Thursday, 23 July 2015

Dopamine and Tube Strikes

I am now the proud owner of a Dopamine necklace - I never knew such a thing existed until Ruby gave me it as a present. Perhaps I should find some Serotonin earrings to match and I may never need medication ever again ?! It is so beautiful:

Two weeks ago, London was ground to a halt by the TFL Tube Strike. It was the largest strike for a long time. Buses, bicycles and taxis were the only alternative option. Some people spent two hours queueing to get on a bus and I wonder if it had ever occurred to anyone that it may be just as quick to walk ? That's what I did - 6.5 miles across London - from Liverpool Street to Holland Park. I felt suitably dressed in my Cath Kidston London buses skirt and my new Superga trainers. My feet have just about forgiven me:

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Lunch in Prison !

This time last week, I was emerging from a trip to prison ! Before you are alarmed, let me say that I was a guest at The Clink restaurant inside Brixton prison and had not, in fact, been arrested...

The Clink in Brixton is one of five restaurants in UK prisons that was set up by Alberto Crisci MBE, the then catering manager of the Clink in High Down Surrey, who identified the need for formal training, qualifications and support for prisoners in finding a job after they were released. 

Ruby Wax and I were a guest of Lady Edwina Grosvenor, who is a founding trustee. We met Edwina because we had met her husband Dan Snow earlier this year when they were both guests on the Mel & Sue show. 

We were totally blown away by what we saw (and ate).

Once we had signed in, handed over all our belongings and been searched (like in an airport), we were escorted through the main prison doors (a big sliding thing - wide enough for vehicles).

The restaurant was a short walk through the actual prison - it was strangely eerie and we didn't see any prisoners wondering around - apparently most of them were doing activities at that time. We asked to see an actual cell but sadly that wasn't allowed. You could see the little windows to the cells so we wondered if we were being watched.... There is probably not a speck of grass where you can't stand without being seen on CCTV. 

The restaurant was unbelievably smart - amazing art on the walls done by prisoners - lots of small tables and a private dining room for more private meetings.

The menu was an absolute feast: (see here for the full Summer menu). I had....

Crab salad with mackerel tartare, cucumber and avocado mousse followed by

Stuffed courgette flower with warm fennel and beetroot salad

I would have taken a photograph but we were not allowed to take ANY of our possessions into the prison. It felt like a "Digital Detox" - so refreshing to be able to actually focus and not having to worry about checking for messages all the time (there was plenty of time for that in the taxi on the way home!)

We were given a tour of the kitchen and introduced to the chefs and waiting staff. Everyone working was currently serving a prison sentence. I loved engaging in conversation with these people - asking how long they had been there / what they hoped to do when they leave.... It was interesting to note that they used real / sharp knives to chop and prepare the food but when we came to sit and eat our food - we had to use plastic knives and forks...

I learnt that many prisoners finish their time in Prison and at The Clink and go onto do great things - Edwina mentioned that one person had got into a top London drama school... and several go off to work in restaurants and hotels (Carluccio's etc...)

The whole experience was so impressive - it is great to know that such a thing exists to help people rebuild their lives for when they are released from prison.  And the charity is clearly making a real difference to many people's lives. I hope I can achieve even a tiny bit of what Edwina has done in such a short space of time. 

The Clink has plans for expansion - I can't recommend it more highly. I am already planning my next visit !

Monday, 13 July 2015

Dusty Limits: Grin

A couple of weeks ago, I had the enormous privilege of attending the launch of Dusty Limits's new album called GRIN. Obviously, I am listening to it as I write this.... 

The evening got off to the best possible start - a Bleecker Street burger and their famous Angry Fries on the South Bank with THAT view. I will always be grateful to Rosie The Londoner for that recommendation. 

I've written about Dusty before - I loved him so much that I promised to blog about him again so here it is....

His launch was part of the London Wonderground festival, which is a feast of entertainment and includes cabaret and circus amongst other great things....

I can't decide which is my most favourite song - they are all a work of genius. I particularly like "Reunion", which is about a large and eccentric family reunion and "Is it too late?", which starts with "Dear Life, I've reconsidered...."

He teamed up with the mighty Michael Roulston who helped him co-write the album. They cleverly crowd-funded via Kickstarter and I am so glad their campaign was successfully funded because this man is a genius and it was about time the world could hear his work. 

I didn't get a good photo of him "in action", which is annoying but might not have been allowed ! His charisma and energy were so entertaining... He was swigging from a bottle of herbal Corvonia (the non medicated variety) but that didn't stop his booming voice from sounding nothing but impressive and I didn't want the evening to end... 

On the Wonderground website, it says "Leave your real life at the door..." and I felt I did just that...

You can buy Dusty's album here and listen to clips !

Sunday, 12 July 2015


I am going through a work related transition - its so nice to have a bit of a break and be able to rethink what I might do next with my career. (I make that sound like I've set my sights on running a FTSE 100 company - I haven't!) 

There are so many things I want to do in this "interim" period - notably an 8 week mindfulness course, which will hopefully revolutionise my over thinking and tame the mind....

I also want to read more, make time to write more and live "in the moment". I also just want to make more time for myself - go to the cinema (the new Amy Winehouse documentary), the theatre (David Suchet playing Lady B in The Importance of Being Earnest?) ......

Here's a simple and quick mindfulness exercise for you to try -