Christmas is the time of year when families gather together – the annual pilgrimage most of us will make soon, as captured in song from Sinatra’s “I’ll be home for Christmas” to “Driving home for Christmas” from Chris Rea.
For the Rollinson family they have planned a different kind of reunion for us all to share and enjoy. Generation 3 is a collective exhibition to showcase the arts and crafts representing three generations.
Starting a few decades ago with Peter and Rosemary’s Scottish saddlery business, their children and grandchildren have inherited the creative gene and developed their own distinctive artistic talent from glassware and jewellery to pottery and photography.
After retirement, Peter Rollinson has developed his passion for cine, video and still photography in which to observe the natural world, flowers, trees and landscape, through the camera lens. As he explains the background to his art: “We tend to overlook something that is small, or that is a small part of a larger image. We may pass a dry stone wall every day and not see the different coloured stones used, or the fern growing from it. Or really see an old letterbox, a lone lobster pot or a tree stump. ”
Aged just 16, Natasha Rollinson began working with silver at a Summer course at Edinburgh College of Art which led to studying jewellery at the University of Ulster, and then training as a goldsmith. Her fine jewellery is based on traditional techniques matched by modern design.
Angelika Rollinson trained as a dressmaker in an atelier in southern Germany, later making costumes for the Deutsche Oper Berlin. Just like Vivienne Westwood who loves using Scottish textiles, she has designed a range of Harris Tweed ladies’ capes for this exhibition.
And then we move from wool to leather: William Rollinson worked in his family’s business and trained as a saddler. Today he makes and repairs saddles as well as creating quality leather products, dog collars, bags and gun cases. He also built his own Tipi Tent for camping on canoeing and fishing trips around Scotland.
Sue Jack trained in architectural glass at University of Wales and now divides her time between Edinburgh and Sutherland where she has an eco friendly house and glass design studio overlooking the sea towards Harris and the mountains of Assynt and Coicach. Inspired by the rugged wild landscape, Sue creates sculptural pieces and art works from kiln formed glass.
The new BBC series, The Great British Pottery Throw Down may encourage viewers to try their hand with throwing some clay … just as the ever popular Great British Bake Off show did with all those tempting cakes, buns and tarts.
Vicky Ware is the archetypal artisan potter, working and teaching in a studio at her home, a converted barn in rural Wales. Her handmade earthenware pots range from colourfully decorative glazed ceramics to functional plates, bowls and kitchenware.
And her rustic Terracotta Bread Pots sell like hot cakes!
As Vicky describes the creative design process … “ Hand thrown using grogged earthenware clay and fired to a rich toasted terracotta, each one is slightly different and has a spiral inside which gives the traditional crescia pattern to the loaf. The handles, as well as being part of the design, are a practical way of holding the pot to remove the bread.
“My pots are good for all types of bread and especially for sourdough, as you can prove and bake the loaf in the mould, retaining the texture and lightness of your dough”.
These beautiful moulds have revolutionised the way I bake! I have never had such a light and fluffy sourdough – the best loaf I have made.” Kelli DiCapri – Artisan Baker
Generation 3 is a fantastic, diverse collection of exquisitely hand made and beautifully crafted artwork made with love and care – perfect gifts for your family and friends this Christmas.
Dundas Street Gallery, Dundas Street, Edinburgh EH2 6HZ
28th November to 5th December, 2015 – 11am – 6pm daily.
For more information, contact: email@example.com
On Monday 30th November, 2015, Channel 4 is broadcasting a documentary entitled, “The World’s Most Famous Train” – a behind the scenes view of life on board the Venice Simplon Orient-Express.
If you have never taken this iconic journey, this will be an enticing taster.
If like my partner Ken and I, you have had the pleasure to indulge in its leisurely, luxurious lifestyle, the film will be an opportunity to learn about the fine art of preserving its traditions and hospitality. To step on board this very famous train is a dream journey, travelling back in time to the exquisitely elegant era of train travel.
Watch the Channel TV documentary on 30th November, 2015 … and please do read all about our experience of this most romantic 28 hour train journey from London Victoria to Venice.
Plan your journey here:
In 2013 Emma Stokes, aka Gin Monkey took over the reigns.
The concept is simple: arrange a party to enjoy a few sparkling gins together. with events happening all over the world. A day for everyone to celebrate the fresh tasting summer spirit.
“When life gives you lemons, make a Gin and Tonic.!”
In Edinburgh, head up to Summerhall on the Meadows for the Scottish Juniper Festival to celebrate the wonderful world of gins and World Gin Day.
Martin Duffy is the brainchild behind this fizzing fun event, with the encouragement of Geraldine Coates the lady behind, http://www.Gintime.com who suggested that Summerhall would be ideal place. Last year the inaugural Festival was attended by around 800 people, and this weekend promises to be much bigger and better ..
“This year we have been able to use almost double the space to feature more Gin companies. Gin has always been a British classic but the gin scene is really thriving at the moment with so many new flavours and serves being championed by international, UK and Scottish gin brands. Over three days the festival showcases a variety of these extraordinary gins through engaging talks and mixology sessions.” Martin Duffy
How may Gin brands do you know ?
At the Festival you will have the opportunity to sample a few of these … No.3 Gin, Shetland, Brokers, Bloom, Martin Miller’s, Brockman’s, Crossbill, Daffy’s , Minus 33, Darnley’s View & Spiced, Burleigh’s, Edinburgh Gin and Rock Rose…
………. and also Eden Mills, Opihr, Hendrick’s, Blackwood’s, Ish, Pickering’s, Strathearn … just add ice and a slice with a splash of tonic!
Edinburgh Gin has created a new summertime Gin in time for World Gin Day this weekend – Seaside Gin. It features seaweed, scurvy grass and ground ivy, all the botanicals sourced from the coastline of white sand beaches and rocky coves around Edinburgh and East Lothian. Serve with sparkling tonic or as a Seaside Martini with a platter of fresh seafood – the perfect ice-cold drink for a beach picnic or barbecue.
There are sure to be Gins you have never had the chance to taste ….for example, from the United States – Aviation and Death’s Door, or a sassy, spicy French gin, Saffron By Gabriel Boudier and brands from across the UK, Holland, Scandinavia, Spain and Ireland.
Visitors can also tour Pickering’s gin distillery which is based at Summerhall – the award winning Edinburgh brand.
Listen to a talk on Cocktails by Mike McGinty from The Blackbird in Summerhall’s 100 year old Anatomy Lecture Theatre.
The vast range of gins today has also created speciality tonics to match the different flavours of the spirit. The “Challenge of the Tonics” is an event with staff from 56 North Gin bar offering the audience a tasting session of five gin and tonics – Fever-Tree, Fentiman’s, 1724 , and the new Scottish tonic, Walter Gregors.
Also at the Scottish Juniper Festival you can browse around a Boutique showcasing fashion and crafts by local designers. Pick up a bite to eat from the Street food vendors, visit the G&T bar within the Courtyard and an enticing Cocktail bar.
After having the chance to taste a few different, distinctive gins, visit the Gin Shop to take a bottle or two of your favourite brand home.
Happy World Gin Day – Cheers!
Tickets are £21.50 with a choice of sessions over the weekend:-
Friday 12th June, 17.00 – 21.30
Saturday 13th June, 12.00 -16.30
Saturday 13th June, 17.30 – 22.00
Sunday 14th June, 12.30 – 17.30
http://www.summerhall.co.uk – see Events
My sister June lives in South London and I am in Edinburgh. As we were not going to be meeting up for Christmas this year, she suggested that we plan a Girly weekend – in Manchester. The perfect destination roughly half way between our two homes.
I set off on the Transpennine Express from Edinburgh Waverley at 10.08am on Friday 14th November, heading south west via Lockerbie, Carlisle, Preston and on to Manchester in just over three hours. It was a long snake of a train en route to its final stop at Manchester Airport.
A comfortable journey all the way, during which I had morning coffee and bagel breakfast and later, an egg and salmon sandwich with a tiny 37.5ml bottle of wine for a picnic lunch. The time passed quickly as I read my murder thriller. Scenic views too across the Border country and Lake District with its wild moorland dotted with grazing sheep.
Meanwhile my sister had taken a Virgin train from Euston and we both arrived around the same time, early afternoon. Our rendezvous at Manchester Piccadilly Station worked well.
The Doubletree by Hilton is a fashionably smart, modern hotel just five minutes walk from the Station – a perfect location for the weekend. The lobby is bright and spacious with rainbow coloured sofas; two bars and City Cafe restaurant are also on the ground floor.
Our standard Twin Room was compact in size but offered all facilities for a short break: shower-room (baths are available in the Suites), quality toiletries, bathrobes; Mac TV, fridge – bottled water, Tea and Coffee tray.
Armed with a map, we ventured out for a stroll to get our bearings. Just ten minutes up Piccadilly is Market Street, the pedestrianised shopping area. It is very easy to walk around – there’s a free city centre hop on hop off bus too.
Friday night we had tickets for “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” at the Royal Exchange Theatre, the classic 1950s American play by Tennessee Williams. First, supper at Annies nearby at 5 Old Bank Street. The logo is a top hat over the capital A of Annies. Founded by the actress Jennie McAlpine (Fizz in Coronation Street), no wonder it has a showbiz mood.!
I warmly recommend Annies – for coffee, lunch, afternoon tea, evening meals. Upstairs is a cosy café and downstairs, restaurant and lounge bar where we sat in comfy armchairs for a cocktail as we studied the menu.
The cuisine is traditional British hearty food. Soup, Prawn Cocktail, Lancashire Rarebit, Sirloin Steak. I selected Fish and Chips with mushy peas – delicious, lightly fried fish and fantastic hand cut chips. June had Annie’s Hotpot, chunky lamb and vegetables followed by Sticky Toffee Pudding. We sipped a couple of glasses of House white wine.
Casual ambience, good soundtrack (Michael Buble, Jazz, Blues) and friendly service. And well done, the Ladies Loos have small towel flannels, (not a blast of hot air!). Live Music on Friday nights, Cocktail deals and seasonal menus.
The Royal Exchange theatre is like a glass and steel Spaceship inside the historic Great Hall. We had excellent seats near the front of the stage for a perfect, close up performance. (See review on separate page of Smart Leisure Guide).
Saturday, 9.30am – Hotel Breakfast. We were to be out all day so needed extra fuel to keep us going. Buffet for juices, fruit, cereals and hot dishes. Alternatively, your choice of eggs and omelettes, freshly made to order.
Time to hit the shops: Christmas markets near City Hall – arts, crafts, toys, candles, woolly hats, Festive Hog roast, mulled wine.
Manchester is fashion shopping heaven from Primark and H&M to Selfridges, Harvey Nichols, Armani and Vivienne Westwood and all very near each other and if it’s a cold wet day, go inside the Arndale Centre with dozens of stores under one roof.
From Market Street, it was just a short walk to Spa Satori, the Holistic Health & Beauty Retreat. (112 High St). Our therapists, Devon and Maria took us to a warm, candlelit room with two beds for our treatment.
We experienced a relaxing and rejuvenating 90 minute Massage and Facial each with silky Eminence Organic oils and lotions. Perfect pampering!.
From the Spa, it was then off to Bill’s (8-12 John Dalton Street) for a late lunch. You may have come across another branch of Bill’s café-bar-bistro-delis across the UK, which have the tag line, “Serving delicious food from breakfast to bedtime”. Industrial design with funky, vintage decor sets the scene.
The menu is mouthwatering, a fusion of Mexican, Greek, American and British. We had two fantastic dishes, Mac ‘n Cheese with butternut squash, and Smoked haddock fish cakes with avocado salsa and chunky chips. This is seriously fresh, healthy and global home cooking with pizzazz. Please open a Bill’s Bistro in Edinburgh!
Later on after more shopping, back to the hotel for a breather and then glammed up with lippy and posh LBDs. Next port of call was Cloud 23, the ultra cool Cocktail bar at the Hilton Deansgate on the 23rd floor of Beetham Tower.
Reservations are recommended – often essential at night – as this is a sassy, stylish place for a drink with a skyscraper view. Very romantic for a couple – or reserve a corner lounge area for a small party of friends.
Signature Cocktails feature five iconic drinks to celebrate historic people and places of Manchester. The Stratospheric blends Tanqueray 10 with passion fruit and Champagne for a sparkling celebration of the Hotel’s Tower. Gold Phantom (Cognac, Honey, Pineapple) commemorates Henry Royce and his famous motor car.
Described as a Forgotten Classic, June sampled the 1930s Cosmopolitan – the original version of the Vodka and cranberry cocktail made famous by Carrie Bradshaw on the girls’ night out around Manhattan.
At Cloud 23, this is a pretty pink Gin with Raspberry Cosmo and tastes divine. Non-alcoholic drinks too such as the refreshing Cloud 23 Lemonade. The Bar-tender will make anything you fancy, such as my fresh, tangy Marguerita, (Tequila with fresh lime) and a Dirty Martini, straight up with a twist – which hit the spot.
A cab back to the Doubletree by Hilton hotel for dinner at the City Cafe. First a glass of bubbly in the gorgeous little Blue Bar which is a hidden gem. Gorgeous black and white portraits, soft sultry lighting, it has a touch of class.
After our aperitif we were taken next door to the Restaurant and seated at a window table. The Terrace outside here is popular on warm days for alfresco wining and dining.
The A la Carte menu is small but select. We shared a platter of bread and olives as a starter. For my main course I loved the seafood pasta – thick pappardelle ribbons with a mountain of prawns, squid and mussels. Across the table, my sister had an imaginative Chicken and chorizo Risotto. And to finish – Cheese and crackers and Pear Tart.
After our buzzing day of retail therapy, beauty treatments, cocktails, good food and wine, we were ready for bed before the bewitching hour.
Sunday morning, after a Continental breakfast (coffee and croissants), it was soon time to pack, check out and make our way back to the station for our train journeys home – north to Edinburgh and south to London.
Tried and tested on this trip, Manchester is a fun, friendly, Cosmopolitan city for the ideal short break. With traffic-free shopping areas, theatres, arts festivals, buzzing bistros and style bars, it has a lively European Café society style; with sleek trams trundling around street corners, we felt we were in Amsterdam.!
Wishing you a marvellous, magical time in Manchester ….wherever you may wander.
www.doubletree3.hilton.com – Manchester Piccadilly
www.wheretogomanchester.co.uk – Colourful city guide
www.bills-website.co.uk – Bills Restaurant.
www.cloud23bar.com at Hilton Deansgate, Manchester
The Sanctuary at the Suites – Princes Street Suites, 16 Waterloo Place, Edinburgh EH1 3EG
http://www.sanctoriumbeauty.co.uk. t. 0131 557 1766.
http://www.princesstreetsuites.co.uk t. 0131 558 1600
Located at the East End of Princes Street, (conveniently just a few minutes walk from Waverley Railway station and also the new Tram route), this is certainly a perfect place to stay if planning a cultural or business trip, romantic getaway or weekend with the girls. The range of one to three bedroom apartments offer a home from home environment.
The Roof Terrace is a real asset – a private Penthouse Garden with tables and chairs where guests may sit with a bottle of wine and snacks at from lunchtime to cocktail hour and admire the city views.
Due to the quality, contemporary furnishings, décor and guest facilities, it won Serviced Apartments, Style Award, at the Scottish Hotel Awards 2014. But you don’t have to spend the night or two here to enjoy a range of beautifying treatments at the Sanctuary Spa – it’s open to all.
As I live in Edinburgh, I spent an afternoon here recently to experience a couple of signature rejuvenating treats for the body and face.
The Spa is small and intimate offering a bespoke personal service. The moment you step through the door, the hustle and bustle of the city centre disappears as you enter a tranquil haven with an Art Deco touch of glamour. Sitting in the smart reception to fill in the questionnaire, I sipped a glass of champagne and began to relax immediately.
Then I was taken to one of the two warm, comfortable Spa Salons for my treatments. The heated bed was luxurious and I settled down ….
The Spa menu covers all the usual suspects for body, face, eye and hand and feet beauty care, from Swedish and hot stone massage to Shellac nails, eyebrow grooming to Facials.
What is special here is the fine selection of unique cosmetic brand products from Tibby Oliver and Eve Taylor to offer a different experience from other Spas. The Tibby Olivier Empire founded by Julieann Parry, has grown from a small British company to open in Canada, America, Japan, Spain, Korea, Russia and Australia. The pure organic cosmetics are handmade in the UK, free from synthetic fragrances, artificial colours and not tested on Animals.
“I would not ask anyone to use a cosmetic product that I would not put on my own skin. I only use the best cosmetic ingredients that I can trace back to its origins, Eco friendly and preferably Fairtrade.” Julieann Parry
The Tibby Oliver range of treatments includes Faith Lift, the Non- Surgical Face Lifting Skincare System, and the Shrinking Violet Body Wrap. So, as I need to be beach bikini slim for the summer, I though I should try this “revolutionary” inch loss programme.
Wearing no more than a pair of disposable pants, my therapist Ashleigh measured my thighs, hips, waist and bust for the Before and After comparison. Then she rubbed a blend of cellulite-active oils over my entire body, before wrapping me in heat inducing “cellophane” style sheeting.
I then just had to lie on the bed to relax under a cosy duvet, while the oils penetrated the skin with fat-busting energy. The soft ethnic mix of music soundtrack was ideal. (Some Spas get it so wrong with orchestral muzak). After 20 minutes or so, still wrapped snugly, Ashleigh began to prepare for my second treatment – an Eve Taylor Ultimate Facial.
Eve Taylor (London) Ltd was founded in London in 1963, and today the world renowned company exports over 60% of its products worldwide. Eve Taylor started her career in the beauty industry as a beauty therapist and quickly became fascinated by Aromatherapy. After extensive research and study, she decided to develop her own range of pre-blended aromatherapy oils along with specific treatment methods and techniques.
My facial was certainly very distinctive in its “journey” from deep cleansing exfoliation to a gentle facial massage – the aromatherapy oils were lavender, ylang ylang and geranium. Two masks were applied to penetrate the skin layers for sublime softness and smooth appearance.
And finally, time to remove the Wrap and to find out if the Shrinking Violet magic had worked. Yes, in total I had lost 8 inches – simply by being rubbed with these active oils, and the heat within the skin tight wrap does the work over two hours.
As they say, “All I Need to get into My Little Black Dress Is Shrinking Violet Body Wrap”.
You are advised not to drink alcohol or caffeine over the next day as the oils continue to work under the skin. It’s a very popular treatment, news of which is spreading widely.
Pampering Parties for a small group of Ladies is also offered by the Sanctuary – a package of selected treatments – facials, massage, manicures, and glamorous makeovers can be experienced in one of the apartment Suites.
This brilliant concept is absolutely geared up for visitors to Edinburgh – an ideal weekend destination for Hen parties, Birthday celebrations, or Fashionable Girls who shop till they drop. And of course Pampering parties are a fun Day Out for ladies who live nearby.
Your tailor-made package can also include champagne, chocolates, canapés and light lunch snacks for a super indulgent “Me Time” with friends and family. The Pampering Parties were awarded with an Innovation Award at the Scottish Hotel Awards 2014.
As I have not personally experienced this day of beauty and bubbly, I shall leave it to these guests who have recently visited the Sanctuary at the Suites – and by all accounts, had a seriously wonderful time. !
Pamper Party perfection
“I was arranging a hen party to Edinburgh for 10 girls and decided that a spa day would be a perfect way to end our trip. At Princes Street Suites, we started with drinks on the roof terrace which has amazing views of Edinburgh. We then moved into the suite and given robes and slippers. I had a back, neck and shoulder massage followed by an ultimate facial. All the girls agreed we had never felt so relaxed. The champagne did not stop flowing. All of the beauty therapists were lovely and friendly. They really did a fantastic job. The experience really was one of the highlights of our trip. I am already thinking about taking my mum to Edinburgh and we will without a doubt be visiting the Sanctuary at the Suites again.”
“I booked a full body massage and shellac pedicure for myself and my mum (a birthday pressie for her) the massage was amazing and my toes look fab. Afterwards we sat out on the Roof Terrace and it was great. We are looking to go back and I would definitely recommend this place”
“What a lovely relaxing morning a friend and I had at the Sanctuary! The staff were all lovely, we got fizz and chocolates on arrival and the massage itself was amazing. I have had a few massages over the years and this one has to be one of the best I have ever had. I look forward to going back!”
“A Change of Fashion” is Susan Gale’s first novel and it’s a stunning debut. This is a heartfelt dramatic story spanning a decade, shifting from winter in England to the sun-drenched Cote d’Azur with well defined characters and evocative settings.
Susan Gale was born in Yorkshire and spent her teenage years in a small market-town at the foot of the Moors. She studied French at University and during the 1960s, experienced a year living and working in France, teaching English.
Those youthful memories of a new, carefree life in Paris must have lingered in the mind. “A Change of Fashion” is not exactly autobiographical, but her travel adventures matched with an interest in design from Biba to Chanel, her passion for fashion is now all perfect material for this fictional tale.
As she explains, “I store up pictures in my head which I draw on whenever I need to describe a place or create an atmosphere.”
They say do not judge a book by its cover. But the simple yet effective black and white image of the iconic Eiffel Tower with the silhouette of a young girl in mini skirt, heels and bobbed hair, represents the novel’s place and period perfectly.
Within a few pages, I was drawn into Holly Barton’s life and times. It’s Paris, 1967. The atmosphere is captured in precise detail, clothes, food, people, the apartment, as are the feelings of this rather naïve young girl – sheer excitement as well as nervous trepidation at the challenges ahead of her, both professional and personal.
“The mousse of asparagus soufflé was delicious, the sole in tarragon and lemon sauce exquisite and the Chateaubriand rich and succulent. White wines from the Loire gave way to deep red Bordeaux…. Throughout the meal she was constantly aware of the eyes opposite her, disconcerting, dancing with amusement at her obvious unease. ..”
The narrative is brilliantly cinematic, in fact expressed through all the senses, as the reader is taken on an emotional, time travel trip. Neatly placed flashbacks take us to rural Yorkshire in the early sixties to Holly’s family home.
“December is one of the darkest periods of her life. During the short hours of daylight the skies periodically blacken to release yet another blinding snowstorm upon the moors. Vast sweeps of white level the landscape …deep drifts block the lane from Black Ridge Farm into the town”.
Then as soon as we are comfortably settled around the Yorkshire moors, we fast forward six years to a front row seat at a Saint-Laurent fashion show:
“Holly could see Diana Vreeland chief editor of Vogue, scribbling furiously in her notebook. Jewel-coloured evening gowns in richly embroidered silks and satins, velvets and brocades followed, each one would make the fortunate wearer feel like royalty.”
Susan Gale must have done extraordinary amount of research to be able to convey the competitive work of the designers, models, fashion shows. I love the authentic “real life” ambience, mentioning Chanel, Dior, Gucci, St. Laurent, et al. The graceful gowns, the cut of a coat, shimmering silk, all come clearly into vision through the words only without a single photograph required.
As well as the backdrop of Parisian’s elite society, another essential part of the plot covers feminism, women’s emancipation for equality and the fight for change in moral attitudes.
For those who love “The Devil Wears Prada”, are fascinated by fashion, past and present, and enjoy a page-turning dramatic love story, this novel is a must read.
Reminiscent of the classic tale of “Rebecca” by Daphne du Maurier, this has a similar plot where a young, innocent girl has her life turned upside down following a brief encounter, within a rich plot of dark memories and a secret family mystery.
Gale wisely steers clear of “Fifty Shades of Grey” erotic encounters – instead, sexual feelings and quiet moments of intimacy are illustrated with gentle simplicity – to entice your own imagination.
“The time seemed too precious to lie by the pool or on the beach at Cannes. Often they set off to explore the surrounding countryside, driving up tortuous Alpine roads past orchards of peach trees, vineyards and olive groves. .. they ate outdoors in little restaurants where the midday sun shining through the vine leaves overhead dappled their clasped hands on the table-cloth. …..”
Following Holly’s painful, passionate journey from wild windswept Bronte country to the glamorous hot spots of Paris and Monte Carlo, the contrasting locations and enchanting romantic tale would surely make a magical film.
And if you want another opinion, I agree so much with this reader’s verdict.
“ I read this book in only three days – finding it difficult to put it down once I had started. It is written so well you just fall into the world (of fashion), the backgrounds of Yorkshire and Paris, and the lifestyle of the decade. And of course the love story. I can definitely recommend it.”
Publisher – Susan Gale Publishing in conjunction with WRITERSWORLD
Available from all good bookshops and on Amazon.
There’s more to the Festive season than Egg Nog. The tradition began in England and Europe around the 17th century as a winter warmer Egg and Grog (rum) punch, served in a noggin, a wooden mug. This creamy, silky boozy concoction of eggs, milk, sugar, brandy, rum, whisky, flavoured with vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon is today more of a classic Christmas tipple in the USA.
This year liven up your parties with a few fashionable new cocktails and flavoursome Punches for a fabulous Festive Spirit.
Toussaint Coffee Liqueur was named after the famous Haitian soldier and statesman, General Toussaint. The smooth Liqueur is created from natural tropical ingredients – fine Arabica coffee with a hint of Cocoa, Vanilla, Liquorice and Caribbean rum.
Sip this rich concoction on its own over ice, to accompany a creamy chocolate dessert perhaps, or with a Cognac as the perfect digestif at the end of a meal. Alternatively get the Cocktail shaker out:
The Toussaint Espresso Martini
35ml Toussaint Coffee Liqueur
A shot of fresh espresso
Pour all ingredients to a cocktail shaker, add ice. Shake hard and fine strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with three coffee beans.
When Gin met Tonic – the match made in heaven.
Until a few years ago, if you requested a “Gin and tonic please” at a bar, the bartender was not so likely to have asked if you had a preference. (You were usually given the one advertised by Gordon Ramsay). Today, gin lovers will certainly ask for their favourite brand, as well as selected style of tonic – the G&T connoisseur can enjoy as much choice as a vodka or whisky drinker.
G & J Greenall has been making gin for 252 years, (the second largest distillers in the UK), so they should know a bit about blending botanical flavours. They recently re-launched their London Dry Gin, creating a bittersweet botanical mix of juniper, coriander, lemon peel, ground almonds and cassia bark.
Greenall’s Gin was recently selected as one of the best 10 gins around today in a survey by The Independent.
For the contemporary tippler, there’s more to gin than just ice and a slice. Try these two cool and sophisticated cocktails –
Greenall’s White Lady
2 parts gin
1 part orange liqueur (similar to Cointreau)
1 part lemon juice.
1 fresh egg white
Shake all ingredients with ice and fine strain into chilled glass.
Greenall’s Ginger Cocktail
2 shots Greenall’s Original London Dry Gin
½ shot of fresh lime juice
1 slice of fresh ginger
240ml Ginger Beer
Shake the gin, ginger slice & lime juice with ice and strain into a chilled high ball glass, fill with more ice cubes and finally top up with ginger beer and garnish with mint leaf to serve.
Take it Sloe-ly ….
The first Sloe Bloom Gin from the producers of the premium Bloom London Dry Gin, has been launched by Quintessential Brands.
Bloom Gin is distilled in a traditional Copper Still by G&J Distillers in Warrington, Cheshire, which has been distilling fine spirits since 1761. Master distiller Joanne Moore selected hand-picked sloe berries macerated in Bloom Gin.
Sloe Bloom has a dark ruby red colour with the earthy aroma of kirsch and almonds, complementing the sweet honeysuckle-scented gin. This is a delicious aperitif straight up, or jazz it up in these “shaken not stirred” cocktails.
Sloe Bloom Fizz
50ml SLOE BLOOM Gin
Top with Prosecco and serve in a chilled champagne glass.
Sloe Bloom Punch
50ml SLOE BLOOM Gin
Dash of lemon juice
Dash of apricot brandy, peach bitters and top with cranberry juice
Put all ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice, fine strain into a cocktail glass.
SLOE BLOOM is a limited edition and exclusively available from Harvey Nichols’ stores and online.
“Here’s to alcohol, the rose colored glasses of life.”
F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Just like puppies and kittens, Cocktails are not just for Christmas. Cheers!
For more information on these speciality spirits: http://www.quintessentialbrands.com
With icy winds, rain, sleet and snow through the long British winter months, it’s vital to care for your complexion – just as you would protect your skin in the summer sun.
Oriflame’s Ecollagen Skin Perfector is a magical serum to help restore your skin while you sleep. I have been trying this for over a week, applying a tiny amount under my usual night cream.
The texture is light and luxurious with a gorgeous cooling effect as I smooth it evenly over the face. It’s amazing that just a tiny pea sized drop is sufficient, using the easy to use “pipette” inside the attractive green bottle.
Nourishing and moisturising the deep skin layers overnight, it helps to stimulate collagen and therefore fine lines and wrinkles are reduced. I honestly saw a visible difference with a tighter, toned appearance.
Oriflame Skin Perfector is indeed a unique and truly luxury anti-wrinkle serum, created to rejuvenate your skin for the “perfect” beauty sleep.
So now, with youthful skin, you just need to enhance your complexion for all those festive season parties.
I have also recently sampled Oriflame’s Giordani Gold, a most ingenious foundation in a mirrored Compact. I liked the white and gold oval shape, and inside is a neat half moon sponge applicator for the hard yet creamy and crumbly foundation-powder.
The shade I tested was Natural Beige, which looked rather too dark for my very fair skin, but using a very little on the sponge, I spread this thinly over my face. I did not want to look as if I had applied too much fake tan!. I was surprised that it blended in pretty well, although a fairer shade would be more suitable for me.
However my task was to test the Giordani Gold foundation as a product. I really liked the texture and it clearly achieved what it says “on the tin.! ” …. “designed to make skin look instantly flawless … its velvety texture glides onto skin and leaves a silky powdery finish”
Yes, I agree. A most unusual combination of foundation and face powder which gave me a refreshed, smooth and youthful complexion.
To complement the foundation compact, also try the new Giordani Gold Panorama Mascara, rather a lengthy name, but it offers glamour in an instant.
I had expected luscious gold packaging, but it’s just black. However, the shape of the mascara brush is amazing – like a tiny Christmas tree. ! Applying the mascara, the lower thick “branches” reach the lashes at the outside of your eye, while the slimmer top end of the brush lightly touches the inner lashes.
It’s a clever design following the natural curve of your eyelid, so that one easy stroke gives all your lashes a separate, evenly distributed, lengthened effect and neat curl. Perfect!
For more information on Oriflame skincare and cosmetics and to purchase online through the nationwide network of Consultants: www.oriflame.co.uk
Fans of the hilarious antics of TV comedienne Miranda Hart, are in for a treat as her new DVD is released in time for your post- Festive season diets and a keep fit regime for New Year.
Miranda Hart’s Maracattack is an authentic fitness routine which skilfully combines exercise and Miranda’s zany and unique style of comedy. First, a medical health warning – this is a serious exercise programme in which you take part in your own home.
Miranda Hart is the first to admit that she is rather too tall, slightly socially awkward, ungainly, often clumsy and loves to eat. She also cannot abide any form of exercise and the starting point in the DVD is a series of amusing sketches illustrating how physical fitness is not her favourite leisure activity.
We observe her confronting a personal trainer at 6.30am, visiting a gym (with snacks to keep her going), jogging in a park and throwing herself into an Army Boot camp.
Having given up on all this as well as Yoga and Zumba classes she has decided to devise her own unconventional fitness regime involving shaking a pair of Maracas to classic pop tunes with intensive floor exercises.
As Miranda explains “Maracattack is based on one key concept. Fun. Fitness should be fun. Funness. It’s about playing, not working out. There is no need to dread the gym anymore.”
“Get off your sofa!” Miranda screams at the viewer to get the session started. Actually, I simply sat on my sofa watching the fun and games (but may try it properly later…).
The setting is Miranda’s flat, all pretty pink and turquoise decor, with a fruit bowl on the coffee table. Her preferred fruit? A large mountain of Chocolate Oranges!.
Before we can start getting fit, we need a pair of Maracas. Enter Kirstie Alsopp (described as a cross between the Queen and a Blue Peter presenter), who attempts to help Miranda create home made “papier mache and balloon” Maracas – with hilarious slapstick results.
Another guest is Patricia Hodge who tries in vain to teach her the principles of healthy nutrition. Miranda has some crazy ideas about food which does not count – eating on a plane (too high up), birthday cake (calorie free as it’s someone else’s cake), and snacking while cooking (but it’s a pre-meal!).
The Exercise programme then begins in earnest with the professional assistance of fitness expert Amelia Watts (size zero, toned and healthy). Towering over her is Miranda, dressed in a pink T shirt with the slogan Chic, Chic, Chic across her ample bosom.
Keeping fit in the company of Miranda will certainly make you laugh – which is exactly her point. It’s all about “funness”. Cue Abba music and start shaking those Maracas for an energetic cardio session to work those legs and bums!.
It’s SO Miranda
“Instead of looking at it as an exercise DVD, I took more notice of the music – I was still exercising but having a laugh at the same time. As for making me fitter I actually lost 2lbs after making no changes except doing the whole DVD twice.” Beach Babe, Amazon review.
Miranda Hart Maracattack. BBC Worldwide Ltd. DVD rrp £ 19.99.
“Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine”.
Eating and drinking out in Edinburgh has just got oh so more sophisticated with the opening of the fabulous Twenty Princes Street Grill & Smokehouse (exquisite cuisine), and next door the cool and classy Cocktail Bar, Juniper.
With window views over Princes Street Gardens up to the Castle, the décor is all about glamour. Relax on a funky purple sofa or comfy wing armchair and indulge your taste buds with some seriously wicked alcoholic concoctions.
Given its name, Juniper, this is a Gin Joint but there’s more than a classic G and T on the drinks list.
As the Festive season stars fizzing, the inventive Bar tenders here have been cooking up some tempting new colourful and culinary tipples. Being a lady with a daring streak, I selected the Russian Roulette, a deliciously refreshing blend of two Stolichnaya Vodkas, raspberry and vanilla, the spirit softened with St. Germain elderflower liqueur and lemon. It hit the spot in an instant and I loved the vodka soaked raspberry on top.
My drinking buddy was also daring and asked the waiter to surprise him with something different. He was presented with a Wibble!. Plymouth Gin with Sloe Gin sharpened with lemon and pink grapefruit juice. Sipped slowly, this was voted first class.
The Drinks List is divided into Edinburgh themes: The Old Town (Classics with a twist), such as the ingenious Full Scottish Breakfast – single malt whisky, with orange marmalade, flavoured with smoky bacon foam and dark toast. Perhaps not to be sampled first thing in the morning!
Under New Town (modern classics), are the Russian Roulette and Wibble, as well as Wobble, a long drink of gin, vermouth, prosecco, and the Zombie, a hearty Caribbean Rum punch with tropical fruits. The section, West End, offers classy cocktails such as a modern take on the Sidecar, with Cognac, Cointreau, shaken not stirred with sweet plums and vanilla.
To learn more about Cocktails you can book a Masterclass tasting session to watch a bartender create a few special tipples.
If you prefer Bubbles, there’s a full page of Champagnes from Moet & Chandon by the glass to a Vintage bottle of Dom Perignon. (treat yourself!). And of course, a full range of spirits, beers and wines.
Juniper also serves a selection of Street Food including Oysters, Chicken Wings, Lobster Sub –all rather posh to match the gorgeous surroundings. From January, Fondue Fridays will start the weekend off in style.
Check out the Juniper website for all the Festive events over the Christmas and New Year party season.
Juniper has been a hidden gem of a gin joint for a couple of months but now this is the place to be seen for the fashionable crowd around town. (But Sshh don’t tell everyone!).
I can’t wait to return to try an Inkie Blinkie (tequila, lime, squid ink!), and perhaps a Falldown, (gin, lemon, Moet).
20 Princes Street,
0131 556 4901