If you’re scared of snakes, you don’t ask for one for your birthday and call it Bob. If you’re scared of the dark, you probably sleep with the light on. And if you’re scared of hugging, you probably dodge that bullet wherever you can. Well I’m scared of the water. And again this summer, I have decided to support a ginger nutter as he attempts to swim a ridiculous distance. Last summer, I stand-up paddle boarded 1001 miles down the Missouri River supporting Dave Cornthwaite as he swam the distance for CoppaFeel breast cancer awareness charity. A year later, I am sitting on a little yacht called Friday While, as I kayak Lands End to John O’Groats supporting Sean Conway as he attempts to become the first person to swim the distance for WarChild UK.
Sean Conway (middle). Ginger. Swimmer. Cries like a baby for food, drinks and massages. Penchant for wearing very little pants.
Owain Wyn –Jones (left). PR god. Dab hand at photography, filming and running the in-house café. Very good at bumping his head on the boat and carrying heavy things.
Jez Fielden (right). Skipper. King of the ship, lord of all beach explorations and the man who finishes everything, especially coffee and Haribo.
Now let’s get back to the beginning. Sunday 30th June. Our start date. Despite a cloudy sky, a delayed skipper and inconvenient tides, Sean swam and I kayaked, with the tide, from Sennen Cove back to Lands End to start the epic adventure. This took 30 minutes. And the return journey took 2 ½ hours. With our friends and family on the rocks. Dolphins jumping around us. We made it back. Speedo kit intact. And a realisation of how immense this challenge was going to be.
Day two is blurred with two words. Sea. Sickness. I have no words to explain how I felt this day. When you are sea sick on holiday, you can lie in a pool of your own vomit and feel sorry for yourself. But when you’re on expedition, as crew captain, you need to man up. Which is hard when you are completely and utterly unable to move. So in between vomits and with sick in my hair, I attempted to prepare protein shakes, get into a wetsuit and kayak alongside Sean. With Owain and Sean puking next to me (Jez is an ocean man) and tides working against us, we decided to pack it in and find our sea legs.
Day three brought us a new start. And a drugged up haze of sea sickness tablets and ginger biscuits. With black clouds in the sky, Sean and I headed back to Sennen for the last time. A BBC Radio interview kicked off the toughest day of the whole expedition. By which point I had already vomited flapjack out of my nose. The wind blew. The rain fell. And we spent six hours in the water with close to no water or food. The tide changed and we were unable to get round Pendeen Lighthouse headland. Finally Sean clambered out over the rocks and I beached a little further down where we buried the kayak and bumped into a very sweaty BBC cameraman who did a segment on us in which I sound very posh, state how lovely it is to see the coastline from this angle and talk about niggles. I have still not lived this down.
Day four put us on two countryside buses to get to the start line and another big session in the water for Sean and me. We made it to St Ives. With huge thanks to Simon and Innes. Without their food and support, these days would have been a lot harder.
I must note at this point, that I suddenly realised (thanks to Jez and Owain for allowing me to attempt it) that I would be kayaking Lands End to John O’Groats, which compared to Conway’s feat is nought. But it looks like I will be the first chick to do it. And while my sea kayaking was getting quite good, my beach landings were close to horrendous. My wipe-outs were slowly and impressively becoming known up the coast. But my muscles were starting to rival the lads.
St Ives to Newquay was a blur of team logistics going wrong, big beaches, massive swells, hitch hiking, amazing people like Beth, the chocolate cake family and Kate and Steve Robarts .
The Robarts took us under their wing. Gave us food and beds for two nights. And a world of wisdom. From this point forward, the expedition was set to change. ‘Niggles’ had been ironed out. We were one unit again. And ready to prove everyone wrong and take this expedition the whole way to bonnie Scotland. My kayaking skills were improving, I had seen dolphins, seals, incredible hidden beaches, nudist hangouts and given a lot of hugs. And while I spend almost 90% of my time terrified of the water that I hate and love all at the same time, let the expedition continue.
Agyness Deyn, Elle Macpherson Gwyneth Paltrow, and Jo Wood are just some of the celebrities who love Detox Kitchen. They love the taste. They love how it makes them feel. And they love the daily surprise of a detox box of delights, delivered fresh to their door.For founder Lily Simpson, making good food healthy (and vice versa) is a mission that began with regular childhood raids of her family herb garden, and developed as she travelled and tasted the best of Sri Lanka, Thailand and Morocco. I managed to catch her in between my daily burger and chocolate bar to talk food, epsom salts and world domination.
Tell us about The Detox Kitchen. Where did the idea come from? Where did it all start? Over a packet of nuts and a pint… sorry, organic tea?
The idea simply came from a friend who had tried other delivery services and knew I was running my own catering company at the time so asked if I could create some tasty food for her. I researched delivery companies for a few weeks and launched within the month. It is a very popular concept in the US and the UK only had a few competitors, so I thought I would give it a go. I knew I could create delicious detox food so I set up and website and went from there.
Where did you expect/ hope it would go? Did you expect it to go as well as this?
I honestly had no idea where it would go. I had a very loose business plan but was looking at the first few months as a ‘test period’. I didn’t invest any money into the buisness and only decided to get a £10k business loan once I knew there was potential to grow. Within a few weeks, after really positive feedback, I knew I had created a good product that people in London wanted.
Hardest parts about setting it up?
Having to do everything on my own. It is incredibly tiring both mentally and physically, you can never switch off but that is all part of running your own company. The highs are incredibly high and the rewards are amazing, but the lows are pretty low…the 3am starts in the first few months were pretty low to say the least!
How did it feel hiring your first employees?!
I found it really hard to delegate anything which is obviously frustrating for staff who want to show you what they can do. I have learnt to let go a lot over the last year and as our team has grown it has been a real benefit. I just let the team come up with ideas and recipes, their creativity keeps the product interesting.
You’re now in Harvey Nichols which is amazing. Where would be your next ideal spot?
In my head I would have a café in Paris and New York. In reality I would love to open a deli in Maida Vale, its my favorite area of London.
See anything odd when delivering bags in the middle of the night?
I have seen more foxes than you would believe, honestly, they are every where. That’s why we send out a fox-proof box!
I also saw a friend once at 4am walking rather drunkly down bayswater road…they will remain anonymous!
How did you get the celeb factor?
A bit of luck, a lot of pestering and an amazing product…obvs!
Who would be your ideal customer?
Favourite item in the goodie bag?
Lipstick or chocolate
I don’t have a fav supplement but I am a massive fan of popping some epsom salts in my bath and doing a bit of body brushing!
What is your signature dish outside of the Detox Kitchen?
Mums Roast Chicken with yorkshire puds
Nigella Lawson (fit) and Rick Stein (legend)
Favourite places to buy organic goods in London?
Organic Grocers in Maida Vale on Clifton Road. There is also a great new veg shop there too called Clifton Grocers. Wholefoods is always a good call too!
Favourite city in the world for food?
Ouch, that’s hard. I have three I think. Paris, Bangkok and Kerela.
What news have you got for the rest of the year?
We just got a book deal, very exciting. Cant believe Ill be writing a book. We are also launching a new delivery service in the next few months…will tell all soon!
What’s your dream future for the business? A little shop in Islington? Worldwide domination?
I think I want to keep it all fairly localised, so a shop in London and maybe a detox supermarket.
One year ago. Almost to the day. I realised I was about to stand-up paddle board 1001 miles down the Missouri River having never paddle boarded before, supporting Dave Cornthwaite who was swimming the distance.
In came Active360 to the rescue. Paul Hyman who had trained the rest of the team, took me out for an hour taster class with my brother. And I was set.
One year on. I am about to kayak 1000 miles supporting Sean Conway (yes another ginger) as he attempts to become the first person to swim Lands End to John O’Groats. All for War Child UK. And guess what. I have never kayaked before.
So off to Kew Bridge I went. For an hour session of basic paddle strokes and emergency recoveries.
And hopefully I will be set.
Watch this space.
If you know me or read my blogs, you will know that I’m a burger enthusiastic. I search London for burgers. And I love them. All of them.
So I was very excited to finally check out Bar Boulud at the Mandarin Oriental this week.
And I just have one word to say.
I’m not a fan of stiff white napkins, awkward silences and having your chair pulled out for you. And while I had heard the burgers were good, I was worried it might be a bit like this.
It wasn’t at all.
A relaxed vibe but with seriously impressive waiters. Cracking menu. Delicious wine. I was even tempted by the £16,000 bottle of red.
A little gem from New York, this is worth a visit. Good burgers. Old school service with a chilled twist.
Last Saturday, a group of us decided to cycle to Brighton.
First piece of advice: Do it with someone that has been in the army.
Second piece of advice: If you can’t find someone in the army, then go with someone that has an incredible sense of direction, planning and preparation.
Saturday morning. 8am. We met on a corner in Battersea. Ready to go.
Our team leader (who satisfies both the first and second pieces of advice) had mapped a route that perfectly avoided any motorways or big roads. So while we wished we were on mountain bikes at times, we spent the entire day on small paths, roads and woods.
Third piece of advice: Wear shorts with padded bottoms.
Fourth piece of advice: Bring fruit pastilles. They have never tasted so good.
With various little stops and a big pub lunch we pulled into Brighton at 7pm with sore bottoms, funny backs and no sweets left.
Proud of ourselves. Very proud.
Bikes locked up at the station, we waddled in our smelly kit to Riddle and Finns for some Guinness tankards and scallops. But it was full. Very full. And we didn’t quite fit in.
So we headed just around the corner to Yum Yum Ninja, with the same owners. Wine. Dim sum. Utterly superb food. Not just because we felt we deserved it.
I’d never been to the Brompton Bar and Grill. I had walked past it hundreds of times but had never even ventured onto its doorstep. Well last week, I went. With about 18 other people and we were given the entire basement floor.
Three round tables. Dark lighting. Spectacular service.
Perfect raw tuna for starter. Rare steak and chips for the main course. And incredible wine.
We were in our own world so my review is based on our own little bubble. But our bubble was good. Odd but good.
Well I would choose roses if they have anything to do with Rosa’s in Soho. What a perfect Thursday lunch destination.
I was hungry. I mean very hungry. And a little bit grumpy because I took a bus instead of walking and sat on it for 1 hour and 10 minutes in traffic (and I get grumpy when I’m hungry).
But I got there. And I was very happy. Amazing waitresses. I kind of wanted to hug them. Prawn crackers and dips. Summer vegetable spring rolls to start. Four massive ones. Then the signature green curry which was perfect and delicious.
Too full to try the green tea ice cream which sounded yummy. The whole lunch was quirky, cute, friendly, scrummy. I liked it. A lot. I will be back Rosa’s.
I had a date with a friend. She sent over a link to House of Wolf. I didn’t really get what it was. And couldn’t really work out whether it was even a restaurant. The description was ‘House of Wolf is a multi-functional, multi-sensory pleasure palace, dedicated to the creative pursuits of dining, drinking, art and entertainment’. So I guess there is food. I wish I could just find a menu. Damn trendy websites. Without any further questions, I booked a table for two. Done.
On the day of the date in question, my friend wondered if we could eat closer to home. So I rang up to cancel the booking and it was £10 per person. Then we found out that the table we had booked was £42.50 each for the set menu. Which was a bit much considering we just wanted a burger and a catch up. So my friend went off on one. And got us moved, for free, to have some drinks and bar snacks out of the restaurant.
The sun was shining. Upper Street in Angel was buzzing. But we were expecting a bit of a fight on arrival. We got exactly the opposite.
The ground floor was pretty much empty even though a really cool blues band was playing at the end of the room. The barman knew who we were (the troublesome ones) and offered for us to sit upstairs in the Apothecary room where a very cute barman looked after us all night. I ordered a gin cocktail and he offered to make me one with all my favourite ingredients. It arrived in a frozen little vintage glass. And tasted delicious.
He was playing all his own music with the likes of Metronomy blaring out. Which slightly clashed with the blues downstairs but I still liked it. The bar snacks were simple but good. Pork chunks, calamari, chips. You get the gist. I wouldn’t go back for the bar snacks but it was exactly what we felt like.
The service was incredible. The drinks were nice. The vibe in the prescription room was chilled but cool. The music was super loud. The bar snacks were comforting. I’m still not quite sure what else happens there but I am glad I tried it.
So after cocktails in Chinatown and steak on Air Street, we were ready for some pudding. So we bee lined for the latest addition to the Pollen Street Social party – Social Eating House.
I had heard spectacular things about the food, the buzz and all. Unfortunately by the time we got there, the kitchen had closed. So no chocolate éclair for us (the one thing I was specifically recommended). Instead we went upstairs to the bar and tucked into a corner and knocked back some more cocktails. Which weren’t quite as good as the ECC offering. But still good.
I loved the decor. It was pretty empty so there wasn’t too much of a vibe. But I can’t really say anything until I try the menu. Which is apparently out of this world.
My ideal meal consists of a rare steak and a bottle of red wine. Or a burger. So it was weird that it took me this long to check out Hawksmoor. On Air Street.
And I’m going to say one word. Yes.
From the sound of the food, I was expecting a ‘pull your chair out, place the napkin on your lap, waiter with his hand behind his back’ sort of place. And boy was I wrong. And happily wrong.
When entering the reception, you are ‘checked in’. Then you’re passed over to a chick in a t-shirt and espadrilles. She shows you upstairs and leads you to a small reception within the first space of the restaurant. Two hot young guys then take over. One walks you to your table. And thank goodness, because the place is massive.
Then you’re passed over to your waiter. Who was a complete dude. He sat down with us to take our order. Talked us through everything we didn’t understand. The service was impeccable. You are looked after at every point but given enough space to not mind them being there. They are laid back, cool, helpful, enthusiastic but extremely professional. Seriously impressive.
An amazing bottle of red wine. A roast beef starter to share. Then two rare 300g fillets with side orders of creamed spinach, mac & cheese and beef dripping fries (Yes. I know). All incredible. Utterly incredible.
Food. Wine. Service. Vibe. Yes.