Want to be part of the Google Family? It is easier than you think, at a small scale. Ever heard of Google City Experts? People like you and me reviewing their favourite addresses – cafés, restaurants, hotels, boutiques, museums… on the Internet giant’s maps. Simple, user friendly, a few minutes for each text, click, finished. At 5o, you become a Google City Expert and get invited to their amazing evenings. You just need to keep adding 5 reviews minimum per month to be kept in the loop. The events… always wow me. You think you know the town and they still find this cute little place you hadn’t heard of. Everyone you meet is as enthusiastic and passionate as you are - no way you will stay on your own for long. Let me give you an idea. A while ago, they took us to the exceptional ghost tube station, Aldwych… Below are a few pics of last night Seaside party, before everyone arrived. Everything was free, food and drinks included. In exchange for a few reviews. Sandcastle building, photo booth, craft beer, silent disco by The Robin Collective, the extraordinary Travelling Gin and their cocktail bike, balls to play with, ping pong, bunting, finger-licking good BBQ by The Roast of Sherwood and ice cream! What are you waiting for?
Google City Experts
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On a tight budget this summer? East London should be able to help you out. On Sunday, have a walk through the Jumble Trail in Hackney (the map is here). Residents are allowed to set shop outside their home and legally sell what they wish: secondhand items, plants, homemade jam… The Vintage kilo sale is also back on Sunday. No need to break the bank – look around and pay by kilo rather than item. Stocks are filled up throughout the day so don’t rush, have a brunch first! As always 10 more ideas below to enjoy London this week-end.
1. On Friday evening, cheer to the week-end with a gin and tonic in the Dickens Museum’s walled garden. Our favourite gin these days, by the way is Opihr, cardamom infused and love at first sip guaranteed.
2. Eid celebrates the end of ramadan. To join the festivities, go to Trafalgar Square this Saturday and enjoy the music and food market. Lots of different cuisines will be represented: Malaysian, Turkish, South Asian, Egyptian, Lebanese, Indonesian, Arabic and more. Kids will have lots to do too with facepainting, calligraphy and henna workshops.
3. Have a look at the Tower of London tomorrow. 58,000 ceramic poppies have been planted in memory of WW1, 900,000 planned in total, until November… An ocean of red. Somerset House created a similar flower field a couple years back, at much lower scale, do you remember?
4. On the festival side – heard of Shuffle? Set in a cemetery with film projections and pop-up swimming pool. Yes, in London.
5. London has its sweet crazy moments. That’s the main reason to love the city. Want an example? In Shoreditch a tiny boutique is reopening, The Corner Shop. All the products have been hand stitched/knitted, from cereal boxes to soda cans!
6. On Saturday, take the children to the free theatre in Canary Wharf. Horrible Histories in on the program, they’re sure to love it. Open air to better enjoy the summer.
7. Still on Saturday, you can travel on the London Underground… on a steam train. Talk about a unique experience.
8. On Saturday evening, go clubbing for less at the Village Underground. How? Strange but fun, you just need to draw yourself a cat’s nose and whiskers.
9. If you missed Holi last time, here is your chance to catch up. This one will take place in Wembley Park on Saturday, with lots of coloured powders to be thrown in the air!
10. Looking for inspiration to keep the kids busy this summer? Here are 20 ideas to keep you smiling.
♪♫♪♫ Click on the map to locate the events ♪♫♪♫
Sign of the times. Women used to worry about wrinkles and ageing when 40 was in sight. These days… in a way, we are lucky. We get a fuller life earlier. But we also have to juggle studies (succeeding and paying back that student loan), managing a career, buying our first home, planning a first child. Just a little pressure. Did you know that stress can make you look up to ten years older? We lose that radiant look earlier. At 30, our skin has been through so much already! If you go to your beauty counter though, the creams are way too rich for you yet, suffocating your skin slightly. This is where Elizabeth Arden comes in with a new range, Flawless Future. A wonderful promise you can trust in - let me tell you why.
Powered by Ceramides – imagine your skin as a simple construction of bricks and mortar. That mortar represents the ceramides, supporting the collagen. Until 30, the skin is at its best. Between 31 and 40, it will lose 38%… Quite a hit. Less ceramides leads to less collagen leads to a dryer looking skin and the appearance of the first lines. Add stress, attacking the telomeres, the ends of chromosomes, fraying and making cell duplication more difficult, pressing the ageing process button.
Don’t panic yet, the Flawless Future range will help in fixing this, in 3 steps:
1. It supports the ceramide ratio of your skin, keeping it optimal, replacing losses from years or stress
2. It stabilises the telomere thanks to the Telosense technology, a protective protein complex that replenishes and fights stress (even when you can’t)
3. It brings liquorice extract and adenosine to the mix, soothing damaged skin, giving it its natural texture back and enhancing radiance
3 key points, 3 perfect weapons. This is a war, my friends. We want to be defined by how rich our life is, not by the effect of time…
- A Moisture Cream, light in texture, easily absorbed by the skin. It also contains a rice kefiran complex (for even better hydration), glycerin and shea butter. Like a caress on the skin but with a super hero effect. The bonus point? Pearlescent pigments and mica to catch the light and make you look even more beautiful.
- An Eye Gel, shimmery tint (makes me think of those beautiful pearls in the V&A exhibition earlier this year), refreshing, bringing a wide-awake look. Its secret? It’s boosted with antioxidant Vitamin E and algae extract to erase puffiness and dark circles.
- My favourite, the Serum. Yes, of course the visual effect is brilliant. You are drawn to it like a magnet. But wait, see these caplets? They contain a second skin matrix which, combined with the serum duplicates its power… Silky and clean feeling too, no stickiness. High tech.
Quick, get yourself this feel good, look even better kit! They are a Debenhams exclusive.
Flawless Future Powered by ceramides – Moisture cream SPF 30, Eye gel, Caplet Serum
Last Sunday, I indulged in a way too rare pleasure: making jam. Apricots infused with lavender, full of sunshine. A cute cup, a selection of scones by the Genesis Crafty brothers, just the perfect dough, slightly sweet but not crumbly, calling for you to take a bite. It was way too hot though to enjoy clotted cream, too rich a taste. A sudden flashback, holiday, cookies ice cream sandwich. That’s it! And it works beautifully, the chilled vanilla melting into the syrup. Glorious. Another version – just sprinkle the ice cream with edible petals. They will disappear in no time so you’d better stock up!
At Waitrose’s. Sultanas, cheese or griddlechips.
Summer Holidays! No school run, no homework, no… Oh wait, that means you also have to keep the kids entertained and you’ve already covered all the London must-see places. Don’t worry, we have it sorted. Here are 20 special summer ideas to surprise, amuse and make them laugh out loud (but at least you will have had time to drink a coffee or two)…
1. Go to the beach! Well the one in Camden, at least with its 150 tons of fine sand, its ping pong games, deckchairs and yes, there are refreshments and cool food on site. Free.
2. Buckingham Palace has reopened its doors to the public for the summer, this time with an exhibition on Royal Childhood. If your kids already dream in front of the toys at the V&A Museum of Childhood, they will not resist this gorgeous selection.
4. The Tate Modern has a room just for families, inspired by Matisse’s cut outs. Lovely light and musical effects. Free.
5. Kids too love afternoon teas - a festive side and finger food, you are sure to win them over. Try BB’s, aboard a double decker going around town. Or One Aldwych’s inspired by Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
6. Let them discover this poetic trail in King’s Cross. The texts have been written by children. Free.
7. If they do like trails, you’ll find quite a selection to download here, organised by neighbourhood. They are quite fun and should keep them rather busy!
8. At Kew Gardens, a multi-sensory walk takes you on a stroll between the trees, a path to walk barefoot.
9. On Saturday mornings, the Soho Hotel has a Children’s film club with a buffet (and a glass of prosecco for parents).
10. They’re longing for a pet but you neither have the space nor the time? Here is an easy compromise: Lady Dinah’s emporium, the first cat café in London. Feline fascination guaranteed.
11. Enjoy Kid’s Week, which in fact lasts the whole of August. Kids can go free to quite a number of shows and musicals (Billie Elliot, War Horse, The Tiger Who Came to Tea, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda…)
12.Too hot? Click here to find fountains in which the little ones can play. Free.
14. Did you know kids can follow a Sonic Trail at the Tate Modern? Borrow a MP3 player – it’s free – and discover lots of different sounds around the museum, some linked to the paintings, others referring to the place at night… As if it had a life of its own.
15. Make the most of your time out! On Saturdays, the Spitalfields City Farm hosts a small market.
16. No need to go to Camden anymore to find liquid nitrogen ice creams. Just stop at Somerset House (they have fun fountains too) and indulge in one of Churn2‘s delicious creations. You are sure to wow the kids.
17. Rediscover Alice in Wonderland, on stage this time, played in the adorable garden behind Covent Garden’s church.
18. Let them climb trees at Alexandra Park.
19. Try the Family trail at the Barbican and get to know all the secret places. Free.
20. The Royal Parks have a fascinating nature program for kids this summer covering everything from insects to a camping evening with a fire (and hopefully some marshmallow toasting).
When I started this roadtrip, I expected a certain weariness. After all, how many canyons can you see before thinking they all look the same. Dozens, hundreds it seems. This is the extraordinary thing about National Parks. Each has a personality of its own, wowing you differently. They sweep you off your feet. Just look at these below, of Bryce. The erosion created such strange columns from the soft sandstone, called hoodoos. They’re quite fascinating, sometimes leaving heavy shapes suspended on thin rock threads. Other times, they form arches like the so well named Tower Bridge you will see below. Compare them to the still intact mesas around, see the parallels in the strata to better understand the geological history unfolding. These are pictures from the Fairyland Loop Trail, a quite magical four hour hike through the statuesque sandstone spires…
A rather extraordinary Saturday morning. Getting up at dawn to jump on a train to London, the sky still orange and misty. Discovering Anges de Sucre, the cutest macaron and marshmallow boutique in London, falling for every treat, taking a whole selection, trying not to eat everything in the taxi. Rushing to Marylebone, marveling at my beloved Pâtisserie des Rêves, leaving with a pink bag, very Liberty style. Picking flowers at Titania’s Garden. Ready! Time to style these around Another Country‘s gorgeous collection. Quite an amazing shop on two levels, mixture of Scandinavian and Flemish atmosphere, the furniture sometimes showing a Quaker influence. Superb wood, lovely grain. An architect’s dream in the pure lines and the curves embellished with a peripheral highlight of colour. At every step, you’ll be adding more items to your wish-list. Same simplicity in the accessories, just catching the light, radiating beauty, framing cakes to perfection. Our favourites are below, have a look!
18 Crawford Street
The furniture is divided in Series, each with a different vibe and feel. If you are in Marylebone, do go and check the shop out. It’s only a couple minutes away, the banquettes and desks are fantastic!
And the sweets? Divine macarons and marshmallows by Anges de sucre & sublime cakes and bites by La Pâtisserie des Rêves. Imagine the torture of arranging them while not being able to taste them!
1. Saint Honoré & bouchées pour enfants – La Pâtisserie des Rêves
2. Macarons Pina Colada, All Americana, Moccachino – Anges de sucre
3. Macarons matcha & lavande – Anges de sucre
4. Macarons Wimbledon, Raspberry ripple, Amalfi citron & lavande – Anges de sucre
5. Brioche & dragées – La Pâtisserie des Rêves
6. Parfait vanille – La Pâtisserie des Rêves
7. Macarons matcha & lavande, marshmallows – Anges de sucre / sucre, bouchée pour enfants – La Pâtisserie des Rêves
8. Macaron Pina Colada – Anges de sucre
It is early yet in Kensington High Street, this little village waking up slowly. On Holland Street, a door opens ever so slightly, releasing a beautiful aroma of warm croissants and pains au raisin, calling your name it seems. Anges de Sucre‘s shop window is as cheerful, handpainted with blooms and birds. The word coffee, in golden letters, seems suspended in the air, between garlands of macarons and reflections of the neighbouring houses.
Magic unfolds inside too. A mirror ribboned with flowers, a decorated silver tray, a marble counter. The marshmallows look like little jewels, each flavour in a glass casing. Light as a cloud, full of flavours, just enough sugar, very natural. Pop’s Tate (raspberry coulis and purée), Road to Ispahan (rose and pistachios), Passion Pillow Talk (passion fruit swirled with raspberry)… A nice collection of macarons will also make you mouth water, thin biscuity crunch, so light, a creamy core that melts slowly on your tongue. Wimbledon (strawberry and cream), Pina Colada (pineapple and coconut), All Americana (banana, chocolate and peanut butter)…
If you long for Parisian coffee, rejoyce – they store Coutume beans, which they grind freshly. Oh, and the only OJI machine in town to make the most extraordinary cold drip, infused, drop by drop over 24 hours. Talk about an intensity! If you are more of a tea lover, there are 3 ravishing blends including a peach one that will be gorgeous iced. And shhh, the hot chocolates, which you can also buy as a mix to prepare at home, sold in retro bottles: velvety and to die for… They will really remind you of Valhrona.
Kensington Gardens is a mere two minutes walk from there. And yet, this place feels a little like home to the point that you will delay leaving a few more minutes. Just the time for an extra macaron…
Anges de sucre
1 Holland Street
London, W8 4NA
More pictures on Bianca‘s blog
Since I came back from the US, friends have been stopping by surprise, just to chat and catch up. Usually around teatime. With or without kids. Between writing, photoshooting and the summer school holidays, I have had to juggle quite a lot, style a table within ten minutes sometimes. Talk about a challenge! Here is a nice little idea if you ever find yourself in that position. One of my star products are by Genesis Crafty. Six brothers working together in an amazing bakery on Northern Island. Great quality – they still flip every pancake and chaff every scone by hand! Now, to wow friends, get a dozen of these pancakes. They are the fluffiest ready made on the market, no other brand will beat them… Pile as a tower, alternating with whipped cream marbled with lemon curd. Let raspberries, blueberries, flower blooms and sugar confettis rain on it… Enjoy!
At Waitrose’s. Plain, chocolate chips or blueberries.
TGIF - Thanks God It’s Friday. The happiest hour of the week is definitely when you leave the office for 2 days. Cherished freedom, let me toast your name! This opens one of my favourite themes, week-end celebration. Every Friday, I’ll tell you about a new gem, a love at first sip to try with your friends. Maybe a liqueur, a spirit, a nice crisp wine, a cocktail or sometimes an address to go for apéritif.
Are you a G&T lover? Forget the tonic and try Opihr. This oriental gin is marvellously velvety and can be drunk on the rocks. Pepper corns, juniper, cumin, coriander, orange peels… and the power of green cardamom, putting a spell on you from the very first sip. A journey in the land of spices, even if you are not flying away this weekend. It will be ideal in a Red Snapper (Bloody Oyster, if you do read me…) or served like a Colonel dessert over lemon sorbet.