Christmas 2017 giveaway – beauty gifts up for grabs

So what are ‘organic beauty’ products? By definition, organic cosmetics are created from ingredients which have been certified organic by one of the numerous certifying institutions that operate worldwide. An organic ingredient (or natural ingredient) is formally an ingredient which has been harvested without the use of synthetic chemical compounds. Net A Porter launched added beauty to its offering in 2013, launching with  a highly curated selection of makeup, hair, fragrance, nail polish and skin care products from a range of brands.

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Dive into the World of Healthy Hedonism by Amy Mia Goldsmith

Dive into the World of Healthy Hedonism by Amy Mia Goldsmith

As legend has it, the Chinese Emperor Shen Nung was a famed herbalist. He spent his time researching plants and their medicinal properties, as he believed strongly that one could find a cure for any ailment, if only they were to look at what nature had to offer. One day, when the servants were boiling some water for their emperor (which was taken to aid digestion in the ancient times), a few tea leaves accidentally blew from the tree and fell into the pot. The servants never noticed, and the water was served. The emperor saw the leaves, and just as he was about to ask for a new pot, his curiosity took the better of him. He drank the water, and found the taste to be more appealing than anything else he ever drank. And thus, tea was born, in 2737 BC.

Beginner’s guide

Are you new to tea? Well, we can help you start. There are technically only a few types of tea: black, white, green, oolong, and dark. They are all made from the same plant, Camellia Sinensis, and the difference lies in the process of fermentation, where the leaves come from, and which time of the year they were picked. All other teas are called “tisanes,” herbal blends of plants, roots, or seeds with potent taste. However, this term is rarely used, and the easiest thing to do is simply refer to all of them as tea. Want to know more about the history of tea and get some suggestions on which ones to try? Read on. Read more…

Oakley Court Windsor

I recently had the honour of staying at Oakley Court, a historic country house which overlooks the River Thames and sprawls over a 30 acre ground. The exterior presents a Gothic façade and endless sprawling gardens, with the garden’s centre-piece fountain and the surrounding rejuvenated orchards delivering unforgettable wow-factors. The 4-star residence hosts an award-winning restaurant, tennis courts, croquet lawn, and an indoor pool with stunning rover-bank views of the Thames. If you decide to wander outside the luxurious grounds, a brisk 10 minute walk will lead you to Windsor City Centre or Windsor Castle, or go a little further for Ascot and Thorpe Park, but you will always love returning to this gorgeous estate as your base. As expected with an estate dating back to 1859 and built as a home by Sir Richard Hall-Say, High Sheriff of Berkshire, the decor is unyieldingly traditional. Still, it offers a few surprising splashes of modern decor – notably the three riverside boardrooms – or slightly offbeat artwork, particularly the driftwood sculptures by James Doran-Webb.

During our stay, a favourite experience – second to soaking up the view – was the food. The menu is led by Head Chef Damian Broom whose second year saw the 2AA rosette award winning restaurant, The Dining Room, rewarded with two distinctions: Berkshire and Buckinghamshire Life Restaurant of the Year and Chef of the Year for 2015. The dinner was fresh and delicious, prepared from scratch like all the meals served up in The Dining Room. In part, the richness of the dishes can be traced back to the kitchen gardens which provide seasonal, high quality and local organic produce. Read more…

Newquay with Cornish Horizons

I visited Newquay once when I was in my teens, but the visit was brief and though I remember the sandy beaches and beautiful homes,  I didn’t really appreciate how gorgeous it is – stunning views, rolling coastal lines et al – until a recent visit. Situated on the north coast of Cornwall, in southwest England, the town is best known for Watergate Bay beaches and a surfing community who enjoy the strong waves which come in from the Atlantic Ocean. This time, I stayed at a gorgeous modern cottage provided by Cornish Horizons, a family-run company (going strong since the early nineties) whose team know the land inside out and overflow with friendly welcome and a genuine passion for Cornwall. They have a portfolio over nearly 500 holiday cottages, all situated in glorious Cornish rural and coastal locations including Padstow, St Ives and Fowey.

Ocean Blue, the self-catering spot with a cracking Atlantic Ocean facing view of the local golf course and Fistral beach, that I stayed in is easily found in one of Newquay’s most sought after locations and offers a perfect place to soak up the region’s magical atmosphere. The second floor apartment was kitted out for everything our group needed, and within 10 mins of the beach where we watched waves break in a place known as a surfers paradise. Sunset and sunrise from the second floor apartment is purely picturesque, the ideal spot to relax and enjoy the impressive coastal retreat.

Complete with with a delightful private balconies ( ideal for enjoying an al fresco meal or watching the waves from the comfort of the welcoming deck chairs), an open, contemporary living area and three bedrooms. As a guest at Ocean Blue, I enjoyed a location which provided swift access to Newquay’s town but also the ultimate crash-pad. As a base, the cottage provided a sociable outdoor relaxing area – a notably modern, well equipped kitchen – and welcome respite for whatever you have in mind. If you’re feeling energetic and want to explore, I strongly suggest the short walk to Fistral beach, the undisputed home of British surfing. It was extremely hard to check out after my two days break, truly, living in London you can easily forget what total peace feels like, or how uninterrupted skylines look.

Self-catering allowed total freedom and the kitchen came dressed with a few local produce including jam, cornish butter and cream and other welcome comforts after a long drive from London. Electricity and gas included in rent; bed linen and towels are provided and other equipment, like baby equipment, can be hired. In this particular cottage, there is a strict no pets and no smoking policy. For me, a particularly endeavour of Cornish Horizons is their commitment to social responsibility work, specifically supporting the heroic Cornwall Air Ambulance, whose efforts save hundreds of lives each year. Guests are asked to add a small donation of £2 to the holiday cost which is then passed on to the charity in its entirety whose work since 1987 has involved over 26,00 rescue missions since 1987.

Find out more about Cornish Horizons or Ocean Blue here.

Healthy snacking for the conscious consumer

Sustainability goes beyond ethical design and what I wear, it has seeped into other areas of my life including what I eat. For the past 4 years I have been a vegetarian, moving towards the vegan lifestyle (although the latter has been and still is a struggle for me) – overall cutting back on animal products and incorporating plant-based foods becomes even more challenging when I am trying to snack.

If you wander into any newsagents 9/10 times you will find that every sweet or chocolate bar contains dairy or animal extracts and whilst carrying around fruit, crackers or a pot of hummus is one way to play it, variety is the spice of life  when a sweet craving hits! Don’t be disheartened and take note, there is a world to discover beyond grapes and carrots, and it includes activated nuts and raw food snacks amongst other delights.  On the hunt for healthy substitutes, I am shortlisting options below for anyone else struggling to snack healthily (as I have before) and keen to find tasty alternative to fruits and crackers.

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Flat Three’s Innovative Plant Based Menu

Perched on the corner of main-street, Japanese and Nordic inspired restaurant Flat Three offers a refreshing plant based menu, nothing short of innovative for the curious and experimental. Led by Head chef Pavel Kanja and his team, the Holland Park restaurant presents a lively menu curated to combine Japanese, Korean and Nordic cuisine, including a 7 course tasting menu with a strong plant-based offering.

Formerly an apprentice in Western Australia under the training of classic French chefs, Kanja then set about mastering Japanese food via positions in Perth, Melbourne, Dubai and the UK. In the spacious, 40-cover dining room – clean minimalist, neutral tones, and delicate glassware – the Australian-born leads in a rare alchemy which delivers a nutritious and sustainable menu, whisking, baking, frying, grilling or steaming British-grown produce from the likes of Miles Irving and the Forager team in Kent, or potent, flavour packed wild vegetation treasure hunted from suppliers such as Namayasai, a Japanese vegetable farm in Lewes.
In the spirit of forward thinking cuisine Kanja is nurturing a sustainable way of thinking about food and lifestyle 365 days a year, joining Operations Manager Juliana Moustakas to forage on the Kentish coast when time allows. The team minimise waste by making the most of their plant based ingredients and residuals, whether by pickling to making their own salts from soup stocks, infusing water, or whipping up sake and kombuchas, in addition to a creating a variety of sauces and dressings.  Read more…

Seed To Table Living & Eating At Can Lluc

Surrounded by venerable walls and found in the heart of the island of Ibiza, boutique hotel Can Lluc is a product of the blood, sweat and tears of Tina Soriano and Lucas Prats. The main house was built by Lucas’s grandfather and acted as the family home for generations until the ambitious married couple undertook a transformation project with the space, successfully paying respectful homage to traditional Ibicenco architecture and heritage. Rustic stone walls, wooden ceilings and beautifully restored déco bring the once-ancient property to a chic modern space with rooms ready to catch weary or energised travellers. Whatever pace you bring to Can Lluc, rest assure it will be matched with ease.

The surrounding ecology is stunning – dense pine forests, carob, fig, fruit and olive trees complimented by a plantation of 2000 vineyards, carobs and almonds and fruit. One of the key experiences of a successful holiday, beyond good aesthetics and hospitality, is satisfying food; picked from the bar or restaurant menu, Can Lluc offer a wide selection of organic, local and quality produce. Whether plucked from the surrounding farmlands or homegrown vegetable garden, or travelling a short distance from local suppliers, all food is prepared in the in-house kitchen and fresh on the plate. Eating seasonally and locally can reduce the carbon footprint of your food by up to 10%. Food that is grown closer to home will therefore have fewer transportation emissions associated with it, in addition as the distance food travels decreases, so does the need for processing and refrigeration to reduce spoilage.

Seed to table – from the backyard garden to a kitchen table – gives the chef direct input when planting and harvesting herbs and peppers from the seasonal garden onsite, and as a result, the food is simply delicious and incredibly garden-fresh.

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