Friday, June 27, 2008

The truth about fruit...?

Did you see the news reports yesterday about fruit (potentially) causing a pot belly?  Good excuse for a tantalising headline and (for those that need it) to revert to, or continue on, their junk food diet!  Think again! Peter Havel, the Californian scientist who led  the study, commented that further research needs to be conducted as to why fructose (fruit sugar) might cause this undesirable side-effect.  

As part of a healthy diet, fruit is good - wonderful indeed for the vitamins, minerals and enzymes it contains -  but it does need to be balanced with other food groups.  For some people it works best eaten on an empty stomach -  away from other food - because largely it is a high(ish) water content food and the body can best absorb its nutrients when it's eaten alone. It can also be best digested, in this way, for some people.  Those who believe in a food-combining ethos suggest that it can sit in the stomach too long when eaten with other foods.  Try it for yourself and see what works best for you!

It's true that we shouldn't eat too much sugar but wholefoods - i.e. in this case, fruits in their natural form - are wonderfully nutritious and, for most of us, shouldn't be avoided.  Anything eaten (or drunk) to excess isn't so great!  Balance is the key - variety is good - also eating seasonally is desirable and sensible.  Additionally and especially, it makes sense to avoid too much fruit in the concentrated fruit-juice form.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

SATC - The girls are back!

Took me a few weeks to get around to seeing the film and although I had been looking forward to it I wasn't sooo desperate that I had to see it on the opening night.  A downside was that it was hard to completely avoid all 'spoilers' so if you don't want any inklings or revelations - look away now...

When the film first started it seemed unreal, weird, strange to see the girls so large - on the BIG screen - I soon got used to it though.  What really jarred for me a little way in, was how Carrie reacted on the Big Day when she ran into Big after he had let her down, hugely.  He apologised, attempted to explain and said he was ready to go-ahead now but all she could do was to hit him and the car - repeatedly - with her bouquet of white roses, until they were ruined... then to run-off crying, with her life in ruins.   Hmmm, great imagery and for dramatic effect, perhaps, but NO, sorry, Carrie would not have behaved like that (although as my friend said there wouldn't have been a story or the film without that)...  So, from then on one had to slightly suspend belief and go with it...  Not so sure Miranda would have behaved so radically with Steve either...

Of course, the clothes, along with the famous four, were the stars of the show.  Vivienne Westwood's wedding gown was magnificent and looked great on SJP (not so sure about the make-up and dead bird head-dress) but she was picture perfect in her ultimate, simple, vintage- chic wedding finery.  Carrie's assistant was adorable, charming and a usefully semi-pivotal new character. The super-starring vibrant blue Blahnik's were truly magnificent; took me back to my days in Paris and my treasured pair of electric blue Tokio Kumagai's... Those were the days! Amazing and impressive product placement for Pret a Manger towards the end of the film with Carrie and Miranda munching on lunch in the park...

Sunday, June 15, 2008

What's in a weekend?

I don't know if you're like me but my weekends seem to vary quite a lot.  Last weekend was a social whirl, catching-up with friends old and new, trying new places and going back to old haunts... this weekend was a quieter, closer-to-home affair.

On Friday evening, the urge took me(way overdue!) and I got stuck-in to attacking the pesky weeds that were threatening to completely overtake my lavender and mint (meant to have pride of place) in my small patch of  front garden. It took me an hour to come close to getting to grips with the bad invaders; it wasn't that solitary, as I caught-up with neighbours while I worked...

On Saturday, I was determined to make more of an effort at getting back into my super fitness regime (that took a severe tumble when my back was injured) so, after seeing to all my chores locally, I went for a twelve-mile brisk-walk through Richmond Park, then along the towpath, into the town and back.  The views were gorgeous, the weather very pleasant - aside from a brisk heavy shower into the evening -  but the pollen count was high, so I paid for it by the time I returned home; note to self: must stock up on more local honey next year

Today was another catch-up day, on the 'phone, and at home, then a tennis highlight... I watched the magnificent Stella Artois final (had to make do with the TV this time) between Nadal and Djokovic.  Wow - a mesmerising match!  So close at points...!  I was happy that gorgeous Rafa Nadal won - he's such a pleasure to watch ;-)  I have to admit that Djokovic played so well too and was an incredibly gracious loser.   They should also both be admired for their impressive foreign language skills!  Today whetted the appetite for Wimbledon - just 8 days away...

Friday, June 13, 2008

Anyone for tennis?

You'll see from my review, below, how lucky I was to attend the Stella Artois yesterday and how much I enjoyed it...  Worth visiting if you get the chance!  (It's the last year of the vibrant red Artois sponsorship...)

Aside from the tennis itself, I bumped into lovely, amazonian M&S superstar model, Erin O'Connor, in the ladies loos.  The creamy-complexioned, gaelic beauty looked cool and composed in an elegant navy and cream tea dress (doubt if it was Marks and Spencer's finest) and flat ballet pumps, as she pouted at her reflection in the mirror.

While I waited for my companion - in the corridor - I spotted Scottish doubles hero, Jamie Murray catching-up with his mates.  Spectating Nadal and Nishikori - three balconies along - I saw elegantly-suited Michael Parkinson and his chic wife, Mary, enjoying the proceedings. On my next visit to the loo(!), in-between matches, I was right behind delectably muscled - number one seed - Nadal and his minder...

If you want to give yourself a London tennis treat, the Stella Artois at Queen's Club is a one minute stroll from Baron's Court tube or around eight minutes walk from Hammersmith.

Tennis Season in London

Number one seed Nadal, in colourful gear, on centre court at Queen's Club, June 2008 © amethyst

I was lucky enough to be invited to the tennis, by a Queen's Club member, yesterday and it was a real treat. The seat was comfortable, the view was great and the tennis - especially the Nadal-Nishikori match - was riveting.

The Stella Artois is a great prelude to Wimbledon - good for spotting future stars (18 year old Nishikori is definitely one to watch, as is young Latvian, Nilgis). The venue is more intimate and welcoming than Wimbledon; if you can get into the Clubhouse - with its vibrant buzzing and friendly atmosphere - it's easy to bump into the players and celebs.

Ticket prices vary according to the day you attend, although they're not cheap, you get decent value for your money and they're easier to come-by than their Wimbledon counterparts. If you fancy popping-along late in the day there's a possibility of buying returns for just £5 and you'll have the opportunity to still see a match or two.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008!

You don't have to go to Italy if you want to enjoy wonderful ice-cream or sorbet in good weather or a beautiful setting.   Glorious Richmond upon Thames is a treat to visit on many levels and an additional reason in the summer...

Authentically-run, Gelateria Danieli is definitely a contender for the best icecream in London. Helped (or hindered, on the weekend) by the fact that it is located in a pretty lane just behind beautiful, traditionally English - cricket and all - Richmond Green.

For me, the sorbet is the star turn, especially the luscious super-rich flavour-packed chocolate variant. Passion fruit is exquisite too. One scoop goes a long way, fortunately! The only downsides are the weekend queues and the fact that you can't rely on them having your favourite flavour available on every visit.

Monday, June 9, 2008

sunny sunday afternoon...

Hooray!  It's been blissfully sunny here for the past few days - didn't take long for the cricketers to come-out... or for me to visit the garden centre... (top pic shows the scenic view - from their car park!)

Friday, June 6, 2008

all the fun of the river(side)

The weather may not be perfect but apparently summer is here - in all its forms - so an ideal opportunity for a leisurely wander, or power-walk, by the river. Should you get the chance to visit Kingston-upon-Thames, take the time to enjoy life on the towpath.  To get there, walk to the end of Clarence Street, cross over Kingston Bridge, (admiring the view as you go), turn left and you're in Barge Walk.

You'll understand the name as you take-in the many house boats and transient visitors moored-up at the scenic riverside setting. There's always a happy - usually serene - line-up of swans here too, often in a row, grooming themselves, debating their next move.

From this side of the river bank you'll find no restaurants or cafés to distract or delay you - only from the distant perspective of the other side - but it can be interesting to watch the contrasting hive of activity over there from this, more tranquil, perspective.

As you move on up, you'll encounter training rowers, happy boaters, leisurely and speeding cyclists, fledgling and earnest runners, picnic-ers and romping dogs with their owners. It's a great antidote to city life.

If you fancy exploring the full-stretch of the towpath, it's about two-and-a half/three miles up towards Hampton Court with more to enjoy as you go. The trees are glorious, the houses attractive, the riverside nooks and crannies varied - with a feeling that they remain part of another era.

As you reach the end of the towpath, you'll come across the stunningly regal, ornate golden gates protecting Hampton Court Palace's Privy Gardens. Why not check-out the surrounding recommendations on Qype to make your day complete?

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

lunch in provence

Set in a typical Provençal village, with its own authentically sleepy charm (at least on the Sunday we visited, when almost everything was closed) is Aups' Auberge de la Tour. Fortunately, during our exploration, we chanced upon this pretty hotel with its sheltered terrace restaurant.

We enjoyed the village and people-watching as we sat and savoured our leisurely lunch. I started with a local drink which might sound strange: violet-scented local white wine. It was fragrant and deliciously refreshing, like a lighter, more summery version of a kir. I moved-on to a tasty and filling goats cheese salad, served in a superfine pastry basket (akin to the finest filo pastry). I'm not renowned for having a huge lunch appetite but I relished each mouthful and cleared my plate (aside from the couple of tastes speared by my companion). We then shared a bowl filled with a couple of flavours of sumptuously smooth and unctuous ice-cream, followed by a restorative coffee.

The small hotel on-site has a surprisingly modest two stars; although I can't vouch for whether the rooms surpass this rating, as we only indulged ourselves by spending time on the terrace. If you are visiting this lovely spot, don't miss-out on a wander through the village square and surroundings combined with a drive to take-in and admire the breathtaking beauty and serenity of the nearby Lac de Sainte Croix.