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Architecture Luxury Town Houses

The Burlington Hotel Worthing West Sussex +

Longing

Dublin may have lost its Burlington Hotel but Worthing still has one. If charm could be boxed up in an early Victorian seaside villa, it would be The Burlington on the seafront of the sprawling West Sussex town of Worthing. Dating from 1865 this three storey with tall attics corner building is stuccoed and Italianate in style. The dining room stretches the full three bay frontage and extends into a glazed projection perfectly capturing sea views. There are 12 bedrooms on the first floor, eight on the second floor and six on the third floor. A two bay lower wing is attached to the landward elevation of the main block. The interior is subtly and elegantly decorated with Lyonel Feininger, Henri Matisse and Joan Miró prints lining the corridor walls.

James Henry and Colin Walton write in Secret Worthing, 2016, “The town is a popular south coast seaside resort, mixing Victorian, Edwardian and Georgian architecture with a dash of Art Deco and a pinch of medieval design… history is everywhere, all you need to do is look that little bit closer.” Worthing is like Brighton’s sleepy sister: laid back, understated and just a little bit louche.

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Architecture Fashion Luxury People

King Charles III + Buckingham Palace London

All the King’s Horses

Where better to wave goodbye to the Second Elizabethan Era and welcome in the Third Carolean Age than outside Buckingham Place? Queen Elizabeth II Rest in Peace and Rise in Glory. God Save The King! Exquisitely uniformed bands from The Household Division, seven British Army Regiments serving the Monarch, liveried to the nines, play and march past. Each is a masterclass in music and choreography. Across The Mall in St James’s Palace, the terribly handsome Penny Mordaunt MP, Lord President of the Council, her mane swept back with a black Alice band, is opening the Proclamation proceedings. She lives up to her looks, speaking with polished authority. Bugles and trumpets sound. The King’s Royal Horse Artillery fire gun salutes at Hyde Park and the Tower of London, echoing across the crowd and down the River Thames.

A roar ripples through the crowd. The atmosphere is electric. Here he comes! A lorry carrying barriers turns the corner and comes into view, its driver waving regally. The crowd cheers and laughs. A young unfit looking guy breaks through the barrier and makes a run for it. An even more unfit looking policeman gives chase. The crowd cheers again before the guy is eventually toppled to the ground by five police officers further up The Mall.

The waiting continues. There’s a flurry of activity amongst the many security personnel. They’re all on their mobiles. Then at last the horse led convoy appears. The State Rolls Royce Phantom VI slowly drives past, enough to catch a glimpse of King Charles’ wispy grey hair. Hip hip hooray! And so His Majesty Charles III, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of His other Realms and Territories, King, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith, Supreme Head of the Church of England, Commander-in-Chief of the British Armed Forces, starts the first day in his new job, aged 73, meeting Prime Minister Liz Truss and members of her new Cabinet in Buckingham Palace. What a short commute! What’s his job role? To weave a line through the tapestry of time. No pressure, then. Soon, it will be time to dust down the ermine. Where does pomp and pageantry better than Britain?

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Design Luxury People Restaurants

Frog + Scot Restaurant Deal Kent

An Unrough Wooing

“The camera enables us to keep a sort of visual chronicle. For me, it is my diary.”

Not since Mary Queen of Scots has there been such a splendid alliance of France and Scotland. For six years now, Frog and Scot has been enticing hungry clientele with its wall hung blackboard menus. It’s open for lunch and dinner Monday to Sunday. The French coast may be visible from Deal beach on a clear day but the bistro’s name is derived from its owners Benoit Dezecot and Sarah Ross’s origins. In the shrinking sunlit hours of a passing summer, pavement tables are in hot demand. French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson, in The Mind’s Eye: Writings on Photography and Photographers, proved he was as adept with words as pictures.

“Photography is, for me, a spontaneous impulse coming from an ever-attentive eye, which captures the moment and its eternity.”

The set lunch menu fills one blackboard. There’s a confident lightness to each course and more than a splash of oceanic goodness. Heirloom tomato with olive and basil has the faultless ripeness of a bumper harvest. Charred sardines, garlic butter, salad and frites celebrate pure simplicity of form and flavour. The genius of peach and Earl Grey sorbet is to distil and present the combined essence in a fresh light. A bottle of No Sexual Services Hunny Bunny propped on the bar looks intriguing; a less adventurous but rewarding choice is 2020 Petit Bourgeois Sauvignon Blanc.

“Photography is an immediate reaction, drawing a meditation.”

That bastion of French taste, The Michelin Guide, describes Frog and Scot as, “A quirky bistro with yellow canopies and mismatched furnishings… Large blackboard menus list; refined, innately simple dishes which let the ingredients do the talking.” Lunch is absolutely flawless, drawing the coastal elite and a few interlopers. The day can continue a few doors down in Le Pinardier, a wine shop and bar, also owned by Monsieur Dezecot and Ms Ross.

“We photographers deal in things that are continually vanishing, and when they have vanished, there is no contrivance on earth that can make them come back again.”

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Architecture Developers Hotels Luxury People Restaurants Town Houses

James Street Restaurant + Brick Belfast

Magic Not Realism

Francis Scott Fitzgerald knew you can’t repeat the past but it’s nice to reminisce. Belfast has a long restaurant tradition. Here are a few that have disappeared… Christies (now occupied by Coco brasserie). The Garden Restaurant (Eighties bling). Larry’s Piano Bar (obligatory table top dancing). Mint (getting haute). Nick’s Warehouse (served the famous Nineties £10 express business lunch). Planks (very wooden interior). Roscoff (Northern Ireland’s first Michelin star restaurant). Saints and Scholars (two storeys near Queen’s University). Speranza (the first Italian in the Province). Truffles (upstairs elegance opposite the City Hall). Happily, there’s been a continuing upward trajectory ever since.

Brick is what Belfast does best when it comes to architecture. And terracotta detailing. And a bit of stone. One of the best brick buildings is St Malachy’s Catholic Church on Alfred Street. Designed in 1841 by master of the eclectic Thomas Jackson, this Tudor Revival work underwent a £3.5 million restoration in 2008. It boasts the ultimate wedding cake plasterwork ceiling. You half expect a gargantuan lump of icing to drop on you mid mass. “Oh holy servant of God, you chose to live life as a poor man to show God’s love shining through the poor. You gave away everything to gain the treasure that only comes from God.” That’s the dedication to St Benedict Joseph Labre in the hallway of St Malachy’s.

A few blocks away, occupying the ground floor of a red brick four storey gabled Victorian corner building which couldn’t be more Belfast if it tried is the restaurant James Street. There’s no need to go à la carte when the concise set lunch menu has such riches. A starter of crispy squid and jalapeno mayo artily sits on a bed of squid ink. Roast parmesan gnocchi main is jazzed up with crisp globe artichoke, butternut squash and date. Toffee tart takes the rough with the smooth: granola and barley ice cream. There’s only one place in BT2 to sip cocktails though and that’s in the nearby Observatory on the 22nd floor of Grand Central Hotel, owned by second generation hoteliers the Hastings family. Linenopolis cocktail, named after one of the city’s historic industries, is a dizzying concoction of mango vodka, apricot brandy, prosecco, passionfruit, lemon, cream, whites and Seltzer.

James Street’s General Manager Paul Vaughan says, “Northern Irish hospitality is unique. It has such diversity. Belfast has three Michelin starred restaurants. The food offering is very diverse for such a small city. Here at James Street we pride ourselves on sourcing the best quality local produce.” He’s originally from Downings in County Donegal. “The Olde Glen Bar just outside the town is the best place to eat in Downings.”

Owners Niall and Joanne McKenna have tempted Ryan Stringer, the Executive Chef of Ely Wine Bars in Dublin, back to Belfast to take over the James Street kitchen. Dublin’s loss; Belfast’s gain. “I’m absolutely delighted to be back in Belfast to take on this new role at such an iconic restaurant,” comments the Dungannon born culinary star. “I’ve personally admired James Street for nearly two decades now. It has an outstanding reputation for incredible food… I’m keen to keep doing what James Street does well while introducing some of my own style and experience.” That experience includes stints at Raymond Blanc’s Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons and Kristian Baumann’s 108 Restaurant. Oxford and Copenhagen’s losses; again Belfast’s gain. A Street named desire. Sometimes, you can repeat the past.

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Architecture Luxury People Restaurants

Le Palais Garnier + CoCo Restaurant Paris

Excuse Our French

Releasing our inner Chanel we’re off to Le Palais Garnier’s opera restaurant CoCo. The in crowd are outside. Paris Society at its best. Literally. The Paris Society Group was founded in 2008 by French entrepreneur Laurent de Gourcuff. CEO Sebastien Pacault is our type of guy, “We are the pioneers of the French lifestyle!” Its restaurants and venues have spread from the French capital to Marseilles and St Tropez. Today, brunch in The Society’s CoCo alfresco setting on Place Jacques Rouche is all about “Incontournables” (must haves on a plate). That translates as tarama truffé (truffled tarama); cabillaud, gnocchis, beurre citronée et cresson (cod, gnocchi, lemon butter and watercress); and cheesecake caramélisé (carmelised raspberry and… you guessed it). And as always Veuve Cliquot Rosé: le goût de l’été. Restaurant souvenirs include Coffret de Cocteau, a box of set knives (€280), and Encens Éclatant, a glass domed candle (€250). More original than a miniature Eiffel Tower any day. We’re going cuckoo for CoCo. Just in time for a rooftop party next door in Galeries Lafayette Haussmann to celebrate The French Touch fashion exhibition. “Let’s go!” as they say in Israel.

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Architects Architecture Art Design Luxury People Restaurants

Jules Aimé Lavirotte + Hôtel Elysées Céramic Paris

Favoured Façadism

The 7th and 8th Arrondisements of Paris are made all the richer thanks to the architecture of Jules Aimé Lavirotte. His decorative Art Nouveau buildings are the perfect antidote to the restraint of Baron Haussmann’s. There’s no doubting who designed Hotel Elysées Céramic on Avenue de Wagram, one of the broad streets radiating out from the Arc de Triomphe. Among the glazed ceramic sculptures and tiles are two nameplates: “J Lavrirotte Architecte 1904” and “Alaphilippe Sculpteur”. Prize winning architect Jules Aimé Lavirotte (1864 to 1929) hailed from Lyon where he studied under Antoine Georges Louvier at the École des Beaux-Arts. He would later study at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris where his tutor was Paul Blondel. Fellow alumnus and prize winner Camille Alaphilippe (1874 to 1934) was the pupil of Jean-Paul Laurens and Louis-Ernest Barrias in the Paris École. The courtyard elevations of the hotel are plain planes in contrast to the frenetic frivolity of the façade. The building is constructed of reinforced concrete. It started life as a maison meublée, an establishment with rented furnished rooms, before becoming a hotel. Jules Aimé Lavirotte, along with Hector Guimard and Henri Sauvage, is now recognised as one of the major figures of Art Nouveau architecture in Paris.

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Art Design Fashion Luxury People

Mary Martin London + Southbank Show + Africa Fashion Week London

Back Stage Front Stage Centre Stage

London’s glossiest posse gathered at Southbank for a Saturday evening fashion show on the Riverside Terrace along the Thames. It was the catwalk of the summer. But first there was a round of turmeric iced lattés, the boisson du jour before the hard work began. Makeup artist Karen Messam explained, “It’s going to be a graphic bold story. We’re highlighting bold, glossy lips.” Karen was assisted by fellow mistress of maquillage Jade Almojera.

Organiser Anna-Maria Benedict summarised the evening, “The main show brought drama, rain, couture and elaborate accessories. Prestigious designers Kalikas Armour, Sista by Eyoro, Elfreda Dali, Adebayo Jones, Mary Martin London and Soboye showcased glamour, command of design and tailoring which all meant Southbank had never been so well dressed!”

“We continued Africa Fashion Week London’s dedication to promoting and uplifting design graduates of colour,” Anna-Maria acknowledged. “We opened the show with three mini collections from the Universities of Northampton and West London. Themes of protest were evident in both universities’ collections. Black Lives Matter and awareness of misogynoir – the unique discrimination faced by black women – featured in powerful graphic prints.”

Sierra Leonean-Lebanese model Yasmin Jamaal commanded the catwalk, rocked the runway, walked the wave of cheers, stormed the storm parading in Mary’s Gold Coast Dress. Multitalented Yasmin has launched an Afro-Middle East plant based food company, Jamaal Cuisine. She recently was invited to cook for a high society private dinner. When Yasmin arrived the hostess confessed, “I didn’t expect the model off the website to turn up!” Yasmin had to explain, “I’m the model and also your chef for the evening!” The admiring crowd included lots of well known faces from the arts world like the principal actor from the 2022 film Django, Vivienne Rochester, and Eric’s mum in the Netflix series Sex Education, Doreen Blackstock.

Star of the fashion show was… Mary Martin London. Earlier in the day she beamed, “John Fairbrother Dolls have just made The Mary Martin London Dress! I’m wearing my epic Union Jack Dress! Or rather the miniature me is wearing it!” Now there’s a tribute. Mary showed dresses from her previous award winning collections as well as new ones such as The Eccentric Peacock Dress and The Grace Jones Dress. “Grace is such an inspiration,” she recorded. Mary is of course famous for designing dresses for singers and musicians like Heather Small. “If there aren’t high vibrations forget it!” she exclaimed. Thanks to DJ Biggy C there were plenty of high vibrations. The tune maker let it be known, “That’s me playing now!”

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Architecture Art Design Fashion Luxury People Restaurants

Masterpiece London Art Fair 2022 + Pol Roger

Well Seasoned

London in summer has an added layer of attraction: ‘The Season’. This is a series of high society events, many of them sporting, from tennis at Wimbledon to rowing at Henley Royal Regatta. The Chelsea Flower Show in the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea is for the more horticulturally inclined. Also held in the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea is Masterpiece London Art Fair. Only established in 2010, it is a latecomer to The Season.

At this year’s Masterpiece there are 127 stands in the vast marquee with its canvas printed in the style of the original 17th century Royal Hospital building. “Masterpiece is a world class fair bringing together exceptional works encompassing all periods and cultures,” summarises Clare Jameson, Director of Potterton Books, an exhibitor at the fair. Potterton Books are international specialists in books on art, culture, design and the decorative arts. She adds, “It is a convivial meeting place for collectors and connoisseurs. We have seen a growing interest in requests for assembling book collections and personal libraries.”

The fair is more than just art. There’s the Pol Roger Champagne Preview. And yes, there are multimillion dollar Impressionist paintings for sale (La Seine à Port Marly by Pierre-Auguste Renoir at Dickinson) and contemporary collages (Stately Home by Chris Jones at Marc Straus New York) but it’s also the place to buy a vintage Ferrari (DK Engineering) or a state-of-the-art yacht (Ventura). There’s even a dinosaur skull (Triceratops Prorsus at David Aaron) on show. Offshoots of top end London restaurants – including Le Caprice which recently closed – spring up at Masterpiece.

A standout among the standout paintings is a portrait by Nelson Shanks of Diana, Princess of Wales, for sale by Philip Mould. Artist and publisher Anne Davey Orr critiques the work, “Because the brushwork is not overworked and has a fleeting quality to it, I suspect that this may have originated as a sketch or study for a larger portrait. Shanks’ technique, unlike that of his more formal portraits, has an instancy about it that conveys Diana’s fleeting, somber mood and her innate shyness.”

There’s an exhibitor at the fair called The Gallery of Everything. Masterpiece is like The Show of Everything.

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Art Design Fashion Luxury People

Mary Martin London + The Golden Nest Dress

The Eagle Soars at Your Command and Builds its Nest on High

She chooses to conceal her identity. She is strong, powerful, well defined. She is a bird of prey. She is the woman who dares to wear The Golden Nest Dress by avant garde fashion artist Mary Martin London. Sewing metal? All in a day’s work. There are undeniable historical references yet this costume is as resolutely contemporary as the brutalist backdrop of the shoot. Enigma. Mystery. Luxury. And drama. Wherever there’s Mary there’s drama!

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Luxury People

The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee + Newzroom Afrika + Lavender’s Blue

Jubilate Everybody

We prefer tropical to topical and views to news, but sometimes you just gotta break with tradition to mark tradition. As the second age of Gloriana reigns down upon us we’re celebrating an Elizabeth, Princess of Greece and Denmark’s certain anniversary. We’re in clubland of course. The best balcony save for Buckingham Palace. And what a flypast! Or in our case, flyover. Battle of Britain Spitfires, Lancaster Bombers and Hurricanes are the first of 71 planes and helicopters roaring across the sky. Glasses are raised, cheers erupt and anthems sung from our terrace, soon echoing down Pall Mall. Apaches, Chinooks and Typhoon fighter jets blaze the heavens above. Next, C-130 Hercules (missing its crew: Prime Minister Johnson was last seen applauding Trooping of The Colour with the fuchsia clad Carrie). The best really is saved for last. Nobody in living memory will ever forget the sight of the two most important digits of the day. You get them. Seven. Zero. And no Royal event is complete without a Newzroom Afrika broadcast from  South Chelsea! Newzroom Afrika is of course South Africa’s leading 24 hour 100 percent black owned television channel. Didn’t we say the best really is saved for last?

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Luxury Town Houses

Asparagus +

The Green Party

“Curation is crucial,” Deputy Mayor Jules Pipe CBE told us over breakfast in the private dining room of The May Fair Hotel London. He may have been referring to placemaking rather than place setting but the same rule applies. The Garrick Club afterwards takes place setting to a whole new level, easier done than said, when you’re surrounded by more Zoffany (and we’re not talking the wallpaper variety) than The National Gallery under a latticed plasterwork shallow domed ceiling rose. It’s all about the soft lighting. The Season has begun. Asparagus, that is. We’re going green. And white. And gold (trout roe). Starter: white asparagus with truffled Cacklebean egg tartlet and smoked eel. Main: cold Portland crab asparagus tart with split buttermilk and basil sauce. Pudding: asparagus, white chocolate ganache and burnt meringue. All washed down with Gosset Champagne of course.

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Architecture Design Hotels Luxury People Restaurants

Shandon Hotel + Marble Hill Beach Dunfanaghy Donegal

A Country Kilometre

There’s a wee drop of aul’ rain in Lifford and it’s bucketin’ in Letterkenny so it is, but by the time we get to Marble Hill the sun is splittin’ the trees. It’s gone from Baltic to boilin’ so it has. All in good time for a dead on wee bite of lunch in Shandon’s overlookin’ the empty beach with not a wee’ne in sight. It’s dead posh. Not like the Carrig Rua Hotel in Dunfanaghy which is dunderin’ inn. Anyone up for a wee trip in Bert’s boat later on Killahoey Beach?

Running out of Ulsterisms it’s time to enjoy a celebratory pescatarian feast in Shandon Hotel which has had the greatest revivification since avocados were mere vegetables or fruit or whatever they used to be. There are views and there are views and there’s the framed golden strand of Marble Hill with the white tipped frothy spray of waves almost lapping up to our table. Across the water on the far side of Sheephaven Bay lies Downings.