Friday, 24 March 2017

Where to Eat Out in Paris– An Excellent Meal that won’t Break the Bank

 There are thousands of restaurants in Paris, from 3* Michelin Restaurants to the seriously cheap and probably not very cheerful.  And there’s Pret, of course, but I’ll come on to that in another post.

Spending more than a couple of days in Paris at the moment is challenging, because you want to eat good food but you may not want 3* restaurants every night.  Or you may.  But restaurant fatigue (not to mention wallet fatigue) is a real problem.

Last night having done some research I booked a table at A la Chataigne.  A small, Corsican restaurant just off the Rue Faubourg St Honore.  The restaurant is so tucked away you’re bound to miss it the first time but make the effort.

The menu is quite small and includes grilled vegetables, octopus carpaccio and other traditional dishes, plus an excellent monkfish Bouillabaisse.  There’s plenty of meat as well, and everything is beautifully presented.  A real plus is the service, which is attentive, efficient and friendly.

Your bill is likely to be much smaller than many Parisian restaurants, and your enjoyment greater.  Give it a try on your next visit to Paris.  I’m going back.  I’ll say no more.

Notes.  A la Chataigne is situated at 22 Rue de Miromesnil, 75008 Paris, Téléphone :01 40 07 90 86

Make sure you book.  You can call them directly as above, or use La Fourchette the French version of Open Table, where you can find many discounts as well.   

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

20 Sweet & Scented Mother’s Day Ideas that Won’t Break the Piggy Bank | the Origins of Mothering Sunday

Mother’s Day this year is March 26th (just in case you needed reminding) and if you’re looking for Mother’s Day ideas you don’t have to look far, you’ll find them in every store, every shop window, every other store newsletter.  Mother’s Day ideas replaced Valentine’s Day ideas almost seamlessly. 
Emma Bridgewater Mothers Day MugPandora Knot PendantNest Fragrance Classic Scented CandlePierre Marcolini Tom Dixon chocolate selectionOrange Rose Bouquet

Mother’s Day is always the fourth Sunday of Lent, and can be traced back as far as the 16th Century when servants and workers were given time off to visit the ‘Mother church’.  It also became a tradition to make a Simnel cake and take it home to mothers.  Click through to Delia Smith’s Recipe for Simnel cake.

 Lapis Lazuli Vermeil PendantMixed Rose BasketAlpaca Luxury Bed Socks in a BoxThe White Company Seychelles Gift SetCharbonel et Walker Pink Champagne Truffles

And by the way it should really be called Mothering Sunday, not Mother’s Day which is the more commercialised version. If you’d like to read a bit more about the origins of Mothering Sunday click through this article from the Telegraph.  

Voluspa Apricot and Aprilla CandleLavender Verbena and Rose TeaPhillipa Craddock Churchill BouquetAlaia Paris Scented Body LotionPerilla fine cashmere stoles

Ok back to the day itself.  Having had three kids myself, all pretty much grown up now (are they ever?) the only thing I would really appreciate on Mother’s Day is a message.  And yes in this hyper-techo world a text will do.  It’s about remembering, un-reminded.  One at least will be out of the country, and the only thing that matters to me is that they show they care.
  Nicolas Feuillatte ice Rose ChampagneJo Malone Red Roses Bath OilTed Baker from Amara Thin CuffGrapefruit and Basil Bath FoamMolton Brown Hand Cream Gift Set
However, many will be giving small pampering gifts to their mums and the best thing about online is of course that if you can’t be there you can send something out.  Most popular are flowers, chocolates and fragrant gifts but anything small and pretty and beautifully presented will do.

Included here are my top 20 Mother’s Day ideas for gifts that won’t break the piggy bank but will be appreciated by most mothers everywhere.

This post has been updated

Sunday, 19 March 2017

The Camouflage Company Cam’pouch–Favourite Travel Accessory and Perfect Mother’s Day Gift

Camouflage Company Cam'PouchIf you haven’t yet come across The Camouflage Company you’re about to.  Recently they introduced into their collection the Cam’pouch, a stand up fold down zipped pouch that can hold just about anything and be ready for action at a second’s notice wherever you are. 

You just stand it up, zip it down and it’s ready for action.  No more scrabbling for things in your cosmetics bag.  This is the perfect cosmetic bag.

I don’t often write about a single product but having travelled with this now essential pouch, usually stuffed full of eye liners, brushes, lipsticks and concealer - but can be used for anything you want - I thought you should have the chance, with Mother’s Day just a week away, of
Camouflage Company Cam'Pouch filledordering one immediately.  Or two.  Because if you only order one you won’t want to give it away.

I would say that it’s best for things that stand above the fold because then when you unzip it you can immediately see and use what you want and you never need to unpack it.

I’m taking one as a gift for a friend in Paris next week, who has recently become a mum and is a regular traveller, and I’ve ordered another one for myself because this is the ultimate girl’s travel accessory.  You can never have enough of a seriously good thing I know you’ll agree.
Camouflage Company Founders
The Camouflage Company was established by two extremely clever (and photogenic) sisters a few years back, with an aim to effortlessly sort any storage problems you might have in a clever and attractive way.  You’ll find their products both on the Camouflage Company website, on QVC and they’re now unsurprisingly going global.

Spend but a few moments on their website and you’ll probably have bought storage solutions for things you didn’t even realise you wanted to store.  You have been warned……

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Superdry–Modern Fitness Fashion that Looks Cool and Means Business

Superdry is one of those brands that seems to come up from nowhere and suddenly is giving all the comparable brands a run for their money – and beating them.  It carries high quality, reasonably priced (but not cheap) clothing, accessories and now excellent sportswear for everyone.  If you think it’s a ‘young’ brand think again, now we’ve all embraced a more relaxed vibe, let alone the trend for fitness street fashion, there’s something there for everyone.

Superdry Gym Tech HoodieSuperdry Core Gym LeggingsSuperdry Gym Tech Zip HoodieSuperdry Studio Wrap ShrugSuperdry Core Gym Vest top
I discovered Superdry a few years back and even recently went in and asked if their clothes were made in Japan.  Silly me.  Superdry is based on ‘vintage Americana and Japanese-inspired graphics with a British style’ and offers everything from shirts and – excellent – outerwear to dresses, jeans and accessories.

Superdry black mesh insert top with mesh backSuperdry Core Gym Black LeggingsSuperdry Studio Drape HoodieSuperdry Sport Tracer Running JacketSuperdry Studio Wrap Cardigan

Launched recently there’s a rapidly increasing wear of sportswear, both directly aimed at runners and gym goers and those who want the look but not the workout. The brand is growing like topsy and is now available in 46 countries.  And it’s a British brand.  It’s no longer ‘faux sporty’ as the Guardian wrote a few years ago.  And it’s collaboration with Idris Elba hasn’t done them any harm, either.

Superdry Core Gym Patterned Leggings Superdry Reflective Running JacketSuperdry Stirrup LeggingsSuperdry Gym Tech Cowl Hoodie - other coloursSuperdry Core Gym t-shirt
Some of the pieces are a little too loudly logoed for me, but my favourites are their Gym Tech Hoodie – lightweight and flattering with little bulk – and their outerwear which is seriously good.

Quality is what we’ve come to expect from Superdry.  It’s not cheap, nor is it overpriced.  The next time you want some new fitness fashion which may or may not loudly announce that you’ve joined the Superdry clan, check it out.  I freely admit that I have ‘tested’ quite a few pieces and will be buying more.  See for yourself…..

Monday, 13 March 2017

20 Pairs of Chic Shoes Designed with both Style and Comfort in Mind

When you hear the term ‘comfort shoes’ your first thought is probably – shoes that my granny might wear – but when you think that it’s on trend right now to wear your sneakers to the office, on tv and definitely all day everywhere else it’s surprising that shoe designers aren’t taking comfort into account when designing your next pair of heels. 

There are some who seem to be able to wear their vertiginous designer heels all day and night without any problem.  I, unfortunately, have never been one of them, so I want my heels to look good but also be of above average comfort to wear, which means buying into a brand that specialises in just that.  Most of these brands have now realised that they have a far wider audience than traditionally, that most of us want to be both chic and comfortable and not end up with blisters so the collections are growing all the time.

Unisa Beige Suede Sandals with High Block HeelUnisa blue suede peep toe block heel shoeClarks nude patent platform court shoeCarvela Comfort Metallic Leather Sandals

There are still occasions that demand a pair of heels rather than sneakers, and having had sore feet so many times I now refuse to wear something that doesn’t let me walk in comfort and survive an evening out without ripping them off, going barefoot or putting on flats.

Carvela Comfort Cut Out Suede SandalUnisa Two Part SandalGeox nude mid heel pumpUnisa slingback shoeClarks Block Heel Court Shoe - nude alsoUnisa Black peep toe platform slingback courtClarks black patent pointed toe court shoeCarvela Comfort navy suede sandal
The brands you want to look for, if you want really comfortable shoes, are Geox, Gabor, Unisa, Carvela Comfort and Clarks, who have re-invented themselves brilliantly. More about them in another post.
Geox Pink and Orange Suede Sandal - Blue and Yellow alsoGeox leather and mesh slingback pointed toe pumpUnisa Peep Toe Block heel SandalsClarks blue suede platform court shoe
Most of these shoe brands offer everything from sneakers to high heels.  All of them build in extra comfort.  So for your next pair of block heel sandals, peep toe sling-backs or stiletto pumps take a look here if you want to be able to walk all day and on.
Geox Lana peep toe court shoeGeox Taupe Block Heeled Court Shoe - other coloursGabor sand patent high heel platform court shoeGeox Block Heel Black Leather Platform Sandal
When you browse through these brands you will find everything from very classic low heeled shoes to some real gems, and the best place to find all of them is online.