Reviews, Travel

Travel: Our Epic Vietnam Adventure

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Ninh Van Bay, Nha Trang, Vietnam. View from the hike. NHYM 2019. All photos courtesy of NHYM.

We recently returned from an epic two and a half week Vietnam adventure for the Easter holidays and it has taken me this long to recover and write about it. As I told friends about my trip, many kept asking me ‘Where did you stay/where should we go/what should we do?’ so here are all my tips.

Travelling with children is also particular: you can’t necessarily sight see all day and expect your children to be happy and smiling by the end of the day. So my method is: child – friendly sight – seeing in the morning and playing and resting in the afternoon, preferably in a hotel swimming pool. So far, this formula has worked perfectly for us as a family and we usually manage to keep the whole family happy this way.

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Local fishing boat, Ninh Van Bay, Six Senses. NHYM 2019. 

This was not my first time going to Vietnam as I have been many times and even spent one month living there, but it was the first time taking my children and they absolutely loved it. Vietnam may not be a place where you will find the biggest temples of Angkor Wat or Ayuttayah, or the Great Wall of China or the Grand Palace of Bangkok, but you will get a bit of everything on a smaller scale and with a different charm.

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Rice fields and Water Buffalos. Hoi An. NHYM 2019.

We started in Saigon, but I would recommend travelling through Vietnam from North to South if you have enough time: friends of ours started in Hanoi and went downwards. In Hanoi, most people will stay at the Sofitel Metropole Hotel, which resides in a colonial building and retains its old world charm. What’s good about it with children is that it has a swimming pool. Another option, La Siesta has a range of hotel options which are very good value.

In Hanoi, you can get a feeling of what it was like in the colonial era while Saigon is a much more chaotic, modern city, so many tourists prefer Hanoi for its charm, but the Vietnamese prefer the vibrancy and dynamic life of Saigon. Our friends took an 8 hour motorbike street food tour around Hanoi and then out to the countryside, and said it was a blast and they highly recommended it.

After, Halong Bay is the requisite stop as one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites. I would recommend going for 2 nights rather than 1 night, as it’s not worth it and you will just get stuck with another 100 tourist boats and that may ruin the experience. But other friends chose Bai Tu Long Bay, which is quieter and has less tourists and stayed on the Emperor Cruises which looks very luxurious and only has 8 suites per boat.

Other areas worth seeing in the North are Sa Pa for the terraced rice fields and Ninh Binh, with its limestone monoliths, but for these you would need a considerable amount of time in Vietnam to get to all of those places.

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Four Seasons Nam Hai Pools. NHYM 2019. 

We met up with our friends in Hoi An, where the beautiful Nam Hai Four Seasons resort waited for us. There are plenty of cheaper options around Hoi An, you could argue, but I was travelling with two young children and I wanted the most stress-free option and the Four Seasons is generally a safe bet. (And this one is a lot cheaper than most Four Seasons hotels). The Kids Club at the Four Seasons was great for us adults: the girls were kept busy all day baking cookies, jewellery making, lantern making, playing games and making new friends. And when they tired of the Kids Club they happily spent the rest of their day by the pool (there are 3 pools, 2 for adults, 1 for kids).

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Hoi An Architecture and Multi-coloured lanterns. NHYM 2019. 

For the adults, a trip into Hoi An is definitely worth it. What is special about Hoi An are the lanterns at night, but also the mixed architecture throughout the town. It was an old trading port that accumulated various influences from the Japanese, Chinese and French. It’s best to go either early in the morning before the tourists arrive or at night to see the lanterns illuminating the river…

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Riding a Water Buffalo. NHYM 2019. 

One day we went on a water buffalo, wet rice planting and boat/fishing tour – all of it very touristy, but very child-friendly. The highlight of our entire trip for our children was riding a water buffalo, but they also enjoyed learning about rice planting and cultivation and they loved the basket boat ride.

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Cutting rice. NHYM 2019. 

They also learned to ride a water buffalo plough, which we called ‘water buffalo water skiing.’

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Water Buffalo ‘Water Skiing’ Hoi An. NHYM 2019

We then left for Six Senses Ninh Van Bay, near Nha Trang which I thought was absolutely stunning. This is not where you get modern, flashy rooms with mod cons: they are all made of wood and very rustic chic, but that’s what I loved that about it. There, it is all about nature. The Six Senses is so good at blending nature with its hotel and this was up to par with any of its other destinations.

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Six Senses Ninh Van Bay Water Villas. NHYM 2019. 

We had a very nice two bedroom hilltop villa which was huge with its own pool and a gorgeous view of the bay and the mountains of Nha Trang. The rooms were wooden, thatched huts surrounded by trees and hillside. The food in the main restaurant was not the best ever, but the BBQ at our villa was delicious and highly recommended.

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Six Senses Ninh Van Bay. Sunset from our Hill Top Villa. NHYM 2019. 

Here, like the Four Seasons, you can ride everywhere on bicycles. The Kids Club is not the best I’ve seen, so I only recommend it as a free babysitting service, but don’t expect Maldives quality (i.e. dolphin trips and marine conservation with turtles). But having said that, our kids loved the open air cinema by the dock, the complimentary ice-cream and making new friends – all from London – and they had a great time. Their highlights: egg picking in the chicken farm, snorkelling and fishing on a local wooden boat, a sunset cruise and seeing a monkey from the boat. My husband went on a super hike which had amazing views of the mountains and spotted langur monkeys while I enjoyed the Six Senses Spa, so again, something to keep everyone happy.

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Six Senses Ninh Van Bay. NHYM 2019. 

Saigon, where we started and ended, has drastically changed in the last ten years and has become a completely modern city with 1) Starbucks 2) H&M and 3) Chanel, and some say that there isn’t a lot of cultural interest, but to me it’s a great city and it is becoming cooler with rooftop terraces and rooftop pools. We stayed at the Hotel Des Arts, which is a popular destination for families because of their interconnecting rooms and it has a rooftop pool. If you want to be in the middle of the action and don’t mind noise, Liberty Central City Centre, is a modern, cool 4 star which has a rooftop pool and bar, that the girls loved for Happy Hour – even though their happy hour was a watermelon or mango juice.

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View from our hotel room Liberty Central Saigon. NHYM 2019. 

Their highlights in Saigon were: going for a cyclo ride through the city, going to the mall (why oh why?!) and going to a water puppet show, which shouldn’t be missed with young children. We also did a day trip to the Mekong on a boat and sampan, which is a long day, and also went to visit a family friend in the countryside, which gave us a taste of how people really live there. We also went to visit a local pagoda and orphanage to bring food and lollipops (lollipops, I was told, are a rare treat for them!) and it was great for them to meet and interact with lovely, local, children and not just Londoners, who were everywhere.

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Local Pagoda in Saigon, where the monks look after orphans. NHYM 2019. 

For me, travelling is not just about seeing the great cultural sights, but it’s about just being there, absorbing the culture, the people and the way of life which is so different to our own in London. It’s seeing that there are other ways to live aside from our own, to appreciate people and their cultures and it’s just wonderful sharing that with my children.

Whatever kind of traveller you are – a nature lover, a temple/ruins lover, a culture lover or a food lover, there is a bit of something for everyone in Vietnam. When we left, one of my daughters said ‘Let’s come back next year!’

Testament to a great trip! 

xx

NHYM

http://www.nottinghillyummymummy.com

 

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Reviews, Travel

Review: Limewood & The Pig, Hampshire

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Limewood Hotel & Terrace. Photos Courtesy of NHYM 2018

We first heard about Limewood about 10 years ago after it first opened through a friend and colleague’s of my husband’s who raved about it and kept telling us that we should go, saying that it was her favourite country hotel. But then, something overwhelming happened: we had kids and you-know-how-it- is, only hotels with kids clubs came onto our radar and we said we would go when our children were older. Well, they are now – a little – older, and we finally made it to Limewood last weekend for the most glorious weekend in the history of UK bank holidays. We wanted to run to this friend to tell her how much we loved it, but sadly we couldn’t, because this friend succumbed to her fight against breast cancer a few years ago. So, it was with some sadness that we loved this place, a place that for us, will always be linked to her.

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Garden. Limewood. Courtesy of NHYM 2018. 

I tell my children to appreciate everything we have and not to take anything for granted, whether family, friends or our health – all of which I have lost at some point. When I feel myself getting angry and frustrated by little things, I try to tell myself not to ‘sweat the little things.’ And in some ways, the harder times I’ve experienced over the years have taught me about appreciating the happier times and how to be happier overall.

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Limewood Pathway. NHYM 2018. 

But enough philosophising, you’ve probably come for a hotel review, rather than a lecture on happiness! So, back to Limewood: so much of it is ab-fab. We had a wonderful ‘Pavilion’ which is comprised of two interconnecting rooms, one on the ground floor where the kids stayed and one on the first floor where we stayed. It felt like your own little house at the back of the hotel’s garden with plenty of space, charm and was very family friendly where we could open our door and let the kids run around wildly in the garden.

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Bathtub in bedroom. NHYM 2018. 

Our bedroom had a large four-poster bed and a bathtub literally amongst the trees. It felt as if you were in a treehouse somewhere far away. Limewood is in the middle of the New Forest (not in the outskirts like Chewton Glen) with wild ponies roaming around freely, which we saw when we went tandem bicycling.

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Limewood Bar. NHYM 2018.

Other parts of the hotel I really liked were the bar, the huge spa and pool, and the breakfast room called the scullery. What differentiates Limewood from many of the other grand old hotels is that it is a boutique hotel but with 5 star amenities and it is equally as luxurious as any 5 star. It is just the right size and is beautifully designed, from the rooms to the breakfast room, whereas some of the larger hotels can become impersonal like the Grove or the Four Seasons.

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The Pig. NHYM 2018. 

On Saturday, we went to the Pig, which is the sister hotel of Limewood. It is basically its younger, hip sister, equally beautiful, but more rustic-chic than grownup Limewood, in a drinks-in-a-jam-jar kind of way.

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The Pig Conservatory. NHYM 2018. 

The restaurant is in a very cool conservatory with food that is all locally sourced. Like I said, hipsterville. We ate outside on the terrace because it was so beautiful out, but would love to go back at night one day as it is apparently quite stunning as well for dinner. The Tomahawk pork is its claim-to-fame, so be sure to order that if you go.

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Limewood Grounds. NHYM 2018. 

Back at Limewood, the children spent hours on the swings, but we also went bike-riding, swimming in the pool and to a cute little farm Longwood, when we decided that Paultons and Peppa Pig World didn’t quite flow with our weekend plans ;). There were plenty of children because it was a bank holiday weekend, so if you’re looking to go for a romantic weekend as a couple, don’t go on a BH weekend!

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Back Garden Limewood. NHYM 2018. 

Everything about the weekend was stunning: the weather, the hotel, the food, and the room, although I couldn’t have called it a relaxing weekend: there were moments when I longed for a kids club, but nonetheless it was absolutely lovely and we will certainly be back. Everyone I speak to loves it there and I can understand why. Our friend would have loved to hear that we finally made it there ten years later and loved it too.

xx

NHYM

http://www.nottinghillyummymummy

@NHyummymummy

**In memory of my husband’s Limewood-loving friend who fought so bravely and strongly against breast cancer**

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Reviews, Travel

Review: Four Seasons Kuda Huraa & Four Seasons Explorer, Maldives

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Four Seasons Kuda Huraa Pool Maldives. All photos NHYM 2018. 

Welcome Back! And hope everyone has had a wonderful and relaxing Easter break! We have just returned from one fab trip to the Maldives. Again. I know, it’s really not original, but it’s the one place I go where I don’t have FOMO. People are always telling me, ‘Oh, go there [fill in the blank], it’s just like the Maldives,’ but then I go and I say ‘It’s not the Maldives.’ Yes these are very first world/1%er/I-can’t-believe-I’m-writing-this-there’s-a-war-in-Syria musings, but the Maldives are truly my HappyPlace. So here I am writing about it – mostly in denial of our f*up world – but also because I am hoping to live off my ‘Maldives High’ for a few more days…

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We decided to go to the Four Seasons Kuda Huraa not because it is the best/most beautiful/most unique island, but because it is so nice & easy. Some people have told us the Four Seasons Landaa is nicer and bigger, but it requires waiting for a seaplane after a 14 hour flight+layover vs. a 20 minute boat ride which starts your holiday. Having gone on a seaplane last time and knowing about our flight’s layover, I just wanted to get to the resort ASAP. It is still beautiful and with small children, Kuda Huraa just ticks tons of boxes and you can rarely go wrong with the Four Seasons, because it is reliable, has great service and great food.

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What makes it so great, and the Maldives in general, is that I can spend one week barefoot and my children have complete freedom on the island. It is quite a small island which makes it really easy for the kids to go to the kids club, the pool and our Bungalow all by themselves. And traveling with my almost 70-year old mum, she was quite happy not to do too much walking. And my kids LOVE the kids club there. To the point where at 8:45am they went to the kids club and were told to come back in 15 mins when it opened at 9am. (One small caveat – the kids club is great for young children, but for older children there are bigger islands with more catered towards older kids).

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The bungalows all have traditional, thatched roofs which I really like since I am not really into ultra-modern design hotels – I am more Robinson Crusoe than Ian Schrager –  and all have private pools. The only slight downside is that the bungalows are all a bit close to each other. But my daughters loved that: one afternoon I was closing up our room and couldn’t find one of them. She had wandered over into our neighbour’s pool for a pool party with one of her new friends.

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The inside is spacious and immaculate with wood features and of course the typical outdoor shower that the kids loved.

MaldivesBeachNHYMThe beaches are beautiful but what makes the Maldives so unique is the sea-life and the lagoons. If you’re not into snorkelling and diving, this may not be the right place for you, but as a lover-of-oceans, this is truly my paradise. On our trip, despite coral bleaching, Tsunamis and general coral degeneration, we saw hundreds of spinner dolphins, a pilot whale, turtles, stingrays, hundreds of fish and lots of black tip and white tip reef sharks. The underwater life is what really brings me back here every time and is so unique to the Maldives.

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At Kuda Huraa there is a whole Marine Saver Centre with Marine Biologists who look after injured and sick turtles. My daughter spent a day with them, which is just so cool, feeding them and giving them medicine, as well as trying to help regenerate the corals, which are sadly all dead. And while she was helping to save the oceans, I was happily diving and surfing.

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Yep, that’s me on my surfboard, chilling out, waiting to catch a wave… The Maldives are really the ideal place to learn to surf, first with a lagoon lesson and then out on the waves. Amazing! The combination of surf & diving is just unbeaten. My kind of heaven.

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Adults only pool and in the distance is the Four Seasons Explorer. 

While we were there, we were lucky enough to go on the Four Seasons Explorer for a visit. For those who don’t know about the Four Seasons Explorer, it is a live-aboard boat that travels around the Maldives, taking you to unspoilt and undiscovered places to dive/surf/swim. What a way to get to know the Maldives. (I loved hearing about a 16 year old who threw her 16th birthday party on the Explorer. That’s one sweet 16th.)

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All Aboard! Back deck of the Four Seasons Explorer.

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The rooms looked very comfortable and cozy.

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Main restaurant on the Explorer.

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Sunset Bar. 

Every night at sunset we had our routine of the shark feeding and the crab race that the whole family loved. We were happy, our children were happy, what else can you ask for? As we said when we got back to London: The Maldives (and the Four Seasons) didn’t disappoint. That’s the thing with the Maldives, you know you will always have a magical time, and it is really a place where worries don’t exist – except whether to go swimming or to go to the kids club for the kids and diving or surfing for the adults – and for a few days, you can convince yourself again that the world truly still is an awe-inspiring and peaceful place.

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Until next time Kuda Huraa…

xx

NHYM

http://www.nottinghillyummymummy.com

@NHyummymummy

 

 

 

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Top 10, Travel

Top 10 Luxury Country Escapes in the UK

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A friend recently asked me for advice on where to go for a romantic, country weekend away with her husband (after multiple children, a house move and a job change, she really needed a break). So, I decided to pick top 10 luxury country escapes in the UK, including some that are child-friendly.

  1. Cliveden House: Bought by a property billionaire whose wife wrote the book ‘Mistresses of Cliveden,’ it is a historical stalwart in the country UK hotels. https://www.clivedenhouse.co.uk
  2. Limewood: One of the best luxury country hotels there is, it is often fully booked months in advance. http://www.limewoodhotel.co.uk
  3. Soho Farmhouse: As fabulous as it is fake, Soho Farmhouse attracts London media types who pretend to be in the country, wearing their Barbour jackets and Gucci wellies. https://www.sohofarmhouse.com
  4. Gleneagles: Recently bought and renovated by the hoteliers behind the hip Hoxton hotels, it is becoming hip and trendy among the London set. https://www.gleneagles.com
  5. Chewton Glen Tree houses: The tree houses are worth going for on their own. It is a beautiful country hotel equally pleasing for children and adults. https://www.chewtonglen.com
  6. Coworth Park: Part of the Dorchester collection, it is a Grande-Dame type of hotel, luxurious and with impeccable service, you can’t fault it. https://www.dorchestercollection.com/en/ascot/coworth-park/
  7. Manoir aux Quatres Saisons: For foodies, this one checks all the boxes: two star Michelin restaurant, luxury hotel and beautiful grounds. Perfect for a special occasion. https://www.belmond.com/hotels/europe/uk/oxfordshire/belmond-le-manoir-aux-quat-saisons/
  8. The Pig: Little sisters to Limewood, these are boutique hotels with a lesser price tag than Limewood. The Pig on the Beach and the Pig at Combe, both look charming and cosy. https://www.thepighotel.com
  9. Four Seasons Hampshire: Firstly, be forewarned. This is NOT a hotel for singles or romantics, it is best suited for families and young children, who can be found running around at all times. But for practicality, ease and reliability, the Four Seasons will deliver and staff will go out of their way to look after your kids. https://www.fourseasons.com/hampshire/
  10. Lakes By Yoo: A slightly more modern approach to country living, you can rent these beautifully designed houses right on a lake. Worth a look. http://www.thelakesbyyoo.com

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Reviews, Social Commentary, Travel, Uncategorized

Review: Soho Farmhouse

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Courtyard at Soho Farmhouse. NHYM 2017. 

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

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

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Cabins on the river. NHYM 2017.

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

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

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

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Inside the cabins. NHYM 2017.

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

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Kitchen in the Cabin. NHYM 2017. 

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

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Outdoor tents. NHYM 2017. 

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

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Inside the tents. NHYM 2017. 

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

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Inside the Barn. Courtesy of the Internet. 2017.

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

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

xx

NHYM

http://www.nottinghillyummymummy.com

 

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Photos, Reviews, Travel

Florence…With Kids!

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Florence view from Villa San Michele. All photos NHYM 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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Top 5 Activities To Do With Kids in Florence: 

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

xx

NHYM

http://www.nottinghillyummymummy.com

@NHyummymummy

Recommended hotels:

Villa San Michele

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

Four Seasons Florence

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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.

VernazzaItalyNHYM

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.

ItalyEcodelMareNHYM

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 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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