chiltern street

there’s a lovely new boutique shop on chiltern street – i guess it coincides with the glamour and fashion of the chiltern firehouse, which I have not yet visited – personally I think that i will wait for all the fuss to die down…….  mouki has everything from gorgeous jewellery, to clothes, accessories and even chopping boards – all selected carefully and beautifully – dosa has always been one of my favourite labels, so its good to see it here.  its not as expensive as matches and browns, but its somewhere between whistles and designer labels, so still luxury, but  for something special and individual its worth it.  in fact its quite understated and stylish.   there is a sale on at the moment, so worth a visit.  i love the ancient greek sandals, that seem to be quite popular everywhere at the moment.

for men, J Simon is opposite selling classic menswear – both my men are big fans of this shop.


san lucar

more interesting things to do whilst in andalucia. what a great way to enjoy the sunset – horse riding along el palmar !  i only wish that i had the confidence, but the kids just love it.   i keep saying that next time i visit spain, i am going to book a course of horse riding lessons.  marian gives all the kids the freedom and enthusiasm for learning to ride and you can book 2 hour rides along the beach  00 34 651 010 396.  otherwise, you can try montenmedio, which is about 15 mins from vejer and they do a course of horse riding, plus lots of other activities.  they also have some interesting art exhibitions, so its worth a visit.  you can also do a course at casa siesta on their natural horsemanship programme, which also rescues horses – perfect introduction for those afraid of horses – a friend recently did the course and raved about it.


for an interesting day out – then go to  Sanlucar for the horse racing – start with lunch on the beach at Baja de Guia, in one of the many restaurants facing the estuary.   all the restaurants seem to have these modern water sprays which intermittently spray fine jets of water, making you feel that you are in a tropical jungle mist or in a sauna.   its a noisy and typical spanish day out – but great fun with the kids.

There are usually 4 races, with about 6 to 8 horses, and each one lasts not more than a few minutes.  its great fun, betting with the numerous kids who  set up betting shop;  you could bet with sweets or max one euro.  when you pay your one euro, you get an ice pop or a few sweets in return and a ticket saying what horse you bet on.  each betting station (quite punch and judy like) draws its own line on the beach, and its the first horse at that line that wins you your bet.   there are races coming up on 7th – 9th august, so if you are around, you must put it in your diary. usually  start around 6.30pm, but it is dependent on the tide going out, as they clear that part of the beach to make the racecourse. its all very haphazard in spain, no health and safety barriers, just a plastic net dividing the racecourse from the sunbathers.

Afterwards, you must drive back up to the old town and sit in the lovely main square with its  fountains and palm trees;  people sit out all day enjoying the balmy weather.

my favourite hotel to stay in Sanlucar is the Posada de Palacio, right in the historic old town, its a converted palacio, and not too expensive.  It has beautiful courtyards and lots of arbabic influences.  another recommendation is  Palacio of Medina Sidonia - its  a hospederia.  Their website doesn’t really do it justice and you have to book via email , but a friend who knows the area recommends this.
Even if you don’t stay there it has a lovely garden with a cafe where the great and the good seem to go for their elevenses!  They also do tours of the Palacio – on Sundays til 1 pm

tatton park flower show

another whirlwind visit to manchester on monday, but sadly too early to make the Tatton park flower show.   i am immensely proud and ecstatic that my lovely friend Laura Arison won the GOLD, best in show award for her Maggie’s Forest Garden !  Laura is not only a talented artist, but now a talented garden designer – and she only decided to do this in the last few years.  so it goes to show that you really are never too old to embark on a new passion!  i wish that i had timed my visit to see my mother with the show, but you are able to go all this weekend.

had lunch in teacup and cakes -followed by an amazing victoria sandwich – there is a lovely selection of teas and home made cakes there and the northern quarter is a short walk from Picadilly train station.  the northern quarter is Manchester’s answer to shoreditch, but sadly not as many shops, but quite a few cafes.




virginia woolf

dont know much about Virginia Woolf, so it was interesting to see the exhibition about her life at the national portrait gallery – you can see letters that she wrote, photographs and paintings from her time as part of the bloomsbury group.   her sister Vanessa Bell designed most of her amazing book covers – herself a talented artist.   you can also pop into see portraits from the BP portrait award – there are very varied in style, some artists are self taught, some quite well known.

also popped into see the photos by Dennis Hopper at the Royal Academy – there are informal shots of  actors, such as Paul Newman, some abstract photography of street life all taken during the 60′s – so not only was he a great actor, but  he had an amazing and interesting eye.

dont forget to go and see the amazing cut outs of Matisse!

i am still astonished about the amount of art thats on show in the small town of st paul de fence – there were sculptures everywhere.

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have spent weeks looking for swimsuits – so difficult to find ones that fit well.  finally found one in j crew, they have a big range online, but not many in the store, but if you go and try on the sizes and shapes, you can then find your size online.   i really like the simplicity of the costumes from eres swimwear, but the prices are so high – its also about finding the right amount of coverage at my age – some of the ones in cos and top shop looked fine, but no support at all.  another company with great costumes is sea folly - their one piece costumes are quite flattering styles.   now i can’t wait to get into the sea!

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went to see the film boyhood – loved it, though quite long and not much happening type of film – its one of those that is well scripted and suitably apt if you happen to have an 18 year old son.  even robert enjoyed it – i do worry sometimes when i drag him to see films that i want to see.  he noted that it was refreshing to see a film that didn’t have a typical hollywood start middle climax and ending !  its a great achievement to film the same few people over a period of 12 years and watch them age on screen naturally – you definitely came out feeling that you had watched a documentary rather than a film that had been written and scripted.


07Jun2014_0036 07Jun2014_0038 07Jun2014_0040 07Jun2014_0043love the south bank on a sunny day, watching the boys with their skateboards


raw vegan restaurant

its so easy to get into a rut and visit the same restaurants over and over again – but recently i have tried lots of new ones, including a raw vegan restaurant , nama foods in talbot road – very unusual, though i doubt if i will be rushing back, but suits those of you who are healthy inclined and have lots of intolerances – bonnie gull seafood shack which specialises in seafood  (the service could have been a little bit more attentative, but food good), trishna – great indian food and classic italian food from little italy – all of which i can recommend.

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love this simple salad of spinach leaves and pomegranate that florence prepared for me one lunchtime.

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