Author Archives: Helene

Dine with the stars

If you want to dine with a British star, where is the place to go? To one of the 137 Michelin starred restaurants in the United Kingdom of course!

And so it happens that the centenary edition of the UK and Ireland Michelin Guide was announced on Tuesday – and good news, there are more stars than ever!

For 2011 there are a total of 137 Michelin starred establishments in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Yum, yum, I’m getting hungry now!

All the 12 new stars is for restaurants in England, but there are still 125 other restaurants in the whole of UK you could try out. There are a couple of new stars in the East End of London: notably Viajante, run by the acclaimed Portuguese chef Nuno Mendes, and Galvin La Chapelle in Spitalfields.

And one of my own favourites, the quirky Petersham Nurseries Café in Richmond …a perfect place for  a day trip, in a calm and relaxing environment.

The new 1* restaurants:

England, outside London
The Curlew, Bodiam, Sussex

The Pony and Trap,  Chew Magna, Somerset

Adam Simmonds at Danesfield House, Marlow, Buckinghamshire

The Black Rat, Winchester, Hampshire

Paris House, Woburn, Bedfordshire


Kitchen W8

Petersham Nurseries Cafe (Richmond, see image below)


Galvin La Chapelle


Seven Park Place, at the St James Hotel and Club

Gauthier Soho

The two new 2* restaurants:

Helene Darroze at The Connaught, and Restaurant Nathan Outlaw, at Rock in Cornwall.

Bon Appétit!


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British special guest at the Nobel Prize Ceremony

What is the connection between the Nobel Prize and the 2012 Olympic mascot  Wenlock? Well, I’ve got the answer for you. Wenlock is in Stockholm waiting for the Nobel guests to arrive at today’s prize ceremony!

It is in the Shropshire town of Much Wenlock in England you will find the birthplace of the modern international Olympic Games. It was here, in 1850, that Dr William Penny Brookes first founded the Wenlock Olympian Society.

Now, 160 years later Wenlock’s role has provided the inspiration behind one of the 2012 London Olympic mascots unveiled in a blaze of global publicity.

We are helping our dear friend and mascot to travel the globe and to put Much Wenlock on the map. Go to this Facebook page and help to decide where he will turn up next!


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Royal Wedding 2011: The Dress part 1

The speculation around the world is at full speed: Which dress designer will make Kate Middleton’s dress for her marriage to Prince William of Wales?

I can’t wait to hear who will fulfil this extraordinary commission. In the meantime, we present a list of ten possible designers – all British of course – who could make Kate Middleton’s wedding dress. Here are five of them, the other five will be published here on Monday:

1. Jasper Conran
A former British Designer of the Year and one of the most commercially successful, through his diffusion ranges for department store Debenhams, Jasper Conran shows his restrained and chic womenswear on the runway at London Fashion Week, and has been making beautiful wedding dresses for nearly thirty years. He has royal wedding experience too: he made the sophisticated and elegant dress that the Queen’s niece Lady Sarah Armstrong-Jones wore for her marriage to Daniel Chatto in 1994 at the Church of St Stephen Walbrook in the City of London.

2. Vivienne Westwood
Once the enfant terrible of the British fashion industry, Dame Viv has mellowed with age. Where once her models wore no knickers under micro kilts and wobbled down the catwalk in eight-inch platforms, now her ravishing evening and wedding dresses are just as likely to be worn by pillars of the establishment as they are by rock stars or avant-garde artists.

3. Daniella Helayel of Issa
Previously an under the radar label known mostly for its flattering, slinky silk-jersey dresses, London-based Issa has suddenly become one of the most talked about labels in the world, thanks to the off the rack blue silk dress chosen for her engagement announcement by Kate Middleton. Issa’s Brazilian designer Daniella Helayel is being talked about as the front-runner for the wedding dress, having made bespoke wedding dresses for special clients, but we wonder whether her relaxed, flowing, sexy style is quite formal enough for the wedding of the decade, if not the century.

4. Bruce Oldfield
A treasured darling of the fashion establishment, Mr Oldfield has been designing under his own name since 1975. Raised in a Children’s Home by the charity Dr Barnado’s, he transcended his hard childhood to become one of Diana, Princess of Wales favourite designers, responsible for some of her most iconic outfits. Mr Oldfield does not show at London Fashion Week, and works mainly at couture level from his salons on London’s Beauchamp Place, making dresses for everyone from Rihanna to Joan Collins, as well as being responsible for the wedding outfits for Jemima Khan, and for the Prime Minister’s wife Samantha Cameron.

5. Elizabeth Emmanuel
In 1981 the dress that she and her then partner David Emmanuel designed for Diane, of Princess of Wales’ marriage to Prince Charles was romantic, spectacular and over the top, with its huge puffed sleeves, twenty-five foot train and billowing skirt made from taffeta silk woven on Britain’s Lullingstone silk farm. Since then Elizabeth has been responsible for designing the iconic scarlet Virgin Atlantic uniforms, dressed many celebrities, from Drew Barrymore to Jerry Hall. In 1990 the Emmanuel’s separated, and Elizabeth has continued to design both for private clients and for commercial collaborations. She has a new line called the Art of Being, which launched in September 2010.

Read more about British fashion designers here on our website.

(This list was created for VisitBritain by writer Sasha Wilkins, who blogs as LibertyLondonGirl. The thoughts of an English Fashion Editor in Manhattan on life, love, design, food & style.


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Dining with a view in Edinburgh

View from Olroso © Richard Campbell

There are many great ways to eat your way around Edinburgh. I had a chat with the owner of Oloroso – one of the top restaurants and one of the best locations if you want to dine with a view over the city centre. Here is the story of Tony Singh and his passion for Scotland and local, seasonal food!

How did you start your career as a chef? And how did your interest in food come about?

I started with a Youth Training Scheme with Scottish and Newcastle, but my passion for food and sharing it came from my Mum and my Religion.  I am Sikh and one of the corner stones of our faith is a Free Communal kitchen – a meal called Lungar.

Oloroso is one of Edinburgh’s leading restaurants – what would you say is best thing about running a restaurant in Edinburgh?

It has to be the amazing amount of events that happen in the city – from the Science Festival, to the Film Festival and the Festival Fringe – there are so many to mention! They all bring in so many interesting people from around the world.

Oloroso – what does the name come from and what does it mean?

The name means aromatic, spicy and was chosen by my late partner, James Sankey, who was a truly amazing person.  James loved his wine, and the name also comes from a style of Sherry called ‘Oloroso’ because it is left to oxidize in the barrel to give it a vey aromatic and tasty style.

Olroso head chef Tony Singh

Oloroso owner Tony Singh

Where do you find your inspiration?

From all over – from travel, books, working with different chefs, trying different food… I am like a Magpie – anything that glitters and is good I will have it!

What would you say makes Oloroso unique compared to other restaurants?

My team, they are great at making guest feel welcome and have a great time in Oloroso. And the setting – the view from our roof terrace is just spectacular at sunset with the iconic Edinburgh Castle back drop.

Scotland’s food scene is growing and there are loads of award winning restaurants, what makes Scotland such a great place for food & drink?

The simple answer is Scotland’s larder is one of the best in the world. Our seafood, beef and game are renowned across the globe, and we have such a array of artisan produces and fantastic chefs that do the produce justice.  Scotland is a foodies treasure trove!

Yum, I’m getting hungry now!!

Find your way to Oloroso with our Britain map >


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Heaven for a shoe lover

Selfridges new shoe gallery. No wonder this attracts a shoe lover like Pernilla....

Swedish celebrity and shoe lover Pernilla Wahlgren was in London recently for the opening of the new shoe gallery at Selfridges. The biggest shoe department in the world! I had a chat with Pernilla to find out some more about her love for shoes!

Too many shoes! I can't decide!!!

Pernilla, we know you had loads of shoes before you went to London. How many pairs do you have in your collection now?

“Well, I haven’t counted them but there are probably a 100 of them. And I bought 5 new shoes at Selfridges..(!), so perhaps there are 105 of them now”?

What did you like most about the new shoe gallery?

“I was impressed that there is something for all wallets, even if you don’t have that much money to spend you can easily find something. But there are of course all the luxury brands as well. And what I especially liked was that you can walk around and look at luxury brands like Louboutin, and still feel comfortable, even if you don’t can afford to buy anything.  I don’t always feel comfortable doing that”.

Pernilla's new London shoes.

You spent a whole day at Selfridges, but if you only have an hour or so, what should a visitor focus on you think?

“As a shoe addict – don’t miss the shoe gallery, of course. And then I heard they have a fortune teller! I will definitely pay her a visit next time! And then I would suggest visiting the children’s departement, if you have kids…”

Afternoon tea at The Berkeley.

Pernilla Wahlgren spent two days in London, and besides spending time at Selfridges she also had time for a fashionistas afternoon tea (my favourite!) – the Prêt-à-Portea at The Berkeley Hotel.

Find your way to Selfridges with our Britain Map and read more about the store in our blog post “World’s biggest destination for shoe lovers”.

To find our more about Pernilla’s London visit, click here, to view all her posts on London. Write the word “London” in the search engine.

And don’t miss Pernilla’s other posts of her trip to London here on our blog, where she gives her favourite tips to the city.


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John Lennon peace monument to be unveiled in Liverpool

I just came over a great piece of news. So if you are in Liverpool this Saturday, you are in for a big moment of cultural history!

9 October 2010 marks the celebration of John Lennon’s 70th birthday and this particular day a global peace monument is to be gifted to the people of Europe.

The monument entitled ‘Peace & Harmony’, will be unveiled in Liverpool’s Chavasse Park as part of a gala ceremony in Lennon’s birthplace of Liverpool by his eldest son Julian and first wife Cynthia.

US artist Lauren Voiers was asked by Julian to incorporate, within the monument’s design, a white feather – which to Julian is a symbol of both his father’s spirit and of peace.

Julian Lennon explains: “One of the things my father said to me was that should he pass away, if there was some way of letting me know he was going to be ok, it was by, in some shape or form, presenting me with a white feather.”

Dignitaries from all over Europe are invited I’ve heard. Wish I had planned my diary for this occasion too…

But perhaps you are able to go? If so, don’t miss this great moment to celebrate the life and spirit of Lennon and his message of peace!

And if you are not sure how to find your way to Chavasse Park, our Britain map will guide you!


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London top 5 – by Pernilla Wahlgren

Swedish popstar and musical performer Pernilla Wahlgren is in London at the moment and I asked her to give us her top five experiences in the city.

Most Swedes will know that Piccadilly Circus was the song that made Pernilla famous in the 80’s.  But there is more to London than Piccadilly Circus. Even if you’re name is Pernilla Wahlgren!

Pernilla’s London top 5 :

1. Selfridges for great shopping!
2. Go and see at least ONE musical!
3. Madame Tussauds if you visit London with your family.

Afternoon tea at the Berkeley Hotel!
5. NOBU for great food!

And Piccadilly Circus – Of course!! 🙂

One of Pernilla’s favourites below – Selfridges – heaven for shoe lover Pernilla – and all the rest of us around the world! I wonder how many shoes Pernilla will have in her closest after this…

Read more about Pernilla’s great experiences in London in our previous post Pernilla Wahlgren’s favourite London on her own blog Pernillas Värld.


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