Posts in London Calling
Stroll the Picturesque Backdrop of St James Park

Take a Stroll...

If you love the outdoors as much as we do, you will probably love exploring the gorgeous surroundings of this very regal and stunning London park.

The perfect mixture of manicured gardens, typically English looking but with a very clever touch of exotic plant choice in places and in other spots that feeling of untouched natural habitat for wildlife. It most definitely works, it seems to provide an ultimate sanctury for all sorts of animals. It's what makes it the perfect place to wander with the family. 

St James Park London
st james park london

Beautiful Ducks...

Take some bread, actually, take as much bread as you can, the ducks are gorgeous and it's such a pleasure to feed them. Such a large variety, you will be captured by their beauty.

ducks st james park london
ducks st james park london
st james park london days out kids

Daisies for Days...

The fields of densely covered daisies are mesmerising for any child. There are clusters and clusters at this time of the year. It would be a shame to not make a daisy chain or two. Set up a picnic or treat yourself to an ice-cream and sit with the view of the lake. Take in the view, admire the ducks and unwind whilst the children collect their daisies.

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With pretty deep pink blossoms hanging over head, beautiful scenes in every direction, cafes tucked in each corner and the Queen's residence Buckingham Palace just moments away, St James Park is high up on the list of free family days out. A wonderful place to hang out with the family.

Location...

 

Nearest station: St Jame's Park (walk directly across the road into the park)


Gabriella Wears:

Dress - Cos

Sandals - Zara 

Lucia Wears:

Dress - The Brand (TK Maxx)

Shoes - Mini Melissa

 

 

 

An Autumn Stroll from Westbourne Grove to Portobello Road
 red leaves

red leaves

A stroll through our neighbourhood from Westbourne Grove to Portobello Road is just bliss. Although it has been a little dreary outside, the candy coloured houses, luxury boutiques and buzzy eateries means that this little piece of London is fabulous no matter what the weather or season. We love autumn and cannot get enough of it. Dividing my time between two children and nurturing this blog feels like a juggling act most of the time. I'm beginning to realise the importance of a little time with each of my girls on their own. With this thought in mind, Gabriella and I headed out during lunch for a little wander and a chat along the way.

 Autumn leaves

Autumn leaves

 Autumn notting hill

Autumn notting hill

 notting hill autumn

notting hill autumn

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golden leaves

Now that we are in the depth of Autumn, we enjoyed wading through thick piles of crispy leaves. Towards the far end of Westbourne Grove as it meets Portobello Road we stumbled upon the most stunning, striking bright red fallen leaves. As many as possible were collected and joined us on our journey. Stepping onto Portobello Road is like stepping onto inspiration road for me. I want to photograph everything, everytime. it seems not to matter that I've taken these photos only a million times before.

 Portobello Road Notting Hill

Portobello Road Notting Hill

 portobello road

portobello road

 Alices portobello road

Alices portobello road

Isn't Alices just delightful? I love the vintage treasures that you can find here. We spotted a crate full of eye catching vintage russian dolls. I've always loved them. Perhaps it is because I never actually owned one as a child. Note to myself, 'I must get one each for my girls'. I also have my eye on a few things for the house, I must return minus children, to make purchasing decisions.

 Alices portobello

Alices portobello

 Alices portobello

Alices portobello

 vintage teacups

vintage teacups

The display of vintage teacups, teapots and saucers outside Alice's is beyond words. It left me wishing we had a kitchen large enough for a welsh dresser. I wanted them all. But, if I had to choose I think I quite like the blue and white. Which would you choose?

Gabriella Wore:

Plaid top - Zara Kids Jeggings - Gap Trainers - nike Gillet - Zara Kids

Chanel Exhibition London: Mademoiselle Prive
Chanel exhibition London
Chanel exhibition London

Chanel is all about elegance. The house of Chanel oozes Parisian sophistication and timeless style. I know my wardrobe needs more Chanel nestled between the rails. The day I am able to do so cannot come soon enough. I appreciate nothing more than a high quality, everlasting, capsule wardrobe. A few Chanel pieces should be in every woman's wardrobe, budget permitting or not. My ideal pieces would be two tweed jackets, a handful of bags and at least two little black dresses. I could think of nothing better than to revel in everything Chanel for an afternoon. From anyone who knows of Chanel, to those who lust after every piece (which is me, by the way) to the ones who own an array of pieces should go and see the Mademoiselle Prive exhibition thats currently on at the Saatchi Gallery in Sloane Square.

Chanel Exhibition Saatchi Gallery
Chanel Exhibition Saatchi Gallery
Chanel exhibition london
Chanel exhibition london

There are queues, but, for some reason when you are waiting for a Chanel exhibition time seemed to pass far quicker than it actually did. The large monochrome printed boards of Gabrielle Chanel outside was just a taste of the style in which the exhibition followed. Why should we expect any different, this is Chanel after all? Everything felt very clean, crisp and contemporary but with a very elegant atmosphere.

Gabrielle Chanel
Gabrielle Chanel
Chanel exhibition
Chanel exhibition
tweed Chanel
tweed Chanel

Creativity. The exhibition shows the true creativity behind Chanel, what Gabrielle's thinking was behind her choices and the design elements are explored. Actually, I can't believe how many of these unspoken design elements (totems as they are called by The House of Chanel) we hardly notice, but, are a huge part of the make up of this fashion label. I have a new appreciation for them. The story behind the making of Chanel was very interesting, as a designer, I found her direction quite inspiring. She had a vision and stuck to it. She didn't believe in following the latest fashion but instead she created her trends which are admired and copied and considered a trend in themselves until this day. Travel played an influence fabric choices, particularly, the tweed we see throughout every collection was inspired by her trips to Scotland. The days

Gabrielle Chanel
Gabrielle Chanel

Every room explored her journey, giving little peeks into the path she chose and the decisions she made to create such an iconic fashion house. Through a short film we learned that Gabrielle left very little direction for current creative director Karl Lagerfield, he merely had to use the collections that had been created as a guide for the way in which he should continue, it was inperative that he found a way to interpret the Chanel style for the future. He assumed the role so well. This is clearly what he was born to do.

Chanel exhibition Saatchi Gallery
Chanel exhibition Saatchi Gallery

Every detail down to the floors beautifully represented Chanel. Every room was an adventure, full of textures, smells, small touches to awaken the senses.

Chanel exhibition Saatchi Gallery London
Chanel exhibition Saatchi Gallery London
Chanel Handbag
Chanel Handbag
Mademoiselle Prive Saatchi Gallery
Mademoiselle Prive Saatchi Gallery

My love affair with Chanel has only heightened. It's left me appreciating the brand even more, wanting more, now i'm off to raid my savings account and pester the other half.

The exhibition is free open from 10am-6pm everyday until November 1 2015 - website here

Daylesford, Notting Hill
Daylesford Notting Hill
Daylesford Notting Hill

I'm passionate about Notting Hill. Us locals are blessed to have the most amazing selection of restaurants. Just like it's residents Notting Hill has such an eclectic collection of restaurants, eateries and cafes. That includes the organic kind. It wasn't until I had my children that I became more aware about the benefits of organic food and products. Having said that we are definitely not 'organic only' type people, but, we do only give our girls organic milk and try to with most diary products.

If only organic goodness will do and you're looking for an organic feast, Daylesford is the place to go, particularly if you are in the Notting Hill area (although there are many more popping up all over the place). Combining the concept of a deli and restaurant under one very conveniently located roof has created the perfect hangout, pop-in and meeting point on Westbourne Grove. It's sort of become the focal point of the road. I love their coffee, pastries and, well, all their delicious offerings. I'm willing to walk past ten other coffee shops just to enjoy the taste of a Daylesfood coffee.

Daylesford Notting Hill
Daylesford Notting Hill

Whilst I enjoy my coffee I love nothing more than a little wonder around the seasonal veggies and fruits. An organic deli rarely get better than this, it has been cleverly designed to make you feel as though you have been transported to an urban farm shop. One of the four seasons can always be felt inside Daylesford. Now that the autumn is here, pumpkins can be found everywhere. All shapes, sizes and colours. The stunning centre table was topic of conversation as Gabriella questioned us about all the varieties of squashes.

Daylesford
Daylesford

From time to time I indulge in a long alfresco brunch or lunch, the relaxed atmosphere leaves you feeling as though you are enjoying lunch at a friends farmhouse for the afternoon. I'm Usually with my mother on visits to Daylesford, who, is a keen organic foodie but I sometimes spend a little quality time with my eldest daughter and take her for lunch. A couple of weekends back, three generations of girls enjoy a beautiful autumn lunch together. I always know when autumn is truly here, as I get the urge to order soul warming soup. I may be enjoying comforting winter warmers but I'm not sure Gabriella is ready to move on from summer as she ordered ice-cream. Typical.

Daylesford Notting Hill
Daylesford Notting Hill
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Autumn in Hyde Park
London Lifestyle Blog - Hyde Park
London Lifestyle Blog - Hyde Park

Autumn is everything. To me at least. It's my favourite season as far as the contrast in weather, colour in the world around us and seasonal foods. And, this year, the beautiful extension of bright and sunny days makes it all the more perfect. As soon as September arrives things seem to go back to normal. Most are back from long summers away, I have the urge to structure proper working days once again and my work diary is busier than ever. I can't be the only one who feels that during the summer if we are not outside enjoying the very short British summer I feel like i'm missing out? My kitchen and I have been reunited. Autumn baking fills the house with so many delightful smells. Baked apples with sultanas, muscovado sugar, a little butter and cinnamon and a sprinkle of Demerara sugar are being received well, especially when served with ice cream. That soul warming aroma is just too good to describe, at least I can't seem to do it justice.

London Blog
London Blog
Mummy Blog
- Autumn leaves
Mummy Blog - Autumn leaves
London Family Blog
London Family Blog
UK Lifestyle Blog
- Autumn leaves
UK Lifestyle Blog - Autumn leaves

Isn't everything around us beautiful right now? Although it feels a little crisper outside, we are certainly experiencing an indian summer. I love the adventure that autumn sends our way. We have been layering up for long morning walks in Hyde Park. We kind of do this whatever the season. It must be my favourite place in London. Sometimes I can't quite believe we are in a city when wandering through the park. I've been taking full advantage of enjoying sipping my coffee on a bench between Bayswater and High Street Kensington, next to a very specific tree, watching the leaves fall in all shades of autumnal tones. I often find myself lost in thought, I remember how much I loved finding conkers and wading through piles of crispy leaves when I was a child. While I daydream and reminisce the girls leaf hunt around me. The last few weeks have been such a pleasure to relive moments of my childhood and create more memories with the girls. We have loved being able to embrace being amongst the falling leaves and conkers, searching  for the rare red leaves and occasionally getting caught in the rain. Ok, so that bit is not so fun for me anymore but the girls love it. And, that's what matters.

Fortnum and Mason Coffee
Fortnum and Mason Coffee
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autumn leaves
autumn leaves
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This autumn is particularly special now that Lucia can be involved. She loves to pick up leaves and crunch around. Great big leaves, the ones as big as her face have become a hiding prop. Peeking and booing around the park has become her favourite game. My girls were opposite season babies which in many ways is so lovely. I'm experiencing autumn things with Lucia at 18 months which I never did with Gabriella. What does autumn mean to you?

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Gabriella Wore:

Long Sleeve top - Zara Gillet - Zara Boots - Zara Tights - Zara Skirt - Zara

Lucia Wore:

Gillet - Zara Long Sleeve top - Zara Leggings - H&M Shoes - Toms (red no longer available)

Front Doors in Colour
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Sometimes we all need a little inspiration so I thought I would start to share the sorts of things that inspire me each day.

I would love to live in one of these candy coloured chocolate box houses. Until then I'm going to obsess over their vibrant front doors and contrasting painted render and distinctive door knockers. Anything goes and somehow any bright or pastel combinations work. It's all in experimenting with clashing colours. Naturally these houses work best with an adorable typically English garden to compliment, preferably with strongly scented roses for added effect.

Cute little roads with rows of coloured houses seem to attract me like a magnet. The atmosphere and backdrop they create adds depth and playfulness to a neighbourhood. Perhaps this is one of the many reasons I have come to adore Notting Hill. Even on the dullest of days a stroll down Portobello Road and the rest of the neighbourhood lifts my spirits. Portobello is the road I will casually stroll down if I'm having creative block or just want some added inspiration for a project or collection I'm working on.

I often wonder whether the colours the owners choose reflect their personality and confidence in life. What do you think? It doesn't stop at the colours. Knockers and various studding add to the personality and overall style of the door.

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 pretty purple house covered in white roses

pretty purple house covered in white roses

 Vibrant red front door with a contrasting choice of blue render. Strong and bold.

Vibrant red front door with a contrasting choice of blue render. Strong and bold.

 Delicate pastel pink front door with matching render. Soft and elegant.

Delicate pastel pink front door with matching render. Soft and elegant.

 Clashing colours. So wrong on paper but so eclectic on Portobello Road.

Clashing colours. So wrong on paper but so eclectic on Portobello Road.

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Personally, I'd love a candy coloured render, maybe a pink or peach with a coral or turquoise door. What colours would you choose?

Sunday Afternoon at Hyde Park
 

Hyde Park is my all time favourite place to be in London. I've lived in Bayswater my entire adult life, from my university days until 2 years ago, the park has always been at the end of my road. Almost like an extension of my home and basically my garden. Moving away is probably my biggest regret in life, I've realised that a bigger home and more space does not necessarily equal a happier existence. Gabriella has asked everyday if we can move back to Hyde Park, her soul is similar to mine, sensitive, creative and strong willed. Strange that a 3.5 year old is so attached to the place, but true.

We will be returning home. Notting Hill, particularly Bayswater will always be home for me. It's where i'm at my happiest, where i'm most content and at my most creative. I've never settled since moving to North London. Sorry North Londoners, no offence but I too laid back for your vibe on a daily basis! Don't misunderstand me, to look at, North London you are extremely pretty but my soul just doesn't belong there. So, the search is on. We are looking for a new home. Of course, there are sacrifices when moving back to Bayswater but living where we are all happy is absolutely worth having less space and smaller garden or perhaps no garden (ok, so no garden slightly worries me).

After checking out the location of a few roads in Bayswater on Sunday we took advantage of the beautiful weather and lived for a moment as if we were back home. Doing what we used to do most days just for a couple of hours refreshed my memory as to why we were so happy whilst we were there. Who would believe an ice cream in the park could be so precious.

Sunday artists on Bayswater Road along Hyde Park
Sunday artists on Bayswater Road along Hyde Park
Lucia stealing my ice cream
Lucia stealing my ice cream
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The round pond, Hyde park
The round pond, Hyde park
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Swan watching
Swan watching
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Duck & Rice, Soho
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Discovering new restaurants and eating out is my guilty pleasure. London continues to bless us with many of the worlds best restaurants which have become as much about the 'experience' as the food. The boundaries are constantly being pushed promising us more with each and every opening of a new restaurant.

Who wouldn't be desperate to try a Chinese gastro pub? What a concept. Even more interesting to me was 'does this work?'. When you consider that Alan Yau is the brainchild behind Duck and Rice, known for Hakkasan or Yauatcha and wagamamas. It was obviously never going to be just a pub with a restaurant attached to it, but what should you expect? The interior is truly fabulous. The copper beer tanks which welcome you as you enter add to the unique nature of the interior. Somehow, it does so wonderfully capture the essence and feel of a drinking pub with the glamour of any high end London restaurant. The downstairs is still a traditional drinking pub with the focus on informal drinks and bar snacks (would make the perfect meeting place for quick business meetings) and the upstairs is home to a very glamorous dining room centred around a bar which is nearly always the key ingredient to create that atmospheric restaurant.

It was quite a spontaneous visit as we were running a few errands locally so we took both Gabriella and Lucia with us, 'brave woman' you're probably thinking. As a parent you never know whether a restaurant has that feel that it's ok to bring the children unless you have already tried it or have been recommended or invited. This was going to be trial and error. 

 I love the the blue and white dinnerwear at duck and rice.

I love the the blue and white dinnerwear at duck and rice.

Outstanding service, the service was impeccable, very attentive without feeling disturbed and they warmly welcomed us with children and made the experience very enjoyable. Don't expect a children's menu or food for picky children. As you would expect, the food was traditionally Chinese with a contemporary flair. The usually favourites are presented and executed in a contemporary way. The char Sui and the Ginger cod with egg sauce & fried rice were amazing. Cleverly, the menu has enough variety to keep you entertained for a few visits and lots of small plates if you just want to snack.

 Lucia certainly looks like she enjoyed Duck and Rice in Soho!

Lucia certainly looks like she enjoyed Duck and Rice in Soho!

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 Duck and Rice offer stunning cocktails. I opted for a mocktail as I was on duty with the children!

Duck and Rice offer stunning cocktails. I opted for a mocktail as I was on duty with the children!

Duck and Rice attracts a very mixed crowd. Friends meeting for lunch, relaxed business lunches with the odd family and couples thrown in.

I can't wait to return, the next visit will be  date night or with friends so that I can take advantage of their cocktails and try the infamous duck which had sold out on our visit.

Outside Space at The Natural History Museum

IMG_7380 Somehow we have always overlooked the outside space at The Natural History Museum. How incredibly stupid, it's stunning, peaceful in places with the most fabulous architecture as the backdrop. Perhaps because so much of our weather encourages us to seek out shelter for the long months of gloomy miserable days we miss some perfect outdoor locations. But Saturday was just too beautiful to be inside. We do love the dinosaurs, but dinosaurs there are so many months we can enjoy you in the winter!

So after heading over to Maitre Choux in South Kensington on Saturday afternoon we wanted to find somewhere to sit outside with the girls and enjoy our eclairs. In the distance, we could see The Natural History Museum, I remembered how lovely the lawns were just in front. When we arrived and it was so busy, swarms of people clustered together, far too many people to relax, enjoy and hangout with the girls. In search of somewhere to hangout in peace we wandered to the far left where we found a secluded grassed area which was still in front of the museum but seemingly unknown to the rest of civilisation. Perfect for us. With only 2 other families in sight we were able to let loose, run around and have some relaxed fun. The grand architecture of the natural history museum made the perfect backdrop for our afternoon.

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Our newly discovered hangout area backed onto the wildlife garden at The natural History Museum. I didn't even know this existed so obviously I had never been there. Open from late Spring until November. Curious to explore, we wanted to see what it was all about. A peaceful haven in the centre of South Kensington, you absolutely wouldn't believe you were in London.

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Unfortunately there is no entrance to the wildlife garden from the lawns, the only access was through the museum. Who cares, a walk alongside the dinosaurs to get there keeps everyone amused! The wildlife garden is located next to a very modern outside space inside the museum, which is rather lovely.

Bank Holiday Weekend at Little Venice Canalway

IMG_6306 Bank holidays are made for over indulging in too much calories laden food which should of course be eaten in fabulous company, spending time with family and friends and generally staying out later than bedtime, well, in my case the children's bedtime. How nice to have an extra long weekend, but, doesn't it just leave us all wishing that bank holiday weekends are forever and that real life and their responsibilities don't exist? It has been wonderful to get carried away in the moment and have some work free time to create some lasting memories.

IMG_0130 West Thirty Six, Notting Hill too cute - sharing their first drink out! Gabriella's favourite face to pull at the moment…why can't it be smiles :-) IMG_0143 IMG_0142 IMG_6331 IMG_6300 IMG_6246

In our true family style naturally we started the bank holiday weekend on Saturday with lunch, we tried somewhere new, hats always exciting for us. We made it down to West Thirty Six on Goldborne Road in Notting Hill. Set in a beautiful, higeldy pigeldy townhouse style building and spread over a number of floors there is just so much to explore, we didn't get the chance to explore everywhere but that's great, it means I need to go back and have a wander and hopefully make it up to the fire pit located on the roof terrace. We enjoyed a delicious lunch, burgers of course nothing else will do for a bank holiday lunch. We then stopped on the way back at Little Venice to join in the celebrations at their annual Canal Cavalcade. Gabriella loves boats and what a spectacular display of narrow boats for her to enjoy. All Dressed up with buntings and heritage flags and other sorts of knick knacks, every boat was at their best on show for us all to enjoy. What I love about narrow boats is they're all individual and usually reflect elements of the owners personality. Gabriella loved searching for her 'favourite' boats. The sense of community could really be felt, all the narrow boat owners were drinking and eating and chatting together, and the support from the locals was amazing. Gabriella tried two new things, face painting and candyfloss. I was so excited to see my little girls face painted for the first time. The verdict was...she loved the face painting and was not too sure about candy floss, the idea was clearly greater than the experience!

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Bank Holiday Monday at Sensational Butterflies Exhibition at The Natural History Museum

IMG_6391 More than we expected in every way and so deserving of it's title. Sensational Butterflies at The Natural History Museum was just that, Sensational! We'd had such a busy bank holiday that we wanted to do something short and sweet but worthy of that last bank holiday afternoon.

For as long as I can remember I've always been attracted to butterflies, I collect all sorts of beautiful things with butterflies on them. I'm not sure what the attraction is, perhaps its their pretty unique markings, the colours and their tranquil nature.

Anything to do with butterflies and i'm there to check it out. We've been to many butterfly houses and this is definitely the winner so far. Set in the lawns in front of The Natural History Museum it's so much quieter than the bustle inside the museum, there's plenty of space on the lawns for a picnic but do not fear there are snack vans on the lawns for those that are not prepared on this occasion that was me!

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There is such an array of butterflies, little ones, huge ones and so many exotic beauties to admire. The environment was just as stunning and well kept as the butterflies themselves which is just so reassuring to see. The staff are amazing, they are happy to show the little ones where the caterpillars hide out under the leaves and answer any questions they may have. Gabriella was given a card to stamp the process of caterpillars evolving into butterflies, she loved this as stamping is one of her favourite past times at the moment.

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We had a very special moment, one of the giant blue butterflies landed on Lucia to hang out for a few moments this really impressed Gabriella but she was so disappointed a butterfly didn't land on her! Wriggly three and a half year olds are not their prime target for landing on, but to save the tears I've promised to take her back to see if we can catch a kodak moment for her with a butterfly.

IMG_6602 Lucky Lucia made the perfect landing place for this giant blue butterfly! IMG_6462 IMG_6700 IMG_6507 IMG_6604 IMG_6632

We finished our afternoon by munching on crepes and ice-cream at Kensington Creperie just a 2 minute walk away, the long queue out of the door was worth the wait they were delicious!

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A Peak around the Fortnum & Mason Beauty Hall

20150429-144258.jpg I was delighted to be invited to an early tour of Fortnum & Mason's new beauty hall. Known for inventing the scotch egg and delivering the best hamper in London I didn't quite know what to expect as far as a Fortnums beauty hall. The one thing I did know is I had great expectations.

Subtle, understated and oozing with Georgian glamour. It was unquestionably worth the wait. It's everything you would imagine and more. Refreshingly different than the hustle and bustle of all the other London department store beauty halls. I had an image in my head that it would be quite over the top but actually it's all in the simplicity. I loved that it feels light and airy but retains the Georgian feel. The over-sized, over-the-top chandelier centered in the middle elegantly ties the modern georgian look together very beautifully.

I don't know about you but I usually find beauty halls completely overwhelming, illuminated beyond necessity and far too loud not to mention busy. My family life is hectic and I have 2 very energetic toddlers who too often make far too much noise, on the occasions that I do shop in store I want a little serenity especially when I making my mind up about beauty purchases and this is what Fortnums offers. It's all in the details. We as customers matter. Plain, simple, old fashioned customer service goes a long way, it's a rarity in London these days, I cannot tell you how much I appreciate it.

Since having children I'm far more picking about what products I use and what's in them, it's lovely to be able to talk to someone about the products you are going to buy without being rushed and with confidence that there extensive knowledge will give the comfort needed.

No, Fortnum's doesn't bombard you with vast selections of products, they have selected and very carefully hand picked the creme-de la-creme of their selected brands with many collaborations exclusive to Fortnums. Think of their beauty hall as an editors pick, everything is amazing, out of this world. You will only find THE finest selection of beauty products. Oh why oh why must you make shopping this easy Fortnums? There was nothing I didn't adore.

And that's not it, cult brand Cosmetics a la Carte now offers their colour matching service at Fortnum's, custom blended lipstick, I cannot tell you the number of times I have found 'the one' for my lips and they almost always seem to discontinue my new favourite.  No need to be disappointed anymore, I know where I'm going when my favourite lipstick gets discontinued. The same service can colour match your shoes and blend the identical lip colour. Genius.

The fragrance area will take you through three concepts. The Heritage Hall which celebrates the classic French and English perfume houses we all know and love. The Scent Room, and The Contemporary Gallery which is home to the next generation of perfumiers. The huge chandelier takes centre stage showcasing an outstanding edit for your senses. 

As simple as the layout may look there is so much to take in, I say that because you 'want' to take it ALL in, EVERYTHING, it's all so derserving.

I've already been back and will continue to do so for as long as the beauty hall is open. Now I know Fortnum's The Parlour ice cream restaurant is family-friendly I can so easily return with the children and sneak off upstairs whilst they indulge in ice cream!

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Old Spitalfields Market with the Family

Family Blog - Spitalfields Market

I'm ashamed to say that we haven't yet been to Spitalfields Market as a family. Partly because it's East London and partly because I have Portobello Road and Camden Market on my doorstep. Bad? I know. We fancied doing something relaxed and laidback so I thought where else to experience that than East London. Much of East London is not really forthcoming in promoting themselves as child-friendly. Shame, there's so many too-cool-for-children restaurants I would like to try. Spitalfields is one of the places I feel quite comfortable with the children in East London. The vibe is quite a mix, tourists Vs East London Cool along with quite a few local families. I'd forgotten what unique fashion finds can be found. Gabriella and I had a little girly time, time for just a wander and well of course she used it as the perfect opportunity to ask me so many questions about everything. 'Why do cars not drive on the pavement?' 'Why does there have to be cars?' 'Why is there night?' 'Why does Lucia sleep in the day?' 'Why are the birdies inside the market?' You get the picture?! Among the questions we managed to sneak into a few shops and stalls whilst Glenn and Lucia went to check out the food offerings.

There were so many tempting foodstalls it would have been rude not to indulge! We opted for delicious sugar-free strawberry and apricot tarts after trying Egyptian street food. Yum.

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Late Afternoon Visit to The Museum of Childhood

Who could believe a seemingly blissful day on paper can so easily turn into something of a little chaos, a lot of whinging sprinkled with some teething. Although I didn't initially have a completely free day,  when my meeting with the seamstress needed to be rearranged I thought how wonderful to have an afternoon to potter around doing nothing much. Clearly it was turning into 'one of those days'! The lunch I made for Gabriella wasn't right, the sandwiches were not cheese pasta, the apples were apparently sour (as sweet as can be according to my tastebuds!) and the piles of Easter eggs was all that she wanted.

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A change of scene is the only cure for days like this. We spontaneously jumped into the car and drove to Bethnal Green to The Museum of Childhood for an hour. It's a wonderful space for the children to explore, no need to worry if they play up, it's The Museum of Childhood after all! Both Lucia and Gabriella enjoyed the afternoon. It's just as stimulating for the little ones, theres lots of sense and light activities and things for them to touch and feel. I had the chance to show Gabriella and Lucia the toys I played with and had at home in the 80's.

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I've been trying to postpone my visit until the Alice in Wonderland exhibition in May, but we shall return. It was for sure the perfect remedy and we ended the day on a positive note. What more can one ask for?!

Sketch: Afternoon Tea

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I've been waiting to introduce Gabriella to afternoon tea for some time, it's one of my favourite British traditions that I hope we can enjoy together over the years. What better place to have her first Afternoon tea! Sketch is one of my all time favourite places to dine and hang out in London. I probably spent way too much time here pre-children! At Sketch afternoon tea is served with a very Alice in wonderland feel. It's the combination of a very atmospheric, interesting, fun and colourful venue, waitresses in Alice in wonderland inspired uniforms and an eclectic array of to die for chinaware and most importantly beautifully presented afternoon tea.

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Fear not, Sketch is surprisingly child-friendly particularly at weekends. it's best to book, we didn't and waited for 10-15 mins for a table. We were sat in the parlour which if you booked you would have the option of choosing from some of their other rooms. All are stunning and totally unique which means visits do not get boring, just change rooms for a different backdrop. With children I would advise the Parlour or the Glade both rooms have more of a slightly informal feel which is just what you need when eating out with unpredictable ones! We sighed with relief when there was another family with 3 children of the same age group as ours already sat close-by. You know that feeling, for some reason it instantly takes the pressure off. Have you spotted the sleeping baby (Lucia) next to me on the sofa? Yes, that's right, Lucia practically slept through it all only waking near the end to sample a little of the tasty goodies. Couldn't have asked for more! I had a very enjoyable experience. It's always iffy taking a nearly 1 year old out to eat expecting them to keep still at a time when all they want to do is explore and learn new things.

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The variety of little sweet and savoury sandwiches, cakes and patisseries makes afternoon tea very enjoyable for Gabriella. There's not too much of any one thing, no opportunity for little ones to get bored of their meal. We literally had to fight to get a look in!

Oh and guess what was one of Gabriella's favourite parts of Sketch? Going to the toilet! Who can blame her, I've always loved making a trip to the amazing pod toilets. It's an experience in itself, and the perfect place to take a bathroom selfie!

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Celebrating Disney's Cinderella Movie #cinderellaexhibition

Cinderella exhibition cover We feel very lucky that we had the opportunity to go to the Cinderella Exhibition in Leicester Square today. One of the first things I want to tell you is that it's only on for 7 days, I highly recommend visiting, I'm sure you will not be disappointed. I certainly wasn't. Described as a modern day re-make of this classic movie we all grew up with, the exhibition was magical in every way. Perhaps it was because I didn't have any expectations, I don't like to do this as I have been a little disappointed in the past with events that have been surrounded with lots of hype and lets be honest it's hard to re-live that magical feeling we had as children watching Disney classics.

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Gabriella was super excited and loved the exhibition from start to finish(quite an achievement at 3 years old). What kept her entertained? It was interactive and very visually stimulating. We had no complaints from little Lucia either, she loved the pretty pumpkin carriage which was lit by stunning lights forming a walk-through to the ballroom which showcased the intricate ball gowns worn by all the princess from around the world. Seeing all the props and costumes in real life displays the vast amount of workmanship that has gone into creating the magic. Cinderella's dress was of course the star of the exhibition, dripping in sparkling Swarovski crystals. It's dazzling. Oh, and the glass slipper made from pure Swarovski crystal, there are no words to describe. It must be seen.

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At the end of the exhibition there is a very high-tech interative shoe fitting, the staff email a photo of your trying on the magic slipper which miraculously fits your foot perfectly. Princess Gabriella tried on the slipper and like magic it fitted her just right!

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The exhibition is free, no need to book but you can if want. There is a little bit of a queue but who cares, theres always great street entertainment to keep you entertained whilst you wait in Leicester Square.

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Easter is on its Way in Primrose Hill

The beautiful Chalcot Square, Primrose Hill We had a very sweet Easter egg hunt to go to this week in Chalcot Square, Primrose Hill. The perfect location, on the perfect day. This year has been very exciting for many reasons, mainly because we are doing lots of things for the first time as a family of four and now that Gabriella is 3 we can really enjoy her excitement now that she understands what things mean. In previous years we have hidden eggs but we have also end up hunting for them! This year she can do all of that all on her own. Chalcot Square has always had a nostalgic feel for me, it's a beautiful Square of deliciously coloured chocolate box houses just like those you would find all over Notting Hill. It made the perfect backdrop to the wonderfully cute Easter Egg hunt her school arranged for the last day of term. We had a ball. I'm looking forward to squeezing in a few more Easter Egg hunts before Easter.

Gabriella stopping to look at the chocolate box house en-route to Chalcot Square

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Spring Sunshine

Better Late Than Never - Hyde Park and Ham Yard Hotel Restaurant

The end of 2014 was very hectic. Preparing for Christmas, Glenn's birthday and lots of pre-Christmas social shinanigans. Blogging suffered a little. I sort of archived some fun photos but i've decided some things are better late than neverand I've just got to share!

Hyde Park has that nostalgic feeling for us. It was the park at the end of my road for most of my adult life, the first place I took Gabriella for a walk and where we spent almost everyday up until Gabriella was 2. Who can blame Gabriella foe loving it too?! It does have the most amazing adventure park which is so interactive for all ages. What a shame you're only allowed in with kids! (but what great security for our family).

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We just love to eat out. I'd heard lots of great things about about Ham Yard Hotel and how welcoming it is for families and children so I booked for us to go for Glenn's birthday. I just loved the eclectic style of the hotel's decor, it was unpretentiously cool, its definitely a place you want to just chill (wish we could have stayed the night or 10!). Food was great, as was the service and the children's packs were amazing, by far the best of what I have encountered so far.

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It's Christmas at Kew

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We are loving embracing being a family of four over the Christmas season. Most of us think of Kew Gardens as a summer destination but how lovely to see what could be an under utilised venue at this time of year transformed for the winter. It's a festive, fun and unique event. A light trail to tickle the senses. beautiful delicate snowflakes lit onto the walk ways, hidden surprise christmas presents in lights, colour everywhere with sprinklings of fire and enchanting music. Theres a pit stop for food and a vintage fairground. We all loved it, Gabriella had so much fun and although Lucia cant speak yet I know she enjoyed it, the evening was full of fun sensory stuff to keep her happy and entertained. The highlight was making a very special wish by holding a lantern and closing her eyes, It was then placed on the very magical wishing tree...it felt like something from a fairytale. This wasn't planned, we should all try to do more things that aren't planned. We love a bit of spontaneity! Last minute spontaneous plans can be the best. Sometimes not having the opportunity to think about what something is going to be like means that youve not had any expectations which generally means you enjoy it a lot more. Honestly, I do believe given a chance my expectations would have been blown regardless, it was that wonderful. What an amazing evening experience. We struggled to get tickets and I now know why. If you can get in this year you must, it's days like this that create memories that will last a lifetime.

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Raindeers and Paddington Bear in Covent Garden

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Now that little Lucia is 8 months old I'm starting to get myself out and about from time to time. It's been fun to potter around London at Christmas time. We had a fun and spontaneous afternoon in Covent Garden on Sunday. Gabriella was very excited to spot one of the few Paddington bears dotted around London in celebration of his new film, we've found one and now I've kinda got the bug to find them all! At least the hunt for Paddington will keep Gabriella entertained over the Christmas holidays.

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