It’s been a year since I was first invited to share what I’d seen (and liked) in a regular lifestyle feature for Chicane magazine. Four issues later, and 16 favourite things, I’m sharing them here for you too.
GOOD IDEA: Simple, ingenious, and worth the small investment if you’re an iPhone user, the AirTag can be used to track anything from keys to cats, but I recommend it most for your luggage. It works by sending out a Bluetooth signal which is detected by other devices in the area. They send the location of your AirTag to iCloud and then you can see it on a map in the ‘Find My’ app. Get it engraved for free with your initials or choose an emoji that suits your style. AirTag, £29 from apple.com
TASTE TEST: Not sure if you’ll be drinking this or putting it away for prosperity, but The Dalmore’s 21 year old single malt has come of age. Set to be the pinnacle of their Principal Collection, it’s available for just £575 per bottle. The Dalmore has seen some record prices for its heritage whiskies – their Paterson Collection sold in 2017 for £1m, and in 2020 a pair of The Dalmore 62YO whiskies secured £266,200 each at Sotheby’s. This bottle might be a bit more than your usual tipple, but it could be an exciting investment, and if it’s not, apparently the aftertaste includes flavours of peaches and pear tarte tatin. The Dalmore 21, £575 from The Whisky Exchange.
READING LIST: Looking for something that’s as visually delightful as a coffee table book, but easier to handle, share, or even give as a gift? I have the answer for you. Okay, so as the publisher I’m a bit biased, but I think it’s a must! ROAD TRIP, the second book in a collectable series from Shutter Hub Editions, presents a carefully curated selection of 100 images taken by photographers from around the world, showcasing how they travel, where they go, the places they stop, the reasons they travel, and everything in between. ROAD TRIP, £12 from shutterhub.org.uk/shop
STAY AWAY: Freshly refurbished, and newly opened this summer, the five-star Grand Hotel Brioni in Pula, Croatia, is a sanctuary of quality and calm. Originally a Yugoslavian hot spot for the rich and famous of the 1970s, this jewel on the Istrian coastline has been returned to glory – still a destination for A-list guests (while I was staying so too was the President of Croatia) but in a much more refined and sophisticated manner. Don’t miss the opportunity to have dinner at Restaurant Sophia. Croatia is known for its truffles, extra virgin olive oil, wine, and honey, along with the fresh seafood, fish and meats. For lovers of quality, unadulterated food, this is the place. Grand Hotel Brioni Pula, from €390 per night, grandhotelbrioni.com
GET OUT: If you’ve not been to one of the Sunday Scrambles at Bicester Heritage yet, then you’ve been missing something. A great day out, the Scramblers bring together an incredible selection of cars in an awesome location. Check out all the businesses on site (from gin distillers to classic vehicle restorers) and don’t forget to take time to tour the car park too – you’ll find some epic autos! Book tickets at bicesterheritage.co.uk
ART TO INVEST IN: British artist John Clark works from his studio in Cambridge, creating drawings, paintings, and sculpture. He’s a prolific artist, and when it comes to considering the human – from its form and physical presence to its behaviour and banal interactions – I think he’s one of the best. Clark investigates and uncovers the human condition through often complex forms, such as the one-metre-tall sculpture, We are Stardust, which is masterfully created from folded paper, resin and oil paint. Prices range from £500- £5000, leadwhite.co.uk
READING LIST: Never Too Small. This has to have been my favourite book of 2022. Good design goes a long way, especially in a small space, and Creative Director Colin Chee has gone all-out in this book to share that message. The combination of photographs, written descriptions and floor plans in this book make it brilliant, informative, and truly inspiring. Never Too Small began as a YouTube channel focusing on high quality, life enriching, micro-living, and is fast becoming a way of life. Never Too Small, £34 from nevertoosmall.com
DESIGN CLASSICS: Jewellery designer Monika Seitter combines fine metals and precious stones with lesser-expected plastic, to create modern pieces that are as valuable as they are fun. There are multiple colours available (to match your eyes, or your car?), all handmade in Monika’s Dusseldorf studio. Prices from €65, monikaseitter.de
GET OUT: If you’ve never been to Kettles Yard in Cambridge, now is a great time to visit. It’s a beautiful house, with a gallery attached, and is a masterpiece of curational juxtaposition. Fine art pieces (paintings, sculptures, ceramics) are exhibited equally alongside the art of nature (pebbles, shells, feathers and so on). The current exhibition ‘The Adventure of Pottery’, showcasing the exquisite work of Lucie Rie, runs until 25 June. The café is very nice too. Book tickets for free at kettlesyard.co.uk
TASTE TEST: A sustainable tipple you say? Whey hey! I might sound over excited, but when it comes to spirits, I think this is one of the best vodkas out there – and it’s made from pure cows milk. On the Dorset farm where Black Cow produce their deluxe cheddar, they use the whey, a by-product of cheese production, as the key ingredient in making this incredibly smooth vodka – all distilled and bottle by hand on the farm. Black Cow Vodka, £28 from blackcow.co.uk
GOOD IDEA: If you’re not already making the most of your car, there’s no time like the present – get a competition license from Motorsport UK and get on track with the Lotus Cup UK Speed Championship. Sprinting is all about honing your skills to get the perfect lap, timed against the clock. It’s a brilliant way to really put your driving ability to the test, and you might even go home with a trophy! Road-going cars are eligible, and newcomers are welcomed with support and encouragement. Get your license online at motorsportuk.org and sign up to sprint at lcukspeed.com
DESIGN CLASSIC: It’s no secret, I love a comb. I also love a bit of eco-friendly innovation. Cast from recycled paper composite, 3rd Diadem’s award-winning products are surprisingly strong and lightweight, as well as being heat and water resistant. A nice nod to multifunctionality – the Dappe type A and B combs also function as smart pocket squares. Alongside the simple Japanese inspired lifestyle accessories, designer Gow Tanaka undertakes bespoke commissions, having just completed a DJ booth for a London restaurant. Prices from £25, 3rd-diadem.com
STAY AWAY: People often talk about places being an oasis in a busy city, but arriving at Hotel Flora in Antwerp really is like finding a magical Narnia behind an unassuming side-street door. Warm madeleines and welcome cocktails, decadent yet comfortable interiors, and a pocket of peaceful walled garden – silence in the city. We woke to the smell of freshly baked bread, granola, and jams, straight from the AGA. You can book one of seven rooms or rent the whole house. Hotel Flora Antwerp, from €300 per night, hotelflora.be
TASTE TEST: Not sure? Take the tour! Join Daisy and Patrick for a walking tour of the top vegan eating spots in the sustainable city of Utrecht. From take-away fake-aways such as chicken wings, burgers, and bitterballen, to refined restaurant classics, and most probably the best pastel de natas in the whole of the Netherlands, you’ll get your fill of everything vegan. Utrecht is a great city to visit, small enough to walk around, and perfect for a weekend of inspiration, I mean, where else can you visit the world’s largest cycle garage, and row a boat down the middle of the old motorway?! Prices from €60, veganfoodtourutrecht.nl
READING LIST: Showcasing the Top 100 photographs from the inaugural AUTO PHOTO Awards, and part of the collectable Shutter Hub Editions series, AUTO PHOTO 01 celebrates creative automotive photography from photographers around the world. I was lucky to be joined in judging the 2022 award-winners by the wonderful Duke of Richmond (Founder of Goodwood Revival and Festival of Speed) which were exhibited at Motorsport UK HQ earlier this year. We’ve got more epic prizes on offer and excellent partners involved for 2023, and the competition is open to everyone – including you! AUTO PHOTO 01, £12 from shutterhub.org.uk / Find out more at autophotoawards.com
ART TO INVEST IN: I first came across Stewart Hearn’s work over a decade ago, when I selected it for a museum exhibition I was curating. I was taken by the quality and craftmanship, and I still am. Award-winning, and housed in significant collections around the world, Stewart’s work is not only beautiful – it’s worth investing in. I’m coveting the Thames River Vases – hand blown, with gold leaf and coloured powdered glass, these familiar forms take the shape of discarded plastic waste and turn it into something to be considered, a reflection on the way we consume and discard. A message in a bottle, quite literally. Thames River Vases, £375 each, stewarthearn-shop.com
If you’d like to keep up with what I’m up to work-wise (talks, events, exhibitions, that kind of stuff), you can find my Agenda on my website. And, if you’d like occasional updates about all sorts of other nice things, in your inbox, you can join my mailing list here.