In November we went up to Manchester for a long weekend for our friends' wedding. As a Smiths obsessive and live music lover, I've been to dozens of gigs there - including a weekend in 2006 doing the Smiths tour during the day (visiting Salford Lads Club, the cemetery gates, the old house etc) and seeing Morrissey play for three nights on the trot in three different venues - but I hadn't been for years. It was great to go back and spend a couple of days wandering around the hipster Northern Quarter and checking out cool indies, vintage stores and new bars. We stayed at The Principal, a fantastic five star hotel in a massive Grade II listed red brick building on Oxford Street.
16 January 2017
So First from luxury French jewellery house Van Cleef & Arpels is a beautiful floriental, gourmand fragrance. I'm addicted. Created by perfumer Nathalie Lorson, it's a fresh new reinterpretation of First, the debut perfume launched in 1976, to celebrate its 40th anniversary.
10 January 2017
To celebrate my Dad's birthday and Father's Day, last summer we went to Bilbao in the Basque region of northern Spain for a long weekend, staying at the chic Hotel Miró in the centre of the city directly opposite the Guggenheim Museum. As you'd expect from a Design Hotels property, the hotel is cool and contemporary, with sleek, gender-neutral decor by Spanish fashion designer Antonio Miró.
8 January 2017
The modern Thai restaurant Busaba Eathai is one of my favourite chains for a quick and easy, cheap and cheerful dinner. Launched back in 1999 by celebrated restaurateur Alan Yau (also behind Yauatcha, Hakkasan and Wagamama), there are now 16 locations in London, Liverpool, Manchester and St Albans. I recently went to the latest branch in Fitzrovia just around the corner from Oxford Circus for a casual midweek dinner with a pal.