30 September 2009

keely & louis

He's larger than life, and she just steals the show (click here to see what I mean). They're funny, talented, romantic, sexy and yes, it's all just a bit old-fashioned darling, isnt' it?  But who can do modern/contemporary all the time? Not me. This warms my heart and makes me feel more alive than Justin and Madonna. From the incomparable That Old Black Magic to my own favourite, All Night Long. How can you not love Louis Prima and his gorgeous then-wife Keely Smith?
Goodnight and sweet dreams.
Oh God! I almost forgot THIS one!!!!

24 September 2009


Before moving to Switzerland, we spent many happy years living in Sussex and one of our very favourite spots was Charleston House. This was the home and country meeting place for the writers, painters and intellectuals known as the Bloomsbury Group. The interior was painted by the artists Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell, and together with their collection forms a unique and wonderful example of their decorative style. The house is open to visitors and if you are ever in the beautiful Sussex countryside, you should pop in. It's absolutely delightful and the minute you set foot inside, you are transported back in time, very atmospheric.
Get a taste for this special place by visiting the website.

18 September 2009

dani's bristol

It doesn't take much to get us car people excited round these parts but Mr Belotti sure sets our hearts all aflutter when his clients drop off their darlings for an inspection... If cars are your drug, then he's your dealer. He is The Man for your oldtimer - drivers descend upon him from all over Europe and once they've finished their tour up and over the Simplon, speeding down the narrow serpentines of the Centovalli in a final roar of glory, they make Verscio their pitstop and let Mr Belotti Jr carefully tend to their beauties. Which is great news for my dear friend and anyone else living locally with a weakness for the classic car. So here is today's little trophy - a Bristol, but with a BMW chassis. Whilst he is clearly not a fan, Mr Belotti kindly conceded to inform me, with more than a hint of pride, that this particular specimen (the one stood in front of the workshop as shown in my very mediocre photo above) was made to order by Swiss company Beutler (1945-1987), for the 1951 Geneva Motor show. To find out this and more, simply visit this supercar website.
I was also given permission to take a peek at his handsome black 1956 Mercedes 300 C which is kept very well hidden away in the labyrinth of his workshop. It is in absolute pristine condition and is for sale he tells me...

16 September 2009

the london greats

A post on The Women's Room today inspired me and reminded me of some great British institutions. Whilst now, in the harsh glare of 2009 these may seem totally outdated and uncool (some for good reason, while others remain untouchable), I would like to transport you back to a time when they were really rather special and made you feel very, very good indeed. We used to call one of them our 'corner shop', and it was absolutely true, it really was literally round the corner but it didn't occupy a corner in so much as a whole block, as indeed it still does today. I'm talking of course about dear, darling Harrods. Due to its proximity to where we lived, it really became a trusted, huge, red brick friend who was always there, waiting for us with open doors. As a young girl in the seventies I have the most vivid and intense memories of spending endless afternoons with my mother mooching round the Food Halls, the toy department, the pet department, the super groovy Fifth Floor and of course the endless womenswear rooms where I would get lost in a sea of coats, eveningwear and shoes! What I remember most of all about those visits to Harrods are the smells and the sounds. Not sure if it still exists today, but after a particularly taxing shopping spree, my mum would take me to the Juice Bar in the Food Halls, where you could take a seat on a bar stool and choose from a vast selection of fresh fruit to have your very own fresh fruit smoothie created while you watched. It was all the rage and the waiting times were understandably long. Mine was usually some multi-berry concoction, deep, dark pink and a bit tart. So divine. I can still taste and smell the amazing flavours wafting round that corner of the shop. On Saturday mornings I used to wander down, hand in hand with my father and together we would march again and again through our beloved Food Halls and buy wonderful breads and cold meats for lunch. All you could hear in these halls were deafening echoes of people talking - actually no, shouting their orders loudly in those plummy tones - it was all a buzz, full of posh old dears and dashing gentlemen squires buying foie gras for supper. What's not to love about that? Then upstairs it was all hush hush, the sales staff were just as elegently dressed as the shoppers and I was, as in most of my childhood fantasies, swiftly transported into an Alice in Wonderland world as I ran silently on the soft grey carpet between the garment carousels pretending to catch my rabbit.
Walk into Harrods today, and little or none of that old British glamour has survived. It certainly looks the same from the outside, but nothing in its interior atmosphere (nevermind actual interiors) could be further removed from its original splendour and British class. Of course Harrods was always meant to be somewhat otherworldly and exotic, but in a very British way which it just doesn't manage to pull off today - I mean, who needs or wants an Egyptian blimmin' escalator? However I do remain faithful and hopeful that one day some fabulous English eccentric will reclaim it and relaunch it as the glorious, modern and exciting British shopping experience it so clearly deserves to be. I think it's about time, don't you?
Unlike Fortnum's which remains to this day in a class of its own, spinning in the same British fairytale era, never dissappointing, whether you're a Londoner, an out-of-towner or a tourist. I do SO LOVE their gentle dress code reminder which you can find on The Fountain Restaurant page of their website: "We kindly request that both sexes lean more towards elegance"... How utterly charming is that and how wonderful if in general people of both sexes would lean more towards elegance? Then there is of course Liberty where they have cleverly managed to maintain the department store's old and unique charm whilst also keeping up with the times and becoming a very special avantgarde London store. And last but by no means least, Selfridges. Which is so important in terms of London retail that it deserves its own special post.
So you see dear, darling Harrods, it is possible to be cool, cutting edge and totally British...
Click here for a spooky but interesting birdseye view and tour of Harrods...
Image courtesy of Shorty_nz_2000.

09 September 2009

herb ritts moment

...not quite Herb Ritts but you get my drift. I took this photo of Ben in the summer and when I saw it in black and white I instantly started singing Madonna's 1989 song 'Cherish', much to my husband's intense embarassment. Watch the video to remind yourself of 3 things:
1) how fantastic Madge used to look with some meat on her,
2) what a cool song this is
3) and what an absolute stylemaster Herb Ritts was.
Do you love it?

01 September 2009


Ah, to have time to myself again, what luxury. Not only have the kids gone back to school BIG TIME, but even Mr R has found projects far and beyond which means I have not only time to myself but also the house to myself - 80% of the time - and to me this is having my cake and eating it too. The feeling will probably give way to "routine boredom" after week 3 but for now it'll do nicely. The stillness and the month of September. My friend is right, it's probably the best month - ideal temperatures, splendid colours and the smell of mushrooms, peaches, plums and particularly the vines that are ripening beautifully in the vineyards nearby. And then of course the novelty of having to wear real clothes again, gone's the summer uniform of shorts and flipflops. Now we can rummage through our wardrobes, edit out what really can't be worn again and add what's needed for the new season. I tend to need and like less and less things, the spectrum shrinks to just the one look or better, one style. Thank God! No more experimenting, thank you! I know my (3) colours and I know my shapes. I spent yesterday afternoon sifting through my bulging drawers and shelves and just dumping stuff that's been hanging around for the last 3 years without so much as a glance, let a alone an outing! One good (but also very, very bad) thing about living here, is that I'm just not tempted anymore. No more Topshop, no more Selfridges or countless shoe shops to lure me and trap me into spending ridiculous amounts of money. I couldn't spend it if I tried round here. You wouldn't either, unless you're an ageing German, monied tourist. There are countless benefits to living in this part of the world, and retail therapy ain't one of them. I pretend that "it matters not a jot" but I get so annoyed by the lack of vision of our local retailers and when I visit the Big City (ie. Zurich, London, Munich or Milan) I feel like I might burst as I am just not used to having that much choice anymore. It's sheer hell, you can imagine (please laugh now). But then I remember the good bits and how shopping is now very, very, very, very low down on my list of priorities and I ask myself: is that not how it should be? And I am happy with my answer.

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