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Cocktails in the City + Hoxton Hotel London

Shaken not Stirred

1 Cocktails in the City Hoxton Hotel © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Ralph Lauren recently remarked, “At the moment I think London is the place. It’s very exciting – the people, everything.” Non merde, Poirot. The weather isn’t the only thing that’s hot. We’re off to the not-so-far east for the Cocktails in the City party. It’s not entirely unchartered territory – the best of the west have joined us. From “oh darling” to “’ello mate”. The only thing better than a martini and caviar is a vodka martini infused with fresh Beluga caviar accompanied by vermouth foam with a hint of seaweed courtesy of The Rivoli Bar at The Ritz mixed in the Apartment of Hoxton Hotel under the watchful eye of Beluga UK Brand Ambassador Robert Zajaczkowski. Phew. Actually make that for two.

2 Cocktails in the City Hoxton Hotel © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Organiser Andrew Scutts welcomes everyone to “a party for VIPs, the beautiful and the good.” And those who are all three, presumably. “We’ve gathered 13 of London’s top bars under one roof to save on taxis between venues. Sustainable or what? Each bar has been tasked to showcase a signature cocktail. You’ll be given a few minutes to watch the bartenders work their magic. But when DJ Crazy P stops the music you must drink the cocktail and run to grab chairs in the next room for another cocktail.” And so begins a game of speed dating meets musical chairs meets Cluedo. The billiard room, dining room, library… every room’s a flawless speakeasy tonight.

Bastion of British good taste and good fun, the absolutely fabulous Harvey Nic’s Champagne Bar tempts us with a Lady Marmalade cocktail. We really should make a pun on a toast to toast but it’s getting late. The Alchemist mixologist concocts a literally smokin’ drink while Trailer Happiness drops Earl Grey into Lamb’s Navy Rum blasting the best of British theme. Hot in the city, the night is aglow, the air a thick warm blanket. Embracing the moment we’re in high spirits. Absinthe (mixed with bootlegger, egg white, grenadine and lemon juice by Steam and Rye) makes the heart grow fonder.

3 Cocktails in the City Hoxton Hotel © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Architecture Country Houses Design Luxury People

Cadogan Hall + Inchbald Private View London

Hip to be Square

Hermione Russell Inchbald © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Is it just us or does the world really revolve around Sloane Square? Is it seriously the epicentre of gravity and gravitas? Everybody knows everybody in Café (Colbert) Society. There are no Sloane strangers. First it was the Chelsea Flower Show. Then Masterpiece. Now Inchbald. We’re off to Cadogan Hall to discover the next Sister Parish and Gertrude Jekyll at the end of year show. Well past its half century, the Inchbald School of Design has been instrumental in raising the profile of design in this country. Its founder Jacqueline DuncanMrs Duncan OBE to you – is reining principal. Not content with founding the first interior design school in Europe, she soon expanded the syllabus to incorporate garden design courses. Past lecturers have included David Hicks and alumni frequently reach single name status: Henrietta, Nina, Zaha.

Cothay Manor, a star of Country House Rescue, is revisited by Postgraduate Diploma in Architectural Interior Design student Hermione Russell. Ever since her History of Art BA, Hermione has focused on country house architecture. “I’ve reimagined Cothay Manor, which dates from the 1400s, as a bed and breakfast in the countryside. I wanted to instil a sense of belonging into the interiors,” she explains. “I’ve sandblasted the beams of the low ceilings to make spaces appear more airy.” Her drawings reveal a contemporary reinterpretation of Edwardian notions of sweetness and light. Think Lutyens at Knebworth or later Aileen Plunket at Luttrellstown Castle. “The bedrooms are named after wild flowers,” says Hermione, carrying on a country house tradition. Take Dundarave, Northern Ireland’s finest estate on the market. It sticks to colours for the names of the seven principal bedrooms. The Blue Room, Pink Room, Green Room, Yellow Room, Red Room, Brown Room, Bird Room (which begs the question what hue is the plumage?). The 12 secondary bedrooms remain anonymous.

From the great indoors to the great outdoors. Postgraduate Diploma in Garden Design student Anastasia Voloshko’s exhibition is entitled Seam Maze Limassol Promenade. “Limassol is Cyprus’s most international city,” says Anastasia who has also studied interior design. “It’s a crossroads of different cultures and languages. My concept was to use the spectacular background of the sea and translate its deep mystery onto the land.” An organic flow of contours and materials emerges, connecting the rocky shore to the modern city. Again, a reinterpretation of traditional forms – a rock garden, pool, box hedging – creates a refreshed language, a new geometry for our times. “I am inspired by many things,” she ponders. “A nice mood, the sky, a song, a painting… sometimes my best ideas come out of nowhere!”

Seam Maze Limassol Promenade by Anastasia Voloshko Lavender's Blue

Two very different projects. Two very different voices. Yet both Hermione and Anastasia tell us, “Going to Inchbald was the best professional decision of my life!” Inchbald School of Design continues to equip new generations of graduates with the skills to create houses for gardens and gardens for houses and places for people.

Anastasia Voloshko Inchbald © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

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James Wyatt + Goodwood Festival of Speed 2014 Hampshire

Marching Season

Goodwood House 2014 © Stuart Blakley Lavender's Blue

In the battle of the summer festivals, Goodwood and Glasto go neck and neck. Both attract 140,000 visitors each year although we prefer the Kinrara hospitality pavilion to mud. Sorry Dolly. Great view of the house track. A black and white racing check covers the triglyph and plain friezes over the Doric and Ionic columns respectively of the double height portico. Behind the highness of the first floor balustrade stand racing royalty: the Earl of March and Kinrara chatting to Lewis Hamilton.

Goodwood Festival of Speed 2014 © Stuart Blakley Lavender's Blue

Goodwood House is the glorious backdrop to the frenetic collision of noise, dust, smell and fast moving visuals that are the Festival of Speed. The principal front has a nine bay centre with five bay wings on either side angled back by 135 degrees. Perhaps three-eighths of a grand hollow octagon five-eighths unexecuted? Joins and ends are punctuated by cylindrical towers with copper domed hats. Provincial facing flint softens James Wyatt’s neoclassical urbaneness. It’s a ‘fur coat’ façade clothing a long skinny building. Stripped of pretension, the rear is an unselfconscious jaunty jumble of Diocletians, Serlianas and Wyatts.

Goodwood 2014 Rolls Royce © Stuart Blakley Lavender's Blue