Fresh fruit cake

As I recently discovered at a birthday party in Crete….cakes can be healthy. This wonderful creation is made from just fresh fruit. The core is watermelon. I highly recommend this as an alternative or complement to a traditional cake.

Fresh fruit cake
Table set-up for birthday barbecue in Crete
Crete, August 2018

St Stephen’s – an exceptional wedding and party venue

St Stephen’s is an exceptional, beautifully restored Grade I Listed Building, open to the public for events. It makes a spectacular and truly unique setting for civil wedding ceremonies and receptions and special parties. It is located on the lovely Rosslyn Hill in North West London.

St Stephen’s – interior
External view – pencil sketch

Situated on a landmark site, at the meeting of Pond Street and Rosslyn Hill in Hampstead, stands St Stephen’s, one of the last surviving works of the Victorian architect Samuel Sanders Teulon. A Grade I listed building and national historic monument, St Stephen’s was built 1869–1873, being made redundant in 1977 and thereafter remaining empty until 2002 when it was deconsecrated and given into the care of St Stephen’s Restoration and Preservation Trust on a 99 year lease from the London Diocesan Fund.

Beautiful stained glass windows

St Stephen’s can host up to 200 people for a seated celebration. There are no corkage charges imposed on client’s wines and drinks.

Event at St Stephen’s

In common with other English Heritage Grade 1 listed buildings, St Stephen’s have a selection of acclaimed and Trustee approved caterers.

Catering
View of rose window in the hall
The stage

I highly recommend checking out St Stephen’s as a venue for your special day. It’s a truly exceptional building and the hall makes a stunning backdrop to your celebration.

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Kenwood House – a dream wedding and party venue

Kenwood House is a former stately home, on the edge of Hampstead Heath, London. It served as a seat for the aristocratic Murray and Guinness families and had various tenants. The house has breathtaking interiors and is home to the stunning Iveagh Bequest art collection, including works by Rembrandt and Vermeer. It is surrounded by stunning gardens and, from the glorious parkland, visitors have one of the best views across the London skyline.

Exterior view of Kenwood on Hampstead Heath, photo credit: Green Room – English Heritage

Kenwood is a place very close to my heart, having spent many hours there over the years since being a little girl. It’s truly a magical place. It also makes a spectacular wedding and party venue.

There are a number of venue options for your wedding and party celebrations at Kenwood.

From the Orangery, your guests can overlook the clipped lawns that stretch down towards the two lakes.

The Kenwood House Orangery, photo credit: Green Room – English Heritage

The Music Room provides a highly atmospheric space and offers great views of the rhododendron garden.

The Kenwood House Music Room, photo credit: Shital’s Photography Ltd

Another option is to host your celebratory event in a marquee out in the flower garden.

Kenwood House Marquee

The exquisite Kenwood House will give you memories to treasure forever.

Robert Adam Library, photo credit: Leah Van Zyl Photography

Kenwood is available for hire 7 days a week throughout the year, for wedding ceremonies and receptions, as well as drinks receptions and dinners.

Many thanks to the events team at Kenwood House and to English Heritage

Images © Kenwood House, English Heritage 

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Wedding invitations – setting the tone for your wedding day

Ideally wedding invitations don’t just inform your guests of the date and venue for your wedding, as well as providing all of the proper information to help your guests prepare for your event – they also very importantly set the tone for the wedding day itself.

Coming from a multicultural background, with an Indian father, I recall as a little girl being in absolute awe of the beautiful and ornate Indian wedding invitations that would come through the post.

Vaishali Shah of Ananya cards knows better than anyone the excitement that wedding invitations can generate. Ananya provides award-winning luxury stationery for life’s big celebrations, including weddings. Vaishali explains that: “Ananya translates to ‘without equal’ in Sanskrit, and it’s this sentiment that forms the foundation on which Ananya is built.” 

Vaishali says: “The wedding invitation, including the envelope, is so very important as it is, besides a possible save the date, the first impression your guests will have of your wedding. It’s much more than just a piece of paper giving details ahead of the wedding day. The perfect wedding invitation reflects the personality of the couple and embodies the meaning of the wedding itself.” 

As part of their bespoke service at Ananya, designs are created that reflect the unique style and personality of the couple and are lovingly woven into a theme for their special day – whether it’s a classic English Summer wedding or a destination multicultural wedding. They also provide an extensive range of customisable pre-designed wedding invitations.

Wedding stationery runs from the save the date cards and the invitation itself to place cards, order of service, menu, thank you cards, seating plan, table numbers, stickers/envelope seals and information sheets. Vaishali works very closely with each unique couple to ensure that there is absolute design continuity throughout the stationery used for their wedding.

Photograph by Fiona Kelly

Vaishali gave me her insights on how wedding invitations set the tone for your wedding day.

First and foremost, from the moment your guests receive their save the date and / or wedding invitation, they should be able to get a sense of the tone of your special day.

Where and when you have your wedding, the cultural and religious context will all have a role to play in focusing thoughts on the colour, pattern and other design details for your wedding invitation.

The perfect wedding invitation should also reflect the unique style and personality of the couple.

Photograh by Roberta Facchini

Vaishali explains that: “We take a very personalised approach. Whether it’s a swatch of fabric or a motif that has a particular significance, a floral or exotic design, monogram or a photograph, we create a theme around it to weave into the overall design.”

The feel and flavour of the wedding is not only conveyed by the design of the wedding invitation, but also through the specific printing technique used. Vaishali guides couples on the printing technique that is best suited to them from the letterpress, screen printing, offset printing, digital printing, laser cut, embossing and debossing to engraving.

Last but not least, Vaishali says: “The perfect wedding stationery makes a beautiful keepsake, whether you wish to frame it, or include it in your wedding album. Every time you look at it you will be reminded of your special day. It’s also a wonderful keepsake for your guests.” 

Many thanks to Vaishali Shah at Ananya Cards

All images ©Ananya

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The Journey to the Perfect Engagement Ring

Happy Valentine’s Day! Valentine’s Day is here and our thoughts turn to romance and love. The engagement ring is a true symbol of love, indicating that the person wearing it is engaged to be married. Valentine’s Day is the perfect opportunity to propose with a wonderful engagement ring.

©Harriet Kelsall Bespoke Jewellery
Tiara inspired ring

The gifting of an engagement ring is said to have originated in ancient Egypt. However, the history of the engagement ring can only be reliably traced as far back as ancient Rome.

The first recorded use of a diamond engagement ring for a proposal was from Archduke Maximilian of Austria, in the imperial court of Vienna in 1477, to Mary of Burgundy. This ignited a trend for diamond rings among European aristocracy and nobility.

There are references to engagement and wedding rings in Shakespeare’s plays. Around that time couples in Europe often exchanged posie rings, silver or gold bands with a love message engraved on the inside.

At the end of the Victorian era diamonds became a more common feature of engagement rings, after a large deposit of diamonds was discovered in South Africa.

In 1947, De Beers launched its now classic slogan, “A Diamond is Forever.” This campaign spurred even more sales.

In the run up to Valentine’s Day, I spoke to Tom Wilson, Senior Designer and Branch Manager of Harriet Kelsall Bespoke Jewellery in beautiful Primrose Hill. The new studio and shop on Regent’s Park Road is the company’s third location and combines an innovative retail space with a working design studio.

Tom and Harriet in the Primrose Hill Studio, (photo by Lars Christiansen)

Tom tells me that: “We aren’t like other jewellery shops at all. We sell one-off pieces and work mainly on designing pieces for our customers to suit their style, story and budget – we never make the same thing twice. We’ve been dreaming of opening a shop in Primrose Hill for so long and we’re so excited that it’s now a reality. Primrose Hill has a strong community feel and is known as a place for specialists and experts. Harriet Kelsall Bespoke Jewellery was founded in 1998 and since then it has grown to be one of the most highly regarded UK jewellery companies with many national and international awards to its name so we’re confident that we’ll fit in well amongst the artisans of the area.”

Primrose Hill Studio

In terms of current trends for engagement rings, Tom explains that: “Coloured metals have definitely increased in popularity. Rose gold seems to be a lasting trend; the pink tint of the gold and copper alloys gives it a beautiful warmth that suits many skin tones. In the late 1990s white metals such as platinum and white gold led the way but yellow gold is now making quite the comeback. It is a timeless metal choice that complements vintage as well as modern designs.”

©Harriet Kelsall Bespoke Jewellery
Cognac Diamond Ring

Engagement rings have been very much in the spotlight with recent Royal engagements.

Prince Harry proposed to Meghan Markle with a ring he designed himself: a diamond from Botswana flanked by two diamonds from one of Princess Diana’s brooches. Meghan’s ring is a yellow gold, trilogy diamond engagement ring. Tom says: “We’ve seen an increased interest in three stone engagement rings since the royal engagement was announced. There are endless possibilities when it comes to the seemingly simple configuration of a trilogy engagement ring; it’s not unusual to combine diamonds with coloured gemstones or to consider a variety of cuts and metals.”

©Harriet Kelsall Bespoke Jewellery
Princess Cut Trilogy Ring

Princess Eugenie’s engagement ring contains a unique sapphire surrounded by diamonds, creating “a very beautiful cluster.”

Tom says: “It’s truly mesmerising when one stone showcases a display of different colours.”

©Harriet Kelsall Bespoke Jewellery
Rose-gold watermelon-tourmaline ring

Tom takes me through the bespoke experience. He says it’s about a 50/50 split between a surprise engagement ring ahead of a proposal and the couple creating the ring together with one of the company’s designers. Harriet Kelsall Bespoke Jewellery also has the wonderfully named ‘Proposal in a Box’. This is ideal if you want to propose but you’re unsure of the exact design that your partner would like. Tom says that: “It’s a lovely experience to do together as a couple.”

©Harriet Kelsall Bespoke Jewellery
‘Proposal in a Box’

“Inspiration for a ring can come from anything. We have worked on commissions inspired by everything from a VW beetle to the colour of cat’s eye to science inspired pieces such as the DNA double helix.”

“It’s not just about the ring, and the meaning of the ring, it’s about making the memories of the proposal special.”

“Christmas and summer holidays are always popular times for proposals, as well as Valentine’s Day. We design and make engagement rings all year round but Christmas is definitely a peak time.”

Tom describes his most memorable Valentine’s ring: “It was a yellow gold ring with a central diamond underneath individual petals of a rose that sat under the diamond itself. It looked like a miniature rose. It was very beautiful and romantic.”

“Cost wise – the starting point is £1,500-£2,000. We can work around any kind of budget as we make everything on a one-off basis.”

“Our studio and shop is staffed by a team of expert designers who are on hand to chat to customers about individual design commissions. We’re open 7 days a week and you can pre- book a design consultation or feel free to just drop in.”

In terms of gemstones, Tom says that: “Diamonds will of course always be popular and we specialise in coloured gemstones too. If a customer wants something unusual, we will be able to source it for them. We work with many sapphires – they come in a rainbow of colours but if they are red then they are classed as a ruby. Blue tones are always popular too.”

©Harriet Kelsall Bespoke Jewellery
Coloured gemstones

Tom tells me: “Construction of the ring takes approximately 4-6 weeks. However, I have done an engagement ring in a week. I have never missed a proposal!”

©Harriet Kelsall Bespoke Jewellery
Designer hand sketching

Being at the forefront of ethics within the industry is important to Harriet Kelsall Bespoke Jewellery. The company was in the first independent jeweller in the world that was both Responsible Jewellery Council certified and licensed by the Fairtrade Foundation.

Tom expands: “We love helping people learn about Fairtrade gold and responsibly sourced materials as we work on their creations. We spend a lot of time and energy finding the most responsible source for our materials, whilst making sure that we never compromise on quality.”

Tom’s last words on the journey to the perfect engagement ring: “There are simply no set rules. It’s all about the meaning behind the piece.”

©Harriet Kelsall Bespoke Jewellery
Vintage Inspired Ring

Many thanks to Tom Wilson at Harriet Kelsall

All images ©Harriet Kelsall Bespoke Jewellery

Check our Gallery for more engagement rings from Harriet Kelsall

iLovePrimroseHill

Check out the blog on my new business at iLovePrimroseHill.

iLovePrimroseHill is the online magazine and lifestyle blog for Primrose Hill.

“I absolutely love living here in Primrose Hill. The atmosphere is wonderful, it really is like a country village yet almost in the centre of London. We are lucky enough to have the best of both worlds! With fantastic views of the London skyline, it’s a very unique place. Being based so close to central London I am ideally placed to organise weddings and parties all across the city, and also have access to some great suppliers locally. It’s an honour to work with local suppliers.” Anna Dé

Anna Dé, Chalcot Square, Primrose Hill (photo by Lars Christiansen)

Instagram Brides-to-be Competition – Repost Raffle

Calling all London Brides!

Win a complimentary bridal hair and make up trial session at Lisa Hauck Hair & Beauty.

 

London Brides getting married in 2018 can win a complimentary bridal hair and make up trial session with Lisa at her award winning salon in North West London.

Extended competition as Valentine’s treat! Repost by end of February 2018 to win trial at Lisa Hauck. Make sure to hashtag #annadedreamscomp and #lisahauckcomp

The competition is now closed. Our winner – Sara – was announced on 2 March .