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A huge thank you to Searcys St Pancras Champagne Bar for hosting the three of us (grown up, small child, tiny dog) for afternoon tea one Saturday afternoon.

It’s arguable that a love of afternoon tea is part of the English DNA although these days it’s less tea, and more late lunch. (It’s hard to eat a proper midday meal and then do proper justice to a three course tea of sandwiches, scones, and cakes a few hours later.)

Unless, of course, one has in one’s possession a slightly grubby eleven year old boy who has the appetite of Just William combined with Molesworth. When I was invited to take afternoon tea in the new Searcys St Pancras summer pop-up, the Art of Travel, I could think of no one better to bring with me as an Official Tester than C, accompanied by Lettice, for Searcys St Pancras is joyously dog-friendly.

It’s a spectacular setting for a drink, let alone afternoon tea, in this, Europe’s longest Champagne Bar.

We were charmed by our custom reservation holder, and did indeed press for Champagne, upon which action the charming sommelier appeared brandishing something rather more interesting: a bottle of English sparkling wine, a Blanc de Noirs NV from the Greyfriars vineyard near Guildford in Surrey. The blend of 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Pinot Meunier has lovely honeyed apples and brioche and made a great accompaniment to what was about to arrive.

But do not think that Lettice had been forgotten: a big bowl of water appeared for her underneath the table.

We were all the anticipation.

Tea arrived in a neat custom Art of Travel suitcase, just big enough for an array of teatime classics

Hurrah for Burford Brown egg mayonnaise buns, prawn and crab cocktail with Bloody Mary sauce, London smoked salmon, chive & lemon butter on warm crumpets, York ham and wholegrain mustard rye bread sandwiches, French Opera gâteaux, Belgian white chocolate mousses, and passion fruit Swiss meringue pies. Not forgetting homemade scones with jam and clotted cream

My guest adopted the role of guest reviewer with gusto. After he had called for his third round of York ham sandwiches, I gently suggested it might be time to draw a line under the bread portion of tea, and move onto scones. He concurred with alacrity.

For myself I can highly recommend the avocado, pomegranate and quinoa wraps, also a surprising favourite of my guest, and the light as air and superbly fresh raspberry macarons.

I think it’s fair to say that we did the tea justice…

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Brown leather Sandals: £45 Marks & Spencer £45

This article contains affiliate links, which means we may earn a small commission if a reader clicks through and makes a purchase.
I was invited to visit the Margaret Dabbs Nail Salon at Liberty London for a review treatment.

When I first started getting pedicures in my mid-twenties, I thought they were the height of sophisticated luxury. They certainly were not the norm when I was a teenager: there were no nails bars on high streets, and I don’t recall my mother once getting a pedicure. She did her toenails beautifully herself, painting them pillar box red to match her fingernails.

The only reason I could afford to get pedicures in my first magazine job was because I had been given a 50% discount card to the long-shuttered but then pioneering New York Nail Company salon on South Molton Street.

It introduced me to a whole new world: within a month I was sporting blood red acrylic fingernails, and perfectly groomed feet. Unfortunately this regular access left me with an obsession with having my feet looking nice that was way beyond my pay cheque (I think I was earning £15k at that point) and, for several years after my discount card expired, I had to limit my pedicures – always at Camden Nails & Beauty on Parkway – to once every few months. 

Happily in my early 30s I moved to Manhattan, the land of the inexpensive nail salon, where I could indulge my love of mani pedis weekly without feeling the fiscal pinch. And that ruined me – these days I get twitchy if I’m sporting ragged cuticles, broken toe nails, Parmesan rind heels, and try to get a cosmetic pedicure and paint job at least every three weeks.

But I know that this isn’t enough to really keep my feet in tiptop condition so at least twice a year I head to Margaret Dabbs for a full medical pedicure. This time I was booked in at the Margaret Dabbs Sole Spa at Liberty which I haven’t visited in years. It’s on the lower gourd floor, below the beauty department, with several private treatment rooms, and a communal room for manicures and standard pedicures.

I’ve written about the salons several times on here, so you know the drill: each 45 minute session is bespoke, and the podiatrist can address hard skin, corns, callus, dry skin, bunions, ingrown toe nails, fungal nails, Athletes foot, an ageing foot, and biomechanical and gait related issues.

Previously I had been diagnosed with plantar fasciitis by a Margaret Dabbs podiatrist, and this time my clinician gave me lots of advice on the correct style of shoe for my particular shaped foot to give me the best possible support when walking and hiking.

Then she got to work with a variety of faintly terrifying metal tools, clippers, files, drills, and buffers to thoroughly clean, and tidy my hooves.
 
Margaret Dabbs Sole Spas also provide beauty treatments: Whilst the medical pedicure will leave your toenails buffed to shell-like perfection so they look wonderful even without polish, you can also book in straight afterwards to have them painted from Margaret Dabbs’ extensive range of proprietary colours. (They also now do shellac). 

Outside of the salon, the podiatrist recommended that I massage my feet every night with the Margaret Dabbs Hydrating Foot Lotion, (and to never put cream on my feet and go to bed in socks as this will just make my feet sweaty not moisturised) and rub in a tiny dab – a little goes a long way – of their excellent Hygiene Cream, a balm which contains Salicylic and Benzoic Acid, and Emu Oil, every few days to keep my feet in perfect condition.

The before, once my old polish had been removed, and before my podiatrist go to work. Waiting for my polish to dry post pedicure I chose Margaret Dabbs Poinsettia for my toe nails Happy feet post-pedicure Margaret Dabbs Sole Spa at Liberty

Great Marlborough St, Soho, London W1B 5AH. Telephone:  020 7494 4492
Email: liberty@margaretdabbs.co.uk
www.margaretdabbs.co.uk/margaret-dabbs-sole-spa-at-liberty

The post SUMMER BEAUTY PREP: THE MEDICAL PEDICURE AT MARGARET DABBS SOLE SPA AT LIBERTY appeared first on Liberty London Girl.

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Sasha emerging from the Ferrari Portofino at Castello di Velona in Tuscany
Dress credits at end of post

Just very occasionally an invitation will arrive in my inbox which is so extraordinary that I just stare at my laptop screen in disbelief.

“Ferrari are hosting a GT Tour in Tuscany in April and would love to invite you to join them. The tour is predominantly for Ferrari Owners who are part of a members club which allows them to partake in such activities, and the tour will take place in Tuscany with an itinerary filled with driving, sightseeing and dining.”

Oh and would I like to bring a guest?

Um, yes?

This was to be this year’s inaugural GT Tour of the Passione Ferrari Club Rally. Membership of which allows Ferrari owners to drive their cars in extraordinary locations all over the world on a choice of Iconic, Sport or GT tours.

Where do I even start with the GT Tour Tuscany? Driving a Ferrari is a glorious thing, even in the arse end of England in rain, in January. To offer one up to be driven in the spring sunshine of ravishing Tuscany seems almost vulgar in its excessive wonderfulness.

The proposed itinerary was quite something. We would fly to Florence and then spend the next three days driving a Ferrari Portofino through a series of challenging and panoramic road routes between different Tuscan towns, extraordinary restaurants and points of interest.

After arriving in Tuscany, we would be driven south for about two hours towards Siena for lunch at the Belmond Castello di Casole, before receiving our wheels, and a road tour to Il Borro, a medieval hamlet hotel estate owned by the Ferragamo family.

Then we would drive to Castel Monastero Resort & Spa, another medieval hamlet hotel, where we would check in for two nights. Supper would be at the hotel’s Il Cantino, before an early-ish night and a drive the next morning to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of San Gimigiano where we would have a private tour.

Then another panoramic road tour to Siena, where we would park in the Piazza del Campo and have lunch at Osteria Le Logge. Another road tour would take us back to the Castel Monastero where we would change for a transfer to Cantine Antinori for a tour of the winery and dinner at its acclaimed restaurant Rinuccio 1180.

At this point in reading the itinerary I was becoming a little lightheaded. Day three would see us enjoying a ‘Surprise activity’, before another panoramic road tour to Località la Velona and lunch at Castello di Velona, a resort, thermal spa & winery in a historic medieval fortress overlooking the vineyards of Brunello di Montalcino.

Reader, I picked my jaw off the keyboard, accepted the invitation, rang Hannah to tell her to find her passport, and started wondering what one wears on a Ferrari Club Rally.

Sadly Hannah doesn’t have a driving licence. I say sadly, but it’s bloody marvellous for me because I get to do all the driving. The only drawback of her fervent non-driving mindset is that her co-pilot skills aren’t quite as fine-tuned as one might like on the navigation front. But what she lacks in anticipating turn offs and roundabouts, she wins in snack provision, lack of criticism of near death driving experiences, and general all round excellence of person.

One of the many courtyards at Belmond Castello di Casole So. Day one.

We arrive at the Belmond Castello di Casole estate and hotel near Siena, a little rumpled from the very early start and long drive from Florence, in the middle of lunch. We are ecstatic to see food as Hannah and I most definitely travel on our stomachs.

I don’t know whether to concentrate on the delicious spaghetti pomodoro or gaze slack-jawed at our surroundings – Castello di Casole is one of the largest private landholdings in Italy, a country estate embracing 4.500 acres of exquisite Tuscan countryside, and the hotel itself is ravishing. I make a note that I need to return.

After lunch we have a briefing in the old chapel from the team from Maranello to ensure we don’t do anything stupid whilst on the rally, and pick up some driving tips from the professional Ferrari drivers who will be accompanying the rally. (They are very keen on driving position – nice and upright and close to the wheel, no leaning back in your seat)

And then it’s time to work out which of the twenty-three cars in the car park belongs to us. I go for the tried and tested manoeuvre of clicking the key fob to see which one winks at me.

Hello my darling.

AH, THE FERRARI PORTOFINO *insert purring noise here*

I realise that the concept of an affordable entry-level Ferrari may well be mystifying to anyone who’s seen the entry price sitting around £166,000, but this is indeed the car that is intended to lure in the prospective first time Ferrari owner who doesn’t want to shell out over £200k on a new set of wheels before they’ve added on any bells and whistles from the Ferrari Configurator. The one who likes the idea of a GT, and who may also be looking at a DB11 Volante, or perhaps a Bentley Continental GT.

There are many reasons to be very enthusiastic about the Portofino: a replacement for the California which did not inspire so much of the affection, it’s both lighter and faster, and looks far more refined. In short, it’s far more ‘Ferrari’ than the California could ever have been.

For anyone reading this who speaks fluent car, you’ll also want to know that the Portofino has an F1 dual-clutch transmission, 7-speed gearbox and, a maximum speed of 320 km/h. If letting the next village know you’re on the way is important to you then I can confirm that the twin turbo hasn’t compromised that classic Ferrari sonic signature. Oh and it goes like the clappers.

Prospective purchasers who intend to make good on the GT side of things (that’s a car designed for a high speed long distance combo) will appreciate the very comfortable seats, surprisingly capacious boot, and would no doubt make use of the two compact back seats for more luggage. Or the dog.(Technically it’s a 2 plus 2, I’d say it’s more of a 2, plus 2 picnic hampers.)

HOW ROAD RALLIES WORK

For those of you are unfamiliar with road rallies the way that they work is this: Before the drivers and teams arrive, routes are planned down to the nth degree, taking into account the raison d’etre of the rally.

In the case of this GT Club Tour, the routes need to be sufficiently challenging for talented amateur drivers (lots of curving roads, gradient, hairpins), present a variety of road conditions to allow the cars to really get put through their paces (autostradas, country lanes, hills, towns etc ), and, because this is technically non-competitive, it needs to be through sufficiently stimulating countryside for both driver and passenger. Especially if the passenger is more interested in the scenery than the map.

On arrival one is given a road book which details the entire rally route. I learnt how to navigate using one before the days of sat nav, and still enjoy driving and co-piloting with a road book. They are an OCD wet dream: the entire route is laid out in exhaustive detail. Every single junction, turn, POI, bend, and slip road is marked, along with its KM on the route. Using a road book requires a lot of concentration and an ability not to throw up when simultaneously reading and travelling at high speed.

These days, whilst one still has a road book for emergencies and tradition, sat nav is where it’s at. The rally organisers provide everyone with a custom screen-mounted device which downloads the rally route from the cloud, and which is tracked by the back up van. Go off piste, or break down, and they will know within seconds where to find you. They also have a magic get home button, so if you need to get back to base quickly it will give you the most direct route.

Each drive takes about 90minutes (if you don’t get lost, ahem), and then the cars stop at a waypoint somewhere lovely. Our first drive was from Castello di Casole to Il Burro, and an introduction to the beautiful Tuscan scenery through which we would be driving over the next three days.

I realise very quickly that amongst our twenty-three Ferraris there are a lot of male drivers who are very very excited to get to play amongst other Ferrari owners in their very very rare cars. They are very fond of overtaking multiple cars, driving bumper to bumper, and accelerating through villages. Hannah and I make an immediate collective decision that we will potter along at the back and let them get on with it. Well, in as much as one potters in a 3.9 litre V8 Ferrari which does 0-60 in 3.5seconds.

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My sister Holly, cousin Sadie, and myself at Royal Ascot 2018

This article contains affiliate links, which means we may earn a small commission if a reader clicks through and makes a purchase. 

Last year’s Gold Cup Day at Royal Ascot was one of those perfect days: I’ve attended Ascot in almost every possible weather condition, bar snow, but rarely has a day been as lovely as it was last year.

It was a family day for the Wilkins clan: I had been invited again by Ascot Racecourse as their guest, and took my sister Holly with me in the Royal Enclosure. By happy coincidence, our cousin Sadie was at Ascot with friends too and, miraculously, they just happened to be in the Queen Anne right underneath our box, so none of that frantic and usually ultimately unsuccessful searching for friends that usually happens at huge sporting events.

Emily sporting my Rachel Trevor-Morgan Ascot hat on the train to Ascot

Holly and I took the train with our friend Emily to Ascot and headed straight to Ascot TV for me to talk about my outfit. Then we walked through the stands to the box for lunch, before heading off to the Royal Enclosure to meet friends, place bets and soak up the atmosphere.

Being interviewed for Ascot TV Stephen Jones being interviewed for Ascot TV Holly in the Royal Enclosure Gardens
Hat: Rachel Trevor-Morgan (loaned) Bag: Furla (mine!)

I was dressed for Royal Ascot by Suzannah, with my millinery from Rachel Trevor-Morgan. (You can read more details about my outfit here.)

Bag by Aspinal of London (gifted). Sunglasses: Stella & Dot. Afternoon tea in the box

With huge thanks to Suzannah for giving me my beautiful dress, to Rachel Trevor-Morgan for loaning millinery to me and my sister, and..

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Image straight out of my iphone – no filter, no colour corrrecting

This article contains affiliate links, which means we may earn a small commission if a reader clicks through and makes a purchase. 

Blow drying one’s own hair ranks on my list of most boring activities, up there with making beds, doing taxes, and pairing odd socks. (Although I will concede that my (gifted) Dyson Super Sonic hairdryer has made it a less arduous task of late.)

So when Redken asked me if I would like to come down to Radio in King’s Cross yesterday to have my hair washed and conditioned with their new vegan, sulphate, silicone and paraben-free Nature + Science haircare range, and then blow dried, I replied yes quicker than Lettice chasing a squirrel across my garden.

The range is flagged as ‘naturally derived’: the shampoos are made with 83 per cent naturally derived ingredients, whilst the conditioners are made with 99 per cent naturally derived ingredients.

I’m going to flag here that, whilst this sounds wonderful, ‘naturally derived’ means that although an ingredient was originally a whole plant, it does not necessarily mean that the plant has not since been submitted to a chemical process that could, for example, have introduced synthetics or petroleums to the plant product.

I think the key selling point here is not particularly the plant derivation (although hurrah for the lack of fillers and sulphates), but that they are vegan: you’d be astonished how many beauty industry ingredients are animal-derived, so it’s great to see a huge beauty conglomerate making an effort in this direction.

(I was also interested to see if they were cruelty-free, because Redken sells in China, and vegan and selling in China does not add up to a must-buy for the vegan consumer. The L’Oreal (Redken’s owner) website has this to say: “Today the products manufactured and sold in China called “non-functional” such as shampoo, body wash or make-up are already no longer tested on animals.” )

But when all is said and done, I am more interested in whether the products actually work rather than their plant content. Of the three sub ranges – Extreme for strengthening distressed, damaged hair, Soft for dry/brittle hair, and Colour Extend, my stylist picked Extreme. I don’t blame him – my hair has been in desperate need of a cut and colour for several months.

What did impress me was that without loading the conditioner with cheap silicones – the cheapass conditioner’s route to silky flyaway hair, the new Redken Nature + Science Extreme conditioner managed to turn my frankly in need of a cut, and a deep condition, frizz into a silken mass that fell softly down my back, and hasn’t tangled a day later. My overwhelming impression was of lightness – the kind of soft ease that usually comes from combing a bucketload of silicone-spiked supermarket conditioner through my over-processed hair.

Oh and we should not forget that the range signals its virtue with packaging made with recycled plastic, and a 100% natural origin fragrance: in this case a blend of essential oils including sweet orange, kaffir lime, bergamot and cold pressed lemon.

PS Three cheers for Radio salon in Kings Cross being dog-friendly, and so welcoming to Lettice and myself.

The Redken Nature + Science range is available in salons nationwide and at LookFantastic here

The post BEAUTY: THE NEW NATURE + SCIENCE HAIRCARE RANGE BY REDKEN appeared first on Liberty London Girl.

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This article features gifted items, and press loans.
It also contains affiliate links, which means we may earn a small commission if a reader clicks through and makes a purchase. 

Over the years I’ve worn some ravishingly lovely dresses to Royal Ascot, all made for me by my friend Suzannah. (Here is what I wore back in 2017) But last year (2018) she made me something a little different from my usual silhouette (waisted, full skirt): a pale blue silk wrap maxi dress with a frilled hem, and bow at the back.

I had been in the Suzannah atelier on New Quebec Street for a fitting for a navy blue crepe dress that she was making me when I spotted a version of the maxi dress in her ready to wear boutique on the other side of the street. Would you like one of those? she asked. Lucky me. A few days later, a sample of the silk she was thinking of using for me arrived in the post. Suzannah designs all her own fabrics, and this Summer Rose one she suggested was just so pretty, I agreed immediately.

So that was my dress sorted, with very little input from me, and much generosity from Suzannah. Next up for consideration was my hat. I am a creature of habit: ever since Suzannah introduced us some years ago, I have worn millinery by Royal Warrant holder Rachel Trevor-Morgan. (I think this pale pink hat has been my absolute favourite Royal Ascot number so far.)

Visiting Rachel’s little jewel box showroom is my idea of heaven: climbing the steps in the Georgian building tucked away down a flagstoned passage in the heart of St James’s always feel like an occasion.

And, of course, I get to try on all the ravishing hats in this very grown up version of a sweet store.

The added bonus is that Rachel also has a wire-haired Dachshund. Daphne, frankly, is reason enough to visit.

Last year I took my sister Holly as my guest to the Royal Enclosure, and Rachel very kindly lent Her a hat too. I was a little late for our fitting, and my sister rang me when I was en route: YOU DIDN’T TELL ME RACHEL HAD A SAUSAGE DOG, she squeaked with joy! When I arrived she and Rachel were nose to nose discussing dogs.

Rachel is always a calm voice of sense, guiding me away from unsuitable options and towards something lovely. (It’s no surprise that she is the Queen’s milliner.) My sister chose the silk confection on the left, and I borrowed the one with the bow on the right.

Pale blue can be tricky to match for accessories, but I thankfully had both a silver bag and silver shoes in my wardrobe. The silver Lottie bag was a gift from Aspinal of London a few years ago, and the shoes are kitten heels from Whistles. (Mine are are a few years old: they have a higher heel this season. Or you could try these sparkly Ganni kitten heels in the sale.)

And here is my glorious dress: so comfortable to wear, and so versatile. I’ve worn it since for a wedding, and also with espadrilles for a summer garden party.

  • At the parade ring
  • Being interviewed for Ascot TV
In the Royal Enclosure Gardens

Above: Hat by Rachel Trevor-Morgan. Sunglasses by Stella & Dot.

The joy of a swooshy skirt
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With huge thanks to Suzannah for giving me my beautiful dress, to Rachel Trevor-Morgan for loaning millinery to me and my sister, |and to Ascot Racecourse for inviting us to Royal Ascot 2018
in the Royal Enclosure.

The post FASHION: AN OUTFIT FOR THE ROYAL ENCLOSURE AT ROYAL ASCOT 2018 appeared first on Liberty London Girl.

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This article contains affiliate links, which means we may earn a small commission if a reader clicks through and makes a purchase. 

This cake is a smaller version of the rhubarb cake from my cookbook which was originally called Herman’s cake in memory of the father of one of my closest friends. My original recipe fed 10 to 12 people and is truly the mother of feeding-a-large-gathering cakes. But this week I decided to halve the recipe as no need for a giant cake, and it was a great success.

For several years I spent a few weeks each summer at their French summer home. It’s an ancient farmhouse, set in the middle of fields, and the shops are an energetic bike ride away. I baked endless cakes for the legions of family who appear without warning, so imagine my joy on discovering copious rhubarb patches all around the house.  

I would take enormous pleasure in wandering out into the intense August heat, armed with an ancient wooden-handled knife, and kneeling in the grass to cut the rhubarb stalks. I would trim them then & there, tossing the umbrella leaves into the compost bin under the kitchen window. 

This week I didn’t have time to make the cake’s original crumble topping so instead I just took a handful of light Muscavado sugar and sprinkled over the top. This gave a wonderful almost caramelised golden richness to the cake and I highly recommend doing this.

It’s a quick cake to make: use a stand mixer or food processor, and it can be done in fifteen minutes. Most of all I love the crisp sugary edges which I nibble on with a cup of coffee.

You will need: a 20cm/8” springform cake tin  Ingredients 

200gm butter 
200gm caster sugar 
2 eggs 
200gm self raising flour 
four stalks rhubarb, & chopped into 2cm pieces & tossed with a tablespoon of sugar 

For the topping  
2 tablespoons light brown (Muscavado) sugar 

Method 

Thoroughly grease (with either butter or baking spray) and line a 20cm/8″ cake tin, both sides and bottom* and pre-heat the oven to 180C. 

*I use non-stick baking spray, precut cake liner circles which I buy on-line here, and collar liners on a roll here. This is my preferred springform tin for cakes.

Cream together the butter and sugar – this can be done in a bowl with a wooden spoon, but I prefer to use a food mixer for at least three minutes to get the mixture really light and fluffy.

Beat the two eggs together, and add half to the mixture. Beat together. Add 2tbsps of the flour. Beat again. Add the rest of the eggs. Beat again.  Add the rest of the flour. Beat again. That’s your cake batter. (be careful to only beat together for as long as it takes for each step to be incorporated in order to keep the cake light. Over beating makes for a tougher batter.

Pour the mixture into the well-greased cake tin. Scatter over the chopped rhubarb, pressing it in lightly. (You don’t mix it in as it would all just sink to the bottom. This way it distributes itself evenly through the cake as it cooks.) 

Sprinkle over the sugar, and place in the oven for around 25minutes. It’s cooked when it’s turned golden and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. (Make sure you don’t pierce a piece of fruit, as this will give a false positive.) 

Notes: If you don’t have a loose bottomed cake tin, grease the tin extra thoroughly all over with butter on a bit of kitchen paper, and then shake a tablespoon of flour over it, banging the tin over the sink to get rid of any excess flour before the batter goes in. This ensures a crispy base that doesn’t stick. 

My preferred baking equipment:
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The post RECIPE: QUICK & EASY DELICIOUS SUMMER RHUBARB CAKE appeared first on Liberty London Girl.

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Sasha wearing millinery by Rachel Trevor-Morgan
Dress by LK Bennett (all press samples)

A British social event isn’t complete without a hat for both men and women – whether one is attending a wedding in an explosion of feathers, Henley with a Panama, Cheltenham in a felt Fedora, or Ascot in a top hat, hat wearing is always the rule not the exception.

Some of London’s oldest hatters and most stylish milliners are to be found within St James’s, one of the oldest quarters of central London, situated just below Piccadilly, and traditionally the home of English menswear and hatmaking. These days though both men and women can find hats for any occasion. Here is my guide:

Rachel Trevor-Morgan Sasha wearing millinery by Rachel Trevor-Morgan
Suzannah dress, Links of London Royal Ascot collection. (Both gifted)

Look for a small gap between the buildings at the St James’s Palace end of Pall Mall, walk up a small, flagstoned alleyway that can’t have changed since Dickens walked these streets, and you will find a small Georgian doorway above which hangs an old-fashioned shop sign bearing Rachel Trevor-Morgan’s name.

Her by appointment-only salon and atelier creates hats for some of England’s best-dressed – and most discreet – women. (Suffice to say that Ms Trevor-Morgan holds the Royal Warrant as the Queen’s milliner.) A hat-trying on session in her tiny mirror-lined salon is enough to make any women believe that she is the embodiment of chic.

I’ve been lucky enough to be able to borrow Rachel’s beautiful hats over the years, thanks to an introduction from my dear friend, the designer Suzannah whose dresses I wear to Royal Ascot each year.

If you’re uncertain about what to wear to a wedding or to Royal Ascot, then Rachel’s kind charm will reassure you and guide you in the right direction. And, if you’re lucky, her adorable wire-haired Dachshund Daphne will be in residence too.

Millinery by Rachel Trevor-Morgan
(press sample)

Address: Rachel Trevor-Morgan. 18 Crown Passage, St. James’s, London SW1Y 6PP

Lock & Co. Hatters

If one needed a wardrobe of hats for a couple, then there is no place better than Lock & Co. at No. 6 St James’s Street, where one could purchase a top hat, bowler, beanie, baseball cap, Panama, Ascot frippery and a straw boater all under one roof at Lock’s venerable St James’s Street store. Established in 1676, Lock & Co is the oldest hat shop in the world & one of the oldest family-owned businesses still in existence. (The 7th generation of the family now run the business.)

Lock’s hold the Royal Warrants of the Duke of Edinburgh and of the Prince of Wales; Admiral Lord Nelson wore their bicorne into the Battle of Trafalgar. Sir Winston Churchill adopted their Cambridge and Homburg hats as his trademarks, and the Duchess of Cambridge frequently wears couture Lock’s hats for her official engagements.

Address: Lock & Co. Hatters. 6 St James’s St, St. James’s, London SW1A 1EF

Christy’s Hatters Sasha trying on hats at Christy’s, Princes Arcade, St James’s

Founded in 1773, and the official helmet manufacturer of the UK Police Force for two centuries, Christy’s is also known for making the Homburg hat worn by Marlon Brando’s Don Corleone in The Godfather. One of my most treasured possessions is my grandfather’s Christy’s trilby, which must be some sixty years old now, somewhat battered by the elements, but still wearable.

Although they aren’t as well known for their ladies hats, owning a Christy’s felt fedora or trilby is a real fashion editor insider secret. They have also launched a capsule collection in association with Ascot Racecourse, based around their Panama hats – we particularly love the Amelia wide brim Panama hat with blue band & feather (£159).

It’s always worth visiting their small but perfectly formed store at 19 Princes Arcade, as they can offer hat personalisation and head sizing in person. One can also order a handmade hat, and pre-order new season hats. (A good idea as they can sell out quickly.)

Address: Christy’s. 12 Princes Arcade, 36-40 Jermyn St, London SW1Y 6DS

Fortnum & Mason Trying on my Helen Moore hat for the Cheltenham Festival back in

Possibly London’s most exquisite department store, Fortnums has a truly excellent millinery department, where it’s possible to run the gamut of hatmaking from a fake fur Russian hat by Helen Moore – perfect for Cheltenham, to a breathtaking floral confection for the summer season by Scottish superstar milliner William Chambers.

Address: Fortnum & Mason, 181 Piccadilly, St. James’s, London W1A 1ER

Bates Gentlemen’s Hatters

In the heart of St James’s at 73 Jermyn Street, Bates has had a presence here since 1898. With ten types of Trilby on offer, from Soft Homburgs to Pork Pies, eight types of Fedora, top hats, tweed caps and Panamas, amongst others, there is every possible type of hat for the discerning gentleman. And, just in time for Royal Ascot, they have a selection of the finest reconditioned vintage and antique silk top hats, which come supplied with a velvet top hat ‘mouse’ for polishing. We love their straw Beachcomber hat for summer holidays.

Address: Bates. 73 Jermyn St, St. James’s, London SW1Y 6NP

Some items featured may be press samples. Some brands mentioned or pictured may have previously been commercial partners of LibertyLondonGirl over the past ten years. All current projects are always fully disclosed.

The post FASHION: A GUIDE TO HATMAKERS & MILLINERS IN LONDON ST JAMES’S FOR THE SUMMER SEASON & ROYAL ASCOT appeared first on Liberty London Girl.

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WhenI was around six years old I thought mushrooms were more delicious than sweeties. My idea of transgressive indulgence was to cycle down the street on my wobbly bicycle to the butcher in the village to buy half a pound on my mother’s account (without her permission).

I would lie on the lawn on a scratchy tartan travel rug with my cat Pilchard, nose deep into some deeply unsuitable book lifted from my parents’ bookshelves, dipping into the paper bag of raw mushrooms, which would be hidden under a corner of my skirt when I thought anyone was coming over. 

Bright white and almost crisp, they were so freshly picked that there was only a faint earthy smell; I’ve never lost the love of breaking the bright white caps in half to reveal delicate fawn pink gills.

And then there were cooked mushrooms. Always fried in plenty of bubbling salted butter on the hot plate of the AGA, I would steal burning hot browned slices out of the frying pan, too greedy and impatient to wait for them to be served up for breakfast.

When I moved away to university one of the first cookbooks I bought was Jane Grigson’s The Mushroom Feast. I ate mushrooms in every guise for weeks, and her recipe for mushroom soup, adapted from Elizabeth David’s Potage aux Champignons a la Bressane, has been my standby for some twenty years now; my version is in my cookbook (and on this site from back in 2009 here .

I could happily eat mushrooms for each meal of the day – and frequently do. And, over the years, I have accumulated vast supplies of mushroom and truffle enhanced condiments, from the classic Geo Watkin’s Mushroom Ketchup, which adds depth to stews, to the three I use in this recipe to give a rich umami depth to what is a very standard mushroom cream sauce.

The first is truffle mustard. I’ve always added a splodge of Dijon into creamy sauces; it works as a thickener as well as adding a slight heat. (Try it in macaroni cheese – my recipe here.) The truffled white Dijon I use in this recipe from Moutarde de Maille is quite something: pumped fresh in stores, and described as au Chablis et aux brisures de truffe noire, it adds complexity and deliciousness.

The second is porcini powder, ground dried cep mushrooms, which essentially brings a massive thwack of mushroom-umami goodness to any sauce. (Mine came from Selfridge’s Food Hall but you can buy it easily online.)

The third is a little jar I found lurking behind my spice collection – Aix et Terra Camargue salt scented with tiny flecks of black truffle.

None of these condiments are essential for this recipe, but, when added either singly or all together, give this sauce a quite extraordinary mushroom depth.

The most important thing about this recipe is to taste as you add the flavourings. (Don’t forget, of course, you’ll need to use less normal salt when you season at the end if you do use truffle salt.)

You can use pretty much any pasta – I used egg noodles as that is what I happened to have at hand. I think tagliatelle would be wonderful, as would linguine or capellini (angel hair). (About 75gm dried, 100gm fresh per person.)

INGREDIENTS (to serve two, but can easily be doubled)

2 nests of tagliatelle or egg noodles
250gms Chestnut mushrooms 
large knob Butter 
One bunch Spring Onions, chopped, including the green part (scallions)
150mls Double cream ((heavy cream)
Optional: heaped teaspoon porcini powder, large pinch truffle salt
1 dessertspoon Dijon mustard (truffled, if you have it)
Sea salt & black pepper
A bunch of flat leaf parsley

METHOD

Cook the pasta according to packet instructions. (Lots of salt in the cooking water)
Chop the mushrooms into wide pieces (including stems).
In a large frying pan melt the butter until it bubbles, throw in the chopped spring onions and cook for 2 to 3 minutes until softened.
Add the chestnut mushrooms and cook over a medium to high heat until the mushrooms are both browned and softened.
Stir in a heaped teaspoon of Dijon mustard and, if you are using them, the truffle salt and porcini powder.
Mix everything together, and then pour in the double cream.
Bring the cream to a simmer and bubble for a couple of minutes until the sauce has thickened.

  • Stir in the mustard, porcini powder & truffle salt
  • Add in the cream, stir and bubble for a few minutes

When the pasta is cooked remove a couple of ladles of the cooking water into a mug, and then drain the pasta.
Add a small ladle of the cooking water to the mushroom sauce and stir through.
Taste the sauce and add salt and black pepper to taste
Tip the drained pasta into the pan and combine it thoroughly with the mushroom sauce. 

If, by some chance, you are delayed at this point, perhaps by a ‘phone call, small child, or a knock on the door, I find that when you come back to the pan, stirring in the leftover extra ladle of the cooking water, over a gentle heat, will thin the now over-thickened sauce.

To serve, divide between two bowls, sprinkle with lots of chopped flat leaf parsley, and eat immediately.

These credits may contain affiliate links, which means we may earn a small commission if a reader clicks through and makes a purchase. 

Kitchenalia:

Blue & White insect plates: Vintage Coalport Cairo (plenty on eBay here)
Large White Pasta Dish: Matalan Home Chicago Pasta Bowl £4 (gifted)
OrganicCotton Tablecloth: H&M Home Conscious in Dusky Green £12.99
Striped Napkins: The White Company (similar this season here.)
Frying Pan:Green Pan Non-Stick Frying Pan
Casserole:Le Creuset Signature Cast Iron Round Casserole in Cotton (gifted)

Ingredients:

Truffle Mustard: Moutarde de Maille Black Truffle Mustard with Chablis White Wine (gifted)
Porcini powder: Available at Waitrose, Selfridges, and on Amazon here
Truffle salt: Mine is Aix et Terra’s Camargue Salt with Black Truffle. Their lovely products (which also include a black truffled mustard are available here, and other brands of truffle salt are available on Amazon here

The post RECIPE: ULTIMATE MUSHROOM LOVERS PASTA appeared first on Liberty London Girl.

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I am most definitely a dress person. ⁣⁣⁣⁣Whilst I don’t own any trousers, (really) I do have the odd flirtation with jeans, but on a day to day basis it pretty much always comes back to me choosing a frock of some description.⁣⁣⁣⁣

And, whilst I have been all over this season’s floral frocks – from a distance I look like a chintz sofa, I am always going to love a simple navy dress that looks great with a more exciting shoe, and some huge earrings.

I’d say that about 60% of the dresses currently hanging in my wardrobe are navy (mostly from COS), and I’ve just bought several more for the summer, including this navy cotton one, which is currently £33 in the sale.  (It comes up small, so I would size up.)

I’ve had a thorough search on the internets, where it would seem that I am not alone in my love of a navy cotton shirt dress: here’s my edit of this season’s best:

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(I’m afraid the shoes that I am wearing are old season La Redoute, and I haven’t been able to find any dupes online. I did find some striped shoes though:

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The post FASHION: THE NAVY BLUE SHIRT DRESS FOR SS19 appeared first on Liberty London Girl.

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