A Travel & Lifestyle Blog

Cucumber and Elderflower Collins

Summer's here, so its time to grab a drink and enjoy the outdoors. 

My nieces time and time again, spend hours in the garden trying to make bubbles; this time I decided to join in! After a few seconds I couldn't follow the  conversation any more, who knew that trying to get bubbles floating in the air would be so fascinating... these little munchkins know how to have fun!

Back to the drink talk. My husband whipped up this light and refreshing cocktail to go with our family BBQ in the garden. A Cucumber and Elderflower Collins. 

It's quite convenient for mixed groups because it tastes equally good with or without Gin. We made the jug without it and left it up to everybody to add in as much Gin as they liked. 

To make this cocktail you will need the following ingredients (for each glass):
Large shot of Gin (50ml)
Shot of Elderflower Cordial (25ml, Bottlegreen is best)
Juice of 1/2 a lime
Some sliced cucumber
Soda water (chilled)
Cubed ice

To start, find and nice tall glass and half fill it with ice.
Add the Gin, lime juice and elderflower cordial.
Add some slices of cucumber and top with soda, then give the glass a stir to mix and finish with a slice of cucumber to garnish.

Nice and easy!
Now go enjoy the sun. x

STK, London

Last Friday evening, my girlfriends and I, managed to get a table at STK. It's the latest addition to a chain of other US-based, "chic stake houses", as they like to call themselves! We had to book two weeks in advance, but I hear this is not bad for waiting time? 
Hmm... let me be honest, I'm not keen on uber-fancy restaurants, hence I always take these dinners with a pinch of salt and wait to see what happens!

Walking down the Strand, I soon realised how busy STK's sister rooftop bar "Radio" gets; around 7:30 there was already a long queue out in the street and when we asked if we get to skip it because we were having dinner at STK we got a flat out "no". To be fair the security staff were very polite but house rules sound too cool for school...

Architecturally, the design is brilliant. The hotel lobby is quite unusual. Iron bars piled next to each other in all angles, divide up the space and give it a shimmery glow;
low floor lights create corridors-turned catwalks-turned aeroplane isles; and there is even an open fireplace in the middle of the room surrounded by soft carpet that took me to a high-end, après-ski lounge setting.
It's a nice place for a drink, if you don't fancy too much noise and commotion.

The actual restaurant is very lively and flows around the impressive bar with a floor-to-ceiling sculpture. One side is a conventional dining space and the other is all divided up by circular cream booths. There were a lot of couples, seemingly on first dates and quite a few groups of girlfriends.  The booth side faces the DJ and that's where you want to be when the party kicks off!
Unfortunately not much happened the evening we were there, although the music was quite fun and I did catch myself swaying on my chair with my feet tapping on the floor.
On our way out, I caught a glimpse of a few ladies standing on the lovely cream sofas in an attempt to get the party going...


The menu is quite exciting! It is a major steakhouse off course, but there are quite a few choices for the non-beef eaters too. The Raw Bar, for example, was brilliant! 
As soon as I set everyone up for Oyster Shooters, the waiter said they run out! 
What a pity, that would have been fun to try: Bloody Mary, Tequila & Melon, Sake & Lime! If that doesn't get you started for the weekend, what will?

Top marks for presentation throughout!
I had the lamb loin with cottage pie that came in the cutest copper pot and summer peas, complete with a sprinkling of edible flowers! My plate honestly looked like a little painting. The colours and the textures all combined wonderfully.
I asked for my lamb medium-raw (erm...I mean rare) hence, I didn't complaint when I thought it was not so hot; but my friends, who ordered the fish, also said that their dishes were lukewarm. Maybe the kitchen is too far away from the restaurant floor? 
Best bit were my favourite truffle fries with parmeggiano!  So simple, yet such a treat! 

As I said the menu was quite interesting throughout, hence you won't be surprised if I tell you that we had candy floss and marshmallows for dessert, will you? x 

Orloff Resort, Spetses

In honour of the Classic Yacht Race taking place in Spetses next weekend (19-22 June 2014), I have decided to tell you about a wonderful boutique hotel on the island.
I discovered it last year when I was looking for places suitable for a girlie weekend away; 
Don't tell anyone but it was actually a hen party!

The yacht race is a high-point of the island's summer life, with a nod to the island's Ship Building tradition.  
All these classic beauties: yachts, schooners and lateens gather here in Spetses, offering a unique spectacle: imagine dozens of wooden vessels, shining in the summer sunshine, trekking through the blue waters with their crisp white sails up high - it's a postcard image! 
Not to mention the smartly dressed crews and tanned enthusiasts gathering here, making the island a vibrant destination for the weekend!  

Orloff Resort is lodged in the heart of Spetses town. (check availability)
Not your traditional beach side property but utterly comfortable and cute.
When we arrived, a massive flower arrangement was waiting for me in our room. It came from one of my dear friends, who couldn't join us for the weekend - needless to say I cried when I read the card. It's small gestures from your friends that make special occasions so special!

Coming back to the hotel from the sea or from dinner - preferably by horse carriage - feels like you are going home.
The entrance is a discreet door on the side of a long wall that runs alongside the narrow road, a typical Spetses property!
The old part of the garden is covered in black an white mosaics and greenery and roses cover the walls all around.

Our room was spread over two floors with direct access to the pool area.
We also had a kitchenette downstairs, which I imagine would have been perfect if we wanted to make snacks for a family with young children.
Some of the rooms do not have access to the pool directly, but they all have little terraces, if you fancy sitting outside with your morning coffee or for you post-dinner star gazing. Oh, that's my favourite part of the day. Sitting under the stars reviewing the day's -and night's -  events with your friends!

One evening, we came back around two in the morning and decided to lounge around the pool because it was quite hot.
In case you were wondering, it wasn't considered particularly late; dinner starts at ten here and music doesn't get going earlier than twelve! Anyway, on with the story: out of nowhere came these two kiddies, they jumped into the pool and splashed around with their dad for a while, at two in the morning! 
I love family life around this part of the world; Can't sleep? Feeling hot? Why not dip in the pool, no matter if it's two in the morning!  

The hotel is built around the private pool, perfect for keeping cool, when you don't feel like going to the beach!
By the way, the closest beach, Agia Marina,  is only ten minutes walk away, so fear not!
Olive trees and palm trees provide shade around the pool; if that doesn't make it feel like a traditional house, what does? Interiors are neutral, with a nod to tradition: whitewashed walls, grey shutters, built-in sofas and wooden floors.

Breakfast is an intimate affair, right under the old olive trees.
One morning I decided to leave gift bags for my girlfriends, around the breakfast table, to say thank you for making the effort to travel to Greece from UK - not that anyone needs a lot of persuading to travel to Spetses! x

Elizabeth Street Summer Party

As Frankie sings...
"what frills, what frocks!,
What broads!
What furs, What rocks!

They're beautiful!
Why I've never seen such gaiety!"

If I had to choose a soundtrack for the Elizabeth Street Summer Party, this Frankie song would be perfect; we were in the heart of Belgravia after all!
Truth be told, at times I felt we were on the banks of river Thames in Henley, attending the Regatta with all the colourful dresses and (even) hats floating around!  
Great summer evening in the city!
The gentlemen looked rather dapper too, in their linen blazers and bright tans!

I had to stop and stare at this beauty on Peggy Porschen window!
Too bad we are not looking at wedding cakes any more...it was so much fun, probably one of the nicest memories I have from planning the wedding!

But now, let's get the party started!
It was great to see so many kiddies coming along, a full on family affair! By 8ish the place was packed and for some reason everybody looked rather familiar. We run into so many friends, it seems the whole of London was there!

So many doggies paraded in their "mommies" arms too! I saw the cutest Cavalier Spaniel irritated with the coolest, calm and collected Chihuahua that looked positively regal and not bothered at all!  Funny.
Now you see me...
Now you don't!
Lovely Pork Baps with Apple chutney, from the Thomas Cubitt stand. 

Yours truly. Can I just tell you what I found out yesterday in-between work and the street party? 
I thought it would be a good idea to finally tidy up my hair, so I called up Headmasters and got a "standby" appointment on the spot. 
Wash-cut-blowdry for just £28, plus I got to practise my rusty Italian with the fiery Napolitana who styled my hair! There, I thought you'd like to know too.

Too cool for school!
The lovely team of Eccleston Square Hotel were cooking up some seriously tantalising burgers. Friendly, chatty and young, the owners invited us around their boutique property for Wimbledon Champagne Afternoon Tea, shall we go? 

Entrance to the party was free, but a suggested donation of £10 was going to the Fight for Sight charity.
They fund research to prevent sight loss and treat eye disease. Not something you necessarily think about in your 20s and 30s, but we are not alone in this world and we'll definitely grow old, so it's good to open our eyes to all sorts of issues.
Plus this charity funds a lot of doctoral research and as a fellow researcher I appreciate how beneficial this is to keep new projects going! 

Now it's a party! The live band rocked on until eleven-ish and so did we.  

What a swellegant, elegant party this was!  x
© Life Love London

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