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A wine lover’s delight – The Vineyard, Stockcross, Berkshire

Wine lovers in Kensington are rather spoilt. We have the Milestone Hotel, The Royal Garden and the Kensington Wine Rooms all offering a wide variety of wines and experiences. Outside London though, just off the M40 at Newbury, is The Vineyard, a five star Relais et Chateaux hotel offering wine connoisseurs, wine lovers and novices alike, a true wine experience.

The hotel is not what you would call ‘quintessentially pretty’ – for that stick with Hartwell House, Hambleton Hall or Gravetye Manor previously featured in this magazine. But it does outdo all with the variety and types of wine on available. With over 30,000 bottles, 3000 bins and hundreds of wines on offer by the glass, the hotel is able to provide opportunity for serious wine dinners, wine tasting evenings, corporate private wine schools and ‘wine nights’.

It has hard to deny you are in a boutique ‘wine’ hotel – upon entering the reception, you are greeted with a double story height wine cellar containing 5,000 bottles. Most unnerving (but visually spectacular) is the glass floor upon which you stand looking down onto the lower level cellar. In the 3AA Rosette restaurant, our gastronomic ‘Judgement of Paris Dinner’ comprised 7 courses, with two glasses of blind wine for each course and was, according to my husband who fancies himself a wine connoisseur and foodie, “fantastic”. The Judgement of Paris was the momentous occasion in wine history, when, on 24th May 1976 top wine experts gathered together to taste six French and six Californian wines blind. Many of those who attended were amazed to find they had voted Californian wine as superior to the French. A mural in one of the meeting rooms depicts this occasion. One course was accompanied by blackened glasses, so not only was the country difficult to discerne but (rather unbelievably), also the colour.

To have seven courses and not mention any would be remiss: dishes included Leek and potato veloute with black truffle accompanied by Crozes Hermitage, Champ Morel, France 2014; Guinea fowl and partridge terrine, blood orange with walnut accompanied by Alsace PB, Marc Tempe France 2012 and Tidenham duck, heritage beetroot, quince and ginger accompanied by Bialla, Cabernet Sauvignon, California 2009. In addition to the entrance wine cellar, we were
shown around more wine vaults situated behind the main rooms of the hotel and a ‘fridge room’ on the top floor. It is probably fair to say I shall never hold a more expensive wine than the £20,000 magnum bottle of 1982 Chateau Petrus!

The rooms are generous and ours had a large seating room area with balcony overlooking the golf course, and a huge marble bathroom. If you have had enough of food and wine, there is a gym, swimming pool (indoor), Jacuzzi, steam and sauna room and treatment rooms.

The Vineyard won the European Hotel Wine List of the Year in 2015 – not surprising when their wine cellar boasts 30,000 bottles of fine wine from some of the world’s best wine producers, Sassicaia, Domaine Leflaive, Armand Rousseau to name a few In addition, the wine cellar has vintage wines including; Old and new world wines including Domaine Charles Audoin (Burgundy) and new world, Rudd Estate Mount Veeder Sauvignon Blanc (California). Unusual grape varieties, such as Orin Swift Mute which is a Californian dessert red made using native grape varieties from portugal. As I said, enough to satisfy any connoisseur, wine aficionado or novice.
The Vineyard, Stockcross, Newbury, Berks RG20
Telephone: 01635 589407
www.the-vineyard.co.uk

(Lucy and Stephen were guests of The Vineyard)

Images & Copyright: www.lucyelliottphotography.com
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Out of Kensington: Hartwell Hotel & Spa

Sitting in 90 acres of sweeping fields, landscaped gardens, ha ha’s and a lake is the beautiful Hartwell House – an Historic House Hotel, one of only three in the UK, owned by the National Trust.

Just an hours car journey from London this historic house, built in the seventeenth century, now provides a true respite from the rush of London life. In the past carriages would have bought you to the huge wooden front door via the mile long avenue of Lime trees. Today you approach via a sweeping drive to be met by a statue of Frederick, Prince of Wales. The door opens and you are immediately in the Jacobean Great Hall – where high ceilings, works of art, antiques, traditional furnishings and a large wood burning fire place greet you.

Over the years, various architectural additions have been made resulting in architectural styles such as Jacobean, Gothic revival, Victorian and Georgian interiors. The gardens, in the style of Capability Brown, have also received various designs. As an example, and in addition to the ha ha’s, there are statues, gazeebos, follies – and the mid-section of the bridge originally formed part of Kew Bridge.

Leading to the rooms in the main house is a fine example of a Jacobean staircase complete with statues. Rooms are large with floor to ceiling windows overlooking the countryside and gardens. Our room, The Queen’s Bedroom comes complete with four poster bed, his and hers walk-in wardrobe, floor to ceiling windows, artwork, antiques, multiple sofas and armchairs. This room originally belonged to Queen Josephine when she and King Louis where exciled from France and lived at Hartwell House from 1809 – 1814.

Hartwell House is clearly a popular destination for both residents and non-residents – many were enjoying formal Afternoon Tea, and the restaurant at dinner was full with couples, groups and those attending a corporate event. Chef Daniel Richardson is locally known as the chef who bought Aylesbury Duck back on the menu – traditionally quite a difficult bird to cook and one which takes skill, especially as it is quite a fatty bird. Sadly, not being in season on our visit, we were still able to chose from an extensive menu: Pan friend scallops with apple and fennel salad, accompanied by cauliflower and lime leaves; Veloute and pan friend fillet of Hallibut with crushed potatoes, artichokes, saute leeks and crab sauce or Beetroot macaroon with goats cheese mouse as examples. Deserts were equally exotically named.

Walking around the grounds on a beautiful Autumn’s afternoon is a real treat. If walking does not give you enough excerise, there are tennis courts and a croquet lawn. The converted former stables provide elegant space for a gymnasium, large swimming pool, together with sauna, spa and beauty rooms. Again non-residents are very welcome with day spa packages being popular and a smart cafe/restaurant is on-site overlooking the pool area.

Hartwell House is well situated being close to London and Oxford and is ideal for overnight or longer stays, combining with other attractions in the area. It provides a relaxing break from London in old traditional surroundings, comfortable and classy with no bling in sight!
Lucy and Stephen were guests of Hartwell House

Hartwell House Hotel & Spa, Oxford Road, Nr Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire HP17 8NR
www.hartwell-house.com 01296 747444

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Images: Copyright:  Lucy Elliott www.lucyelliottphotography.com

‘One night at Kensington Palace’ with Joy Sigaud and the Philharmonia Orchestra

Kensington Palace and The Orangery provided a wonderful backdrop for an exclusive charity event to raise monies for the Rainbow Trust Children’s Charity and Alpha Boys School.  ’Inspirations’ founded by Joy Sigaud, is an organisation raising funds for various charities, through music events.

 

Guests were treated to champagne and canapes in the Stone Room in the Palace prior to moving on to The Orangery for the Philharmonia Orchestra, conducted by John Gibbons (Joy’s mentor) to perform a collection of Joy’s compositions selected for chamber orchestra.  ‘One Night at the Palace’ showcased Joy’s talent as a composer.

 

Born in England of Jamaican parents, Joy tells a story through her music of the movement of peoples in both an historical and contemporary context, bought to life by the passionate playing of the orchestra.  As a child she learnt to play the piano age 4 and has been composing since the age of 10.

 

The large audience comprised friends and family, together with dignitaries. Her Excellency Aloun Assamba High Commissioner of Jamaica gave an impassioned speech.  Supporters of the evening included The Jamaica High Commission, Tiffany & Co, Boodles, Donna Karan, Belgravia Gallery and many more.  A wonderful and very memorable treat for all who were lucky enough to be present.

Images and copyright:  Lucy Elliott / www.lucyelliottphotography.com

www.thekensingtonmagazine.com

www.jsinspirations.org

 

 

 

Out of Kensington: Beautiful, historic St. Moritz

St. Moritz, high up in the Swiss Alps, feels like entering Narnia.  Travel via the UNESCO Rhaetian Railway, the most scenic route imaginable and a few hours later reach St. Moritz.  Be greeted by liveried staff from Badrutt’s Palace Hotel and enter a different time, a different experience.  The hotel, built in 1896 epitomises luxury – an historic building filled with antiques, discrete staff, beautiful views and various restaurants to suit all types of requirements.

Most people visit in the winter months, but the summer months also have a lot to offer – plenty for all to see and do.  Try a trip on a horse drawn carriage complete with picnic hamper, to the mountain lake and swim in what must be one of the world’s most beautiful pools…. learn to make cheese in an Alpine lodge, try your hand at sailing in the ‘Badrutt’s Palace’ their own 6-person sailing boat, with the wind flying in your hair.  Shopping is provided in the hotel’s own Palace Galerie – a Bond St. in the mountains.  In addition to the hotel restaurants you can also try Chasa Veglia, a rustic style restaurant housed in one of the oldest farmhouses in St. Moritz.

For foodies, a Chefs Dinner in the kitchen, complete with silver service, followed by a ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ pudding experience in the Dessert Kitchen, is a must and will delight adults and children alike.   As for the bedrooms they are large and it is well worth trying for one overlooking the lake, which with the morning mist, looks spectacular.  Breakfast can be taken inside or on the verandah, the latter being very picturesque with flowers and again, over looking the lake.  Of course many famous people visit Badrutt’s Palace Hotel but even the less famous are treated as special. A real gem of a place and a diamond experience.

Lucy Elliott was a guest of Badrutt’s Palace Hotel

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Images: Copyright; Lucy M Elliott www.lucyelliottphotography.com
www.badruttspalace.ch

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dame Judi Dench at the Unveiling and Dedication of ‘The Conversion of St Paul’

Dame Judi Dench delighted guests at St Paul’s Church in Covent Garden by formally launching the sculpture by renowned Bruce Denny.  The 80 yr old, resplendent in a beautiful cream outfit,  commented that although she’d been unable to see the eclipse earlier that morning, she was pleased to see the sun now shining and declared it was ‘…  a wonderful way to welcome Bruce Denny’s lovely statue’.  The cutting of the ribbon followed a formal service held in the church, commonly referred to as The Actor’s Church, with the Rev’d Richard Syms and the Rev’d Simon Grigg in the presence of the Deputy Lord Mayor of Westminster, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowen Williams, and numerous actors/actresses.

www.lucyelliottphotography.com
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Images and copyright:  Lucy Elliott

 

HRH Duchess of Cornwall visits Holland Park School and meets winner of Creative Writing Competition by First Story

HRH Duchess of Cornwall delighted staff and students last week by visiting Holland Park School in Kensington. Shown around the futuristic looking new school by Head Teacher Coliin Hall, she clearly enjoyed seeing the building and popping in to join in various classes. Admitting that neither Latin nor Science were her particular favourite, it was clear she was more comfortable in the English classes. In addition she visited three classrooms holding ‘creative writing’ classes with schools from across the country, participating in the charity, First Story of which the Duchess is Patron. She was clearly at ease and didn’t just speak with children at the front of the class but ventured to the very back, ensuring every child could claim to have met the Duchess, in years to come. Those who were invited to speak to read out their work, were in the main, rather nervous, but with her encouragement and genuine enthusiasm, nerves were soon dispelled and children from disadvantaged background proved that with the right type of care and nurturing, anything is possible.

The Duchess then attended a synopsis of the Staff production of Much Ado About Nothing, at the end of which she announced and met the winner of the creative writing competition 2014-15. In turn she was presented with a bouquet of flowers and a professionally produced anthology of work by the pupils of First Story. Finally she gave a speech in which she surmised that due to the high standard she had seen that morning, it could well be that one of these pupils may be a famous writer in the future. Inspiration indeed!

www.thekensingtonmagazine.com
www.hollandparkschool.co.uk

www.firststory.org.uk

All images and copyright: Lucy Elliott
www.lucyelliottphotography.com

Local illustrator and poster designer Dorrit Dekk dies

Local resident Dorrit Dekk (Dorrit Epstein Dekk) died on 29th December at the age of 97. In May 2011 we met her to discuss a forthcoming article which was printed in our June edition. Seven years before she held an exhibition at the Duncan Campbell Gallery in W8, and later a private exhibition with a friend. Sales of her work flew off the walls. Noted for her direct approach, she was genuinely interested in people, of all ages, and of all walks of life. She had been looked after for the past 13 years by Mary, who became a trusted and good friend to Dorrit.

Below is a copy of the original article printed published in June 2011:

Hidden Talent: Dorrit Dekk
“Dorrit, hi, I’m just phoning to thank you for inviting me to your exhibition last night. How are you?” “Oh my dear, well I’m still here, I seem to be completely indestructible” says Dorrit (with a distinct heavy accent), a 94 year old resident of Kensington who still paints, although dismisses the notion she is a ‘fine artist’. Instead she calls herself an art designer and her works range from abstract designs to quirky land/townscapes – with a particular bias for backstreets and their inhabitants.

Dorrit was born in Czechoslovakia but moved to Austria and studied theatre design at the prestigious Kunstgewerbe Schule from 1936-1938. Sadly the War intervened and her professor had to encourage her to leave as suddenly the college was no longer allowed to take any Jewish students. Her month’s English friends provided visas and guarantees, hence her mother, Dorrit and her brother came over to live in London. Dorrit was able to continue her studies at the Reimann School in London. She then worked in the WRMS as a radio intelligence officer, intercepting E-boat signals.

Later, as work in theatre design after the war was rather scarce, she moved to graphic design and worked for the Central office of Information (1946-1948) producing poster designs and illustrations for this government body. One day a printer came back with one of her posters and asked whey she had not signed it. Explaining her married name was Klatzow and maiden name Fuhrmann she did not eel either of these lent themselves very well to a signature. he asked what her initials were – DKK. So with the insertion of an ‘E’ Dorrit’s pen name became DEKK (signed for evermore in capitals). From the 1950s she ran her own (and very successful) design practice, when a chance conversation led her to designing a stand entitled ‘People at Play’ of the Land Traveller part of the Festival of Britain. The subject of the stand was British Sports and Games and included a large mural across the stand. This proved very popular and Dorrit is one of the few surviving contributors to the Festival of Britain exhibition. She can be seen on interview at the 60th Anniversary celebration being shown at the Southbank Centre.

Dorrit has always worked in gouache but her main medium in collage which she used for her posters and now for her paintings. Her works are bright and fun with unusual depth and texture. Hence when she starts on a piece there is no plan (“it just happens”), no idea of the end result, but rather an evolvement of what “jewels happen to be lying on the floor” at th time. This might seem a somewhat unorthodox approach to ‘art’ but then Picasso was famous for much the same approach!

Dorrit has lived in Airlie Gardens since the late 60s and must be one of the rfew people who can remember the beautiful Victorian water tower and the line of oak trees (now Kensington Heights). From her roof terrace she used to be able to see as far as Highgate Cemetery. It clearly still irks her that in the early 1970s Sir John Betjeman would not support a band of women chaining themselves to the oak tree in order to prevent the planning permission.

Just over ten years ago Dorrit had a stroke and since that time has had to use a wheel chair to get about. Years later on one of her ‘get a bouts’ and just before her 90th birthday, Dorrit met Duncan Campbell of the Duncan Campbell Gallery. Duncan encouraged her to have an exhibition, but she felt at 90 she was too old to work, and even more, to hold a solo exhibition. But she did – the exhibition was a huge success and gave many the opportunity to buy her works. As a result of Duncan “giving her a reason to live” she now continues to ‘work’ in the afternoon and just last month gave another (and extremely successful) private exhibition.

Like most ‘older’ people we interview for this page we never have room to mention all the aspects of Dorrit’s life; her first love of her life: a “handsome, brilliant physicist” who died in the war, or her second husband. But for the purpose of this article, she is a graphic artist and painter. And someone who remains, certainly at the time of writing, completely indestructible.

Copyright: The Kensington Magazine

 

Campden Hill Residents Association, Summer Party

Victoria Borwick captured the spirit of the evening when she declared that nothing really could better a summer’s evening in a beautiful garden square surrounded by neighbours. Emphasising the opportunity to meet the neighbours and enjoy the community commaradarie, the Portobello Jazz Band encouraged young and old to try the odd dance, food and wine delightfully served by 5th and 6th formers of Holland Park School (rated as ‘Outstanding’ for the past four years) and an eclectic range of raffle prizes encouraged those present to part with their money. Rev James Heard, the new Vicar of St George’s Church, was presented with the magnum of champagne he won in the raffle. All in all a wonderfully British sort of evening.

Images and copyright:  Lucy Elliott / www.lucyelliottphotography.com (for more images please see website)

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HRH Duke of Kent visits Royal Hospital Road to celebrate Founder’s Day

A beautiful day but tinged with sadness as many Pensioners were not present due to the Anniversary celebrations of D-Day at Normandy. However, those present looked radiant in their red coats. Prior to the service the Duke was shown around the new accommodation for the Pensioners and was impressed with the efforts made by many to establish the Royal Hospital as a beacon of excellence in the domain of care. The sun shone for most of the morning, making a particularly rather splendid appearance on cue for the National Anthem. At the end of the service as HRH Duke of Kent and other dignitaries walked back through the great oak doors, the bagpipes played. Everyone was still, with the bagpipes playing in the distance, quieter and quieter. Very moving. We were delighted to catch up with Joe Britten, their oldest resident who is 102 (and eight months)!

Images and copyright: Lucy Elliott/www.lucyelliottphotography.com
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Not Glamping but Plamping: Sleepover and masked ball at Kensington Palace

Huge excitement as some 20 children complete with sleeping bags and teddies had the privilege of staying the night at Kensington Palace in Queen Victoria’s and her mother (the Duchess of Kent’s) bedroom. The event, in celebration of the 300th Aniversary of the George’s, treated the children to an action-packed evening; learning how to dance Georgian style (with perhaps more enthusiasm than style but they were between 6 – 11 yrs old), learning the language of the fan and experimenting with wigs and face powder. One of the highlights was making their own masks which they would then wear at the ‘Ball’. After a picnic the children dressed up and were ready for the Masked Ball. Faces covered with an array of decorative hand made masks, they then put their new found dancing and waving fan skills into action, accompanied and lead by ‘Princess Amellia and ‘Lord Grafton’.

At about 10.00 pm. the time had come to settle down for bed; parents and children slept on the floor and were then treated to a breakfast fit for a prince or princess. All too soon it was time to leave, and reality kicked in. The time for Prince and Princessing may have been over, but memories of this special occasion will live long and no doubt be re-told to their grandchildren about the time they spent the night at Kensington Palace…..

Images and copyright: Lucy Elliott/www.lucyelliottphotography.com

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