15 YEARS OF DISNEY’S THE LION KING, LYCEUM THEATRE

Last night the award-winning musical THE LION KING celebrated its 15th anniversary at London’s Lyceum Theatre, where it remains the West End’s best-selling production.

Winning over 70 theatre awards worldwide since its Broadway premiere on November 13, 1997, 22 global productions have been seen by more than 75 million people. In addition to the London and UK touring productions, THE LION KING can currently be seen in New York, Tokyo, Hamburg, Madrid, Sao Paulo, Brisbane and on tour across North America and Japan.

Recently the musical opened in Australia and they celebrated with a surprise singing outburst on the Virgin Flight over to the other side of the world. The proud cast made flight guests feel like the luckiest travellers in the world. I have seen the show several times now, and always leave stunned and silenced by the innovative and beautiful production, ebullient songs and the magical costumes. This time around (sitting close to the stage in the stalls) I noticed the enormous talent, from the adorable kids who carry much of the first half, to the charismatic animals who sing powerfully whilst mimicking their animal’s mannerisms immaculately.

The story is simple and universal, the music is affecting and infectious and the spirit of the show is undeniably wonderful. As the final curtain call music played from the pit I looked up to the African drummers in the balconies, both smiling as if they were just discovering the music for the first time… 15 years on from its debut The Lion King feels as fresh, relevant and magical as ever. It is a musical that never ceases to amaze me, a production that I know will still be going strong in another decade’s time.

More information and book tickets to The Lion King here.

Things to do in Bangkok

A city of many facets, Bangkok initially appears crowded, chaotic and claustrophobic. Before visiting I was warned against spending time in this humid city. I felt bewildered for a few hours when I first arrived, tired from the jet-lag and overwhelmed by the dizzying heat, but soon fell in love with the unique culture, and the exoticism and excitement of the place. Magnificent temples, fragrant fresh food and an addictive friendly lively atmosphere… I could have gone on exploring Bangkok for weeks but here is what I discovered in just a few days in Thailand’s capital city.

To stay

Mandarin Oriental – This hotel is without doubt the most recognised and renowned hotel in Bangkok.  An impressive 138 years old, this institution offers an oasis of Oriental cool and calm and all the luxuries you could ever desire. Interestingly Mandarin Oriental is the only property in Bangkok with facilities both sides of the Chao Phraya River.

Como – this contemporary hotel is luxurious but affordable. The minimalist lobby is instantly cooling, and rooms are spacious and indulgent. The star feature though is David Thompson’s on-site restaurant, Nahm which was recently named the Number 1 restaurant in Asia.

To eat

Bo.lan - Founded and run by two of David Thompson’s disciples, and chef couple, Bo and Dylan promise to serve truly authentic Thai cuisine. The Bo.lan Balance set menu is the best bet, changing seasonally every 2 months, it is a vibrant and exciting experience for the palate. I loved the flavours and passion shown in the cooking here, but be warned the food is fiery.

Thip Samai - this famous Pad Thai outlet lives up to expectations, it is always full for eat in and takeaway. Order the classic, or the egg wrapped speciality, then personalise with the condiments at the table: chilli flakes, sugar, fish sauce, crushed peanuts and lime. Sweet, sour, salty and super tasty, and costing the equivalent of £1 a plate, this pad thai is unmissable. Order a coconut ice or fresh orange juice to wash it down with.

Salt - venture out of the centre of town to the leafy and quiet Ari District where you’ll find this super hip restaurant and bar. With design conscious furnishings and a concrete cool outside yard seating area you feel like you could be in New York or London. Choose from the varied menu which features sushi and sashimi, pizza (cooked in the wood fired oven) and tempting desserts. To drink I recommend the Bangkok Mule cocktail, made with rum, ginger and lemongrass.

Gaggan - I had no idea what to expect from this creative and crazy Indian eatery. Housed in a whitewashed colonial-style wooden house in the heart of downtown Bangkok, Chef Gaggan presents progressive Indian cuisine with traditional twist.

Naie Soi - impossible to find, but worth the struggle. This little indoor canteen offers steaming hot bowls of delicious beef noodle soup with tender meat and flavoursome watery vegetable filled broth.

Sra Bua- experimental and exciting Thai cooking by Danish chef Kiin Kiin, whose restaurant in Copenhagen has a Michelin star. The set menus offer an individual and unique interpretation of familiar Thai recipes. Particularly memorable was the strange but delicious speciality Cold Lobster Red Curry Ice-cream.

To drink

Soul Food Manathorn - despite being run by an American soul food offers authentic and stylish Thai food and strong tasty cocktails. Located on busy Thong Lor road this petite restaurant is cosy and inviting with warm wooden design inside and original artwork on the walls. Sit at the bar, order a spicy, tequila based Bung Bang Fai cocktail.

Rocket - this Sweden owned and run café has a typical Scandi look, which stands out amongst the Bangkok venues. Offering delicious coffee, made from carefully sourced exotic beans, no two cups are the same.

Speakeasy – resist the temptation to waste your money at film-famous Skybar and visit this hidden gem on the rooftop of Hotel muse. Sip a refreshing fruity mojito and enjoy the dizzying heights and cosmopolitan views down below.

Iron Fairies – thousands of little bottles filled with glitter line the walls of this cosy and Thonglor bar. Doubling up as a gallery, restaurant, antique store and, most bizarrely a blacksmith’s workshop, this is certainly not your ordinary evening venue. Follow the winding staircase up to the secret seats at the top of the building, and soak up the magical atmosphere.

Lady Brett- This hip bar is ideal for weekend brunches or late night cocktails. The interiors are sleek and stylish and the menu features innovative and modern recipes. The mixologists here created us some tasty and distinctive cocktails.

To see

Wat Pho temple – This is one of the largest and oldest temples in Bangkok. Known as the temple of the reclining Buddha and the birthplace of traditional Thai massage, the magnificent golden lady housed here is a must see.

Chatuchak market – This weekend only market is North of uptown Bangkok. It is the largest market in Thailand covering over 27 acres with over 15,000 stalls. You can find everything here, I recommend wandering through and browsing the colourful array of goods with a freshly squeezed orange juice in hand. When you are feeling weary, stop for a 30 minute foot massage (150THB – £3).

Wat Arun- This intricate and decorative Buddhist temple is quite a spectacle up close and from a distance. Make sure you are wearing conservative clothes and then you will be allowed to climb the outside of this impressive structure for a small fee.

BACC- Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC) is the main contemporary arts centre in Bangkok. Art, music, theatre, film, design and cultural/ educational events take place in its exhibition and performance spaces. The seasonal shows are intriguing and inspiring.

To do

Co van kessel bikes – See the city from another perspective. Take the 3 hour bike tour round the backstreets of Bangkok including Chinatown, the Flower market, a temple and local villages. Brilliantly organised and great fun for the whole family.

Sompong cooking class - this lovely little cooking school takes students to a local food market, explains the vital ingredients for key Thai dishes, and teaches you to make an authentic and delicious food. Those with more cash to splash may wish to try the Mandarin Oriental cooking class which is world renowned.

Chao phaya Express – This Boat is a transportation service in Thailand that operates on the Chao Phraya River. Jump on this choppy boat to avoid the traffic on the roads and see the city from the water. Ideal for getting from temple to temple.

Tuk Tuk – these colourful auto rickshaws are all the rage in Bangkok, a novelty that is always popular with tourists. Bargain the price down a lot and enjoy the bumpy ride through the city.

To shop

Almeta – Most dash to Jim Thompson House for their silk tailoring in Bangkok, however Almeta offers the highest quality luxury handmade silk and has an impressive Silk a la Carte service. Customers can choose from over 1000 iridescent silk colours, yarn types and weights.

It Happened to be a Closet – A mad and eclectic retro bohemian clothing store, that also serves as a tea room and nail salon. You could spend hours rummaging through the pretty floor-to-ceiling piles.

Sretsis – this brand is a collaboration between Pim Sumhahuta and her two sisters, Kly and Matina. The brand name is sisters spelled backwards and represents the strong bond they have. Sretsis creator and lead designer Pim Sukhahuta graduated from the prestigious Parsons School of Design in New York and her eclectic East meets West background is realised in her colourful and imaginative designs. The shop was quite simply my dream wardrobe.

To escape

Amphawa- this charming floating market is a 90 minute drive from Bangkok, located on a small tributary of the Mae Khlong River. Thais flock to this traditional market every weekend, we loved observing the food sellers trading from their boats on the water.

Perfectionist’s Cafe, Heathrow T2

Forget Terminal 5, it is Heathrow’s Terminal 2 that impressed me on my last visit to the UK’s biggest airport. Known as ‘The Queen’s Terminal’, this departure area is truly fit for royalty with the finest British luxury brands (the likes of Smythson and Burberry) and a range of innovative cuisine choices to enjoy before your flight.

Recently international airports have been offering more exciting and prestigious restaurants with some of the world’s most famous chefs opening establishments and, since June, passengers travelling through Heathrow Terminal 2 have had access to The Perfectionists’ Cafe, from multi-award winning chef Heston Blumenthal. Heston hopes to offer Brits the chance to satisfy their stomachs with nostalgic British classic, but fast, food that is tasty and good quality. Inspired by the chef’s TV series ‘In Search of Perfection,’ the menu features fun and familiar dishes like Fish and Chips, Pizzas and Burgers.

The futuristic design is instantly recognisable in the smart and shiny new Terminal. We took a seat and quickly ordered a burger and pizza to share. Both arrived within ten minutes, smelling delicious. The burger was disappointing however, with under-flavoured meat and limp salad. Having tasted Heston’s triple cooked chips at his London restaurant ‘Dinner’, I was hoping for a reminder of these crispy delights, but the fries were plain and unimaginative. The pizza was thin crusted and fresh out of the pizza oven, it was topped with rocket and salami and tasted great.

For dessert, diners can design their own ice-cream sundae which is then made in the Nitro Ice-cream Parlour adjoining the restaurant. Served in a biscuit basket and topped with chocolate sauce and popping candy, it is a child’s dream come true. I love that the ice-cream concept is so different to any other desserts you would find in an airport, and this part of the restaurant is definitely the most original.

Flicking through the Heston cookbooks at the table, I could see how much the great chef has had to compromise in this airport scenario – the food certainly isn’t exceptional but it is much better than anything else I spotted on offer. If you haven’t got time for a whole meal I’d recommend popping by for a sweet treat at the Willy Wonka style parlour.

More information here.

THOROUGHLY MODERN MISSY: The Girl of the Golden West by Puccini, ENO

To think of Puccini’s operas is to be transported to the Orient, the Latin Quarter of Paris and to Rome. But when the curtain at the ENO was raised on the scene of a bar in the middle of Goldrush California, the audience stirred in their seats. When a cast of nearly 40 males crowded onto the stage moving with slick gun-slinging choreography and excellent solo performances, the audience were thrilled and carried away by the story. And when Susan Bullock, the ENO’s new Minnie in The Girl of the Golden West made her powerful entrance onto a stage crammed full of hearty male voices, the audience were entranced by her authoritative and formidable voice. Needless to say, this was not your typical Puccini performance. The last ENO performance of this lesser known opera of Puccini’s was over 50 years ago and the performances, direction, set design and general production proved to be well worth the wait.

Richard Jones’s direction introduced a fresh take on the dusty setting of Goldrush California and created nuances that one is surprised to see on an opera stage. For example, the decision to start Puccini’s rapturous opening to the opera with the curtain down but brilliantly illuminated, creating an air of anticipation before the big reveal of the somewhat bare and ever so slightly contemporary bar scenario. The set could have been inspired by the trendy ‘Scandi’ aesthetic of simple lines and bare wood with strip lighting accents. The set changes with each of the three acts and the third set, which acts as the backdrop for the nail biting finale looks like a 3D Hopper painting with a long cuboid Sheriff’s cabin which the audience looks in on as if eavesdropping. The simple yet effective design refreshes the Western soul of the opera and provides a bland enough backdrop for the tumultuous singers and storyline to shine.

Though some think that the opera’s less popular reputation is deserved since Puccini neglected his famous and standalone arias in favour of illuminating the drama of David Belasco’s libretto, much of the music can still sweep one away. (Whether this is due to the excellence of the singers, you will have to decide for yourself!) Personal highlights were the soaring ‘Quello che taceto’ performed by British tenor, Peter Auty, playing the part of Dick Johnson, which could rival most other Puccini arias (and also, it seems, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Music of the Night from his Phantom of the Opera). Another highlight was the seduction scene between Dick Johnson and Minnie, very amiably and wittily observed by the only other female cast member, Clare Presland.

Yet another original feature was the modernity of the production; the opera was well translated into English by Kelley Rourke and the line ‘would you like a cookie’ was enough to keep this production in the 20th, if not the 21st Century. There is modernity too within Puccini’s opera itself. To have a strong female heroine who has conviction enough to wait for whom she loves (even if he is a good-fer-nothin criminal), and also confidence to stand up to 40+ miners is still a peculiarity in the opera world. Susan Bullock thrives in this role and adds humour and sensitivity to the part – every inch a Thoroughly Modern Minnie.

The production in general is a triumph, and considering that for many of the cast and crew this was a UK debut, one can only see the result as a shining testament to their professionalism and talent. Keri-Lynn Wilson echoes the strong female role in the orchestra in her UK operatic conducting debut and American Craig Colclough makes his European and role debut as the unpleasant and rejected Sheriff Jack Rance. It is also worth noting that both Sonora (Leigh Melrose) and Larkens (Nicholas Crawley) stood out from their strong chorus. The ENO’s The Girl of the Golden West is truly memorable and a thrilling success. Do go see it and avoid the next 50 year wait!

Continues until 1 November, book tickets here.

Written by Thoroughly Modern Missy, Angelica Bomford.

Hot on the Highstreet Week 229

The Bella Freud Sporting Fred Sweater was spotted all over fashion weeks, and ever since has been flying from the shop floors. Priced at £165.00 the Merino Wool garment is delicate but warm.

It was Fred Perry himself who first made tennis sweaters this way, giving them an athletic flexibility and a sharp edge. The company created this sweater in collaboration with Bella Freud choosing 100% extra fine merino wool and ribbing at the hem, cuffs, and collar so it hangs close to the body. Bella gave it some of her own style in a playful tribute to the brand’s sporting heritage and Fred himself with two intarsias – one on the chest spelling “sporting,” and another on the left sleeve spelling “Fred”. The statement sweater is finished off with an embroidering of the 30-leaf Laurel Wreath to the lower left corner. It is a smart and sophisticated monochrome and will complement any winter wardrobe.

See the whole Bella Freud for Fred Perry collection here.

Things to do in Istanbul

To stay

Edition Hotel – This smart and grand hotel is found in the Levent business district, a little removed from the city centre. Rooms are indulgently large with modern amenities fit for a princess. Be sure to trial the beautiful ESPA underground spa.

Georges Hotel – located in the centre of the buzzy Galata area, this lovely little luxury boutique hotel is discreet and stylish. Breakfast on the sunny rooftop overlooking the sea and city was a highlight, and the thoughtful service is particularly memorable.

To Eat

Lokanta Maya – Housed in a chic dining room this hugely popular neighbourhood restaurant offers flavourful and fresh food made by chef Didem Senol. I recommend choosing a range of smaller plates from the tapas style menu, they are irresistibly tasty.

Kosebasi - This traditional Turkish restaurant has several outlets in Istanbul. Serving juicy grilled meats and fragrant salads it is the perfect place for a light lunch, though the service was a bit lofty when I visited.

Mangerie – The Bebek district is by the sea and is where many of the stylish Turkish ladies lunch. Mangerie is at the top of an unlikely scruffy building, with a view of the Bosphorus and a lovely outdoor terrace. The contemporary menu features delicious sweet and savoury dishes.

Cok Cok – Voted best Ethnic restaurant in Turkey this casual eatery serves delicious authentic Thai food, ideal if you are craving a break from Turkish delicacies.

Kofteci Huseyin – we sampled numerous meatball outlets, this modest café serves the best in town. Costing under £5 a head it is a bargain too!

Karakoy Gulluglu – I’ve never liked baklava, that is until trialling this Turkish institution where all the locals get their sweet fix. These fresh and flaky pastry snacks are a must try in Istanbul.

To Drink

Bar with no name – affectionately known as Alex’s Place, this tiny cocktail place is a hidden secret to the Turkish locals but foreigners flock to try the renowned mixologist, Alex Waldman’s creations. I loved the strong bourbon based ‘God Save the Queen’ drink. Open at 10pm Tuesday –Saturday.

Delicatessen Pera – a lively and atmospheric restaurant and bar in the centre of town, perfect for classic fresh cocktails and a great vibe.

Karabatak – This retro cosy coffee shop is ideal for a catch up with friends. Sit inside amongst the fascinating vintage artefacts, or enjoy the breeze outdoors on the street seating. Karabatak serves the Austrian Julius Meinl coffee, a popular brand in Istanbul.

Fenix – the venue everyone is talking about… Fenix is a sophisticated eatery and bar serving immaculate and exotic cocktails to a gorgeous crowd.

To Do

Grand Bazaar – this chaotic market is a labyrinth of little lanes and sparkling jewelled stalls.  It is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world, with 61 covered streets and over 3,000 shops.

Spice Market – The Egyptian Spice Bazaar in Istanbul has been selling nuts, fruits and spices since 1664. Fragrant and colourful, the mounds of powdered specialities, sweet dates and Turkish delight are as tasty as they look and smell.

Kilic Ali Pasa Hamami – after an intensive seven-year restoration which finished in 2013, this historic Turkish bath is restored back to its former glory. Men and Women have different hours but receive the same treatment. Let the staff scrub you clean and lather you with moisturising soak, you will leave feeling fresher than ever before.

ESPA spa at Edition Hotel -  this extraordinary 20,000 square foot, three-floor ESPA spa offers everything you could need to totally indulge and relax. Opt for a traditional hamam or just enjoy the endless facilities.

Galata Tower – A medieval stone tower in the Galata/Karaköy quarter of Istanbul. Get the lift to the top and admire the 360 views of the city.

To See

Salt Galata – This design haven is a wonderful place to spend time in Istanbul. Now with two venues, SALT explores critical and timely issues in visual and material culture, and cultivates innovative and intriguing exhibitions.

Istanbul Modern – An unmissable contemporary art museum prominently featuring the work of talented Turkish artists.

Pilot Galeri – This hidden, underground gallery aims to be an inter-disciplinary space that supports creative projects. I loved the strange and inquisitive ‘Seeing the Black Panther’ show by Elmas Deniz.

Sultan Ahmed Mosque – is known often as the Blue Mosque because of the azure tiles that adorn the interior walls. This historic mosque in Istanbul was built from 1609 to 1616, and is a magnificent example of religious Turkish architecture.

Suleymaniye Mosque – this Ottoman imperial mosque is located on the Third Hill of Istanbul. It is the largest mosque in the city, and one of the best-known sights of Istanbul.

Dolmabahce Palace – I have never seen such an ornate and lavish building in my entire life. Dolmabahce was built by Sultan Abdulmecid (1839-1861) and remains one of the most spectacular sights to see in Instanbul. Visitors are only allowed round with an accompanying tour guide, who fiercely barked at us as we walked obediently behind her.

Basilica Sistern – Eerie and magical this ancient underground world was a Roman water source held up with 336 marble columns covering 9,800 square metres. Walk through to discover the menacing Medusa stone heads.

To Shop

Yastik by Rifat Ozbek – Yastik means cushion in Turkish, and that is exactly what you find in this wonderful emporium. The beautiful cushions in this shop instantly transport you to a different place and culture: brightly coloured, patterned and lovely to touch they are carefully designed and made to be the finest quality. I would have loved a selection of the mini lavender-filled cushions to scent all my drawers of clothes.

Selda Okutan – This imaginative and inventive jewellery tells a story. Sculptural jewels and tiny figures are Selda’s specialities, though I fell in love with the silver and gold ant brooches that perfectly resemble the little insects!

Fey – This beautiful and eclectic wardrobe-style shop is owned by the long-time General Manager and Publishing Director of Turkish Marie Claire, Fatoş Yalın. The boutique is stocked with one-off vintage gems and a selection of delicate and divine own branded clothes. I particularly loved the handmade silk shirts which are softer than any I have felt before, and look simple but seductive when worn. Fey is a treasure trove to explore and admire.

Kağıthane – This delightful artisan stationery store is filled with intriguing and desirable accessories and paper creations. There are several outlets, I visited the shop in the trendy Karaköy area. A great little place for browsing and picking up souvenirs.

To Escape

Sumahan on the Water – Set sail across the water to the Asian side of Istanbul. This elegant and quiet boutique design hotel has 20 rooms and suites, a lovely open-air restaurant and small spa, all on the waterfront of the Bosphorus.

Easton Regal, Clerkenwell

Farringdon is an area that appeals to me more and more each time I visit. For cocktails I head to Zetter Townhouse, Foxlow is great for steak, Modern Pantry serves the perfect brunch and fashionistas flock to the McQueen sample sales which happen here twice a year. Easton Regal, the seductively stylish hairdressing salon located on the corner of St John’s Square, joins this crowd of cool venues. I went along to experience the cut, colour and treatment services.

Armed with a ‘Look Mum No Hands’ coffee, I wandered into the salon for my hair transformation. I first noticed the shelves of intriguing products and equipment, then reached the desk where the smiley staff welcomed me.

The building is grand and impressive and the waiting area is retro heaven, with glossy, luxurious leather Japanese and Italian furniture and quirky framed artefacts and pictures on the wall. Downstairs, visitors can find The Fold Showroom, a clothes brand catering for businesswomen who require smart city suits with a bit of personality.

I spent at least three hours in the Easton Regal salon and I was looked after with the utmost care from start to finish. I was entertained by endless magazines and consumed numerous cups of tea, glasses of water and delicious biscuits whilst confined to my seat.

After a brief consultation with hairdresser Hannah and colourist Jade we decided on my ‘look’ and the girls got to work. Jade began by applying dark dye to my roots to create a contrasting base then she worked methodically through my hair, picking out random strands to lighten and highlight. After a brief period letting the dye and bleach develop, I was taken over to the basin (and massaging chairs) for a rinse and treatment. The Micro Mist treatment is left on the hair for approximately fifteen minutes within a heated steam helmet! This lovely treatment adds moisture and strength to the hair and leaves the strands extra shiny and soft.

My haircut was speedy and efficient and exactly how I wanted it. I was glamorously blow-dried and ready to go. Sadly I hadn’t morphed into Alexa Chung, but my hair certainly rivals hers! I left Easton Regal head held high, with brighter locks shining in the Farringdon sun.

More information and book a hair makeover here: www.eastonregal.com

The Wild Rabbit restaurant, Oxfordshire

The Cotswolds is an idyllic escape for Londoners in search of fresh air and lush countryside. This upmarket area near Oxford is one of the most popular short break UK destinations for busy city residents and has numerous quaint accommodation options and food establishments to experience. The Wild Rabbit is one of the most desirable places to stay and dine in the Cotswolds, a luxuriously rustic and characterful neighbourhood pub / restaurant with charming bedrooms, all tucked away in the tranquil village of Kingham.

The Wild Rabbit opened in September 2013 after the 1750 building underwent extensive restoration and renovation. The traditional pub has a cosy and welcoming feel, with delightful rabbit related memorabilia and taxidermy decorating the ground floor dining rooms. The nearby twelve bedrooms are individually furnished and designed with the utmost attention to detail, with simple indulgences adding extra comfort.

After an easy drive from London, we settled at a window table for Saturday lunch in the Wild Rabbit dining room, a stylish farmhouse room with modest wooden furniture, exposed brickwork and potted herb plants at each table. Freshly made bread, thinly shaved salami and churned butter arrived to cater to our growing appetites. A raspberry and white peach Bellini was a delightful aperitif.

The menu takes advantage of local produce and is a carefully curated list of British inspired recipes which changes with the seasons. To start I highly recommend the crisp Pig’s head croquette with artichoke and basil vinaigrette, this dense rectangle of tender meat is covered in a salty, crispy layer and served with a fresh colourful salad. Open ravioli of goat’s cheese and confit tomato with grilled vegetable sauce antiboise is a lovely summery vegetarian option, both filling and healthy.

The main course showcases the best British meat on offer, bold brilliant flavours with the highest quality components. My pork tenderloin with toffee apple puree, confit belly, mustard and onions was an exquisite combination of sweet caramel and rich meaty flavours, arranged immaculately on the plate with an addictive pork gravy. Guests can also choose from the Josper Grill steaks, all served with hand-cut chips and salad. Dry aged 12oz sirloin steak on the bone was an impressive hunk of meat, with a lightly charred edge, tender and juicy inside. Paired with the wonderfully thick and yellow Bearnaise sauce and giant chunky chips it was an utterly indulgent treat, of which every mouthful was savoured. If you can fit it in, the buttery mashed potato is unmissable.

The wine list features environmentally friendly wine from small wineries. I tried a delicious rose with my meal. The dessert list featured all my favourite sweet things. The Pistachio soufflé with cherry ice-cream and almond crème Anglaise was beautiful, a bouncy pale green masterpiece collapsing as the hot creamy sauce was poured over it. The soufflé, a notoriously challenging dessert to make was the perfect consistency and tasted absolutely divine. For something richer, chocolate lovers will enjoy the rich mousse with salted caramel ice cream.

The Wild Rabbit is the best kept secret in the Cotswolds, but good news travels fast, so now you’ll have to be patient with the rest of the waiting list for a chance to experience these enchanting rooms and fine food. I can assure you it is worth waiting for.

More information and book here: www.thewildrabbit.co.uk

Akyra Hotel, Koh Samui

As Koh Samui is popular with all kinds of travellers, there are accommodation options to suit all needs. Akyra hotel is one of the more affordable luxury offerings with double rooms starting from £65 per night including breakfast. Situated at the northern end of Chaweng beach, and within close proximity of the airport, it is ideal particularly for short-haul visitors.

The hotel has 65 suites and rooms, a small swimming pool and restaurants, one casual poolside eatery, the other at the front of the property, offering Japanese cuisine. The property is simply designed, concrete features heavily throughout, which sadly looks less cool and more construction site. Perhaps they ran out of money before finishing the plan. One of the hotel’s best assets is the stretch of white sand beach, a lovely place to relax in the sun and frolic in the sea.

We were unenthusiastically checked in and shown to our Grande Deluxe Double room. The room was basic but comfortable and clean, decorated in natural coloured hues and organic materials. Alongside the nicely dressed double bed was a full-size sofa, flat screen TV, mini bar facilities and bath robes. The bathroom was industrial but spacious, with a power shower and conveniently big mirrors. A small wooden terrace was pleasant for outside reading in the afternoons.

Very few guests seemed to make use of the food outlets on site, and consequently the main restaurant, Noodle House felt soulless and empty. The waitress seemed glum about it too as she grumpily wandered around looking for something to do. The food (we tried spring rolls and noodles dishes) was okay, but with such good street stalls nearby I’d recommend venturing out for anything more than a snack. Club Akyra was slightly more lively at lunchtime, offering fragrant curries and fruit juice, it was satisfying and tasty for a midday meal. Breakfast is served in Noodle House, an array of fruit, pastries and savoury options.

When we visited a few months ago this resort felt tired and unloved, the staff seemed disgruntled and the property’s character jaded. With such an enviable location and competitive prices Akyra really does have potential to be a successful business but currently their are many hotels I’d recommend staying at instead.

More information and book here.

Hot on the Highstreet Week 228

October 2014 is breast cancer awareness month and many celebrities are doing their bit to support the cause. British supermodel Kate Moss models for this pretty in pink campaign which incorporates the famous BCA ribbon in the shot.

Stella McCartney has designed the special Gemma Relaxing range in neon pink as part of her Autumn/Winter 14 Lingerie Collection in support of Breast Cancer Awareness month. The Contour balconette bra is made in neon pink geometric lace with two-tone, adjustable straps with gold hardware. Wear the bra with matching comfortable Gemma Relaxing briefs.

A percentage of proceeds from the sale of this item will be donated to The Linda McCartney Centre to support their work in providing the most advanced treatments and technologies for patients with breast cancer.

The inspiration behind breast cancer awareness month is to raise awareness around the disease, creating an underwear set that reminds women to keep healthy.

A beautiful bra for a brilliant cause, buy the BCA underwear set here.