Today a Labor Day call from my best friend in New York reminded me that August 2023 is well & truly over.
August 2023 started in Miami and Mandarin Oriental, Miami could not have made the end of my Houston - Nashville - Memphis - Miami trip any more special. Hope the photos below evidence that.
I flew back to London in British Airways First Class on an A380 (the double decker plane). At Miami International Airport I could use the American Airlines Flagship First Dining again. The irony that flying First Class with United & American Airlines, domestically, on the same trip I was refused access to their lounges and now someone was melting the garlic butter on my steak with a blow torch, was not lost on me.
Back at my Barbican place I opened gifts & cards from Four Seasons, Nashville, The Guest House at Gracelands, The Peabody Hotel, Memphis & the Mandarin Oriental, Miami. I felt like crying again, such thoughtful & special mementos.
Despite very bad jet lag, I then hosted my niece from Moscow to the Pret a Portea (fashion) afternoon tea at The Berkeley & dinner at The Wolseley. Four Seasons at Park Lane also created a special mocktail for her. She is such a chatty and cheerful young lady and a joy to spend time with. I am just sorry her UK grandmother could not see her on this trip.
The rest of the month was taken up with two weeks in Shrewsbury, doing my best to raise mum's spirits, with meals out and taking her to St Chad's church.
There were also some sensational breakfasts. The chunks of fresh ginger on my chicken congee at the Mandarin Oriental, Hyde Park; the insanely good bacon & Bloody Marys at Michel Roux Jr's The Wigmore at The Langham Hotel and the mouthwatering pastries at The Grill by Tom Booton at The Dorchester deserve special mentions.
Meeting my niece Maria from Russia again, after so long, would make it a '7 teddies' (🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻) month on its own but the fact mum loves the watch I found for; the Issy card from my godson Miles and finding my postcards India in the 1980s and the one I wrote in Russia when Andropov was their President, have blown my mind. Enjoy the photos below.
What a month. From a moving Shropshire funeral, funerals of younger people are always particularly difficult; to one of the most elegant weddings I have ever attended, you could feel the love at both events; to Chefs Alain Ducasse & Wolfgang Puck preparing a 'Four Hands Dinner' for me at 45 Park Lane.
45 Park Lane also produced a cocktail for me from The Beverly Hills Hotel, that was not on their Sunday lunch menu. As that meal, the black truffles on Chef Elliot Grover's sublime roast beef tasted better than ever. I also got to eat in Chef Yannick Alleno's Pavyllon at Four Seasons at Park Lane, before it opened to the public and was back on Four Seasons at Ten Trinity Square's roof sipping a cocktail. Must also mention Chef Tom Booton's revolutionary breakfasts at The Grill by Tom Booton at The Dorchester again.
Finally I have to talk about mum & the excellent food scene in Shrewsbury. As part of the two weeks I spent in Shropshire during the month, I tried to spoil mum with meals out. My hake at La Piazzetta in The Square was sensational, our steak frites at Cote were delicious and the spicy cooked breakfast at C Sons, Shrewsbury is still morishly good. A family friend also took mum and me around his stunningly beautiful garden. Mum was almost back to her old self, talking about garden design, that afternoon.
Hope you enjoy the photos below and they demonstrate what a memorable month June 2023 was in my life.
I sent Easter lamb to Shrewsbury. This holiday was one of mum's favourites but I ended up spending 10 hours in A&E with mum on Good Friday, after she had another fall, getting out from a car this time.
A difficult time for our family has been exacerbated by Shropshire Council's Social Services. I am still unclear if they are incompetent or lack integrity, or a mixture of both.
There are now Royal Shrewsbury Hospital discharge documents for mum that misrepresented my views. This erroneous information must have come from ICS Social Services but they are now trying to distance themselves from the mess they have helped to create.
I have made numerous formal complaints to Social Services and PALS at Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and a Freedom of Information Request to Shropshire Council.
Organising mum's care arrangements (including physiotherapists, that RSH should have arranged); visiting Shrewsbury, while constantly correcting Social Services and undertaking my Board role at Jordan International Bank Plc, has taken me near breaking point.
Hope the photos below evidence that I am still doing my best to maintaining a life for myself, while ensuring mum is well looked after.
Mum's 80th birthday meant two trips to Shrewsbury in the month of February 2023.
The love mum's friends showed to her made me feel better over all we are dealing with at present. She was inundated with gorgeous flowers, countless cards and generous gifts. Welsh relatives ringing on the morning of mum's birthday , a cake from Shrewsbury Market Hall & an afternoon tea hosted by great friends of mum & dad made it a remarkable day for mum.
I did my best to spoil mum with a birthday cake; birthday dinner at Riverbank Bar & Kitchen (problems with their on-line reservation system) and Sunday lunch at The Armoury. The latter must be one of the best Sunday lunches in Shrewsbury.
This short month was, therefore, packed for me. Oliver from Shrewsbury School Foundation took me to lunch at St James's Hotel & Club; Four Seasons at Ten Trinity Square served me caviar at breakfast; had a manicure with my haircut at Truefitt & Hill; ate Chef Elliot Grover's Wolfgang Puck Oscar menu at 45 Park Lane; enjoyed fish & chips at Four Seasons at Park Lane; and my work as a bank board member at Jordan International Bank Plc continued.
Hope the photos below do justice to mum's 80th birthday. My birthday again on 29 March. Chef Elliott Grover's Wolfgang Puck Spago Beverly Hills experience at 45 Park Lane is booked on 30 March and I will be staying at The Manor House Hotel in Moreton-in-Marsh in The Cotswolds at the start of April for another special lady's 80th birthday.
I met Anthony Bourdain at the Ritz-Carlton in Cayman Islands; Marco Pierre White at the Threadneedles Hotel in the City of London; Gordon Ramsay at the Four Seasons in Doha; Tim Raue in Berlin; Antonio Guida from Mandarin Oriental, Milan at the Mandarin Oriental in Taipei; Eric Ripert at the Ritz-Carlton in Cayman Islands again; and was introduced to Wolfgang Puck at 45 Park Lane last week. I wonder which chef I will meet next?!
This evening I travel to Shrewsbury, Shropshire again. Family matters call.
Cannot thank my mother, Kathy, Alejandro, Four Seasons, John & Bilal, Jolee etc enough for all they did to help to make it such a memorable birthday again.
Hope the photos below help to demonstrate that it was another '7 teddy' birthday
Our First Christmas Without Dad at Home - November & December 2021 and January 2022 - Shrewsbury & London
November & December 2021 were a whirlwind. The fact I signed the contract for my new banking job at The Rosewood Hotel, London, and started my new role in Canary Wharf in December, means 2022 should start well for me.
November 2021 included a meeting at The Guildhall to represent Barbican residents; a visit to The English National Opera to see HMS Pinafore; a Chinese breakfast at Four Seasons Hotel Ten Trinity Square before The Lord Mayor's Show etc
December included seeing The Dior Christmas Tree at Claridge's; being given the 2021 Harrods Christmas teddy bear by the Mandarin Oriental, Hyde Park; trying the new scones at Four Seasons on Park Lane before their public launch; Christmas shopping for Maria at Hamleys etc
Christmas itself was our first without dad at home. However, mum & I were able to visit him on Christmas Eve & again before I returned to work in London. His granddaughter Maria flew in from Moscow again and we had a very special family Christmas with her.
Hope the photos below convince you it has been a '7 teddy' few months, despite COVID-19. I am double vaccinated and have had my booster shot & flu jab.
Happy New Year to all the readers of this blog. I really value all your support.
29 March 2021 will be my second birthday 'celebrated' under COVID-19.
I have already had some amazing birthday presents. The main one was having received my first Coronavirus vaccine shot. This, combined with news that Nuffield Health plan to reopen The Barbican gym, gives me hope that we are, finally, returning to 'normal'.
I am thinking about Paris & their latest lockdown at present. Stay safe & strong everyone.
New Year's Eve With Mum & Dad Again & England's Lockdown3 - Shrewsbury/ London - December 2020/ January 2021
For a second year I skipped New York in favour of New Year's Eve in Shrewsbury with mum & dad. Mum's sublime cooking, wines from dad and even getting to spend New Year's Day with my gorgeous niece, before she flew to spend the Orthodox Christmas in Moscow with her mother, made it such a special time.
On New Year's Day my friend who lives in the Burj Khalifa sent me photos of watching the Dubai fireworks from inside his apartment. Mind-blowing!
I returned to London on the direct Avanti West Coast train in First Class but Lockdown3 in England was announced shortly after this. I now combine exercise with shopping by walking to Fortnums to undertake my food shopping. This is a treat a younger me would not have believed I would ever have been able to do. I also returned to London to find elegant gifts from the Four Seasons George V in Paris.
I am doing my best not to let standards slip, despite everything, & hope the photos below help to demonstrate this. Keep safe everyone. We will get through this together.
Despite London moving to Tier 4, we managed to have another very special family Shropshire Christmas.
With fine wines chosen by dad; mum's legendary cooking and my niece there, it could not have gone any better.
I gave a Chanel gift to mum; Tanners Wines & Fortnums gifts to my brother & father; a Steiff gift to my charming niece and my godson loves his Swiss Army Knife, with his name engraved on the blade. I gave some of my best gifts this year.
I received Veuve Clicquot champagne; The Glenlivet whisky; Silent Pool gin; Paul Smith socks; The White Company sleep products; Elton John's new book; a personalised mug from a friend in Qatar that I treasure; an umbrella that is a piece of art from Mandarin Oriental, Hyde Park etc. So happy with all my beautiful/ thoughtful gifts too.
Hope the photos below illustrate how lucky I feel to have such outstanding friends & a one-off family.
Today I learnt my brother had sorted out his flight home. This, combined with the fact my sweet young niece will be in Shropshire for Christmas, means my COVID-19 Shrewsbury Christmas is shaping up well.
Last week John (GM of 45 Park Lane) showed me their stunning new swimming pool. I was one of the first non-staff members to see it, and have agreed not to post my photos, but can assure people it is one of the most beautiful indoor pools have ever seen.
This made me think about the fact I was shown the Private Members Club at Four Seasons at Ten Trinity Square, before its members, and stayed at Four Seasons Resort: Dubai at Jumeirah Beach & Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay before they were open to the public. My meeting with Four Seasons Founder & Chairman Mr Sharp, as his private home in Toronto, really did change my life.
On the #travelblog front, it was also interesting that Grant Campbell has been appointed as the first GM of Nobu Hotel London Portman Square & Anne Golden at the first GM of Pan Pacific London. Despite the damage the COVID-19 restrictions have wreaked on the hospitality industry, it does not seem to have reduced my extensive network of General Manager contacts.
England's lockdown2 was made better for me by more Daniel Humm breakfast granola from Claridge's. I am still using the Davies & Brook jar it came in this time and was honoured to be one of the only people to see the Claridge's lobby during lockdown2. I also managed another Shrewsbury trip, ladened down with Fortnum & Mason gifts again.
People who see me over Christmas & New Year should feel free to ask me about the November 2020 photos below. Hope everyone has a special Christmas & better 2021!
Light at the End of the Tunnel or Another Train Coming? - COVID-19 (Coronavirus) - Shropshire & London, UK - July 2020
July 2020 was the month I restarted swimming, buying new Cayman Islands style Vilebrequin swim shorts to celebrate, and exercising with personal trainer Bart again. We did this outside with breathtaking views of Tower Bridge. I was even part of a photo shoot at Virgin Active in Mayfair, as I will feature on the new Virgin Active website.
It was also the month where I was part of the reopening of 45 Park Lane & Mandarin Oriental, Hyde Park; obtained my Turnbull & Asser face mask, with VIROFORMULA virus killing filters; had my first pint for 121 days with dad in The Admiral Benbow in Shrewsbury, the landlady Claire there was ahead of London with her anti-COVID-19 bar screen; drank Shrewsbury wine with mum & dad at Hencote in Shropshire; had a haircut at Truefitt & Hill, following in the footsteps of Charles Dickens, Winston Churchill & Frank Sinatra; Philip Hammond at The Dorchester created a spectacular new headdress for my Christian Lacroix wearing teddy bear from Bangkok; I attended a sublime lunch at Scott's in Mayfair with my Qatar friends; & ate caviar and drank gin from Kyoto, Japan, for breakfast, outside at 45 Jermyn Street, behind Fortnum & Mason. The Head of UK Retail at Fortnum & Mason now wants to meet www.sifrew.com.
It has been another unbelievable month in my life & I just hope the move to the 'new normal' in the UK continues. Feel free to ask me about the photos below, when we next meet.
After a day working from home ("WFH") in my Barbican place in London on Middle Eastern banking issues, taking a 'break' for a webcast from Toronto, I am wondering what life will be like when the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis is 'over'.
I spent the last month in Shropshire helping my parents with their self-isolation & I thought some photos of all that might cheer us up. 'Teddy Scores' do not seem appropriate at present but I have been so impressed by Shrewsbury & The Barbican's response to everything. I try to ring mum every day at present and will return to Shropshire, when that is needed.
Celebrating a Birthday in the Midst of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Crisis - Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK - March 2020
When I received this personalised Veuve Clicquot signature arrow tin with its iridescent lid, I felt confident about my 2020 birthday. The original plan was to stay at the new Four Seasons in Madrid to celebrate, I know their General Manager from New York & Hong Kong and so it would have been an exceptional trip.
Since then the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has halted travel, closed hotels, restaurants, gyms etc and changed our lives.
I am now in Shrewsbury in Shropshire helping my parents with their self-isolation. My birthday will, therefore, be a small family affair. Today is my 'Birthday Eve' and so I have decided to post some photos to cheer us all up.
Stay safe, healthy & positive all at this difficult time & hope the photos below make you smile too. My awesome mum will ensure I have a '7 teddies' (🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻) birthday tomorrow.
The sheer joy on my sweet niece's face, when she opened my LO.L. Surprise gift from Hamleys, summed up Christmas in Shropshire for me. A relaxed, happy & perfect family gathering.
We were so luck my niece travelled from Moscow to spend Christmas with us, before heading to Finland for the Russian Orthodox Christmas with her Russian family.
Mum loved my Chanel and Fortnum & Mason gifts and cooked her usual legendary fish pie on Christmas Eve and sublime roast goose Christmas lunch. My brother prepared a feast for lunch on Boxing Day, I treasured my thoughtful gifts and things could not have gone any better.
Hope the photos below evidence why Christmas was such an outstanding '7 teddies' (🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻) family event.
In fact it was a thin jazz singer at Four Seasons Hotel Ten Trinity Square who sang happy birthday to me!
From the overwhelming party my parents hosted, with Tanners champagne & divine canapés; to the private dining room at The Golden Cross in Shrewsbury; to Four Seasons Hotel Ten Trinity Square giving me three bedroom Residence Number One with a terrace with breathtaking views of Tower Bridge & the Tower of London; to walking back from a birthday dinner at Le Pont de La Tour over Tower Bridge with unimaginable friends from Berlin; to Four Seasons Hotel Ten Trinity Square sending a member of staff to my Barbican flat to help with my embarrassment of sensational birthday presents, it was a 50th birthday like no other.
I now have an exquisite bracelet from KaDeWe in Berlin, 19th Century prints of the City of London to remind me of my years working for the Bank of England, magnums of Veuve Clicquot champagne, a Smythson of Bond Street travel case, more Tiffany & Co gifts to add to the mountain I received at my 40th birthday party in The Penthouse at The Dorchester, a gift from my indomitable godmother and the Wade NatWest piggy banks I had wanted since I was a child, my mum finally made another dream come true.
I want to thank everyone who made this birthday so special from the bottom of my heart. I have lots more photos & stories to share with people when they meet me and should add that I loved the balloons Four Seasons put in my suite.
At an 80th birthday party yesterday a lady chastised me for bringing balloon, saying they were just for children. I could not disagree more over this sad opinion!
A '7 teddies' (🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻) 50th birthday is finally over & it could not have been better.
Completing my 18 months in Cayman Islands gave me a chance to spend some quality time with my incredible parents, before another big adventure in. the Far East.
During my time in Shropshire my brother hosted an impressive family birthday Sunday lunch; I got to have lunch with my awe-inspiring godmother; went on a Tanners Cellar Tour with dad; visited Chester with mum & day, including lunch at The Chester Grosvenor; had lunch with a special family friend who got me thinking about Bank of Bermuda (now part of HSBC) etc; squeezed in a day in London to see the Bank of England & Annabel Shaw (Four Seasons Director of Residences Twenty Grosvenor Square - the former US Navy building) and I had drinks with friends from my Prestfelde & Shrewsbury School days. Hope the photos below help you understand what an unforgettable time I had.
🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻(7 out of 5 ‘teddies’) - spending time with my unbelievable parents is always a '7 teddy experience' but so much else during my time in Shrewsbury & London could not have been better (eg lunch with my indomitable godmother). What UK memories to take to the Far East with me.
I am so proud to be a 'Shropshire lad'. Shrewsbury is such a beautiful historic town and I am so lucky to have been sent to Prestfelde Prep School & Shrewsbury School, with all the friends I still have from those places. It is amazing to think Charles Darwin also went to the latter.
During my time in Shrewsbury I got to spend more time with my incredible parents; ate in Darwin's Kitchen; Number Four; and The Golden Cross; helped my brother celebrate his birthday; went for drinks in The Three Fishes pub with friends; had lunch with a knowledgeable and sensible friend; had coffee with my marvelous artistic godmother and heard Charlie Adlard, Comics Laureate and artist for 'The Walking Dead', who I was at Shrewsbury School with, speak about this career.
A memorably perfect week and I hope the photos below do it some justice. Well worth the 12 hour flight from Cayman Islands.
Another 🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻(7 out of 5 ‘teddies’) stay in Shrewsbury.
Once again, despite Russian visa issues, my whole family was together for Christmas. I met friends from my Prestfelde and Shrewsbury School days; my mum cooked divine roast goose; my brother a roast turkey feast on Boxing Day; and I adored my cards & present from friends and family around the world.
It was truly a '7 teddy Christmas' and I was so lucky to spend it was my brilliant mum & dad and friends. It just went by too quickly.
Hope the few photos below give some flavour of the fun we had.
For me being with family is the most important element of Christmas and my Russian sister-in-law getting a visa, which enabled her, and my 6 year old niece, to be in Shrewsbury helped to make it another unforgettable Christmas.
I have only missed one family Christmas, when I had to stay in Bermuda because of work. I was lucky then to have special friends there to spend the day with.
Lunch at C Sons: 'Locally Sourced & Globally Inspired' Food - Shrewsbury, Shropshire - November 2016
I have eaten in C Sons on a number of occasions and have never been disappointed by their flavoursome food and being able to try unusual products.
On this occasions I had a very emotional funeral to attend the next day and one of my best friends in Shrewsbury agreed to have lunch with me to try to take my mind off this.
Having helped to serve the wine at one of mum's lunch parties, I went off for a quiet lunch alone. I decided to try Renaissance, as mum has raved about their chef's ability.
When a haircut is needed in Shrewsbury, it has to be Royston Blythe - The Dorchester's former hairdressers, who used to style HM the Queen's hair and have worked with Christian Lacroix, Katie Price and Katy Perry.
Si Frew has lived in the UK, Bermuda, Qatar, Cyprus & the Cayman Islands. During this time he met Whoopi Goldberg (in Claridge's), Mike Tyson (in the Concorde Lounge at JFK) , Gordon Ramsay (in the Doha Four Seasons), Chris Eubanks (in The Dorchester), Cherie Blair (in Bermuda & again in the Doha Four Seasons) etc. There are funny stories attached to all these interactions, feel free to ask Si about them when you meet him.