29 March 2009


This post is another one of those that's been waiting for its turn quietly, patiently. I've always known it had to be written, yet even now as I type purposefully, I'm not quite sure where exactly it will go. All I know is that one thing always leads to another and that's what makes writing like this so darn interesting.
My father's voice is just as familiar to me as that of Sinatra. Now there's a sentence I never thought I'd say. But it's true. Ever since I can remember (and my first memories go back to when I was 2 years old - so I remember lots) Ol' Blue Eyes has been our solid companion through thick and thin and I often wonder whether my dad would have been the person he is, had he not been such a lifelong passionate admirer of Sinatra's - in fact I'm sure that Sinatra is as much part of him as we are. And what a wonderful passion to have.
Do you know that by some amazing coincidence, Ava Gardner ended up being our neighbour for all those years when we lived in London's Ennismore Gardens? I think that all these elements: my father's music echoing over the garden square, me in the garden pretending I was Alice in Wonderland complete with my very own Cheshire Cat (his name was Ali and he was in fact a Siamese), Ava and her dogs next door looking down from her first floor balcony, the magnificence of the location (Ennismore Gardens is one of London's most beautiful squares) and the intensely happy times spent there, really make this my most treasured childhood memory. But back to the Man and his Music. I won't even try to describe the quality of Frank's voice as firstly you'll surely know how amazing it is yourself, and secondly it's just downright impossible - to me it's the most perfect singing voice I have ever heard and the effortlessness of his delivery is staggering, song after song after song. So in my quest to recognise my father's huge influence, and to pay tribute to this unique vocalist and perfomer, here is one of my own favourites. Genius, style and elegance all presented to perfection in this rare 1967 footage of Sinatra and Antonio Carlos Jobim. I dare you to listen to this and NOT get goosebumps. When you get to the last song you'll be swaying, I know you will.
For those of you interested in further education there is the official Sinatra site and of course the very informative Wikipedia to consult. What I strongly recommend though is that you simply take some time to listen to The Voice, it'll tell you everything you need to know.

24 March 2009

suits you, sir

Recent talk of a new job for Mr R has led to thoughts of the male wardrobe. I do love a shopping spree so when Mr R said that maybe it was about time he invested in a real suit, my eyes lit up. Not being one to hold back, I of course instantly associated the words 'real' and 'suit' with Savile Row. I don't think that was the answer or reaction he was looking for. Where's the problem? There's is nothing purer in terms of tailoring. And anyway, now that we are definitely adults with proper jobs, I think such an investment would be more than justified. And I do love a good tailored look on a man. Did you not watch the recent, mesmerising BBC 4 documentary Savile Row? It was sheer poetry and frankly, after watching one of Henry Poole & Co's customers go through all those fittings, I really didn't think that there was that much wrong with the amount asked in payment for the final glory. Did you not see that suit? It was a work of art - worth every little recession-ridden penny. Mr R remains unmoved. He has not had the last word. On our next visit to London, he'll be dragged to Mayfair where I will have already made appointments at Henry Poole and of course Norton & Sons. Do go and have a peek for yourselves.

And if the above websites aren't enough to get you going, try this one, it should do it for you.

15 March 2009


It would really seem that I've happened upon my own tailormade little cosmos. Wherever I turn, within say a 5 km radius, I find inspiration wave after wave. The subject of this post? Cars. For which I have a secret passion, one that I tend not to talk about too much as I've always felt it's possibly a little misplaced, me being a woman and all.... But, now that I'm older, more mature and filled to the brim with self-confidence, I know this is total tosh. I love cars, I love cars, I love cars - and more than that, I love driving. As the only female in our household (Miss Marple doesn't qualify as she's a cat and therefore can't drive or cook), I enjoy using the "I'm-the-only-woman-here-and-you-lot-don't-understand-me" argument as well as the other very useful "You-NEVER-let-me-watch-what-I-want-to-watch" card (ie. Poirot, Miss Marple or Jonathan Ross). It really works and thank goodness for that. What they (the men) don't know, is that I love sitting down to endless episodes of Top Gear just as much as they do; Jezzer and James May are my kind of guys, Hammond I'll leave to the younger generations. But let's get back to cars now. As you drive into our little town, on your left you'll see a ramschackle but charming old garage run by Signor Belotti Junior - he took over from his father some time ago and Belotti Senior still keeps a watchful eye on the motors that roll in and out of the renowned workshop. And what motors they are. These are not standard wheels but superb, divine examples of fine motorcars - some really do make your eyes water. Customers come from all over to have Belotti fix their beauties - "Even from England!" the locals keep reminding me. The road through our town just happens to be the final stretch of a spectacular touring route which comes from over the Simplon Pass, via Domodossola down along the narrow bendy roads of the beautiful Centovalli - you'll need your driving gloves and possibly a valium. So while I leave you to drool over the sexy Maserati Ghibli pictured above, I'd also like to draw your attention to a very tasteful blog called MilleMiglia. And by the way, all this is NOT a cunning plan to increase my male readership, it's really just about cars.

09 March 2009


Ever since I started The Style Inside, this post has been waiting in the wings. A few weeks ago you may remember that I posted a brief, tantalising entry entitled "beyond these doors...". It's now high time that I showed you just what it is that lies behind them. I've been waiting for a suitably 'soft' day in terms of lighting, as the sun tends to be rather merciless in the brightness that it produces at this time of year. But as it's either glaring sun or dull greyness I decided I couldn't wait a minute longer and just grabbed my camera. In any case as you can see, I opted for black and white rather than colour after all. Also I wanted to take advantage of the kindness and readiness of the winemakers in accomodating my request to photograph their prize bottles...
Where do I start then? Well, you see in our idyllic little town in the southern tip of Ticino, nestled into a gloriously sun drenched valley, there are vineyards a plenty. They stretch along the river and roll gently over the foothills to create a most pleasing view of this fertile land. The wine produced from these grapes is a Merlot, the most popular for this region. There is a rather interesting, important building right in the centre of our village. It is the house of the Caverzasio family. Giovanni Caverzasio has been making his wine here for over 30 years and his cellars have evolved over the years due to the growing success of his production. Giovanni's wife Brigitta, kindly took us on a tour of the impressive cellars and also showed us round their historical building, explaining the various stages of the winemaking process. Their wine is not only beautifully packaged, it has also earned itself a well-deserved place amongst the most refined Merlots produced in this region. It's a winning recipe backed up by years and years of experience and a deep love of this land. Whilst you can easily buy a bottle of Tre Terre (the name stems from the 3 communities or 'lands' that form this beautiful area at the foothills of the Centovalli) or the sophisticated Rompidèe in many of the stores here, nothing quite compares to ringing the doorbell at casa Caverzasio in Verscio to be welcomed by Brigitta's smile and shown into the 'store room' for an informal and wonderfully authentic and charming transaction.

08 March 2009


We're not quite there yet. It's definitely in the air and we have a gloriously warm Sunday afternoon to prove it. From what I've been seeing and hearing, everyone in the neighbourhood has spent the last two days not on the slopes, but outdoors casting a critical eye on terraces, patios and the general state of their gardens. As in England, it's a very serious business, but here we can rest safe in the knowledge that the seasons actually do come to a very abrupt end rather than bleeding seamlessly into one long undefinable 'period'. It's very reassuring and does wonders for your state of mind. When it comes to the weather, the locals here are very amusing, actually getting a bit cross if the rain doesn't stop after say, 2 days.
So yes spring, as I said, we're not quite there yet. Gardens are still a bit bare but you do see buds everywhere you look and that's enough to fill you with giddy anticipation. This weekend, then, to start the season off I've been de-misting the terrace and blowing old leaves and cobwebs off my favourite pots. I have two very special ones that I found in France a few summers ago, they're tiny but perfectly suited for now, when you just want to put a little colour here and there while you're waiting for the colour riot to really get going.

04 March 2009


Heavily influenced (try haunted to distraction) by a post on The Sartorialist, which showed a rather superb denim-clad girl in New York (see Saturday, 21 February), I went off today in search of my own denim nirvana. You may yawn but it's a deep-rooted quest in me that I thought I might have satisfied by now, but, if I'm totally honest, I know will stay with me forever. I have denim in the blood and I need it like you need water. Any attempt to ignore it just increases the need tenfold. And anyway, I kind of like my obsession. So here it is, my first pair for 2009 (late I know as it's March already, but there is a recession going on).
And so I decided, not unlike the New York girl, to get me 'the boyfriend'. So-called because you (the girlfriend) have allegedly raided his (the boyfriend's) wardrobe and claimed his pair as your own. No more tight-as-hell-skinny-minx-second-skins, but a rather more loose fit (yes ladies, the bigger the better) that literally just hangs off your curves - the key of course is to know how to wear them (rolled up and heels for me but I'd be really interested in hearing how YOU like to wear yours/his). Then a funny thought occurred to me on the way home: I don't have a boyfriend. Whose boyfriend should my jeans therefore have belonged to? I do have a husband though. And whilst he is gorgeous, somehow 'the husband' doesn't quite have the same rock 'n roll ring to it, does it?

01 March 2009


Here in our part of the world 'carnevale' is taken rather seriously. Astonishingly, not just by the young. Adults too enjoy this pre-Lent tradition with great abandon. To the point where I have to ask: "Is it absolutely necessary?". Do you really have to wear Pippy Longstocking plaits or walk around dressed like a cow at the age of 48? Personally, I don't quite understand it, one obviously has to be born and bred here to really 'feel it' - which I do not. And yet, in spite of my non-appreciation of this local custom, I did come across a rather fabulous pirate the other day. He was so fabulous in fact that I felt he would be well placed here. He has it, this one. Style in buckets. If I looked this good 'in costume', I would probably also be tempted to participate.

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