Popcorn Edit | How To Train Your Dragon 2

Film, Kids

The kids, my nephew and I were thoroughly excited to go along to the advance screening of DreamWorks How To Train Your Dragon 2 last Sunday. Admittedly my son and I caught up with the original How To Train Your Dragon the day before yesterday but we thoroughly enjoyed it. Such an original story!

DreamWorks's 2010 Original How to Train Your Dragon

DreamWorks’s 2010 Original How to Train Your Dragon

Anticipation was high for the sequel as we had no idea what the story would be now. We caught a glimpse of the trailer shown during the Rio 2 screening but it gave nothing away! And neither will I! All you need to know that it is a journey of discovery with Hiccup now 5 years older. He must discover who he is in order to become the person he needs to be for his family and all of Berk.

Processed with VSCOcam with m3 preset

In short the film was EPIC. It has to be labelled as a blockbuster! And I don’t use that term lightly. It was even more original, engaging, emotional and hilarious than the original and the animation was the best we have ever seen. The Alpha dragons were awesome. Watch out for the scene where the alpha rises from the sea, the animation is amazing. So detailed. The cloud surfing scene which was part of the aforementioned trailer was awesome too, where Hiccup first encounters the mysterious dragon rider and the dragons lair scene are all proud moments that will take your breath away.

The Alpha Dragon

The Alpha Dragon

There was a point in the movie when we were left wondering how it would end – in that we did not see it coming (its so hard not to give anything away!!!) We also loved the growth of Hiccup and the underlying message of peace and harmony between man and err… Dragon.

It had it all! I had no expectations but I – we – (ha haa! Typo!) were left thoroughly entertained and we had adjective diarrhea all the way home talking about it.

The Whole Gang

The Whole Gang

Enjoying the XBox Video Game

Enjoying the XBox Video Game

Loved it. Loved it. Loved it. Go and see this movie. It comes out in the UK on July 11th. You will not be disappointed. Well worth seeing in 3D too.

Blackheath Beach @ The Conservatoire

Kids

We love London in the summer and we love it even more when we discover pop up beaches on our doorstep. That’s exactly what The Conservatoire, Blackheath’s local independent arts centre, has done. And the best part is that’s it completely free.

Beach Sighted in Blackheath, London, SE3

Beach Sighted in Blackheath, London, SE3

The Conservatoire, led by its passionate chief executive, Sydney Thornbury, have experienced somewhat of a reinvigoration of late. With a variety of arts based activities on offer at present they have now converted their courtyard into an impromptu beach complete with beach hut, live music, bar, pop up cafe and street food!

Golden Sands of Blackheath

Golden Sands of Blackheath

We were invited to the first full day and had a blast. It amazing what some soft sand in between your toes can do to lift your spirits. We even got a little creative with some beach sculptures.

Mermaid

Mermaid

Running Man

Running Man

The Conservatoire have a weekly list of activities at the beach so you can plan your visit.

And Why Not?!!!

And Why Not?!!!

As I said its completely free but to avoid ‘working-from-home’ business men from taking up all the space, places are allocated in 2-hour time slots.
Guests will need to pick up a wristband from reception upon arrival at the Conservatoire. For a small fee, visitors are able to pre-book a limited amount of spots online in advance or you can ring them on the day you’d like to come and they’ll book you a wristband for your chosen time slot: 020 8852 0234.

Denim on Denim Edit: Part Two – Casual

menswear

A very good friend of mine is getting married in Lagos, Portugal in September. We couldn’t let him go without a decent send off and what better place to start it off than at a carnivore heaven, Hoxton’s Red Dog Saloon.

The Devestator. The burger that put Hoxton Square's Red Dog Saloon on the map.

The Devestator. The burger that put Hoxton Square’s Red Dog Saloon on the map.

The dilemma came of what to wear. London, well the UK has been surprisingly offering up a good dose of summer (I’m not complaining for the record!!!) so I was a bit stumped as to what to wear for this momentous occasion. The staple jeans + shirt/ t-shirt + blazer combo has become a bit of a uniform of late.

No offence Homes!

No offence Homes!

Having been inspired by summer in NYC, Guerrisms and all things denim I decided to sport my new Levi’s jean jacket (40 – eBay), some tapered, slim fit jeans from Spitalfield’s very own AllSaints (on sale 50% off at £42.50) and a gorgeous ochre yellow linen shirt from Reiss (70% off at £22).

Double Denim. notice the un-ironed - ahem -'Crushed' linen!

Double Denim. notice the un-ironed – ahem -’Crushed’ linen!

I weaved the yellow theme through the denim with a linen pocket square also from Reiss (£6), a tan brown plaited belt from Bloomingdales ($25) and my beloved Grenson Ellery double monkstrap shoes in tan, a recent steal on eBay (£80).
The shirt was perfect for the cool summer evening as the linen is quite thick so I stayed warm yet cool at the same time. The shoes are definitely a statement piece. They are very bold but beautifully crafted in every way. The jean jacket is from Levi’s commuter series so has some nice details, most notable a hidden breast pocket perfect for a pocket square

Levi's Commuter Jacket and Pocket Square

Levi’s Commuter Jacket and Pocket Square

The night was a blast. The DJ at the Cornershop played a truly eclectic mix we ate like cavemen. All in all a great night out.

Grooming Edit – Kiehl’s Oil Eliminator For Men

Grooming

I am a firm advocate for daily grooming. As girlie as that sounds it needn’t be anything more than swapping soap for a face wash and cream for a moisturiser. But clarifying, anti ageing, ultra moisturising… where do you start?
Thankfully for us all Kiehl’s new Oil Clarifying Moisturiser should narrow the selection significantly.

Product Overload

Product Overload

Kiehl’s Oil Eliminator stands out straight away in a bright green tube. It’s described as a 24-hour anti-shine moisturiser that ‘minimises excess oil, sweat and pollution to reduce the appearance of shine and pores’. A very good start. I am a daily user of Kiehl’s Facial Fuel No-Shine Hydrator because, quite frankly I’m always late, its the Caribbean in me. Rushing around all over the place can make for a healthy glow and, with summer threatening to rear its head, riding on the sauna that is the London underground will only make matters worse.

Our Current Go-To No-Shine Solution

Our Current Go-To No-Shine Solution

In application the moisturiser is very light and appears to evaporate on contact with the skin giving a feeling of freshness, almost pulling sweat off the skin. This gives the skin a fresh matte look sort of like the calm and collected 7 year old progeny who sat your university exams with you only a lot cooler*. Despite this effect the skin still felt hydrated and a second application was not required at any point during the day.

Oil Eliminator 24 Hour

Oil Eliminator 24 Hour

The verdict is a solid thumbs up from me. This stuff really works well and has now become part of my daily routine. Its small enough to travel with and will thus be coming everywhere with me.

Thumbs Up!

Thumbs Up!

Pick up a tube in any Kiehl’s store or concession. The 75ml retails for £21.50 with a larger 125ml at £30.00

*based on a pole of 3 people.
And a cat.

Grooming Edit – Dr Lancer, The Lancer Method

Grooming

I was fortunate to trial the Method from Los Angeles based Dr. Lancer. Claiming to make the skin look younger, its effectiveness lies in its simplicity; a three-step daily routine. As time is precious most mornings – school runs, meetings, site visits, smashing up the alarm clock – we were keen to try something quick and easy without compromising on quality.

Fatherhood - In One Picture

This Sums Up Fatherhood

Step One – The Method Polish
The scrub has a warming element that is felt when you rub it in your hands. Its strange at first, good strange. The polish bead is good and holds well on wet skin meaning you get an effective scrub without it dissolving too rapidly. Skin is left vibrant and energised

The Method Polish

The Method Polish

Step Two – The Method Cleanse
Probably the weakest link in the chain here. It’s a gentle cleanser but I guess, after the strength of the polish, a gentle cleanse is all that’s needed. It helps at the very least to completely remove the polish and we found that there was no trace dirt following a cotton pad test.

The Method Cleanse

The Method Cleanse

Step Three – The Method Nourish
The cream itself is quite thick and supplied with an application spoon so as to keep it contaminant free. Fancy! It covers well and the density means that one application is sufficient as it doesn’t leave the skin feeling dry skin minutes later.

The Method Nourish

The Method Nourish

The Verdict?
The whole process was completed within 5 minutes which is not long at all. All in all a great product to use daily at home it comes with 2 thumbs up us in terms of quality and effectiveness.

The downfall however is the price tag. Combined the products will set you back a whopping £213! This will make it inaccessible to the majority. For alternatives try the Neal’s Yard NYR range, the excellent Liz Earle which we will be reviewing next month or our go to brand, Kiehl’s men’s range

Neal's Yard Remedies NYR Organic Range for Men

Neal’s Yard Remedies NYR Organic Range for Men

Liz Earle's Men's Naturally Active Range

Liz Earle’s Men’s Naturally Active Range

Kiehl's Men's Facial Fuel Range

Kiehl’s Men’s Facial Fuel Range

Lactofree Poppy Seed & Raspberry Muffins

Food, Free From, Recipe

As promised here is the recipe for the utterly divine muffins featured in our last post. If meeting the parents, showing first time buyers your DIY disaster of a pad or living above a third rate fast food establishment, then you may want to whip up a batch of these right away!

Ingredients (You can squeeze a gut busting 24 Muffins out of this recipe)
315g plain flour
230g caster sugar
230ml Lactofree raspberry yoghurt
200g fresh raspberries
115g Lactofree spreadable
35g poppy seeds
5 medium egg yokes
3 medium egg whites
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp baking powder
A large pinch of sea salt
¼ tsp cream of tartar

All You Need To Get Started

All You Need To Get Started

Get Stuck In
1. Pre-Heat the oven to 170°C and line a muffin tin with muffin cases.

2. In a large bowl beat the Lactofree spreadable in a bowl with half the sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks one at a time making sure each is fully incorporated before adding the next one. Lastly mix in the yoghurt, vanilla and poppy seeds and set aside.

Its All In The Mix

Its All In The Mix

Add One Yolk at a Time

Add One Yolk at a Time

3. Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.

4. In a separate bowl, start to whisk the egg whites, adding, very quickly, the remaining sugar and cream of tartar. Keep mixing until a meringue forms. This should take around 5 minutes so don’t lose heart like the kids (and I) did.

Meringue at Last

Meringue at Last

5. Fold the meringue into the egg yolk mixture before folding in the flour. Be careful as you do not want to knock all the air out of your lovely meringue! Lastly fold in the raspberries very lightly to avoid bruising or bursting them.

Fold Gently

Fold Gently

Caught White Fingered!

Caught White Fingered!

6. Divide the mixture between the cases and bake for around 18-23 minutes. The muffins will have browned and should spring back when touched. For a final check a toothpick should come out clean when inserted. Cool in the tin for 5 minutes then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Pre-Tanned Muffins

Pre-Tanned Muffins

Delicious!

Delicious!

And there you have it. Delicious with coffee, ice cream or even just air!

So handsome

So handsome

Chef Masterclass with Tom Aikens and Lactofree

Food, Free From

It’s certainly not every day you get to smell success but that’s exactly what went down today at L’Atelier des Chefs. A food brunch storm was whipped up with a little help from Michelin Starred Chef Tom Aikens and a lot of love from Lactofree.

Lacticious?

Lacticious?

Me, Tom and AB

Me, Tom and AB

Lactofree have a lot of friends. Half the Caribbean population, spearheaded by my Aunty SuSu (probably not her real name), have a lot of time for Lactofree; for they have come up with a genius way to extract the lactose from everyday dairy products we love. They do this by skimming cow’s milk and adding enzymes to help break down the lactose, the gloopy sugar, found in things like milk, cheese, yoghurt and cream. It’s this gloopy sugar that thousands of us find extremely difficult to digest. Yes this gloopy sugar is the father of food babies the world over!

Granola with Lactofree Raspberry Yoghurt - Clean Start to the Day

Granola with Lactofree Raspberry Yoghurt – Clean Start to the Day

Front of the Class

Front of the Class

The key thing about Lactofree, Tom said, is that it tastes like dairy products, it cooks like dairy products and it bakes like dairy products. There is no compromise on taste or quality. We didn’t heckle Tom – We did however nudge the people either side of us and made the face. Then we, very diplomatically, put this theory to a baking test by watching Tom Aikens whisk, fold and shift together poppy seed and raspberry muffins right before our eyes. The key Lactofree ingredients were Lactofree butter, Lactofree yoghurt and meringue. The results were amazing. A firm springy exterior with an unbelievably light and fluffy interior peppered with beautiful sharp, fresh raspberries throughout. We even tried to eat the smell and gave thought to breaking out in a modicum of body popping!

Whisking Tom Aikens

Whisking Tom Aikens

Meringue-ing Tom Aikens

Meringue-ing Tom Aikens

Spooning Tom Aikens (Stop the Sniggering!)

Spooning Tom Aikens (Stop the Sniggering!)

Next we got stuck in re-creating Tom’s Lactofree Mushroom Ragout on Toast with Chervil Sorrel. A bit of a mouthful. The key Lactofree ingredient here is Lactofree cream. The results… well I think they speak for themselves. Even Tom, we reckon, considered breaking out in a modicum of body popping.

…Modicum – no reason, we just like saying it.

Diced Finger With a Few Choice Herbs

Diced Finger With a Few Choice Herbs

Mushrooms and a Smidge of Madeira (hic)

Mushrooms and a Smidge of Madeira (hic)

All Ready For the Toast

All Ready For the Toast

Man Toast - Cooked by Tom Aikens' 1000 Yard Stare

Man Toast – Cooked by Tom Aikens’ 1000 Yard Stare

The Student becomes the Master!!!

The Student becomes the Master!!!

E Voila! Mushroom Ragout on Toast with Fresh Herbs

E Voila! Mushroom Ragout on Toast with Fresh Herbs

Lactofree already have an extensive range of products which you can find out about here. So whats stopping you? To kick start you We’ll post the muffin recipe in our next post.

No Food Baby

No Food Baby

No Food Baby!

No Food Baby!

Food Baby!

Food Baby!

Thai Square Spa Covent Garden

Grooming, Uncategorized

Like most working dads the end of the year is the finish line you’ve been aiming for since the kids went back to school. It offers the chance to indulge in a well earned feeding, watering and sleep with plenty of help on hand to keep the rest of the family occupied.
For those who look to be faltering in the final straight though, I have the perfect remedy. The Thai Square Spa in Covent Garden. Within its four wall holds the key to rejuvenation this winter.

An Oasis In the West End

An Oasis In the West End

Housed on Sheldon Street off of Covent Garden’s famous 7 Dials, the Thai Square Spa is a revolution in elegance, opulence and tranquility carved out in mahogany and gold splendour. It’s hard to believe this used to be an Italian restaurant! A little hint, if your visiting in non-daylight winter hours enter via the Spa’s rear exit on Ealham Street. It’s like entering a mountain Sanctuary in Chang Mai!

Warm and Inviting

Warm and Inviting

These two hadn't realised that this was not their treatment room

These two hadn’t realised that this was not their treatment room

Upon entry I was warmly greeted by the receptionist shortly followed by Spa Manager, Sarai, who showed me several of the rooms including the group bookings suite and treatment room. Not before time Bea, my masseuse, arrived to take me downstairs.

The treatment room, complete with copper slipper bath is dark and warm and I immediately start to relax. Bea begins to bathe my feet before I hop up on to the couch. I opted for a traditional Thai Massage to the neck, back and shoulders. The massage works on heating the body temperature and muscles using hot oils massaged into pre-exfoliated skin. Once warmed up, multiple pressure points are applied and manipulated to relieve tension. Incredible

The Copper Room

The Copper Room

Even the waiting area is decadent

Even the waiting area is decadent

All in all the Spa is first class. The staff are proud of this fact and it shows in the attentiveness, hospitality and friendliness of everyone I met. Bea is an excellent masseuse but I think that goes without saying of all staff at the Spa as all have trained at the prestigious Watpo (Temple of Reclining Medicine) Thai Traditional Massage School in Bangkok.

In the run up to the holiday season the Spa have a number of award winning packages to suit all:
Super stress relieving Package £69 (was £110) – a package for men including a 30 minute Back, Neck & Shoulder Massage with a 30 minute head massage.

They also have a truly indulgent Siamese Traditional Stress Relieve treatment priced at just £99 which includes a 90 minute Thai Massage and a 30 minute oriental foot or head massage.

I cannot recommend this Spa highly enough. It exceeded my expectations and lifted my spirits, the only thing it didn’t do was tuck me into bed!

Great Ambience

Great Ambience

Find Them Here

Find Them Here

Small Leather Goods: Card Holders

Uncategorized

I recently upgraded my tatty old leather bifold wallet with a Jack Spade offering, heavily marked down on the fabulous Gilt.com. As I mature however I am starting to realise the age old adage that “less is more”. The wallet is fine for everyday use but do I really need all those receipts for petrol (gas), food shopping and what not that I seem to accumulate? The Starbucks card that has never had any funds on it? Or the credit card that expired about 3 months ago?

Mr Reliable - Jack Spade Bi-fold Wallet in Navy

Mr Reliable – Jack Spade Bi-fold Wallet in Navy

The short answer is No.

All this soul searching has led me to my latest accessory want: the card holder! Never one to rush into anything I have surveyed the land of leather (small leather goods and NOT a UK chain of sofa/ couch warehouses) and discovered several offerings.

The standard money clip, used to hold… Umm well, money. notes to be precise. I do like this but considering the fact that most of my notes these days are £5 I don’t see the practicality. I’m also concerned that this may become compromised if used to hold any cards.

Money, Money, Money

Money, Money, Money

The next on the list is the standard card holder in landscape format. This seems to be the most popular and the most basic of designs. To make it stand out designer embossing or patterns are used, dyed leather seems to feature heavily also or a luxury leather such as alligator or python (real or imitation) is used.

Available in an array of colours and textures- Landscape Card Holders

Available in an array of colours and textures- Landscape Card Holders

Lastly there are the portrait style holders. There does not seem to be too many of these around but I think that makes them more desirable. I imagine there will be an impact on the practicality of accessing the contents. The holder are designed to be a snug fit, reassuringly so considering the value. Surely anyone who has lost their wallet will appreciate the absolute production that comes with remembering what exactly was lost, to ordering replacement cards etc.

Bi-fold Portrait Card Holders

Bi-fold Portrait Card Holders

I have narrowed my choice down to three designs. first up is this offering from what appears to be the hardest working man in fashion, Mr. Marc Jacobs. I love it’s simplicity, it’s portrait design and the embossed leather. It’s functional and discreet.

Love, Love, Love me some Marc Jacobs!

Love, Love, Love me some Marc Jacobs!

Next is this one from Byron and Dexter of Want Les Essentiels De La Vie. It doubles up as a card holder and money clip, very subtlety embossed with the accessory house’s familiar logo. Available in tan, black, multi brown and green & brown (yum). It is very much the discerning mans accessory. I’m just wary if the clip will compromise the invisibleness card holders are supposed to provide.

Want Les Essent... WLEDLV!

Want Les Essent… WLEDLV!

I also love the colours on these beautiful crocodile Santiago Gonzales card holders. It’s certainly bold and striking but beautifully crafted. As ever my penchant for the expensive has been proven as these retail for £225!!! I’ll have nothing left to put in it!

Bold & Luxurious - Santi Gonzales

Bold & Luxurious – Santi Gonzales

What do you all think? Do you have a preference ? All items are available on MrPorter.com

Shoe Crush: Valentim by Armando Cabral

menswear, shoes

I have a strong sense of what works for me and what I am happy with. I can’t quite explain it but I know when I have a product in the flesh that looks and feels right. Every so often though a product comes along that blows me away. Something that I was not necessarily looking for, but, that becomes an obsession. The latest is the Valentim, by model and designer Armando Cabral

Armando hated it when Kalaf outsmarted him.

Armando hated it when Kalaf outsmarted him.


But when Armano turned it up a notch... Ahh yeeeah!

But when Armano turned it up a notch… Ahh yeeeah!

You may recognise Armando from his many advertising campaigns, particularly J. Crew and GQ. The man himself hails from Lisbon, Portugal and has a real passion for quality, crafted products stemming from his mother’s influence as a tailor. And it shows in his collection. You also get the sense of travel with several shoes reflecting several influences from around the globe, all executed with Cabral’s own style.

Papel Buffalo Woven Shoe in Leather and Canvas

Papel Buffalo Woven Shoe in Leather and Canvas

Hula Calf Skin Leather Espadrille & Verela Calf Skin Leather Sandal

Hula Calf Skin Leather Espadrille & Verela Calf Skin Leather Sandal

Tombali Deer Leather Brogue and Caio Buffalo Leather Derby Shoe

Tombali Deer Leather Brogue and Caio Buffalo Leather Derby Shoe

Fernando Burnished Suede and Coated Twill Sneakers

Fernando Burnished Suede and Coated Twill Sneakers

High Shine Chelsea Boot

High Shine Chelsea Boot

High Shine Derby Shoe in Burgundy Leather

High Shine Derby Shoe in Burgundy Leather

The shoe that caught my eye was the Valentim. Available in a highly polished, burgundy leather and a slightly distressed brown suede this tasseled loafer oozes craftsmanship and style. The detail that particularly caught my eye was the contours of the toe cap. He has captured this just right in my opinion. Not too squared and rectangular and not to a clown-esque point either. This elevates the shoe immensely in the most subtle of ways. If that makes sense! Basically the discerning eye will recognise the quality, it won’t mash up your toes and it will suit both formal and casual attire with relative ease.

High Shine Burgundy Leather Valentim Shoe

High Shine Burgundy Leather Valentim Shoe

Distressed Suede Valentim Shoe

Distressed Suede Valentim Shoe

ArmCab AW13

Gorgeous Detailing And Craftsmanship

Gorgeous Detailing And Craftsmanship

ArmCab AW13

Already on his 5th collection and having expanded into a Womenswear line there seems to be no stopping Armando’s rise as a reputable shoe maker with an excellent eye for detail. Understandably nervous at his initial launch, the shoe line was snapped up by the likes of Dover Street Market and is now available at Mr Porter. Please don’t buy up all the size 7‘s. I’m saving hard for these!