Ladies’ Day – Qatar Goodwood Festival

It was a wonderful day of champagne and horse racing at Qatar Goodwood Festival on Thursday 3rd August this year. My fellow bloggers, journalists and I descended upon glorious Goodwood on Ladies’ Day at the kind invitation of Visit Qatar.

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Champagne and Racing

The hospitality was nothing short of what I’ve come to expect from Visit Qatar – WARM, GENEROUS AND SPECTACULAR. Perfectly colour matched lilies coordinated with the decor of the QREC box . Fresh flowers, a festive atmosphere and wonderful food flowed in abundance. Impeccable service was a joy. We enjoyed canapes, lunch and afternoon tea.

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Ladies’ Day

FullSizeRender 150Binny’s Kitchen and I were all smiles in the QREC Box

As it was Ladies’ Day I cannot ignore this great tradition which dates back to the 1800s. Racing has always been and will continue to be associated with the Royal family. As such, the Royal Procession sets the tone for the attire. Hats for men and women are a key element. It’s worth noting that Ladies’ Day dressing is not about falling victim to the latest trends. It is a racing tradition.

I stuck to classic vintage style. Most women also chose to do the same adding to the incredible spectacle of Ladies’ Day at Goodwood. My hat was by the wonderful British milliner Lady Sharma. I changed my outfit it at the last minute but thankfully it still came together and I felt relaxed and comfortable all through the day.

The Sport of Kings (and Queens)

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Goodwood has a history of horse racing which dates back over two centuries. The 3rd Duke of Richmond introduced horse racing to Goodwood in 1801. Other than during WWII, when racing was suspended, Goodwood’s popularity as a racing venue grew rapidly. Goodwood remains one of the most beautiful locations set against the backdrop of Sussex Downs. There still exists a vintage feel about the racecourse.

The Most Beautiful Racecourse in the World

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FullSizeRender 161It was wonderful to watch the fixtures at Goodwood. As each race unfolded the atmosphere became electric. Bets were won and lost in good cheer. The incredible view of the finish line from the box was just magnificent.

The whole day was fun, lively and energetic and it felt as though it ended too quickly. The drive through the beautiful countryside as we headed back to London was a perfect ending to a glorious day. I can hardly wait for next year.

 

 

London’s Lido Culture.

Open Air Swimming in London

If I can help it, during July and August I avoid travelling. This is mainly down to two reasons; One is that it is peak season due to school holidays – I am no fan of crowds. The other is that I love London in summer. Sunshine is never guaranteed. Rain almost always is. Still, give us a mild temperature and a few hours of  clear skies and we’ll make the best of it.

For a city with a river running through it, London does not have a culture of al fresco swimming. It was however, something that was popular in the 1930s. So much so that local councils built 169 Lidos (unheated outdoor swimming pools) across the UK. As times changed and foreign holidays became more affordable many Lidos were forced to close. Recently, though London has been falling back in love with outdoor swimming and particularly Lidos. Those that remained open now boast communities of passionately loyal regulars.

Parliament Hill Lido

The Parliament Hill Lido is a great example of the modern and fashionable 1930s. It was built in 1938 and cost a mere £34,000; The most expensive Lido in London at the time. It was Grade II listed in 1999.

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I dropped by on a visit to Hampstead Heath and was stunned by it. Why oh why hadn’t I done this earlier?! It was as if I had been teleported back to perfectly preserved, simpler times of the inter-war years. Astonishing panoramic view of the surroundings and striking art deco architecture captivates instantly. It’s a real throwback and an art deco classic. The pool measures a grand 61 x 27 metres as Lidos were designed to give the look of an ocean liner at a time when people did not travel abroad so frequently.

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The revival of these architectural gems is mostly thanks to the fiercely passionate communities who love them. They stepped in with local campaigns to save them when many were being shut down or abandoned due to a decline in their popularity. The campaigns were backed by heritage bodies who also recognised the architectural value of these stylish buildings.

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The Parliament Hill Lido is a stunning example of the preservation efforts of the local community. The pool was lined in stainless steel in 2005 giving the water a sparkling, metallic shimmer. The surrounding buildings perfectly reflect the design of the Lido. On a hotter day, I could have expected to queue to enter the pool. However, as it was a mildly warm day there were only a few regulars to contend with.

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Socialising at the Lido

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Entrance to the cafe.

As it was in the 1930’s, Lidos are not just places for swimming. They are national institutions for bathing and socialising. You can sunbathe, eat in the cafe, picnic, read a book or simply relax.

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So, as the tides turn for these national treasures, not just in terms of their popularity but also in that they are once again in vogue – be sure to step into the art deco terrace of your nearest Lido and be a part of their modern revival.

 

The nearest station to Parliament Hill Lido is Gospel Oak and an adult day pass costs £7.

For opening hours and more information – https://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/things-to-do/green-spaces/hampstead-heath/swimming/Pages/Swimming-opening-times-and-charges.aspx 

 

 

 

Mixology and the art of Cocktail Making in London.

Cocktails and Dreams

Fridays evenings are best spent in good company and preferably a few cocktails. So I was super excited when Adventure Connections invited me to a cocktail master class in London.

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I arrived to a warm welcome at the Revolution Bar, America Square on a busy evening. The masterclass was set up in a private room and we were ready to roll. I and other fellow bloggers were in the capable hands of two cocktail masters who were not only knowledgable about alcohol but pretty adventurous when it came to mixing flavours.

Cosmopolitan or Nothing

Images courtesy of Revolution Bar

We learnt to create three different cocktails – a Cosmopolitan, a Blank Canvas and everyone’s favourite Long Island Ice Tea. Each recipe was expertly taught by the cocktail masters. The evening took us through the art of mixology with introduction to the various types of mixing as well as quantities, flavours and colours. Sampling and sharing each other’s creations was all part of the fun.

The most fun however, was getting behind the bar to battle it out in the team games where we competed to create the cocktails in the fastest time. Not only did I learn a few new trick to impress house guests but I had some serious fun! So, thank you Adventure Connections for a wonderful evening!

 

 

 

The Tea Bus Comes to Town!

Picnic on a Bus

It is a universally acknowledged fact that you can never be bored in London. However, every once in a while something comes along that is so simple that it’s genius! What do you get if you cross the quintessentially British tradition of afternoon tea with the iconic Routemaster? Behold…B Bakery‘s afternoon tea bus tour!

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Tea and cakes served on a double decker as you take in London’s landmarks is the brilliant idea behind the Afternoon Tea Bus Tour. The pick up points are Victoria coach station or Northumberland Avenue which are easily accessible for all. So whether you’re visiting London for first time OR are a born and bred Londoner who happens to love London and tea THIS is for you!

London Sightseeing

We boarded the bus from London Victoria bus station and I was almost giddy with excitement! The tables were set and the bus was decorated with gorgeous flowers all around.

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Picture source: B-bakery.com

Starting from Victoria we travelled through the prettiest parts of London. The tour took us to Mayfair, Knightsbridge, Royal Albert Hall, Green Park, Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square. As we munched our way through delicious sandwiches and quiches the recorded tour guide narrated interesting and little known snippets of London’s history.

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Cupcakes!

We hit the cupcakes as the bus reached Embankment and headed towards Big Ben. As for these sweet treats? They are to die for! The sponges were as light as air and the frosting simply melted on my tongue. The diced pineapple custard tarte dusted with cinnamon was simply heaven. I could have eaten a dozen!

I opted for a cappuccino from the drinks menu and it was served in the prettiest travel mug with a lid to avoid any nasty spillages. Furthermore, as the tour was wrapping up we were served English scones with clotted cream and jam that we simply COULD NOT leave behind.

Oh, and you know what else? If you’re not particularly fond of meat or have special dietary requirements, vegetarian, gluten free and Halal menu options are also available.

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The tour ended back at our starting point and a good time was definitely had by all. The tea bus tour runs daily and I couldn’t recommend it enough. I had so much fun and even as a Londoner I felt excited to see my home in this way. Book yourself a ticket and enjoy this ride, I say.