Monthly Archives: May 2013

Monsoon’s 40th Anniversary – pop up stall on Portobello

Examples of wood blocks used for fabric printing across many Monsoon garments

Examples of wood blocks used for fabric printing across many Monsoon garments

Did you know that Monsoon, (yes, THE Monsoon) began as a stall on Portobello Road 40 years ago in the 1970’s? Did you? Well it did.

And last week saw them celebrate the past 40 years in style, by going back to its roots and pitching a market stall outside the Electric Cinema on Portobello Road. In the pouring rain.  

Lucky passers by were greeted with a selection of its heritage and occasion wear samples, some boutique gifts and stunning homeware, with all proceeds going to the Monsoon Trust (see below…)

Beautiful hand crafted cushion for sale on the Monsoon stall

Beautiful hand crafted cushion for sale on the Monsoon stall

The story of Monsoon is a little like a fairy story, although with fewer fairies, more dresses and one Peter Simon, (Monsoon’s founder). And it was Peter Simon himself who told us, (me, the amazing Monsoon Press Fairies and some other merry bloggers) the magical story over breakfast (avocado and poached eggs on toast, ding!) at The Electric last Friday.

I will sum up. Once upon a time there was a man (that would be Peter Simon) who travelled the globe on foot (not really) and  brought back hand crafted garments from faraway lands (Asia). He set up a stall on Portobello Road in Notting Hill and sold his wares to all the boys and girls, who thought they were all rather hip.

The stall was so successful that the first Monsoon store opened in Knightsbridge in 1973 and Accessorize followed in 1983.

Not only that, but in 1993, the Monsoon Trust was born, which helps disadvantaged women and children in Asia, through education, healthcare and income generation projects. And with Jodie Kidd as the Trust’s patron, it appears that there really is no stopping them. 

After story time, we all went outside and huddled under the gorgeously decorated stall, (it really was pouring!) Peter Simon (undeterred by the weather) leapt into action and he and John Browett (CEO of Monsoon) were very at home, hanging up twinkly dresses, bartering with the locals and embracing the community spirit that our beloved Portobello is brimming with. 

So happy anniversary, Monsoon. And a huge hats off.

Here’s to forty more…

Monsoon is pleased to support the #loveyourlocalmarket initiative

Royal Apothic arrives at Anthropologie

Antiquarius Petals - Royal Apothic for Anthropogie

Antiquarius Petals – Royal Apothic for Anthropogie

When I received Anthropolgie’s invitation to the opening of a special apothecary shop in their King’s Road branch, I did a little dance. Not just because they were launching their new Royal Apothic scent, ‘Antiquarius Petals’… but because they were going to be serving ‘flower-infused cocktails’. 

See? A dance was warranted.


Clementine and rose cocktails with fruit caviar

Clementine and rose cocktails with fruit caviar

Anthropologie have whisked the delectable LA based perfumier Royal Apothic over the pond to London, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the renowned HRH Chelsea Flower Show. Lucky us. To mark this incredibly special occasion, Royal Apothic have cleverly created a bespoke scent for Anthropogie, inspired by the stunning English gardens and stately homes of this world famous flower show, which leaves you smelling heavenly, like a fresh Chelsea Summer’s day.

Violet Gin Fizz

Violet Gin Fizz

The scent is beautifully light, feminine and pretty. It infuses top notes (ding!) of blackberry and citrus tones (love perfume lingo) of grapefruit, manderin and tangerine, mid notes of jasmine, orange blossom, violet and rose and base notes (dong!) of patchouli, eucalyptus, sandalwood, exotic musk and vanilla. It is utterly delicious, so if someone starts licking your neck on the bus, you’ll know why.

Corsages and headdresses were created out of flowers that inspired Antiquarius Petals

Corsages and headdresses were created out of flowers that inspired Antiquarius Petals

The founder and nose behind Royal Apothic belongs to one, very enthusiastic Sean O’Mara, who was at the event in pink trousers (we were destined to be friends) and full of beans and scent advice for all who attended. I chatted to him about perfume loyalty, (hands up whose granny wore Yardley) and he explained to me how things have changed, while showing me his range of layering roll-on extract scents. “You now can wear a fragrance which represents how you feel!” he gushed with enormous passion.  “It’s fine to mix it up!” I wanted to whoop and high five him at this point, but I was clutching too many bottles.. and also I thought I might scare Rufus, (who also had a corsage).



Aniko Lace Dress, £148

Aniko Lace Dress, £148

The event was stunning, with aspirational cocktails flying by on silver trays, the amazing Flower Appreciation Society satisfying your every floral whim (the queue for corsages and head bands was practically out the door) and the store was shimmering and brimming with exquisite product, showcased and presented in that understated glamorous way, that only Anthropologie seems to know how to do. 


Royal Apothic products are being sold in the pop-up gallery space in the store, which has been styled to look like an old fashioned apothecary. It is bursting with lotions, potions and fragrances, all in charming vintage/retro packaging and all with rather nifty price points. 

Royal Apothic at Anthropologie

Royal Apothic at Anthropologie

Royal Apothic have taken up residence at Anthropologie only until the 30th June, so don’t leave it too long – jump off the tube at Sloane Square and follow your nose…

Royal Apothic at The Gallery, Anthropologie
139 King’s Road, SW3 4PW

16th May – 30th June 2013


Etsy Crush: Hello Kitty

I’m not usually one for a four-pack, but these kitty pal pin packs had me at meow.

These four kitties all come together on a chocolate coloured floral card with each one sporting a different colour bow – apricot, mint, vermilion and butterscotch. (Hungry?)


At 1″ they are a dinky size and perfect for adding a bit of kitty jive to your jumper. It says clearly on the card, “buttons for keeping or sharing,” so I’ll leave that decision up to you. *Puts in safe. Locks door. Throws away key.*


They are made by the ever so clever Emily Winfield Martin and you can nip over to her Etsy haven here.

Purrrrfect. (Sorry)


The Gallivant Hotel, Camber Sands


Last week, my cousin Susannah and I jumped in her car and zoomed out of London, hit the open road and headed for the glorious Camber Sands. When I say ‘zoomed’ I mean ‘plodded through London traffic for an hour and then zoom-ished.’
“LOOK!!” I yelled as we wiggled down the final wiggly road… “It’s the SEA!!!!” Maybe it’s something about being a Londoner, but when I see the sea, I feel it always warrants a loud announcement, closely followed by sandcastle building. Seeing as I had left my bucket and spade at home, a yell had to do. Tucked behind the sand dunes of Camber and surrounded by the Romney salt marshes, sits The Gallivant Hotel, which appeared like a magical apparition as we turned the final corner. “Wahooooo!” (That was Susannah, not me.)
We were taken to our lovely room, (there are 18 in total) where we unpacked, showered and got ready for dinner. The rooms have a kind of beach hut feel about them.. but with a massive TV, products from the White Company, stacks of books to read and extremely comfortable beds with luxurious Egyptian cotton sheets. Everything in the room had been carefully considered, adding to the nautical, seaside feel… I especially loved the artisan driftwood furniture, the extremely tasty home-baked cookies, the embedded seashells in the cabinets and the rubber duckie. (I named him George.)


The Gallivant You also have the option to buy pretty much anything that’s in your room, from the white wooden hangers and the little pots of homemade biscuits, to the soft fluffy bathrobes.. 
We headed down for dinner at 7.30pm and were greeted with the most amazing taster menu that I have ever seen. We oooohed. And ahhhhed… While we waited for our first course to arrive, we were served a lovely local sparkling white wine, which had come straight from the vineyard down the road… 

Tricky to read, but see below for the 5 amazing courses...

Tricky to read, but see below for the 5 amazing courses…

1. Smoked duck salad - home smoked duck with endives, oranges and chilli orange dressing. 2. Gallivant fish soup with garlic rouille, crispy croutons and gruyere 3. Seared Rye bay scallops, Hambley cured Trout Tartar, oyster and champagne jelly 4. Roast salt marsh lamb with braised little gems and potato gratin dauphinoise

1. Smoked duck salad – home smoked duck with endives, oranges and chilli orange dressing. 2. Gallivant fish soup with garlic rouille, crispy croutons and gruyere 3. Seared Rye bay scallops, Hambley cured Trout Tartar, oyster and champagne jelly 4. Roast salt marsh lamb with braised little gems and potato gratin dauphinoise

And for dessert, we had the most amazing pear tarte tatin, with creamy vanilla ice cream. This was so utterly delicious, Susannah had to stop me from picking up the plate and licking it. I need a new word for dessert. I need a new word for delicious. This has changed everything. It was sweet, decadent indulgence. 
They served this piece of heaven to us with a 5yr old Somerset Cider Brandy… which was like nothing else I have ever tasted and complimented the tarte tartin beautifully. This may also have been the moment when everything Susannah said seemed to be hilarious. (I am not a big drinker).

Pear tarte tartin with vanilla ice cream

Pear tarte tartin with vanilla ice cream

All the food was exquisite and cooked to perfection. We were full to the brim and feeling very jolly, (I think I rather like brandy) and sleepy, so we selected ‘The Tourist’ from the hotel’s extensive DVD list and watched it from under our duvets, with a cup of tea and no interruptions. Heaven. (I fell asleep half way through the movie, so still have no idea if Johnny Depp survived. Fingers crossed he did. I do like Johnny Depp.)
We woke up the following morning and were faced with this:
So we set off for a sunny walk before breakfast. We stepped out of the front door of the hotel, walked for about 3 minutes and were suddenly in the midst of this:
The Gallivant is the only hotel in Camber Sands and is practically ON the 5 miles of almost deserted beach and sand dunes. It’s a favourite spot for kite surfers too, as it can get pretty windy…
When our tummies started rumbling we knew it was time for brekky, so we headed back and settled ourselves by the window and proceeded to devour the most scrumptious breakfast. 
The Gallivant really knows how to do food. Everything is sourced locally and prepared by a genius. Susannah chose soft boiled eggs with marmite soldiers and I opted for porridge, with banana and honey. Which I love. And which was, unsurprisingly, delicious.
We also had a slice (or 3) of their signature homemade Banana Bread, which was light and fluffy and bananary and I can’t believe I had room for it but I did.
After breakfast we packed up and drove the 5 mins down the road to the chocolate box, historic town of Rye
Rye is packed full of antique shops, cafes, artist galleries, book shops and quaint places to hole up for the afternoon and enjoy a hearty pub lunch. We had a lovely time mooching about the town and chatting to the local shop keepers…

Tower Forge Interiors

Tower Forge Interiors

And I even found myself a new lovely cheese dish in the above shop – Tower Forge Interiors. It’s now sitting on my kitchen table.
Finally, it was time for a cup of tea before setting off home back to London…

Poppy's Coffee Shop!

Poppy’s Coffee Shop!

We had such a lovely time at The Gallivant – the location and the food make a perfect package and it was so fast to get to from London, that I can’t believe I’d never been before. 
Double rooms start at around £135 a night, including breakfast) and The Gallivant also offers all sorts of different packages, including a ‘Dog Lover’s Escape‘ (dogs are welcome at the hotel) a ‘Foodie’s Getaway‘ and for the more sporty of you, a ‘Kitesurfer’s Escape‘.  They are also fully geared up for weddings – license, tick, marquee, tick, amazing food and location, TICK! (Here’s an example of a beautiful wedding at The Gallivant..)
So, if you do pop over for a beachy getaway, please do say hello from me! (And order the pear tarte tartin – you will want to kiss the chef. And me, for telling you all about it.)
Poppy and Susannah were guests of The Gallivant

Breakfast at The Botanist

I’m a bit of a brekky fan, so when I was invited to try the new breakfast menu at The Botanist on Sloane Square, I jumped at the chance. And so did Red – my loyal breakfast buddy.

The Botanist is a gorgeous and elegant restaurant – light and bright and beautifully styled.
Continue Reading…


Etsy Crush
Vintage Camper Birdhouses

Birdies can pretty much take care of themselves – they travel back and forth across countries with enviable ease and manage to make their way in the world without iPhones, laptops, or coffee. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that they wouldn’t appreciate a hug and a few home comforts. A nice view, a comfy bed, a bedtime drink..


These ridiculously cute, 1940’s and 50’s inspired camper birdhouses from Strictly for the Birds are the ultimate ‘welcome home’. They are to our tweetypies, what the Dorchester is to us. 
You can mount these easily on a fence post or a tree in your garden and the bottom bit slides out so you can clean them really easily. (I don’t think flushable loos are part of the design yet – watch this space.)
You can see the whole kaboodle here and while you’re at it, why not pick up some gourmet birdy food for their brekky?

Twit twoo.


Poppy Goes Gatsby

Last Thursday night, Poppy (me) and Mimbles (Poppy’s friend) donned their finest (Primark) pearls and charlestoned their way into the roaring 20’s at The Montagu restaurant at the Hyatt Regency Hotel.

Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby is soon to be hitting our screens (squeal!) and to coincide with its release, The Montagu is being transformed into a sparkling figment of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s imagination every Thursday night throughout May. 

We arrived to the swinging sounds of jazz duo Hot Dog Corn Dogs, who were dressed the part and playing familiar 20’s classics…

Dressing up for the night was a given as ‘the best dressed’ each evening wins two tickets to see The Great Gatsby and the overall winner at the end of the month wins an incredible prize of a three night stay for two people at the Grand Hyatt Regency New York. So I was taking my outfit VERY seriously indeed…

This is what I wore..
Dress – asos
Shoes – Kurt Geiger
Tights – Jonathan Aston
Pearls – Primark
Ring – Portobello market
Headband – belongs to my lovely friend, Red (thank you!)
About 47 bobby pins (ouch)

But there was some stiff competition..

Our lovely waitress

Our lovely waitress

Our evening of decadence began with a coupe of Champagne (LOVE those glasses. LOVE Champagne) and progressed to a delicious three course meal, where each dish was American themed and Gatsby inspired. 

Mimbles in her pearls

Mimbles in her pearls

We both opted for the Manhattan Clam Chowder to start. I then chose the New York Steak Diane and Mimbles had Jimmy Butler’s Slow Cooked Crispy Pork Belly. 

Beautiful open kitchen lit by candelabras..

Beautiful open kitchen lit by candelabras..

Jimmy Butler's Slow Cooked Crispy Pork Belly

Jimmy Butler’s Slow Cooked Crispy Pork Belly

Desserts included classics such as White Chocolate Cheese Cake with blueberry compote and Pecan Pie with whipped cream. All the food was beautifully presented and so, SO delicious.

We ended our meal with a pot of mint tea and sat back to enjoy the music.


We had an absolute ball and I was swinging my pearls all the way home on the number 7 bus.

The Great Gatsby nights at The Montagu are running every Thursday throughout May, including the 30th. So wik wik wik! Make your reservation and whisk you and your pals off for a glorious night of 1920’s magic… 

“There was music from my neighbour’s house through the Summer nights. In his blue gardens men and women came and went like moths among the whisperings and the Champagne and the stars” F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

£35 – 3 Course set menu and a coupe of Champagne
Reservations – +44 (0) 20 7299 2037
Email –

Poppy and Mimbles were guests of The Hyatt Regency



Making the cut

I bought tulips on Monday. Gorgeous, colourful tulips from Portobello market. I brought them home and did what I always do – snipped an inch off the bottom, pulled off some of the errant and straggly leaves and popped them into a vase.
I thought I was doing rather well, but after doing some extensive research, (*coughs* thank you Google) I realised that there are a whole host of magical flowery tricks (and many myths too) which will ensure your blooms will last for as long as possible.
Here are my newly discovered top tips:
1. Cut around 3cm off the bottom of the stem at a 45° angle. Why? Because there will be a larger surface area for the stem to suck up the water AND the stems won’t sit flat on the bottom of the vase, limiting their water intake.

2. Cut the stems with a sharp knife rather than scissors (oops) as the scissors can pinch the stems and cause them to not absorb as much water as they otherwise would.

3. Make sure you remove all leaves that are below the waterline as they can contaminate the water.

4. Clean water helps flowers last longer, so change water daily if you can (be bothered..shhh)

5.  Use luke warm water rather than cold water. Why? Because luke warm water contains less oxygen than cold water (!) and so reduces the amount of air bubbles likely to form in the stems, blocking or limiting water uptake. (I know! This is fascinating!) 

6. Add a spoonful of sugar or some lemonade to the water – the sugar helps keep the flowers alive and perky.

7. Make sure your vase is really really clean as a grubby vase means nasty bacteria which can quickly contaminate the water.

8. The cooler the room the better – warm temperatures encourage the flowers to respire at a higher rate and fade faster.
And some myths?
According to Online Florists UK, bleach is more likely to kill flowers than help them, coins do nothing if you drop them in a vase…and aspirin is great for headaches, but does diddly squat for cut flowers.
I hope this has been helpful – my sources were Online Florists UK and Cole Hardware, so if you think or know differently, please share your secrets!