The castle is a vast compound of organic architectural growth down the ages. Two concentric rings of defence – an inner and an outer bailey – are dotted with gatehouses and towers. A ruinous Roman lighthouse and a restored Anglo Saxon church on Castle Hill are some of the oldest structures on the site. One of the last additions to the built form is the Officers’ Quarters and Mess overlooking a cliffside modern carpark. This two and three storey range, faced with polygonal rubble and limestone dressings, was built to the design of Anthony Salvin in the 1850s. The architect was an expert in medieval buildings; he specialised in restoring country houses and churches. His work at the castle is in the Tudor Gothic Revival vein with appropriately detailed battlements. The patina of age ensures the various styles of architecture at Dover Castle don’t jar but harmoniously sit cheek by jowl, keep by lodge.
Shireen Abu Akleh and Oskar Schindler’s lifespans only overlapped by four years. In death their graves are mere metres apart in Zion Cemetery high on a hillside in Jerusalem close to the site of The Last Supper. Shireen was born in Jerusalem in 1971 into a Palestinian Arab Christian (Melkite Catholic) family. She became a journalist and worked for the Arabic language television channel Al Jazeera for 25 years, reporting in the Israeli occupied Palestinian territories while also analysing Israeli politics. In May 2002 while covering a raid by the Israel Defence Forces on the Jenin refugee camp she was shot and killed despite wearing a press vest. The death of this much loved reporter caused international outrage and investigations into the circumstances of the killing still continue.
“I chose journalism to be close to people,” Shireen shared. “It might not be easy to change the reality but at least I bring their voice to the world. Of course I get scared. In a specific moment you forget that fear. We don’t throw ourselves to death. I go and try to find where we can stand and how to protect the team with me before I think about how I am going to go up on the screen and what I am going to say.”
Born into a Catholic family in Moravia in 1908, Oskar became an industrialist and member of the Nazi party. He is credited with saving 1,200 Jews during the Holocaust by employing them in his enamelware and ammunitions factories in Moravia and occupied Poland. He gradually changed his focus from profit to people, bribing Nazi officials to keep his workers safe. In 1962 Oskar and his wife Emilie were named Righteous Among the Nations, an award bestowed by Israel on gentiles who rescued Jews during the Holocaust. “I had to help them,” he declared. “There was no choice.”
All is and are and will be at peace on Mount Zion. A white cat prowls between the gravestones.
It’s as if The Argory and Ardress House (County Armagh’s finest) were blended and transplanted in rural County Londonderry. Cumber House has the seven bay with breakfront containing a tripartite window over a fanlighted entrance door of The Argory and the white painted rendered walls of Ardress House. The house is Grade A Listed, the equivalent of Grade I in Great Britain. Alistair Rowan writes in The Buildings of Ireland: North West Ulster (1979), a seminal work sponsored by Lord Dunleath’s Charitable Trust, “A seven bay two storey house with tripartite centre door. It looks about 1820, though the lower floor was built earlier by William Ross, who lost his money in the American War of Independence and sold the house in 1785.”The Listing dates the building a decade earlier, “The Ordnance Survey Memoir for the parish of Cumber, compiled around 1835, states, ‘The present house was built by James Ross Esquire in 1810 and cost about £700, planting included, and other improvements round the house. It is handsome and commodious, and has a western aspect.’” Cumber House remained in private ownership until 1972 when it was purchased by the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA).
Cumber House is well looked after by the GAA with a variety of community uses occupying the rooms. Earlier in the 21st century, the GAA spent £1.2 million restoring the house including its fine interior plasterwork. The Fat Fox Café has opened in one of the two main reception rooms flanking the entrance hall. Three high sash windows overlook the river and woodland at the bottom of a grass bank. The café is already a brunch hit with locals and drivers seeking a pitstop on the Cookstown to Derry City road. The single storey stable block on the opposite side of the road has also been restored: the fronting lodges now contain a hair salon and a vets’ practice. Cumber House is rumoured to be the most haunted house in the north of Ireland. The Lawrence Photograph Collection includes an image of Cumber House taken by Robert French (1841 to 1917). The photograph was taken towards the end of his life. Over a century later, nothing has changed except ivy framing the breakfront has gone. Perhaps the original occupants are still in residence too.
“Running… Running uphill…” (Rabbit, Run by John Updike, 1961). After a Taits (our new fav Reims bubbles) pre party, it might be past Mercury Retrograde and Wolf Moon is just a memory yet we’re still running the roads. “Oh dear! Oh dear! We sha’n’t be too late!” We’re off to the wonderland that is the Sussex-farm-to-King’s-Road-forkRabbit restaurant. “Spring, fall, summer, autumn: a life as well as a year has its seasons.” (Rabbit, Run, once more). For fork’s sake, a menu, too, has its seasons, especially when the owners tell, “We use all things wild, foraged and locally grown, including sustainable livestock from the Gladwins’ family farm in West Sussex. We call this ‘local and wild’.” We’re local and we’re wild.
They’ve more to say, “We grow and produce a range of award winning wines in our very own Nutbourne Vineyards. The 10 hectares of landscape are carefully looked after to preserve the natural habitat. We grow Bacchus, Riesling family varietals, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. We produce 40,000 bottles each year. We like our customers to enjoy a bottle of Nutbourne Wine in the spirit of ‘what grows together goes together’.”
Rabbit is carefully casual with a haphazard picture hang on the exposed brick walls and the odd bit of taxidermy in between. Something resembling a cattle grid droops from the corrugated metal ceiling. Or maybe it is a cattle grid. This restaurant is a celebration of rustic farmhouse dining with urban views. At one end of the simple L shape – this is no rabbit warren – is the frenetic King’s Road. At the other end, a picture window frames Burnsall Street with its boxy dormered Dutch gabled Marseille pantile roofed Juliet balconied chamfered bayed sun kissed pastel coloured townhouses. Clientele are well heeled, literally; this is after all the fashionista friendly St Luke’s Parish. Bunny Rogers would approve.
“Jacques Rolancey, the Lyonnais Chef, is truer to his native cooking that he is to the imperatives of international hotel practice. His lack of fancy is remarkable. Flavours are confidently unexaggerated. Scallops with white truffle and balsamic vinegar are excellent. Cannelloni is stuffed with a light spinach and herb mixture sauced with a vegetable jus…” We’re up for a bit of channelling John Updike’s character Rabbit. We’re running, always running, into the light, that eternally focused light.
Meanwhile, there’s a narcissistic golden rabbit on the loose in County Tyrone.
“We have seen that a Fashion utterance involves at least two systems of information: a specifically linguistic system, which is a language (such as French or English) and a ‘vestimentary’ system, according to which the garment signifies the world or Fashion. These two systems are not separate: the vestimentary system seems to be taken over by the linguistic system.” So wrote our favourite philosopher Roland Barthes in his 1967 revelation The Fashion System.
Musical model Funmi Olagunju literally rocks up strumming her guitar. Lavender coloured clothes clad, she sings, “I only wanted to see you, laughing in the purple rain, purple rain purple rain…” Funmi shares, “Mary’s clothes are so crazy! They’re elegant and theatrical. They’re regal. She thinks outside the box!” Beautiful Natasha Lloyd bursts across our vision in a radiance of red. Crimson is the new black. She next models the Queen of Africa dress. Over to Mary, “I’d just won African Fashion Designer of the Year and I felt like I was the Queen of Africa! The colourway in this dress represents brown for earth, green for grass and yellow for the sun.”
While getting ready, model Sienna Kinley advises on confidence, “You forget who you are. You go into fear mode. The mindset is to remind yourself who you are. Who you are is everything you need to be in this life. Everything you’ve been given is enough for you in this world. Sometimes you can forget that’s enough. Confidence is recognising who you are: you are a perfect being. All the gifts and talent you have are enough.” Makeup artist Sofia Mahmood adds, “Be creative. You need great patience to be a makeup artist. Patience with creativity.”
This Old Street London warehouse is rocking with a carnival atmosphere and a festival of talent. All of us are in front and to the side and behind the cameras as filming continues… yes, that film. In the midst of the mayhem and madness and fashion miscellanea, Mary emerges, as ever a human whirlwind of orders and changes and directions and laughter. “I don’t like ordinary,” she understates. Natasha reappears modelling The Hidden Queens Collection dress with its socially distancing crinoline.
The dresses of The Collections flow onto the film set amidst falling roses and oversized poppies. World class ballerina Omozefe (“just call me ‘Sue’”) performs pirouettes and shows photograph of herself with Margot Fontaine. “It was her last performance ever at the Royal Opera House! I have met Rudolf Nureyev twice. I love dancing to The Nutcracker, Carmen and of course Swan Lake.” Soon Sue is teaching model Hassan Reese some Pilates moves. “Pilates is similar to ballet – it’s about micro movements stretching muscles. You can’t get up on point unless your core being is very strong.”
Cleopatra, brought to life by model Natasha Lloyd, struts her stuff. Three times Taekwondo World Champion Carol Hudson, modelling herbaceous headgear, says with some understatement, “Mary’s clothes aren’t for the fainthearted!” Photographer Monika Schaibel agrees, “Mary has a vision and is always true to her vision. Amazing eye to detail. Her fashion shows are pure theatre – they’re art happenings.” Kiki Busari, modelling The Red Dress, adds, “I love the opulence. These dresses take you to a fantasy world. A world where you are empowered and strong.”
It’s like the creativity of King Jotham with the boldness of Queen Vashti and the power of King Xerxes. “Never try to explain your work,” once said our fav photographer of all time, Deborah Turbeville. So we won’t say we are a muse or the bridge between the bright lights or something else far more mesmeric and fantastic. Let the wrap party begin! To paraphrase Marilyn Monroe, we all just want to be wonderful. “Fashion dissolves the myth of innocent signifies,” ends Roland Barthes, “at the very moment it produces them.” Super supermodel Katie Ice has left the building.
Siberia isn’t only a bad table at The Ivy. Snow is gifting a temporary white delineation to the Queen Anne architecture of Duddell’s. Tonight’s table is in the gallery. We’re looking down on everyone. We’re looking up at the dentilled-egg-and-dart-and-paterae cornice. We’re looking across at the reredos for this was once a church. Understated interior decoration by Michaelis Boyd lets the architecture do the singing. We’ll be singing for our supper when the bill, £232.31 for two, arrives. That’s a lot of truffle. Are you having a cod? For certain, truffle roasted black cod with lily bulb and Nameko mushrooms.
Goodness. Two far east trips in one season. We’ll be in Ichinomiya by spring at this rate. Nuala was well worth the trip for midweek frolics. Hopes are riding high for Saturday lunch in Typing Room. We’re liking the name already, even minus its definite article, spending half our lives typing up storms. We’re here to snatch the three course (plus snack) set lunch menu. It’s fashionably short: two options per course. Fortunately it caters well for pescatarians:
We’re very partial to Michelin style madness and had been reliably informed to expect multisensory sensations. Cow bells ding-a-ling? No; just lively piped music towards the close of the afternoon. Surely foam at the very least? Our sense of anticipation rises. One of our carnivorous companions chooses the venison. Will it vaporise upon arrival with said guest merely left to inhale the gamey scent as if the doe was gracefully passing by on a moor? Before being shot dead? Not quite: it arrives solidly three dimensional, delicately seared, with the closest nod to starry styling being its geometric presentation (an oblong cut next to a cabbage roll). Belcanto’s fag ash butter pushed boundaries; Typing Room’s marmite butter is easier to love.
The snack is really an oversized amuse bouche, crispy and colourful, balancing on a rolled linen napkin. The crab is pure seefood. See it. Eat it. Delish. The brill is brill (sorry, couldn’t resist). Honestly, it’s as light and wholesome as our writing (we weren’t once described as “architecture’s answer to Hello! magazine” for nothing). Sheep’s yoghurt was but now isn’t on the menu. Pity. We could eat sheep’s yoghurt till the cows come home. But a colourful cacophony (pudding arrives to the beat of that lively music) of sweet meets savoury is worth writing home about. Under the aegis of Jason Atherton – City Social (his goat’s cheese fritters with honeyed white truffle oil are particularly memorable) being one of his many other forays – is Executive Chef Lee Westcott who formerly worked for Tom Aikens.
The restaurant is naturally lit by large sash windows on two sides. A central chimney breast divides it into two spaces. We’re in the larger space, overlooking the kitchen with its eight rolled-sleeve-white-shirted-navy-aproned-mostly-bearded staff. Walls are painted an inky charcoal grey. Seats look Scandinavian and must be comfortable because, afterwards, well, we don’t remember if they were or not, and you always remember uncomfortable chairs, don’t you?
Typing Room is in the same building as the five star Town Hall Hotel (lack of definite article clearly being a theme). It’s a sturdy Portland stone monument to municipality designed by Percy Robinson and Alban Jones in the final year of the Edwardian era. It was added to 30 years later in a similarly robust manner. Rare Architecture completed the recent conversion adding a daring metallic intervention. Or “abstracted veil” in the words of architect Nathalie Rozencwajg. The interiors are furnished to reflect all these eras: neoclassical antiques; vintage mid century pieces; and contemporary sculptures. Eclectic and eccentric: a doll’s house cupboard here; a dentist’s chair there. And – holy cow – a big yellow fish. Taxi!
Clonegal, County Carlow, population 280, isn’t at first glance the most obvious place to come across one of Ireland’s finest restaurants. “You might say we’re in the middle of nowhere,” laughs co-proprietor and host Stephanie Stone. “But we’re close to the borders of Counties Wicklow and Wexford. Towns like Enniscorthy and Gorey aren’t too far away and Dublin is handy enough to get to.” That in part explains why it’s impossible to get a table on Friday or Saturday nights at Sha-Roe Bistro without booking. That, plus great food, atmosphere and craic.
Much of the food, as you’d expect in this green rural location, is locally sourced. Fish is from Seatrade in Dunmore East, County Waterford. Carlow Cheese is another, even more local, source: “Owner Elizabeth Bradley is just up the road from Fenagh!” Stephanie’s husband Henry, originally from Arklow, is head chef and self explanatory as this may sound, actually does cook what’s on your plate, a rarity in this golden age of named chefs. He was chef at Marlfield House near Gorey for seven years. That’s where the couple met. “I love Marlfield!” enthuses Stephanie. “It’s like entering a different world and all your worries flying off your shoulder. We were there last weekend for a family celebration.”
Named after the village where Stephanie was brought up, Sha-Roe occupies the ground floor of an elegant Georgian end of terrace. To the side is the entrance to historic Huntington Castle and opposite flows the River Derry. What’s not to like? Orders are taken in the quiet sitting room on one side of the fanlit entrance hall. The lively restaurant occupies the room on the opposite side of the hall. “We’ve 32 covers and are serving 54 customers this evening,” she confirms. The place is buzzing. A fire roars in the massive inglenook fireplace and conversations sparkle like the wine. Candles and artwork are set in rugged stone niches. Tables are simply laid with stone mustard jars of fresh flowers.
Henry is renowned for taking seasonal country cooking to a whole new level. Sharper, more refined, make that much more refined. Those seven years at Marlfield clearly show. It’s hard not to OD on sourdough balls before starter arrives. Mushroom and parmesan tart, roast parsnip, butternut squash and beetroot (€7.50). Main is bouillabaisse of monkfish, scallops and plaice served in a shellfish sauce (€23.50) with chips (€3). Finally, an Irish cheese board of Wicklow Blue, Bradley’s Sheep Milk and Carlow Tomme with apple chutney and homemade crackers (€7.70). There’s plenty more of course(s) on the menu but choices must be made. Sure enough, Sha-Roe lives up to, and surpasses, all expectations.
“We’ve been here nine and a half years now,” confirms Swiss born Stephanie. “It’s very funny by pure chance we came across the house for sale in an estate agents in Gorey. I love living here!” Henry and Stephanie live upstairs above the restaurant with their three year old child and another is en route, so to speak. Soon the population of Clonegal will be 281.
City lights lay out before us | We don’t need anything or anyone
It’s the unveiling of the first new state of the art e320 train. The world class Italian design house has gone full steam ahead with the interior design covering styling, engineering and livery to boot. Pininfarina’s brand values, as ever, are at work and play here: creativity, experience, innovation. Nothing jejune. Nothing ersatz. Nothing déclassé. Nada. That hasn’t changed since 1930. Unlike the number and whereabouts of the employees. The company now has a workforce of 3,000 across Italy, Germany, Sweden, Morocco, China. Bigger picture, devilish detail. After all, Pininfarina has in the past gone micro, designing an exclusive bottle of Chivas 18. Back to macro, delivering it large.
Is it fast enough so you can fly away | We’ll do it all everything on our own
A double decade ago, Eurostar really was the most momentous event in the history of cross Channel travel since Blériot wobbled his way over the white cliffs in 1909. At first departing from Waterloo, the smart move was to relocate to St Pancras, a destination itself with two of London’s finest hotels at the end of the line. Beautiful staff line the platform as a DJ and poptastic quartet perform. More seats, more room, more fun. Pininfarina has given Eurostar all that pizzazz. Business class culinary director Raymond Blanc says salut.
Leave tonight or live and die this way | Just know that these things will never change for us at allOver to Eurostar chief executive Nicolas Petrovic: “We’ve changed the way people think, live and work between the cities of London, Paris and Brussels. So far we’ve carried 150 million passengers. Eurostar has doubled the size of the market between our three cities. Our DNA is product innovation and customer service. We aim to make travelling a pleasure, an experience in itself.” Next year, Eurostar will travel direct to Lyon. The following year, Amsters. A star is reborn.
Maybe together we can get somewhere | Let’s waste time