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. 

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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. http://www.raphaelecanot.com. On top of running a jewellery business, she has three children and lives in Notting Hill.

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OMG ring from her latest collection, all pictures in this post taken from http://www.raphaelecanot.com

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.

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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!

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Bespoke piece from her website http://www.raphaelecanot.com

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!

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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.

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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!

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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!

xx

NHYM

http://www.nottinghillyummymummy.com

@NHyummymummy

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In the Press

‘Tis the Season for Giving: Rugby Portobello Trust Christmas Market 18/11/14

It’s already Christmas season all over again, with not-so-subtle hints of Christmas trees, baubles and silver sparkly decorations everywhere I look, from the Paperchase displays to the Whiteleys Christmas tree. The Christmas marketing machine is well under way only 17 days into November and even Take That has already lit up Regent’s Street’s lights last night. But this year, for a change, I’ve decided to look at giving to charity rather than spending my time finding more gifts for a) my children who have more toys that they know what to do with and let’s face it, become more spoiled by the day b) my husband who will feign happiness at the wallet/socks/tie/sweater that I will get him and c) my mother who doesn’t need any more candles, perfumes or beauty products from my complete lack of imagination.

The Rugby Portobello Trust, a charity for local, disadvantaged young people, is having their 25th Christmas Market in the 20th Century Theatre on Westbourne Grove on Tuesday November 18th and 19th. There will book signings by local children’s author Emma Chichester Clark, Yottam Ottolenghi for the Ottolenghi fans, and India Knight for my ‘ageing’ mother. There will be plenty of stalls with jewellery, arts and crafts, and cashmere which will be provide great gift ideas for Christmas stockings and Christmas gifts.

So stop by on your way home from work or after your children’s school drop off and hope to see you there!

http://www.rptchristmasmarketauction.co.uk/auction/index.php

xx

NHYM

 

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In the Press, Social Commentary

‘The Garden Wars’: Notting Hill’s Private Gardens

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Ladbroke Square Gardens, Notting Hill Yummy Mummy 2014

The Sex and the City episode entitled: ‘The Private Garden Issue’

Private Gardens in Notting Hill first attained worldwide fame in the 1999 film ‘Notting Hill,’ which firmly put Notting Hill and its communal gardens on the celebrity map. 15 years later, I still see people lined up to photograph the Blue door and the Travel Bookshop and try to find the eponymous private garden used for the Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts nightly tryst. But my love of private gardens actually started in New York, also in 1999, when I was famously dumped by my boyfriend because of the ‘Private Garden Issue’, which really could be an episode of ‘Sex and the City.’ Picture this:

Carrie Bradshaw is falling hard for an achingly handsome, brilliantly intelligent and creative Film school graduate and aspiring Film Director. He is thoughtful and romantic, sends Broadway musical tickets by post as a surprise, takes her away to Cape Cod for the weekend to his PhD father’s house, and draws her portrait as they sun themselves in Central Park. He even leaves her John Donne love poems on her pillow when he wakes up and leaves quietly for a film shoot (Ok, totally cheesy, but at the time felt very romantic). It is all going swimmingly well until one day, they pass Gramercy Park downtown, the last remaining private garden in New York, which was having an exceptional open day and party. They enter, Carrie wide eyed and beaming turns to her boyfriend and says: ‘Wouldn’t you love to have a key to this garden? I would just love to have one of the golden keys, it really is the key to New York, you know.’ And as she turns to face him, flashing a Carrie-style smile, he turns to her startled and says; ‘Private gardens are for elitist, materialist, and superficial people.’ Her smile fades and the camera zooms out. Fast forward to the end of their relationship three weeks later, in a West Village Italian, when he tells her over her perfect plate of Spaghetti; ‘This isn’t going to work. I will never be able to give you a golden key, and I will never be able to marry someone with values like that.’ And with that, the perfect relationship ended over a plate of perfect pasta.

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Ladbroke Square Gardens Playground, Notting Hill Yummy Mummy 2014

Give me that key!!

Fast forward 15 years, meeting Mr. Right, getting married, procreating two precious little ones, I finally have a key to a Notting Hill Private Garden, which next to Gramercy Park’s garden, is the closest thing to my 20 year old dream. Getting a key to a private garden can be quite a difficult feat. One American couple in South Kensington spent hundreds of thousands of pounds in court over their right to access to Ovington Square in Chelsea http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1293386/Hedgefund-boss-squanders-170-000-failed-bid-win-exclusive-access-garden-square.html . To many Notting Hill mums and dads, having a house backing onto a communal garden is their aspirational dream.

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Springtime in a Notting Hill Private Garden Square, Notting Hill Yummy Mummy 2014

There is also a hierarchy of garden desirability depending on various factors: the amount of sun vs. the amount of shade (as the gardens go down from the top of the hill, the less sunshine there is and more shade), does it have a tennis court? Does it have a playground? Are most of the houses on the square full houses or only flats? The more desirable the garden, the harder it is to get a key. My garden is rather flexible with whom it lets in from the neighbourhood, as long as you pay your dues and don’t bring your friends in. Other gardens measure out the exact distance from the garden wrought-iron door to your front door. Ladbroke Square Gardens, considered one of the finest and most beautiful private gardens in London, only allows those residents with houses that back onto the garden and with direct access to the garden. Properties on the two side roads opposite the gardens do not have access (as per the Bye-Laws on their website), so for them, it is like looking onto the garden of Eden, knowing they will never get entry. And even if you have access to the garden, it doesn’t grant you access to the tennis courts. For this, one must be placed on a waiting list and hope that someone moves away or dare I say it, give their last breath away.

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Guy Fawkes Fireworks, Ladbroke Square Gardens, Notting Hill Yummy Mummy 2014

One urban myth floating around of how determined people are to get access will be demonstrated by this story that I have adapted to another ‘Sex and The City’ episode ‘The Missing Key’: Charlotte York has just moved to London with her successful Jewish husband, Harry GoldenBlatt, and into one of the biggest mansions on Creek Place, one of the most expensive streets of Notting Hill, which despite its 5,000 sq ft size lacks a proper garden. Creek Place is renowned for some for the most beautiful and grandiose houses around the neighbourhood. Around the corner is Wiltshire Square Gardens, a great and famous garden, home to more than one celebrity and hedge fund ‘genius’.  Charlotte is determined to get a key to the square, (she after all always get what she wants) although residents of Creek Place are not entitled to a key. She befriends some neighbours who are key holders and hears that the President of the Gardens Association of Wiltshire Square Gardens, let’s call her Bunny, has always wanted to visit a house on Creek Place, so beautiful are the houses. She therefore invites Bunny for tea by sending a cream coloured, embossed card with her address on top: 64 Creek Place. Charlotte pulls out all the stops and they have a lovely afternoon of tea and scones, discussing the virtues of living in Notting Hill. As they are saying their goodbyes and air kissing, Bunny, the President of Wiltshire Garden Square Association, turns to Charlotte and says, ‘Thank you for the lovely afternoon, but you’re still not getting a key to Wiltshire Square Garden.’

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Guy Fawkes Fireworks, Ladbroke Square Gardens, Notting Hill Yummy Mummy 2014

Which do you choose, the Garden Dream or the Garden Drama?

For many residents in Notting Hill, backing onto a communal garden is the creme de la creme of Notting Hill real estate, paying over 30% premiums for the privilege of being able to open your doors onto the lush greenery of an English garden (Now, would you pay over £1,000,000 for this privilege?). These gardens are idyllic green spaces of paradise in what is the concrete jungle of London, where doors are open and children run from one house to another for playdates, fuelling our dreams of owning part of this green dream. There are wonderful parties thrown such as Guy Fawkes night with bonfires, Guy Competitions and fireworks at Ladbroke Square Gardens, Summer Fetes with Bouncy Castles and Pony rides at Crescent Gardens, Summer Parties with DJs and a disco for the teens and pre-teens and Operas in the Blenheim and Elgin Gardens. All protected from the outside world, your children can run safely, especially with all the stories of attempted abductions in public parks, a private square is the dream of most mothers. (Especially those with a thing for Robbie Williams who used to jog around his communal garden in Little Venice before he moved onto Michael Winner’s Holland Park McMansion). There are swing sets, wooden houses, climbing walls, slides, treehouses, climbing nets and sandboxes almost as nice as Princess Diana’s Playground, but without the 1 hour wait to get in on a sunny day.

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Guy Fawkes Fireworks, Ladbroke Square Gardens, Notting Hill Yummy Mummy

But behind this picture of paradise also lies the politics and dramas of Garden Residents and Garden Committees. There are coups to overthrow Garden Presidents, neighbouring wars over construction sites, wars between the dog-owners and non-dog owners, and between the families and the childless. And everyone knows your damn business, from who is having affairs with whom, what you’re doing or wearing at any time, who is on holiday at their Tuscan Villa, it is like a fishbowl into your life. Rachel Johnson, sister to Boris Johnson and columnist writer, famously wrote the book ‘Notting Hell’ based on a communal garden in Notting Hill, which is likely Rosmead Gardens (also the garden from the film Notting Hill), where Rachel Johnson lived. In it, she describes in detail the infighting, the competition, the affairs and the neighbourly tensions. To live on a garden means to be a part of a privileged and cosseted community, but be prepared for the gossip, keep a close eye on your husband and your dog, and beware of the Garden Police. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Notting-Hell-Rachel-Johnson-ebook/dp/B002RI9KJ0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1415187169&sr=8-1&keywords=notting+hell

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Guy Fawkes Competition, Notting Hill Yummy Mummy 2014

Beware of the Garden Rules

The Rules to some private gardens in London can be very strict, Pol Pot strict, with the bye-laws enforced in the upmost rigidity by the Garden Police. In my anti-social garden, only members are allowed, possibly one or two children may be acceptable, but guests, nannies, and friends are strictly forbidden. One must apply to the committee if one should want to invite a guest (what’s the point of a garden if you can’t share it?). I once attempted to circumvent the rules and lent my key to a friend while I was away on holiday, and she subsequently organised a playdate with another friend on a glorious sunny summer’s day. Within 10 minutes, the Garden Patrol was on her: ‘Don’t you know friends are not allowed in the garden’ a rickety old lady reprimanded my friend who pretended to be me. My blissful holiday was then interrupted when I received a threatening email reminding me that friends are not allowed in the garden, ‘only members are allowed’ they repeated to me in various formats (verbal/email/Bye-laws/post scripts). This is how I learnt my lesson and won’t be lending my key anymore, so don’t bother asking me. I was officially terrorised by the Garden Police.

These Bye – laws (collected from various gardens) are to be taken very seriously please:

1. No person shall destroy, by any means whatever any domestic animal or birds in the Gardens.’

2. Games should be primarily for children, but adults are permitted to join

3. No person suffering from any infectious disease shall use the grounds (although this garden does allow ‘servants’ in it as mentioned in the Bye-Laws)

4. No fire arms nor small cannons shall be fired

5. No catapults, bows and arrows, slings, firearms, arrows, saws or sheathed knives will be allowed into the Gardens.

6. No person shall cut, break or otherwise injure the trees and flowers.

7. Any person who wilfully obstructs any member of the Committee or its servants, in the lawful conduct of its duties shall be committing an offence.

8. No person shall shout or sing noisily in the Pleasure Grounds

9. Ball games are prohibited save in the following circumstances: a) between parents and/or supervising adults and children under the age of 11 b) not involving more than four persons in total c) a soft ball of less than 15 cm in diameter or a plastic beach ball d) But not in the Central Garden

And finally:

10. Any person committing a breach of these Bye Laws is liable to prosecution

xx

NHYM

http://www.nottinghillyummymummy.com

@NHyummymummy

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Guy Fawkes Bonfire, Ladbroke Square Gardens, Notting Hill Yummy Mummy 2014

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Reviews

Review: Wormwood Restaurant

‘…there’s a new Wormwood/In our hood/Gotta try its so good/Chef Rabah Ourrad/He’s a chef-rapper/Who loves his Lobster. 

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Wormwood Restaurant

16 All Saints Road

London W11 1HH

0207 854 1808

http://www.wormwoodrestaurant.com

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(All Photos courtesy of the internet for this post)

Food: 4 stars

Atmosphere: 4 stars

Service: 4.25 stars

Value/money: 3.75 stars

Design: 4 stars

Overall: 4 stars

The Restaurant

The latest foodie addition to Notting Hill is Wormwood, a Mediterranean restaurant in what some people call the dodgier part of NH/W11. I have been meaning to try this restaurant for quite some time now, having read very good reviews, the most recent from Giles Coren last Saturday, who highly rated the food, less so the concept of ‘sharing plates.’ All Saints Road is having somewhat of a revival, from the Rum Kitchen to the Wormwood Restaurant, and is becoming the Hollywood Road of the North; a quiet road with an international restaurant across from a rowdy, rustic Italian. ‘Wormwood’ really is a tragic name for a restaurant though, didn’t the owners know that Wormwood Scrubs is a prison just a few miles away? Or is it purposefully a commentary about the dream of two Algerians who now co-own their restaurant, proving that the underdogs can come out on top? (Chef Rabah Ourrad has an interesting background of a young Algerian-in-Paris-rapper-turned-chef with stints at Momo’s, Sketch and the Ledbury. I would like to sit in his kitchen while he raps ‘Le Micro Brise Le Silence’ over his truffle emulsion).

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In any case, it is a light and airy restaurant with colours of green, blues and white patterns with some olive trees in its terrace to keep it, well, very Mediterranean. The crowd is quite grown up looking for an exciting change from ‘Michelin star’ type restaurants, which do get repetitive after a while (I must admit that my experience of Marianne’s of Masterchef fame down the road was disappointingly underwhelming, hence why I have not reviewed it). The concept here  is keeping high standards of cooking techniques in a more relaxed ‘sharing plates’ style, ‘elegant yet relaxed,’ as it likes to be described. There is a lovely back area, which can be privatised, and also acts as an art gallery.

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(Smoked Aubergine)

The Food

Sharing plates is the hot trend of the moment for restaurants, and Notting Hill is no exception; Polpo, the Shed and Mazi are just a few of the recent openings in the past few years. Mazi, a nouveau-Greek, showed how simple Greek food can be elevated to sophisticated food, using ingredients like Rice Paper for the Souvlaki instead of your regular old Gyro bread. It is international cuisine with a twist. Wormwood to me is the Morrocan version of Mazi, trying to create nouveau Moroccan inspired dishes. If you like Mazi, you should try Wormwood. The lobster couscous with lobster bisque is delicious, the beetroot salad cleanses the palate and allows space for the foie gras which is another distinctive dish. There is pork belly tagine, sea bass dishes, and lots of aubergine. The cauliflower truffle combo is becoming my new craving, which I also found here at Wormwood, almost as good as the cauliflower and truffle mousse from Nuno Mendes’ Chiltern Firehouse. At some point though, it felt as if my palate wanted just two or three ingredients per course, rather than 6 ingredients per plate, with 10 plates for four (Example: Scallops ceviche with redcurrant dressing, coriander cress, and homemade limoncello gel. That means 60 different ingredients in one sitting).

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(Lobster Couscous)

The menu offers inventive and unique dishes blending Morrocan, French, Spanish and Lebanese influences, and bringing unusual ingredients together. But it all rather works. The dishes are quite sophisticated in their presentations and have more ingredients than necessary (he just couldn’t resist showing off his jellies and mousses) that they turn out quite foodie but difficult to share. The service was excellent and we were impressed by our waitress’ poetic memory of all the dishes and ingredients per plate. It felt as if the rapper Chef wanted to prove his fine dining skills and creativeness while ‘keeping it real,’ which suits All Saints Road perfectly.

The Verdict: The older, more sophisticated brother of Mazi restaurant for those who are tired of Michelin-star restaurants formality. Great for a grown-up dinner with ‘couple-friends’ who don’t know each other very well. If there’s a break in the conversation, the food is always a conversation starter.

xx

NHYM

http://www.nottinghillyummymummy.com

@NHyummymummy

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(Homemade Cocktails)
Wormwood Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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In the Press, Social Commentary, Spotlight On...

Spotlight On: Mental Health & Top 10 Tips to Beat the Blues

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(All photos courtesy of the internet. Photo above on art therapy).

Last weekend, I had what you could aptly call a ‘Mummy Meltdown,’ brought on by 4 cups of toddler meltdowns & tantrums, 6 tablespoons of teething sleep deprivation, 3 ounces of nanny issues, a double dose of snotty noses, a dash of hormonal cyclical fluctuations, a bowlful of responsibilities, and a large dollop of health problems. Even a David Beckham sighting couldn’t make me feel better and I burst into tears in front of my daughter O, for the first time ever, which I explained as ‘mummies have bad days too.’ Well, this was one way of stopping her meltdown, and at least it worked. I felt infinitely better after my little outburst, which finally showed her that I too can cry and reminded me that crying sometimes just makes everything better. These are not what you would describe as ‘tragic’ problems, yet at the particular moment in time, the culmination of all of these ingredients reminded me that even in the some of the best circumstances possible, motherhood is not easy.

It is normal for all of us to find ourselves vulnerable or fragile every once in a while, when the perfect balance of our lives are shattered by unpredictable events. Each of us will face problems at some point in our lives that tip our balance such as the death of a mother, a father, a husband, a friend or a baby. We are encountering more fertility problems than ever with our increasing age and facing new health problems that we never had before. Even more so, our parents are becoming elderly and fighting one ailment after another. And sometimes, we are just plain overwhelmed. Being overwhelmed as a parent is not something to look down on. It is a common and often under-respected affliction that we carry about on our shoulders.

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Mothers are burdened with portraying happy, perpetually enthusiastic people often while hiding our real feelings, but motherhood is not a Pampers commercial; it is bloody hard, and mothers are reluctant to discuss it openly as it is easy to feel that we have no ‘right’ to complain when others are childless or family-less, or less fortunate than us. In Notting Hill Land, where there is an inordinate amount of pressure on being the ‘perfect’ mother, we most often face our problems in silence, but we all have the capacity to feel overwhelmed in our own ways.

Luckily, there are more and more techniques to combat the blues, so I wanted to spread some shared wisdom to all.

Here are my 10 Tips on Beating the Blues: 

1. An excuse for a Massage: Touch therapy is one easy way to feel instantly better. But you didn’t really need me to tell you that. You can just use this article as an excuse for your massage bills. Space NK around the corner has some of the best massage therapists around: http://www.spacenk.com/SPA_NK.html

2. Put those feet up with Reflexology: It’s amazing how a few pressure points can change the way you feel. Zen at Notting Hill Gate has a wonderful Japanese Reflexologist who is booked weeks in advance, so be sure to book early. http://www.zenspalondon.com/

3. Downward Dog with Yoga: Another standard, proven mood enhancer that you are already probably practicing and loving, blending the spiritual and the physical. The Life Centre is an all encompassing place for inner healing and wellness. http://www.thelifecentre.com/centres/nottinghill//

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4. Qi Gong: A blend of Tai Chi, Yoga, and martial arts, Qi Gong is practiced for wellbeing and health. According to Wikipedia, Qi Gong ‘aligns body, breath, and mind for health and meditation, [which] allows access to higher realms of awareness and helps awaken one’s true nature… to fulfill our full potential.’ The Mei Quan academy offers classes all over London, including private classes. http://www.taichinews.com/

5. Be positive: Just by being positive and convincing yourself that you are positive, your brain will begin to feel and think positive.

6. Reach for some pills: Prozac and Zoloft works wonders, but I am talking about Magnesium supplements. Planet Organic, the one-stop-shop for all supplements in the area, carry a variety of great quality magnesium, a natural relaxer. Another way to absorb Magnesium is transdermally, through a spray or bath salts. Both will relax your muscles after a hard work-out or a hard day. http://www.planetorganic.com/

7. Find Yourself a Guru: Everyone needs a good guru, wellness coach or shaman to guide us through life’s ups and downs. Your guru could just be someone you know who inspires you to be happy. My personal guru, a good friend who is never in a bad mood, explained that once you have reached the bottom, you keep everything else in perspective. Wise words.

8. Listen to some Music: Music is a very powerful mood altering stimulus. If you are feeling stressed, listen to ‘RELAX’ by Mika, if you’re feeling down, listen to ‘Happy’ by Pharrell Williams. Binaural beats were studied and proven to have a strong mood altering effect on the brain. My personal favourite relaxing music is by a very talented musician, Michael, from Cologne, Germany who creates ‘Relax Daily’ music, which can have a powerful effect on your mood and mind.

9. Mindful Meditation: Mindfulness is all the craze right now, with articles written on it from the FT to Grazia. Mindfulness has been around since the 70s when Jon Kabat Zinn used Mindfulness on patients with chronic illnesses and was proven to be very successful. Jon Kabat Zinn, a doctor and researcher of Mindfulness, is THE expert and wrote numerous books on Mindfulness and its benefits which you can find on Amazon. http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=jon+kabat+zinn. Even simpler, there are now Mindfulness apps like Headspace which has garnered a huge following. (Mindfulness deserves a separate post, more to come later).

10. Your own Notting Hill therapist, Dr. Kerry Thomas: If all fails and you really feel like you can’t talk to your partner or your friends about your feelings, Dr. Kerry Thomas, a certified psychologist and psychotherapist will hypnotise, visualise and guide you for hours until you are somewhere better. She can even take you on a ‘mindful’ island vacation without even leaving Notting Hill. Everyone in New York has one, so join the bandwagon and get yourself one, it’s the latest accessory. http://www.kthomaspsychologist.com/

Have a lovely day.

xx

NHYM

http://www.nottinghillyummymummy.com

@NHyummymummy

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Quote of the day, Social Commentary

‘A Day In the Life of A Notting Hill Yummy Mummy’

Quote of the Day: ‘I’m panting like a bulldog during a heatwave and sweating like a 60 year old man trying to have an orgasm on Viagra.’

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(All photos courtesy of the internet)

5:30am. ‘Waahhh!’ I hear screaming somewhere in the background through the BT monitor trying to wake me from my happy-beach-dream slumber. Please Stop. I ignore it. I am sure the noise will die down if I just pretend I don’t hear it. 10 minutes later, I am back to my beach-dream. I am exhausted from being up 4 times last night. 2x with the teething Baby A, and 2x with M, once because she had a bad dream, and the other to tell me she wants pasta for lunch.

6pm: ‘Mummmmmyyyy!!! Peeeeppeeee!’ Really? Hasn’t she been potty trained for years? I try to remember. But the potential thought that I may have to clean up her wet carpet mess if I don’t go, makes me get up to take her to the bathroom.

6:15am: More noise. This time louder. ”Wwwaaaah’ in one monitor. ‘Mummy!’ in the other. Both kids are up and screaming for attention. I guess I sympathise, since it’s been a whole 12 hours since they saw anyone but a teddy bear.

6:15am-7:30am: I’ve used all my tricks to entertain and convince them it’s still night-time and M replies ‘It’s light out, it’s not sleep time, it’s play time!’ How is it possible to be this exhausted by these two little angels (monsters)? I look at my watch every  minute. 30 more minutes until New Nanny shows up. 29 more minutes. 28 more minutes….

7:30am: Hurrah! New nanny is on time. I hand off my oompah loompah midgets and go back to my Haastens bed and Egyptian cotton thread. Ah. This is more like it. Until I realise that I promised myself to try that Zumba class, since I am surrounded by Claudia Schiffer and Elle McPherson types and I still look like K-Middy’s post-baby-St.Mary’s-Lindo-Wing-Photo.

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8am: Breakfast with the girls. I’ve had 30 minutes to turn myself into someone slightly suitable for drop offs and pick ups, so I won’t be mistaken for the nanny again.

8:30am: New Nanny is in charge of Drop Offs and Baby Naps today, so I have a Full NHYM day ahead.

8:45am Off to Zumba! I am trying to get rid of the 5kg tire that has been stuck like super glue to my pre-baby-size-8-body since the birth of Baby A. It has been impossible to get rid of it: Dukan diet, 5:2 diet, only-eating-apples/pineapples/kale/pomegrenade diet, Bootcamp Pilates or Yoga. ‘This isn’t me, I’m a skinny girl stuck in a fat-girl’s body!’ I want to tell the mums I meet when they ‘up-and-down’ me. What’s worst, is that I have a full wardrobe of beautiful, gorgeous clothes that I may never wear again. I am stuck wearing elasticated waists for the rest of my life like an 80 year old, I think to myself.

8:50am On my way there, I pass by the trendy-twiglet-blonde-who-never-smiles NHN (Notting-Hill-Neighbour). I guess I wouldn’t smile either if my ex husband was cheating on me. But still, I see her almost every day and she barely acknowledges my existence. Must be something with fashionistas. They must be either hungry (which makes them grumpy), or angry.

9am: Zumba! I don’t know anyone here and I feel quite intimidated. There are about 35 women, size 8 and under, chatting to each other, and I am quite literally the elephant in the room.

9:05am: Oh, there’s someone I recognise, one-hit-wonder Trinny in the front row (I hear she had a successful fashion show on TV a lifetime ago, which was replaced by her fat-turned-skinny-gay-friend Gwok Kwan, and whose career is now non-existent. The difficulties of fame). More importantly, can someone tell me what she is doing with Charles Saatchi?! She is certainly not with him for his dashing good looks or charming, endearing character. Was she hibernating in Antartica when he throttled Nigella, divorced 3 times, and confessed to being a narcissistic, reclusive, egotist?? I want to go up to her and hug her and tell her she’s better than this.

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9:05am: There’s Pamela Anderson! Oh wait, that’s a skinnier, younger, and prettier version of her without the inflated boobs or lips.

9:15am: These women clearly come every day. They all have the ‘special Zumba shoes’ and all seem to know the moves even before Doni, the Zumba teacher, shows us. This Zumba class is like a game of Twister and I am definitely losing.

9:30am: I’m panting like a bulldog during a heatwave and sweating like a 60 year old man trying to have an orgasm on Viagra. Not a pretty sight.

10:00am: How much longer is this class?! I wonder if I can sneak out without anyone noticing, but I think about my tire, and I can’t go anywhere, I’m too tired and it’s too heavy for me to move. Again, I look at the clock to see when this torture will end.

10:15am: It’s wind down time. Finally. This class really isn’t for me.

10:30am: As I am leaving the Zumba class, looking my best, I see David Beckham leaving Bonpoint, arms full of Bonpoint, Caramel and Marie-Chantal bags. There’s certainly one lady in his life. He goes shopping for her, drops her off every day, looks at her adoringly and he is apparently just the loveliest guy, says my local butcher… (I’ve also figured out why his parents called him ‘David:’ after Michaelangelo’s David’s body!). Can someone tell me why Victoria never smiles; she’s super-rich, super-famous, she is now a bona-fide, super-designer, she has four super-adorable kids and a husband like THAT. What’s not to smile about?!

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11am: I stop by Austique on my way home, and while trying on girly goodies, I run into B.B., an impossibly leggy, beautiful, ex-model, LSE graduate, married to some Art Superstar who tells me about her new company she has started, producing ethical coffee. You see, to be a NHYM it isn’t enough being beautiful, smart, size 8 and under, rich and married to a super successful husband, you now must own your own company and be successful at it (and save the world while you’re at it!). This is the new trend for NHYMs; to be your own boss and become a ‘mumpreneur (Post about mumpreneurs coming up soon).’ Me and my tire are feeling even more deflated.

11:30am: I’m rushing home to take a shower to get rid of all of that Zumba sweat, check in with New Nanny that all is well at home and school. Finally I spend time with Baby A who has been neglected since her birth, give her lunch and sing ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ for her nap before heading off to lunch at the Electric with my two Scandi friends K & C.

1pm: I am the first to arrive. Just as I am about to think that The Electric is full of bespectacled, middle-aged, writers in plaid shirts, Paloma Faith walks in and sits in the booth across from me. She is the last Mohican of Notting Hill Cool. NH is not full of NHYMs and yuppies after all.

1:10pm: K arrives 7 month pregnant, but doesn’t even look pregnant. I look more pregnant than she does. She is radiant and glowing. Which is giving me morning sickness, even though there is no way I could even be pregnant.

1:30pm We are finally happily eating our salads and soups while talking Europen real estate, schools, and healthcare and all I can do is stare at them trying to find a flaw. White perfect teeth? Check (Must get my teeth whitened one of these days). Always smiling? Check (They are actually genuinely happy people). Long, blonde, beautiful hair? Check (Must get hair dyed and done). Pool-blue eyes and flawless skin? Check (Must make an appointment with Dr. Lowe). Cool factor? Well they are Swedish after all. Ugh. This day is depressing me more by the minute. And they are just the nicest people ever. I spend the whole lunch trying to find what’s wrong with them and all I can come up with is that they are fans of 50 Shades of Grey.

2pm: We are going through our Celebrity Crushes (CC). Mine is of course, David, only for the fact that he is the ‘World’s Best Dad’ (and he happens to be even hotter in real life than in photos). I just can’t help it, seeing a (hot) dad with his adorable daughter in his arms just wins me over every time. C’s CC is Christian Bale in American Psycho, with a bit of Christian Grey thrown in, while K’s is Brangelina. Together. In Bed. At the same time. And here I was thinking that Scandis were boring.

David Beckham Takes Harper Out For A Morning Stroll

2:45pm I leave the Electric after a lovely time with K & C, and having had a decent but un-extraordinary soup and salad, but anything tastes better than waiting in line at Bill Granger. On our way out, Marina Fogle, Ben Fogle’s wife, is busy having a work meeting for her new company ‘The Bump’. More mumpreneurs in action.

3pmish: Pick up time. I rush to the school gates and dread the uncomfortable small talk and idle chatter (Where are you off to for half term? How was your half term? Are you going to the Parent’s Event/Sports Day/Christmas Play?) while they ‘up-and-down’ me to see what labels I am not wearing. I feel like an awkward teenager who has no one to sit with at lunch time.

3pmish + 5 minutes: I spot ‘Gossip Mum’ and go straight to her. She loves talking so much and only listens to herself anyway, so I will look like I have a friend, but won’t need to talk. Perfect. And she keeps me in the school gossip loop, which makes me feel less of an outsider. Today, she chats away about the latest weird thing ‘Weird Mum’ has said and done and tells me about SuperRich Mum’s inbuilt trampoline and slide in her huge back garden (Yes, in London). Alpha Mum joins us and tells us about how many laps her perfect, supersonic daughter can do at the ‘Country Club’ after having lessons from Gold Medal Swimmer Coach. I wonder whether I should admit that M still doesn’t swim without floaties.

4pm: We are home after a play in the playground/private garden/park/activity. M has been best friends, enemies, then best friends again with her BFF in the past 10 minutes. Her BFF happens to be SuperRich’s Mum’s daughter and has a private jet, two drivers, three chefs, and 6 staff and M keeps asking if she can have a slide that goes down into a trampoline in our non-existent garden, and why we don’t have our own a ‘taxi’ driver. Hmm… Perhaps they should stay enemies.

4:30pm I open the door for the alarm/kitchen/builder/dishwasher guy to fix the broken alarm/fridge/house/dishwasher. Groundhog Day.

5pm: Finally, it’s TV time and everyone is happy! Anything from Frozen, Doc Mc Stuffins, Peppa, Mickey, Epic, or anything with Pirates will do.

6pm-7:30pm: Dinner, bath-time and wind-down-time, sleepy -time: Baby A doesn’t want to eat, M doesn’t want to poop and neither wants to go to sleep. Lots of negotiations and bribes later, everyone is in bed sleeping.

8pm: Dinner-time. Finally a moment to sit down. Mr. C is at a work dinner/traveling, as usual. I really need to go back to work, I think to myself, at least just so I can blame work for being an inadequate mother. Until then, the pressure of being a NHYM lurks heavily. I blame myself for my daughter not swimming yet, I self-loathe some more about my non-size-8-body, go back to feeling like the outsider who has no one to sit with at lunch-time, feel like the Ugly Duckling next to all these gorgeous Scandis (who seem to have an unfair physical advantage over the rest of the world) and feel personally inadequate for not having my own internet company/ethical food/clothes line/yoga studio.

So, perhaps this is why Trinny is with Charles Saatchi, because the NHYM pressure we put on ourselves creates unrealistic expectations to become these superwomen and supermom NHYM, who don’t actually exist (Except if you are Scandinavian, and then perhaps you stand a chance). Perhaps we should realise that all that really matters is that our families are happy and healthy and all the other stuff just doesn’t really matter. Period.

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xx

NHYM

http://www.nottinghillyummymummy.com

Twitter: @NHyummymummy

 

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Reviews

Review of Polpo Restaurant, Notting Hill

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(That’s him in the window/ that’s him in the spotlight/ Working the tables/ It’s Russell Norman/The Restaurant Man. Photos taken by NHYM Copyright 2014)

Polpo Notting Hill

126-128 Notting Hill Gate London W11 3QG

02072293283

http://www.polpo.co.uk

Overall: 3.75 stars

Food: 3.5 stars

Service: 3.5 stars / raised to 4 stars for having Russell Norman on the floor

Design: 4 stars

Value: 4 stars because their Pizettes were only at £5 and their plates are very filling

Having read some of the gushing praise of Russell Norman’s, aka the ‘King of Small Plates,’ many restaurants (Spuntino, Polpo Soho, Polpetto, Mishkin’s, and Polpo Covent Garden), and how people actually wait in line for an hour and half for a seat, I was thrilled to hear that one was opening up in Notting Hill. Not one for waiting in line for a restaurant (I’ve left ‘waiting in line’ behind a red velvet rope in my 20s, let alone any restaurant line in Soho), there was no way I was ever going to shlep all the way to Soho, unsure of whether I would have to wait 30 or 80 minutes for a table. Polpo Notting Hill would be the perfect way to try one of this famous restaurateur’s restaurants, without ever having to leave my 10-minute radius. Not quite ready to face the possibility of waiting in line, I took the safe road and booked a lunch reservation (They actually don’t ever close after lunch, which must be great for business).

PolpoMenuNHYM

The Polpo Restaurant concept is about being a Venetian Bacaro serving small Italian plates (the Italian version of a tapas bar). Having been to a true Bacaro in Venice during my ‘Gap/Backpacking year’, which made me think of a dark, smokey restaurant full of students and young trendy things, smoking cigarettes, drinking vino and nibbling on bits (not only the food), while discussing the superiority of Italian men (I was a twenty-something woman after all), I had high hopes and expectations for this establishment.

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The original Polpo was created during the recession, and Russell Norman was able to make it a success by making it a relatively cheap, relaxed and cool dining scene. Russell’s background is as a restaurant manager and operations director at Caprice Holdings. He knows a thing or two about running a restaurant and what attracts people to a restaurant. It is not always clearly about the food alone. In the recession, he saw that all the buzzy, cool places were the ones that were packed. So he interior designed all of his restaurants (and is known for carefully choosing all the details from the toilet sinks and lighting himself), to attract the trendy and cool crowd. His staff are hired for their attitude and for being the creative types, rather than necessarily their restaurant credentials, which adds to the cool factor of the restaurant. When I saw Russell Norman working the tables as I came in, being a true ‘Restaurant Man,’ listening to what his clients and staff have to say, seeing with his eyes how the restaurant was being run, I wanted to love it.

PolpoBarNHYM

When I entered Polpo, what struck me immediately was a slightly damp smell. Perhaps to recreate the summer’s humidity in Venice or perhaps why it shut down for one day (a flood maybe?), 4 days after opening.  But then I saw the bar, which immediately made me forget my initial impression. The Bar is Beautiful. I do love a nice bar, and this one easily took me back to my Italian Backpacking days. I was then seated with a perfect view of the restaurant, (which is one of the reasons I always come early to choose my spot before my lunch date arrives). The clientele here is rather eclectic as the restaurant is; beautiful posh British Blondes two tables on my left, two American NHYMs two tables on my right, a family of 4 across from me, older men having lunch, young trendsetters  at the bar and two lovely Notting Hill Grannies, one Japanese and one American, next to me. This is what I love about London; all ages, all nationalities and all social classes mixing easily together in an Italian Wine Bar. I can imagine it being great at night with a buzzy atmosphere with cocktails flowing, a few good friends, and lots of laughs.

PolposeatNHYM

We ordered small plates on the recommendation of the waitress; a plate of ciceti, the garlic and clam pizzette, classic beef and pork meatballs, lamb caponata, the polpo of course, and the asparagus and broad bean salad. The food was good, but unfortunately not quite as good as I was hoping. There was a slight lack of flavour to the dishes, perhaps a slight banality to them. The arancini and the pizettes were rather good, I liked the creativity of eating a spicy clams, capers and garlic pizzette. The Polpo fell a bit short of my expectations, instead a crispy, browned Italian octopus the way I like them, it felt as if this poor polpo had drifted for days in the Med and somehow landed on British territory, and had become a bit soggy from all the British rain. The lamb and meatballs were just average, and knowing that this restaurant is coming from one of the biggest restaurant names in London at the moment, I was, I admit a tad disappointed.

Perhaps I am expecting too much from a Bacaro, perhaps my expecations were too high and I am a demanding NHYM that should be kept away from Notting Hill Gate. Perhaps these are teething issues which he will iron out over the next few weeks, so I will come back for another go in two weeks, this time at night to capture the buzz. But then again, perhaps this is what Russell is trying to do; cheap and cheerful dishes in a great atmosphere. And maybe, this restaurant was not conceived with me in mind. When I read reviews later on Tripadvisor, I realised that this place is not for earth-shattering, tantalising food, this place is for friends to meet, drink and have a good time in a greatly designed restaurant with a good atmosphere. After all, this is all the Italian students could afford on a budget, so in this respect, Russell is succeeding after all.

xx

NHYM

http://www.nottinghillyummymummy.com

twitter: @NHyummymummy

Polpo on Urbanspoon

p.s. For those also adverse to waiting in line for a dinner table, there are subtle ways of getting a dinner reservation but what’s the fun in telling you how? I will leave it to you to figure it out on your own…

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