Category Archives: London

The Curated Month | May, 2017

The Curated Month | May, 2017

Having a bit of time away from the blog as my shoulder healed was initially extremely frustrating, but then I began to appreciate it as an opportunity to regroup and think through fresh ideas. I realised I was finding the Book Club too stressful; even reading the books was difficult for me, as I’m having to read so much more in preparation for Tea & Tattle interviews now. So although there will no longer be an official monthly read, I will be introducing more book-related content into this site, but in a more manageable way.

I also thought about my ‘Fun Things To See and Do’ lists that I’ve been writing every month for about the last year and a half, and I realised that I love these lists, but I wanted to breathe fresh life into them. I hope you enjoy this new format!

The Curated Month | May, 2017

May’s Theme Word: Travel

As the long days of summer are just around the corner, with many people looking forward to holidaying away from home, I thought it appropriate to dedicate this month to travel. You can expect some travel tips from Sophie and me coming on Tea & Tattle podcast soon, guest posts about places outside of London, and of course lots of content from me, including posts about my recent holiday in Penzance, Cornwall. I’d also love to hear from you – do you like to travel? What emotions or images does the word conjure up for you?

A List for May:

stop and smell the lilacs
learn a new yoga pose
create a space that’s all your own
sketch a bunch of Lily of the Valley
read a poem
plant some seeds
bake scones

The Curated Month | May, 2017

The Londoners’ List:

1/ The Affordable Art Fair is in Hampstead 11th-14th May.
2/ I loved seeing the Vanessa Bell exhibition at Dulwich Picture Gallery, and the Bloomsbury Art & Design show at the Courtauld is next on my list.
3/ The Garden Museum is re-opening after extensive renovations on 22nd May, and looks a must-visit.
4/ Set in the former Midland Bank building in the heart of the City, The Ned is London’s hottest new hotel, and it’s worth getting a drink in the bar to experience the beautiful setting.
5/ The Northern Ballet returns to Sadler’s Wells with Casanova, 9th-13th May.
6/ Pick up a plant – or even book a workshop – at one of London’s fabulous florists, like Grace & Thorn.

The Book

New Boy by Tracy Chevalier is released on 11th May, and I can’t wait to get my hands on it! New Boy is a reworking of Shakespeare’s Othello, set in a 1970s suburban schoolyard in Washington, and sounds completely gripping. I’m a big fan of Chevalier’s writing so I’ve been eagerly awaiting her latest novel.

The Podcast

My dad recently sent a family email round recommending The New Yorker Poetry Podcast as his favourite podcast – (quickly followed by an email correcting it to his second favourite – glad he remembered Tea & Tattle!) – and I can see why. This is a brilliant podcast for those who appreciate poetry, the English language, or just great conversation. I found the episode on the process of fact-checking poems particularly fascinating.

The Creative

The Curated Month | May, 2017Image via @andotheradventuresco

I’m battling post-algorithm instagram fatigue by finding people who really inspire me on this platform and celebrating them.  I absolutely love the beautiful embroidery that @andotheradventuresco features on her account, which is encouraging me to get my needle and thread out again.

The Song

I recently discovered the French artist Jain, and have had her album, Zanaka, on repeat for a while. Makeba is one of my favourite songs from the album, and its joyous, upbeat tune is perfect for the warmer months.

The Great Buy

I adore these Paris postcards illustrated by Emily Sutton. They’re perfect to send to fellow Paris lovers!

The Wild Card

Philippe Michel Cremant du Jura is terrific value and offers a fabulous change from prosecco. A bottle of this fizz would be the perfect picnic accompaniment (or just to celebrate the start of the weekend…).

What’s on your list for May? 

T&T 23 | All About Wine With Amelia Singer

Listen to the latest Tea & Tattle Podcast Episode here or on iTunes.

This Tuesday, I’m joined by the utterly delightful Amelia Singer, a wine educator and expert. You may recognise Amelia as a host on ITV’s The Wine Show and also from her videos on Jamie Oliver’s Drinks Tube. Amelia runs her online website and event business, offering a range of events, wine tastings and insights into the wine industry. I can’t wait to book one of Amelia’s Mews House Musings supper clubs, which she hosts in her own home in Notting Hill.

Amelia Singer and fellow co-hosts of The Wine Show. Photo credit: The Wine Show.

I’m a big fan of Amelia’s fun, accessible approach to wine, and I had a wonderful time chatting to her for this episode. Our talk ranged from what it’s like to be a woman in a fairly male-dominated industry, to Amelia’s favourite book and wine pairings.

We also discussed the best way to serve champagne (and surprising food that goes particularly well with bubbles – who knew fish & chips would be such a hit?!), as well as great wine bars in London and what drink to order on a first date. Amelia is such an incredible source of knowledge on everything wine related – I could have spoken to her for hours!

Middlemarch by George Eliot (one of Amelia’s favourite books)

Listen for a fun conversation on women in the wine industry, book and wine pairings, what to drink on a first date and so much more. 

London Food | Dirty Bones, Shoreditch

London Food | Dirty Bones, Shoreditch | Miranda's Notebook Review

You know those days when you’re craving a steak? Or a proper burger? Possibly a milkshake too? Well, I’ve got just the place for you. Dirty Bones in Shoreditch is a mere 2 minute walk from Shoreditch High Street station and is a great option for when you’re in the mood for some American comfort food.

I met a friend for lunch there last week, and our meal brought back memories of my childhood growing up in California and New York. There are many American classics listed on the menu, from hot wings to proper mac and cheese, but with an updated twist that elevates these traditional comfort foods to a fantastic dining experience.

London Food | Dirty Bones, Shoreditch | Miranda's Notebook Review

The restaurant itself feels very ‘London’ to me, with its muted tones and piles of vintage books (and even a vintage typewriter) scattered about. I arrived rather early and snapped a few shots before tables filled up. Sunlight streamed through the windows, and I ordered a chai tea and some freshly pressed apple juice, taking a seat on one of the plush velvet sofas as I waited for my friend.

London Food | Dirty Bones, Shoreditch | Miranda's Notebook Restautant Review

I barely had time to pull my book out of my bag before he arrived, and we got down to the serious business of deciding what to eat, ordering a glass of prosecco to help the decision process.

London Food | Dirty Bones, Shoreditch | Miranda's Notebook Restautant Review London Food | Dirty Bones, Shoreditch | Miranda's Notebook Restautant Review

Dirty Bones’s menu is seriously tempting, and I was torn between a burger or steak. In the end I decided steak, but I think I’ll have to go back to try the burger soon, as it sounded amazing as well. To start things off though, I ordered salt + pepper squid (I can never resist this dish when I see it on a menu, as it’s one of my favourites, and it’s also a good test of a restaurant, as there’s nothing worse than rubbery squid!), and my friend ordered the chicken hot wings.

London Food | Dirty Bones, Shoreditch | Miranda's Notebook Restautant Review

I really loved the presentation of these starters, served in little enamel dishes, from which we could pile our plates. I’m definitely using this idea for serving snacks and canapes at home! My squid was beautifully tender, and – a little to my surprise, as I don’t normally like spicy dishes –  I loved the chilli and chipotle aioli drizzled generously on top. The sauce provided a great kick of flavour without being overpowering. My friend enjoyed the squid a lot too, but he was fairly busy demolishing the chicken wings, which I tasted as well, and thought were very good.

London Food | Dirty Bones, Shoreditch | Miranda's Notebook Restautant Review

Next up – the mains! I’d gone for the flat iron steak, and my friend plumped for the Shoreditch Signature dish: lamb cutlets served with a tangy jalapeño sauce. We’d chosen one side dish each too: I threw any thought of calorie counting to the wind and put my order in for cheesy truffle fries (yum), with my friend showing a little more restraint and opting for grilled aubergine layered with parmesan and a tomato, garlic and basil sauce.

London Food | Dirty Bones, Shoreditch | Miranda's Notebook Restautant Review

I hadn’t realised that what is stated on the menu really is all you get, so my steak wasn’t served with even a garnish of salad, and in retrospect, I would recommend ordering 3 side dishes between two people and making sure one of them is a leafy salad, or perhaps a ‘crunchy slaw.’ I must say though, that steak and chips is always a favourite combination of mine, and my steak was cooked to perfection: succulent, tender and pink. The cheesy truffle fries are layered with a  cheese sauce, cheddar, aged parmesan and white truffle oil and are just the kind of thing you fantasise about if you’ve been on a no-carbs diet for too long ( in my case, about a day).

London Food | Dirty Bones, Shoreditch | Miranda's Notebook Restautant Review

I was so busy polishing off my steak and airing my thoughts on The Lord of the Rings (my friend is currently reading it and isn’t too impressed, and we were both agreeing the book could do with some serious editing), that I forgot to taste my friend’s cutlets, but he pronounced them exceedingly good. We both shared our side dishes, though. Personally, I find it hard to beat anything involving carbs, cheese and truffle oil, but the aubergine was very yummy too.

Our decadence didn’t end there, as next we were presented with the dessert menu. I loved the playful choices that were a throwback to childhood: waffles, doughnuts, cookies and ice-cream. My friend went with the peanut butter cookie cup, and I chose the milk & cookie – milk gelato with a deliciously chocolatey biscuit.

London Food | Dirty Bones, Shoreditch | Miranda's Notebook Restautant Review London Food | Dirty Bones, Shoreditch | Miranda's Notebook Restautant ReviewLondon Food | Dirty Bones, Shoreditch | Miranda's Notebook Restautant Review

The milk gelato was incredible – it had a delicacy to it that paired perfectly with the richness of the chocolate, but was also exceedingly good all by itself. My friend’s choice was also excellent  – perfect for peanut butter lovers!

We both thoroughly enjoyed our meal at Dirty Bones, and I definitely recommend dropping by next time you’re in Shoreditch. There are also branches in Kensington and Carnaby, and one about to open in Soho (which I think is great, as Dirty Bones has the perfect Dean Street vibe to it!). This is a terrific restaurant to go to with an old friend – someone you can split cheesy fries and ice-cream and cookies with without feeling self-conscious. I also think it would provide great atmosphere for a birthday gathering, and it’s worth remembering there’s a great cocktail hour and often live music in the evenings!

Do you like the look of the Dirty Bones menu? What are your favourite American comfort food dishes?

Note: our meal was complimentary, but all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own and those of my friend. 

London Photo Diary | A Spring Walk in Hampstead

I’ve been feeling a strong pull towards getting outside and enjoying the fresh air as much as possible lately, so when what felt like the hottest day of the year so far dawned on Thursday, I closed my laptop and set off on a walk to Hampstead. Taking my own advice, I brought my camera and resolved to capture some of the blossom and spring blooms I encountered as I wandered around my favourite corner of London.

I’m lucky that it only takes me about 1/2 an hour to walk to Hampstead village, and it’s a particularly pretty walk too, taking me past beautiful, historic houses and banks of daffodils. I waved at the old studio flat I lived in for 4 years and took a steep, winding path towards Fenton House. The house’s beautiful garden and orchard is one of London’s best kept secrets and is always a favourite destination of mine. Although the orchard is glorious when the apple trees are blossoming, at the moment it’s a sheer delight as well, with the grass carpeted with crocuses and daffodils.

I also paid a visit to some of my favourite haunts: Ginger & White for truly delicious carrot cake and tea; Judy’s Garden Store and the secondhand bookshop on Flask Walk.

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Whereabouts have you walked recently? Have you been noticing any signs of Spring?

Fun Things To See And Do | March 2017

So far, March has definitely lived up to its reputation of coming in like a lion, with plenty of wind and rain to make one truly tired of winter. There have been the odd sunny days, though, which have served as a welcome reminder that spring is very much just around the corner. Here’s my monthly list of fun things to see and do to make the most of this month.

1/ Offer your support to other women. March 8th is International Women’s Day, which serves as a timely reminder to seek out ways to encourage the women around you. This challenge can be simple: say an encouraging word to a female colleague, or support a girl friend in a new project. If you’re feeling inspired to do more, however, then here are some excellent suggestions for how to get involved in mentoring young women.

2/ Add an item of clothing you’ve been needing for a while to your wardrobe. I bought a new pair of trousers over the weekend, and I only wish I’d got them sooner! I’d been wanting a pair of easy pull-on, cotton trousers for a while, and now I’ve found just the right pair I’m over-the-moon.

3/ Go on a blossom hunt. Clouds of pink and white blossom are starting to appear all over London. Hampstead, Notting Hill, Chelsea and Primrose Hill are especially good places to search out the prettiest trees. Snap photos as you stroll around, or bring along a pencil and sketch-pad to draw these beautiful early signs of spring.

4/ Spoil your Mum (in the UK, Mother’s Day is on the 26th March). Here are some ideas: have a Victorian afternoon tea at the V&A, go for a facial at Elemis in Debenhams, or enjoy a glass of champagne somewhere decadent, like the Connaught bar.

5/ There are some fantastic sounding shows at the Royal Academy right now. I want to see both the Russian Art and America After The Fall exhibitions.

6/ Focus on the things that make you feel revitalised and refreshed: use crisp, fresh perfumes; eat grapefruit for breakfast; splash your face with cold water; take a long walk and end a tiring day with a long, relaxing bath.

7/ Send some special snail mail. Naomi Bulger’s amazing instagram account and blog is full of the most beautiful post inspiration. I love her illustrated envelopes and incredible creativity. If you sign up to her newsletter, you get free monthly downloads of templates so you can start decorating your own envelopes.

8/ Watch Dancer with a friend. I was completely mesmerised when I saw this video featuring Sergei Polunin dancing to Hozier’s Take Me to Church, and now I can’t wait to see this documentary exploring the life of the ‘bad boy of ballet’ (talk about heartthrob material!).

9/ Have a go at writing a short story, using a particular theme, like ‘food’ or ‘home’ to spark your imagination.

10/ Pay attention to the people who take the most of your time. Are they always the people who make you feel your best? Set yourself a challenge this month to pour your time and energy only into those relationships that make you feel energised, supported and loved. You may see fewer people, but when you put effort into nourishing your very best relationships, you’re guaranteed to end the month happier.

A few more things…

Going to Rye. I’m off on the train tomorrow and just can’t wait! I’m staying at the Gallivant Hotel, which sounds blissful. I used to visit The Hamptons regularly when I lived on Long Island as a child, and this definitely sounds the next best thing. I’m channeling my inner Revenge vibe.

Taking part in the #femmemarch book challenge through my @mirandasbookcase account, as well as the Ruth read-a-long hosted by @thenobbylife.

Attending this talk in celebration of International Women’s Day at Foyles.

Celebrating a friend’s birthday on Friday.

Recording a lot of fun interviews for Tea & Tattle – can’t wait to publish the ones I have coming up!

Reading Longbourn in preparation for the next Miranda’s Notebook Book Club discussion!

How about you? What’s on your list for fun things to do this month? I’d love to hear what you’ve got planned!

 

The Simple Things | February (List #01)

The Simple Things | Flower Crown Headpiece

I felt it was time for another round-up chat, sharing some of the simple pleasures I’ve been enjoying lately. I thought it would be fun to turn this into a semi-regular feature (akin to my book round up posts, which I had originally planned to be monthly, but I think more realistically will be every other month or so). I’ve been thinking more and more lately about ways to slow down the rhythm of my days; to appreciate each moment and take joy in small things.

M A K I N G     A     F L O R A L     C R O W N

The Simple Things | Flower Crown Headpiece

My lovely friend Talitha invited me along to a floral wreath making workshop with the Flower Appreciation Society, as part of an airbnb ‘London experience.’ We all gathered for tea at the Hackney City Farm cafe before choosing some pretty blooms at Columbia Road Flower Market, and then jumped in a taxi to the flower studio to learn how to make our crowns.

I can’t imagine it will come as a shock to anyone that I’m rather partial to flowers. They’re a simple pleasure that never fail to make me happy, and I love having flowers in the home, as well as seeing them growing wild in the countryside or planted in parks and the grounds of beautiful stately homes.

Much as I appreciate everything floral, however, I hadn’t ever done a floristry workshop before, so I was very excited to learn how to make a headpiece. A florist once told me that flowers are often used in therapy, to help patients feeling anxious or depressed, but I was still surprised by the calming influence I felt as I bent my head over my crown. Everyone was very concentrated on the task at hand: carefully selecting each flower head to use and delicately taping the stems to wire. We munched chocolate and ginger biscuits, sipped tea and chatted sporadically, delighting in the abundance of gorgeous bouquets before us.

Another girl mentioned how therapeutic it was to work with flowers, and I agreed with her, but what also felt so good was to be completely focused on a single (and fun!) task; there was no where else I should be, no nagging chore at the back of my mind. I gave myself up completely to the joy of deciding whether a rose or ranunculus should come next along my wreath and felt wonderfully relaxed.

After completing my crown, I fastened it round my head, wrapped up the generous bunch of left-over flowers I was pressed to take home and waved goodbye to Talitha at the bus stop. I sauntered along the street to Haggerston station (getting some rather odd looks as passersby took in my flower-bedecked head), and reflected on what a happy morning I’d spent.

B R U N C H     W I T H     F R I E N D S

The Simple Things | Pancakes at The Gate Vegetarian Restaurant, London

I was lucky enough to get to try out the new Gate Vegetarian Restaurant breakfast and brunch menu (of course, I opted for pancakes), which was delicious (remember my lunch there?). I took a friend along with me, and it reminded me that brunch is probably my favourite way to enjoy a meal out with friends. Lunch (at least during the working week) can feel too rushed, and supper can often be overly-lengthy affairs, leaving me tired the next day.

When brunching, though, everyone enjoys lingering over the teapot; you can take pleasure in a long conversation, but still have the satisfaction of the day spread out before you, hopefully filled with more fun plans.

N E W     P J S

The Simple Things | New Pjs

I’ve been in desperate need of new pjs for a while, but hadn’t found a pair I liked. I love silky, button-down pyjamas, but wouldn’t ever want a pair that is actually silk. Apart from being horrendously expensive, they’re tricky to clean (who really has time to hand wash?!). Perhaps for one’s wedding night (although, in all honesty, that’s probably the one night I wouldn’t opt for pjs…), but apart from a special occasion, I’m happy with materials I can throw in the washing machine, at least when it comes to nightwear.

I was excited, then, when I realised Ted Baker (always a favourite of mine – the florals!) was doing an affordable collection of nightwear and lingerie for Debenhams. Luckily for me, I had a £50 Debenhams voucher to use up, so I went along the other day in search of the perfect pjs. I really loved the Ted Baker selection, but unhappily they were completely sold out in my size. Just when I was resigning myself to the ultra baggy look, I noticed this pair by Savannah Miller for Debenhams. They had my size in stock, and I pounced, completely in love with the Liberty-esque paisley print.

It’s amazing how a very simple addition to your wardrobe can add a lot of joy, but I really am quite swept away by these pjs and am already planning on packing them for pretty much every upcoming trip I’ve got planned.

G O O D     R E A D S

The Simple Things | The Good People by Hannah Kent | Pretty Books | Books Photography | Books Flat Lay

I’ve had the pleasure of reading a lot of good books lately. Pachinko (out at the end of the month in the UK) is wonderful, and I’m currently immersed in Hannah Kent’s The Good People.

I’ve also rediscovered my taste for magazines. I hadn’t read any for a while, but now I’m thoroughly enjoying The Simple Things, Harper’s Bazaar (the recent issues have just been excellent; I no longer buy Vogue etc, but Harper’s is always a treat, as there’s always interesting and thought-provoking content, alongside sumptuous images) and Lionheart Magazine.

S U S S E X     M O D E R N I S M

The Simple Things | Two Temple Place | Sussex Modernism

I popped along to Two Temple Place last week to see the Sussex Modernism exhibition, and I absolutely loved it! I’m already planning a return trip at the start of March, as there was a lot to take in, and as entry is free, I’m determined to make the most of access to this beautiful building, which is only open a few months a year.

Sussex Modernism is definitely a must see for lovers of all things Bloomsbury Group and Charleston. Highlights for me were: a beautifully painted chest by Duncan Grant; Vanessa Bell’s self-portrait; gorgeous editions of some of Virginia Woolf’s books; paintings by Peggy Angus, as well as a letter written by her to John Piper, and an Eric Ravilious print of Furlongs.

The exhibition is on until April 23rd, so if you’re in London, do go! Also, I can recommend the cafe, where I enjoyed a very nice light lunch and attractive surroundings. Oh, and don’t miss the adorable pug sign at the building’s entrance! I think it’s my favourite in London.

What’s been making you slow down and smile more lately? I’d love to know!

P.S. For weekly London recommendations, sign up to my newsletter. A postcard sharing a favourite haunt of mine will land in your inbox every Wednesday!

5 Incredibly Romantic London Meals

5 Incredibly Romantic London Meals

Written in celebration of ‘romance,’ February’s blog word of the month. 

This article is a contributor post by Claire Jones. As well as being a fantastic writer, Claire is known amongst her friends as always having exceptional food and book recommendations. I knew she’d be the perfect person to write about her most romantic London meals, and this fabulous list, from the most beautiful proposal to a perfect date night, definitely has my heart fluttering! – Miranda

The 5 Most Romantic Meals I’ve Had in London

by Claire Jones

The most personal of these romantic meals was a picnic in Kensington Gardens where my boyfriend – now husband – proposed. Picnics have always been special to us, marking several defining moments in our relationship, so it was the perfect way to pop the question in a semi-secluded area beneath a tree. London spoils us with a variety of romantic picnic spots and shops, delis, or restaurants that provide lush picnic food. We chose to go to the nearby Whole Foods for cheese, charcuterie, and pink champagne. We had brought our picnic bag from home that, unbeknown to me, carried new picnicware, our cutlery and napkins from home, and a surprise ring box. Even if the picnic is not going to be as momentous as a proposal one, it’s still a delightful way to while away a dry afternoon in London, spending quality time together.

Our engagement came in two parts: the following evening we celebrated at City Social, Jason Atherton’s Michelin starred restaurant in Tower 42. We toasted our future with quirky, imaginative cocktails while looking over the city at dusk; we moved from aperitifs to a secluded table that looked out the floor-to-ceiling windows to the Gherkin. A year later we celebrated our wedding in the private dining room, again looking out at the city lights.

A highlight of City Social is the apple tarte tatin with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce to share – what’s more romantic than a dessert between two?! If you don’t have a sweet tooth, or you are simply not inclined to share food, then there is also a delectable cheese trolley.

Love is in the air. There are now several restaurants in London skyscrapers that provide breathtaking views of London, but Duck & Waffle is the highest and does so twenty four hours a day. Watching the sun rise together high above the city is a special experience to have but it helps that breakfast is great too! Order individual dishes but be sure to share a portion of the signature duck & waffle, the sweet and savoury components complementing each other as all good relationships should.

Whoever said that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, has never eaten in Hawksmoor… Hawksmoor’s steak is the way to everyone’s heart. Purveyors of the best steak in London, it’s not a conventionally romantic venue but it makes for a wonderful date night. I prefer the ambience of the Seven Dials restaurant but each of the Art Deco outposts offer elegance, fantastic food and drinks, plus unsurpassed levels of customer service. Hawksmoor offers sumptuous, indulgent food and a well-stocked bar for pre-dinner or post-dinner drinks.

Situated in The Berkeley, Marcus is the eponymous two Michelin starred restaurant owned by Marcus Wareing. Whether you opt for the seasonal tasting menus or a la carte, both using British ingredients, Marcus is an unforgettable meal. It is a restaurant that creates memories while serving precision cooking and an extensive wine list. The Berkeley is an impressive venue and the restaurant is highly acclaimed and deservedly so. Desserts are especially sensual and well-recommended. Marcus is very much a special occasion restaurant and one to go to when romancing or being romanced, to wow or be wowed.

Paris may be considered the city of love but London is most certainly a city of romance.

***

Claire Jones is originally from Glasgow, but now lives in London and works in publishing. You can follow her adventures in London and beyond through her fabulous instagram account. If you like adorable pictures of cats and great food and book recommendations, then Claire should definitely be on your ‘following’ list.

***

Goodness, I can’t wait to try out all of these restaurants! I completely agree with Claire that Hawksmoor is the perfect setting for a date: steak is certainly a way to my heart, and one of the best dates I’ve been on was at the Covent Garden Hawksmoor branch. And Marcus sounds the perfect setting to get swept off my feet…. I love how in the end, though, Claire’s most romantic meal was a simple picnic in a London park.

How about you? What are some of the most romantic meals you’ve ever had? Are you keen to try any of the restaurants Claire recommends?

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Fun Things | January 2017

I always enjoy writing my ‘fun things to see and do’ posts each month, as they encourage me to seek out the best of what’s available in London, as well as more general ways I can get the most enjoyment from the passing months. There are some especially good exhibitions currently on or just about to begin in London, so I foresee a lot of cultural outings at the start of the year.

1/ Go to the Dulwich Picture Gallery. It’s definitely time to renew my membership to the DPG, as 2017 looks set to be a stellar year for this beautiful gallery. There’s still time to catch the fascinating sounding Am I Rembrandt? show, which I’d like to see. Also, Bloomsbury Group lovers can rejoice at the upcoming Vanessa Bell exhibition (incredibly, the first major solo exhibition of her work), which opens the beginning of February. I’m also extremely excited for the John Singer Sargent exhibition (one of my very favourite artists, and his paintings are always even more luminescent in person) and the celebration of Tove Jansson’s The Moomins. If you know any children who love Moominland, then be sure to drop by Adventures in Moominland at the Southbank Centre too.

2/ Continuing the Bloomsbury theme, on 28th January Sussex Modernism is opening at 2 Temple Place and is a must-visit for fans of Charleston. The exhibition is free entry so there’s no excuse not to go, especially as this beautiful space is generally closed to the public.

3/ Go to the cinema. A friend and I got each other membership to the Prince Charles Cinema as a Christmas present, with a resolution to see more films together in 2017. The cinema is fortunately easy on the pocket, with members’ tickets costing as low as £1, so it’s a perfect January activity!

4/ Eat what you love. I very much enjoyed this timely article describing food writer Ruby Tandoh’s philosophy on eating for pleasure, as well as nourishment.

5/ Join a library. It’s definitely the month to curl up with a good book in the evenings, but January is generally also a time when you’re watching your pennies, so why not check out on what’s on offer at your local library, rather than buying something new? It’s also worth noting that library memberships often give you (free) access to online sources of audiobooks. I’m currently working my way through a vast list of Agatha Christie books, which I listen to as I cook or embroider.

6/ Celebrate Chinese New Year (28th January). Indulging my love of dumplings, I’m thinking of making this soup from Smitten Kitchen. I would also love to see the Magical Lantern Festival at Chiswick House & Garden.

7/ Visit Greenwich to see the raved-about Emma Hamilton exhibition at the National Maritime Museum. If you happen to be called Emma, then you can even visit for free this weekend (14-15th January)! Just bring along some proof of ID….

8/ Celebrate Burns Night at Mr Fogg’s in Mayfair. From 6pm on the 25th, guests will be greeted with bagpipes, haggis canapes, whiskey and a poetry reading in honour of Scotland’s much-loved poet, Robert Burns.

9/ Do Yoga for your face. Much as I appreciate a great moisturiser (and sun block!), I also believe that exercising the muscles in your face is as good as exercising the muscles in your body. I keep this book by the mirror in my bedroom and have started trying to incorporate some of the suggested movements into my morning skincare routine. This article has some quick and easy to do exercises too.

10/ Write your thank you cards. I managed to send some of mine off just after Christmas, but then I lost momentum and still have a few to do. As I recently reorganised my office, I realise I’m positively overflowing with pretty stationery, so there’s no excuse not to write all my thank you notes!

A Few More Things

++ Meeting a blog reader for the first time in Richmond today, as well as attending a fun skincare related event at Debenhams.

++ Cocktails with friends at Quo Vadis (my favourite Soho hangout).

++ A day trip to Cambridge. There were some fabulous £6 ticket deals available for trains to Cambridge, so I’m treating myself to an afternoon exploring a different city.

++ Spending a week in Geneva at the end of the month.

++ Having an ‘Ask Miranda’ Skype chat with Melanie.

++ Working on my current embroidery project.

++ Meeting up with some of my lovely blogger friends, Milly and Isla.

Has anything on my list resonated with you? What are you looking forward to this January?

P.S. If you love London, why not sign up for my newsletter? I send out a weekly ‘Postcard From London,’ featuring bitesize information about my favourite London discoveries, as well as a monthly roundup sharing what I’ve been doing and loving most lately. Simply fill in your email address below (or go here) and check your email to confirm your subscription.

Fun Things to See and Do | December 2016

Fun Things to See and Do in London and Beyond | December 2016 via Miranda's Notebook

I love December, and I have to say that Christmas in London is remarkably pretty, with the city going full out on sparkling lights, colourful decorations and plenty of winter markets. Here are a few ideas to make this December even more magical, in London and beyond:

1/ Colouring. I definitely recommend this as an antidote to all the general business and rushing around that December brings. I had so much fun going to an event with the fantastic Johanna Basford earlier in the week with my lovely friend (and fellow blogger) Talitha. We sat and coloured in Johanna’s beautiful Christmas colouring book and chatted, with Christmas carols playing in the background. It was bliss, and I felt a new woman after, refreshed and ready for the day ahead.

2/ Meet friends for cinnamon rolls and coffee over a lunch hour. I’ve got plans for exactly that today, and I can’t wait! It will be very hygge.

3/ Create your own Christmas tradition. Some of my favourite traditions are to buy a new Christmas book each year and to shop for one special Christmas ornament.

4/ Start to reflect on the past year and think about what went well and what you might want to change in 2017. I’m looking forward to spending part of the holidays looking over my blog analytics and forming some fresh ideas and plans for content in the New Year.

5/ Go to a Christmas Carol Service. I’ve booked tickets to attend this special concert with my Mum.

6/ Organise fun plans for January. After the excitement of Christmas, January and February can feel particularly dreary, so it’s a good idea to plan ahead and make sure you have some fun in your diary. So far, I’ve scheduled cocktails with friends, meeting up with a blog-reader and a week in Geneva. These plans have definitely made me more excited for my least favourite months of the year.

7/ See the Winterlights at Dulwich Picture Gallery. The gardens of this lovely Gallery have been completely transformed and look magical.

8/ Make the rounds of some of London’s biggest Christmas Markets at the Southbank, Leicester Square, Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland etc. The Southbank in particular is my favourite!

9/ Enjoy a special afternoon tea with your girlfriends. Here are suggestions for some of the best Christmas Afternoon Teas in London.

10/  Buy a pretty new diary and calendar. I can’t wait to start using this diary from kikki.k.

A Few More Things I’m Looking Forward To This Month…

++ Having a small gathering of friends round for mulled wine and mince pies.

++ Meeting Sophie for a festive lunch at Pidgin.

++ Recording Tea & Tattle interviews for January – there are some great ones coming up!

++ Taking it easy and having a break from social media over the holidays.

++ A day in Cambridge. I’m hoping to pay a return visit just before Christmas.

What are your plans for December? I hope you all have a thoroughly jolly festive month ahead of you.

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London Food | Veneta, St James’s

London Food | Veneta St James's Review via Miranda's Notebook

A few weeks ago, my friend Arthur took me to lunch at the newly opened restaurant, Veneta, in St James’s. Veneta is the latest enterprise under the Salt Yard Group, and its menu is inspired by Venetian cuisine. The restaurant’s interior evokes the beautiful city too, with its watery green colour scheme, elaborate chandeliers and ironwork reminiscent of long, black gondolas.

London Food | Veneta St James's Review via Miranda's Notebook

It’s been many years since I was in Venice, but I still remember ordering my first proper fritto misto there, which was delicious. There’s nothing so obvious as fritto misto on the Veneta menu, but there is plenty of fish and seafood, as well as imaginative pasta and risotto dishes.

Arthur and I started off with some deliciously plump green olives as we perused the menu and caught up on each other’s news.

London Food | Veneta St James's Review via Miranda's Notebook

The menu is tapas style, with a suggested 2-3 plates each to share. I have to admit, I’m getting slightly bored of tapas; to me it feels like the trend has been rather over done in London. However, it is a nice way to sample different dishes, and the Veneta menu certainly has a wide-range of options, so even if you’re dining with people with certain dietary requirements, you shouldn’t find your choice too restricted. Arthur and I decided to sample a dish from the raw bar first: Cornish mackerel tartare with fennel pollen.

London Food | Veneta St James's Review via Miranda's Notebook

This dish was exquisitely done: the mackerel had a surprisingly delicate flavour (it’s quite a pungent fish when cooked!) and the light dressing was the perfect match.

I settled down to thoroughly enjoy my meal, soaking up the warmth and vibrancy of the restaurant, as it was a decidedly damp and cold day outside.

London Food | Veneta St James's Review via Miranda's Notebook

Next up was a bowl of steamed clams and cockles in a garlic, parsley, lemon and cinnamon broth, as well as wild mushroom and truffle risotto with gremolata (a chopped herb condiment made with parsley, lemon zest and garlic).

London Food | Veneta St James's Review via Miranda's NotebookLondon Food | Veneta St James's Review via Miranda's Notebook

Both Arthur and I agreed at the end that the stand-out dish of the whole meal was the risotto. Far from the typical second-rate offering many restaurants include as a nod to vegetarian diners, this mushroom risotto was a spectacular addition to our feast. The truffle brought out the earthiness of the mushrooms, and the addition of gremolata (usually served with meats) was sheer genius. The pesto-like herb mix both lightened the dish and gave it an extra boost of flavour. Delicious!

Sadly, the least successful dish of the meal was definitely the clams. I usually enjoy cinnamon, but it was rather overpowering in this dish, and I can’t say I like it in combination with garlic and slightly briny seafood.

Our next two orders were more successful: roast duck with peverada, pickled pear and radicchio and red prawn agnolotti, shellfish brodo and oregano.

London Food | Veneta St James's Review via Miranda's Notebook London Food | Veneta St James's Review via Miranda's Notebook

Of these two, the duck was especially my favourite. It was perfectly cooked – blushing pink in the middle and crisp on the outside. The red prawn agnoletti were delicate, but still flavourful, and we happily tucked into both plates.

Feeling rather full, we decided to share a dessert, and settled on the Frittelle (Venetian doughnuts served during the Carnival) with cinnamon cream, hot chocolate sauce and fruit compote.

London Food | Veneta St James's Review via Miranda's Notebook

The frittelle were a little dry (I think they would have been lovely filled with either the cream or the fruit compote, with the chocolate sauce for dipping), but we slathered on the toppings and still managed to polish off every one!

Overall, I very much enjoyed my lunch at Veneta, and I highly recommend ordering the mushroom risotto if you find yourself there for a meal!

Have you tried the menu at Veneta yet? What did you think of it? Do you love tapas restaurants, or do you also feel they’ve been a little over-done in the last few years?

P.S. Making pumpkin pie next week for Thanksgiving? Make sure you download my recipe!