Yay Retro!



I love the website  Yay Retro! and I have bought many things from it including 1960s/70s floral trays, fishy dishes, cool coloured butter dishes, and various retro  printed pots. Owner Sue kindly asked me if she could feature our gallery
  Fish and Ships Coastal Art on the Blog on her website,and so here goes!(Bloggers rule!) A big thank you!

It`s a  great little precis of my husband Andrew Ruffhead`s cool coastal art!



yay retro





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Sexy Fish




My son first told me about Sexy Fish in the summer. It`s the latest glamourous restaurant offering from Richard Caring, and during the renovations it tempted would-be diners with  a huge image of a Damien Hirst neon fish emblazoned on the façade, on the corner of Berkeley Square.

I was determined to go, and to go when I wanted to go, which was yesterday. So having pestered them with phone calls, I was very pleased to receive a call when I was wending ,my way up the cobbled streets of a white village in Spain a few weeks before they opened, informing me that my table for lunch with my son was booked. Fishtastic!

I have read a handful of reviews since it opened at the end of October. All good. Each review I read said that as the doorman opened the door, they were asked if they had a reservation. They didn`t ask me. I take that  as indication that I looked as though I should be dining there!

It is bold and brash and full of marble and wood ,and artworks by Damien Hirst, Frank Gehy and Michael Roberts. It has a proper bar complete with proper waiters making proper drinks, and the whole place does have a feel of permanence about it. It has an old school, 1950s New York glamour vibe , and I loved it. I spied various `names` also enjoying it , including David Tang, Piers Morgan, Geordie Greig and Lord Hindlip. Owner Richard Caring was working the room.

And so the food. WOW WOW WOW. It is Asian fish and seafood. My ( and my husband`s) absolute-could-eat-it-every-day favourite. You can watch it all being steamed and sliced and wok-ed in the corner of the dining room too, which is always fun (and heartening).

The waiter suggested that my son and I choose several dishes to share, which was good idea, and enabled us to taste a few more of the amazing flavours. The food was very pretty, `clean`, simple, with delicious additions of fruit and oils and herbs all presented beautifully.

It was quite tricky to decide what to have , but we did so, happy in the knowledge that what we didn`t try, we will do so next time.( I adore soft shell crab and octopus carpaccio ,so they will most definitely be on the list). So Tom and I shared the Sexy Fish Roll, the Seared Yellowfin Tuna with dried miso, wood sorrel (I`m a sucker for a micro herb), and pickled cucumber, and the Tartare of Beef with sour plum, pickles and squid ink crisps( a revelation).It was soooo good; I oohed and aaahed through each mouthful. We shared the Madagascan Prawn with shiso salsa for our main course, which was like a slightly small lobster really with light lemon grass and coconut flavours, and also had the Mixed Vegetable Tempura-the lightest of battered cauliflower, squash, aubergine, courgette, and Sautéed Spinach with ponzu. What a treat.

The flavours were divine. We really didn`t need a pudding. No we really didn’t need a pudding.. but Tom had the Matcha and Ginger Marble cake with gingerbread ice cream and caramel sauce, and I had the Cinnamon Doughnuts with chocolate sauce and citrus curd-which was a bit like lemon posset. Oh my.

I brought the menus home so I could show Andrew just what he had missed and we swooned again. We will be back.



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Ai Weiwei and Frank Auerbach



















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I enjoyed a bit of an art fest yesterday, going to exhibitions at the RA and Tate Britain back to back.

Firstly to the Royal Academy, one of my favourite places to visit. I love the courtyard there; a respite after the  busy road a step away. And Ai WeiWei`s tree installation is stunning there. A place to linger in .His work is thought provoking, visually attractive, and technically very accomplished. You need to buy the exhibition catalogue and read all about him!

This major  artist and cultural phenomenon `s work is brave, provocative and visionary, and despite being one of the most significant cultural figures to have emerged from China in recent decades, he is so controversial within his native country that until recently his name was removed from Chinese editions of art books. He employs traditional Chinese craftsmanship to produce art works that reveal an unflinching determination.

Ai Weiwei became widely known in Britain after his sunflower seeds installation in Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall in 2010, but this is the first major institutional survey of his work ever held in the UK, and it bridges over two decades of his extraordinary career. Curated in collaboration with Ai Weiwei from his studio in Beijing, on show are some of his most important works from the time he returned to China from the US in 1993 right up to present day. There are a number of large-scale installations created especially for this exhibition, as well as works showcasing everything from marble and steel to tea and glass. With typical boldness, the chosen works explore a multitude of challenging themes, drawing on his own experience to comment on creative freedom, censorship and human rights, as well as examining contemporary Chinese art and society.



I have never been a real fan of Auerbach`s paintings, especially his early work which is thick with oil paint( still drying), a very 1950s` style`, but I also find it angst ridden and a tad depressing, if compelling. His techinique forces you to look deeper at the imagery. His early portraits  I find particularly harrowing.  they are quite sinister creating a presence, but I think that is what good art is about I guess, stirring up emotions and reactions. Those of you who know a little about Auerbach , will know that his german parents sent him to England to escape persecution by the Nazis , and they later died in a concentration camp. His work , like he, is intense. I watched a film a while ago about him, that was made by his son Jake, and he is quite dark and serious. But….
moving on into the 1970s his work cheered up for me, I love his bold colourful abstracts of Mornington Crescent and Hampstead Heath .They are wonderful, with a lighter touch and sweeping brush strokes; conjuring up light and movement.Never static. I came out of this exhibition loving his work and wanting to take home at least six pieces. It is a thoughtfully curated exhibition. Go!

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You MUST buy…well actually no, you must download this book. `Techbitch`. Ghastly title I know, but oh so good!

It`s the Devil Wears Prada on quinoa and avocados….

I understand the `dilemma` completely, and it is very funny and very `now`. Oh times they are a changing…

Until two years ago I had approximately 500 CDs, sooo old hat apparently, so I buy an IPad and upload/download and so on. I now have 4000 tracks on my Ipad, But no ,now it`s Spotify, then it`s streaming… oh and You Tube videos and channels, and Blogging and Vlogging, and now it`s Podcasts and so on and so forth. I think I am quite techno savvy really, but maybe not. Keep UP Sarah!

So, the book:

Imogen Tate, editor-in-chief of Glossy magazine, is a legend in the fashion world. But when she returns from a sabbatical to find her twenty-six-year-old former assistant, Eve Morton, behind her desk, she realises times are changing. Armed with a business degree, naked ambition and an iPhone, Eve announces she has been brought in to turn Imogen’s beloved magazine into an app. With herself at the helm. In this terrifying new world, Imogen is almost invisible. In place of her team of dedicated staff is a constantly evolving line of twenty-something bloggers at their desks day and night (‘Only losers need sleep!’), amateur snaps instead of elegant photo shoots, and a URL address in place of Imogen’s glossy pages. But Imogen isn’t ready to give up her hard-earned career without a fight. Where Eve has Twitter followers, Imogen has experience, talent and real relationships, and she’s prepared to fight for the fashion world she knows and loves. Even if it means going to war with a ruthless Techbitch.

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Cotto restaurant in Cambridge was named in the Sunday Times `Top 100 Restaurants in the UK` yesterday, and we just happened to have dinner there with very good friends on Saturday night. A treat.

Cotto is housed in well a house really , unassuming from the outside in the same road as Anglia Ruskin University.

It is owned by famed Chef Hans Schweitzer and his lovely wife Ruth.

Hans decided in his teens that cooking was what he wished to excel at. Since then he has achieved his aim in a diverse array of establishments. After training at the prestigious Munich Hotel School in Germany, Hans gained the title of Maitre de Cuisine by the age of 25. He went on to work at restaurants worldwide in an Executive Chef capacity, from the Teheran Arya in Iran to his own Restaurant, Table in Germany, where he was awarded a Michelin star at the age of 29.

A twice-Gold Medallist at the Chef’s Olympics,Hans has amassed an impressive repertoire of culinary skills, including training as a Confiseur and Chocolatier in Switzerland and Paris. In the late eighties he opened the acclaimed Confiserie Schweitzer in Cambridge followed by the hugely successful Michelin-starred Midsummer House, voted best restaurant in South England in its first year. Hans’ culinary journey then drew him to Barbados, first as Executive Chef at the celebrity-frequented Sandy Lane Hotel, then as owner of the famous La Mer restaurant, before he was drawn back to Cambridge as Executive Chef, Queen’s College. His travels now bring him to Cotto, where his skill, attention to detail and focus on freshness and flavour will no doubt render this step of his culinary adventure just as successful as the many others….

Ruth is absolutely charming, and we had a big catch up chat re who, where , what in Barbados, as we know several of the same people there. The staff are lovely too-love a handsome waiter!

My only gripes about Cotto are some fairly suspect artworks ( but being married to an artist does make me very specific in my taste), and the ghastly `office` style grim carpet on the stairs. This is a tricky one there as the staff have to bring the food up and downstairs, as the kitchen is on ground level, but I think even simply painted wood would be tons more stylish.

But …the food. Wow!

The food is creative and bursting with colour, each plate a picture. Hans` attention to detail for presentation is second to none, and the food is fresh ,very seasonal and delicious. There are some rather good videos of the man in action on their website, and Ruth told me that they had been shooting again last week so new ones are about to be loaded. I had spied the Venison Wellington on there, and I was thrilled to see it on the menu.

We kicked off with some yummy amuse bouche and good bread and we had fabulous (very pricey icey) wines. I simply love Gavi and this was delicious.

I had the Gressingham Duck Parfait, Cherry Wood Cured Breast ( slivers of the pinkest meat ever), with spiced apple and plum chutney. I swooned over every mouthful. Husband Andrew and David both had the Loch Duart Salmon, House Cured Java and Dill, Tea Smoked with ginger miso and daikon, and pronounced it perfect.

Everyone seems to be `curing` salmon every which way at the moment,( (including us I might add-bring on the beetroot, dill and fennel) but the tea flavours here  sung out, as did those of the fresh herbs in Patricia`s Organic Herb Risotto with seared Scottish King Scallop, another picture on a plate.

The restaurant was busy and buzzy ;a great atmosphere.

The men chose the Best of Salt Marsh Lamb, Rack and Shoulder ,with Thyme and Rosemary and natural jus…so many complimentary flavours and colours on a plate, but the Cotto Venison Wellington with Juniper Berry sauce and roasted cocoa ,was every bit as perfect as I hope. It was utterly delicious pink perfection and I could have licked the plate.!

David was the only one who had a pudding( we scoffed the `Hans made chocolates` instead), and he had another Cotto signature dish ;a chocolate confection called The Piano`, a masterpiece of patience and attention to detail by the Chef with a composition of different chocolate tastes-Peruvian and Grenadian single estate dark( sounds like wine), Papouasie milk and De Zaan white.

So if you are a real foodie and want to splash out on a very special dinner, Cotto is the place to be. Take a bow Hans Schweitzer!

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The Affair




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I have been waiting with baited breath to buy the first season of new US drama series The Affair, starring the gorgeous, most sexy Dominic West and set during one summer in the stunning Montauk on Long Island. I want to go there now!!!

I have had to wait no longer. We watched the first three episodes last night and we are hooked. It`s sooo good.

  The Affair is a provocative and suspenseful look at how many stories are involved in every love affair. Noah Solloway (Dominic West) is a New York City schoolteacher and happily married father who finds himself powerfully attracted to waitress Alison Lockhart (Wilson) while vacationing with his family on Long Island. But nothing is as simple as boy-meets-girl, as both sides of the romance are explored by a detective investigating a murder. Also starring Maura Tierney and Joshua Jackson, it’s every episode of the gripping first season that quickly had audiences begging for more.

A bewitching adult, (eroticly raunchy at times) drama with wonderful, haunting music too. I particularly loved these tracks:

`I`ll be around`by Yo La Tengo

`Won`t you come home` by Devendra Banhart,  and

`Emerald Lady` by Craig Marsden.

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October in Spain

The views from our house












La Herradura








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We are just back from our autumn trip to our house in southern Spain.Always a treat at this time of year to get real sun and swim each day in the sea. It was perfect.

So above are a few pictures that sum up our three weeks of sun, fun, friends, food, wine and beaches….

Our favourite places. ..

Our house: the best views over to the sea ,and inland over the `campo` (where they grow avocado, tomatoes and mangos galore), to the mountains…

Nerja: The October Feria: when the town goes mad and very Spanish.( Horses, frilly frocks, musica, fireworks and jamon a plenty) Ole!

(I even managed to grab two posters one for our house in Spain and one for Norfolk, a great reminder of fun times.)

Frigliana:The quintessential white village, cobbled streets , blue doors, and a lovely church .

La Herradura: The clearest most sparkliest water to swim in, and the best barbecued Pulpo and giant prawns at El Chambao de Joaquin.

Maro: Home of Larios gin, the prettiest village with a fab Tapas bar ( El Rincon de la Tapa) , choc-full of locals, where on our final night there was the best impromptu flamenco guitar and singing .Also a great beach down a very steep slope edge with palms and wild fennel,  with a simple beach café serving fantastic fresh fish and paella for lunch…

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