PKKOO5's blog

On the trail of Britain

The town in south Wales may be most famous for its cheese (hard, buttery white, faintly tangy) but it is also the seat of one of the largest and most striking medieval castles in Britain. The moat is full and still, the walls and much of the fabric of the 13th century fortress is intact. The south east tower leans drunkenly over as if it were about to collapse its angle of wonkiness is twice that of the more famous leaning tower of Pisa. Caerphilly was an important fortress in the regular violence that took place during the Welsh marches (borderlands) during the Plantagenet years: Edward earrings bulgari replica II and his loathsome favourite Hugh Despenser the younger wound replica bulgari b zero1 earrings up here during the last weeks of Edward's dismal reign. Not that it did them any good: both were captured and, later, killed. Most famously, Edward V and his younger brother Richard Duke of York (the Princes in the Tower, who were disappeared during Richard III's reign.) Henry VI was murdered here. Margaret Pole one of the very last Plantagenets was hacked to death at the block here aged 67. My favourite tale of the Tower, though, is of the Peasant's Revolt in 1381: a mob stormed the precincts, encouraged by the boy king Richard II. They dragged out Richard's Archbishop of Canterbury, Simon of Sudbury, and beheaded him on Tower Hill before going on to bring England to the verge of full revolution. They were foiled by Richard at Smithfield. But only just. The earls of Warwick were always involved in Plantagenet intrigue: it was here that the royal favourite Piers Gaveston was tried by a kangaroo court, before being dragged down the road to Blacklow Hill, run through with a sword and decapitated by a couple of Welsh thugs. (You can still trek to the Gaveston monument there, which in springtime is surrounded by swathes of stunning bluebells.) Best of all, Warwick is owned by the same people as Madame Tussauds, so you can spot the stars whose waxworks have been repurposed as historical characters. My favourite is Top Gear's James May, dressed up as a medieval squire. The archbishop was hacked to death in Canterbury Cathedral on December 29 1170 by four knights who thought they were doing the king's bidding: a very moving monument marks the spot where Becket's brains were smeared on the cold floor at the point of a sword. In the crypt, you can stand on the spot where Henry did penance for his friend's death: the king knock off bulgari b zero1 earrings was stripped and ritually flogged by all the monks of the cathedral in 1174, in an attempt to earn God's favour during a massive rebellion against his rule. (Remarkably, it worked.) Also here are the tombs of the Black Prince and of Henry IV, who deposed his cousin Richard II in 1399. Five Plantagenet kings (Henry III, Edward I, Edward III, Richard II and Henry V) and four of their queens (Eleanor of Castile, Philippa of Hainault, Anne of Bohemia and Catherine of Valois) are buried around the shrine of Edward the Confessor. You can't see them very well normally but go to the abbey at 11am and bvlgari gold earrings imitation 3pm daily and you will be allowed to climb up to the otherwise off limits mausoleum to join in prayers for Plantagenets gone by. While the prayers are being said, peek around at some of the greatest royal tombs in Britain. A statue of Bruce and visitor centre bring the battlefield to life and if you're in the area, then you should also pay a visit to nearby Stirling. The castle there was besieged in 1304 by Edward I, who erected outside the walls Warwolf, a legendarily large and unpleasant siege catapult which more or less terrified the garrison into giving up the fight. But enough survives to appreciate what a stunning building it once was: a palatial, imposing royal fortress surrounded by a lake, or mere, that covered about 100 acres. It was held by some of the greatest lords of the Plantagenet era, including Simon de Montfort who holed up here in defiance of the king in 1266 Thomas of Lancaster, enemy and cousin of Edward II, and John of Gaunt, the 14th century Duke of Lancaster and uncle to king Richard II. Some of the ruins date from the Tudor years, but the keep, Oriel Tower and great hall are all remnants of its medieval magnificence. (There's rather an amusing waxwork here of King John sitting on the medieval lavatory, which is worth the modest admission fee alone.) Carrickfergus is a good place to strike out for the insanely beautiful coast of Antrim, from where you can take a boat to Rathlin Island, where Robert the Bruce supposedly watched that spider spinning its web. Antrim is also, nowadays, the location for much of Game of Thrones a show with its roots in Plantagenet history, since it was inspired by the Wars of the Roses. The legacy of Henry and Simon's war was ultimately the birth of Parliament. If you're interested, you should also visit Evesham, where a second battle the return fixture, if you like ended with Simon dead, having been hacked to pieces with his genitals stuffed in his mouth. But it is a beautiful spot, especially on a warm day. You can sit beneath the shade of the great oak trees there and have a picnic, or walk along the banks of the Thames. Next year marks the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta and Runnymede will be the focus of much royal pageantry, including a visit by the Queen ironic, I suppose, since in a sense the Great Charter marked the first point at which the untrammelled power of the English monarchy began slowly to be constrained by the realm's subjects.
The man who says he can trim my tum

To be honest, I've had a few personal trainers in my lifetime. Not 'had', obviously; just had in the sense of engaged. Some have been brilliant; others rather less so. None, however, has ever managed to turn me into a true fitness convert.

This is no reflection on them; it's me I'm the problem. Given the choice between panting up a virtual hill on some ergonomically designed machine covered in other people's sweat and slicing off my own ear with a rusty pen knife, the knife/ear combo wins every time.

I loathe everything about gym culture. It's not just the expense, the extra washing and the inevitable presence of some swishy haired show off with Lycra dental floss between her buttocks. It's the grunting, the music, the being naked in front of strangers and the inordinate amount of time it all takes.

Like most women, I'm busy. Kids, dog, husband (roughly in that order), plus job, house, dry cleaning, food shopping, bvlgari b zero1 earrings replica cooking, homework, cleaning, slumping on the sofa with a glass of wine. All these things need attention. I don't have time to firm up my inner thighs.

There's another problem I don't hate myself. Not as much as I ought bvlgari women earrings replica to, anyway. I mean, for goodness sake, look at me. I'm 46 and a size 16. If Karl Lagerfeld had his way, I'd have been euthanised long ago.

Perhaps if he came to stay with me for a few days, sat on my sofa saying things like 'I would make you a dress, liebling, but you couldn't afford the fabric' or, 'Oh look, a solar eclipse .. ah, but nein; it is just your arsch' I might feel more motivated. But it's unlikely.

BEAUTY CRUSHFor today only, Boots are selling this Soap Glory make up kit for 19.99 instead of 40.

So when James Duigan he of Bodyism, he of the best selling Clean Lean book (12.99 from all good retailers), he who hones the already perfect bodies of beautiful people from Elle Macpherson to Rosie Huntington Whiteley to Hugh Grant emailed me to see if, in my new capacity as Beauty Sleuth, I'd be interested in training with him, I did my best to put him off. The exchange went something like this.

Me: 'That would be lovely, but you have no idea how fat and lazy I am.'

JD: 'Ha ha, don't worry, it'll be great. What about next week?'

Me: 'But seriously, I don't even own any gym clothes.'

JD: 'Don't worry, we'll send you some!'

The next day, a risibly small pair of Bodyism leggings and a teeny weeny matching top arrived in the post. Both alleging to be a large. Still, very thoughtful of him. After that, it seemed rude not to.

All of which is a long way of explaining how I come to be standing in a fake bvlgari earring small room in the luxurious Bulgari Hotel in London, being measured with callipers (shudder!) by his fragrant assistant, Nathalie. Physically, Nathalie has many advantages over me. She is Swedish, blonde and beautiful. She is a former ballet dancer and model.

She also has a six week old baby, not that you would know it. I have more fat on my left calf (which, bulgari bzero earrings replica given the amount of weight it hauls around all day is actually quite toned) than Nathalie has on her entire body. She also exudes a zen like calm which, if memory serves, is not the emotion I most associate with early motherhood.

She measures the fat on my cheek, my chin, my bingo wings, my back, my stomach and my calves. Then I have to perform a series of balancing exercises to establish flexibility. This is called the Body Oracle.

The final part is the scales. I avert my gaze. Nathalie writes down what looks like a three digit number.

She then gives me all three of Duigan's books and two bags of supplements one called Berry Burn, the other Beauty Food. And that's it. Reader, I now look like Claudia Schiffer.

Only joking. Next time, on the mat with the man himself I'll let you know how I get on ..

Elixir of youth or just a waste of 28Whenever the Press gets their La Perlas in a twist about a new miracle product, I'm a little sceptical. It's not always an indication of the thing's intrinsic merits, rather a reflection of the skills of their PR agency.

Since Fountain's The Hyaluronic Molecule (27.99) launched in Boots, it's become a bestseller. Everyone loves the idea of an elixir of youth, and manufacturer Deciem has done an excellent job of pitching it in those terms. Question is, does it work, or is it just clever hype?

The main ingredient is Hyaluronic Acid (HA), which has been around for a while in face creams; but this product contains the first water soluble form, enabling it to be ingested via your morning smoothie. So rather than applying it topically ie slapping it on your face you drink two teaspoons a day.

HA is not, as the name might imply, in any way corrosive. Quite the opposite, in fact: it's basically the body's WD40. Manufactured in the skin's deeper layer, the dermis, HA is a sugar gel that binds more than 1,000 times its own weight in water. It's an essential part of why healthy, thick skin feels bouncy.

Unfortunately, naturally occurring levels of HA decline with age and sun exposure (doesn't everything?). So the idea of Fountain is to replace it. But is such a thing even possible?

I put this to the cosmetic dermatologist Dr Samantha Bunting. 'The only proven benefit of topical hyaluronic acid is as a moisturising humectant,' she explains, 'which means it attracts water into the skin, keeping it hydrated.

'I'm not convinced oral HA has anything to offer; it has to be manufactured on site (ie in the skin), and can't be imported from the gut.'
Bowling battles breast cancer

on Monday and rock singer Jeric was already in the gutter. That happens when you don't bowl regularly, but it was OK pals John Scharffenberger (of champagne and chocolate fame), (Bulgari manager) and of Healdsburg didn't do much better at the ""Strike Out Breast Cancer" bowling benefit at the Presidio. Some $250,000 was raised for women's health groups.

Techno music, noshes from Zuni Cafe and themed bowling lanes ("Who Wants to Be a Bowl ion aire") were part of the fun. So was putting fashion forward bowling shoes to real use: (wife of Joe Boxer designer ) wore black and tan Comme des Garcons; event co founder donned cranberry colored Pradas.

Dr. , the surgeon who developed the breast cancer stamp, was promoting breast cancer license plates.

Meanwhile, hoisted a ball down the lanes, but preferred cocktails and chatting. He said , his co chair at the at (415) 864 8523.)

It was martinis recently for art collector . Not for her sendoff to Dallas (she summers here and winters there) but so could thank her for a $4 million gift to the hospital. A knee injury 18 months ago required an MRI; she fake bulgari earrings did not enjoy the wheelchair trip into the parking lot through wind, cold and fog to the trailer where the MRI machine was kept nor the forklift ride up into the trailer.

"It was the worst looking thing, and also very uncomfortable," she said. "I thought, 'My God, a hospital of this caliber ought to have a good MRI machine. ' "

Inside the building, that is. Cheers to you, Nancy.


Gavin Newsom, San Francisco supervisor and partner in Balboa and PlumpJack cafes, celebrated his 34th birthday last week with friends and family at Lombard Street's La Barca Mexican restaurant. It's oh so in, it seems a baby shower for skier 's sis, Kristen, and a birthday party for were held there earlier in the week.

After a few gifts and gags, Newsom took fiancee (who paid half of $11,500 to dunk "stripper" at the Tenderloin Pool Toss last week), and Julie, , Allison Speer (miniature dachshund puppy in tow) and others around the corner to his soon to open bar, called Pierce Street, on Fillmore. He's hoping, no doubt, that it will become the new hot spot.

South Bay sport: On Tuesday,retired tech exec and his wife, Joan, will be playing with their food or at least their tableware at a gala dinner for the San Jose nonprofit RAFT (Resource Area for Teachers). The RAFT warehouse stores donated office supplies; any Bay Area teacher can drop in and buy a basketful for $1. Exploratorium and NASA scientists develop science and math lessons using the supplies, such as making kaleidoscopes from Mylar, cardboard and plastic tabs from file folders.

At the dinner, teachers will instruct guests in science using items on the tables. Last year's involved an egg drop; this year's involves a marshmallow pea replica bulgari earrings shooter. Could get messy, so leave the formal bvlgari earrings uk imitation wear at home. Tickets are $125; call( 408) 451 1420.

's biennial Red Tie Gala hits Neiman Marcus on Union Square Nov. 7. The benefit for Little Sisters of the Poor features five floors of food, shopping and music. Designer Ann Getty will help decorate; actor and slugger are being asked to drop by the Union Square store and special serigraphs by Blue Dog artist (with bowser in red tie) will be sold. Top raffle prize: a mere $10,000 shopping spree at Neiman's. Tuxedos required; call (415) 442 1954.


Faberge collector is no recluse, but how often have you seen him chair a social event? (Answer: almost never.) For the and its educational programs, he's making an exception, heading up the "Imagine" wine tasting benefit and auction at the Westin St. Francis Nov. 10. One of the items is a dinner at 's Southern California ranch.

Honorary chairs are Gordon Getty, and vintners Garen and Shari Staglin (the Staglins' Wine Country "Music Festival for Mental Health" last month raised $2.1 million for research and treatment).

Getty held a taste testing of Italian wines recently to pick the ones to serve at the benefit. No decision was made, but, says Traina, "if I remember correctly after all that wine, we had a good dinner, too." We'll trust them to work out the details in good time.

Also: St. Luke's Hospital Auxiliary celebrates 50 years at its Golden Musee luncheon chaired by at the on fake bvlgari stud earrings Wednesday . . . The San Francisco Spinsters' "Little Black Dress" fall party has been rescheduled for Thursday at the . . . The 's annual "Achievement Awards" go to , John Sobrato and four others at Lou's Village in San Jose on Saturday . . . The 's biennial Hellenic Charity Ball at the St. Francis Nov. 3 is almost sold out; tickets benefit archaeological work in Greece and other things. E Trade founder and real estate developer are supporters; call (415) 561 9214 . . . Cal Pacific's "Wishes for Wellness" luncheon benefit,
The London Underground celebrates 150 years

Considering how big and irksome it is, the London bvlgari earrings uk imitation Underground hasn't featured much in popular culture. Way before Oyster cards were thought of, John Betjeman wrote poems and made a television programme (Metro land) about it. Ray Davies, in the Kinks' Waterloo Sunset, name checked it ("Millions of people swarming like flies round Waterloo Underground"), and Julian Barnes's book Metroland detailed suburban life at the end of the Metropolitan Line. But in general the capital's creaky and cranky Tube system has remained but a background rattle and hum, to the lives of Londoners and visitors alike.

But next time you sit scanning the ads for cold cures and language schools between glancing anxiously at your watch, let your eyes slip over to imitation earrings bulgari the Tube map. Consider its farther reaches, and promise yourself that this will be the year you go there.

For the Underground, which spans 34 miles at its widest point, reaches out to some of the south east of England's finest open spaces and despite the fare increases just announced, it's still good value. For just 3.90, outside peak times, an Oyster Card will whisk you on the Metropolitan Line from Charing Cross to Amersham in Buckinghamshire for the Chiltern Hills. Epping (for the Forest) on the Central Line is even cheaper, while the Northern Line can have you on Hampstead Heath 25 minutes after boarding at Charing Cross for just 2.10. Richmond on the District Line is perfect for river strolling and shopping as well as being on the doorstep of Richmond Park.

In your new found spirit of freedom, consider another thing that the Tube is also an aesthetic construct that tells us a lot about ourselves.

Mullins is the director of the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden, the main celebrant of the event it is calling LU150. Permanent exhibits including an original steam loco chart the history and evolution of the Underground. But, as museum officials point out, logistics tell only half the story. The Tube is also a people's art gallery due largely to two monosyllabic heroes of the pre war era: Beck and Pick.

Harry Beck devised the unimprovable diagrammatic map, a 20th century design classic. Frank Pick (together with Lord Ashfield, the first chairman of London Transport) commissioned artists to create the unmistakable visual branding: preeminently, the circle and bar "roundel" and the clean Johnston typeface that are still copied and parodied the world over.

"Pick and Ashfield laid down a real cutting edge design that has had a huge impact on the way London looks, and thinks about itself," Mullins said. "They had a vision for the civilising influence of public transport on London."

The artists, architects and sculptors who embellished the Underground producing beautiful station designs, tile patterns, sculptures, light fittings, benches and poster art were handing down a rich legacy. And this attention to detail bvlgari gold earrings imitation has been swooped upon by the blogging generation, whose bulletins from the nether reaches of the Underground are becoming the 21st century equivalent of Betjeman's billets doux. One of his posts on the fake houses at 23 and 24 Leinster Gardens that hide an old steam vent dating from before the full electrification of the Tube in 1905 was viewed 100,000 times in one day. When we met for a chat and a stroll around central London stations, Jones pointed out a simple example of what inspires him: the Art Deco flourishes either side of the clock in St James's Park station.

Meanwhile, the millions who have to use it day in, day out are apt to feel less charitably disposed towards a system that can be unreliable, overcrowded and unbearably hot in summer. "Londoners have this marvellous ambivalence, don't they, about the Tube?" said Mullins, and proceeded to imitate a commuter moaning about his latest journey. "But if someone from outside says the same thing, they'll fight for it."

The London Underground may be a monster, sclerotic and tangle limbed, but it's our monster so say Londoners to the rest of Britain and so says Britain to the rest of the world. As it reaches a significant milestone, fake earrings bulgari it would be churlish not to celebrate by buying an Oyster card to ride.
New eruption grounds planes in fake bvlgari stud earrings Ireland and Scotland

Flights to Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland knock off bulgari b zero1 earrings have been affected since 7am this morning.Passengers are being advised to check with their airline before travelling to the airport.A spokesman for the CAA said: 'We are advised by the Met Office that the ash cloud is moving south on the wind. Airports could be affected in Scotland, Northern Ireland, the north of England, Wales and the West Country.'It's possible there could be problems in the south knock off bvlgari b zero1 earrings west at airports such as Bristol and Exeter.'However, a spokesman said everything depended on the 'vagaries of the weather.'The latest eruption of Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajokull has already prompted the cancellation fake earrings bulgari of hundreds of flights.As no fly zones were imposed overmost of Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland,forecasters warned that British holidaymakers could face a summer of'We could be faced with thisperiodically during the summer.Most Scottish airports are alreadyshut.At the affected airports, disappointed passengers spoke of frustration at having their holiday plans wrecked.
New perfumes for xmas

If you're planning a Christmas shopping expedition to London head to RegentStreet where Liberty's Beauty Hall has themed fragrance fake bvlgari serpenti bracelet 'columns' displaying perfumes within their fragrance groups of Floral, Oriental, Chypre, Fougere or Citrus dotted around the floor. Staff on the shop floor are ready to offer unbiased help when selecting the right fragrance for example, if you know that your friend already wears Cacharel's Anais Anais, a very fresh and floral fragrance, she will probably also like another scent from the 'floral' fragrance family.Sampling perfumes has also moved on from a cursory spritz onto a little strip of card. Jo Malone's colognes are a cult favourite among celebrities and women in the know and her flagship stores on London's Brook Street and Sloane Street have 'fragrance booths' designed to let the customer sample her scents one at a time or in combination. Resembling a hi tech glass phone booth the scents are spritzed around you while you stand in the booth.If you're after something a little different try Jo Malone's two new scents whose inspiration was coffee. As Jo herself explains: 'I was in Dean Deluca in New York and bent down to smell a handful of beans. Their new fragrance, Chance (35,50ml eau de toilette), is surprisingly youthful fresh floral scent that has now been translated into a luxurious bath range.The Gentle Shower Foam (20) is jam packed with skin hydrating ingredients follow this with the Deodorant Natural Spray (18) and sensuous Body Moisture body lotion (22).The advertising campaign to launch Givenchy's new perfume, Very Irresistible features actress Liv Tyler and the sweetly floral scent suits her personality perfectly. For Christmas, Givenchy are offering a 50ml bottle of eau de toilette, 100ml Body Veil and a handbag sized 4ml minature eau de toilette all packaged in a distinctive shocking pink box (39.50).The latest fragrance from Cacharel is Amor Amor, a flirty mix of pink grapefruit, ripe apricots and jasmine. The perfect scent for a discerning teenager, she'll love the Christmas gift set of a 30ml bottle of the eau de toilette and a red sequin rose corsage (19, available exclusively from Boots).In September Stella McCartney launched her first fragrance, Stella (37.50 for Eau de Parfum 50ml). 'I wanted to take my favourite smells and put them together in the same way that I use opposites and contradictions in my fashion design,' says McCartney. 'I wanted a smell that was delicate, feminine rose mixed with fake serpenti bracelet a sexier and darker edge amber.'A very modern version of a classic floral scent, Stella comes in a beautiful violet coloured bottle that resembles a perfectly cut crystal. The bath range includes Soft Body Milk (23 for 200ml) and Gentle Body Cleanser (20 for 200ml) that contain organic ingredients and are not tested on animals, both in keeping with McCartney's personal ethics.Creating a new perfume in an already saturated marketplace is a gamble hence the beauty giants are looking to more diverse areas for their inspiration. Estee Lauder's latest offering, Beyond Paradise (37.50, 50ml eau de parfum), found its conception in the Eden project in Cornwall. A luscious mix of blue hyacinth, jasmin and Honeysuckle, this perfume is contained in a beautiful teardrop shaped bottle that is infused with all the colours of the rainbow.Vera Wang is renown for her beautifully romantic bridal and evening wear and her eponymous fragrance is no less romantic. A modern sensual floral, for Christmas she has launched two exclusive sets each encased in an elegant white box. The first contains her scented candle with a silver coaster and lid and a 100ml eau de toilette spray (90). An incredibly sexy fragrance, Omnia lingers on the skin with a hint of ripe figs.Sure to be a favourite in every fashion conscious girl's stocking is Burberry's new scent Burberry Brit (30, 50ml Eau de Parfum). Contained in a bottle covered in the fashion house's distinctive plaid check, Brit is a classic, green oriental blend of lush fruits, sweet nutty essences, and soothing amber, vanilla, and Tonka bean.If you like spice but don't want anothing too heavy try Dolce Gabbana's new perfume, Sicily (39, 50ml eau de parfum). With actress Monica Belucci perfectly encapsulating the passion and beauty of the Italian women who inspire the design duo, their new scent fuses bergamot and jasmine with delicious sandalwood and musk.Nicole KIdman wears Scent Intense (XXX), the new incarnation of Costume National's debut fragrance, Scent. Dominated by strong amber blended with fresh florals and white mother of pearl, Scent Intense is a warm rich fragrance that borders on a spicy aftershave. Its minimal black bottle it is perfectly unisex and modern.Finally, Christmas is the perfect excuse for the top fragrance houses to repackage old favourites. This year Thierry Mugler has created two special editions of his classic vanilla y scent, Angel. Choose from either his limited edition Angel Mystic Star (220 for 30ml), a stunning violet crystal bottle, or the Angel Essence Pendant (54) a rhodium plated pebble studded with Swarovski crystals that contains solid perfume.Most watched News videos such a different person Kim K cries over Paris robbery Dancing busker in Oxford Street contently shows off his moves Lesson learned? Police taunt van driver for cutting queue Delta passenger told to leave plane for using the bathroom Tragic: Three police officers blown up in Mosul suicide attack Is this BIGFOOT? 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Fay Maschler reviews Oldroyd

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles and pictures on Twitter is how I am thinking about Oldroyd in Islington, built by the eponymous Tom and imitation bulgari jewelry his noble, loving, hands on dad. I have been following the restaurant's progress online. It is small snug is a word that has occurred a former caff, now painted a cool shade of bulgari snake fake blue grey, in a street where big chains shoulder the catering minnows out of the way.

Before buying, renovating and launching his own business, Tom Oldroyd was chef director of Russell Norman's Polpo restaurant group. Venetian small plates; that is what they do. Just as formative was working with Alastair Little when he was in Frith Street, with Jacob Kenedy at Bocco di Lupo and to round out the CV and add empathy, stints working front of house.

In his own place Oldroyd's menu roams Europe snubbing Germany, Alexis Tsipras and I are pleased to note with dishes in sizes and modest prices that encourage sharing but also invite self fulfilment.

My first meal is lunch on the official day of opening. The end of trial run pricing turns what was apparently a crowded house into a sparsely populated one. Beth and I get pole position by the window on the first floor. A kitchen counter downstairs heaped with produce in its lush prime inspires some of the choices but now, looking again at the menu, foolishly not the bellini made with white peaches. Reason number one to return.

Radishes of different hues recline on a well balanced pure of cod's roe taramasalata come good a sprinkling replica bvlgari bracelet sale of celery salt vying with the innate pungency of the fish. Smoked pork belly and fresh pea croquettas are out of the frying pan onto the table in a trice and are as ideal a contrast of brittle and yielding as anyone could devise. Truffle mayonnaise provides a soothing balm.

Squid, confit rabbit and broad bean paella (picture: Daniel Hambury/Stella Pictures)

Vitello tonnato made with cured Welsh veal, which I really want, is sadly not available. Lamb and almond meatballs, chosen instead, are three spheres the size of a small child's fist coated in a vivid, nubbly salsa romesco and scattered with slices of pickled garlic, a very substantial offering for 7.50. Squid, confit rabbit and broad bean paella served with a dollop of aioli has the rather odd inclusion of melted cheese as if it is a pasta dish rather than a rice based one. Excuse me for a moment while I look up paella recipes to see if any contain cheese. They don't.

However, it is a beguiling assembly in its greenery yallery way with the skinned broad beans channelling emeralds. There are too many enquiries from the American waitress as to whether we have enjoyed everything culminating with, "Did you enjoy your espresso?" Perhaps this will fade when the room fills up.

Dinner another day is on the ground floor where there is space though not much for walk ins (upstairs tables can be booked). My pals respond positively to what one of them describes as "the unavoidable engagement with the kitchen when you come in" and later one notices with pleasure, as do I, the urban rooftop jigsaw seen from the window of the one lavatory upstairs. Oldroyd, with design details such as rough linen wrapping the curving staircase, feels like a small, carefully constructed world encapsulating someone's passion and the sweat of his brow.

The fairly short menu is more or less the same as at lunch and still no vitello tonnato but there is in addition a dark green glossy artichoke that would win replica bulgari serpenti bracelet first prize at any village fte, which we share. Later Edward admires its "magnificent simplicity with a perfectly balanced dressing for me a treat with minimal adornment but the added theatricality of eating an artichoke". Edward is a very sound companion.

Crab tagliarini gets compared favourably with River Caf pasta dishes and the zucchini fries are pronounced better than those at that restaurant. They are an ethereal tangle handing a dullsville vegetable an unexpected sultry edge. Grilled pork rib eye with chard and borlotti beans dressed with a hazelnut pistou may lack finesse and dignified comportment but it tastes extremely good. Peach and cow curd panzanella, broad beans and mint divides opinion: one of us thinking it belongs among the desserts. Best of these are apricot and brioche pain perdu with vanilla ice cream and the cherry and melon sorbets. It includes a kick starting Oldroyd Mary made with spiced vodka, chipotle and pickled peppers and N1 residents breathe a sigh of relief avocado on toast with salsa romesco and basil.

Three or four stars? That is the question. Oldroyd squeaks four for enlivening food made with obvious knowledge and affection but also for the generosity of spirit (and servings) and the fairness of pricing extending to the wines. Recently in restaurants I sometimes feel like Rip Van Winkle waking up to find to my distress that the cheapest wine on the list is 50. At Oldroyd the Montesierra Blanco Somontano starts the bidding at 22 and nothing goes beyond 45. Cheers. Open Mon Thurs noon 11pm, Fri noon midnight, Sat Sun 10am mdnight (10pm Sun). A meal for two with wine, about 85 including 12.5 per cent service.

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the lure of the Caribbean from Sea Cloud II

On Sea Cloud II on Caribbean cruises, it is that magic moment when the engines are switched off and, in the silence, huge sails catch the wind with a flap and crackle; that is the sound of freedom. One day out of Martinique, the world largest three masted barque is cruising off Les Saintes , a scattered mosaic of eight small islands in the eastern Caribbean.

High above us, the royals and topgallants are billowing in the trade winds, the sea is foaming along a gleaming white hull and, on the lido deck, rum punches are being served to the piano accompaniment of Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square

From the standing rigging, a French tricolour snaps innocently in the breeze. Happily, times have changed if we had been flying this flag on April 12, 1782, we would have been blown apart by a thunderous broadside from a British man o war.

On that day, this same stretch of water resounded to cannon fire from 66 British and French warships locked in the biggest sea battle of the western hemisphere. The fighting was so intense that twice the guns fell silent after the fleets became invisible in the dense smoke. It ended in a decisive victory for the British under Admiral George Rodney, which saved Jamaica from a French invasion and effectively ended French expansionism in the West Indies.

It was a classic case of winning the war and losing the peace. While Britain many former possessions have elected over the years to go their own ways, allegiance to Marseillaise flourishes in Caribbean islands big and small that remain defiantly, unequivocally French.

On the small and funky side are Les Saintes, fragments of Guadeloupe that pose as exotic outposts of Brittany, with clusters of red iron roofs and windows with wooden shutters sheltering below wooded hills by the sea. Fair skins and blue eyes were bequeathed by 17th century Breton seafarers, and lack of water for sugar plantations limited the influx of African slaves. The result is a distinctly European ambiance in the little capital, Le Bourg , a bright and buzzing haven of bars, gift shops and salons de th, popular with day trippers from Guadeloupe.

The brightness comes from the colourful facades of colonial style buildings, and the buzzing from motor scooters that are the preferred mode of travel on narrow, winding roads. Having hired one, I pootled up replica bvlgari snake ring a steep incline above the town to Fort Napolon , a gloriously pointless citadel built in the mid 19th century after the Anglo French hostilities had ceased. In the absence of muskets, iguanas nest in shooting apertures in the walls, and cacti known as Heads have grown in wild profusion since French soldiers stopped using them for target practice.

Seafaring is in the blood of the Saintois, but instead of fighting the British Navy they now go fishing. In a bay beneath the fort, brightly painted fishing boats and creels are drawn up on a small beach and at midday, men gather in the shade of sea grape trees to chat and mend nets while goats wander around them grazing on sparse grass. Frigate birds wheel in a cloudless sky and, occasionally, a pelican lands on a moored boat to preen itself. It takes willpower to leave.

But the winds are favourable, our captain orders the sails set and we cruise past the great, lush sprawl of Guadeloupe at a sedate five knots. As night falls, we glide by the sombre profile of Montserrat, much of it in darkness since the volcanic eruption that destroyed its capital in 1995.

Napoleon never ventured to the West Indies during his campaign for world domination. If he had, Sea Cloud II would have made a handsome flagship. Modelled on a yacht built in 1931 for the New York heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post , she is essentially a floating country house with 30,000 square feet of white cloth sails and decks gleaming with polished wood and brass. A sense of space is fostered by limiting guest accommodation to 96, which means quiet corners are always available for reading, dozing and watching the eternal rhythms of the sea.

It was easy to imagine l stalking around my stateroom with its ornate gilt mirrors, marble fireplace (with a coal effect electric fire) and marble bathtub replete with neo classical pillars. The ship designers apparently remained true to the philosophy of Mrs Merriweather Post, of whom it was said that only role money played was that it imposed not the slightest sense of modesty

Napoleon would not have been distracted by comedians, magicians or dancing girls on Sea Cloud II, because there are none. The only resident entertainer is a Hungarian pianist, who tickles the ivories Bulgari bracelet replica during afternoon tea and post prandial drinks on the lido deck. Excerpts from Beethoven Sonata are just the ticket when sailing on a silver sea off darkened islands.

A port of call that might have appealed to Bonaparte is Martinique, where his beloved Josephine came from. The former sugar estate where she was born near the village of Trois Ilets is now a museum, housing odds and ends from her colourful life as Empress of France and Queen of Italy.

Her childhood bed stands among portraits, strands of hair, Napoleonic memorabilia and snippets of information such as the size of her wardrobe, which attained Imelda Marcos proportions with 400 dresses and 360 pairs of shoes. For all her fame as First Lady of the French Empire, she is replica bulgari jewelry not fondly remembered by islanders. was the daughter of a slave buyer, a guide informed me. is history.

Like many Caribbean islands, Martinique is volcanic in origin, which is a mixed blessing. The bad news is that volcanoes occasionally blow their top, notably in 1902 when Mount Pele wiped out the capital and killed its 30,000 inhabitants all but one. The sole survivor was a prisoner in an isolation cell, who later embarked on a new career as a sideshow attraction in the Barnum Bailey Circus as Volcano Man

The good news is that volcanoes provide fertile soil for botanical showpieces such as the Balata Garden , set in a rainforest high above the modern capital, Fort de France . Created by a French landscape gardener in the 1980s , it is a horticultural Noah Ark of more than 200 species of exotic plants from the Himalayas to New Guinea. This is a place to stand and stare at the infinite complexity and beauty of nature, from the towering grandeur of Indian fig trees to the flashing wings of tiny hummingbirds. It is best savoured by leaving an escorted group and wandering off on one own to find a quiet spot to be enchanted by blooms one has never heard of, and a stillness of air and spirit.

Three days out of Barbados, we set a course for an English speaking island that boasts a volcano. Beyond the picture postcard twin volcanic cones of Soufrire in St Lucia, a paved road goes to hell.

It winds uphill through rainforest, then plunges into a collapsed crater that is a morass of fumaroles, gurgling and spouting steam in boiling lakes of sea water and mud, permeated by the rotten egg stench of hydrogen sulphide. At times of full moon and high tides, the activity intensifies with geysers shooting 30 feet into the air. From wooden walkways and observation platforms, there is a sense of stepping back in time to the dawn of creation. The raised passages were erected after a guide took a step too far and ended up waist deep in boiling mud. The guide survived, but unfamiliar concepts of health and safety were promptly introduced.

A therapeutic spin off of all this fire and brimstone flows into nearby botanical gardens in the form of hot springs, which were channelled into mineral baths in 1784 for the benefit of troops of Louis XVI , protect and fortify them More recent visitors include Superman, who swooped to a rock face by a waterfall to pluck an orchid for Lois Lane in Superman II.

Health and safety precautions have gone too far, as usual, in prohibiting bathing in a pool beneath the waterfall, but the mineral baths are pleasurable. Those stimulated by the healing waters may be interested to know that a liqueur called Heaven is available in the shop, containing traces of the bark of the bois band tree, with known aphrodisiac properties.

It was from a fortress on St Lucia that Admiral Rodney set sail in pursuit of the French fleet, and the building ruins still command panoramic views of the island from above a bay named after him. The site is now a national park with well tended gardens, and a laid back restaurant and bar named after an earlier resident known as de Bois (wooden leg), a French pirate who preyed with considerable success on Spanish galleons in the 16th century. The hostelry has a thatched roof and wooden seats and tables by a small beach, a second hand book exchange, paintings and prints for sale, live jazz on Sundays and classical violin recitals on Thursdays. It is just the place to escape the tourist throng and enjoy sea views with a cold beer and Creole cooking.

It was near St Vincent that we spotted a humpback whale off the port bow. It wisely steered clear of Bequia , our next port of call in the Grenadines, where men have hunted its ancestors for generations with wooden boats and hand held harpoons. The International Whaling Commission allows them to catch three a year as a cultural tradition, but last season they caught none and fishermen hanging around the pier in Admiralty Bay said they would be lucky to do any better this year.

On the other side of the island, we met a remarkable man devoted to saving endangered marine life rather than eating it. Orton King, fisherman and son of a sea captain, was camping on a beach a few years ago when a hawksbill turtle crawled into his tent, laid a batch of eggs, and crawled out again. He was dumbfounded. In a classic poacher turned gamekeeper scenario, Mr King protected the eggs until they hatched, and became a godfather to hundreds more youngsters left to fend for themselves in nesting grounds.

At the last count, his one man Old Hegg Turtle Sanctuary had released 849 adolescent turtles into the sea, and there were a further 140 waiting their turn in saltwater tanks. He is dismayed that a limited hunting season is still in force, and that some fishermen continue to butcher turtles illegally all year round but he looks hopefully to the future. am going to win with the children, he says. all get old and die, then there is another generation and things can change.

At least his adopted progeny are assured a good start in life, on a tranquil isle many regard as the finest in the Caribbean. Over the years, Bequia has acquired a fledgling community of expats who dropped anchors in Admiralty Bay and didn pick them up again. An Englishwoman who helps run the local yacht club confided: who come here are enchanted by a small island and go off looking for others like it, but there aren any. There is only one Bequia.

The French would disagree, of course. The old pirate lair of St Barthlemy , or St Barts to the chic set, is the destination of choice for habitus of the Cte d You can tell by the size of the mega yachts lined up in the harbour of its quaint little capital, Gustavia , that this is a haven for well heeled snowbirds. The keynote is struck by a glossy magazine listing the island attractions, which affirms: will find something to satisfy their dreams, often with a little help from a gold card Beyond the pricey restaurants and stores stocked with Vuitton handbags and Bulgari watches, narrow and incredibly steep roads wind to private villas and beaches served by more smart boutiques and eateries.

Hiring a car for the day, I stumbled on an scene at Anse de Grand Cul de Sac , a bay enclosed by low hills and islets popular imitation bvlgari mens ring with windsurfers and kite boarders. Pending a planned five star hotel, it attracts hippyish characters with a fondness for tents, shelters of wood and palm fronds, and hammocks for their children to swing in. I loved it.

The jewel in this chic free haven is Alan Landry Kazz Blues bar, a collection of old wooden tables beneath palm and sea grape trees, offering feet in the sand beach food, an impressive range of rum concoctions and cool music. The jazz and blues classics are played by Landry, a professional musician who was born in Guadeloupe and raised in Paris, and used to play football with Rod Stewart in Los Angeles. His crooning of on) the Dock of the Bay accompanied by a couple of his wife special rum cocktails and a view of windsurfers whizzing across the bay, satisfied my dreams and I didn need a gold card.

Our next port of call was St Kitts, which was closed. It was Easter Sunday and my plans to explore the island seemed doomed, with no prospect of a hired car or scooter. Then I met a man tinkering with a fish trap outside a dive shop, and he took me to a house where someone gave him a phone number and he called a man who phoned another man, who turned up a few minutes later with a scooter for hire. When I thanked my benefactor, he said: help you today, maybe tomorrow somebody helps me. That how it works.
ME Milan Il Duca imitation bvlgari mens ring Hotel Review

Rooms have contemporary furnishings in neutral shades and modern fittings bvlgari b zero1 diamond ring copy such as custom control touch screens to adjust lighting and temperature. The two signature suites, as well as some communal areas, are brightened up with large images by Madrid based fashion photographer Alberto Van Stokkum, depicting music and fashion icons. In bvlgari b zero1 ring replica room mini bars, nicknamed "maxi bars", have unusual items including Agent Provocateur lingerie and hangover kits stocked with mineral salts and refreshing face copy bvlgari serpenti ring masks. Stone and marble bathrooms have rain showers.

The cuisine at STK steakhouse is international with an American influence (think mac 'n' cheese and cowboy steak along with tuna tataki and coconut fried halibut). An in house DJ spins classic rock tracks and waiters address customers by their first name, creating a friendly atmosphere. Il Giardino del Duca, located at the entrance of the hotel on Piazza della Repubblica, offers an all day menu until 6pm, and is a pleasant spot for a post prandial drink. The hotel's major draw is the fashionable 10th floor Radio Rooftop Bar with glass fronted terrace offering panoramic views of the city skyline. The cuisine at the adjacent Radio restaurant is Italian with an international touch. Buffet breakfast is served here, and can also be enjoyed on the terrace.
Where is the best place to see the Northern Lights in the UK and what is the best time to see them

However, complex and extremely powerful movements within the Sun can disturb the magnetosphere, leading to the injection of energetic particles into areas of the atmosphere closer to Earth.

This may happen if there is a push of particles from a "coronal hole", an area near the Sun's Equator, if the hole is pointing towards Earth.

When the Earth is in certain positions, a geomagnetic storm will occur when these particles and the magnetosphere collide, and it is this collision that causes the air molecules to light up, causing the magnificent displays we know as the Northern Lights.

The Sun passes through an 11 year solar cycle between a maximum and minimum phase when it is active or dormant.

The last solar maximum occurred in early 2014, but a series of alignments between the Earth and coronal holes means that activity leading to the Northern Lights may occur after this peak.

The aurora australis is the name given to lights that occur around the southern pole, visible from Antarctica.

The Northern Lights vary between anything from wispy red and green areas of colour in a due north direction when solar activity is weak or there is light pollution, to bold stripes of copy bvlgari watches uk electric green dancing across the sky in better conditions, as in this video from Gamrie Bay, Aberdeenshire.

The strongest displays will see the lights move overhead, and the "corona effect" appears: bands of light clearly distinct from the sky, and moving across it.

Where are the best places to see them?

The "auroral oval" represents the places on Earth imitation buy bvlgari watches "where aurora occur most often and with greatest intensity", according to the British Geographical Survey. This normally covers Scandinavia, Greenland, Alaska, Canada and Russia.

When geomagnetic activity is high because of coronal holes pointing towards earth, or coronal mass ejections the auroral oval widens.

Northern, rural areas with low levels of light pollution are prime aurora borealis spotting territory in such periods, although they have been spotted in south east England on rare occasions, and may be so again.

As such, Scotland is one of the best places to see the lights. Notable areas include the Caithness coast in the far north and the Orkney Isles, as well as Shetland and the Outer Hebrides (Lewis, Harris, South Uist, North Uist, Benbecula etc).

If you have no luck in the UK, consider our "trip of a lifetime" guide to seeing the Northern Lights abroad.

Northen Lights hotels: the best places to spot the aurora borealis

The Met Office says that north Wales, northern England, and Northern Ireland are also prime locations for sightings over the coming weeks. Lights have been spotted this week in the Lake District.

Aurora Borealis, shine over Derwentwater, near Keswick in the Lake District on October 8 2015 (PA/Owen Hughes) Photo: Owen Hughes/PA

Photos posted on the AuroraWatchUK Flickr stream in the past few days show displays at Penmon on Anglesey, Pendle Hill in Lancashire, and over Ben Wyvis in Ross shire, Scotland.

AuroraWatchUK has produced a useful map with markers showing the best places to see and photograph the lights around the UK, with tips on where to position yourself. Spots include Dingieshowe Beach on Orkney Island ("Beach has a car park. Sit on top of the grassy mound looking north over St Peter's Pool. Very little light pollution.")

How can I know the lights are on their way near me? Are there Northern Lights forecasts available?

According to AuroraWatchUK, it is not possible to accurately predict when the lights will be visible in a particular location. However, it bvlgari watches for ladies replica is possible to monitor solar activity and magnetosphere disruption, in order to foresee when they may be more likely to appear.

You can sign up for AuroraWatch's "aurora alerts" via Twitter, Facebook, email and various smartphone apps, which alert followers to measurements detecting when the lights might be more visible over the UK.

Alternatives are the British Geographical Survey's Twitter feed and the Met Office's feed.

The Met Office's space weather forecasts also provide information about strong ejections from the Sun that will increase the chance of the lights forming. The information is slightly more complex and scientific than the AuroraWatch information.

What will increase my chances of seeing them?

Seek dark skies

Light pollution from streetlights, cars and buildings will make the lights less visible as will light from the moon. Therefore, rural, undeveloped areas away from high population densities are your best bets. It is highly, highly unlikely that you will be able to look out of your window in central Manchester or London and see the lights. However, Iain Hannah, a Royal Society research fellow from Glasgow, posted footage on Twitter that he took from the city. It was formed of a series of copy bvlgari watches for women images with a 0.5 second exposure; the display was "faint grey/green with naked eye", he said.
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