Monthly Archives: August 2013

Poppy à Paris (Part 1: Eurostar)

Une belle vue

I know that we all know that we can all go to Paris by train from Kings Cross.. but sometimes it hits me with a bang. WE CAN TRAVEL TO PARIS BY TRAIN! It’s amazing! It’s more than amazing, it’s completely thrilling. Am I the only one left who still gets excited by this?


Just a few days ago, it was I (Poppy) who was whizzing off to Paris on Eurostar, for just one night to go and stay in the completely beautiful Hotel Pont Royal, (more on this in part deux). I packed my bag, (yes, I remembered my passport) put on my best ‘I Am Going To Paris On The Train Oooo La Laaaa’ Monsoon Dress and stepped aboard the tube, which would trundle me down to Kings Cross, St Pancras. 

Kings Cross

Hustle and bustle doesn’t begin to describe St Pancras station on a Wednesday morning, but it was exceptionally easy to navigate through the noise, glide (ha!) through the commuter clamour before whizzing through passport control, security and then finding myself in a very nice departures lounge, nibbling a Caffé Nero croissant (couldn’t wait) with time to spare. The process was easy as pie petit pois.

Eurostar has taste

A very quiet carriage indeed! Hurruh!

We we were all welcomed on board by a steward on the platform and before I knew it I was settled in my very comfortable seat, flicking through the complimentary magazines and looking forward to breakfast, which “will be served in 20 minutes.” 

I have always loved meals on planes – it’s something about the littleness of the boxes. Like playing dolls houses. It’s more fun than anything – the actual food is secondary for me. So, when breakfast was served on Eurostar, I was a little over excited.. and then it got even better as the food was utterly delicious. Fresh butter croissants, pain au chocolate, seeded rolls, Tiptree Morello Cherry jam, fruity yoghurt, fresh orange juice, tea and coffee.. oui!

Breakfast on Eurostar


I travelled on Standard Premier in coach 8 – one of their quiet coaches. Standard Premier means super comfortable seats, glossy magazines, yummy meals and power sockets galore! (Happy Poppy on her Macbook.. tap tap tap..)  


Travelling from London to Paris on Eurostar was so easy. I can’t fault the travel experience and if you are someone that needs to travel with more than one bag, or you are travelling with a family, I’d certainly recommend Eurostar over a plane as they have far fewer baggage restrictions and you rarely have to check in your luggage. It’s also faster and greener than flying and those are two big ticks for me. Tick, tick!


In 2hrs and 16 mins I was there. In 8 minutes I was in a taxi and in a further 15 minutes I was in my hotel doing a little dance and devouring the Toblerone from the minibar.

Hotel Pont Royal

..and you can read all about my beautiful Parisian adventure next week..

Au revoir!

Here are some more details – all of which are available on www.eurostar.com

Standard Premier 
With the option of flexible fares, Standard Premier offers the freedom to work, think, or simply unwind. You will be presented with calm, spacious surroundings with on-board staff offering a light meal and a selection of magazines.

Standard Premier fares start from £189 return
  
Eurostar Plus
Eurostar Plus is a unique partnership between Eurostar and some of Europe’s most popular museums and galleries in Paris, Lille and Brussels. Travellers simply present their Eurostar ticket to take advantage of 2-for-1 entry into paying exhibitions.
Paris galeries include: Musée d’Orsay, le Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris, le Jeu de Paume, la Cité de la musique, les Galeries nationales du Grand Palais, Le musée du quai Branly.

Paris

Eurostar operates up to 18 daily services from London St Pancras International to Paris with return fares from £69. Fastest London-Paris journey time is 2hr 15 minutes. Tickets are available from eurostar.com or 08432 186 186.

Child fares start from £49 return and children under 4 years-old travel free (not allocated a seat)

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Mary’s Milk Bar
Edinburgh

Mary's
Milk
Bar

 I was recently in Edinburgh for the Book Festival, (which was amazing by the way – pop it in your diaries for next year immediately) and had a wonderful time mooching about.. exploring the cobbled streets, sampling the whisky, (I really did – it was really good) and taking in the sights..

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West Side Story at Sadler’s Wells


“When you’re a Jet you’re a Jet all the way…” I sang (too loudly) to myself on the Central line yesterday. I know I was singing too loudly because people moved away from where I was sitting. They looked nervous. Or maybe it was my moody (but most excellent) clicking of fingers.. For anyone who’s anyone knows you can’t possibly sing one line of West Side Story without clicking your fingers. And doing a high kick or two. (I didn’t do that – I know where to draw the line.)

I was off to Sadler’s Wells to see Joey McKneely’s 50th anniversary staging of the indefatigable West Side Story – arguably the best musical written.. (I’d argue it.)

Waiting for the show to begin...

Waiting for the show to begin…

Waiting for it to begin..

Fifty years on, the tough themes of gang culture and racism are still relevant, however the energy, costume, staging, choreography and passion that was leaping in fiery flames off the stage, made this production far more fresh and exciting than I had ever anticipated. 

I was so excited I tweeted Maria in the interval:

“A fabulous, emotionally packed revival” 
Evening Standard
 
“Still as gloriously fresh, relevant and thrilling as ever”
Time Out
 
“If you buy one theatre ticket this Summer, make it this one. A thrilling, hurtling triumph”
The Observer


This was a stonking production, with a fantastic company who owned the stage, danced their bums off and managed to keep me in suspense and give me goosebumps, even though I know the story like the back of my hand. (Incidentally, I just spotted a freckle I never knew I had.)

Here’s the trailer – it’s goosebumpytastic..



Go and get a ticket please.

It’s on until the 22nd September, so you’d best get a wriggle on.

 

NEW SIGNATURE

West Side Story

Sadler’s Wells
Rosebury Avenue
London, EC1R

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Poppy in the Wilderness…


“Cast away your consternations and plunge into a pastoral paradise of inspiration, entertainments and tranquility.”

Last weekend I was not in Kansas anymore.. no siree. I was deep, up to my sparkly eyelashes, into The Wilderness.. (um, in Oxfordshire.)

I should mention at this point that sadly, in my switch from Blogger over to WordPress I lost the originals of these images and so they are all a bit blurry.. however you can see them in their fighting sparkly form over here, if you fancy a nose.

 


The third season of Wilderness ran from the 8th – 11th August and we were treated to a magical weekend of glorious sunshine, arcadian arts, dazzling discourse, restorative rituals and after dark escapades… with processions and parades, boating lakes and banquets, debates and discussions, spas, circus spectaculars and some of the best music I’ve ever encountered…

The Tea Bus

The rolling landscapes of Cornbury played host to a sell-out crowd of over 15,000 festival-goers, who were treated to some sun-drenched escapades and sensational shows…

Martha Wainwright


Rodriguez (of Searching for Sugarman) made his only festival-headline appearance of the Summer, Empire of the Sun thrilled us, Noah and the Whale stunned us and the sounds of Martha Wainwright, John Newman, Michael Kiwanuka, and Tom Odell were to be heard throughout the Wilderness land, as were many others, including a host of acts from the London Folk Guild.

J Sheekey

Food lovers were in their element as they were treated to sumptuous dining experiences from some of Britain’s own foodie Gods, including banquets from Ottolenghi, Mark Hix and Polpo. Feasts from Moro and St John were also there to make us dribble and drool… it’s a miracle I fit in the car on the way home..I don’t believe I stopped eating. I actually don’t think I did. 

Transe Express

House of Davai

There is so much more to tell you.. the amazing French theatre groups Transe Express and Les Pepones brought their sensational outdoor circus performances to life, while we lay back under the stars, sipped gourmet hot chocs and guzzled organic baked potatoes with goats cheese and beetroot chutney, (I know.) and watched aerial performers elevated fifty feet up in the air and death defying trapeze acts, choreographed to a 1920’s musical swing score…


RSPLB saving the love-seeker’s day..

Jon Ronson at The Secret Forum

Chess in the Village Hall

The RSPLB (Royal Society of Pursuit of Love Birds) were there in force, bringing rockin romance and birdy naughtiness to the love seekers of the festival, there was swing dancing from Swing Patrol, Talks and debates in their hundreds at the Secret Forum, (led by The Huffington Post) and if I wasn’t swimming in the boating lake, watching Shakespeare’s at The Globe on the water’s edge, lounging at the lakeside spa, doing an Eggs Benedict masterclass at the Thyme Cookery School, getting sparkled up at Smashbox, playing chess in the Village Hall, hanging at the House of Fairytales or indulging in crumpets and tea in the Tea Bus, then I would be lazing in the sun, reading my book and letting the wonders of Wilderness waft over me and into the tips of my toes…


And I haven’t even scratched the surface… you can see my full photo album here, but it will still tell you only a fraction of the story that was Wilderness 2013… it’s a sensory explosion and I loved it.



Early bird tickets for Wilderness 2014 went on sale this week, so if you don’t want to miss out on the rompus and revelries next year, go and catch that worm here..

I will see you there..

NEW SIGNATURE

www.wilderness.com

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Holy Hula Hoops, Batman

Hulahoops

This is Laura. She knows how to hula hoop.

I do love a good hula hoop me, but I’m not talking about crisps today. I’m talking about the full on, proper, wiggle your hips, hula hoop your bum off hulahooping.

 

If you’re bored of sit ups (tick!) the idea of going to the gym makes you turn a funny shade of ‘can’t be bothered’ (tick!) and you want a fun and sociable and, erm, different way to get in shape (tick tick tick!) then I may have found the answer for you.

 

Meet Laura. She’s a hula hoop veteran (eight years!) and she knows her stuff like you wouldn’t believe. Her top hooping moment was hula-ing at the London 2012 Olympics and if you want an idea of just how hoopahooly she is, just take a look at her busting some serious moves below:

Lucky for us, clever Laura has set up a couple of courses in Deptford, (South East London), where she will pay you lots of attention, (there are only eight twirlers in a class) and get you hula hooping like a pro in a jiffy.

Before you ask, yes. Hoops are provided! Although you can buy your own set of three hoops for £35, and they’re gold and glittery and everything!

 

The course begins next Wednesday, 21st August, so if you want a spot, you’d better grab your hoop, harness your hula and get in touch pronto.

 

NEW SIGNATURE

www.hulahoopparty.com

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Interview: Rob Wood, founder of Music Concierge

Picture courtesy of Eve Wilson

Picture courtesy of Eve Wilson

“Where words fail, music speaks” Hans Christian Anderson

This is one of the opening lines on the opening page of a rather super duper website, belonging to a rather super duper company; Music Concierge. Music Concierge

Who? What? Well yes, this was a predicted reaction, so let me fill you in…

When you wander into your favourite store or hotel, do you find that the space represents you in some way, and you feel instantly at home, peaceful and happy? So much so that you don’t even notice the music that’s gently wafting out over the speakers, into your ears and trickling into the most hidden and deepest parts of your soul..?

Well there you have it. That’s because Music Concierge are BRILLIANT at what they do. A ground-breaking and award winning music consultancy service for luxury brands, hotels and retailers all over the big wide world.. They create bespoke playlists for their clients, (think Harrods, Clarridges.. oooooh) which reflect their brand personality and ethos in a beautiful and inspiring way. Clever stuff.

Music Concierge creates the ultimate mix tapes.. with all the romance and everything...

Music Concierge creates the ultimate mix tapes.. with all the romance and everything…

Music Concierge consider themselves to be the ‘guardians of your signature sound’ and this top notch company was founded by the brilliant Rob Wood in 2007. Rob’s passion for music began at the grand old age of 9 and he now has an unbelievable amount of in-depth knowledge across all genres, from music through the decades to bleeding-edge contemporary sounds, to the very best international repertoire from Africa to India and beyond.. so his brain is like, um, iTunes. But better.

Rob Wood (piccie pilfered from Boe Magazine)

Rob Wood (piccie pilfered from Boe Magazine)

Here’s my interview with the hugely impressive Rob Wood – what a terribly clever chap. (He also uses the word ‘cripes’, which obviously means he’s a gentleman as well – what a guy.)


How important do you think the relationship is between music and brands?

 

To create a great brand experience all the ways a customer interacts with a brand, whether online or offline, in-store or on-hold, need to be carefully considered. This includes sound. How a brand looks through its logo and interior design is no longer enough. You can affect people in a positive way through all the senses. Because hearing is our second most important sense, it stands to reason to make sure a brand sounds attractive and appropriate, if not inspiring.

 

Using the right music choices is a great way to connect with an audience. Associating a brand with the right artist can add kudos or build an emotional connection with people. And creating the perfect mood and atmosphere with music in a branded environment such as a store or hotel is a great way to keep them engaged and coming back for more. Music is indeed a powerful medium that can help bring the emotional qualities of buildings, products and services to life

What’s the most unusual project you’ve worked on?

 

At Music Concierge we have done some amazing projects. Going up the world’s tallest building in Dubai whilst it was still being built was fascinating and a little hair-raising. Designing music for the bar and lounge at the top is a real privilege. We do a particularly good Blade Runner-esque night-time soundscape there!

 

At the other end of the height spectrum we have also created the soundtrack for the world’s first underwater nightclub at Niyama in the Maldives which is completely ground-breaking.

 

Going to Bhutan to work with COMO Hotels was magical. I needed to visit their Uma Paro hotel and it was immediately clear that their music identity needed to include an authentic sense of local culture. The hotel staff kindly drove me on a winding dirt track through the Himalayas until we reach a large town. They took me to what was apparently the only record shop in Bhutan. I bought all 25 CDs they had to the shopkeeper’s amazement and then we headed back through the mountains. Half way back to the hotel, the jeep suddenly pulled off to a small farm and I was unexpectedly taken to what looked to me like a large barn that was probably more used to housing chickens than music consultants. In the empty barn stood a single chair and I was told it was for me. As I sat down a troupe of about 12 male and female traditionally dressed dancers and musicians began a mesmerizing showcase of authentic Bhutanese songs and dance performances. It was a private insight into the culture of a still feudal society that seemed blissfully out of synch with the rest of the world. That insight went on to influence a key part of the hotel’s music design.

Pic courtesy of Libertod Leal

Pic courtesy of Libertod Leal

Are there any brands you haven’t worked with but would like to?

 

I’d love to work with Agnes B. They feel savvy, interesting and culturally finger-on-the-pulse so choosing music to reflect their personality would be fun. 

 

Is there a particular song, album or playlist which you feel best represents you and your life?

 

Cripes. That’s a hard one. I don’t think one song or album could necessarily sum up a person. But there are plenty of records that mean a hell of a lot to me. Almost impossible to pick a few. London Calling by The Clash is an album I can never tire of. I played it relentlessly as a kid until the tape wore out.

 

John Martyn’s Solid Air or One World albums are both very special pieces of music. Check out his live performance of Devil May Care on Old Grey Whistle Test if you can. It’s simply astonishing.

 

It says nothing about my life but Bowie’s Heroes is one of my favourite songs of all time. I once was DJing to about 500 people in Camden on a Saturday night. It was my birthday and I selfishly played the track at the end of a raucous night and completely killed the dancefloor. But it was my birthday and I had to hear it! I was lucky enough to meet Robert Fripp recently the man who did the guitar lick on Fashion and played on a lot of Bowie’s music at that time including this song. He agreed Heroes was something special.

 

I could go on to name countless jazz, reggae, soul, classical, world and electronic records that I adore, but to prove I’m not completely retro in my music tastes, I advise everyone with ears to buy and repeatedly listen to Steve Mason’s new album Monkey Minds in the Devil’s Time. It’s guaranteed to improve your life and make the world a better place. The ex-front man of The Beta Band solo work is very satisfying. He was also very good live at Lattitude this year.

 
Which 5 tracks would you pick for my blog, Poppy Loves?
 

Rhye – The Fall
Catherine Howe – It Comes With Breezes
FM Laeti – Out Of My Hands
Terry Callier – Ride Suite Ride
Haim – Falling

And here they are for your listening pleasure, (although I couldn’t get Catherine Howe’s ‘It Comes With Breezes’ on Grooveshark, but you can listen to this track here..

NEW SIGNATURE

Rob Wood Creative Director and Founder
Music Concierge
www.musicconcierge.co.uk

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Bit crafty

When you live in London, it’s very easy to wake up one day and realise that you haven’t been anywhere else for ages and ages.. and ages. There is always something to do or see, so you forget that you can just jump on a bus or train, visit another one of our amazing cities, see something super duper and be home by tea time. Or dinner time. Or breakfast, if you fancy staying over…

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