What: Heavenly Gingerlily Body Cream, Molton Brown
Why: Delicious and decadent. So decadent, in fact, that I can never justify buying it for myself when I know that I can buy a big bottle of something utilitarian and Vaseliney, which will ostensibly do the same job for a fifth of the price. So it just makes it all the more delicious that I got home one night a few weeks ago to find that The Writer had bought a bottle and left it on the kitchen side. Boyfriend points agogo.
What: The Song of Achilles, Madeline Miller
Why: One of the shortlisted books for this year’s Orange Prize, Miller’s rendition of the love story between Achilles and Patroclus is gloriously drawn and deceptively engrossing. One for sneaking straight to the top of the To Read list.
What: Moonrise Kingdom
Why: Without a doubt, one of the most glorious films I’ve seen this year. Such deeply-saturated colours you feel enveloped by the cinematography; achingly beautiful, with performances to match. Bypass the utterly dreadful Dark Shadows and see this instead.
Why: Because they’re beautiful, colourful and such brilliant value that you can buy hundreds of vast bunches without impoverishing yourself, and have them all round the house.
What: Honest Burgers, Brixton
Why: Because you’d be absolutely mad not to. Not being a meat-eater myself, I mostly go for their triple-cooked rosemary chips, which are a masterpiece in carbohydrate form. The Writer maintains that the burgers are “meat as it’s meant to be cooked”. Try whatever special is there. Go early. Be prepared to queue: it’s worth it.
Why: If you’re a horsey person, you’ll MARVEL at the man’s skill and apparently innate horsemanship. If you’re not, you’ll still be blown away at his compassion – for everyone and everything – in spite of a past that would suggest otherwise.
What: The Life and Loves of a She-Devil, Fay Weldon
Why: I’m only about 60 pages in, and this book is already “we can’t possibly be at Waterloo, I’m not ready to put this down and get off the tube yet” brilliant.
What: Seven, Brixton
Why: Because few places would, when you tell them it’s the Mother-not-In-Law’s birthday, scurry off to make her a birthday shot. Seven does. The cocktails are to die for (have an Old Fashioned, or a good, spicy Bloody Mary) and the pinxos are even better.
What: a decanter
Why: Even the plonkiest of everyday plonk undergoes some sort of magical, alchemical change when sloshed out of the bottle and into the decanter. Mine was a present from she of exceptional taste, Best Mate, for my last birthday, and is a rather stylish Jasper Conran number, but I’m assured by people in the know that any old jug works just as well.
What: Polpetto, Soho
Why: I had the world’s best first date here a year ago, and celebrated my first anniversary there with TW on Saturday night. If at all possible, it was even better this time round. I’d be hard pushed to tell you which was better: the rich, creamy burrata with spikes of chilli and gently crunching samphire (so good we ordered two); the smoked trout with shaved celeriac and pea shoots; or the pan-fried squid with Spring peas. What I can tell you is that you’re missing out if you go and don’t have the chocolate tart with hokey pokey. Bugger me if that’s not the most perfect pudding I’ve ever eaten. The Ledbury and Pollen Street can keep their Michelin stars: I’d rather eat here than anywhere else in London.