Thursday, 5 November 2009

The Scribbler likes 1#

A series of things and places which cheer your scribbler and warm the very cockles of his heart.
Predictably they are mostly food and drink based but there is a nod to my other passions en route.

Old Hat

Old Hat in Fulham is where Jeeves would encourage Betram Wooster to shop if he were not "rolling in the stuff". A shop for those that favour their vintage 'tailored-elegant' rather than 'retro-scruffy'. Inside awaits an incredible array of tailored Saville Row suits (£150 each for a suit which would have cost ten times that originally), tweeds, smoking jackets, waist coats, moleskins and evening wear.

Durham Cathedral and Palace Green

Sunday evensong in the quire of Durham Cathedral listening to one of the best choirs in the land is an oasis of beauty and calm in an otherwise vibrant student town. Palace Green sits loftily atop the bailey peninsular between the cathedral, Durham Castle, the university library and the debating chambers.

To declare my interest I am perhaps less than objective on this as I spent three years in the shadow of Durham cathedral as a student of St Chad's College (Durham University).

In the words of Bill Bryson

"Durham, I think, as anybody who has ever stepped out of the railway station and looked across the valley will appreciate, is one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

"The view of the cathedral is just absolutely stunning. I will never forget my first moment 30 years ago seeing it and it has been almost as exciting every time since.

"So there is all of that, a huge amount of history, a huge amount of beauty and a great deal of friendliness.

"If you have never been to Durham, go there at once. Take my car. It's wonderful."

Friday, 9 October 2009

Tipples of the week

This week the Scribbler has mostly been enjoying:

Beer of the week: Young's Kew

Tasting note: The aroma has spicy hops, a light herbal note and gently-toasted malt. Tart citrus fruit, juicy malt and hop resins vie for attention in the mouth while the superb, quenching finish has rich malt, peppery hops and tangy fruit. A vaguely summery/ mild autumn beer before we can move onto the winter warmer/

Chosen venue: The Coach & Horses, Barnes Village

Scotch of the week: The Singleton of Dufftown 12 years old

Tasting note:
Waters from Jock’s Well in the Conval Hills. Nose: Dry, aromatic.Palate: heavy, syrupy, malty.Finish: Medium oily finish.

Chosen venue: The American Bar, East India Club, St James'

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Tipples of the week

This week the Scribbler has mostly been enjoying:

Beer of the week: Doombar

Tasting note: Named after an infamous sandbank at the mouth of the Camel Estuary in north Cornwall- quickly acquiring a cult following. A balance of spicy resinous hop, sweet malty and delicate roasted notes. A nice balance and complex blend of succulent dried fruit, lightly roasted malty notes and a subtle yet assertive bitterness.

Chosen venue: The Paris Hotel, Coverack, Cornwall or The Coat & Badge, Putney

Scotch of the week: The Glenlivet 15 year old French oak reserve

Tasting note: Infinitely quaffable but pricey not my normal taste at all...less peaty or smoky more smooth and nutty- a grower

Chosen venue: The Admiral Coderington, Chelsea

Riverside Watering holes

The Scribbler's top 10 Thames side watering holes:

10: The Dove, Chiswick
9: The Boathouse, Putney Wharf
8: The Ship, Wandsworth
7 The Angel, Henley-on-Thames
6 The Trout, Oxfordshire
5 The Duke's Head, Putney Embankment
4 The Founder's Arms, South Bank
3 The Rutland, Hammersmith
2 The White Cross Richmond
1 Ye White Hart, Mortlake

Monday, 27 July 2009

Top 10 Hidden Travel Gems

Dear reader,
I ,like so many other discerning travellers, am an absolute slave to Trip Advisor. Why should I make a mistake in my arrangements when somebody else has made it for me?

Imagine my excitment when I discovered that Trip Advisor have published a series of top 10s.

It is with a sense of improper self satisfaction that I can personally endorse several of the following. I intend to blog on the best and visit the others!

Trip Advisor Awards

1.Anastasis Apartments
Imerovigli, Greece

2. Riad Zolah
Marrakech, Morroco

3. Golden Well (U Zlate Studne)
Prague, Czech Republic

4. Derwent House Boutique Hotel
Cape Town, South Africa

5. Hotel Vecchio Asilo
San Gimignano, Italy

6. Hotel Casa do Amarelindo
Salvador, Brazil

7. La Villa Marbella - Charming Hotel
Marbella, Spain

8. Loch Lein Country House
Killarney, Ireland

9. Killeen House
Killarney, Ireland

10. Arcadia Residence
Prague, Czech Republic

Monday, 20 July 2009

Recessionista chic: it's time to re-interpret our identity and get creative...

Many thanks to my dear friend Miss Antonia Pearce for her sage words of sartorial wisdom. Antonia is a lifestyle and travel writer- formerly of Elite Life and Travel she now edits Project Travel and acts as freelance media consultant to a range of London based and international clients...She has a contact book as extensive as the Reims caves and twice as many bubbles- She also has a rather amusing story about Mario Testino but I will leave her to tell you that...

The desire for bespoke products is set to continue in spite of ‘boom and bust.’ With evidence of the bespoke everywhere from the i-pod to the couture dress. In times of surplus, those that could seized the opportunity to act out their whimsical fantasies through patronage. With people from London’s Belgravia to New York City's Upper East Side taking on the guise of a latter day Catherine the Great; such was their extraordinary energy to consume and spend. Whether commissioning a pair of beaded couture boots from Jimmy Choo, a perfume by Fredrick Malle or a genetically engineered blue-eyed baby; the demand for bespoke goods rarely faltered.

In the ‘boom’ phase bespoke was a byword for luxury and prestige. However, more often than not, the creative process was delegated to somebody else; the concierge or our own personal shopper. In the process we fooled our inner artist into believing that we had played an integral part in the bespoke journey. We looked good but dangerously and increasingly uniform.

Now that things have gone ‘bust’ the trend for bespoke continues to live on and with a rather advantageous shift in emphasis. Rather than commission others, we now have the opportunity to take on the bespoke ambition for ourselves. It is time to re-interpret our identity and get creative. In 2009 there is now a sense of ‘mend and make do.’ So for a quick bespoke fashion-pick-me-up all we need do is scoop up and rummage through buttons, beads and lace and pin them to old coats and cardigans in a brave attempt to re-invigorate and inspire. Alternatively, why not take old shoes to the cobbler and enjoy the magic of being reunited with a trustworthy friend; shoes that give you a confident swagger rather than the blistering pain of the new.

That is not to say that we should abandon shop - far from it! However, a bespoke product implies thought. It is the antithesis of mass production and the endless display of colorful tank-tops and Pokka-dot bikinis that line our high street floors like candy. If we start demanding bespoke items now - it could be a powerful display of rebellion against targeted advertising; forcing us to think about what we really want.

Moreover, if we are going to spend then we need to start demanding value and worth from our acquisitions. It was for this reason that Coco Chanel launched her bespoke jewellery line during the Great Depression of the 1930s. She understood that during hard times people desire the real and the magnificent. New visionaries in 2009, such as the designer Jessica McCormack, advocate diamonds that are all about wear-ability. She welcomes everyone, from the woman who wants to create an heirloom to a young man with only one hundred pounds to spend. A recession has always been a dazzlingly creative period. Newfangled pop bands and designers rose to great heights during the recession of the 1970’s. Vivienne Westwood’s punk garments and the extraordinary talent that blossomed from there on in: is just one testament to the impetus of hardship.

It’s a horrible economy out there; but there is a world of opportunity to fight for. So go forth and commission or create something bespoke. But remember: keep up appearances no matter what the FSA ordains.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Following much cajoling and various waving of blunt instruments- It was decided amongst the great and good that this chap should shuffle off the papyrus coil, expand his horizons and stride manfully into the digital space.

So here I am.

Welcome one and all to your guide to the glorious, the inglorious, the mouth-watering, the insipid, the luscious and the atrocious. Over the coming minutes, weeks and eons I intend to take you, gentle reader, by the hand and share with you what our fair city has to offer discerning gentlefolk regardless of means or standing.

I will dare to endure, seek to embrace and endeavour to empart my toings and my froings with customary blithe and brutal honesty.

As always I am ruled by my readers and I welcome your news, views and gentle reproachments. I claim neither to be infallible or objective in my judgements or commentary- my only claim is a lifetime in the eye of London's social whirlwind a resultant taste for the better things in life, their true value and a knowledge of where to find them .

I will from time to time be joined by guest bloggers and I look forward to introducing them in due course.

Upcoming features will include:

Summer attire
Nightcaps- what, where and why?
Riverside watering holes
Country retreats and the British staycation
Society pages
Cuba's Finest- Cigars, Rums and communism