Top 10, Travel, Uncategorized

Travel: Woolley Grange Hotel Review, Wiltshire


Woolley Grange Hotel Main House. All Photos Copyright of NHYM 2015.

Woolley Grange Hotel 

Woolley Green


Wiltshire BA15 1TX

Tel. 01225864705


Hotel itself: 3.75 stars

Children’s Amenities: 5 stars

Service: 3 stars

Restaurant: 4 stars for dinner, 3 stars at lunch

Room: 4 stars


Woolley Grange Front Lawn

Let me preface this post by saying that this is NOT what I would consider a ‘family-friendly hotel’. Au contraire, I would call it a ‘child-centered’ hotel, or one that is dedicated to children and that allows parents to join if they so please. This should be clear from the outset, in case you were looking for a 5* hotel that catered to children.

I say this because:

  1. There are children everywhere. When we arrived there were children on the front lawn swinging/jumping/fishing/swimming/playing.
  2. The lunch menu for children is much more elaborate and appetising than the adult menu (For children: steak, roast chicken, spaghetti. Adults: Sandwiches & Light Bites)
  3. The ‘Movie Room’ only plays children’s movies
  4. The table settings are named with your children’s names, not yours.
  5. The ‘Candle-lit’ dinner reserved for adults still has children running all over the place while you dine by ‘candle-light’
  6. The beautiful front lawn’s view is encumbered by a trampoline, a football pitch, a mini-tennis court and plastic playground toys.
  7. Did I mention there were children everywhere?
  8. Every hotel guest here comes accessorised with at least one, two, or three mini people and possibly a granny or grandpa thrown in for good measure.
  9. In the lounges, instead of House & Garden or Country Life magazines, train sets and baby books fill the coffee tables.
  10. Activities here are children focussed: films, egg collecting, kids club etc…

So, now that I’ve gotten this out of the way, you will be prepared for a lovely children’s weekend/holiday in the country. The upside is that you don’t need to be embarrassed when your child throws a) tantrum b) hissy fit c) their food all over the floor d) a toy at their younger sister/brother/your head. As this was our first ever ‘Children’s Hotel’ it took a little adjustment. Best for children 0-9.


The Main House. NHYM 2015. 

The Hotel

The hotel itself is a beautiful Jacobean Manor house that accommodates 25 rooms and suites for all kinds of family arrangements. There are interconnecting rooms that are perfect for a family of 4 or other rooms that can fit smaller families. It is old, kitschy and creaky, with thick carpets and small nooks and crannies interspersed in the house. It is not what I would call a five star hotel, with blue thick velvet carpets that show mud and crumbs left behind by children, and service that comes by to only hoover and tidy beds. (Other 5* stars generally try to tidy up clothes and toys, but not really this one).


Front Entrance Woolley Grange Hotel. NHYM 2015. 

In addition to the main house, there is a small spa with an indoor swimming pool, which both looked quite nice but we never managed to use the pool because it was closed while we were there. And no, I never found time to visit the spa. There is also an outdoor pool available for proper British families who braved it out in the rain and cold at 13 degrees. I mean, yes I know it is heated, but really? No, you won’t get me in that pool with this great British weather….


The walled garden. NHYM 2015. 

Children’s Amenities

Like I mentioned before, this hotel is all about kids. For our urban-kids, there was plenty of things to enjoy at this hotel: a swing and trampoline on the lawn, a small playground out back, and a walled garden. The walled garden had toy houses, ducks, geese, hen, a tractor and apple picking.


Woolley Grange Tractor

There was egg collecting from the hen house.


Hen House & Chicken Laying Eggs. NHYM 2015. 


Ducks and ducklings. NHYM 2015. 


Pumpkins in the Walled Garden. Or are they squash? NHYM 2015. 

The Kids Club was cute, nothing to go crazy over, but available for 2 hours per day, just enough time for a coffee and a read of the newspaper. It was mostly geared towards younger children under 5 years old, but still had some jewellery making for older children and a breakfast club on a Sunday for an extra hour and a half in bed.


Kids Club. NHYM 2015. 


Simon the Rabbit at the Kids Club. NHYM 2015.

The Room & Service

We had a very spacious family room with 2 interconnecting rooms, which fit us perfectly. The children had their room with two twin beds while we had a large King size bed with very comfortable beds. The Service… well, let’s just put it this way: the hotel was full of Uni students working during their summer holidays to earn a little cash for the year to come. There were no professionally trained French Maitre d’ or fully trained concierges (‘Uhm, sorry, you booked Longleat tickets through us? No one told me!’) Not quite what we are used to, but very friendly and genuinely nice.


Did I mention everything is for children here? NHYM 2015. 

Outside Woolley Grange

What the children really loved outside the hotel was Longleat Safari Park, probably the best drive through Safari Park in the UK (unlike Whipsnead which is not a proper drive through Safari Park), which also has an Adventure Park and a beautiful house to visit. You could spend days there and it is a sure hit with the kids. The Safari Park has plenty of animals to see; giraffes, zebras, lions, tigers, and lots of Monkeys that love to sit on your car mirrors! The Adventure Park also has loads of fun playgrounds and more to see. The Jungle Cruise had hippos, gorillas and a chance to feed sea lions. We were there for a whole day and didn’t manage to see it all. Definitely worth a visit.


Longleat House. NHYM 2015. 




Nico the 55 year old Gorilla. NHYM 2015. 


Despite the often 3* rather than 5* service, this place is great for children. It’s a quick escape from the city and a great base to explore the countryside. We saw more animals there than we have seen in all our years in London (we also managed to feed goats, pigs and ponies at a little farm in the vicinity). It’s a great place for kids, although where parents can sometimes feel like second class citizens, but since we’ve had plenty of adult time in our day (see: Santorini, Greece:, we sucked it up ;0. There’s plenty to do around there, like visit Bath and Bradford-on-Avon, which we also enjoyed (a new rest the Weaving Shed in Bradford was a nice surprise). We would recommend it to anyone who is looking for some quality time with kids, and save the following weekend for time with the adults.






Top 10, Travel, Uncategorized

Travel-lusting: Oia, Santorini, Greece

Santorini, GreeceNHYM1

All Photos Copyright of NHYM 2015. 

2015 was Greece’s year, although not necessarily for good reasons. Greece has made the media spotlight for it’s shambolic economy that closed down ATMs and banks and froze money coming in and out of Greece. But let’s look at the positives coming from Greece: a travel-lusting destination. I know at least 6 couples that are currently in Greece: Mykonos for the party people, Santorini for couples or Sani Resort for families, there’s something for everyone.

For a romantic long weekend a deux, sans kids, Santorini is my top pick. Often chosen as a top honeymoon destination, Oia never fails to impress with those towering views over the underwater volcano. It is a quick, direct Easjyet flight and in a few hours you could be basking in the Greek sun.

In Oia, all the hotels share the same views, so you can’t go wrong. Here are some of the hotels I recommend:

  1. Pezoules Hotel: www.
  2. Katikies Hotel:
  3. Kirini Suites & Spa:
  4. Perivolas:
  5. Mystique:

And the restaurant not to miss is the Sunset Taverna in the fishing village down the other side of the mountain. Fresh Greek Seabream there is an absolute must when visiting Oia.

Don’t forget a boat ride around the island, also another must-do.

Here are some photos. Go on, lust away.












Review: Notting Gill Chippy Fish & Chips Pop-Up Restaurant


All photos Courtesy of NHYM 2015. Copyright. 

This summer, Pop-Up restaurants are all the rage, bringing in tourists while the locals are on holiday. Pop Ups are oh-so-trendy, that when I was invited to try the latest Pop-Up fad, Fish & Chips, I couldn’t say no. Fish & Chips are having a revival, and like the recent Burger trend, it is back with bells and whistles.


Kensington Place, a Notting Hill stalwart, is housing a Fish & Chips Pop-Up during the month of August, housed in their usual private dining room. It boasts Fish & Chips twists on its menu like Lobster Thermi-bun, a lobster bun, and curry flavoured Fish & Chips. The Pop-Up has space for about 26 people, but is light, airy and its host, Jack is very enthusiastic and charming.


Now, Fish & Chips are not for the Calorie-counting, Carb-free, Atkins-diet, low cal/low fat crowd, which excludes a certain demographic in the neighbourhood (read: of the stick skinny kind). I, for one, am not a Fish & Chips expert, having had my last fish & chips about 15 years ago. But I am a local supporter and am very happy to support the neighbourhood Pop Ups! I asked Mr. X, more of a Fish & Chips connoisseur than I am, about these fish & chips and he approved.

Passion Fruit & Fish & Chips

Of course, as a side dish, I ordered a Passion Fruit Martini, which washed away the deep fried fish & chips and tartar sauce and sweetened my taste buds. To top it off, we had Jude’s salted caramel ice-cream which was delicious. Notting Gill Chippy is a lovely neighbourhood Pop-Up, for those looking for a quick, quintessentially British bite in the form of the National Dish, Fish & Chips. Enjoy! xx NHYM


Reviews, Uncategorized

Summer Social Season Starts: Queens Tennis Club Championship


Queen’s Club Centre Court NHYM 2015. All photos in this post belong to NHYM 2015. 

The British Summer Season is already in full throttle. Horse-racing, cars, flowers, regattas, sailing, polo, Pimms, strawberries & cream, tennis, garden parties, music festivals, royalty and lots of Summer Parties. There is really something to suit everybody’s taste. It celebrates everything British and reminds me of why I love living in this country. Often, as an expat, it is easy to stay within your pre-destined cultural and social group, without really needing to mix with anyone of any other nationality, which I often lament.


Queen’s entrance. NHYM 2015. 

So, the other night, I serendipitously ended up at a quintessentially British dinner with some kind of Lord/Baron the 16th and some proper Brits who say things like ‘whilst.’ Brilliant! It was talk of the British countryside rather than the Med for holidays, and talk about British politics (all Tories, of course), British business and British politicians (one of them impersonated David Cameron brilliantly). The Brit Lord/Baron the 16th was telling me about his Great Aunt who was quite a socialite in her heyday. She had her whole existence based around the British social season. She migrated to sunny Florida for the winter months (January to May), came to London for the ‘social season’ (June & July), retreated to the countryside (August – November) and back to London for the Christmas Parties (December). That’s the life ;).


Queen’s Practice Courts & VIP area NHYM 2015

This year, I am a little late coming into the social season. Last year, I started well in time with the Chelsea Flower Show, but this year, with birthday parties et al. I’ve only managed to start with Queen’s. I think of Queen’s as the mini-Wimbledon, with less people, more intimate and more manageable. Wimbledon is like a massive ColdPlay concert at the 02, while Queen’s is an intimate Coldplay concert for 1,000 people. Ok, so Coldplay may not be the best analogy, but it’s the best I could think of: British, intense and very proper.


Queen’s Centre Court. NHYM 2015. 

So, off I went to see Andy Murray win at Queen’s. Andy Murray is a polarising sportsman. Many people love to hate him, and even Mr. X who likes everyone, thinks that AM is just an old grouch. Other reactions I’ve had: ‘that rat,’ ‘grumpy old man,’ and ‘twat.’ But I am one of his supporters. Why? Well, as I said, I have come to love everything British, even Andy Murray. He also happens to be one of the best players in the world, so he should be able to do whatever he wants. So what if he is grumpy, arsy to the cameras and to the public. He’s not here to please you. He’s here to win.


Moet et Chandon Lounge, Queen’s Club, NHYM 2015. 

Along with all of these social summer events, comes drinks and lounges. It is trendy to have ‘lounges,’ ‘daytime clubs’ and ‘dance music’ etc… at all of these events. Really these events have become just an excuse for daytime drinking and socialising. I, for one, actually like watching tennis, but I did spot a British socialiser-ex-club-promoter who was at Queen’s just to ‘see and be seen’ without having a ticket to Centre Court, but just lounged outside in the parking lot and the Moet Lounge. Other friends who went to Ascot described that the day ended with very drunk people in very posh outfits. Not necessarily a pretty sight. I remember the days, 15 years ago, when going to Polo Cartier was the most exciting event of the year, but it unfortunately has become more of a free-for-all-drunk-Chav-fest- in more recent times. Perhaps your scene, but not quite mine. Queen’s still manages to stay posh & proper to a certain extent, as we were sitting next to older-generation-Brits with panama hats. For now. In Centre Court.


Andy Murray Queen’s. NHYM. 2015. 

Murray was in excellent form for his warm – up to Wimbledon next week. He showed off some of his amazing skills that do remind you that he is one of the top players in the world.


Andy Murray Serve Queens NHYM 2015. 

It was great to see that he won his fourth Queen’s title, entering the ranks of McEnroe and Roddick. Good for him. On the side lines, Kim Sears Murray sat cheering him on, and like a young loved up child, he kept looking over at her, as if to get the approval of the great woman behind the great man.





Reviews, Uncategorized

Lunch Review of West 36’s Terrace

West 36 

36 Golborne Road London W10 5NR

Tel 020 3752 0530

Food: 4.5 stars

Service: 5 stars

Decor: 4.25 stars

Value for money: N/A as this was a complimentary lunch

Overall: 4.5 stars


West 36 outdoor terrace. NHYM 2015. All photos in this post courtesy of NHYM. 

June is for me, the ‘birthday month,’ with so many birthdays to attend, I am trying out all sorts of new or need-to-try restaurants, so you will see lots of restaurant reviews coming up. This week, I have 3 birthdays to attend/organise/surprise. So, when I needed to take one of my dearest friends out to lunch and I was simultaneously invited to try West 36’s lunch, the timing couldn’t be better. I booked myself in for lunch with Anna at West 36 this past Monday.


Anna enjoying the sunshine while waiting for my arrival. NHYM 2015. 

When I arrived, the waitress led me to the best table on the terrace, where my gorgeous friend Anna was waiting and a few other people were finishing their lunches. West 36 has a lovely outdoor terrace on their first floor, which seemed highly under-used on a warm day. They had immediately offered her a glass of Champagne on arrival, perhaps mind-reading that it was her birthday. Or perhaps just because they were trying to impress me. Either way, it was a very nice touch and I like being impressed. The terrace itself is cosy, with striped grey and white cushions to sit on, channeling a Shoreditch House vibe, with hanging lightbulbs and and an industrial landscape. The music in the background was Cafe-del-Mar-like, putting us a in a light and happy mood confirming that, yes, it is really the start of the summer.


Raspberry mules posing for the camera. NHYM 2015. 

Our lovely waitress brought us some raspberry mules cocktails. Vodka cocktails for lunch you may ask? Well, it was her birthday, and I was celebrating a day of hard work in the land of blogging. Could be worst. She was wearing the requisite bowtie and suspenders, which I personally love, and made the affair even more theatrical and enjoyable. Later, she brought two more glasses of Champagne. It’s been a long time since someone (anyone) was trying to get me drunk.


West 36 menu 2015. 

Now for the food. Usually, the food at West 36 tends to be on the heavier, meatier side, but we were able to find lighter fare on the menu and prepared ourselves for a light lunch. We were salivating at the Cheeseburger next door, but our lunch ended up in pure decadence, with our multiple courses.


Grilled squid starter. NHYM 2015.

We started with a grilled calamari starter with broad beans and a summer salad, drizzled with fresh lemon. Summer succulence at its best. It was light, tasty and perfectly grilled. This could have been enough as a main salad for lunch, but as we were sharing, this was just the beginning.


Mains of Chicken, lemon sole, and artichoke. NHYM 2015. 

I ordered the lemon sole, one of the few sea-dwelling dishes on the menu apart from lobster and the shellfish platter (I did think twice about ordering the shellfish platter, but felt a smidgen guilty about this Monday afternoon decadence). As a side dish, I had the artichokes and broad beans, with mint and raisins. The actual fish taste and texture was OK for a sole, nothing terribly special, but not necessarily the chef’s fault. Not all fish are created equal, and perhaps I just got the luck of the draw of a mediocre fish. The tarragon butter and and sea kale did lift its spirits up, which made up for it, and the artichokes were great. I loved the mint, a summer herb which fills me of memories of Pimm’s and fresh summer salads. My friend had the half chicken with herbs, which was huge, as the portions are known to be here.


The famous Apple Pie. NHYM 2015. 

When we were asked if we wanted dessert and we were told the apple pie would take 15 minutes to make because it would be freshly made, we thought, well we’ve been here already almost 2 hours, we might as well make it a record. We ordered fresh mint tea and continued our long discussion on life, the difficulties of raising children, and how fast the passing years seem to be now that we have children. Yes, I know, but this was after 2 champagnes and cocktails at 1pm. We had a good excuse for our nostalgic narrative. The Apple Pie was excellent, much better than the last time I had it here, perhaps because they were trying to impress, or perhaps because it is just very good.


Two and a half hours later, we stumbled out of West 36, filled with great food, great conversation and lots of bubbly. This had been a perfect lunch on a perfect afternoon with great company. Off we went in our separate directions for school pick ups, worried that the other mums would notice our tipsy states and start whispering about our mid-day alcoholism. West 36 is great for lunch, although it was quite empty. But the good news was that 1) the service was excellent 2) we had plenty of room (which were some of my previous complaints) and 3) we could gossip all we wanted without anyone listening to our conversation. You can’t have it all.

For those who find West 36 too busy at night, the daytime, during-the-week alternative is just the opposite, quiet, relaxed, and understated, and it is wholly being missed out by many, probably due to its out-of-the-way location. But next time I am looking for a terrace to sit at on a lovely sunny day, this terrace is one to book.





Spotlight On..., Uncategorized

Spotlight On: Raphaele Canot, Jewellery Designer

In a new series of interviews, I will be asking inspirational women and mothers for their story and what advice they have to give to their younger self. 


Raphaele Canot knows her jewellery. After spending twenty years working for Cartier and DeBeers as Creative Director, Raphele has launched her own Jewellery Collection last May exclusively at Dover Street Market and is launching a new line, OMG, in time for Christmas. Her pieces are romantic, playful and flirtatious, easy to wear day and night, and perfect for your Christmas wish list. There is something for everyone, with a price range starting at £500 and averaging around £1,000. Alongside her collections, Raphaele does bespoke diamond pieces, so if you’re looking for a creative, bespoke piece, look no further and let your husband meet with her for something sophisticated, timeless, yet young and fun. On top of running a jewellery business, she has three children and lives in Notting Hill.


OMG ring from her latest collection, all pictures in this post taken from

1. What’s your story? How did you become a jeweller?

I graduated in Intellectual Property law in Paris, didn’t like it but managed to get an internship at Cartier… And stayed for 11 years! My creative flair caught up with me and made wonders for my career combined with my lawyer/ business background. I was lucky enough to grow in the jewellery business at one of the most inspiring global brands, before moving to London for De Beers 10 years ago. I made my way from business backoffice to creative directing to mumpreneur, launching my first solo collection at Dover Street Market last May.


Bracelet from her Skinny Deco line. 

2. What is your favourite piece of jewellery?

Diamonds! Diamonds are iconic yet playful, timeless yet fashionable. They are the epitome of style. Small diamond jewellery for everyday life, icons revisited with an edge. That’s my motto!


Bespoke piece from her website

3. Describe your style 

My style is parisian with a hint of Notting Hill relaxed attitude. I believe in basics spiced up with an iconic piece. Think a red Couture coat or a Courreges trench coat thrown over you favourite slims, a neat designer handbag and heels. I used to run errands in heels in Paris which I would not do in Notting Hill. That’s the big change in my wardrobe in the past years: trainers and low boots for school runs!


Bespoke piece. 

4. What is your most prized possession?

Artwork… Most of it in storage unfortunately! That’s what can happen when moving countries!

5. What are your favourite places in Notting Hill?

The Grocer on Elgin for morning coffee and last minute lunch or dinner panic on a hectic day. Lutyens Rubinstein for grown ups and kids books!

6. Where would you be living if you weren’t living in Notting Hill?

In Paris in the 6th arrondissement overlooking the Luxembourg gardens…a nice alternative to our lovely communal Garden.


Gold and diamond earrings from her Set Free Collection. 

7. What is your favourite holiday destination?

Chamonix for adrenaline, Big Sur California for the myth and wilderness.

8. What was the proudest moment in your life?

Launching my business after 20 years of corporate life. Reinventing my daily life with all the compromise that comes with it…it felt really good!


Gold and diamond bracelet from the Skinny Deco collection. 

9. What advice would you give to your younger self or to young people?

Follow your instincts and work hard on them. Passion brings love and success!

10. What book are you currently reading?

The Power of Now. Brilliant!





‘The World According to Notting Hill Yummy Mummy’ in Corner Magazine

I was recently approached by Corner Magazine,, a new local, West London on-line Magazine by the people who brought Matchbox magazine, to write a column on my life as a Notting Hill Yummy Mummy. Feeling rather pleased with myself, I duly accepted. Their 5th issue just came out and my first column can be found in the Kids section about September being my favourite month, now that the girls are back in school. The magazine is filled with Notting Hill Neighbourhood information, as well as interviews with great, local people. 

Here is a photo of the title of my column, for your eyes only. For the full column, please download the magazine when you have five minutes to spare between the school run and your morning Cappucino at Granger’s.


Now, this is my first experience with online magazines. I am used to picking up a hard copy of Grazia or Conde Nast Traveller at the Sainsbury’s on the corner when shopping for my toddler’s milk and nappies (which by the way, seem to constantly be disappearing into thin air).  It is a whole new world that our UK generation is just learning about, whereas for my two little ones’ generation, it will be second nature to ‘download’ a magazine. 

In New York, online magazines have already been around for almost a decade, competing with hard copy magazines that were folding like dominos during the recession and only the strongest survived. And as all trends move from New York to London, it is only a matter of time for online magazines to enter our social fabric. I have recently painfully and reluctantly given up my hardcover and paperback books for a Kindle, realising that the only way is forward. So, here I am learning the tools of Online Magazine Navigation, feeling like a baby learning how to walk, falling down every so often but excited to learn new skills and be part of a newer generation.