robert and I are creatures of habit when it comes to food;  we like good ethnic food, Japanese, Korean, Turkish,  Chinese – things that you can’t cook as well at home, so we always frequent the same restaurants.  however in the last few months we seem to have visited new places – usually with friends or showing visiting friends new things.

we finally made it to Skylon, the restaurant above the Royal Festival Hall;  we actually were going to see a concert there, and as it was 6.30pm, we decided to have the set evening meal, or pre theatre deal that they label it, which is great value, and very good.  we chose the brasserie bit over the main restaurant, but both seem very good value for 2 or 3 courses – starting from £20.   I think we have always had a problem trying to book in the evenings, but on a Monday and pre concert, it was fairly easy and one that I would definitely do again.

another place that we have visited once before is J. Sheekey, tucked in a small street, just opposite the national portrait gallery and quite close to Cecil Place (vintage books);  again we went for pre theatre set dinner in the brasserie and this was excellent;  in fact we ate in both the restaurant and the brasserie and J. Sheekey has now become our favourite restaurant for food and atmosphere – the go to place for a special occasion – it offers that old world glamour away from the multi chains that are taking over our high streets and now our local communities too.

Tom Dixon’s new restaurant at the newly refurbished Coaldrops Yard is a fascinating and interesting place to take guests – a bustling busy place, we sat at the bar where you could watch the chefs hard at work;  it’s middle eastern in style, Israeli food – quite similar to Otto lenghi, interesting, but a lot of big flavours.  its quite atmospheric walking round the new Kings cross area at night with all the xmas lights and the canal boats floating by.   Tom’s shop is spectacular and all his things are so covetable – from a small candle, to a floor lamp and armchair!   afterwards, take a walk to the Waiting room bar at kings cross station, its quite a nice place to have a coffee to finish the evening.

Gymkhana is the sister restaurant of Trishna  and is very tasty Indian food;  I am not a great lover of Indian food, but occasionally I get these cravings and actually the food here is more delicate and they are very attentive to food allergies.   all these restaurants are very popular, so book in advance.


books and Cecil court

another favourite meeting place of mine is the national portrait gallery – you can always see lots of interesting free displays including photographs by Mayotte Magnus on Illuminating Women.   next door the national cafe is a lovely ambient space to have coffee or afternoon tea – I usually go for the clotted cream and scones!

just across the road, you must wonder down cecil court, a wonderfully atmospheric alley of victorian bookshops, specialising in antiquarian books.  i stepped into the lovely marchpane book shop, which was filled from floor to ceiling with beautiful old copies of children’s books.  you can spend anything from £10 to thousands, you have to just decide what you want to pay, and then see what you like.  i chose an early 1909 copy of alice in wonderland for my daughter alice – who now she is older has decided to collect these books.  i could have spent hours in there – the graphics and design of the books were so inspirational.  so for the perfect and original gift for the person who has everything, take a trip to cecil court.

here is a picture of lauren, another muse of mine, when she was 7 months pregnant, but has that amazing radiance that comes with impending motherhood.

vegetables galore

still loving my local green grocers parkway greens – its stocking even more types of vegetables, so we are having fun experimenting at home.  i am still throwing everything into a smoothie most mornings, which means that there is never any waste in the house – if vegetables are looking a bit over their best or there is just a few bits left, they get thrown into the blender along with the kale, ginger, raw cacao, seeds, almond milk and banana.  I somehow lost a lot of weight over the summer – I think it was the anxiety of what had been going on, so now I also add a heaped spoonful of protein powder – I like the ones by pulsin, which are rich in iron or amino acids and high in protein, but don’t taste too strong either.   somehow I feel that even if I am rushing in the morning, drinking this concoction sets me up for the day – with a nutriblend, they give you a cap, so that you can carry it out on your way to work, or even make it the night before ready to grab on your way out.

i bought these amazing colourful chard and carrots there this week.

10Nov2014_0048 10Nov2014_0046 chard05Nov2014_0096

paris for the day

maria and i did our annual day trip to paris on a £59 return ticket last week – you have to book in advance, but its worth it.   Maria was actually in Paris and Tour for a few days before me, and I joined her on her last day;  I arrived just in time to have breakfast in one of the many street cafes – we always start at rue Buci, with its vibrant fruit and flower market – its a great spot to watch the world go by . buy a book of 10 metro tickets on Eurostar – you may not use them all that day, but they are worth keeping for the next visit and means that there is no queuing for tickets.  the metro gets you from one side of paris to the other very quickly.   Paris is a city for walking around, enjoying the sights and streets – its amazing that its just 2 hours from Kings Cross by train.  there are always so many wonderful exhibitions on and you need to choose beforehand where you want to go.

this time we aimed for the spectacular digital light show – Atelier des lumieres – a vast warehouse space is projected with works of art – a dedication to Klimt and a century of viennese painting.  its quite overwhelming at times, constantly changing and moving images are projected on every wall, floor around you;  you move around to experience different angles – definitely worth a visit.  we also visited the old cemetery of Pere Lachaise – with its strange monumental tombs, quite like Dr Who telephone boxes with domestic doors – cemeteries are serene, melancholy places – but always visually stunning.

although Paris is perfect for strolling, its good to plan a route bearing in mind closing times.  we headed to the recently opened Yves Saint Laurent museum, which is actually the building where he designed from – so not only was there a display of some of his beautiful clothes from the 1970’s, but also you could go and see his working studio, still in tact with his desk and mood boards, books and boxes of fabric samples.  we then headed towards St Germain and Bon Marche – a very lovely department store – I loved the mary poppins style xmas trees in the main hallway;  a lot of paris stays open late fortunately and then we headed back to gare de Nord for a train that got us back into london before 11pm.  its tiring, but so pleasurable, inspiring and is a lovely way to spend a day with a good friend.

fortunately my friend maria is very organised at seeing whats on and always organises this;  but I recommend that  you sign up for offers with Eurostar – they seem to do this £59 return ticket several times a year.

stress and skin

blogs, instagram facebook  are funny things – they can tell a lot about a person – what they are doing, what they like, but at times, you do wonder how much of it is true or how much is a persona.  I too am guilty to this;  I know that people may look at my feeds and say how lucky I am – I have a full and interesting life, always travelling, seeing things, doing things, but even I get blog/instagram envy, thinking ‘wow what a wonderful life they are leading’, and then realising that I am victim to the same thing.  its a very British thing to always want to portray a perfect life and that things are going well, but then I look to myself and realise that maybe everyone has hidden problems, worries and anxieties and that this modern way of living is quite deceiving and harmful in that it makes us repress our true feelings. we have realised that there is widespread depression amongst the youth – has social media something to do this?

I admit that I have had the most stressful year of my life – a wedding, a child going to  a high achieving university away from home, another child finishing uni, but worried about getting a job, a mother with increasing dementia – the list is endless – coupled with going through the time of change in a woman’s life, it really adds up to a recipe of anxiety, stress and high emotions.  it hasn’t helped that I got a lot of skin allergies this summer, either it was the heat, the pollution, mosquito bites, topped with the added stress, but I suffered terrible bouts of excema /dermatitis like issues – some of which have got worst and some better.  it not only caused me much grief and worry, but it impacted on my whole family.  its not easy to look at one’s life and appreciate what you have, hormones and issues can really impact on your wellbeing, both physically and mentally and make you act in strange ways.

there were several things that I consciously did to lift myself out of the spiralling despair – take up meditation and mindfulness, speak openly with my girlfriends (some of whom I am sure got sick to death of listening), go out and find inspiration – I found sitting in made me feel worse, looking at your excema getting worse on your face just made me cry , which in turn made it even more worse.   in all of this, I discovered that skin issues are  difficult and complex for both alipathic and natural medicine;  I tried everything, from acupuncture, to nutritional diet, kinseologist, dermatologist  and even had to concede to using steroids, (which should be avoided but does calm things temporarily) especially around the time of my daughters wedding to clear up the face.   what really helped was taking out the dairy in my diet,  using Liz Earle cleanser and moisturiser for sensitive skin, washing with Dermol 500, chickweed cream (stellaria by Helios), and Dermalex.   I have tried so many creams, some worked for a day or two, but the simpler the better.   one lady, Tina Stonely – a nutritionist, was key to helping me understand about food groups and what I needed to avoid;  she is living proof that you can keep youthful and healthy with good common sense eating.  I seemed to have turned a corner recently and although the skin complaints have not completely gone away, they have definitely improved and I have learned how to manage them.


really loved this film, its a study of characters, and centres around a family trying to get on with life; it harks back to the role of the wife in the 1960’s.   Carey Mulligan is very good – I remember watching her start with ‘An Education’ and now she is playing the role of a mother to a teenager – how time flies……  lovely cinematography too.

also worth seeing is the exhibition ‘Modern Couples’ at the Barbican – its a very big exhibition about well known artists and their partners – who are also artists in their own right, but are often dismissed as being the wife and person who supports the artist, so sometimes their talent is not recognised.  there are lots of interesting couples, and interesting stories and sometimes sad finales – there is so much to take in, I didn’t manage to finish in one viewing, partly because its quite exhausting to take everything in – especially on one visit.  it also encompasses a wide range of artists from designers, painters, sculptors.