I love books. Books are my passion. I buy more than I can read and I still have so many yet to be opened from my days as a bookseller, as I worked my way through uni. and shortly after.

So you can imagine my delight when I found myself organising a bloggers event that was to start at Taschen on Duke of York Square.

After some bubbles and a catch-up with a great crowd that included Angie, Suze, Fiona, Emma, Lauren, Aftab, Matilda and Tania, the manager of Taschen (Nolan Browne) led us around the store to explain the background of Taschen’s unique publishing ethos and the wide array of titles in the store.

And as I listened to Nolan telling us about Benedikt Taschen’s agenda to create a greater accessibility to the wonders of art in publishing, I started to think back to my initial purchases as I built my book collection. It was Taschen that published the first Magritte book I bought and I remember picking up this two-book Van Gogh publication (below) from a store in Besançon where I studied for my third year at uni. It was also Taschen that published the first interiors book I bought. And to this day I’m still picking up titles I feel I need in my collection. Thing is, whilst Taschen provided an entry point into the world of art and interiors for me they also publish some of the most exclusive books you can get your hands on – and I want them all!

Taschen Books

Nolan talked us through Taschen’s limited editions …

David Bowie at Taschen, Duke of York Square

… and Sumo books that are sometimes accompanied by limited edition prints. I meant to take a photo of the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time) book which is something I would love at home. If you’re a Muhammed Ali fan, I urge you to visit the downstairs of Taschen’s store to discover a book that was printed with such care, you’d find the same craftsmanship at the Vatican.

Taschen, Duke of York Square, London

The start of the evening satisfied the book-nerd in me and it also gave me ideas for future gifts. There’s a gorgeous publication on tree houses which is perfect for someone I know who loves architecture and of course tree houses. 🙂

After a tour of Taschen, we all popped over to Manicomio. We could have hopped, it’s so close. And our night here started with a gorgeous vodka-based cocktail called Jagged Wood; a nod to Exhibitionism at Saatchi Gallery which is a must-visit exhibition whether you love The Rolling Stones or not. It’s very impressive.

Manicomio, Duke of York Square

And as we waited for our starters to arrive, we were pleasantly surprised by the shots of truffle soup that were served to us. I love truffles and I savoured the thick texture of this soup. It was a great preamble to our meal.

Manicomio, Duke of York Square

For starter I had the yellow fin tuna which was gorgeous too.

Manicomio, Duke of York Square

And for main I ordered the chicken tagliata with asparagus, artichoke and onions which I had with a side of …

Manicomio, Duke of York Square

… rosemary potatoes.

Manicomio, Duke of York Square

Dessert was the buttermilk panna cotta with rhubarb, which I absolutely loved.

Manicomio, Duke of York Square

As usual Manicomio didn’t disappoint and it was great to finally experience this place in the evening. I’ve always been drawn to Manicomio for lunch or a glass of wine in the afternoon because I love their terrace. So it was a treat to discover the nighttime buzz inside the restaurant.

There is so much to look forward to over spring/summer on Duke of York Square, which I’ll be sure to cover on here. But to give you the heads up, here are some dates for your diary …

  • Chelsea in Bloom – 23rd to 28th May
  •  Strawberries & Screen for the Wimbledon semi-finals and finals  – 8th to 10th July
  • HRH The Queen’s 90th Birthday & Commonwealth Market, which will include a street party style occasion to mimic the Queen’s own celebrations at the Mall  – 12th June
  • The BFG Dream Jar Trail’s arrival into Chelsea, which will excite any Roald Dahl fan – 8th July to 31st August

Maybe I’ll see you around?

Chelsea Girl

One of my movie heroes made a special visit to Chelsea over the weekend. Pedro Almodóvar, the film director who introduced Penélope Cruz to the world in his movie Jamon Jamon, in which Cruz also starred in her first film with Javier Bardem.

Almodóvar’s latest film, The Skin I Live In, starred Antonio Banderas whilst his next movie will star both Cruz and Banderas. In other words, Almodóvar dominates Spanish cinema. In fact, he has been the embodiment of Spanish cinema for decades.

Live Flesh was the first Almodóvar film I watched and it blew my mind. It stars Javier Bardem and is an adaptation of a Ruth Rendell novel: beautifully shot, great performances and really gripping.

Almodóvar is also an auteur, which are a rare breed nowadays. His films are visually stunning; his female characters have admirable strength and a fantastic sense of humour; and his stories tend to push the boundaries of our imagination.

So needless to say when I heard that he was doing a book signing at Taschen on Duke of York Square, there was no way I was going to miss it!

In fact, I arrived a bit early. Two hours early, to be precise.

There was no else waiting, so the bf and I sat across the way at Manicomio to keep an eye on the impending queue. It was hardly a chore with the Christmas lights on the Square to gaze at as other people sat around us, outside.

When other Almodóvar fans started to arrive at Taschen, we joined the line – and waited. And some time later, he finally arrived!

Me in my rain mac and scraped back hair – hardly glamorous – as he signed my limited edition copy of The Pedro Almodóvar Archives.

When he saw my name on the post-it: Mina, Almodóvar chuckled to himself and repeated “Mina”. For a split second I thought it was because of Dracula or one of the actresses he works with regularly. It wasn’t until I left the shop that I remembered Almodóvar is currently working on a biopic about the Italian singer, Mina. 😀

After Almodóvar signed my book, he turned round to shake my hand and wish me the best with my writing. He had a warmth that felt refreshing and comforting. No wonder the same actors want to work with him time and time again. It’s clearly not just about his talent.

I found the whole experience inspiring and I will always cherish the words written in my book:

And I’m sure it doesn’t have to be said that this book has now taken prime position on my coffee table.

Do you have someone you would love to meet? What would you ask them to write in a book for you? x