Sunday, 12 November 2017

hertford house

Tucked away behind Oxford Street is a real gem of an art gallery. Hertford House was the London home of the Duke of Manchester before becoming home to the Marquess of Hertford (I don't understand these things either..). The Marquess was a real art collector and made his home the perfect store for his wide and varied collections. On Saturday, we popped over for an explore and were taken away by the beauty of the interiors, not to mention the killer old masters collection. 



We couldn't stop gasping when stepping into each room; the beautiful flocked wall fabrics, dripping chandeliers and French, walnut furniture. It's really incredible seeing interiors like this and so close to the hideous swarm of Oxford Street. 






Interiors aside, the art on display is astonishing; enough Reynolds' and Gainsboroughs to open its own gallery plus Canelettos, Titians and Rubens. Amazing! We were also surprised to find a small opera group rehearsing for a recital that evening, which was really wonderful. There was something very surreal walking amongst the incredible artwork with the velvety sounds of opera echoing throughout the rooms. 






Hertford House also holds an amazing collection of armour, which I was originally not interested in but it was SO COOL! Do you know how heavy chain-mail is?! I can tell you now, it's crazy heavy! This is definitely a place to come if you have small visitors in town, or even just to release the inner child in you. 

After, we popped to The Wigmore, a new luxe pub next door to The Langham Hotel. I'm biased about it (my company designed it), but for good reason. Naturally, the interiors are second to none, but the drinks are also delicious and very reasonable. We stopped off for a gin punch and some Bloody Mary Chips. I recommend both! I've also been told the pie and cheese toastie is a must so we will be back for more. Week nights it's incredibly busy but during the day on the weekend it's perfect and quiet. Grab a velvet armchair and settle in for the afternoon.





Meet you at the bar - or Hertford House!





L. 

bookworm

I have always been a reader - not the type who would stay up all night under the covers or queue outside Waterstones all night long- but I have always read. I am not ashamed to admit, though my friends are horrified this is true, that I have never been a Harry Potter fan nor Tolkien either. Friends gasp in horror when I admit this little fact and they reel back and ask, "well, WHAT did you read then?!". My childhood was not filled with wizards, hobbits and dragons; it was filled with animals, accidental princesses and village gossip. I whiled hours away reading Dick King Smith (I truly believed I was Sophie for about two years) before graduating onto the likes of The Princess Diaries and then finally nabbing mum's trashy village gossip novels once she was done with them. I loved them all. 

Now, at the age of 25 I am a member of not one, but two bookclubs. Yes, it's a slight strain and feels like I have homework every night (which I haven't done tonight, gawddd) but it has revived my love of reading once more. Since I no longer have a train commute to work (I walk), I fill my time with podcasts and though I love this, I do miss reading. Hence the bookclubs - they are forcing me to read and read books I wouldn't normally think of picking up. So, drum roll please, I have a catalogue of books to recommend, just in time for whiling away these wintry evenings. 

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The Circle by Dave Eggers
All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doer
Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo
A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle
And The Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Attwood
Little Women by Louise May Alcott (for old time's sake)

I am in the middle of The Secret History by Donna Tartt and I'm loving it. It's not new (I think it was written in the early 90s) but I had never heard of it before. I'll let you know if I can finish all 700 pages before Bookclub #2 at the end of the month! 


Yes, that is my colour-coordinated bookcase... 


Happy reading!





L.  

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

grown up banana bread

There are a few food and drink items that one matures to with age – coffee, olives, red wine – and banana bread has been one of those for me also. An odd one perhaps as most of my pals have been munching on that soggy bread since they were babies, but not me. I pin this down to two reasons; the smell of over-ripe bananas makes me gag and the mushy, wet consistency of a traditional bread leaves very little to be desired. However, I think I have found the perfect recipe which makes a light, fluffy bread still with a deep banana taste.

As with all banana breads you need to use brown bananas. I like to eat my bananas when they are firm…*ahem*… but when I have forgotten about a hidden away banana and it goes brown I now leap at the chance to make my banana bread.  

You will need:

2 brown bananas
140g caster sugar
140g softened butter
140g self-raising flour
1tsp baking powder
2 eggs



(Mug of tea optional)

Pre-heat the oven to 180* and line a loaf tin with baking parchment. Cream together the sugar and butter until pale in color and light in texture. Add the eggs, one at a time and then combine the mashed bananas. Fold in the flour and baking powder mixture with a wooden spoon and pour into your loaf tin.



Pop on the middle shelf for 30 minutes. This may vary in time depending on your oven so check the mixture after 30 minutes and bake for an extra 5 if still wobbly to touch. 

Whether eaten for breakfast with Greek yoghurt or eaten as an afternoon treat, this banana bread with satisfy your needs and won't leave a soggy taste in your mouth! Next time I'm going to add some chopped walnuts to give it a bit more crunch - why not try blueberries too? 




Bon appetit!




L. 

Friday, 20 October 2017

a new leaf

Autumn has come around at an alarming rate – in just a few weeks’ time we’ll be into November and before you know it the John Lewis Christmas advert will air and next thing you know, we’re buying cream eggs. As you can probably tell, the last few months have been busy and as a result the blog has taken a back seat. But fear not, work has finally settled down and I hope I will be able to find time to actually write something of interest. Last Saturday we celebrated The American’s 30th birthday with a big dinner party for his nearest and dearest university pals. A Sunday walk was needed to blow away the cobwebs plus it provided the perfect opportunity for some gallivanting in crispy autumn leaves.





This weekend we are heading home for a long weekend. I envisage lots of dog walks, delicious food and some adventures. I’ve also got some recipes to share over the coming weeks so keep your eyes peeled for stories! 




L. 

Sunday, 10 September 2017

station mill antiques & interiors

Last weekend saw us heading back to the Cotswolds to celebrate Tim and Jo's wedding. The American was an usher so we decided to take an extra-long weekend so the greatest amount of revelry could be enjoyed without the fear of returning to work on the Monday morning with a sore head. Monday was somewhat drearier than Saturday but despite this we headed west to Chipping Norton to an antique treasure trove that my mum can't stop talking about. I think she has been 3 times this summer alone, always coming back with a little trinket or two. 

Station Mill Antiques and Interiors lies just on the outskirts of Chipping Norton and is a haven of furniture, jewellery and curiosities from every era. We were in heaven! Although our flat is mostly all furnished now (2 years later!) we are still on the look out for little bits and bobs to make our house a home. 






We rummaged through endless blue Delftware, depression glass vases and bundles of silver cutlery. There were enough antlers and whole racks to dress a Scottish castle, velvet armchairs in dashing prints and patterns and some exquisite walnut dressers and side tables. We were somewhat limited to what we could buy seeing as we were catching the train back down to London at the end of the day so we came away happy with a sweet little posy vase and silver tray, perfect for our home cocktail-making station. 





I may sound middle aged already but I am very happy to admit that a weekend antiquing in the Cotswolds is my idea of heaven! We took the scenic route back to home and stopped off for lunch in Broadway, one of my most favourite towns. 



Summer seems to have left us behind but I am quite content with how we left it - a long weekend surrounded by the sun-drenched Cotswolds. 







L.


Friday, 11 August 2017

cafe tamra

Sundays are made for brunch with girlfriends. Whether it's a homemade brunch or taste testing the latest Instagram-friendly location, brunch is the perfect excuse to catch up over delicious food and great coffee. I took Sophie to a new spot on the Northcote Road this week which I was really excited about having visited a few weeks earlier. 

Café Tamra is a newbie to SW’s Toast Rack and although the branding is very misjudged (a Chihuahua adorns the sign and inside there are more paintings of the mut), the food is excellent. The menu has flairs of Lebanese food and hints of Mexican; Sophie ordered the avocado, chorizo and fried egg on sourdough whilst I went for the special of cinnamon and orange French toast with banana, maple syrup and a good dollop of mascarpone. Sophie’s eggs ran beautifully and my French toast was a real treat, not too sweet or soggy.








We gossiped on with our coffees before leaving the café in peace and heading on for a little interiors shopping (Sophie is redoing a large part of her boyfriend’s flat and I am only too happy to help!). A perfect start to a sunny Sunday. 



L. 

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

collioure

On one of the mildly cooler days we headed further along the coast to a pretty little harbor town called Collioure. About 10 miles from the Spanish border it has a real Spanish vibe with lots of tapas restaurants and stalls selling freshly caught and preserved anchovies. It's also a town known for its artistic links, with many of the Impressionists visiting during the summer months to capture the crystal clear light and views out to the Med. 

Behind the town are the Pyrenees, looming down and looking particularly impressive in the morning clouds. 




We arrived at lunchtime and made the mistake of not going for lunch straight away. I had forgotten the French tend to close shop after 2pm and so by the time we were hungry for fish nowhere was open so a spontaneous picnic of bread, meat and peaches on the shore was done. Still delicious and at least the little tavern was open for a post-picnic drink. 




After exploring the coast line and paddling our feet into the cool sea we decided to explore the back streets where artists stayed during their painting trips. The town still holds onto these artistic ties and many studios can still be stumbled upon. I loved the brightly coloured houses and cobbled streets, not to mention the bubbling bougainvillea spilling down onto the paths. It would have been rude not to take advantage of the setting!





Again, this area is relatively un-touristy which is an absolute treat nowadays so we relished in the peaceful atmosphere, all except for the school art trip with a gaggle of excitable children! We noticed there is a coastal train route which goes from Lyon all the way down to Barcelona which we thought would be a wonderful adventure to try one day. The landscape changes from lush green hills to dusty mountains within miles and of course the azure blue sea will dazzle you the whole way.




Just one more adventure to share with you!



L.