And, my favourite, Girl Eats Books: I had to rush straight out and by this James Salter book (and can't wait to read it whilst eating a cheese plate, preferably sourced from Le Fromagerie, the best cheese store in London.)
Plus, this - a secret bookstore in a New York apartment, here.
Hola from Mexico! I'm spending the coming week in Mexico City for work and had a dig around a few favourite blogs to create a little itinerary. These are a few of the places I'm looking forward to visiting. Shop:
Celeste | A concept store that offers unique and unusual objects from around the world, antique, modern and contemporary, including books, music, fossils, jewelry, household items, stationary and office supplies, hats, lingerie, cigars, orchids, fine and rare handcrafts, antiques, contemporary design elements, taxidermy and silver.
Eat: Pujol | Contemporary take on traditional Mexican cuisine - this place is a lauded five star spot that does quite delicate versions of the staples we know and love. Contramar | I read about this spot on Joanna Williams' (wonderful, colorful and inspiring) blog Keep Feeling Fascination. Tuna sashimi and crab tostadas! El Parnita | Snacky food in Roma: tacos, tortas, tlacoyas, simple and traditional street-style food. Salsas and shrimp tacos sound amazing. Chocolatería Mamá Sarita | A cozy chocolatería serves delicious traditional mexican hot chocolate in giant steaming natural ceramic mugs. Charro | On the ceiling of this bar, dried violets form intricate swirls above cocktail sipping clientele. Well-executed Mexican cuisine, with a focus on products from Ensenada.
Do: Museo de Antropología | Mexico’s world famous Anthropology Museum is housed in spectacular architecture and contains an enormous collection. Frida Kahlo's House | The brightly colored home of Frida. Museo de Artes | Mexico's national modern art museum.
The Whole Pantry | A beautifully designed, easy to use app that is filled with recipes for vegan food and drink. It has seasonal updates, a huge list of films and books to inspire healthier living, and guides to particular themes such as yoga, avoiding phone and computer radiation (I say as I write in bed looking at Instagram with a laptop on my stomach). Best of all, it was created by the inspirational Belle Langford, a 26-year old brain cancer survivor, single mother and businesswoman who donates the bulk of the app's profit towards underprivileged cancer sufferers, particularly children. It's a beautiful example of creating a community through social media and inspiring a healthier lifestyle in an achievable way. I love the Indonesian Sababa drink!
Green Kitchen Stories | Stockholm-based David and Luisa are the couple behind this fantastic blog and app (apps plural, actually). Beautifully shot with a simple interface, I always end up on this on the bus home working out what to make for dinner, or in the greengrocer. I regularly make their Kimchi and Spouted Buckwheat Granola.
Happy Cow | In a new city? This app is the mobile version of the popular Happy Cow website. You can find vegan, vegetarian and organic restaurants and cafes based on your location. It's helped me out so many times when traveling somewhere unfamiliar, as well as finding new places to eat in my own suburb. It's basically FourSquare for hippies. I love it.
Glow | This is a comprehensive health app, which you can sync with your Fitbit or Nike Fuelband. You enter in your most recent period dates, and it will tell you when you're at highest risk of getting pregnant (or likelihood if you are trying for a baby), messages you a few days before your period starts to remind you to buy tampons and to take your vitamins. You can log your mood, amount of exercise, physical symptoms, stress levels, alcohol intake each day and it will spit out ideas for improving health, tells you when you drink too much for your weight per week and so on. It's probably the most helpful for those looking to fall pregnant but it's still really interesting and insightful for those trying to avoid it.
Pocket Yoga | I have been traveling a lot for work and this has been making it a lot easier. I use it on my iPad. It's best used with your own music programmed in or there will be a lot of panpipes. You can set your fitness level, time of class and style (relaxing, stretching etc). Click go and it's your own personal audio yoga class with demonstrated moves! The interface is a bit early 1990s computer game, but for 2 pounds it is incredible. Basically, if you can do yoga in your underwear, in your bedroom a minute after getting out of bed there aren't many excuses left. Namaste.
Think Dirty | Incredible. You can scan the barcodes of up to 500,000 cosmetic and skincare products and get an instant rating of how allergenic, how carcinogenic and how much impact the product it has on your reproductive health. My Chanel foundation, Aesop face cleanser and shampoo are all CODE RED. It's worth checking through everything as there are some surprises (Aesop especially) and I think my new goal is to slowly segue over to entirely "clean" products. I have been so careful with my deodorant and body oils, but I now need to do that to my make up bag too.
I have included my Nike Running app and Simply Being in this screengrab but I have never used either of them. I also really like HeadSpace, another meditation app that seems to have disappeared off my iPhone.
I never cease to be amazed that we can have so much information at our fingertips for no or very little cost and in such an easy to use format. Thanks app makers!
Inspired by the latest, desert themed issue of Gather Journal, we are planning a ten-day escape to Morocco; traveling through Marrakesh, the Atlas Mountains, Essaouira and then departing from Marrakesh again, after a notable birthday (not mine) celebrated at the rather grand La Mamounia.
Your best bet is looking at Mr and Mrs Smith or, for some amazing bargains, combing through Air BnB. I normally avoid staying in luxury hotels as I find them a little soulless and prefer the casualness of AirBnB accommodation, but in Morocco they are so affordable and gorgeous it's hard to resist.
We've booked the below - I can't wait, although I wish I'd known about the incredible Hotel Fellahbefore I made my arrangements. Next time.
Look atSidi Mohammed Ben Abdallah Museum(Rue Laâlouj; 212 (0) 44 47 23 00; $1 admission), a former mansion that showcases jewelry, carpets, and other local crafts.
Visit the relatively hassle-free souk to purchase gifts.
Sundowners at rooftop bar Taros after it opens at 7.30 p.m. Grab a seat, order grilled calamari ($14) and settle in with the local surfers for live music featuring traditional instruments like bass drums and castanets before making the trip back to Marrakech.
I'm inspired by the editor of Cereal magazine, Rosalia Park's recent trip, where she purchased a beautiful selection of tagines, textiles and treats to bring home. It's worth following her Instagram as she spends much of her time traveling and has a wonderful eye for hotels and restaurants. It's a good reminder not to do what I normally do which is buy loads of brightly coloured embroidered things that I promptly hate as soon as I get back home.
Some more thoughts on the haggling process and best places to shop here; Mustapha Blaoui, Yahya and Antika for rugs and homewares, Moro and Akbar in the souks, the gift shops in Hotel Fellah, Riad el Fenn, Jardin Majorelle and the showrooms at the Beldi Club (you can pick up anything from a two-tone glazed tagine (£9) to a hand-embroidered table cloth (£48), they say).
I'll keep adding to this as I do more research, but I'd love your thoughts on places to go, things to do and best spots to eat - and those to avoid; and of course I will post loads of photos and tips upon my return.