perhaps you weren’t really listening because you were juggling many tasks when they confided in you. We recommend discussing school life with your child and making an effort to really listen and retain what you are being told. This builds trust and the knowledge that they can come to you for guidance.

Be aware of your communication style

If you find yourself getting into frequent arguments with your child about school, change your approach. Try to avoid confrontation and change the focus to constructive solutions. Veer away from the nagging voice and steer towards calm, pragmatic tones. Ask open question rather than questions that can be quickly shut down.

Swap “Have you done your homework?” and “Where is your homework?” for “Do you have a lot of homework?”, “Tell me about your homework, is there anything interesting?”

Ask small questions often

Get into the habit of asking small school related questions often so that it doesn’t come as a surprise when you need to bring something up. Try remember who is teaching what, which teachers they like and which they don’t. This shows that you’re really listening and taking interest. It makes it easier for your child to keep you in the loop.


Let your child know when they are doing well and celebrate successes together. Everyone loves to feel successful and valued. No matter how big your child gets, no one is immune to a bit of praise (provided they feel they have earned it). This should encourage your child to tell you how things are going on a frequent basis.

Share stories

Carefully select stories to share about your school experiences. Regardless of whether they are things that went well or terribly wrong. A good story provided at the right time can allow for bonding between you and your child. It helps your child understand that you’ve been through the same things are sympathetic towards them and their academic journey. Be on the same team rather than opposing sides, “you are wrong” vs “I am right”.

Less “When I was at school it was much harder because…”

More “I had a similar teacher who used to…”

Don’t take it personally

This is one of the hardest tips to put into practice. Having your child snap at you can leave you feeling distraught; and feeling that your constant efforts to provide them with the best you can, aren’t being appreciated. Unfortunately, adolescence is a difficult time for everybody. The above suggestions will help with positive and open communication, but things will not always go to plan. When this happens take a deep breath and step away for a moment, rather than letting things escalate.

Social Commentary

Happy New Year 2018 & My New Year’s Resolutions…


I hope everyone had wonderful holidays and a good start to 2018!

Of course, January is always a tough month, the weather seems like an endless kaleidoscope of greys with no end in sight, the christmas holidays already feel like ages away and let’s not forget that we are right in the middle of Divorce day (January 8th 2018) and Blue Monday (January 15 2018).

Divorce Day, for those who don’t know, happened on Monday January 8th which is the calculated day of the year with the highest numbers of divorce requests to solicitors. I once wrote an article once about D-Day, as I call it, and I was contacted by Cotswold Life who asked to publish it, so here it is in their January issue:

Divorce in the Digital Age NHYM

Next Monday is Blue Monday which is the ‘lowest’ day of the year, based on weather, debt and low motivation and it would be easy to just completely avoid it by hiding under your duvet and eat Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream all day watching Netflix, but this year, I have decided to fight that negativity and low motivation with some positive New Year’s Resolutions!

So here are my New Year’s Resolutions: 

  1. Add colour into my life: To beat the January weather blues, I’ve decided to add colour in my life anywhere I can: clothes, food, flowers and feelings. When I go shopping, I immediately gravitate towards black – well it’s slimming after all – but this year, I will introduce colours into my life. And for those who meditate, you can focus on blue for happiness and red for warmth. It’s one way to beat the grey-weather-blues.
  2. Exercise: For those who don’t know me, I am more French in my philosophy of staying slim: ‘wear black, don’t exercise, eat green apples and smoke a few fags each day to keep the fat away.’ But this year, I’m forcing myself to get that oxygen into my oxygen-deprived brain. I have been invited to a Boom Cycle class and will give you an update next week!
  3. Positive thinking and Positivity: It is easy to slide into pessimism when things aren’t exactly working out as you want them to in your life (which is inevitable at times) but there are ways to fight these thoughts. This is something I have been working on for a few years now, and although I am not perfect at it, I have significantly improved my positivity and stop myself as soon as I start feeling or thinking negative thoughts. There are tons of books written about positive thinking, but it really does work. Here are some tips from the Mayo Clinic about learning positive thinking:
  4. Gratefulness: Another skill to practice daily is gratefulness. I know, you read about it all the time, and when your children don’t listen for the 100th time when you tell them to get those shoes on in the morning and get ready for school and all you want to do is to shout at them, gratefulness just seems like far away annoying, new-age, mumbo-jumbo, but you kind of have to force yourself. They say to create a list every day of 10 things you are grateful for, which is something you can easily do with your children, and it can help lift your mood and teach your children a lesson at the same time.
  5. Giving: This year will be my year of Giving. UNICEF is my chosen charity and I have become one of their Global Guardians. I am also looking into volunteering with children, which will be one way of giving back to the community. If you are interested in UNICEF and would like more information or interested in joining as a Global Guardian, please don’t hesitate to contact me! It’s a truly amazing organisation which looks at child health, education and advocacy. You can find out a bit more about UNICEF on their website:
  6. Find something that you love doing and keep doing it, for me, it is to Keep Writing: Because I do enjoy it. It releases endorphins when I do it, I love seeing my work being published, and it gives me clarity of mind. It’s not for everyone, but find something that does make you happy, whether in your work, as a hobby or exercising, and keep doing it.

What are your New Year’s Resolutions?

Hope this will inspire you to start the year with some positivity, or if not, distract you for a few minutes from the list of things you need to do by pick-up time…!





Reviews, Social Commentary, Travel, Uncategorized

Review: Soho Farmhouse


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’.


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.


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.


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)


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.


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.


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.


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.




Reviews, Social Commentary

Frieze Art Fair London 2017


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.


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.


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.



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.


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



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.




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:


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: 


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.


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.






Reviews, Social Commentary, the beta mum book

Fashion Week 2017: Anya Hindmarch & Ralph Lauren

Anya HindmarcheventNHYM

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).


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.

Anya HindmarchBuildaBagNHYM

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).

Anya Hindmarchbags

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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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








Social Commentary, Travel

Welcome Back! And falling in Love with London again…


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.


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.


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.

Isabella DavidsonAnyaHindmarch

How great is this e-vite? I absolutely love it so had to share it. (Please contact me on 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!





Reviews, Social Commentary

Serpentine Summer Party & Royal Academy of Art Summer Exhibit

Royal Academy of Art Summer Exhibit


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.


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.


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!


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.


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.


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!