RE BALANCE…. INNER PEACE IN EL PUERTO

Bag: The brewer holdall as my on-board luggage and The Hoxton bag for my daily use

The-brewerr-puerto

Flight: London to Gibraltar, approx. 3 hours.  I had an unsettling early morning flight having been sat next to an extremely drunk and rather intimidating group, out on their stag do. Adieu Monarch, can’t say I will miss you.

Gibraltar to Cadiz: approx. 1hr 40 mins by car

Stayed at: El Puerto, 10km outside Cadiz

puerto-breakfast

Ate breakfast at: Bar Vicente, owned by 4 generations of the same family, next door to the local market so the perfect spot for people watching. Had a traditional breakfast of Pan con tomate with coffee and freshly squeezed orange juice for only 4 Euros. Could sit there every day.

Ate Tapas at: Bar Apolo, recently renovated, delicious freshly cooked food and great value. Be sure to try the local cuttlefish Choco

hoxton cadiz

Visited:  Cadiz, ferry crossing to Cadiz from El Puerto takes 25 minutes and costs 2.65 Euros one way. The central market sells fish like you have never seen, but go early as they close early. Have to confess I struggled with the sharks

sharks

Street food– plenty of choice surrounding the market, I settled for La Taperia de Lula, don’t miss it! They certainly know how to cook the most delicious regional dishes including Arroz Negro– rice with squid ink.

rice

Swam at: Las Redes, the best and longest stretch of beach, perfect for swimming and walking but very full at the weekends.

square-Lucar

Excursion: Sanlucar de Barrameda. All that you would expect from a traditional, white Spanish Village: sun washed central square, bars, cafe’s and ice cream parlours. Some lovely historic sites here as well.

bodegas-obregon

Drink: sherry out of the cask at Bodegas Obregon and why not have a small tapas whilst your at it

fans

Buy: Tejas ( Tile biscuits) flat , handmade almond biscuits to die for from Cien Palacios- it’s all they do and they come in beautiful tins.  A fan from the market if you really want a piece of Spain to take back home.

the-hoxton-and-reader

sunset

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PAMPER….FACIAL AT COWSHED

Venue: Cowshed Spa, Primrose Hill

Occasion:  special Birthday treat from a special friend

On the Menu: facial, relaxation, coffee, retail therapy

Bag: The Pimlico clutch in black and beige

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Cowshed facials start @£48.00 for a 30 min speedy and £80.00 for the full hour. Treatments rooms are So relaxing, therapists brilliant, products smell and feel so good.

Eat: There’s a great little menu, well prices with tasty snacks. Coffee £3 ,a naughty snack £2 and  then there is always a  Horny Cow Smoothie, if you’re in the mood. It’s most definitely worth taking the time out to enjoy their kitchen and people watch, they are oh so trendy in leafy Primrose Hill!

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Product: Your beautician will recommend what you need based on your skin. Cowshed toiletries smell and feel fantastic, highly recommend owning their Cleanser( I recommend Lavender Gentle Cleanser), Toner ( I recommend Chamomile Refreshing Toner) and Body lotion ( I recommend Grumpy Cow uplifting body lotion)  as part of your beauty essentials

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The Rena bag… with a touch of French

Location: Chelsea Harbour

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Model: Emilie R

Bag: The Rena bag in Taupe

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Coat: Sandro, Paris

Lipstick: ‘Bad blood’ by Urban Decay

Photograhy: Brian Minkoff

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All but given up on our British summer? well we certainly have at NM HQ. So, here’s a quick masterclass in how, if you are French and experiencing a London summer, you transforms our cool Rena bag into something very chic and pretty hot in just 3 easy steps:

1)Remove the detachable strap- you now have a soft, oversized clutch bag with contrast detailing around the Zips

2) Add red coat

3) Apply red lipstick

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When the British sun comes out, catch a snap of it!

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Travels to New York with my toddler… taking a bite of the Big Apple together

Karla Huang, Designer at Nadia Minkoff  travelled to NY with her 3 year old inquisitive toddler, Jo.

Leaving

Return flight to NY with British Airways approx. £540 return (correct in  July 2017)

Jo's meal

Bag: The Finsbury backpack from Not on The High Street

Brooklyn-Bridge

 

Stayed at: Park Lane Hotel, NY  Room for 3 starts at US$260 per night. Great location on Central Park and a minute away from 5th Avenue subway but can’t recommend: bad service, over crowded, short staffed, dated ( but clean), expensive for the standard and room price did not include breakfast, never a good thing with a toddler!

 We visited:

The statue of Liberty, of course! We took the Ferry from  Battery park,Manhattan

Statue of iberty

Madame Tussauds NYC  , Jo managed to catch a ride with ET

Tussauds

Ripleys New York, conveniently located on Times Square, Jo loved the optical illusions

Ripleys

High Line Park, such a fantastic public park built on the historic freight rail line above the streets on Manhattan’s West Side. A different view of the Big Apple

Highline

Chelsea Market– great for mum & toddler, plenty to eat and some great pop-up shops for much needed retail therapy. It was a cold day so we chose to have Jewish Chicken Soup at Friedmans

chicken-soup

9/11 memorial– Very impressive, the size and the concept works so well.

911

Rockefeller Centre-  Such an exciting place to be, inside and out. Beautiful Art Deco interiors, places to eat and great shops,  plenty of street performers outside. We chose to see if Bill’s burgers were really as good as they say… and they were

Bill#s

Ate at:

Lady M Cake Boutique- sometimes you just need to spend money on a piece of beautiful cake

Lady-M-cake

Peter Luger Steak House,  Best steak and fries but be sure to book a month ahead!

Brooklyn Flea Market/Dumbo–  Great market stalls and food ,we had Shanghai pancakes, they were spicy but they were good!

City Kitchen/Times Square- Hello to the American fast food court , just as you imagine it, with plenty of  great choice but it’s not cheap!

Jo’s Highlights were: The Ferry to The Statue of Liberty, Central park,  but best of all The  Sea Glass Carousel

Carousel

I loved my Finsbury backpack , trust me although I work for an accessory company I am a very fussy customer. It was just so comfortable, so great to have my hands free at all time , it’s lightweight and it looks great.

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ESCAPE… Weekend in Sofia

My trusty travel companions were The Brewer holdall  which contained all I needed clothes wise for the weekend ( it was just an escape after all) and my Hoxton bag which was perfect for keeping my wallet and phone whilst strolling, people watching and eating of course.

bags

I travelled from Heathrow to Sofia with British Airways /club class £670 return /duration 3 hours ( correct at time of writing)

vista

Stayed at: Hotel Marinela , prices start at £100 per night for a King room with city views. Comes complete with loud peacocks in the morning ( not kidding) and loud music at night so..if you are looking for a quiet hideaway this hotel is not for you. But if you want to see some life, this hotel is quite an adventure and the rooms are nice and spacious.

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Stroll down pedestrian Boulevard Vitosha for a spot of people watching and a good coffee. If you are lucky you can catch a glimpse of snow on Mt Vitosha, which hangs over at the far end of the Boulevard and looks like something out of a film set.

coffee

Then head on round the corner to Tsar Shishman Street and Angel Kanchev Street-here you will find a complete melting pot of  the very old and somewhat run down with the very trendy and excitingly new- designer boutiques, artisan cafes, artisan eateries, speciality shops and downright traditional ones too.

grocers

nuts

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Highly recommend:

Made in Home or Made in blue– home made food, good for veggie lunches, chill vibe

The Tea House serves teas, vegetarian food and has live jazz music nights

Bistro pesto Little Italian place serving salads ,two types of pasta and that’s it  !! but who needs more?

cafe

If you want to try the best homemade Bulgarian ‘Banitsa’ ( pie) some great bakes and perfect coffee, do not miss a pit stop at Daro  I absolutely loved this place!!

ice cream

And if you scream for Ice Cream you can queue and get the best one at Gelateria Naturale

Other things to do, which do not involve food are…

Visit the famous Alexander Nevsky Church  the interior is truly stunning, then pick up a Sofia Free Tour , they also do a free hiking and a free biking tour.

Visit the Borisova Gardina Park, for some street entertainment or a little rest, then the park in front of the National Theatre for some live Jazz

If you’re tired and need a taxi download the Taxime app and only use that, if you pick one up from the street you could be charged as much as triple

And if you want a different eating adventure come night time try Umami  complete with landscaped gardens, ponds and exotic birds… it’s an experience!

 

Travel….Off to Lyon

Photography and content: Brian Minkoff photography

Bag: The Islington bucket bag from Not on the High Street

  • Eurostar from Kings Cross directly to Lyon: 4hrs 40 mins prices start from £90 return
  • Stayed at: The Carlton Lyon,  which thankfully had brilliant air conditioning throughout-it was 37 centigrade outside. Prices start at £195 for a double in July

 

Comfy:

comfy

Waiting for the lift:

waiting-for-the-lift-

Off for an iced something and a quiet read:

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  • Many, many ice creams were essential given the heat. The best was Terre Adelice,  Green Chartreuse was my favourite flavour-but was almost tempted by the Goats Cheese or Tomato and Basil, Check out  some of the flavours here

Love at first sight:

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  • Boat trips to and from the modern Confluence were a mere 2 euros each way

Dive in:

Dive-in

My new friend Paul Bocuse:

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Great meals to be had at:

  • Institute Paul Bocuse –where his trainees learn the ropes ! We had a fantastic slow cooked beef rib on a bed of macaroni cheese and a shoulder of Moroccan lamb with spices were the stars. And it would have been rude not to try the Macaron desert – a macaron with a mousse of mango and passion fruit filling, with salted caramel ice cream or the Chocolate bomb with very very rich melted chocolate inside, vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce !!!!
  • Le Cintra terrase, in a beautiful square near the Town Hall- where we indulged in some fantastic home cured salmon and whole sea bass.
  • It was too hot to wander the vast shopping mall but we did salad it on the Terasse of Le Paradis du Fruit , Red Mullet and Tempura Prawn salad was lovely. As was the Passion fruit smoothie.

Blending in with the locals:

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Many quirky buildings along the Confluence including The orange Cube behind the bag

 

 

ESCAPE…. LES BAINS D’OVRONNAZ

If you are looking for a quick escape, scenically beautiful and restorative for body & soul, the Thermal pools at Ovronnaz Switzerland might just hit the spot.

The Rena at Lac Lemand

Ovronnaz is a sleepy, quiet village, 4,300 feet high and nestled at the foot of The Muverans mountain range , in the Valais region. On route you will pass sprawling vineyards and unspoilt valleys finally reaching the bubbling thermal springs of Ovronnaz, offset by glaciers and majestic mountains. Ovronnaz offers outdoor thermal pools and terraces as well as a full panoramic SPA, it’s an absolute treat. Open both summer and winter, with late night openings on a Friday (babies and children welcome  and children under 6 go free). This  gem of a place is surprisingly low key, quiet and a unique opportunity to be pampered at the heart of nature.

Lake Geneva

I travelled to Ovronnaz via Easyjet cabin luggage only with my Rena bag and a stopover at Lausanne and Lake Geneva

village ovronnaz

Patio vista ovronnaz

The Rena at O'vvronaz

Indoor spa ovronnaz

Location: Thermal pools at Ovronnaz, Valais, Switzerland

Bag: The Rena bag in Dove

Travel: London Luton to Geneva with Easyjet , £127 ( at time of travel, June 2017) flight time 1hr:30mins

Train and local bus to Ovronnaz : 3hr 38mins mins from Geneva train station/ approx. £85 per person return journey ( at time of travel, June 2017)

Day pass to Spa and pools: Day passes for the outdoor pools and SPA facilities start at 50 SF/£40 per person and can be bought in advance online. Accommodation at the resort starts at SF205/£166 per person per night including SPA and pool pass.

towards Ovronnaz