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FREE Live well

Issue 20 Mar / Apr 11


Living the dream Travel

Hot dates for 2011

Mother’s Day Indulgent treats

Inside trading: style on a shoestring Knowledge is good: i-minds DELIVERED FREE TO RESIDENTS AND BUSINESSES IN AND AROUND W9

Not sold your property yet? Then it’s time to instruct our team! Call the sales team at Hollandale Kane

020 7286 2862 Where Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference! Hollandale Kane 24a Bristol Gardens Little Venice London W9 2JQ T +44 (0) 207 286 2862 F +44 (0) 207 289 0258 E W

Editor’s Note Advertising Gill Pinhass 07944 684 182 Editorial Editor: Lola Bailey 020 3137 5796 Sub-editor: Emma Cooper Contributors/Journalists Martyn Andrews Hans Norton Lisa Brinkworth Design & Production Momentum Design Solutions Print Headley Brothers Ltd 01233 623 131

For this issue we have trawled through the internet and picked the brains of our friends in-the-know to bring you excellent sites that will serve most needs; really useful websites with reliable information on almost every lifestyle occupation. Our interiors feature, ‘Style on a shoestring’ is a must-read for any true lover of stylish bargains. I love the fact that the more we prosper, the more we can prosper. The more we invent, the more inventions become possible. Whilst the world of things is often subject to diminishing returns, knowledge, and the exchange of ideas is not. This is the information age; and if you hunger for more knowledge you’ll find i-minds (page 27) a great start. Easter is my favourite season of the year (even if it’s raining). I love the symbolism of the season: new life, new ideas, finding fresh inspiration. Our cover star Asa is perhaps one of the most inspirational singers of her genre with a voice as smooth as velvet. I’ve recently seen her perform live; superb.

Distribution Streetrunners Ltd 020 8981 9005 Contact LifeWest9, 59 Elgin Avenue W9 2DB

Lola Bailey, Editor

LifeWest9 is a free bi-monthly magazine distributed to residents and businesses in W9 and NW8. It has a print run of 10,000 copies.


Copyright © Lola Bailey 2011 Reproduction of material from this magazine in whole or in part is strictly forbidden without the prior written permission of the publisher. Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of content of this magazine at time of going to print, some details may be subject to change. Editorial content does not necessarily reflect the views of this magazine.

On the cover


10 Mother’s Day Indulgent treats

04 07 11 16 32 38

19 Asa Living the dream 23 Travel Hot dates for 2011

Local life Interiors Kids life Life & style Food notes The Essential Directory

This month’s cover Asa © Jean-Baptiste Mondino – courtesy of Republic Media • Issue 20 Mar/Apr 11

recycle When you have finished with the magazine please recycle it.



The Social Whirl

Events and other distractions

Save the dates!

March 26th and 27th: sees the launch of Clifton Nurseries’ Heritage Exhibition, on show in the onsite café, The Clifton Kitchen. This will be a fascinating insight into the history of London’s oldest garden centre, with reproductions of original documents including product brochures and catalogues from the 1940s (including during the Second World War) and into the 1950’s… Over the opening weekend (March 26th and 27th), Clifton Nurseries will be celebrating with bucks fizz and birthday cake. There will be a series of talks by Guy Pullen (Manager of Clifton Nurseries) and staff about the nursery and gardening trends in London during the last 160 years. Talks are free of charge (complete with birthday cake!) and take place at 12pm, 2pm and 4pm. Further information can be obtained by email from: or by calling 020 7432 1866

Useful numbers Police – Harrow Road

020 7289 5030

Westminster City Council

020 7641 6000

London Transport Travel Enquiries 020 7222 1234 Congestion Charge in London

0845 900 1234

Car Parks (Freephone)

0800 243 348

Business Rates Query

020 8315 2050

Council Tax Query

0845 302 3400

Local Councillors

020 7641 2322

Advice on Planning

020 7641 2513

Environment Agency

0845 331 3131

Schools Admission Query

020 7641 1816

Emergencies – Water

0845 9200 888

Emergencies – Gas

0800 111 999

Emergencies – Electricity

0800 0563 861

St Mary’s Hospital

020 7886 6666


London events in March The Boat Race – March 26th. The 6.5km (4.25 mile) race starts out at Putney and finishes at Mortlake; spectators can watch the boat race all along the course from both sides of the river, but prime viewing spots are: Putney Bridge, Putney Embankment and the towpath in front of Bishops Park at the start; Hammersmith and Barnes towards the middle of the course; and Duke's Meadows and Chiswick Bridge at the end. London events in April The Chelsea Art Fair – 1-3 April. Held at Chelsea Old Town Hall, King's Road, the annual Chelsea art show offers a selection of work from 45 galleries, representing over 500 individual artists. London Marathon – 17 April. The race starts in Greenwich Park; from here the runners head east to Woolwich, then double back to the Cutty Sark on the Greenwich waterfront, and on to Bermondsey, Canary Wharf and Limehouse. The run then carries on through the heart of historic London, passing the Tower of London and Nelson's Column, before finishing at St. James's Park. Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre Season – 23 Apr-2 October. A real treat for Shakespeare lovers. Ticket prices range from around £15 to £35 for covered seating, or there are cheaper standing tickets; shows continue regardless of rain and last two to three hours. Many spectators opt to stand in the yard since they can move around at will to get the best views. The venue has its own bar and brasserie. Issue 20 Mar/Apr 11 •

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406 Edgware Road, Paddington W2 1ED

Tel: 020 7402 0068

The Amadeus

‘Some places are just very special’ – Lynne Franks From chic fashion shoots to oh-so glamorous weddings, Little Venice based The Amadeus leads the pack in what it does best – providing magical spaces for the discerning crowds it attracts to its former 19th century Welsh Presbyterian chapel. For those looking for a stand-out venue, few establishments in Central London can provide the delicate balance of faultless service, style, versatility and affordability in such an attractive and thoroughly distinctive building. The Amadeus (formerly The Amadeus Centre) offers exclusive use of its two unique halls for wedding receptions, parties, recitals, and a range of other events. The Upper Hall (capacity 150, round tables or 180 banquet style; 250 non seated) is a wood-panelled horseshoe gallery that boasts a Victorian architectural elegance, giving a very wide scope for theming and decorating. Acoustically the hall is excellent, benefiting from natural lighting. The Lower Hall (capacity 70 round tables, 80 banquet style) with its fine vaulted ceiling, silvered columns and white wooden flooring creates a striking impression of light and space. The halls themselves can be used individually, or for receptions, combined in one seamless venue. Planning a wedding reception? Welcome guests with champagne and canapés in the Lower Hall followed by a candlelit dinner in the splendidly decorated Upper Hall with dancing afterwards into the early hours. Need a nearby hotel for your guests? Just a ten minute walk or two minute taxi ride from The Amadeus is the charming four star boutique hotel The Colonnade; a hotel with a very private feel that boasts just 43 bedrooms, ensuring the 6

staff can concentrate on offering you and your guests a sterling service. The highly creative Amadeus team (‘anything and everything is possible’ is their philosophy) can help you decorate and theme the halls to reflect particular tastes and ideas; create subtle or dramatic effects using their lighting expertise, from romantic candlelight to spot-lit features. Their attention to detail will enable you to achieve your goals or specific needs, helping you create and organise your event right down to the finest detail. Their little black book of suppliers range from florists and high-end caterers to fireeaters, all of whom are amongst the best in their field; to ensure a perfect day for you and your guests. In the words of Ridley Scott, The Amadeus truly is ‘a great place for exploring ideas’. The Amadeus is an extraordinary Maida Vale gift which offers a complete, bespoke solution whether you are planning a wedding reception for 150 guests, a party for 250 or a conference for 100 delegates. The venue’s commitment to customer satisfaction is exemplary and it boasts an impressive client list that includes Moet & Chandon, Hodder & Stoughton, Grayling UK and Edelman Worldwide. For more information and booking details visit the website or call the sales department on 020 7286 1686. The Amadeus, 50, Shirland Road, Little Venice, London W9 2JA. Underground: Warwick Avenue or Maida Vale. Rail: Paddington Issue 20 Mar/Apr 11 •

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Style on a shoestring High end, low price designer furniture SCP’s summer sale For the classics of tomorrow, head to contemporary furniture experts SCP’s summer sale – 25 June; where you’ll find offers such as up to 60% off ex display items, 20% off all SCP upholstery & furniture orders, 15% off all other upholstery and furniture orders and 10% off all lighting and rugs. | Tel. 020 7749 7398 Graham and Green Graham and Green’s summer sale, anticipated in April, offers bargains of up to 70% off on good quality period and bohemian-style home furnishings, both online and from its showrooms in Notting Hill. | Tel. 0845 130 6622 Non-stop sale shops The Curtain Factory Outlet The Curtain Factory Outlet in North Finchley is the Mecca for designer curtain and upholstery fabric, as well as ready-made curtains, blinds and curtain accessories. | Tel. 020 8492 0094 The Curtain Fabric Factory Based in Fulham, London, The Curtain Fabric Factory is the retail arm of this company’s fabric import business, so can offer customers silks, and printed cottons, velvets and chenilles for curtains and upholstery at significantly reduced prices. | Tel. 020 7386 0008 Factory shops Villeroy and Boch Villeroy and Boch’s factory shop in Wandsworth is filled with fine ceramics, glassware and cutlery from past and current ranges, all at up to 60% off the list price. | Tel. 020 8875 6006 • Issue 20 Mar/Apr 11

Branded clearance outlets Lombok Lombok’s dedicated clearance store in Fulham is a treasure trove of discontinued items, seconds and ex-display models all at a discount. | Tel. 020 7751 8550 Feather & Black Feather & Black has three clearance stores located in Hammersmith, Watford and Chichester, each offering the chance to buy beds, mattresses and some bedlinen at up to 70% of the original price. | Tel. 01243 380 600 Raft Raft’s Cricklewood showroom has reclaimed teak furniture that can be bought at up to 50%, and where an entire floor is dedicated to ex-display, ends of lines and clearance items. | Tel. 020 8450 5078 Sale events Chelsea Textiles Each year in November at Chelsea Town Hall, you’ll find Chelsea Textiles’ hand-embroidered bedcovers, cushions and fabrics by the metre as well as painted furniture all priced between 40% and 80% off the retail price. New items are bought regularly throughout the duration of the four-day long fair. | Tel. 020 7584 5544 Limestone Gallery Limestone Gallery hosts a regular warehouse sale of its tiles, fire surrounds, basins and baths, with prices at up to 70% off. The next sale is scheduled for May but you can find clearance bargains all year round. | Tel. 020 7735 8555 7

We're specialists in minor repairs and regular maintenance so whenever there's a problem with your property you can rely on Urban Solutions. Whether maintaining your boiler to keep your family toasty warm in winter, or installing a power-shower to refresh and cool you down in summer, you'll be delighted with the quality of Urban Solutions' work. Here's a quick introduction to the variety of services that Urban Solutions has to offer. Heating Whatever the heating job, you can trust US to provide a qualified heating engineer to tackle it quickly. If your central heating system is defective, you need a new boiler installed or your radiators are not working properly, our team will do whatever is necessary to get your heating and hot water back up and running. Electrics All of Urban Solutions' electricians are NICEIC registered, meaning that we work to current industry standards that ensure your safety. We know how hard it can be to track down a good electrician in London, so all of our team are available in two-hour time slots for all jobs, so that you know when to expect them and won't waste a whole day waiting in for US to arrive. Plumbing Urban Solutions’ plumbers are fully qualified and experienced in all areas of plumbing work. From replacing a tap washer or mending a burst pipe 8

to refitting an entire bathroom, our customers have relied on US for more than ten years to put right their plumbing problems. Carpentry Urban Solutions has craftsmen to work on any carpentry job from building fitted cupboards and laying wooden floorboards to replacing doors and windows. If you have been the unfortunate victim of a burglary, you can also depend on US to repair the damage and ensure that your home is as secure as possible. Decorating Redecorating is one of the quickest, easiest and cheapest ways to spruce up your home and to give it an entirely new appearance. Our experienced decorators can transform a room, the exterior of a building or the whole property working quickly, expertly and with precision. Urban Solutions also uses tradesmen who can take on the trickiest of tiling jobs to revive the appearance of your kitchen or bathroom. Refurbishment Aside from small repairs, US take on larger projects to transform properties, restore old buildings to their former glory or find innovative ways to expand the accommodation in a home. For more information about Urban Solutions, contact our friendly team on 020 7435 1111. Issue 20 Mar/Apr 11 •



020 7435 1111

Flowers courtesy of Real Flowers © Ecopod

Mother’s Day Indulgent treats Travel gifts Fly her over to the the Scottish west coast for a stay at the Ecopod. Ecopod boutique retreat is a sustainable and stylish haven for two and costs from £850 per week. ◘ | Tel. 07725 409 003 Pampering gifts Buy her a block of regular massages or facials. Top facialist Yvonne Martin, Clarendon Terrace, Maida Vale, is one of the best in the business with legendary facials. Recently opened, The Lilac Room on Boundary Road, St Johns Wood does a range of treatments which include manicures, pedicures, waxing and facials, as well as the ‘Gellish’; a two week manicure that lasts like a gel – perfect for busy mums. ◘ Yvonne Martin – Tel. 020 7266 2127 ◘ The Lilac Room – Tel. 020 7373 9022 Thank you gifts Upload pictures of the kids to make a photo book or album with the help of Albumania. Prices from £39.50. ◘ | Tel. 0845 634 9745 Purely Roses will deliver the freshest, most beautiful roses – affordable too. ◘ 10

The gift subscriptions of the Real Flower Company start at £480 which would be a £40 posy delivered on a selected day, once a month for a year. The company can offer any size for the subscription with their luxury one costing £1200 for the year. The delivery charge is covered by The Real Flower Company and delivery days are Tuesday to Friday. The recipient can request certain colour ways or simply wait for the surprise each month. ◘ | Tel. 01730 818 300 Merci Maman hand engraves bracelets and necklaces on which you can have engraved the text of your choice. Shown is their Personalised Charm bracelet for Women, from £30. They will hand-engrave this bracelet with names of loved ones, dates or a personal message. Their selection of charms exists both in sterling silver or gold plated and the braid colour can be anything you want. ◘ | Tel. 07540 157 630 Domestic goddess She may not need reminding, but her family might. Shown is 'The Heavenly Mrs. Hopkins' This is an example of the bespoke range offered by Scarlett Willow. Any wording is possible, and the turnaround is two weeks. ◘ | Tel. 020 7751 0865 Issue 20 Mar/Apr 11 •


Family fun this Easter By Emma Cooper

The school holidays are fast approaching, so here are some of our favourite ideas for family fun in and around London this Easter. 1/ This year, the Clifton Nurseries Easter Egg Hunt will have a vintage theme based around the history of the nursery. Children will be given clues to hidden information around Clifton’s history and about gardening over the years. Five completed answers win them a bag of delicious Easter chocolate. There will also be a spring plant potting table and art table. 19 April, 3-5pm. | Tel. 020 7289 6851 2/ Join the Bouncing Easter Bunnies Bumper Workshop at Wimbledon’s Polka Theatre, where you can create bunny ears and tails, decorate eggs and help the Easter Bunny prepare for Easter in this jam-packed two-day drama and craft event. Price £25 per child. 19-20 April, 9.45-10.45am (3-4 yrs) and 11.15am-12.15pm (4-5 yrs). | Tel. 020 8543 4888 3/ Enter the Age of the Dinosaur with the Natural History Museum’s latest exhibition, which features amazing lifesize animatronic dinosaurs in Jurassic landscapes. Opens 22 April, tickets booking now. • Issue 20 Mar/Apr 11

4/ Come and join in the fun with the Easter Bunnies and Chickens art and craft workshop at the Museum of Fulham Palace. Children will spend time making traditional Easter items using recycled materials, suitable for ages 5-12 years. Booking is essential, cost £7.50 per child. 13 April, 2-4pm. Tel. 020 7736 3233 5/ Visit the Easter Egg-stravaganza at the London Wetland Centre. Follow the progress of real-life Easter eggs, as you see real ducklings growing inside their shells using an amazing 'egg candling' technique, and watch the newly-hatched wild ducklings paddling in the ponds. 9-25 April. 6/ Get your skates on for the Easter Bunny Stroll, a fancy dress costume skate, which takes place on Easter Sunday. The event starts in Hyde Park at 2pm. Perfect for families and beginners, it features an 8 mile relaxed skate around London’s West End. 11

Dry skin Many people complain of dry skin at this time of year – caused by months of central heating, lack of fresh air, low hydration and poor diet. Skin brushing – with a dry loofah or soft bristle brush removes dead cells from the epidermis and gently massages the blood and lymph vessels to speed up the elimination of toxins. Always brush towards the heart. Moisturize your skin – for dry skin patches, use pure olive oil, E45, vaseline based ointments or Calendula cream is very soothing. If you have persistent dry, itchy and red patches, this can be an indication of eczema, which is a local


inflammation of the skin – it would be advisable to see your GP or a qualified homeopath for advice on treatment. Supplements – essential fatty acids help support the skin’s elasticity, tissue growth and circulation. MicroCell Essential Fatty Acids by BioCare provides a combination of omega 3 and omega 6 essential fatty acids from linseed oil and a GLA oil. Available from or any good health food shop. Diet – dry skin problems are not helped by sugar, refined carbohydrates, chocolate, tea, coffee, alcohol which all dehydrate the body further. So keep your body well hydrated by drinking at least 1,5 litres of water a day. Caroline Harper, Homeopath

Millions of people in Britain already benefit from using homeopathy. You could too. Natural and safe complementary medicine, appropriate for all ages. Caroline Harper BSc(Hons) LCHE BA(Hons) Tel: 07930 987858 •

The Maida Vale Natural Health

Cranio-Sacral Therapy and Homeopathy Clinic A monthly clinic with experienced practitioners providing low cost treatment and advice for mothers, babies and children. For more info and appointments: call 07930 987858 /


Next clinic dates (10am - 1pm) • Sat 19th February 2011 • Sat 19th March 2011 • Sat 9th April 2011

Issue 20 Mar/Apr 11 •

Are you investing in your children’s future? Everyone wants the best for their children and none of us know what the future holds. We believe that with a little forward planning it is possible to give your children the best future and the best education. We realise that your financial situation is unique: • You might be looking for a tax efficient way of building up savings for future school fees • Or spreading the cost of current school fees • And you may want to protect the school fees in the event of your death, illness or incapacity

For further details contact, Julie Bishop

Tel: 0808 1800 368 Email: Web:

Give your child a great start in life.


Qualified & friendly staff x Inspiring, play based curriculum x Flexible places & discounts available x Fresh nursery-cooked meals daily** x Childcare vouchers accepted!



D AY C A R * E Registered Charity No. 299686

For award winning early years education in central London, please call 0 2 0 7 8 3 4 8 6 7 9 or email f r i e n d s @ l e y f . o r g . u k. * All new parents will be credited with two weeks fees (pro rata) at the end of their first six months in any one of our 19 nurseries with this advert. ** On-site Chef and professional catering kitchens provide fresh and hot-cooked meals daily in at least 14 of our nurseries.

• Issue 20 Mar/Apr 11


Designer alterations We offer a wide range of services for your clothing and wedding dress alterations. Designer alterations & tailoring Designer clothing alterations from top brands to children's uniform alteration, all work is undertaken by our professional dressmaking team. High street brands alterations on hemlines from trouser shortening to waistlines, sleeve shortening, cuff readjustments or zip replacements. Designer brands at high tailoring level quality, coats and jackets sleeve shortening, hemlines shortening, jeans shortening. Wedding dress alterations Bespoke made-to-measure wedding dresses, bridesmaid dresses, mother of the bride dresses, children's occasionwear. Restyling and remodelling some parts on wedding dresses. All major alterations on wedding dresses


including fitting, rehemming to your requirements. Specialist vintage service for your favourite dresses including fine mending, beading replacements or sequin replacements. Bespoke made-to-measure If you want your dream dress to be made for you, then we can help your dream to come true. Evening dresses cocktail dresses, any occasionwear can be undertaken by our professional team. Office fitting services Running a busy office and have no time to visit a dressmaker? We can come to your office or home and help you with fitting and alterations of all kinds for all members of the family. Please call Eva now on 020 8537 2430 or for a more 'mobile' response call 07776 201 050

Issue 20 Mar/Apr 11 •

Masiel Bebé London

Masiel Bebé is a new children’s boutique located at 18 Bristol Gardens London W9, minutes away from Warwick Avenue tube station, in the heart of Little Venice. They offer the Finest Baby and Children clothing from reputable designers like Agatha Ruiz de la Prada, Foque and Pili Carrera, one of Spain’s top designers in children’s wear for over 40 years. Working with only the best quality materials to produce beautifully hand made elegant clothing for your children, we are sure you are going to fall in love with their winter collection.

Masiel Bebé, 18 Bristol Gardens London W9 | 020 3490 7216 |


Uniquely you ◘ Mad for shoes We love Emmy’s custom-made shoes. Choose from round toes, peep toes, sandals or vertiginous sling backs with your own choice of detailing. Upper Street’s service allows you to design your shoes online yourself, choosing the fabrics, colours and style. ◘ Coming up roses You can blend the perfume of your choice courtesy of Le Labo. Tel. 020 3441 1535

look; turning an old dress into a skirt using some of the bodice fabric to make a waistband. For more ideas contact Eva Halajova (the secret’s now out) at Professional Alterations. Tel. 07776 201 050 Belen Echandia allows you to customise your bag. Simply select a bag from their archives, pick the leather and lining colour, and then add zips, buckles, studs and pockets. From £450. | Tel. 020 7924 1520 Personalised correspondence is all the rage. At Honey Tree Bespoke you can design your own personalised cards as well as other items such as letter paper, stickers and tags, using their striking illustrations. | Tel. 0844 335 0620

Essentially Me allows you to produce your own unique scent using their perfumier’s starter collection. £172. Tel. 01453 882 525 ◘ Style counsel If you have a wardrobe full of clothes you never wear but can’t or won’t discard, try experimenting with a few simple alterations which could save you forking out on new trends. Examples include: Making ribbon rosettes or changing buttons on a garment to give it a new 16

Issue 20 Mar/Apr 11 •

9 Clifton Road l Little Venice / Maida Vale l London W9 1SZ 020 7286 9988 l l

Are you financially fit? New Year resolutions traditionally involve fitness and lifestyle goals but this is also the ideal time to review your personal finances. The next few months are particularly important if you are to take advantage of the tax allowances available and the rule changes announced by the Coalition. New pensions legislation will be introduced from 6th April. The annual pension contribution limit will be reduced from £255,000 a year to just £50,000. However the new rules do allow for up to 3 yrs’ unused allowance to be carried forward. Annuities will no longer be compulsory at age 75, increasing pension options. Your investment portfolio may also benefit from a review. Is it still on track ? Are you making full use of your annual Individual Savings Account (ISA) allowance? This valuable tax-saving opportunity should be a fundamental building block towards

Sali’s hair salon

financial security. Remember if you don’t use your ISA tax allowance, you will lose it. However, you should be aware that the favourable tax treatment given to ISAs may not be maintained in the future as they are subject to changes in legislation. More tax efficient investments – if you are a higher earner, other tax-efficient alternatives include Venture Capital Trusts (VCTs) and Enterprise Investment Schemes (EIS). Whilst these types of investment do offer attractive tax relief for investors, they are only suitable for those prepared to take a higher level of risk. The past 12 months have been an extraordinary year. The Coalition have introduced new measures that will not only affect the wider economy, but ones that will also impact individuals – 2011 is not a time to rest on your laurels. For more information on any of the above and free booklets dial freephone: 0808 1800 368, email or visit

Keratin hair treatment (permanent blow dry) | Styling & cutting Bridal hair | Colour technicians from London’s top salons

3, Formosa Street, Little Venice, London W9 1EE | 2 Minute Walk From Warwick Avenue Tube | 020 7286 1761


Issue 20 Mar/Apr 11 •

© Jean-Baptiste Mondino courtesy of Republic Media

track is evocative of Bob Marley; approachable but socially relevant. Asa pulls this off magnificently, without appearing too preachy or self-important and making her all the more impressive.. ‘So lovely… so achingly pretty… we haven’t danced to a song about the ozone layer before .“( The Guardian on Asa). She is clearly ever evolving; “The first album reflected my state of mind then – I had a lot to talk about – social and political issues”.


Living the dream Her impressive CV includes opening for heavyweights such as Beyoncé, Akon, John Legend and Snoop Dogg. She has been hailed as a 21st century Bob Marley, bringing together the best of Western and African music in a funky fusion of seriously great tracks. Asa was the recipient of France’s Prix Constantin 2008, and is nominated for Best Female Artist in this year’s Les Victoires de la Musique – French Music Awards. Asa (pronounced Asha) was born in Paris to Nigerian parents. Her music brings in elements of reggae and ska, and is sung in a beautiful and soothing voice with hints of her native Yoruba dialect. Her eponymous album, a remarkable debut (which met recognition worldwide and was supported by an extended tour including Europe, North America, Africa and Japan), was sung in both English and Yoruba – a beautifully rich language, and is an endearing listen that was highly successful in putting Asa on the musical map. Asa’s petite frame belies her feistiness; take the reggae tinged Jailer, a provocatively political tale that denounces slavery in all its forms. The • Issue 20 Mar/Apr 11

Her soon to be released album ‘Beautiful Imperfection’ (UK album release April 4th, Dramatico Records) is a less intense but equally stunning, polished collection of 12 songs. The first single ‘Be My Man’, released 28th February, is a fine slice of irresistible soul-snapping retro groove that recalls Osibisa and a rock tinge inspired by The Clash, all marshalled by an astonishingly self-assured vocal turn. Dreamer Girl is a stirring track, of which she says, “I’m actually the dreamer girl in that song”. She followed her dreams and is now living the life. Full of ambition and tenacity, Asa signed herself up to a music school when she was 18, learned to play the guitar and shaped her sound. With her sound defined Asa returned to France to cut her teeth on the Parisian music scene. Her fans include musical greats such as Lenny Kravitz and Angelique Kidjo who have invited her to perform duets on various occasions. A double headliner with Tiken Jah Fakoly on April 4th will see Barbican Hall painted with a sonic wave of thoughtful lyrics and rare musical craftsmanship as two of West Africa’s finest contemporary artists come together on the one bill. Not to be missed. For more information on Asa visit 19

B AT H R O O M C O M PA N Y Whether you need a complete bathroom re-think or just a new set of taps, the Alternative Bathroom Company has all the products and all the answers. Now extended and refurbished, the light bright and airy showrooms on Chamberlayne Road NW10 display everything from simple, no-frills ranges to the type of high-end architectural products which you see in chic boutique hotels. Covering both contemporary and traditional styles, the choice of quality bathroomware and accessories is unique; offering the Alternative Bathroom Company’s own-label classic products alongside A-list international names such as Dornbracht, Duravit, and Hansgrohe. The Alternative Bathroom Company has an impeccable heritage. For over 30 years, the people behind it have headed up leading bathroom companies and developed reputations for sourcing and designing great products. Their matchless expertise and design credentials make buying bathrooms easy. In baths, showers, basins, fitted furniture and brassware, there are looks and price points for every bathroom, with in-depth product knowledge to back them up. Their friendly and individualised customer service offers everything from general advice to a highly professional bathroom planning service. The newly extended showroom brings space to display an even greater range of on-trend products. 20

There are several key fashions in bathrooms at the moment including the return of traditional styling. After years of super-stark modernism, a new more relaxed and eclectic look is emerging. Now we can confidently mix elements of traditional style with modern products and contemporary settings. From basins and taps to baths and bidets, the new take on ‘traditional’ focuses on classic designs including art deco inspired pieces – with their pure lines and linear styling. Sanitaryware is white and brassware is chromed. Another major trend is for freestanding baths – of which there are 6 very different styles on show in the showroom, and many more available. These designs too can offer a brilliant fusion of traditional and contemporary styling… and everyone enjoys the sheer luxury of their super- generous proportions. Deciding on bathroom fittings can be a big undertaking, but visiting the Alternative Bathroom Company will transform it into a pleasure. Inspiring displays, a huge array of products, expert staff and a range of specialist services combine to make it the ‘not-to-be-missed’ destination. 165 Chamberlayne Road, Kensal Rise, London NW10 3NU | t: 020 3375 9001 Unit 5, Phoenix Park, Ealing Road, London TW8 9PL | t: 020 3375 9000 Issue 20 Mar/Apr 11 •

Books © Miriam Berkley

by Simonetta Wenkert Freedom. Jonathan Franzen Fourth Estate, 570pp

It’s ten years since Jonathan Franzen published his epic family saga, The Corrections. At 570 pages long, his new novel, Freedom, is also set within the stifling confines of suburban Minnesotan family life; though this time it is the parents, rather than the children, whose lives occupy centre stage. Freedom traces the story of Patty and Walter Berglund, encompassing the years of college, young parenthood and the challenges of the empty nest. As typical baby boomers, they wrestle with the freedoms implicit in the book's title – sexual, moral, political – which are seen to be the birthright of prosperous liberal America. The choices which the Berglunds and their children make take place in the kind of murky moral no man’s land which, at the end of the day, is

the rightful habitat of all great literature. Franzen’s speciality as a novelist is to place his already flawed characters in a series of ambiguous situations (such as the deeply principled ecologist, Walter, ending up by working for a mining company) and allowing them to ultimately find their own moral solutions. Freedom hums with the sense of what it is to be alive in twenty first century America; the Bush Years, global warming, the sub prime mortgage crisis, yet the personal dramas which take place within the family are no less well depicted. Franzen has a spookily good ear for dialogue, and a deep comic vein runs throughout the novel. In an age of mass-information and woefully shortened attention spans, wallow in the luxury of this slow-moving, yet wonderfully observed, novel.


to resolve the past and move  How forward with life to build self esteem and unleash  How your personal power to stop pretending you are less  How than you know you are  How to create the life you deserve in 2011

“Massive life changing impact. When I look back I can’t believe how much has changed.” Julie Tomlinson

Nina Madden - NLP Hypnotherapy & Life Coaching

2, Drayson Mews, London W8 4LY + 44 (0) 7906 255 529 22

Issue 20 Mar/Apr 11 •

Hot dates Where to go, when to go there and where to stay ◘ The Falmouth Spring Flower Show The Falmouth Spring Flower Show has marked the start of spring in Falmouth for over a century. Admire all the usual classes and wonderful displays of spring flowers in this charming coastal town. When? 26 to 27 March Stay: Unique Home Stays have on their books a striking Methodist Chapel in Malpas, close to Truro. Built circa 1800 it has been meticulously converted to offer this sunny riverside holiday home stay with stunning views. What else? Sleeping up to 2 guests, 3-nt weekends from £426. ◘ Wimbledon The Lawn Tennis Association’s (LTA) Wimbledon Championship 2011 is one of the world’s most renowned tennis events in the sporting calendar. Experience the exciting championship atmosphere and witness world class tennis. When? 20 June to 3 July Stay: Eventful Stays has a number of places to stay in Wimbledon which are within easy commuting distance of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships. What else? The majority of accommodation is self-catering, allowing you to come and go as you choose and watch as much tennis as you wish or until poor light stops play. Places to rent include self-catering London flats to comfortable private • Issue 20 Mar/Apr 11

Island Sight © Unique Home Stays

houses for larger tennis parties. Book now to find the accommodation that matches your needs. ◘ Whitstable Oyster Festival In recent years organisers have more than doubled the amount of events within the festival, broadening its appeal and enticing more people to the picturesque Kentish town. The entire festival is still structured around the traditional local customs of the oyster fishing industry but the event now includes family and arts entertainment, and food and drink alongside local heritage and history. When? 23 to 29 July Stay: The Whitstable Cottage Company have a good collection of holiday properties, from quaint fisherman’s cottages, to panoramic sea view beach houses, and stylish apartments. ◘ Goodwood revival The most popular historic motor race meeting staged entirely in the nostalgic time capsule of the 1940s, 50s and 60s that relives the glory days of Goodwood Motor Circuit. When? 16 to 18 September Stay: At River Cottage. Steeped in history the property offers a charming riverside retreat perfectly located for Goodwood and its annual festivities. What else? Sleeping up to 6 guests, 3-nt stays from £630 (couples rates available). Goodwood Revival, 3-nt weekend from £2005. ◘ St Minas Parade Every November, the townspeople of Heraklion take to the streets to commemorate the city's patron saint. Enjoy some winter sun whilst experiencing the capital of Crete in celebratory mode. When? November 2011 Stay: With enviable panoramic views over the Agean Sea towards the mountains, Island Sight, Lassithi Crete provides the perfect viewing platform for breathtaking sundowners. What else? Sleeping up to 10, 3-nt weekends from €1500 . 23


Style and counsel Information and inspiration for the working woman Business survival tips Life in Cyberspace – business services 1. People Per Hour

If you are in business it’s good to know how to be successful in these challenging times. Laurie Bernard, Business Adviser at the Westminster Neighbourhood Enterprise Centre recommends you: 1. Stay optimistic – no one wants to associate with losers and pessimists. They’re a drain. Be optimistic and positive. When the economy gets smaller, there is still business to be won. You may just have to work harder and smarter. There are winners; be one. 2. Spend time planning – it’ll reap rewards. Produce a business and marketing plan to improve your results. 3. Always set an objective – attending a meeting, think what is your objective, what do you want to achieve. 4. Stay visible, communicate regularly – advertise. 5. Network – 'press the flesh'. Make sure you are fishing in the right pool. If you want to feed your family don’t fish for gold fish. 6. Look to be a helper – through your website, addressing meetings etc. 7. Know what to: a. Spend on – marketing, advertising, professional advice, customer service, critical technology, equipment, new skills and going green. b. Save on – new office furniture, 'cool' stuff, panic purchases. 8. Look for deals – negotiate; ask 'is that your best price?' 9. Email – newsletters and e-blasts. 10. Look to target market – don’t be tempted by the scatter gun approach, concentrate on what you are good at. Contact the WNEC for free business advice and training. Check details at Just phone 020 7266 0636 or e-mail


PPH is a marketplace connecting small and medium-sized businesses with freelancers all over the world in a dynamic of buying and selling. Post a bid for a job or project based on a range of criteria and wait to be contacted. This is a flexible and efficient means of sourcing skills, without the overhead or cost of traditional employment. 2. Set Your Rate You can buy, sell or request any service here. It does what it says on the tin, ie enables you to set your rate. Services range from language tuition to proof reading. Free to join. 3. Business Smiths Find the right help for your small business. Business Smiths are the specialists every small business needs. Whether you want help in planning and marketing your small business, an HR professional, an IT expert, or any of the other professional support a small business has to call on from time to time, they have a specialist Business Smith for you. The top talents in their fields, Business Smiths are the complete team for your small business. Very slick.

Issue 20 Mar/Apr 11 •


Glide into Spring Glide into Spring this year with subtle hues, soft pastels and neutral tones. For that timeless, classic cocktail dress wear Irwin & Jordan’s Vinnie dress with lace sleeves £420. For some seriously uber city chic team the Rebecca Taylor Leather jacket £750, Rebecca Taylor Simply Elegant blouse £285 and Irwin & Jordan Alfie shorts £265. Feel like a princess all night in a floaty Rachel Gilbert Sasha

• Issue 20 Mar/Apr 11

dress in soft nude £1052. If the sun peeks out at all in April try Rebecca Taylor’s Mirrored dress in pale pink £555 with some silver strappy sandals. Kara and Clare are founders of Rous Iland – for personal consultations contact them at their showroom in Mayfair on 0845 003 8945. All items shown are available from


Get the life you want… The most empowering aspect of Nina Madden’s therapeutic approach is her focus on your truth. Today she talks about anxiety. Understanding anxiety – anxiety can be crippling. It can stop us from speaking our minds, asking for what we want, and pursuing our dreams.Yet anxiety is nothing but the imagination gone wrong. The mind body connection – the thing to understand about anxiety is that the body cannot tell the difference between what is real and what is imagined. If I am walking in the woods and mistakenly believe there is a poisonous snake on my path, my body will react as if there actually is a poisonous snake there. The body responds to the imagination the same way it responds to reality.

If you suffer from anxiety, pay attention to what happens the moment before the anxiety. My experience is that people who have anxiety tend to play this horror movie inside and the body responds as if the movie was real. With hypnosis we change the movie, and put you in the director’s seat once and for all, so you can create the movie of your choice. An incident with a gate – I worked with a young horse once, which had got a fright of a gate. The person who’d been looking after him had not bothered to help him overcome this fear, and the youngster was terrified. Thirty minutes later he was investigating the gate, and soon we were walking through it easily and without fear.

What’s on the other side of your gate? What You are the director of your movie – inside we fields would you have fun in? What would you only ever do six things. We see pictures, hear ask from your life, if you weren’t afraid to ask? sounds, feel, smell, taste and talk to ourselves. And it is the sequence of these that make the To get moving through your gate contact 10/02/2011 22:39:09 difference between heaven or hell, terror or joy. Nina Madden on 07906 255 529










For your invitations whether you need 100 . . . or just 10 ~

call 020 7266 3432 or click on 26

Issue 20 Mar/Apr 11 •

iMinds 100 things to know in 1000 words

'No man was ever wise by chance' iMinds short eBooks and Audiobooks were designed to make general knowledge more accessible and prove that learning new things every day is achievable, even with our increasingly busy lives. By facilitating use on our modern devices, including iPads, iPhones and MP3 players, iMinds ensures we can fit a little learning into our day. iMinds launched just over one year ago to consumer and industry acclaim producing short-form digital content across non-fiction categories. The reality of having a broad base of general knowledge is all but lost in our modern lifestyles, but the advantage of knowing a little about everything is clear in making us both more competent at applying specialised knowledge and in becoming more satisfied with our lives outside work. Know What? is a compilation of 100 of our best-selling titles. '100 Things You Want to Know in 1000 Words'. This exciting title includes a preview of four products from the recently released Money series – on finance and investment. iMinds offers the new short learning experience presenting engaging and factually accurate 8 minute information snippets for the consumer. The perfect solution for the tech-savvy and time-poor, iMinds offers clean and concise knowledge grabs with engaging background music across a range of 12 main categories such as History, Mystery & Conspiracy, Politics Law & Business, The Arts and Science & Nature. The information is accessible to everyone, being both enjoyable and having a broad reach. • Issue 20 Mar/Apr 11

iMinds audio has secured over 130 chart positions in iTunes Music Stores globally including Top 10 results in countries as diverse as the USA, UK, Ireland, France, Netherlands, Denmark, Spain and Australia. Named as one of the 25 Best Travel Gadgets of 2009 by Time Magazine and receiving features in the Financial Times, US Vogue, LA Times, Wired, Mashable and TechCrunch… to name just a few. Now with over 400 titles, this is the future of general knowledge acquisition. iMinds' expansive library is a unique targeted learning-on-demand experience that's compatible with people's devices, interests and lifestyles and introduces readers of all ages to a new way of learning. The eBook titles are now available on most mobile platforms in the UK as well as the Kindle Store, iBooks Store, Nook, Kobo and Sony Reader. iMinds audio titles are available on iTunes, Audible and all other digital retailers. The website can be found at 27

Top tips for sexual health and wellbeing By Justin Gaffney This edition the team of MSH@Queens Park bring you their top tips to enjoy a long and safe, satisfying sexual lifetime. 1. Communicate The most important part of our bodies that we use for sex is – our brains! To have a fulfilling and meaningful sex life, you need to use your brain and communicate effectively with your sexual partner. Being able to talk about your needs, how you feel, how you want to be touched, and, what are your limitations is essential for effective dialogue with your sexual partner. Being able to listen to your partner is just as important. Sex is something most people participate in, but hardly anyone talks about, even with the person they are being intimate with! Developing the skills to talk frankly and truthfully with your sexual partner, and listen to their needs, in return will ensure you both enjoy the sex you want. 2. Explore

on properly and more importantly, how to take them off safely and dispose of them in a bin, do not flush them down the loo (they won't flush and block the u-bend). Practice using them when masturbating, practice makes perfect, and it also allows you to experiment and know which one feels best and fits you most comfortably. Girls should also be familiar with how to put the condom on, make it part of the foreplay. Make him hard enough and roll the condom on for him. Points to remember with condoms (1) check they are in date and the foil hasn't been breached in any way; (2) use only a water based lubricant with latex condoms (oils weaken the condom and make them more liable to break); (3) check the condom meets safety standards, always look for the British Safety kitemark or CE mark; (4) remember condoms are available in several different sizes, it might help your ego to go for 'king' size, but most guys aren't that big, and a condom that is too large is more likely to slip off during sex.

Sex doesn't always need to be about penetration and orgasm. One of the best ways to develop your communication skills is to take some sensual time out with your sexual partner. Set the right atmosphere, a warm and comfortable space, perhaps some scented candles and some aromatic oils, and then take time to explore each other's bodies with some sensual massage. Find your partner's erotic zones, what parts of their body can you stimulate to promote sexual excitation other than just the genitals? Try some erotic massage and sensual touching that doesn't involve actual penetration, and see how the sexual excitement can be made to last all evening.

4. Check ups

3. Condoms

To help maintain your sexual health it is advisable to have a regular sexual health check up. It is recommended you have a check up every time you have a new sexual partner, or at least once a year. Remember that check ups aren't just for when you develop symptoms, check ups allow health professionals to discuss any concerns you might have and check the health of your genitals. MSH@Queens Park offers free, NHS funded sexual health check ups out-of-hours on Thursdays from 5-9pm and Saturdays from 12-4pm, just call 020 7362 2309 for an appointment.

Aside from abstaining from sex, condoms are most effective weapon in our armoury against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Guys should get familiar with condoms, learn how to put them

• Issue 20 Mar/Apr 11


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In focus

– talking points

◘ Eat

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal Book now to secure a table before summer at the renowned chef ’s much-anticipated London eatery. Everyone’s talking about it and it is perfect for Mother’s Day. Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, 66 Knightsbridge, SW1X 7LA. | Tel. 020 7201 3833

◘ Thrills

Visit TeamSport’s new indoor go-karting circuit in Bermondsey. The carbon-neutral track – set over two levels of a converted biscuit factory – uses lithium battery-powered karts that are quieter and lighter to help you zoom around bends and dips. You’ll need up to ten friends, arrive half an hour early for a safety briefing and change into a jumpsuit, flat shoes and helmet. After a few practice runs, compete against each other for the gold medal at the awards ceremony. Alternatively

watch the action from the spectators’ area or inside Fuel, the bar and restaurant serving burgers, pizza, beer and wine. TeamSport, Tower Bridge Business Park, 100 Clements Road, SE16 4DG. | Tel. 08444 109 109

◘ Blog

The author of That’s Not My Age blog is an exfashion insider, who offers advice on navigating the perils of middle aged dressing; eg ‘don’t bother with being ‘fashionable’.

◘ Exhibition

Modern British Sculpture is the first exhibition in 30 years to show the evolution of 20th century sculpture. Sarah Lucas’ Portable Smoking Area is as relevant as it is quirky. Showing until 7 April at the Royal Academy of Arts, London.

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• Home visits • Outside training • Training with friends

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Personal Trainer Call Gill on 07944 684 182 • Issue 20 Mar/Apr 11


Food notes Easter biscuits

Wine and dine Subscribe to Hot Bottle, a free monthly e-newsletter about all the best wine and suggestions for matching foods with them, at

Foodie gifts for Mother’s Day

Easter biscuits made with delicious Loseley Butter. Loseley Chilled Foods are available from the chilled cabinet of local independent grocers, Morrisons, Waitrose and now Iceland. For more information visit You’ll need Plain flour 175g (6 oz) | Mixed spice 1tsp | Egg 1, beaten | Loseley Summer Meadow butter 110g (4oz) | Caster sugar 110g (4 oz) plus extra for sprinkling | Lemon 1, grated rind | Wild blueberries 75g (3 oz). 15 minutes preparation time plus chilling. Makes 24-26. Method 1. Sift the flour and spice into a large bowl. Add slivers of Loseley Summer Meadow butter and then rub it in with your fingertips. Stir in the sugar, lemon rind and blueberries and then add the egg and mix to firm dough. 2. Knead the dough briefly on a lightly floured surface and shape into a sausage about 20cm (8in) long and about 5cm (2in) wide. Wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for an hour or in the freezer for half an hour. 3. Preheat the oven to 180 ˚C/ 350˚F/ Gas 4 and lightly grease a large baking sheet. Unwrap the chilled dough and cut into 5mm (1/4 in) thick slices. Put them on the baking sheet, spaced a little apart. 4. Bake your biscuits for 15-18 minutes until they are pale golden in colour. Cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes, sprinkle with a little caster sugar and then transfer the biscuits to a wire rack to cool.


Blends for Friends create individualised tins of tea based on the character of the recipient, which come in an elegant tin with their name on. For an afternoon of indulgence, we recommend The Langham in Regents Place (voted the best place in London for afternoon tea by the UK tea council) as they have created all their signature blends (and the cakes are amazing!). Alternatively walk in to Selfridges Foodhall and ask any member of staff where the best tea is! Tel. 01959 524 112

Issue 20 Mar/Apr 11 •


All draught & bottled beers only £3.00 A pie && pint for only £8.00 All draught bottled beers only £3.00 A party night with drink specials sponsored by A pie & pint for only £8.00 A party night with drink specials sponsored by

17-19th SAINT PATRICK’S CELEBRATION A festival of “ceol agus craic”CELEBRATION including Irish Dancing display, Drinks specials 17-19th SAINT PATRICK’S culminating in a CEILI on the 19th A festival of “ceol agus craic” including Irish Dancing display, Drinks specials Sponsored by culminating in a CEILI on the 19th Sponsored by


Come join us for some fundraising fun & frolics


Come join us for some fundraising fun & frolics

22nd APRIL—2nd MAY The ROYAL SAINT GEORGE’SMAY BEER FESTIVAL 22nd APRIL—2nd Our inaugural beer festival with 10+ beers available from The ROYAL SAINT GEORGE’S BEER FESTIVAL NATIONAL & LOCAL BREWERS. Our inaugural beer festival with 10+ beers available from Come join us to celebrate the slaying the dragon or to toast the royal wedding. NATIONAL & of LOCAL BREWERS. Traditional English Food Specials ALL Weekthe royal wedding. Come join us to celebrate the slaying of the dragon or to toast Some of the beers thatTraditional will be available English Food Specials ALL Week Some of the beers that will be available

Learnhow how to to cook cook or improve your Learn your culinary culinaryskills skills Hostaafabulous fabulous dinner dinner party from Host from start start to tofinish finish Masterhow how to to make make some some simple Master simple foolproof foolproofdishes‌ dishes‌ fromthe the comfort comfort of of your your own allallfrom own home home Visit and see how I can help you Visit and see how I can help you discover and develop your cooking skills with confidence, in your discover and develop your cooking skills with confidence, in your own surroundings. From making pasta and sauces, to roasts and own surroundings. From making pasta and sauces, to roasts and whole dinner parties, I will tailor-make a private and affordable whole dinner parties, I will tailor-make a private and affordable cookery session to suit your needs and help you achieve what cookery session to the suitkitchen. your needs and help you achieve what you really want in you really want in the kitchen. Email me or send a request via the website, Email or send a request via the website, for a me no-obligations consultation. for a no-obligations consultation.

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Cook with Reuben I have always been excited by food and cooking since I was able to reach the kitchen table. From a young age I would always help my mother in the kitchen, whether it was shelling, peeling or kneading and then later, blending, chopping and sautéing. I was forever encouraged to try everything, so that I could develop my palate from a young age. Since then, I have always made it my aim to experience food and wine as much as possible, wherever I go – and not just by eating, but by visiting farms, vineyards and markets. Talking to producers and going to festivals and local fairs. Wine is another passion, having studied viticulture as part of my degree and gaining several wine qualifications. I used to run a number of tastings for customers, staff and friends over the years, which has proven to be fun as well as informative. I firmly believe that a good (and not necessarily expensive) wine can really complement a meal. So as we tentatively put away our scarves and gloves, but not our winter coats, Spring seems to be finally around the corner. After an exceptionally cold winter, I find myself craving • Issue 20 Mar/Apr 11

fresh, light flavours, yet I still want some warmth and comfort, that a salad will just not deliver yet. A great 'in-between' option I’ve chosen is a lettuce and green pea risotto, which you will find on my website, I would recommend using Cos lettuce as it holds its shape well and using dry vermouth instead of white wine, as it adds another layer of flavour. I often add smoked bacon lardons as a non-vegetarian option and, once the trusty asparagus is in season, you could replace either lettuce or peas, with their tender tips. To drink with the risotto I would happily have either of these: St Veran Croix de Montceau: fresh tropical fruits on the nose, along with hints of toastiness. Very mellow yet mouthfilling, perfect balance between acidity, oak and butteriness. £12.49. And for a special occasion or just because: Triptico Verdejo Sauvignon blanc: tropical fruits, obvious light oak and honeycomb. Lovely, rounded and creamy on the pallet. Hints of herbaciousness and citrus. £21.99. Both expertly picked by Chris at The Salusbury Wine Store, a great recent addition to Queens Park. They have a fantastic selection of wines and always something interesting in the tasting machine. Salusbury Wine Store, 54 Salusbury Road, NW6 | 0750 715 0594 35


Sofra restaurant Lisa Brinkworth The fresh, modern look of Sofra, with its al fresco dining area and tempting menu, is enticement enough to enter its spacious mirrored interior and sample the much applauded Turkish/Mediterranean cuisine. When I finally did make a reservation, on Valentine’s Night, it reached all expectations. The service was exemplary. Even when heaving with pre-booked, loved-up couples, we were found a decent table, which afforded both privacy and the sense that we were at the centre of a buzzing atmosphere. The sumptuous red and white décor was the perfect setting for February 14th. The Valentine’s menu was lovingly thought out. We were each presented with a plate of five starters – tabbouleh, feta cheese borek parcels, humus kavurma, studded with thinly chopped lamb and pine kernels, smoked aubergine with red and green peppers, and kisir, mixed nut and vegetable salad with cracked wheat and fresh herbs – authentic Turkish home cooking at its best. The choice of mains was more of a surprise, with influences that stretched as far as North Africa and the Far East. My Malaysian prawns with silk route were succulent, and so fleshy that I could have been 36

eating lobster. They were grilled in a spicy garlic marinade, and typical of Sofra’s boldness in combining influences and textures, sided with potato wedges, which actually worked. My Moroccan husband eventually decided against trying Sofra’s own brand of lamb and apricot tagine, slow-cooked in the oven rather than on top of the stove, and opted for the more conventional chicken on a skewer. Grilled with olive oil mixed with a tomato and pepper puree, this was mouthwateringly substantial, especially when served with rice and a medley of mixed vegetables. For dessert, the caramel milk pudding with cinnamon powder and rose ice-cream was strongly recommended, but I played safe and ordered fresh berries and raspberry sorbet, both tart and sweet in equal measures. I was not allowed off lightly and succumbed to the chef ’s persuasion to try the richer house speciality, Ottoman Kadayif. This resembled a large shredded wheat, but that was where the similarity ended. This melt in the mouth wheat parcel encased a smooth mass of sweet double cream that would easily meet the standard of any patisserie chef. A selection of red and white wines, including Turkish, complemented each course. The Valentine’s experience was a glorious introduction to Sofra, which under the hands-on ownership of Sadettin Guler, or Sado, as he is known to locals, is due to be given a new name along with a breakfast and weekend menu. Now each time I pass, I find myself making a mental note to return for the special mixed grill or perhaps the grilled lamb cubes on a bed of fresh tomato sauce and creamy yoghurt. Sofra has successfully stamped out any misconceptions that Turkish dining is limited to the corner kebab shop. Sofra Restaurant 11 Circus Road, St John’s Wood, NW8 6NX. Reservations 0207 586 9889. Two courses before 7pm £10.95. 7pm onwards, £12.95. Issue 20 Mar/Apr 11 •

Dear diary, on Mother’s Day


Lola Bailey Women like me – with a full on, full-time job, a home to run, a couple of kids – have come to view Mother’s Day as an award for services rendered. Who balled all the socks into pairs? Who made up all those songs so they could learn their times-tables? Who had to sort out – often spending hours upon hours on etc – trying to find au pairs that would never be right enough, or even good enough for the children; then dealing with the inevitable myriad of attendant problems? Who goes all out to forge positive relationships with all the other year 2 kids’ parents and nursery parents to ensure that our loved and adored are not in Jonny-no-mates situations? Me, that’s who, and book that two hour massage at the Landmark by way of thanks, ok. And while you’re at it throw in an aromatherapy facial and one of their delicious Bento Box lunches and I promise I won’t talk about the above for at least another twelve months… Ignore the above (though I stand by it). In truth Mother’s Day will leave me engulfed in a jumble of gratitude and contemplation. I am eternally grateful for (and to) my children. But I also have gratitude because I am patently aware that all that I am or hope to be I owe to my own Mother. She is now 72 (or 71), still ambitious for her children, feisty, ever loving and ever present. I realise I am very fortunate to have someone who will always tell me to ‘get a grip’ when needed; someone who knows my every weakness and strength and loves me because of them. I am grateful because she loved me first, teaching me how to love in the process. ‘A mother’s heart is an abyss at the bottom of which there is always forgiveness’ (Balzac). God, how true. My mother, thankfully, is far from perfect. She was not open and up-front with me about the realities of childbirth: “You just, popped out” she • Issue 20 Mar/Apr 11

said. PLEASE. And she did not tell me just how difficult it would be to be a mother. I am not referring to the usual working-mum guilt (guilt in my view is the bindweed of motherhood) or the exhaustion of trying to pack 27 hours into the day. What I do mean is the intense vulnerability that exists between a mother and her children. Last year I remember printing off a list of ‘The 30 best Mother's Day gifts’. It seemed like a good idea at the time. The gifts were the usual suspects of pampering products, memorable meals and wonderful weekends away. I really do love all that but I can’t help thinking that they also take away a little from the reality; the complicated relationship between children and the women who gave them life, carried and delivered them, their flesh fused then torn asunder. When my kids are hurting, I am too, with the same intensity – though well hidden. And don’t get me started on what it’s like when they’re ill. I am the one they turn to, yet fight and manipulate, the one who absorbs their fears and frustrations. There are days when I feel beyond tired, I feel simply ill, but I can’t be, not really. I’m their mum. These days, mothers are expected to look forever young and sexy, and to pretend that motherhood makes no difference to our bodies; that we are in constant turbo-charge. Well, stuff that. There are tons of websites to help mums in crises. And yet the assumption is that when things go wrong, mum will take care of everything? I passionately love being a mum. I remember taking my elder boy to the dentist with me when he was 3. My dentist was about to start drilling when he shouted at her to “stop hurting my mum!” Whenever my tender-hearted 4 year old sees a simpering animal on TV he automatically thinks it has lost his mother. I’d better leave it there.


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LifeWest9 - Issue 20 March/April 11  

March/April 2011 issue of LifeWest9 magazine

LifeWest9 - Issue 20 March/April 11  

March/April 2011 issue of LifeWest9 magazine