Bee Mindful Day at Petersham Nurseries with Cire Trudon

It’s hard to imagine Richmond without Petersham Nurseries, the whimsical venue that is home to many wonderful plants, idyllic gardens and a popular seasonal restaurant & tearoom. This month Petersham Nurseries celebrate their 15th birthday with a host of lovely events, including the Bee Mindful Workshop which I was lucky to experience earlier this week.

Bee Mindful

A group of us assembled in the greenhouse for an immersive day in bee education. The day began with tea and cake and a talk from the Head of Horticulture Martin Ogden. Martin discussed the importance of bees in gardens and how we can help sustain their activity by planting particular species of plants in our gardens. It was fascinating to learn more about the life of a honeybee, that they have ultraviolet vision (so are very attracted to blue and purples), which herbs they enjoy, and how they obtain the pollen and nectar from plants.

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Next on the agenda… raw honey tasting with Sarah Wyndham Lewis, co-founder of the sustainable beekeeping practice, Bermondsey Street Bees. Sarah spoke passionately about honey, the importance of artisan honey-making and how to expertly taste raw honeys. Turns out, the majority of supermarket honey is a cheap imposter of the real thing. We discussed the cultural role of bees, the medicinal effects of some honeys, and the issues affecting bees’ survival in the modern world.

We tasted a selection of uniquely special honeys that Sarah had selected for their qualities. My favourite was a buttercup yellow Leatherwood Honey from Tasmania, and I’ll definitely be investing in some to enjoy at home.

Bee Mindful

Before long it was time for lunch and Petersham Nurseries’ Head Chef Ambra Papa presented us with a seasonal spread of dishes, each inspired by honey.

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We started with perfectly light Garden Fritti seasoned with sage and Amalfi lemon, and Pea Hummus with Fennel Carta di Musica bread. The main course was a delectable feast of Herb Roasted Sirloin of Beef with super sweet Heritage carrots, honey & almond, served with an array of colourful vibrant salads. The meal concluded with Chargrilled Nespole and Ricotta with wild flower honey, and Lincolnshire Poacher with honeycomb.

Bee Mindful

After our epic lunch we needed a wander to avoid falling asleep! The knowledgeable beekeeper Linda Howell explained how she has established a thriving population of bees at Petersham Nurseries with their seven and a half hives.

Bee Mindful

Sadly I had to rush off after the walk, but the rest of the group were lucky enough to have one more session, learning the art of table styling with the Global Buyer and company Brand Ambassador, Ronny De Koning. I had a glimpse of the adorned table and it looked divine.

As I dashed off back to central London, the lovely team at Petersham handed me two goodie bags to take away; a couple of potted herbs to attract the bees near my flat and a beautiful special edition honey candle from Cire Trvdon, which has been made especially for Petersham Nurseries’ 15th birthday. After learning about the magical properties of honey, I can’t wait to restock my cupboards at home with real raw honey and scent my flat with this wonderfully fragranced candle.

A Bee Mindful workshop will take place at Petersham Nurseries on the 28th and tickets can be purchased here. I attended this workshop as a guest of Petersham Nurseries.

‘Malaysia on a Plate’ with Essential Escapes

Essential Escapes organise the kind of holidays I love. This creative travel company was founded by Emma Barnett Spitzer (Masterchef finalist and travel fanatic) 16 years ago and originally had a focus on spa focussed travels. In recent years the company has begun to concentrate more on culinary trips that showcase the very best authentic food in some of the world’s most delicious destinations.

Malaysia

I was lucky to be one of a few foodies invited to sample the new ‘Malaysia on a plate’ Essential Escapes itinerary. This exciting exploration of Malay cuisine starts on the island of Langkawi at the beautiful Datai Hotel, before a final couple of days in chaotic Kuala Lumpur (you can also opt to reverse the order if you fancy ending the holiday on the beach!)

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After a lengthy transatlantic flight, and a much shorter internal flight, we arrived at The Datai Langkawi. Refreshed with cold flannels and iced tea, we spent a few minutes taking in the breathtaking surroundings.

The Datai is found on the edge of Langkawi island, surrounded by a 10 million year old rainforest, overlooking the idyllic and tranquil Datai Bay. The independent resort has recently undergone a transformative renovation, and I was thrilled to be experiencing one of the spacious Rainforest villas on the edge of the tropical rainforest.

Malaysia

The rooms were designed in a practical format, with timeless features in natural materials. The grand four poster bed was the ultimate indulgence to climb into every night, and I slept so well while here. The bathroom was very generous in size with a big bathtub, dual sinks and separate shower and toilet cubicles. Sustainable practices are present throughout the hotel and in the rooms this was also noticeable, in the recycled glass bottles of filtered water and refillable vessels of house made toiletries.

There are plenty of extras to enjoy while in the villas, from the complimentary minibar to the IPTV and multipurpose charging ports.

Malaysia

I quickly realised how special the Datai Langkawi was, the type of hotel people return to again and again… one reason for this is the unrivalled food experiences available on site. During our three days we managed to tick off meals in each of the four restaurants: The Gulai House for authentic Malaysian cuisine, The Pavillion for award-winning Thai food, The Dining Room for fine dining French food and The Beach Club for lazy seaside lunches. Each meal was exceptional with thoughtfully prepared and expertly cooked recipes from all over the globe.

Of the restaurants, my favourite was the Gulai, where the talented chefs whipped up an array of specialities like Beef Rendang curry and Tandoor chicken. The flavours were intense and decadent and the service friendly and charming. I was also incredibly impressed by The Dining Room, where the chefs use flair and imagination to create immaculate French haute cuisine, often with flavours from the island.

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A highlight of my stay at The Datai was the Private Cooking Class at the Gulai House. This new cooking school is decked out with state of the art facilities and a class here is a real insight into the authentic food of the region. We began our class in the resort’s permaculture garden, where we picked herbs and ingredients for our dishes, and learnt about the crops that grow well in this unique part of the world. Then we returned to the kitchen to make Kerabu Sook Hoon (a light cold noodle salad) and Gulai Udang (a creamy sweet prawn and vegetable curry).

While at The Datai we also had the pleasure of experiencing the Datai Spa. Here you can totally relax with a treatment in an open air villa, listening to the sounds of the rainforest while enjoying a traditional Malay massage.

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I would have been completely content staying in The Datai for the whole duration of our time on Langkawi, but was also glad to see some of the island. We ventured out for a serene mangrove tour through the Kubang Badak River and learnt about the fascinating mangrove ecology and wildlife that lives here, before settling for lunch at a local Malay family house. Here we feasted on Fried Pomfret Fish with spicy sambal, Sticky Soy Chicken and the most tender and addictively tasty Turmeric Fried Aubergine, all cooked by the lovely, and terribly humble, Mrs Raijah.

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Our final night at The Datai was perhaps the most memorable, a sunset cruise on the Naga Pelangi boat. This 97-foot traditional wooden schooner-replica was hand built by the Captain and is the last remaining boat of its kind in Malaysia. We sipped champagne as we floated gently on the waves and watched the sun slowly fall behind the sea.

Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur (KL) is Malaysia’s capital, a modern city with a bustling business district. Though it was once known for its charming colonial style architecture the skyline is now dominated by towering skyscrapers, shopping malls and office blocks. And with a tropical climate which rarely dips below 30 degrees, walking around outside can be a hard work. In the daytime locals stay indoors where the air-conditioning is a relief, and at night the streets come to life with food markets and outdoor bars.

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Our home for a couple of days in KL was Samadhi Retreats, a boutique hotel on the outskirts of town. The hotel was a calm oasis to rest while exploring the city. It is a converted traditional Malay house with 21 Asia-inspired rooms set around a exotic lagoon pool.

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The hotel owns four eateries outside of the city, including Tamarind Springs, a destination restaurant set amongst the dense rainforest serving refined Thai-Malaysian cuisine. We enjoyed an atmospheric meal here under the stars, while monkeys bounced about in the nearby trees.

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Our time in KL was limited and the food on offer is endless so we had to be selective about where we spent our mealtimes. Essential Escapes had organised a vibrant evening tour of the Jalan Alor night market, a fragrant street filled with local specialities. Among other things we tried lok lok (sticks of fresh ingredients dusted in flour and deep fried) and beef and chicken satay (fired over an open flame and served with plenty of rich satay sauce) all washed down with fresh coconut water.

The next day we ventured further into Kuala Lumpur to check out some of the historic sites and heritage areas of town. Chinatown was a favourite area for us all, and we settled on Madras Lane for a local breakfast… Egg Noodle Laksa, a rich curry broth filled with green beans, mini aubergine, bean curd and clams. It was a bowl of heaven and a must while in Malaysia.

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After exhausting ourselves sightseeing in the stifling heat, we stumbled into PULP by Papa Palheta, a speciality coffee gem, serving Rocket Espresso alongside an array of delicious sweet baked treats.

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Our trip ended on a high, as we toasted to Malaysian adventures with great cocktails at PS150, a prohibition-style speakeasy recommended to us by Malaysian food writer and chef Guan Chua.

Six days is not enough to see and eat it all in Malaysia, but this brilliant Essential Escapes trip was a great way to get an insight into the magic of Malaysia and the irresistible food culture.

I was a guest of Essential Escapes, The Datai Langkawi and Samadhi Retreats. We flew as guests of Malaysian Airlines.

For more information on the wonderful Essential Escapes itineraries, visit the website here.

Paul Edmonds Salon, Battersea Power Station

I’ve often heard stylish friends mention Paul Edmonds as a hairdresser worth visiting, but it wasn’t until a few months ago when I was treated to a pre-Bafta party blow dry, that I noticed the care and attention the Paul Edmonds staff pay towards their clients.

Paul Edmonds salon

Last week I went to check out the newest branch of the Paul Edmonds empire, a super slick salon in Battersea Power Station. With a lot of building work still going on, the salon – though just a short walk from the main road – wasn’t easy to find. Eventually I reached it, and the staff were quick to welcome me, taking my heavy bags and offering me a drink.

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The salon is spacious and luxurious, with big mirrors and geometric windows. I particularly loved the fully reclining leather chairs in the hairwashing area, they were so comfortable I nearly fell asleep while having my hair washed!

Paul Edmonds salon

I was lucky to get Taylor as my colourist for the day. Taylor, though only 21, is known for her balayage skills, and won the L’Oreal Professional Star Award in 2018. Needless to say, I was in very safe hands so I let Taylor decide on a tactic to make my hair look more summery. We chatted away while Taylor painted sections of my hair with a half head of balayage.

Paul Edmonds at Battersea Power Station is the UK’s first exclusive Shu Uemura hair and beauty salon, a beauty brand I have always admired for their brilliant haircare and beauty products. After my colour, my hair was washed with the new Shu Uemura Ultimate Reset Shampoo (made of Japanese rice, and containing both proteins and moisture) – ideal for post colour washing. I also loved the Urban Moisture Conditioner which contains Moringa Oil for hydration and was indulgently massaged into my hair and scalp.

After washing, Lizzie cut and styled my hair. We decided on a minimal trim to bluntly level out the ends. Then she added a tousled wave with tongs and added texture and shine with a variety of products, including Shu Uemura Ample angora which gives volume (to prep the hair) and Shu Uemura Color Lustre dry cleaner which gives the grit you need for the beach wave effect. For additional shine I was taught that adding the Shu Uemura Essence Absolue on the mid lengths to ends of the hair, while drying the hair, is perfect.

Paul Edmonds salon

I left the salon feeling proud to show off my hair, and in the last week have had three unprompted compliments on my hair colour and shine.

This is a hairdressing brand which more than deserves its reputation as one of London’s leading hairdressers, and the new Battersea branch is a lovely location in South London to be pampered and preened at.

I was a guest of Paul Edmonds salon.

Book an appointment or buy any of the products here.