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El Oceano – Honest Travel

El Oceano is a dream of a Hotel. Nestled in a naturally beautiful cove along Mijas Costa in Andalucia.

The hotel boasts five star beautifully decorated rooms, an award winning restaurant and perhaps most impressively a swim up Polynesian bar with views overlooking the Mediterranean.


I first visited El Oceano around my tenth birthday, back then it was a members club with day passes for people who wanted a taste of the high life. I remember the swim up bar, the heated indoor pool, and the jacuzzi.  It was a dreamy paradise the likes of which I’d never encountered.  We visited on and off over the next ten years.

Once at University my horizons broadened and travel to Australia beckoned.  My Mum and Dad continued to go to Spain and El Oceano, but my love of travel developed and working as a travel PR took me around the globe.


This year I returned to El Oceano with my husband and wow!  It still holds its unique charm and character but its corners have been smoothed out into a slick five-star hotel.

We didn’t stay in the hotel but treat it more as a day spa.   We paid 50 Euro’s for a VIP bed next to the pool to stay the whole day.  The waiters and staff were so attentive and friendly.  We lounged by the pool, swam, drank cocktails and had an amazing day.


We ate lunch in the restaurant and liked it so much we stayed for dinner.

El Oceano is beautiful, luxurious and exclusive.  It’s not cheap but as an occasional treat, it holds all of the trappings of five-star luxury.

At the end of the day, my husband turned to me and said, “This explains a lot!”, “if you had this kind of luxury when you were ten years old.”

I remembered a Dorothy Parker quote, ” Take care of the Luxuries and the Necessities take care of themselves.”

Thank you El Oceano for helping to shape my dreams.

Happy Wedding Anniversary JJB.  Love you more every day.

DSB x

 

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BA i360 – Brighton – Honest Travel

I’ve had a couple of weeks of not posting to the site.  Family visiting, catching up with friends and weekends away.  The usual August stuff.   So while I’ve not been writing so much I have been doing a lot more travelling, trying, tasting and reviewing.  I’ve renamed my Hotel Style section to Travel Style and I’ll be posting a whole lot more to this.

Last week and only a day after it’s launch,  I had the enormous pleasure of flying high in the skies above Brighton.

The BA i360 is an imposing sight on the Brighton landscape.  It’s been a couple of years in the planning and building so I was keen to fly high and enjoy the views.

It’s been really well organised by BA, employing flight attendants and crew to man the ship so to speak.

We boarded the 6.30pm flight which was only 20 mins late considering it was only day two and had suffered delays with the masses taking part in the Brighton Pride festival.


We took family and found all ages were catered for, views for the husband, Nyetimber (local sparkling wine) for the sister and lots of big facts for the 15-year-old nephew.

Happy Days.


I really enjoyed the flight and spectacular views, hope you like my pics.  A very enjoyable flight BA, Hope to be flying with you again soon.


Love DSB x

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Normandy – Honest Travel

Normandy is land of green fields, cows and cider, not too different to the South of England, with the added bonus of stinkier cheese.

Mont St Michael

Mont St Michael is the most beautiful sight across from the mainland an island of rock and Abbey surrounded by sea.  From a distance and especially at night it looks like the silhouette of Disney.  Though stunning from afar it’s something of a tourist trap once on the island.  It’s definitely worth a visit for the views and picture opportunities.  Avoid the middle of the day hordes and go by twilight.

 

Avaranches

No trip to Normandy would be complete without a look at The Normandy Beaches and history of the D Day landings.  Head to Avaranches for a hub from which to navigate the beaches.  The beaches were beautiful and history more interesting than expected.


 

Joullouville

If you are looking for a pretty little seaside town go to Joullouville.  The beach is white sand and amazing and the cafes spill over onto the streets.  It’s not a big place but it is home to a rather fancy hotel.  Hotel des Pins has just undergone a huge makeover, it’s stylish and friendly with an amazing restaurant.

Love DSB x

 

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Brittany – Honest Travel

Last Week I spent some time in beautiful North West France, I’ve got so much to report back on I’ve decided to split the post in two.  Today it’s my travel guide on Brittany and the Normandy post will be up soon.

So here goes…..

When I was 15 or 16 I read a novel about a young girl on holiday in France in the early 1920’s.   Her parents were so absorbed in society life that she took to exploring Brittany on her own, Dinard, St Malo, and Cancale were her playgrounds, she grew up to be a very independent free spirited character.  It made me long for a holiday in these beautiful French resorts.  It’s taken me almost 30 years to visit this much-documented landscape, but it was not less beautiful and all the more timely in its coming.

St Malo

I vaguely knew St Malo had an old fortress and possibly a nice beach, it actually has a UNESCO old town and an incredible beach.

First, walk the ramparts it gives you an idea of where you are.  Follow the wall around to the Hotel de Ville and the old square from here you can access the beach and even older fortress out to sea.

Once you have walked the walls and dipped in the sea.  Eat by the town square. Moules Frites, though  delicious are £20, be warned.

Cancale

Cancale is the biggest Oyster producer in France, so it’s pretty big.  If you like Oysters and Molluscs of varying sizes this place is for you.   I love seafood, for me, it was a french Whitby complete with Whelks and Cockles and chips.  The Prawns (Crevettes),  Lobster (Langoustine) and Oysters (Huitres) are utterly delicious.

If you can’t decide, try the lot with the Plate du Fruits der Mer, hugely enjoable but not for the fein hearted complete with pretty impressive cutlery!

Dinard

Dinard is another lovely French resort. With its Belle Epoche upmarket style. it reminds me a little of Brighton in that it’s very cosmopolitan with its Grand Hotels and amazing sea front restaurants.  Of course, the sea is more sparkly and it’s sands of a light white sand, it shares Brighton’s boast of many independent boutiques and home stores.  If you want to sun and shop, this is the place for you.

Dinard also reminded me of Nice, but with a smaller bay, fewer people and more upmarket shops, Paris by the Sea perhaps?

You must check out the stripy beach tents and all day restaurant lunches.

Love DSB X

PS If you’re wondering the novel is Mary Wesley’s, ‘Not That Sort of Girl’.

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My Hotel Bloomsbury

I often work in London and commute back to the south coast in a day, when I have a whole weekend of events such as the recent London Collections Men schedule to negate staying in comfort in London is a priority.

With a bang on, central location, My Hotel Bloomsbury was our select abode. First off it has that mix of modern minimal hotel, much like The Gansvoort in New York and The Michelberger in Berlin. Yet it is comfortable and functional in a way that’s not too touristy London but more metropolitan, chic, with it?

The hotel foyer is well designed and lit with soft quite places to wait, work or read.  The hotel is flanked by Gail’s Kitchen for eating to the right and Gail’s Bakery for snacking to the left. Both have that urban understyled vibe, both are great places to gather, eat good food and drink serious coffee.

With a busy schedule, I popped down to grab a couple of croissants one morning and was offered breakfast in bed. I love breakfast in bed. Sipping my coffee reading the papers I was on holiday for ooh a good half an hour before I tune back into Instagram and the next catwalk show.

That’s the thing about My Hotel Bloomsbury it is so well situated for Oxford Street, Soho, the heart of my London it makes it easy to slip between work and play.  A grown-up luxury hotel which suits my lifestyle perfectly.


See you soon Bloomsbury this won’t be My Hotel last visit.

Love DSB X

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Frimley Hall Hotel – Honest Travel

How often do you feel relaxed enough to read a whole magazine?  I mean not just flicking through but reading it, enjoying it cover to cover?  This never happens to me.  Or rather it didn’t until I visited Frimley Hall Hotel.  Three days and two nights of lovely hotel living left me relaxed, stress-free and on top of my monthly reading list.

The hotel is big house loveliness, with good commuter links, just outside of Guildford, it was our long weekend retreat.  The old part of the building boasts inglenook fireplaces, high ceilings, and beautiful bedrooms resplendent with grand drapes and big four poster beds, befitting of a manor hall.



The grounds are not huge, but pretty and tree lined with a garden completing the Old English Hall House look. The hotel is four star with adequate Spa facilities pool, Sauna, out of order steam room.

While the Spa is not quite five star, The Linden Restaurant most definitely is.  It’s two AA rosettes offer top notch, slightly pricey but truly beautiful cuisine.

After eating the first night in the restaurant we weren’t sure about our choice of bar meal in the Sandhurst Lounge, luckily we stopped for drinks by the open fire in the Gold Room Lounge, talking to our waiter he suggested we take a seat by the fire instead of the lounge, we took his advice and ordered the Club Sandwich and were not disappointed.
  
A Club Sandwich, Mr B’s barometer of a hotel’s status, he does not go by stars, Michelin guides nor AA rosettes.  He prefers the Sandwich test, possibly the best hotel test of all?


All in all Frimley Hall Hotel comes out very well.  Could work on the Spa and possibly the location description (Google Earth it if you are expecting the middle of the country.) However, it does get points for rooms, luxury lounge, amazing food and extremely accommodating staff.

Thank you, Frimley Hall

PS Top Travel Tip – Breakfast in bed, yum xx

Love DSB X

 

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Happy New Year – Seaham Hall – Honest Travel

Happy New Year!

I’m celebrating this New Year with a post from one of my favourite places in the world Seaham Hall.

If you read the blog regularly you’ll know that I got married at Seaham Hall, the most beautiful luxury spa hotel in the North.

Every Christmas we spend the holidays with family in Durham and York and every year we go back to this beautiful hotel in part to relive happy memories but also to enjoy its beautiful luxury, spending time in its award-winning spa, and restaurant.


  
  
This week we spent time at Seaham Hall celebrating mum’s birthday, late afternoon walk by the sea and relaxing afternoon tea in the newly designed Lounge.

The hotel has recently undergone a bit of a revamp, new owners, complete internal revamp with the addition of the Byron Bar and Grill, The Lounge, The Sports Lounge and The Vortex Room.

Spending time in a beautiful place with amazing family and friends has been the highlight of my year.

 

 
  
 Happy New Year 2016!

Hope your 2016 is filled with amazing times and special places.  I’ve loved sharing my special 2015 moments with you.

If your heading to the North East this year do swoop by the North East coast and check into Seaham Hall for a unique treat!

Love DSB X

 

 

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Venice – Honest Travel

Venice, City of romance, Capital of love, who wouldn’t want to go for a weekend break? Except ours was partially for work and it was in dreary old November.

As it turns out November is an amazing month for a city break in Venice, it has far fewer crowds than the Summer months and so it’s easier to get around.  Also the Sun shone the whole time.  Result!

We were lucky enough to be shown around Venice by our friend Attilio, so much nicer when you have a guide.

Attilio navigated through the tiny streets and across bridges every corner was a photo opportunity, we hot footed it to our first stop.  The mighty Gran Teatro La Fenice, Attilio is an Orchestra Conductor and so we took a privileged look inside The Phoenix Theatre and even got to check out backstage.  This is one of the oldest theatres in the world, all of the great musicians conducted first night Opera’s from its stage.

Moving on to the well-known sites of Venice, St Marc’s Square, The Gondola’s, The Canals.  We didn’t go into The Basilica, the queues were fairly long, although if we had more time Attilio said to go back around 4-5pm when the crowds are far less.

Beware tourist tax is rife in Venice.  A Gondola trip is around Euro’s 80.00, however, you can take a short trip for only a couple of Euro’s from Pointe Sofia.  Stay clear of taking gondola’s or buying anything from St Marc’s Square or The Rialto Bridge.  Equally don’t eat anything in St Marc’s Square, even coffee will set you back a silly amount of Euro’s.

We walked away from the San Marco district to the Cannaregio district and found a perfect Osteria to eat.  Generally Osteria’s and Trattoria’s are cheaper to eat in than Ristorante’s.  This may mean ordering at the counter and no waiter service, but generally it’s more authentic and delicious cuisine.

I also loved the architecture in the less touristy quarters of the city.  The thing about Venice is that you can just keep wandering, every turning is another photo op, I’ve shared some of my favourites with you here.

I think right now, this has got to be my favourite city.  Mr B agreed!

Love DSB X

We stayed at The Hotel Venice Resort Which was a brilliant 4 Star Hotel close to all amenities and the airport.

 

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Ston Easton Park – More than a Bark in the Park

When you have a puppy, breaks away can be a little challenging…..so when I heard that luxury four-star Palladian mansion hotel, Ston Easton Park, in Somerset was super dog-friendly we were keen to visit.

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We thought it would make a lovely get away for Mr B’s birthday and put it in the diary.  Luxurious it certainly is, and deliciously grand in the way that only English Country houses can be.

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Arriving by car you first drive through the wrought iron gate and down a sweeping drive.  Nestled in 36 acres of West Country Parkland, the mansion is both opulent and decadent without being cold and prim.  Original antiques, sumptuous fabrics and dangling chandeliers exude a warm welcome; indeed Oscar the resident Cocker Spaniel was ready to greet us at the door.

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Our State Room, one of four in the hotel combined a four poster bed and seating area.  It was adorned with antiques and grey fabrics which Mr B particularly approved of.  Used to being allocated a dog-friendly room on the ground floor, I was very excited to have one of the best rooms in the hotel, but. Oh goodness! Would Blue behave?  The room was provided with dog bowls and food, I hoped for no mishaps.

We arrived in time for afternoon tea which was talking place in The Saloon.  This grand drawing-room was filled with other guests and day visitors all taking tea and making polite conversation.  Again Blue was allowed into this traditional piece of charming English history.  We took Cream Tea; pups gave lip smacking approval of the clotted cream and jam scones, as did Mr B.

Time to explore, the parkland surrounding the house was designed by famous 18th Century Landscape Architect Humphry Repton. The grounds play host to the most beautiful trees and plants which meander around the river.  Oscar joined us for the walk, which turned into a game of hide and seek for Blue and Oscar, around the walled kitchen garden, Mr B also found a grey tractor.  I’m not sure who enjoyed it more.

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Although dogs are allowed into the majority of the hotel they are quite rightly not allowed into The Sorrell Restaurant.  The choice was ours, eat in The Sorrel without Blue or have a private dinner for three in The Library, there was no choice!

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With its original oak bookcases, The Library made a stunning and unusual backdrop for our 5-course taster menu.  I can’t tell you in words just how amazing this fine dining experience turned out to be.  Amuse bouche of Asparagus and Quails Egg, a starter of Lamb and Garlic Risotto, Lime Sorbet, the freshest Cod for main course, Chocolate Torte and Rhubarb Sorbet for dessert, followed by coffee and pettit fours.  Mr B commented it was one of his best birthdays ever.

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Without going on about it, day two was spent much the same, eating and drinking and floating around the grounds, in such a relaxed state we were almost zombie like.

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After a mouth-watering locally sourced Full English Breakfast in the room, Mr B said he may fall into a sugar coma.  He and Blue revived after a quick nap and after another walk (this time through the Wood), Oscar joined us on the terrace for lunch.

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Then the strangest thing happened, Blue and Oscar had a frolic on the lawn and what looked like a kiss……Much kissing later and we figured that Oscar, that shrewd old boy (now dubbed Lord of the Manor) had enchanted our young pups, and Blue had her first Romantic dalliance!

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All in all Ston Easton was a wonderful stay; not only is it everything a Classic English Country House should be but here the homely atmosphere prevails, creating an idyllic home away from home, with just the right dash of romance for dog lovers and Dog-Lovers!

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Bark in the Park Package From £295

State Room From £299

 

Love DSB X

 

 

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The Bath Arms – Picturesque Puppy Paradise

Our lovely Labradoodle puppy baby Blue is now seven months old.  She has graduated from puppy class and is trained not to doodle like a poodle, or lark around like a Lab, well sort of….she is still quite a naughty puppy, that said, Mr B and I decided it was time to put those puppy skills to the test and take her to a hotel.

The Bath Arms

We were asked if we would like to spend a couple of days at The Bath Arms a coaching Inn turned four star hotel and gastro pub nestled in the stunning Longleat Estate.

Longleat Estate is an extraordinary otherworldly place (think To The Manor Born meets Middle Earth) deep in the heart of the stunning Wiltshire countryside made famous by Longleat House, Lord Bath and The Longleat Safari Park.  You may have heard of the safari park and the Lord but did you know this little corner of Britain was so incredibly stunning?

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First about The Bath Arms, we arrived on a very sunny April afternoon and were shown to our recently refurbished Garden Room, which was ample in size and neatly decorated, the thing that made it brilliant though was direct access to the hotels lawned and manicured garden. This made early morning and late night walk time a lot easier. The hotel will also provide dog bowls and beds if necessary.

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After afternoon tea and a game of Frisbee on the lawn we took one of the recommended walks through the countryside of the village of Horningsham. The walk is deliciously English with chocolate box thatched cottages, farms, streams, and the odd stunning mill pond.  We walked past the village church, the resident sheep in the church yard took quite an interest in Blue.

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We reached a beautiful meadow, Mr B remarked that he spotted a bull in the nearby heard of cows, I tried not to panic but realizing my multi-coloured scarf resembled that of a matador I found my feet making a running motion toward the stile.

Mr B and Blue held back to fend off the offending creatures, ‘ho-way’ he shouted to the heard in a knowledgeable farmer like manor, Blue stood firm, all at once, both calm and intrigued at the spectacle of the fast closing in zombie cows.

Safely on the other side of the stile I turned, “Where’s the bull?” I screamed, heart in hand.  “The bull?  Said Mr B, I was joking darling there is no bull!”

An exchange of expletives ensued, however I did manage to catch a shot of the now funny scene.

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Back at the hotel, we dined in the traditional country pub at The Bath Arms. The restaurant at The Bath Arms boasts two AA rosettes so probably not for pups.

That said our experience was faultless; scallops, Bacon and Pea Jus starter followed by posh Steak and Kidney Pie and a nice Malbec. Mr B had the Raspberry Creme Brule for dessert and I had the Chocolate Fudge with Salted Caramel Ice Cream.  All produce is proudly locally sourced, It was nothing short of delicious.

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After a blissful nights sleep we enjoyed a Full English Breakfast, Mr B and Blue agreed that the sausages were possibly the best they had tasted.

We spent the morning walking to the stunning vista of Heaven’s Gate, with views over the magnificent Longleat House and Mendip Hills. This is definitely worth a look, though check the map, we first walked in the wrong direction!

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All in all we came away from our break, refreshed, full, nicely tired and that little more wary of walking through meadows.

Mr B is already planning meetings in Bath and the West Country to justify another visit.  Truth is, you don’t need an excuse, just take an overnight bag, the dog and drive up to Longleat Estate for a bit of out of this world luxury.

Love DSB  X

 

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2015 – Time to review? Time for something new?


Deborah Simpson Boston 2015

I’ve been away from the blog….truth is I’ve been away from everything.  I finally stopped for Christmas and from a very busy year.

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Retreated up to the North to spend time with family and just stopped, stopped working, stopped writing, limited access to phone networks and social media meant we were cut off in a good way.

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After having the obligatory Christmas cold we enjoyed walking the dog, crisp winter days and bright blue skies.  We got cold, we got wet, we got warm by the fire.

We ate, we slept, a lot.

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So here it is, we are back and we feel ready.

I hope to blog more, I hope to be healthy, I hope to eat more healthy food, less bad stuff.  I hope to drink less alcohol, drink more juice, watch less telly, read more.  Stress less be calm more, See friends more, walk the puppy more, worry less.

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We are back and we feel ready.

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Come on 2015 we are fed and rested and calm and chilled, lets have a fantastic 2015!

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Love DSB XXX

Deborah Simpson Boston have a fab 2015 middle

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Ladies who Lunch – Ashdown Park Hotel


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I don’t really like the phrase ‘Ladies who Lunch’, it’s often expressed as a derogatory term for women who have the time and money to enjoy a leisurely lunch in an expensive restaurant.  It’s often assumed that these ladies are rich, married and don’t work.  I personally admire every lady who has the time to lunch or do anything purely for her self as no doubt she is juggling a career, a relationship, children and managing a home.  Why shouldn’t we reward ourselves with some time for a lunch, a manicure or some time off?

Every six months or so I have a lovely catch up and weekend away with the northern lasses, my school friends from Durham.

I feel very lucky to say we are ten ladies in total, with very different lives sharing the common bond of a great friendship since our school days.  Three of the girls are based in the North East, three in London, three of us in Brighton and one in far flung Australia.

When it comes to meeting up it can be tricky, family, work, financial obligations, busy lives and distance get in the way, however when we do meet up its always completely worth the while, from sharing woes to exchanging funny stories we always come away from the weekend feeling much better…….What makes our time together amazing is just us being together catching up, chatting, sharing stories and lives.  Though I won’t deny if we are in a beautiful setting, an amazing city or a fabulous hotel it helps!  Be it in city or country our up’s and down’s are mooted in a bubbling Jacuzzi or after a soothing back massage, preferably with a cocktail in hand!

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Last week we travelled to Ashdown Park Hotel nestled deep in the Ashdown Forest, it’s the second time that we have visited this grand hotel and country club situated in the forest that inspired the Winnie the Pooh books.

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As the girls arrived we wasted no time slipping on our terry robes and slippers before Lunch and catching up over an array of club sandwiches in the Country Club.  Next down to business, sauna, turkish, swim, jacuzzi, rest, chat, repeat. The day continued much the same punctuated by a massage, a manicure and a coffee.  As the day progressed we all felt the stress of our daily lives slipping away……bliss!

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We dressed for dinner and relocated to the hotels fine dining restaurant, courses of amuse bouche, venison carpachio, sorbet, beef wellington, chocolate cake and cheese & biscuits were all devoured, drank with a cheeky Argentinean Malbec and a gin cocktail.

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We slept like babies.

Sunday was a breakfast fit for a king with traditional English and Continental on offer, we had both, followed by Sunday papers and a walk in the park.

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We all left the hotel feeling somewhat full and deeply relaxed ready for work, business, family and the week ahead.  We all love our families and crazy busy lives and of course we would not swap any part of it, suffice to say a weekend away with my girls is not a luxury it’s simply become a necessary and amazing part of our wonderful multi layered lady lives…..

So call it what you like the lady who lunches or spa’s may be teased but I’ll bet she is the one with a beautiful glow and a twinkle in her eye and is enjoying the closest you can get at a balanced life x

For the Girls

Love DSB X

Ashdown Park Hotel are currently offering a Ladies Lunch Festive Treat and cookery presentation.

 

 

 

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In with the Old….London Showroom Old Street  


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Crikey what a week!  If you’ve been wondering where I’ve been, I’ve not been lazing it up poolside or partying hard in this lovely summer heat.  No.  Me and Mr B have been developing.

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This week we took the keys to a London Showroom, it’s the 1st Floor of the cult leather bag brand Jas M.B. nestled in Rivington Street betwixt Old Street and trendy Shoreditch.  Hoxton, the skinny jeans capital of the world.  It’s funny how this part of London is just soooo fashion, and trendy, creative, and cool………This part of London wasn’t always like this.

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I’m giving my age away here but when I stared coming to London 20 years ago the only pub near Old Street was the Bricklayers Arms, all spit and sawdust, and pints of real ale.  I’m happy to report that the Bricklayers has not changed a bit, same spit and sawdust, same warm ale, same old faces…..few more wrinkles.  New faces too, still the Old Street vibe only now the boys wear long hair on their chins as opposed to long hair on their heads as they did way back in the 90’s.

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The cool young Hoxton hipsters are not the only thing that’s changed.  Rivington St/Old St/Great Eastern St is not only home to the fabulous Jas M.B’s Doors Showcase but also to the fashion houses of  Start and Mr Start, world class restaurants The Rivington Grill, The Hoxton Grill, Hix’s Tramshed and they are the names I recognise.  Endless cool eateries from around the globe, even cooler bars and clubs (needless to say I don’t recognise any club names anymore).

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Countless fashion houses, stylists and music studio’s I expected.  But the creative/ad/media/fashion agencies have also moved in and whoa! Now the suits as well?  It’s not quite a place to hang out for the city boys yet but the pin stripe brigade has snapped up all of the new apartments just around the corner.  At least Shoreditch sits in the middle forming a barrier of ‘no mans land’ with its mix of the cool kids from Old Street and the bankers from Liverpool Street neither tribe enters the others hood for sake it’ll all end up as a scene from West Side Story.

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When I come to think of it apart from the underground station, which is the same other than it no longer smells of  day old urine and poor beggars asking for cash, and now has pop ups selling Moleskine note books, super juices and espresso’s….Actually I take that back, EVERYTHING in Old Street has changed. Some things for the better.

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And so we set out our showroom. Designing, developing, making.  As I mentioned in an earlier post for me it’s about some things changing and some things staying the same.  We have a new collection for our brand denisonboston and for the Italian leather brand we bring to the UK Fedon 1919 and yet we chose to show it in one of the oldest parts of London.  Two brands uniting both with a good mix of old craftsmanship and new design.  We take a classic piece and give it a new twist. The faces are new the vibe is the same.

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Next week we have three well known department stores coming into the showroom, we will show the new collections, we will talk of old times and how things have changed, we’ll probably go to lunch, trouble is, I’m torn, will I take them to the trendy Hoxton Grill for two or three courses and a bottle of your finest or the Bricklayers for a pie and a pint?

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Perhaps I’ll let them decide?  Guess it depends if we are feeling the old or the new vibe.

If your press or a blogger and would like to visit our showroom this summer please pop me a message.  We’d love to see you.

Best

DSB X

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A Room with a View

30th June 2014 Florence and Villa Campestri 2899



In todays world the pace of life is extraordinarily fast.  We consume information with the swipe of a phone or ipad, on the go.  We fly between cities, we catch trains to meetings, cabs to shows, we buy, we sell, we are non stop.

 

I’ve learnt to juggle a career as a fashion writer and PR with a men’s accessories brand and as if that were not enough last year we launched a new online accessories store, moved home, and decorated every room. This summer we will open a showroom in London, build a new studio, heck we may find time to buy a puppy!  I love what I do, I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I often feel like a circus act spinning plates.  But as long as I’m motivated to do so I’ll keep the plates spinning.

 

The thing that I’ve forgotten how to do is relax.  I’m not very good at not doing anything.  My definition of relaxing and unwinding is having a glass of wine at the end of a long day whilst simultaneously watching TV, painting my nails and surfing social media.  I get bored having my hair done, nice things like a massage or facial are purgatory to me, my head races (I could be using this time doing so much more it screams). Massages and facials are not to be confused with Spa days I LOVE SPA days, the ones you spend gossiping with friends in the hot tub whilst drinking champagne.

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So it was after a particularly hectic two weeks with fashion shows in London and Florence that we retreated to Villa Campestri Olive Oil Resort.  Myself and Mr B were joined by my folks Mr & Mrs SilverSimmo, we took the train half an hour out of Florence to the Villa which lies high up in the Mugello Valley.  I’d done my research, the Villa is renaissance, beautiful and spectacularly rural.  I knew it was rated high on tripadvisor and held a number of awards for its accommodation and cuisine.  I knew the rooms were a mix of rare old antiques, and parquet floors. I knew the grounds were stunning with giant rhododendrons, towering Cypress Trees and a quiet cool blue swimming pool tucked away down a path.

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What I was not prepared for was the sense of total and absolute calm.  I felt a peace which was dream like.

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We took breakfast leisurely on the terrace for hours, course upon course of fruit, coffee, bacon, ham, cheese and croissants.  The eggs and freshly squeezed orange juice are of particular note.  I drew the line at cake for breakfast but it is available and noteworthy according to Mr B.

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We lounged by the pool, in the sun, in the shade, in the pool.  I read a book in two days, I’d had it for two years and not picked it up.




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For dinner we ate three courses from the tasting menu, antipasti, primo, secondo, we washed it down with gallons of olive oil, farmed at Campestri and local Chianti.

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The most difficult decision at Villa Campestri is what to wear for dinner the blue maxi dress or the pink? I’d come over all Helena Bonham Carter in ‘A Room with a View’.  Conversations were based on the weather and which other cities on the grand tour one had visited, Siena (beautiful) Florence (Touristy) Pisa (Perfetto!).

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At the end of the week I am probably the most relaxed I’ve ever been, It’s with somewhat reluctance I reach for a device to tune into facebook, email, perhaps I cant find the frequency and be stuck in Room with a View heaven forever?

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So maybe the plates stopped spinning for a while, the pace of life at Campestri is slow and relaxing and divine, the plates may have temporarily stopped but this old dog learnt a new trick or two at Campestri, how to relax and find peace from an altogether quieter time.

www.villacampestri.com

Love DSB x

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Florence Menswear SS15 Transition and Tradition

Buonjourno!

 

On the road again, this time to Florence.  I like the Pitti Menswear Show as I’m part buyer, part seller, part writer, many cappellos that fit!

 

I walked the show on the first day with Mr B slightly relieved to find the temperature a little less than scorchio, last year in June we melted. Mr B said that he would have liked a box fresh shirt every couple of hours, fortunately for us this year we quickly found Eton Shirts.

 

I noticed that this brand was working well in Selfridges (they were flying off the shelf not in the ones and two’s but gents were buying 4 or 5 shirts in one go!) Now I realise that the appeal is world wide.  It’s good to see a shirt brand doing so well. Clearly its not only Mr B that appreciates a well designed well made new shirt! With a name like Eton Shirts I had mistakenly thought the brand English, they were in fact founded by a husband and wife team in Sweden in 1928.  So only 90 or so years for worldwide brand recognition and international sales then!

 

We also spent time with FEDON 1919 an Italian brand of beautifully made leather accessories that we introduced to the UK. This brand works because of a clever mix of new design and traditional craftmanship.  They have been established almost 100 years, that 100 years is translated in their understanding of luxury production which makes every item special.

 

So with many years in the fashion business (ten years with a mens accessories brand denisonboston and two as an online retailer Boston&Boston) I find increasingly customers want a mix of old and new. Old manufacture, traditional values and new thoughtful design for our generation.  Men want to look good but they also want functionality and durability and the next new design for the next new tablet, laptop, phone. Transition and tradition.

 

In Florence we stayed at The Grand Hotel Minerva, Piazza di Santa Maria Novella. In one of the oldest hotels in one of the oldest Piazza’s.  This year they had installed a swimming pool and bar on the sixth floor.  It was amazing. A swim at the end of a long hot day on your feet was just the trick, bliss. Transition and tradition.

 

As fast moving busy people in todays world the best brands that we buy, the best hotels that we visit work because they give us what we want.  A mix of old and new.
Love DSB X

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