A Travel & Lifestyle Blog

Fête Champêtre at the Hurlingham Club, London

Excitement was building up in the car, driving up to the Hurlingham Club last Saturday evening;
glimpses of everybody walking around Parson's Green in tuxedos and evening dresses... carrying all kinds of Tupperware, cool bags and food trays.
A special night around Parsons Green that takes place once a year; we were so lucky to take part, thanks to our friend Natasha, who offered us spare tickets.
Tickets for the Club's Fête Champêtre are through members only and since you cannot even apply for membership to the Club any more - the waiting list was so long, they actually had to close it down - count on kind friends to get you a glimpse of this wonderful London summer event.

The lawns, the grounds, the Clubhouse, all so well-maintained! It's the epitome of London summer season.
Firstly, we walked straight into the Ballroom to find our table.
This is how it all works: not only you can bring your own food and drinks to the  Fête, but also your own tableware and decorations too!
In other words, you could tell a lot about the occupants of each table by the way it was set up: some tables looked so well co-ordinated, others were pilled high with bread and all kinds of charcuterie, one was sporting the American flag on all kinds of paper plates, napkins and the rest of it.

Ours was a great mix&match of snacks and delicious starters along-side piles of cool-bags full of champagne and wine. What can I say, we don't like running out of juice.
Sorry, I meant booze!

But wait, we also had blinis with beetroot salad and pee-mint puree, smoked salmon on toast, jerk chicken, which got greedily wrapped in tortillas and demolished and a whopping 48 of my olive & feta palmiers, that went down a treat right at the beginning, alongside Champers.

Olive & Feta Palmiers

One sheet of puff pastry
Olive tapenade
Feta, crumbled
Olive Oil
Pepper (no salt, the feta will take care of this job)

Unroll the puff pastry onto the parchment paper that it comes in, it will make it easier to roll again later. 
Spread the olive tapenade all over the puff pastry, evenly, avoiding lumps.
Crumble the feta with a fork in a bowl and mix in the olive oil.
Scatter the feta all over the puff pastry sheet, evenly. Pepper all over generously.

Facing the long side of the pastry start rolling it in towards the middle, making sure you don't squish it too much, it needs space to puff up later in the oven.
Stop rolling when you reach the middle.
Roll in the other side of the pastry too, until you reach the middle. Press the two sides gently together to make sure they are stuck on to each other.
Wrap up the roll with the parchment paper and put it in the fridge for 10 minutes, it firms up and is much easier to cut.

Put the oven on 200C.
With a sharp knife cut 2cm slices and lay them flat onto a baking sheet. No need to grease the baking sheet, there's already so much butter in the puff pastry!
Don't worry if the palmiers look a bit square-ish at his stage, they'll sort themselves out in the oven. And if they don't, call them "rustic".

Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, or until they turn golden-brown.
Serve with a gorgeous smile and a sparkling attitude! ;)

At 7 o'clock sharp we were called outside, at the front lawn for the classic car show.
Such a buzzing, fun atmosphere.

Some of the car owners had that oldy-worldy swagger, such a joy to watch.
They were all emerging from their cars in spotless tuxedos with a bottle of Champers and two glasses at hand.
One particularly suave fellow, got out of the car, balanced the champagne glass on his Jag's immaculate bonnet, fixed his bow tie, picked up his glass and walked off...all so smoothly, while hundreds of people were watching.

I guess it's the kind of confidence that comes with age...and a gorgeous classic car off course.

And then there was so much choice that we hardly found time to do it all.
There was live music in the Ballroom, where a funny and wonderful mixture of older and younger couples were demonstrating their moves.

Men in white tuxes waiving their walking sticks (or is it a fashion statement now?) in the air, ladies breaking out jumping routines from Grease and I... got elbowed on the head, tripped onto some gentleman's shoe and got splashed with champagne, all within seconds, while I was trying to get out in the garden.
A bit too much excitement people?

In-between twisting and boogying, we popped into all of the funfair rides;
the merry-go-round was well-maintained enough to make Marry Poppins proud!
When the ride ended - too soon for my liking - I must have sighed so evidently that the lady right next to me said, "don't worry darling, you can go again, it's free!"

Then came a ride on Twister, which looked harmless enough, but left me looking like a plucked chicken, with my hair flying in all directions. 
Oh well, it was fun and everyone was merry enough, not to notice at that point!

ps: we thankfully discovered our smoked salmon bagels at the bottom of the cool bag, hidden under all the champagne, which proved to be a lifesaver at the end of the night, when everyone was starving!

Hartnett Holder & Co, Lime Wood, New Forest

Fellow over-worked, over-stressed and probably super-dehydrated Londoners & South-east suburbanistas, (what? you really thought all these bubbly potions at Polo in the Park & Elizabeth Street summer party wouldn't catch up with you?) have you ventured out to the New Forest wonderland yet?
Driving down the A31 or the A35 through the New Forest, isn't immediately as exciting as you would expect: you will probably spot some wild horses in the distance, but as these are higher speed roads the fields are fenced off.
If you turn off the "A" roads however, it's a whole different story;
drive through Brockenhurst, Beaulieu and the smaller villages and you are certain to see these wonderful wild creatures galloping by the car, grazing away or even having an itch and a roll around on the grass. I love horses, they are so majestic. 
We've even had them popping their heads through the car window to say hello, on several occasions! You are guaranteed to turn into a kid when that happens, what's better than that?
On our way back from Christchurch last Sunday, we really wanted to stop at The Pig, my all-time favourite spot, down around this part of the world. 
But since we left it for last minute, as always, they were booked out and we decided to give their sister hotel Lime Wood a go.

The fact that this hotel belongs to the same chain as the Pig and the Pig on the Beach was kind of a guarantee for a good, wholesome Sunday afternoon out.

On top of that, the restaurant Hartnett Holder & Co, has been curated by Angela Hartnett, the woman who braved Gordon Ramsey's colourful character-building insults for years, as his protégée; so it must be good, right?
The entrance to the estate is not as impressive as other manor houses around the area, it's more subtle, with an artistic feeling throughout, once you start spotting iron sculptures in the fields and all around the garden.
The hotel decor is in tune with the rest of the properties in this chain: very homely, with notes of bygone eras, but not at all stuffy. I loved the black and white tiled floors in the lobby, as I am currently trying to convince my husband to adopt this look in our new home, but he is not budging in.
The "Boot Room" was so colourful! Wellies of all patterns, colours and sizes, just help yourself and venture out in the fields!

As soon as we walked into the house, my husband spotted the games room and since we were half an hour early we thought, "let's have a game of pool".
What a great idea!
We felt that old-fashioned cocktails would be more suitable at the time, so Aperol Spritzers arrived pronto and we had this gorgeous panelled room to ourselves.
I was winning at the beginning, but as always I got too cocky and lost interest, so I lost miserably and had to pay for lunch in the end. Oh well, it was good while it lasted!

The restaurant is this earthy space, with colourful yellow and maroon leather chairs and sofas, green walls and wrap-around windows with views over the gardens.
Oh wait! "Is that a swing I spot hanging from that tree outside? Perfect!"
This is one of the reasons I loved the Pig in the first place. For the big swing in the garden, they have one here too, now I feel at home! 


We had the pork tonnato to start with, as I don't eat beef any more, vitello tonnato is one of the dishes I do miss, so I was very excited to see the porky-pork version of it on the menu.
I'll admit it wasn't what I expected, when it arrived, I was craving lots & lots of the tonnata sauce which in this case was only sparingly covering the pork; but the layer of crunchy fennel really brought the whole thing together. I'll try it at home!

Next up, roast for my husband, spinach & smoked salmon ravioli for me.
Pasta is Angela Hartnett's speciality apparently and although I knew I was going to be hungry afterwards, I ordered the ravioli. Question: why do they always give you so few pieces of them? No matter where you go, you just don't get enough ravioli, why? Anyway, it was nice, the filling and the asparagus cream could have been stronger in flavour.

And then you let the lovely panna cotta with cherry preserve take you back a couple of decades, served in a retro glass along with churros. What else do you need on a Sunday afternoon?
A great and light dessert. I went for the cheese board, there was a really nice goat's cheese there, but I forgot to ask the name.

You simply cannot leave this place without a wonder around the garden. There are parts that look pretty natural and others that are perfectly designed, with pools of water and lovely copper sculptures.

Make sure you discover the two big swings, hanging under these massive trees. No matter what Monday morning brings for you, at least you'll have this lazy Sunday afternoon to dream about...swaying away under the big trees, closing your eyes to avoid the last rays of sunshine. 

Selfridges Pop-Up: Vintage Salt

Once every couple of summers there is a pop up restaurant on Selfridges rooftop.
A couple of years ago it was the first time Daylesford Farm made an appearance;  look how well they've done since then!
The setting is great, with views over Mayfair and even as far as Hyde Park - if you manage to navigate past the humongous mothership that has landed on top of Park House, off course. It makes you wonder how come they don't have a permanent bar up there?
This year Vintage Salt is bringing a touch of Cornwall to Oxford Street, the idea being built around a fishing village and seaside inspired menu.
The menu did trouble us a lot: that crab brioche with truffle fries had me deliberating for a while.
And yet, we chose to have tea!
Well, it was the Monday of the Bank Holiday weekend and afternoon tea seemed appropriate to close off the lazy weekend.
Take the "express lift" up to the fifth floor, follow the rope and fishing paraphernalia-decorated corridors, up to the terrace with the whitewashed floor and energetic waiters in blue & white stripy tops.
They waiters looked so excited I thought they would break out in song. They didn't, but how cool would that be?

When the scones and sandwiches arrived, I couldn't believe how much food was piled on that three-tiered stand, for one person. Four freshly baked scones, four!
And then little sweeties at the bottom tier: mini-lemon meringue and a tiny chocolate brownie with a chocolate mousse that packed a punch.
The sandwiches were a bit plain and dry I'm afraid, which was disappointing because I always look forward to the savoury treats rather than the sweet ones.
Plus when we arrived, we had an extra person with us and we were told that they wouldn't be able to order from the tea menu because the chef needs 24 hours notice.
Fair enough, but you can't blame me for building my expectations high after that statement, can you? 
So our friend had a lovely traditional burger with a side of truffle fries and believe me, I regretted not going for the actual food.  Even the traditional fish & chips dishes looked massive and fluffy!

The Drift Bar, at the end of the terrace is a much more chilled out zone, with a couple of huts that you can escape to and loungers for sunny days. The cocktails are quite good too, I had the G Julep, which was gorgeous, even when the ice started to melt, the flavours were still coming through.

A hint of nautical inspiration for your home...
So go grab a drink and a lobster bun or a crab brioche, if like me, you miss the seaside once the sun is out.
© Life Love London

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