• What to do

    There are very few things I blame my mother for, but my legs are one of them. Unlike my ballet-schooled little sisters who have hand-drawn calves and pretty little ankles, I was sent to judo.  And got legs to match.

    So with adulthood came an unrelenting quest for delectable pins. I've endured both pain and pleasure; from dry skin brushing to endermologie, runs with super trainer and psyclelondon.com guru Tim Weeks, and regular sessions at Ten Pilates with a brilliant gang of trainers including Rob Carruthers, Luke Meessmann and Adam Ridler.


    But as fabulously lean as these lads are, it helps to have a same gender role model.  So to the new Ten Barre class at Ten Pilates, which as a ballet virgin I anxiously joined.  I didn't even know how to do first position for chrissakes. But there wasn't time to be self conscious. The fast-paced class is a clever combination of ballet, pilates, yoga and conditioning, which has been set up to complement the reformer pilates class.  Thankfully teacher Esme Benjamin was unpatronisingly attentive when I needed, and turned a blind eye and deaf ear, when my 'lightly land on your feet' moment, was more elephantine thud. 

    Esme Benjamin, with the dream dancer's body (not too thin, not too fat, not too muscly, just right) that will keep me coming back to this aching-in-all-the-right-places barre class, in the hope that one day, just maybe, the dancer in me (and her legs) will finally emerge.

    www.tenpilates.com

    Ten Pilates offers all Vanity Fair A-List subscribers the chance to win one of ten, Ten Barre classes (worth £28 each).  To enter this prize draw, send your details (name, address, email, telephone number) to win@tenpilates.com  by 12pm on Friday 11th July.  Terms and conditions apply.

  • Where to go

    After the deeply sad funeral of my godfather Mark Shand, I needed somewhere cheering to stay.  My comfort place of choice, Babington House was full.  (NB. Thursdays are 'Wedding' days at Babington, when the entire house is often booked out).

    But a friend suggested The Talbot Inn, nearby in the village of Mells.  "It's run by Matt Greenlees, the guy who was general manager at Babington," he said, "So you're in safe hands."  Gold star to you my friend, as sure enough this pretty former coaching inn, was just the ticket; a fairy lit cobbled-stone courtyard, friendly bar and cosy but elegant restaurant.  Up higgledy-piggledy stairs to the eight bedrooms; mine had four-poster bed that would comfortably fit an entire family, high ceilings and not only a bath in the bedroom but a separate shower too. 

    Dinner of immaculately 'seignant' steak with bone marrow, celeriac puree, pearl barley and naughty, naughty chips was worth returning for.  Which I will be, there's a lot more exploring to be done; visits to the village Walled Garden, trips to the newly-opened Somerset outpost of London gallery Hauser & Wirth with it's own café and artist residencies.  And for cooking classes with Somerset residents Joanna Weinberg and Clare Liardet.  Their classes, are handily taught in the grill room at The Talbot Inn with 'Cooking for Teens', 'Summer Gatherings' and 'Summer Cooking for Men' happening in July before breaking for the holidays.  But classes are back with steaming hot vengeance in the autumn with 'Easy Breads' and 'Autumnal Tarts' slated for September.

    The Talbot Inn may not have the thrusting 'rich man's water' gushing from the bath or immaculate attention to detail (expensive taps, polar thick towels, inventive mini-bars) that Nick Jones freely sprinkles over his Soho House houses. But the laid-back vibe, good wine and goose down duvet were just the thing after a long emotional day.  And the full English the following morning set me up for a pensive but perky drive home.

    www.talbotinn.com 
    www.kitchentablecookery.co.uk
    www.thewalledgardenatmells.co.uk
    www.hauserwirthsomerset.com

  • What to buy

    The days of having one pair of well-worn, well-tended sunglasses are long gone.  These days folk seem to having entire shady wardrobes, with frames to suit the mood or look. 

    Top of my current hotlist are round and pink by uk.lindafarrow.com, apple green at prada.com, reflective by westwardleaning.com and 50s flicks at zanzan.co.uk

    But I've also got my eyes on young, homegrown British brand Finlay & Co.  The brand began when three friends, Dave Lochhead, Dane Butler and Tom Stannard were all a little tired of seeing their friends wearing the same old shades.  They decided to make the kind of sunglasses that if placed on a table in a restaurant, people passing by would ask where they were from. 

    Inspired by North American skater dudes who were fashioning sunglasses from their old skateboards, the foursome looked to making wooden frames.  What they lacked in both fashion or design experience, they made up for with chutzpah. And in 2012, just a year after their initial idea, Finlay & Co was launched. 

    The wooden frames with polarized lenses were instantly hot, and quickly picked up by retailers the world over.  Since then there's been a recent collaboration with menswear label E Tautz, while Anna Wintour declared them 'to be very talented'. And if you're wondering what the achingly gorgeous waiter by the pool at Shoreditch House has perched on his nose… yep - Finlay & Co are the official European outdoor-space sunnies for Soho House staff and are sold at Cowshed spas.

    And for beachy, boating holidays the smart pair to wear is the Carnaby.  This style is made from Canadian maple and guess what?  Canadian maple floats. 


    www.finlayandco.com