How to Be Alone

With social media and smartphones permanent fixtures in our modern lives, we’re never far away from friends are we? Maybe being alone makes you feel anxious, uneasy even? But perhaps understanding being alone is actually a very important experience.

being alone

Curiously, and importantly, mastering the art of solitude doesn’t make us more antisocial but, to the contrary, better able to connect. By being intimate with our own inner life, this frees us to reach greater, more dimensional intimacy with others. Read more: Brain Pickings.

Privet – London

It’s only been open for four months but the verdict from the beauty cognoscenti is in: for all forms of body topiary, plus knot-busting massages and immaculate manicures, put Privet on your speed dial immediately. Set back from Portobello Road, Privet already has a devoted clientele, won over by the fantastic treatments and unique interiors. Created to be gender-neutral, the feel of the London salon is rustic chic.

privet

There’s an indoor manicure garden surrounded by pages from old books featuring flowers which colour co-ordinate with nail polish shades, while each of the treatment rooms is kitted out like a cabin with cool flea market finds from work benches and old radios to terracotta pots and typewriters. Aspiring authors can request the Writing Room, the green-fingered can try the Potting Shed or book into the Orangery for a speedy spray tan.

privet writers room

While strip and hot wax cover all your de-fuzzing requirements as quickly and painlessly as possible, the branded treatments themselves have been cherry-picked to offer the best from professional ranges. Nail colours come from Essie, tans courtesy of St Tropez and facials from leading US dermatologist range Murad. Add to that exceptional Swedish and deep tissue massages and it’s easy to see why Privet is becoming a much-loved one-stop-shop.

log  cabin privet

For a taster – or a post-work, pre-date emergency – book in for a Bonsai Makeover. The 60 or 90 minute sessions mix mini massages, fast nail maintenance, glow-inducing facials and waxing. My fabulous therapist Erinah treated me to a perfect mani and pedi, luxurious lash tint and virtually painless leg wax in record time and with the added bonus of her lovely company. It may be garden-themed, but garden variety Privet certainly is not.

For more information and booking, see the Privet website. Privet – 214 Kensington Park Road, London W11. Tel: 0207 221 5674

The A/W 2014 Art Agenda

From a chance to get up close with the legendary Marilyn series to the much-anticipated Zaha Hadid-designed WOMEN FASHION POWER, plan your travels and cultural activities for the coming months with this selection of big name global exhibitions. 

andy warhol

What do Andy Warhol, Christian Louboutin and Cecily Brown have in common? Their artistic handiwork will all be on display in not-to-miss exhibitions this season. Spend your September staring at stilettos, October observing pop art and November noting political paintings. Read more: Harpers Bazaar.

Every Time We Say Goodbye

Living abroad is an immensely rewarding experience: the constant sense of adventure; opportunities for language learning; a greater respect and tolerance for difference. However, as an expat, one inevitably makes a lot of expat friends. It’s only natural – you’re taking language lessons together, perhaps working in international companies, people helpfully introduce you at parties (“Jo – meet Svetlana – she’s Russian so, well, foreign, just like you! You must have lots to discuss…”). And, in my opinion, having expat friends is no bad thing, it’s certainly not a worry.

new friends

Until…

Until your expat friends come over all patriotic and leave. My refined and notoriously indecisive Bostonian friend (it’s all very “Where do you summer?” à la Katherine Hepburn), whom I have in past musings referred to as Peggy-Sue, is returning to her native land, where a new job and her wonderful man await. Despite being thrilled for her, this imminent departure makes me unutterably sad. Peggy was a bridesmaid at my wedding; she’s spent Christmas with my family; I call her when I need to work out the Big Issues of life and when I have nothing other to report than what I ate for dinner. Her not being in the same country or even in the same time zone any more will leave a chasm in my life.

All Good Things

Quite a few friends have left Paris recently – sabbatical years, travelling, job opportunities – but they all plan to come back. Not Peggy-Sue. She’s leaving on a jet plane and not coming back again. Since I found out, I’ve been heavy-hearted, with an unshakeable end-of-an-era feeling. The fact that Peg’s departure coincides with my getting married and a number of friends either doing likewise or having babies only adds to my fin-de-siècle malaise. Like many thirty-somethings, we’re closing the Roaring Twenties chapter of our lives and starting a new one; and while, in its own way, it’s equally as thrilling, I can’t help but mourn the end of a glorious period of much spontaneity and few responsibilities.

friendship

Profit and loss

The French have a wonderful verb for which I’ve never found a satisfying English translation: profiter. It means “to make the most of” or to “fully take advantage of”, though neither seem to really capture the notion of living fully, enjoying, savouring. It’s a word I’ve often had in mind of late. Have I lived this era of my life to the full? Have I made the most of my twenties and of Peggy Sue, enjoyed time spent together, gone places and done things we wanted? I’m still trying to answer myself, and I’m guessing the reply is somewhere in the grey area of “yes, but could have done more”.

Making your mind up

So that’s what I’m trying to focus on in the run-up to Peggy’s leaving. Living deeply and fully. Enjoying every moment. Savouring the people in my world. I can’t redo the chapter of my life that’s slowly coming to a close, but I can learn from it and resolve to make the next one even more of a page-turner. I can make the trip to visit Peggy Sue (and not simply talk about it); schedule Skype dates over a glass of wine (and not just collapse in front of the television); make more time for friends who are still in Paris (and elsewhere); book tickets for that stand-up comic/play/band (instead of simply looking at the posters)…

paris cafe

I’m sad to see my friend move so far away, but I have control over how our friendship evolves and the time I choose to invest in it from a distance. I can choose to wallow and focus on all the things we’ll no longer do together (silly films, Friday night drinks), or I can choose to be here now and make the most of what is. One path leads to misery and stasis, the other promises growth, joy and gratitude. Even Peggy-Sue would see that’s no dilemma!

The Power of Smiling

Only one-third of us smile more than 20 times a day. Unbelievable. And yet smiling reduces stress and helps us live a longer, happier life – amongst other things. It’s time to get smiling people!

Ron Gutman reviews a raft of studies about smiling, and reveals some surprising results. Did you know your smile can be a predictor of how long you’ll live — and that a simple smile has a measurable effect on your overall well-being? Prepare to flex a few facial muscles as you learn more about this evolutionarily contagious behavior. See more: TED.

Dining in Style

If we had to choose one word to sum up The Goring? Actually we’d choose two: just so. From the charming staff and faultless concierges to the beautifully manicured gardens and elegant suites, it’s all quite, quite lovely.

The goring hotel

And while you’ll no doubt have heard tell of the luxury hotel’s legendary afternoon tea, you might not be au fait with The Goring’s restaurant. After all, hotel restaurants can be tricky things; it’s rare that one makes sense within the context of the other. You’ve had the Best Night’s Sleep Ever in a dream of a luxurious suite, only to find that the scanty excuse for continental breakfast doesn’t quite measure up. Or there’s a jarring misbrand: the slick, modern restaurant doesn’t really match the quaint charm of the hotel’s sleeping quarters. Of course, this is absolutely not the case at The Goring.

Salt Marsh Lamb

For the first time in 15 years, there’s a new chef in situ, making The Goring’s dining room as much of a draw as an overnight stay. And – ahem – a slightly more economical way of testing out the hotel’s hospitality too… Michelin-pedigree chef Shay Cooper joins The Goring from The Bingham, having cut his teeth at The Vineyard at Stockcross and worked as Head Chef at Olga Polizzi’s Endsleigh House. And Cooper won’t be allowing himself – or The Goring – to rest on their laurels: “I am here to make a mark, we want a kitchen that is ambitious, rather than content.   We are cooking modern British food with personality – as befits The Goring – but food that is rooted in sensibility.  It’s all about restraint.”

Eggs Drumkilbo

Cooper’s deft touch has resulted in an elegant, imaginative and refined menu – it’s the very best of British, with the sophistication you’d expect from The Goring. Signature dishes include the famous Eggs Drumkilbo (the Queen Mum’s favourite, if you please) and the classic lobster omelette, served with moreish chips triple-cooked in duck fat. As well as the restaurant’s classic roasts, hand-carved at your table, there are daily specials such as Salt Marsh lamb with rosemary jus, fish pie served with English peas and fennel, and the quintessentially British steak and kidney pudding. Classic dishes, yes, but prepared, cooked and served with finesse. Just so, if you like…

Plaice Fillet

For more information and to book, see The Goring’s website or telephone +44 (0) 20 7396 9000.

The Fashion Finds

Don’t get us wrong, we love Net-A-Porter as much as the next credit-card-flexing fashionista. But sometimes, shopping the etailer’s gigantic selection of stylish goodies can be a little bit overwhelming. There’s just SO MUCH amazing stuff on there. So we are really quite delighted with N-A-P’s new Finds section:

Je M'En Fous Bikinis

“A unique curation of ever changing pieces – discovered by our buyers on their travels across the globe. Gems that you won’t want to miss – bags to tote, dresses to dance in, jewelry that everyone will want and much more. These are buy now, treasure forever finds and we can’t promise they will be here for long.”All Things Fabulous

Exciting eh? We’ll be checking back regularly to explore the buying team’s latest finds… Right now we’re in lust with these fantastic printed shorts from All Things Fabulous.… And then there’s the vintage-inspired rock and roll tees from MadeWorn – perfect styled with a tailored blazers or worn as weekend wear with denim cut-offs…. Other new labels not to be missed: Muzungu Sisters‘ statement embellished totes, Italian brand Je M’En Fous‘ super sexy bikinis, Shore Projects‘ slick watches and Finnish designer Minna Parikka‘s adorable bunny ear sneakers.

MadeWorn

Shop Net-A-Porter’s Finds selection online here.

How to Motivate Yourself

Are those tasks staring back at you from your to-do list? And yet, somehow you just can’t quite motivate yourself to do any of them…. Believe it or not, there’s one essential – and scientifically proven – step we’re all missing out. 

motivation

You make goals… but then you procrastinate. You write a to-do list… but then you don’t follow through. And this happens again and again and again. Seriously, what’s the problem? Read more: TIME.

No Time to Think

Why have we become too busy to stop and think? What’s the result of avoiding our worries, concerns and negative thoughts?

thinking

One of the biggest complaints in modern society is being overscheduled, overcommitted and overextended. Ask people at a social gathering how they are and the stock answer is “super busy,” “crazy busy” or “insanely busy.” Nobody is just “fine” anymore. And if there is ever a still moment for reflective thought, out comes the mobile device. Read more: New York Times.

RIH Drinks

Enjoying a cooling cocktail on a summer evening has to be one of life’s greatest pleasures. Nothing too complicated mind, this isn’t the time for faffing about with unusual ingredients or measuring equipment. From the Watermelon Refresher to a summery Rosé Sangria Spritz, these are the cocktails you’ll find us sipping at sundown…

summer cocktails

This summer is all about the spritz. Long drinks that aren’t too high in alcohol, and that have a few gentle bubbles to tickle the taste buds, are a refreshing way to start the evening (and slightly less precipitous than a martini). They are also good for gatherings – barbecues, school fêtes, pre-dinner drinks, watching a game of cricket – because they can be made and poured quickly en masse. Read more: The Telegraph.