Make it a London Christmas/ part 1

Photography: Dennis Madden 

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Those who know me know the diversity found in London is the backbone to my brand, Nadia Minkoff London   and a constant source of inspiration.

But as 2018 draws to a close I have doubts and concerns over London’s future, a sentiment I believe I share with many a Londoner. So in this, the first of my two part ‘Make it a London Christmas’ blog I will attempt to share London snapshots,taken over the first two weeks in December by photographer Dennis Madden as he captures my musings through his lens.

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underground

I start my journey at The Thames Barrier, recently highlighted in the news

Are we really down to 15 years before we sink?

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In the shadow of The Emirates crossing  and City Airport flight path, just past the waste land, extensive riverside luxury developments being built. I wonder if there is anywhere affordable left in London?

emirates-crossing

Well, the wading birds still seem happy enough in Victoria Park, aka Tower Hamlets ‘people’s park’ and the winter sun makes an appearance, shinning through the Holly, I do love a good London park, it feels familiar, all are equal here

park

holly

In upmarket Fitzrovia the Victorian toilets are now a speciality coffee and brunch cafe
We love our speciality coffee us Londoners, especially me and in an old Victorian toilet?? it’s a win-win

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Regents place on the North side of Euston Rd  is unrecognisable, what a face lift and so festive with it. I wonder if London can continue to regenerate like this in the next few years, so who’s going to be moving into these offices and buying these flats?

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Back in North London the Victorian street lamps light up Alexandra Palace. It is becoming decisively grey and chilly, but atmospheric like a film set.  I Haven’t decided the ending yet, it’s a cliff hanger at the moment

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night

 

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TRAVEL: FILM, FISH AND FRITES, St Malo & Dinard

 

Images and details: Brian Minkoff Photography 

Travel Bag: The Camden tote in Mustard

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Travelled with: There and back overnight on Brittany Ferries   from Portsmouth to St Malo .  There’s an excellent buffet ,so a pretty good start

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Commuted: There’s a small ferry boat that goes from St Malo to Dinard and back every hour

Stayed at: Castelbrac  St Malo, 5 star luxury in a unique setting

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Ate at: Brasserie du Sillon, right on the St Malo beach, where my starter (slightly not kosher) Plateau de fruits de mer  (oysters, langoustines, king prawns, whelks and winkles) and the Mrs’s  mackerel fillets marinated in Muscadet were fantastic as were the whole grilled  snapper (my favourite fish) and C’s Chateaubriand in a creamy mustard sauce with thin, thin chips. Followed by a pistachio pavlova with strawberry sorbet and crème brulée with Madagascan vanilla

 Le Sept Mers in St Malo overlooking the beach where we indulged in foie gras, crab with grilled avocado and fennel, pork belly with sage, smoked cauliflower and mash, cod baked with sea greens, a chocolate ganache with absinthe and a fruit soup with ginger and yogurt sorbet.

 

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Stayed at: Le Nouveau Monde, St Malo and highly recommend,

Ate at:  our favourite restaurant, La Gonelle, overlooking the bay where they bring the fish fresh from the tank. We indulged in fresh sardines and then shared a whole turbot baked in beef juices with rosemary potatoes and a bottle of local cider.

St-malo

 

 

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Visited:  The Dinard Film Festival,  This  film fest offers access to paying punters and is very friendly.

dinard-film-fest

Bag verdict: The Mrs loved the bag-very soft leather and a lovely colour and lots of room. The attached purse was neat too.

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A bientot!

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ESCAPE… Amsterdam inspiration

I try and make sure that every work trip I do is also a source of inspiration. I see something that catches my eye and imagination everywhere.  What interests me I capture , save, then reference. My recent trip to Amsterdam was particularly inspirational , it’s a city I love full of colours and tucked away corners. So here we go, I am sharing my ‘inspirational highlights’ with you, will be interesting to see what of these filters down to my next collection

Amsterdam is:

Cheese & cheese newspaper

Edam

cheese-newspaper

Van Gogh:

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VGogh-museum

Flowers & Urban gardening:

red stars (3)

Florist

Canal side living:

main canal

Allyway

Bakeries:

bakery

 

some of the best Indie shops I’ve seen ( Matter.of.material)

matter-of-material

Lovely Paris, The Boss!!

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Bold colours in doorways, that match my Brewer Travel bag to perfection

red stars (1)

 

ESCAPE..THAILAND’S ISLANDS-PART 2, RAILAY

Having gotten over my jet lag and effortlessly adjusted to life in Koh Samui (see Part 1, Koh Samui) I headed on down to the Andaman Coast, destination Railay.

There is 1 airport in Koh Samui, it is privately owned so flights in and out of here are not cheap like other internal Thai flights but they are quite spectacular. The airport resembles a resort with lush landscaped gardens,boutique style shopping and pretty swanky toilets!!  Passengers are ushered to the planes via the runway, in converted golf carts and the views of Koh Samui from the air are breath taking

Flight: Koh Samui to Krabi with Bangkok Air, approx 50 mins flight, £87 with in-flight snack

Krabi airport to Ao Nang by shuttle: 30 mins

Ao Nang to Railay by long boat (there is a hire booth on the beach) approx 15 mins

Railay long boats

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suitcases

Railay is accessibly only by boat and yes, you do have to climb in and out of a ‘long boat’ clutching your suitcase through the sea, but it is so worth it. Laid back, chilled and welcoming I can’t recommend it enough.  In my books it is as close to a slice of paradise as it gets. I would go there again in a heartbeat.

Railay-cove

Stayed at: Railay Bay resort and spa prices start at £150 for a double room

visited: Nang Phra beach, a beach like something out of the Jurassic period, with towering rocks, caves and stalagmites. No dinosaurs , but plenty of monkeys in the surrounding forest. It’s a busy tourist destination and at the weekends the traffic from Ao Nang to this beach is quite overwhelming, so avoid if you’re looking for solitude.

Railay stalagmites

Tham Phra Nang fertility caves, a shrine full of carved wooden phalluses

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fertility cave

walked: through The forest to Tonsai beach, welcome to the chill-out zone!

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Tonsai beach

 

Ate : fresh grilled fish at the local style restaurants between the East and West beaches

Chilled: roof top balconies of the local bars

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watched: the sunrise and the sunset

Railay sunset

indulged: in some early morning canoeing off Railay Beach and the nearby rocks. For those of you into rock climbing , this is the ultimate jungle gym

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rocks

Next: Part 3, Kamala, Phuket

TRAVEL JAPAN.. KYOTO IN AUTUMN

Photography and travel: Sawako Muraoka

(Featured image: Kiyomisu-Dera Temple in autumn)

Flights: JAL from Heathrow, around £600 return London-Tokyo/Haneda airport  (Arriving at Haneda Airport is very useful as it’s only a 15 min train ride into Tokyo, it takes a lot longer from Narita. There is also a little shopping village inside the airport – useful for last minute gift buying and your final noodle fix)

Bag: The Rena bag in Moss Green

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Stayed at:

  • Self catering apartment which was fully equipped with a little kitchen and washing machine. Would especially recommend if you’re staying for a few nights as it’s a lot cheaper than most hotels and you have your own kitchen. Most hotel rooms are also very small so apartments can be more comfortable.
  • Highland Shimabara Guest House Approx. £65/night –  but this varies a lot depending on season

Dine out: Traditional meal served at a Kyoto’Ryokan’  (including the prettiest plate of pickles you’ve ever seen )food 3

food 2

food 1

Arashiyama Bamboo Groveso beautiful and the trees are so tall!

kyoto bamboo
“Ojizo San”  is what these little statues are called , you see them a lot round shrines, they are there to protect people.

kyoto statues

Fushimi inari – Shinto shrine with thousands of “tor-ii” gates lining pathways up a mountain. We didn’t make it all the way!

Kyoto shrine

 

 Travelling around Japan – with JR Pass: this is a train pass only available to people who are not resident in Japan. You can use it as often as you like and go anywhere as long as it’s on a JR train and you reserve a seat. (It doesn’t include the fastest Shinkansen called Nozomi fyi. The second fastest is fast enough though!) It costs from around £180/week. Definitely recommend getting this if you’re going to multiple places.

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Travel Japan.. part 2 to follow!

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

 

The Japanese house at The Barbican

Call me a Japanophile and you wouldn’t be wrong. Fascinated by Japanese culture and style from a very young age (my dad visited frequently bringing back treasures and stories) I made sure I visited as soon as I completed my studies.  I have been many times since, never disappointed and forever fascinated.

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My design work has always been by influenced by architecture, so this was one exhibition I was not going to miss.  I found The Japanese House exhibition at the Barbican to be a beautifully executed exhibition for anyone interested in Japanese culture, design, living and architecture.

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An insight into the changes in Japanese domestic architecture following World War 2, a period which is known for producing arguably the most influential and ground-breaking examples of modern and contemporary design.   Following the war and the widespread devastation of Tokyo and other Japanese cities there was an urgent need for new housing, creating much architectural experimentation and debate whilst producing innovative solutions to changing lifestyles.

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Take time to stroll through the 10 rooms in the full-size recreation of the Moriyama House.  Compact and orderly, with a tiny bathroom and a kitchen tucked under the stairs each little detail has been placed to create a harmonious balance, the outside merging with the inside and in my view the best minimalist design to be found in a compact space.

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the exhibition also features a Japanese teahouse, gardens and an outdoor cinema- much to see, explore and aspire to.

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The Japanese house at The Barbican runs until June 25th 2017, don’t miss it