Social Commentary

Welcome to Instagram World!

 

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Photo Courtesy of the Internet. NHYM 2016.

This week, I opened up an Instagram account. Not because I want to put a million pictures of ‘look-at-me-I’m-so-hot-cool-fit-fun’ but because I was told I needed a social media ‘presence’ for my upcoming project. So, I decided to go and do what 400 million people are doing and opened up an Instagram account. Instagram is one of the fastest growing social media platforms of the moment. It has overtaken Twitter and I decided that I needed to tag along for the ride.

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The Power of Social Media

Last week, when Donald Trump won the American election, he attributed his victory to social media: http://fox43.com/2016/11/13/donald-trump-credits-social-media-with-helping-win-the-presidential-election/ This has demonstrated the power of social media and how it has infiltrated our lives. I have some friends who won’t touch social media but no one can deny that it has become incredibly powerful. Trump has claimed that instead of spending millions on his campaign, he put his efforts into social media, and it paid off.

My Instagram 

When I started posting photos and getting ‘likes’ and looking into other people’s accounts, I realised that Instagram is a legally, socially accepted form of voyeurism and stalking. Just like the photos, you can filter your life to make it look amazing/cool/fun all the time even though it really isn’t (I wasn’t going to take a picture of myself scrubbing my toddler’s poo-stained-carpet was I?). I also decided not to put any pictures of myself or my family for our personal privacy, and to only put photos of beautiful places and beautiful things.

It is also incredibly addictive. After 4 days of being obsessed with Instagram and being bombarded with 59 likes on one of my photos, I was exhausted. Social media sucks you in and I can see how you could spend hours on it. Now that I get what everyone is talking about, I can go back to being a back-seat-social-media-user.

Happiness vs. Success & Power? 

What has emerged though is that social media is making our children more stressed and anxious, especially girls: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/sep/16/social-media-mental-health-teenagers-government-pshe-lessons There is a much higher incidence of mental health problems in young girls today since the advent of social media, with too much emphasis on how you look, what you’re doing, and the pressure of keeping an image of perfection. It only emphasises how important it is to control our children’s social media activity. For power and success, social media may have its role, but for your children’s happiness, it may be wise to restrict their social media as much as possible.

http://childmind.org/article/how-using-social-media-affects-teenagers/

xx

NHYM

http://www.nottinghillyummymummy.com

@NHyummymummy

Instagram: @nottinghillyummymummy

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Social Commentary

Democracy Gone Wrong

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Image courtesy of the internet. NHYM 2016. 

Yesterday was a sad day not only for America but for history as well. For the second time this year, we have seen the limits of Democracy: first with the Brexit vote and now with Americans electing Trump as the 45th President of the United States. Democracy is showing its cracks and how it can- in certain circumstances- be harmful.

America has voted for a Reality TV star that knows nothing about politics, or policy. But more than that, the white, uneducated male American has spoken: he has endorsed a racist, misogynist, sexual-harasser to be the leader of arguably the most powerful nation in the world. America is showing that it is a place where it is OK to grope women, to call Mexicans ‘rapists,’ to call women ‘pigs,’ to ‘ban muslims from the USA,’ and where his Vice President was allowed to pioneer laws ‘allowing businesses to refuse service to gays on religious grounds.’

I understand that people want change, but America is not going to be great again with this rhetoric. What America has effectively done is to go backwards in time: before 1920 when women were allowed to vote, before the civil rights movement and Martin Luther King, and before legalised abortion. Instead of tolerance and cohesion, his supporters voted for isolationism, anti-immigration and division.

Trump’s acceptance speech – to his credit – was tempered and for once, rational, with plans to unite a country, even though throughout his campaign he was consistently divisive. Perhaps his shocking statements during the campaign were just a way to get elected, but at what expense? Encouraging a nation to close its doors to others? To open its arms to rudeness, arrogance and bigotry? What he represents undoes everything America has done in recent history, including electing the first African American President.

With the tenacity of a rabid dog, Trump has done the impossible-possible: he has turned America into a Reality TV show where being a TV personality is enough to get you elected.

I still don’t know what that means for the US, and neither do the people who have voted for him. I hope that his on-screen presence is just that; an onscreen presence. But we have to be hopeful that the consequences are nearly not as bad as we imagine them to be. Otherwise, soon enough, as an educated, female, minority, I may be banned from going to the US.

xx

NHYM

http://www.nottinghillyummymummy

@NHYM

https://www.ft.com/content/1fafbcf4-a5e2-11e6-8898-79a99e2a4de6

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Reviews, Spotlight On...

Spotlight On: Julia Von Werz Furniture & Fashion Pop Up Shop

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Julia Von Werz Furniture & Fashion Pop up Store Notting Hill. Photos courtesy of NHYM unless otherwise indicated. NHYM 2016.

I was recently invited to the launch party of Julia Von Werz’s Furniture & Fashion Pop up store in Notting Hill this past Wednesday. It runs from November 2nd to the 14th and is the collaboration of two friends, architect Julia Von Werz and fashion designer Min Min Peng.

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Launch Party 2/11/2016. NHYM 2016

Julia Von Werz, who invited me, is an architect and furniture designer who has been running her own practice for over 10 years. She studied architecture in Vienna and Berlin and began creating her own individual, bespoke furniture pieces for her own architectural projects.

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Julia Von Werz. Photos courtesy of Alexandra PR. NHYM 2016. 

Julia also happens to be a mother of two who lives in the area (Holland Park) and is inspirational for her creativity, humbleness and openess.

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Edgewood sofa. NHYM 2016. 

She designs sofas, tables and coffee tables, lamps, and beds. Her style runs from luxurious, velvety sofas, to angular, wooden, Danish-inspired tables.

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Millbrook lamp. NHYM 2016. 

Her Millbrook lamp is one of my favourite pieces there and showcases her taste of the geometrical and the textured.

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MinMin fashion. NHYM 2016. 

Her friend and collaborator Min Min also has beautiful clothes on display with poncho-style jackets, lots of sequins and sparkles.

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Feathers and Sequins. NHYM 2016. 

Her creations are meant to make a statement, whether with unique designs, sparkly sequins or feathery coats. They are definitely worth seeing if you are looking for a unique piece this winter.

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Napier Table. NHYM 2016. 

I really enjoyed both the furniture and the fashion at Julia’s Pop Up shop. Here, you can find unique pieces that you won’t find in the mass produced fashion and furniture industry. This is what they are attempting to do: create original pieces that you will fall in love with. So if you’re looking for a special new dress for the party season or for a new sofa for your house, I would highly recommend stopping by to check it out.

Julia Von Werz Pop Up Shop

2nd Nov to 14th November

1 Lonsdale Road

London W11 2BY

http://www.juliavonwerz.com/pop-up-store/

xx

NHYM

http://www.nottinghillyummymummy.com

@NHyummymummy

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Reviews, Travel

Lake Como & The Grand Tremezzo

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Lake Como in the morning fog. Villa Melzi in the distance. All photos in this post courtesy of NHYM 2106. 

Lake Como

As is our tradition, Mr. X and I go away for a weekend on our own at the end of September, since I usually spend the entire summer running around like a clown entertaining my children and need a little ‘Ahhhhh’ breather by the end of it. Each year we choose an appropriately romantic and warm place (Sardinia last year, Santorini the year before). This year, we chose Lake Como, which had been on my to-visit list for some time, but this year it moved up to pole-position. No, I didn’t choose it for George Clooney sightings, but clearly he put Como on the map for many Americans.

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Bellagio View from the boat. NHYM 2016. 

Of course, as we all know, I love boats and being on the water, which is one of the reasons I wanted to go to Como. So, as soon as we arrived, we hopped out of the car, and into a boat to visit the lake to do some villa-lusting.

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Villa del Balbianello. NHYM 2016. 

One of the most famous villas is of course the Villa del Balbianello, which starred in Casino Royale:

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Richard Branson’s villa. NHYM 2016. 

La Cassinella, Richard Branson’s villa, is right next to Villa del Balbianello and can be rented for a mere €90,000 per week.

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Mussolini’s villa. NHYM 2016. 

This villa is purported to be one of Mussolini’s villas and near where he was executed in 1945.

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Grand Hotel Tremezzo. NHYM 2016. 

The Grand Hotel Tremezzo

We stayed at the Grand Hotel Tremezzo, which immediately made me think of the Grand Hotel Budapest:

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A friend recommended this hotel and I really liked it. Firstly, location, location, location. It has a 180 view of Lake Como, sitting across from Bellagio. And it mixes old and contemporary in a seamless way. The photos can tell you the rest:

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Corner room with two views. NHYM 2016. 

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View towards Bellagio. NHYM 2016. 

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Other view from our room towards Villa Balbianello. NHYM 2016. 

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Wonderful grand entrance. NHYM 2016. 

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Beach Club. NHYM 2016.
The Tremezzo even has a trendy beach club, great for a drink or dip in the pool.

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Front Pool floating on the lake. NHYM 2016. 

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Back pool. NHYM 2016. Lovely for children. 

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Tremezzo Terrace. NHYM 2016.

From the terrace of the hotel, I was reminded of The Splendido in Portofino, one of my favourite hotels.

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Breakfast at the hotel. NHYM 2016. 

Breakfast on the terrace is peaceful and truly wonderful with a panoramic view of the lake. (The food for dinner on the other hand wasn’t my favourite). We overheard two American couples, one of which was headed to the Splendido that very day.

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Villa D’este. NHYM 2016. 

We went to dinner at the Villa D’Este one night and it did not let me down. The place is stunning, stupendous and splendid, but I don’t necessarily need to stay there: it looks like it hasn’t had a makeover since 1856 and feels like you are staying in a museum or Versailles Palace. Not so cosy or warm. And it’s definitely a ‘see-and-be-seen’ place and people were staring at us everywhere we went. Perhaps they thought we were Clooney and Amal from behind ;).

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The gardens Villa D’este. NHYM 2016. 

The gardens are really quite spectacular and feels like they are part of a palace rather than a hotel.

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Villa Carlotta. NHYM 2016. 

Villa Carlotta is conveniently located right next to the Tremezzo, another plus for the hotel and has beautiful botanical gardens from rainforests to Japanese gardens and an impressive art collection.

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Villa Carlotta Front Gardens. NHYM 2016. 

Lake Como was a wonderful escapade away from the frenetic frenzy of London and I was reminded of how much I enjoyed sightseeing and walking into a museum without two monkeys hanging off of each of my arms seeking my attention. It was gloriously peaceful and quiet and I can’t wait for next September for my next to-visit weekend.

xx

NHYM

http://www.nottinghillyummymummy.com

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Reviews

A Taste of Frieze 2016…

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Frieze 2016. All photos courtesy of NHYM 2016. 

As always, Frieze kicks off the London art month. Frieze week sets off the Frieze Masters, Frieze, PAD, the African Art Fair and many more art events around the city. So, here’s a brief snapshot of last night’s Preview night at the Frieze.

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One of the themes that emerged was monochrome colours including sculptures, installations and paintings, such as this white library and furniture.

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And these pink objects which were very popular.

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There was a lot of installation art that blended art and technology, including this virtual experience below:

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I really liked this ‘bubble deer’ and the below Yayoi Kusama painting:

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As you may know, Yayoi Kusama is my artist-of-the-moment, and I enquired about this above piece. Unfortunately, it was already sold. For £1.1 million.

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On the other hand, this above exhibit was really creepy, with robots taking over the world.

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Speech bubbles. NHYM 2016. 

Love it or hate it, the Frieze is always an interesting fair to visit, half for the art, half for the people watching. There’s so much creativity and buzz in here that it’s worth going just to see what is going on in the art world, no matter how foreign it may seen. Through it all, you can always find a few pieces that you appreciate, and a few pieces that you are happy to leave behind.

Hope you have a good weekend!

xx

NHYM

http://www.nottinghillyummymummy.com

@NHyummymummy

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Reviews

Meditation @ Redemption

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Redemption Restaurant. Photos courtesy of NHYM 2016. 

This week I was invited to a new event, Soul Food, by Sophie Purvis, a Yoga and Meditation instructor. The event combines a 30 minute meditation followed by a lovely and healthy lunch at Redemption, ‘the healthiest bar restaurant in London,’ at their Notting Hill location. Now you all know how stressed I’ve been and the beginning of the new school year has piled on extra stress as quickly as I piled on extra pounds during the summer holidays. Meditation + healthy eating sounded like just what I needed to settle my mind.

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Redemption Restaurant. NHYM 2016. 

Redemption is located on Chepstow Road and I have been meaning to try it for ages, but somehow time has flown by and it has already been open for a year. I am amazed at all the ‘healthy,’ ‘organic’ and ‘vegan’ places that are sprouting up faster than mushrooms on a wet day. First there was Planet Organic, then came Daylesford and now the restaurants have followed suit: NAMA, Redemption, Farmacy, and the latest JUSU brothers. I mean, Notting Hill is fast becoming San Francisco. Next thing we know, everyone will be swapping their cappuccinos for juice cleanses (Noooo!!!).

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Sophie Purvis in the foreground, Catherine Salway in the mirror reflection. NHYM 2016. 

Back to the event. I went along on Monday not knowing exactly what to expect. When I got there, Sophie Purvis introduced herself and immediately I thought I was in good hands. Sophie has the most soothing, calming voice and aura that immediately put me in the right mind set. She usually works out of a studio in Parsons Green but found this great collaboration with Redemption here in Notting Hill.

We started the guided meditation, which is a type of meditation I particularly like because all you have to do is listen: Sophie does the rest. Her calming voice told my mind where to go and soon enough, the knot in my stomach relaxed and I could feel myself become less tense. It was a lovely 30 minutes. The only thing I would say is that the meditation is done in the restaurant so you do hear the buses go by and you do feel slightly exposed. (I mentioned this to the founders and they are looking into putting up curtains to create a warm cocoon – much better I told them.)

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Redemption food and detox tea. NHYM 2016. 

After the meditation, we were treated to a lovely lunch and detox tea. Everything I would expect from a vegan restaurant: sweet potato, quinoa and pomegranate salad, raw chickpeas, carrot salad and a few enoki. The food was very good, tasty and filling. Catherine sells her place as a place away from ‘temptation’, wheat-free, sugar-free and alcohol-free. Stella McCartney is apparently her biggest customer and orders staff lunches from here. The restaurant itself is sparsely decorated and has lovely touches like the pineapple lamps, the antique French farmhouse furniture and plush velvet banquettes, but I feel that the decor could use some cohesiveness.

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I had a really lovely time at Redemption – thank you Sophie and Catherine! The meditation was lovely and the food equally so. I felt lighter and healthier coming out of it, as if I had gone on a mini-holiday. For anyone looking for a little peace and soul-feeding in the city, this is one to try out.

xx

NHYM

http://www.nottinghillyummymummy.com

@NHyummymummy

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Reviews

Restaurant Review: Park Chinois

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Address: 17 Berkeley St, London W1J 8EA

Phone: 020 3327 8888

https://parkchinois.com

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Decor: 4.5 stars

Ambience: 4 stars

Food: 4 stars

Value for money: 3 stars

Service: 5 stars

Overall: 4 stars

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Ground Floor Restaurant. NHYM 2016.

Park Chinois is located on the golden square of restaurants: Berkeley Square. It all started with Nobu about 10 years ago who replicated its twin in the Met into a more ‘cool’ happening place. And thus began the domino effect of high end, luxury, and super expensive restaurants: Hakkasan, Novikov, Sexy Fish and finally Park Chinois. And Berkeley Square’s members club are also high in demand: Annabel is having a makeover, the Arts Club just recently opened its hotel and there is a new ‘business’ member’s club which also recently opened. But back to Park Chinois.

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The Restaurant

Park Chinois is a ‘lifestyle’ (his words, not mine), dinner and dance experience by Alan Yau, the man behind Hakkasan, Yuatcha and Wagamama. Now, perhaps you could think that there are enough iterations of high end Chinese restaurants, but not Mr. Yau. Here, he has upped the luxury game and created a £16 million + place to compete with the opulence next door of Sexy Fish. From what I gather, Park Chinois divides people: you either love it or hate it. I went for the third time last Wednesday to make sure I knew which camp I was going to root for.

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Lounge Singer. NHYM 2016.

The Design

When you walk into Park Chinois, it successfully takes you to bygone years of dinner & dance, louche Chinese clubs from the 20s and 30s, where everything is opulent and where affairs, business and otherwise, happen in dim light. Upstairs, there is live music, whereas downstairs is the Park Chinois ‘Club’ where the lighting is dimmer and it is the cooler version of the two with club music playing in the background. The favourite colours of this place are decidedly gold and red, and it is everywhere. Every detail is so thought out from the lampshades to the the corniced ceilings.

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The Menu. NHYM 2016. 

The Food

Since I’ve been here three times, I can safely say that I have tried the food thoroughly. The first time I came, it was in a large group with a pre-set menu which included a good sampling of the menu. The Duck de Chine, their famous roast duck, comes at a cool £85 and requires some advance notice. It was good – don’t get me wrong – but frankly, I could get a similar, or better version of it at Gold Mine on Queensway. The other dishes were also good: the fried squid, (which tasted more like batter than squid), the vermicelli clay pot (one of my favourite dishes there), and the dim sum and gyoza were all very good, but again, I could get them at Royal China, also on Queensway, for a third of the price.

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Chilli squid with green papaya salad. NHYM 2016.

The Service

I have to write a special note about the service at Park Chinois; it is really excellent. I have trouble eating at Chinese restaurants because of soy and MSG intolerances and each time I have been the waiters have been really excellent at discussing all my options with the chef. For me, it is one of the standout features of this place.

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Overall

I am definitely in the more-love-than-hate category when it comes to Park Chinois. But, it is true that the restaurant was not full on a Tuesday, whereas Sexy Fish next door was heaving. There are no windows in the whole restaurant and one friend thought it felt like a cruise ship, with its lounge singer and draped curtains on the ground floor, but I still like it even though I prefer the downstairs. I have to give it a lot of credit for what it is trying to do; bold, dreamy and different. And I love that London is a place where risks are taken to create places like this. It is a great place for those who love Hong Kong and yearn for a little nostalgia of bygone years. For the food, you could always go to Queensway.

xx

NHYM

http://www.nottinghillyummymummy.com

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