Tuesday, July 28, 2015

And Another Sun Sets Over The Somerset Country Side

Fashion feels like it is 10,000 miles away. Last night I woke up and thought of some admin I urgently need to do when back in Hong Kong and I felt myself instantly tense up with the kind of stress that has been entirely absent for the last 25 days - but only two more days in England, unfortunately.

Best Food Of The Holiday: Pony and Trap in Chew Magna

J.Crew fabric pumps

I would love to do a fashion post - in fact I am dying to do a fashion post - but there is no fashion in Chewton Mendip. So I never wore these lovely shoes, although I did bring them, planning to wear them for lunches and dinners on my English vacation. In reality I wore Stan Smith sneakers to the loveliest lunch of my holiday, at the Pony and Trap restaurant in Chew Magna (in my defense it was 13 degrees and it had been raining for two days straight). Chew Magna is near Bristol, but smack in the middle of a labyrinth of muddy single lane roads flanked by huge hedges - not the sort of place one needs heels. And thankfully so - you don't want any distractions at the Pony and Trap because the food is so delicious, you can only think of what you are going to try next (find the Pony and Trap HERE).

I will start with dessert - if you think this is just cheese cake, I challenge you to drive to Chew Magna as soon as you can - because you are wrong.

Chilled lovage soup with fresh crab

Home made Scotch eggs

Pistachio tart

Plaice with brown shrimp

Sunday, July 26, 2015

China Rich Girlfriend And Prada

Somerset is very cold and gray today and I have read quite a bit of Kevin Kwan's new guilty pleasure novel about rich Asians. The characters are not just crazy rich anymore, now they are China rich, whatever that means. I like to call this kind of book an and-then-and-then book (and then she bought a dress, and then she went to a party, and then everyone was jealous of her, and then her husband lost all his money), although that probably says more about my eloquence than Kwan's.

At one point Kwan describes how newly rich mainland Chinese always get their first expensive outfits wrong, because they dress in head-to-toe Prada. His snobby dig at Prada comes at an interesting time for the brand, as it has seen profits fall during the last year (read more HERE). Prada argues the slump is related to a strong Pound and a clampdown on corruption in China, making less cash available for luxury buys. I wonder whether Prada should dig a bit deeper and look at its handbag designs. In my humble opinion they have become stale, and not worth the astronomical price tags. Take a look at THIS bag - it costs $2100 at Neiman Marcus, and it's body is smaller than a piece of A4 paper. Not to mention that this style seems to have been around for too many years. I wonder if Prada has decided these bland Saffiano totes should be their own equivalent of a classic Chanel 2.55? Hhhhhhhmmmmmm....... not so sure about that.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Somerset July 2015 - I am not expecting to find much fashion here (although the Mulberry factory shop is 10 miles away)

We are staying in a house in a tiny village 25 miles from Bath - it's beautifully designed by Jane Clayton (see her interior design website HERE)

I love discovering other people's art - this dog without a face is intriguing - although I think the artist was too stingy with his paint

a detail from the wardrobe in the children's bedroom

Europe's most impressive building and design accomplishments always seem to be religious in nature - Wells Cathedral is breathtakingly beautiful

where now?

the church in Chewton Mendip

fields in the Mendip Hills, with Chew Valley Lake on the left

Her Majesty's Post Box

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Blenheim Palace and Its Champagne Wagon

I don't think I have ever been to a better tourist attraction - that said, I was there alone with my two children, and would have to drive 40 minutes on windy country roads to get home - so no champagne for me. I very much thought of Miss Welsh in this moment, wondering what she would have done if faced with the wagon under these circumstances.

Blenheim Palace has wonderful grounds to roam and the views are magnificent from all angles.

I love looking at the wood carved details on doors and walls - this palace is as opulent as anything I have seen.

We discussed the week over a pint in the pub across the street (Rose and Crown). Our goal for this holiday is to figure out if we like the countryside well enough to buy a little cottage for weekends. I am not sure yet... I do miss city life already.

Goodnight Shilton, hopefully we'll be back soon. Stay tuned to see if our next destination, Somerset, can turn us into country squires.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

There Is A Valentino Outlet In Bicester Village!

neon pink against 350-year old Cotswold stone

Valentino Tango pumps are my favorite shoes in the whole wide world. My black pair is by far the most worn pair of shoes in my wardrobe. And then today at the Bicester Village outlet shops, I ran into this very classic style (albeit in a not-so classic color) for £140. These shoes are available again for the Fall on Net-A-Porter and MyTheresa for £500, so I am feeling pretty chuffed with my savings. Such a lovely morning with Miss Bouncy - Ems we miss you in Hong Kong, so good to see you twice this week ♡

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Five Days In The Country Side And I Am Getting Antsy

The wellies, the Barbour jackets. For f's sake people, why not change it up a bit ever so often?  That said, it has been raining for 3 days so I suppose a Barbour is quite practical for that. And I do have a sense people here like to conform. And that's alright, I suppose I conform all the time, to a different tribe from the Cotswold set, but conforming it is nonetheless. Tonight, however, I am staging a tiny personal rebellion of sorts by going to the pub across the street in a skirt, heels and costume jewelry. Costume jewelry doesn't exist in the country side, so people will probably think my J.Crew crystal paste necklace are diamonds inherited from a great-aunt. And the skirt is a super fabulous find from the H&M store in the historic market town of Witney, Oxfordshire. It is better than the more expensive Maje skirts I tried on last week. In fact I think it is just like Alaïa... Go now while they are still in store - very highly recommended. T-shirt by Maje, shoes J.Crew.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

From London To The Cotswolds Via Selfridges

On our last day in London we walked to Selfridges from Pimlico - a third of the way along, we ran into Westminster Abbey, which we hadn't planned to visit, but it was a magnificent detour.

At Selfridges I only had eyes for these Valentino flats, which were already sold out in my size (oh and yes, I also spent an hour trying on everything in Selfridges' Maje concession). Then we left for the Cotswolds...

...where I woke up this morning in this place, The Chestnuts cottage in Shilton, in Gloucestershire.

This is the cottage seen from the garden.

Fresh garden flowers are everywhere.

The house is a lovely mix of old Cotswold stone and modern design.

One of the master bathrooms (if you are going to the Cotswolds this cottage is the perfect place to stay - find it HERE)

We started our day with a walk through the tiny village of Shilton (it is gorgeous).

Some exercise in fields of wheat and poppies was cut short after both my children had an unwelcome encounter with a patch of stinging nettles.

I almost immediately after my arrival in the countryside indulged in a steamed pudding (when in Rome)

After all, this is the perfect place to while away some time in a local pub.

Or think about buying the perfect Cotswold house (this one is in Broadway, Worcestershire).

But wait, this is a fashion blog, and I really needed to get dressed for our next destination, Daylesford Organic - a beautiful organic farm with shops and restaurants.  I wore a white Jill Sander-for-Uniqlo tuxedo shirt straight off the drying rack, but because it was wrinkly I thought it looked better worn open with a sleeveless J.Crew T-shirt underneath. Dark raw jeans from Zara. I feel so tall in our anno 1670 Cotswold cottage.

Daylesford Organic is pristinely beautiful, a respite from the true country side, a citified version of the countryside really, like the Hamptons, a place where city people dip their toes into the country, without ever smelling any manure.

The clothing shop on the grounds is absolute perfection with very simple beautifully made garments in the most luxurious fabrics.

The wine shop sells lots of Chateau Léoube rosé, which is a firm favorite among my friends in Hong Kong as well - if you want to order it in Hong Kong you must get in touch with Léoube's very gorgeous Hong Kong supplier Jenny, right HERE.

Even the butter at Daylesford is a piece of art.

Plentiful organic vegetables.

And fresh flowers galore - next week I will be in Bath. But in the meantime stay tuned for more of the Cotswolds ♡ (I think this is the longest post I have ever done)

Monday, July 6, 2015

London: I Did Not Pack A Party Dress

But I did finally lay my hands on a copy of Amanda Brooks' book. Some Waitrose wine and Tyrrell's Poshcorn, and I am happy as a pig in its proverbial excrement.

I have no party dress and am keeping it super simple with Ts and cargos. Not much color and no jewelry - for some reason after 7 years in the very safe city of Hong Kong I am feeling inexperienced about walking around in a city with potential street crime.

I am quite pleased I am staying in Pimlico, a neighborhood I hardly knew until this week. It is rather more posh than Chelsea, i.e. there are lots of British men in brightly colored trousers and linen shirts, and it is more like a village than a city.

Viscount Linley was an early presence in Pimlico and his beautiful furniture shop is a must-see in the neighborhood.

Walking around Pimlico after a snack at the Daylesford Organic Café.

I haven't seen a whole lot of fashion yet because I am here with my two children (which means I did see the Aquarium this morning). But walking through Bond Street earlier this beautiful Fendi window caught my eye.

I now better understand why Princess Kate (I know, I know she's only a Duchess so far) loves the clothes of Emilia Wickstead. These silk coats in the window of her Sloane Street shop were wonderfully delicate in their construction and weight, yet decisively bright in mandarin orange color.

After the 11 Maje shops I mentioned yesterday, I am super happy about the many beautiful bookstores around the city. Foyles on Charing Cross Road is my favorite. We barely have bookstores left in Hong Kong, so my visit to Foyles after the Aquarium this morning was a great treat.

The light and airy entrance to Foyles bookshop on Charing Cross Road. This is where I finally found Amanda's book. None of the Waterstones I visited had it. From what I have read of it so far it is going to be another firm favorite. Amanda verbalizes what personal style means better than anyone else.