Mr Gaucho launches M Restaurants

I’ve often thought how fun it would be to live in the same street as all my besties. Imagine the convenience, let alone the hilarity.

And, if we can just play make-believe for the sake of my thoughts, I would bagsy the house next door to ours for First Love and his crew. Not for any hanky-panky of any sorts whatsoever (I assure you) but because it would mean I’d see the boy more often. Even at the local bus stop.

cocktails at M Bar

cocktails at M Bar

In reality, this bestie lives a full-on train ride away.   And so evenings like last Wednesday night don’t happen nearly often enough.

So we went a little swanky for the occasion and headed to the brand new M Restaurant emporium on Threadneedle Street. I was running a little late but found him in M Bar on the mezzanine level and there we submersed ourselves in cocktails – quite the best way to catch up.

Martin showing us his wine tasting wall

Martin showing us his wine tasting wall

Following our chin-chin, we dined at M-Raw, the more casual of the two restaurants in this new dining and drinking concept. Now, don’t be put off by the word raw – we weren’t looking for any sort of detox. Beside some of the meat and fish has been cured or smoked and there are even sneaky HOT pots too.

langostine XXXX

cured langoustine, pink grapefruit and cucumber with…

All of the dishes we had (and we had a fair few) were absolutely delicious and I’d even go as far as grading a couple sublime. Unusual challenging tastes but brilliantly curated and served as art. The beef with hot smoked beef with horseradish, carrots, asparagus and quail eggs was up there in this sublime category. As was the scallops and bacon with apple and the cured langoustines, pink grapefruit and cucumber with grated foie gras.

scallops xxxxx

… grated fois gras

Scallops with bacon xxx

scallops and bacon with apple

A resident dj was rocking the M-empire and those eating meat in the other restaurant seemed to be upping the ante in terms of party-noise.

M Restaurant

I suggested Martin Williams should pose in my Penmayne of London hat!

I suggested Martin Williams should pose in my Penmayne of London hat!

Martin Williams (ex MD of Gaucho Grill and now driving force behind this incredible joint) not only showed us around but swung in and out of our conversations all evening, in a non-obtrusive way. I could tell that he’s phenomenally proud of this 2-restaurant cum bar cum lounge venture. And so he should be.  I hear he plans to open a second M (M is for Martin by the way) in central London next year and a third in 2016.

M Restaurants meat

The moment I entered it did strike me as a posh boys’ playground with its secret den – complete with whisky lockers, a luxe table football – a wine tasting wall full of extravagant bottles and a plated steak for up to £139.

M restaurant

whiskey lockers...

whisky lockers

But who could possibly suggest that any girl wouldn’t want to play in such a playground? Besides I’m sure the long banquet private dining table would be a riot – so next time I’ll invite my besties and sink my teeth into the highest grade of kobi steak…

private dining at M Restaurants

 M, 2 & 3 Threadneedle Walk, 60 Threadneedle Street, London, EC2



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stickiest bear in town


It’s nothing to do with the fact that Lady Y makes the best EVER marmalade. Nor that Peru is high on my bucket list. Or that I have a (secret) thing for brown fluffy bears… But I’m just so over excited that Paddington comes to town this weekend.

Yes, in case you’ve been hiding in his little brown suitcase, Michael Bond’s character – aka Peru’s furriest export – will hit the big screen this Friday all duffle-coated up and wearing his big, floppy, red hat. And I’m sitting here remembering what I most love about London’s favourite bear.

  • First and foremost, his hilarious mishaps. And of the long list, the overflowing bath accident will always remind me of when exactly the same happened to my brother. (Except worse, his escapade brought down the whole bathroom floor .)
  • The rather specific instructions to please look after this bear fill me with affection. Reading the tales to my Smalls when they were younger, reminded me just how much we should take care of those who are lost, misplaced or just alone in a foreign train station.
  • Those infamous ‘hard stares’ taught to him by his Aunt Lucy. I use mine regularly, with much effect.

Essentially, Paddington is an outsider trying to make sense of the world. Keen to do everything correctly (and yet he’s a bear so therefore doesn’t know how), while his adventures are amusing and reassuring in equal measure. Either way, my memories are fond, so I’ll just polish off one more marmalade sandwich, and I’m off to see my labeled bear.

This column first appeared in The Lady where I am their Mum About Town.



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Leon Ockenden at 47/49 Tanner Street

Am I a freelancer or a chameleon? I’ve often wondered as I morph from one job to another. But of course variety is properly spicy and, saying that, SO was the actor in our line of fire a couple of Fridays ago.

Leon Ockenden (Hector Reid in Waterloo Road and soon-to-be Serge in new series of Mr Selfridge) was on the hunt for some new publicity shots and had asked my brilliant photographer friend, Clare Walsh, to work her camera magic. Never a dull moment with this creative girl, I hardly needed a second invitation to assist her, skipping along to join the crew (including Sammy Lammond on hair/make-up) near London Bridge.

47/49 Tanner Street

47/49 Tanner Street

But, as it turns out, Mr Ockenden isn’t just a pretty face. Bagging simply the coolest building EVER as our shoot location, my jaw dropped as Clare and I recced 47/49 Tanner Street, SE1.

47/49 Tanner Street

Originally built at a tannery in Victorian times, the building had been used as a polythene factory and warehouse, run by Walter Coles during the 60s. Walter then passed the building on to his four sons, specifying that it should be used for the good of the local community.

47/49 Tanner Street

shot by Clare Walsh Photography

47/49 Tanner Street

Today it is partially run as a time-bank allowing people (like us) to swap their time in the space for their skills, rather than boring old money. Location hire can be a crippling cost for any shoot and this scheme turns out to be massively beneficial to the building as well, receiving impressive donations of a massive range of skills. From promo videos to assistance with stakeholder analysis and marketing, as well as those who offer to staff events, the building really is thriving with these swaps – as well as fully paid up commercial deals for those less budget restricted.

Leon Ockenden

shot by Clare Walsh Photography

Something felt familiar about the interior and I soon realised that the first two series of Dragon’s Den had been shot there.

When I asked the management company what the future plans were for the building, I was most disappointed to hear that developers might be knocking on their door with bids so I suppose this beautiful property (and genius concept) will one day be turned into commercial and residential spaces.

shot by Clare Walsh Photography

shot by Clare Walsh Photography


Anyway, back to Leon. I managed to squeeze an interview with him in between shots…

at what age did you first act?  I was 6 and it was in the primary school nativity where I played the donkey. Perfect casting.

what makes an actor great? Imagination and daring.

hardest aspect of this line of work? Learning to love the not knowing where the next job will come from…

Tanner Street

shot by Clare Walsh Photography


who makes you giggle? Zoe Wannmaker and Husband Gawn Grainger, especially after one or two of their homemade Martinis

where do you hide? I have a two year old daughter and consider myself in the top 2% in the country when it comes to Hide & Seek. I’ve managed to go undiscovered for over an hour when I was once on top of the kitchen cupboards.

who would you LOVE to work with? I would love to do a film with Mike Leigh about a dysfunctional family that consisted of Kate O’Flynn, Harry Lloyd, Samuel Roukin and Vanessa Hehir as my brothers and sisters – with Mark Rylance as the patriarch and Penelope Wilton as the step mum.

hilarious moment of all time? Like all hilarious moments, this one definitely wasn’t at the time. I was fourteen and getting ready to go to the school disco when I thought it might be a good idea to put toothpaste on my nether regions. I don’t recommend it.

do you shop in Selfridges? I do – in both London and Manchester. I used to be a baker and patisserie chef and could spend weeks in those food halls.

tell us a secret. Vodka is the key to a good Carbonara

47/49 Tanner Street, SE1

Clare Walsh’s full shoot of Leon (these are simply a selection from the cutting room floor) will be appearing in various print media over the next few months.

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mahabis: a tale of more than slippers

Are you sitting comfortably? And, I mean REALLY comfortably with happy feet? Then I’ll begin. Because I have a good story to tell – one of comfort, design, aesthetics, innovation and some brilliant marketing.

Once-upon-a-time, in a land we like to call Earth lived a man called Ankur. Each and every day he scratched his head because his feet weren’t happy. For when he was out of the house, he had plenty of well-designed footwear options but once indoors (where he spent a great deal of his day), he simply couldn’t find a pleasing slipper, let alone one which he could customize.

a mahabis lifestyle

a mahabis lifestyle

Crocs, Havaianas, Campers… were all rejected. Nothing lived up to his pedi-desires.   As he searched and searched, it became evident to him that actually he had been sent to this Earth to design and manufacture slippers for the people.

Not all the people, I should add, only those who would understand his mahabis mission of detachable revolutionary sole, of cool colour choices, of everyday perfection.

mahabis slippers

And so, in August of this year, the initial product from the lord and master at mahabis was born.

News spread fast via Instagram and other cool consumer groups and within days these new slippers were travelling worldwide to find appreciating feet. I managed to drag mine OFF my feet to leave the house last week – in search of an interview with this fairytale marketing hero.

Ankur Shah founder of mahabis

Ankur Shah founder of mahabis

As it turns out, Ankur’s home and lifestyle are perfectly colour coordinated to match his products. And even his calculated calm manner fits the brand too. Much like the slippers, I found him pretty inspiring.

why did you feel so strongly that the slipper needed redefining? It was an age-old product, something that people always buy and yet it hadn’t changed. In a world obsessed with high performance, it struck me that no-one was focusing on downtime, or working out how to enhance the products that help us relax, feel at home and comfortable.

which brand did you wear before you launched mahabis? Muji. I wore a lot of Muji. And got through a lot of their products. Then Havaianas. I love Havaianas. They make me feel like I’m on the beach. But it turned out I wasn’t the only one to ‘make do’. When I looked into it, I saw people with broken Vans, Toms and Converse -all potential slippers- but never really quite there.

have you ever designed footwear before?  Never.


how did you choose your sole colours? They just seemed to amplify timeless colours, but weren’t too predictable. We wanted to reinforce our Scandinavian inspired, unisex aesthetic, which meant colours that could be worn by anyone. I hope we’ve achieved that.

have you ever worn your mahabis out for the day?  I actually love wearing them around the office!

do you entertain at home in slippers? Yes, I sometimes sing and dance in them, if that’s what you meant…

do you have spare pairs for your guests? So many! Our cat is buried deep in a pile of them! We love the way the Japanese provide slippers for their guests, it’s a beautiful sentiment.


who would you love to wear your slippers? We’ve made our slippers to be worn by everyone, I’d be as delighted seeing the Dalai Lama wearing them as I would Snoop Dogg, and of course, anyone and everyone in between.

what were you doing when the mahabis idea came to you? Very little.

what’s the global plan for the brand? mahabis has already sold to customers in over 50+ countries and we’re really focused on a global direct roll out. We have some key territories we’re focusing on in the coming 12 months, but importantly the feedback has been universally positive. It seems like we’re crossing national borders and locking into a universal design aesthetic, that was my ambition from the start and I’d be delighted if we get anywhere near to that.

where might we find you having some time out? On a secret bohemian beach a few hours from London.

The fact that Mahabis slippers are only sold here online (but of course ship worldwide) is no slipper accident. The best marketing and product plans have been laid and you haven’t seen anything yet… as I said… this is so much more than a slipper story.



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