First World Problems

Passport down to the last 2 pages and passport office is being run by people who seem to only have the vaguest concept of what efficiency is. Another Brexit ramification (now need 2 stamps for all EU countries so I’ve filled up half a passport in a year).
 
There should be a generic “stateless” EU passport or 1 year travel visa for those of us who want to opt in. I’d pay for it. I’m also running out of days I can travel because you can only spend 60/180 days there.
I know what the answer is, I just fear it may ruin me.
I must marry an EU man (a small ceremony in the Tuscan hills and honeymoon in Maldives), acquire a second passport, and run off before he’s had the chance to unearth my scam. Rebrand as “Bally Farloo”, and resume my travels.

Mondays

Are what you make them. 3 Michelin Stars (+ sublime wine pairing) and an evening at the Royal Opera. Also my nice ass in a little Chanel suit.

Inspired

By the traditional flavours of Rome.

A little invention from my kitchen: Cacio e Pepe Beans with pancetta sage. I used a mix of butterbeans and cannellini beans for texture, and fried the sage until crisp in the pancetta fat. Very simple but perfect for the season.

10 Random Questions

An off topic Q&A1,Describe your dream house:My goal is of course the archetypal “Big fuck-off House in the Countryside”. A 5 bedroom 6 bathroom converted barn (only problem is all the barns have been converted already but I’ll find one, somewhere), kitchen with an island with 4 bar stools on the end, 4 car garage (needed for an everyday car, big country car, sports car, and classic car), home gym, cinema room, wine cellar, bifold doors opening on to 1-3 acres of land (I’m not big on the idea of too much land) including vegetable gardens and pizza oven, a dog (silver greyhound), big fireplaces, no visible neighbours, modern interiors, hedges trimmed into spheres and a gravel driveway. Ideally populated by me and someone willing to tolerate me forever (I doubt such a person exists 😅)2,Key to happiness:For me… not expecting other people to make you happy. Respecting the preciousness of time. Appreciating nature.3,Dream travel destinations:Currently… Japan, Austria (Vienna, or to ski), St Barts, Oman, Tel Aviv. Would enjoy Provence next year if possible. I base my travels around food mostly, so would enjoy the South of Italy also for a food tour.Obviously the Maldives (nobody has pitied me enough to take me yet), but really only for 4 days because there’s nothing to do but snorkel, eat and have sex. Actually…. that sounds great! 😊4,Rank 5 sports in order from best to worst (to watch).First of all I’m British so basketball, baseball and hockey don’t exist in my world. American Football is rugby for children. Therefore:– Rugby (not willing to debate this – rugby is the best sport on earth. Like ballet for brutes, rugby at its highest level is beautiful and impressive to watch. Have often dreamed of being reincarnated as a rugby ball)– Tennis (if you play sport or are athletic yourself you have to appreciate tennis for how complete a sport it is. This year was my first time watching Wimbledon live, and seeing the speed, stamina and precision involved was amazing)– Football (I’m a Spurs fan and in the boxes in the new stadium they have heated seats and delicious snacks so that’s significantly raised my appreciation of football recently)– Cricket (my heritage is half Caribbean so I’m allowed to say this: cricket is a seriously boring sport, invented for people who can’t compete in other sports – sorry)– Golf (the discrepancy between how fascinating it is to play vs how boring it is to watch cannot be underestimated. Watching golf is like watching porn – people only really want to watch the last few minuites 😂)5,How’s the film list going?It’s not. I watched Blade Runner last week and fell asleep 15 minuites in. It’s confirmed that I just don’t enjoy film (not Hollywood anyway). I’m still going to get through the list which has now grown to some 60 films, but I think perhaps the art films I love so much are perhaps more my speed. And documentaries. I’ve realised I usually don’t like fiction, in any context. I sadly can’t remember the exact quote or who said it, but somebody once said ” I detest all works of fiction, all novels should have a base in fact”. I know I’m misquoting because I Googled this quote and nothing came up – but anyway that’s how I feel. My current obsessions see serial killer documentaries, Grand Designs, and Chefs Table. I also like war films and films about famous/historical figures. I just finished watching the FIFA documentary and to be honest I expected the corruption to be even worse than what they showed. Sept Blatter – what a guy – almost a Bond villain – I’m absolutely amazed he agreed to be on this show… perhaps they persuaded him with a big brown envelope of cash 😂6,Would you rather have sex 10 times a day, 2 days a month, or 1 time a day every day.I’m a self confessed maximalist, more is more. Every day please 🙂 (varying degrees of effort obviously 😇)7,You can only pick kissing or sex for the rest of your life:I’d go as far as to say most people would have sex with more people than they would deeply truly kiss. Kissing is much more intimate but if I absolutely had to choose… sex it is.8,France or Italy:I have come to believe that the French think they’re the best at everything and this is because for the most part they’re right. The main advantage France has over all other places is you can have a simple life with everything you need. As opposed to many other countries that force you into a complicated life with nothing you need. I love Italy of course, but I’ve visited France 3 times in the last 6 weeks – very varying places: St Tropez, Paris, and a quaint little town near Normandy called Honfleur… and I would say France gives unparalleled variety. That said, Rome > Paris. I love Italian style, but the French can do luxury like no other country (happy to be proved wrong!)9,(This blog was written before Liz won, then resigned 😅)Rishi Sunak or Liz Truss?Many of my friends in Think Tanks or politics think that we are basically all doomed. I’m a little more optimistic although I agree the options are dire. For me, Rishi Sunak, as I believe Truss is a fundamentally unintelligent person. I just wish Sunak would stop pretending to be in tune with the working man. If he owned his wealth, I think he would be far more palatable. You don’t need to pretend you go to Poundland or buy your suits at Marks and Spencers when your wife is a billionaire. What nobody wants to admit, is that for his position in life, his personal spending is extremely restrained. If I was Rishi Sunak all my suits and shoes would be handmade, I would only fly private, I’d pay my kids favourite pop stars to show up on their birthdays and so on. His approach is actually very modest, very British. He comes across as somewhat patronising but again, at very least he seems like an intelligent man, which would on balance be a net improvement on what we currently have.10,Favourite artist:Currently loving the photographer David Yarrow. I won’t pretend to be more knowledgeable about art than I am, but I also went to a fantastic talk a few weeks ago by a female artist who compiles the most amazing limited edition books, each one a work of art in itself – these interested me a lot too. Recently I did the obligatory visit to the Frieze art fair – I won’t pretend I enjoyed it as more than The Other Art Fair in Shoreditch, which to the naked eye showcased works of an almost identical standard.But anyway, that’s enough from me.See you soon….Love and kisses!Billie x

What I’m Reading

About a year ago I got a Kindle. I’m not sure why because I’m fundamentally opposed to them, and regarded the thing with absolute contempt. I like real books, not only because them somehow just feel better, but also because I travel a lot and many an airplane or poolside conversation has been initiated by a stranger asking what I’m reading. Anyway, when I started reading Hot Seat by Jeff Immelt (the former CEO of General Electric), I finally caved, because I still haven’t finished Les Misérables which is a brick of a book, and these days I like to travel light (I can do 4 days with a carry on case, just about). So I decided to pack my second book in Kindle form and have to say that Jeff Bezos guy is on to something – I have the most simple/basic one, but the mere ability to not have to find a page, to highlight things with one tap, to look words up with another tap and so on – I am a convert. I finished Hot Seat, which I thought was a very good book – full of business insight and anecdotes that only a man of such importance could have. I enjoyed him recounting how Angela Merkel would waive her staff so she could make and serve you tea yourself, a formidable woman who would always ask him what he could do for the German people. There are a few Trump stories in there as well, as well as a lot of detail about what it was like to run one of the worlds largest conglomerates (at one point, he has a plane that had the sole purpose of following his plane around. He speaks a lot about the changing world of business, and I really found myself to feel I would really like him as a man as he came across as very self critical, self aware, hard working and kind.

 

Anyway, I have started Erving Goffmans “The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life” which is sociological/psychological theory. I am still reading Les Mis, which is one of the most beautiful books ever written, but I always struggle with fiction (books, films, and other lies) so I’m not putting any pressure on myself – I’ll finish it when I finish it.

Luck be a Lady

Food, Live music, and me of course! Decided on a chic leather outfit to add a little edge to the evening.

Country Exploits

I would love a countryside jaunt or over the next few months. I love country hotels, forest walks and open fires in this season. This is the perfect season for cosy evenings and using the weather as an excuse not to get out of bed! I have compiled a small list some hotels I like or have my eye on:

Limewood Hotel and their sister hotel The Pig, New Forest.

About: These are relatively new hotels with elegant yet comfortable interiors. Both relaxed, Limewood is a little more upmarket, and hosts both a gorgeous spa and a restaurant by Michelin Star chef Angela Hartnett. The Pig has a farm and is slightly more relaxed.

Pros: Both in the New Forest where they have friendly little ponies walking around freely.

Cons: Can’t take pony home with you (I’ve tried, turns out they don’t want to be dragged into the back of an Uber Exec)

The Gnewt, Somerset.

About: Recently opened by a South African gazillionaire with exceptionally good taste. The spa looks to be one of the best I’ve ever seen, with a massive heated outdoor pool, and the hotel is surrounded by acres of gardens and woods. I haven’t been, but heard consistently good things and had my eye on it for a long time.

Pros: I’ve always wanted to have sex in a Roman Villa and they’ve got a Roman villa.

Cons: None.

Heckfield Place in Hook, Hampshire.

About: Have stayed a 5 times (sometimes alone) so an old favourite. Large grounds and a lovely farm and 2 restaurants, one with a Green Michelin Star. Harry and Meghan stayed here on their honeymoon. They also have a stunning cinema with seats made by Rolls Royce. They also have an extensive wine cellar with many rare vintages.

Pros: Only a 90min drive from London.

Cons: The spa STILL isn’t fully finished due to eccentric perfectionist owner.

Cliveden House, Berkshire.

About: A little more old world than my usual tastes but so decadent and famous I would like to try it. Surrounded by nearly 400 acres of impeccable (and private😉) National Trust countryside, and a favourite for aristocrats looking to impress their mistresses, and Royals seeking top tier hospitality. They also have a fleet of boats for romantic trips along the river.

Pros: “Pet Friendly” which means nobody should mind if you walk me around on a leash.

Cons: I will be the sole source of diversity in the entire hotel.

Lympstone Manor and Gidleigh Park, both in Exmouth.

About: Spent a Birthday weekend at Lympstone a few years ago and would love to return. This is the project of Michelin Star chef Michael Caines, formerly worked down the road at Gidleigh. Famous for their gold bathtubs and award winning Michelin Restaurant, Lympstone Manor, is a smaller, quieter country hotel, known for excellent, personal service (chef drove from his house to the restaurant specifically to wish me a happy birthday). Gidleigh is more cosy, the traditional country hotel with wood panelled walls, giant bathtubs, and fantastic reviews.

Pros: (from the perspective of your heart) So far away we must spend at least 3 days.

Cons: (from the perspective of bank balance) So far away we must spend at least 3 days.

Whatley Manor in Malmesbury, Cotswolds.

About: Much more like a massive cottage, home to a private cinema, jazz on Sundays, and a fabulous restaurant which I’m amazed lost one of its Michelin stars this year. Nevertheless, a lowkey, comfortable hotel with beautiful grounds and the most epic indoor/outdoor spa

Pros: In the heart of one of the most beautiful parts of the country.

Cons: The restaurant is so quiet I’ll have to save my more politically incorrect jokes for another time.

Gleneagles, Scotland. 

About: 2022 winner of Virtuosos “Best Hotel in the World”, famous for some of the UKs most prestigious golf courses, AND Scotland’s only 2 Michelin Star restaurant. Set in 850 acres, where you can golf, fish, shoot, or simply enjoy, the Hotel also hosts 10 restaurants and bars to choose from. I have only been to Scotland once(!) so have my eye on this for my second visit.

Pros: If you annoy me I can shoot you and make it look like an accident.

Cons: Scottish people everywhere.
(joke! 😂)

Alba

A truly special Birthday treat, exploring Alba, Italy, home of the elusive white truffle (and eating our way through the Michelin Guide!)

Thank you

If you were kind enough to send a Birthday gift, I appreciate it… Your generosity will not go unrewarded (wink wink!)

Love Billie❤️

Haute cuisine / Home cuisine

(Top) A wonderful evening of precise but unpretentious cooking, courtesy of 1 Michelin Star chef Angela Hartnett. Bold flavours and seasonal produce – every course was perfection. Fine dining that still managed to remain respectful of the simplicity and regionality of Italian cooking.

 

(Bottom) My own, somewhat more humble cooking: Oxtails, braised for 6 hours in stock, red wine, and anything else I could throw at it. Cooked until falling off the bone and served with confit garlic and thyme mash, and a tangy pickled red onion and tomato salad.

Don’t have to be

Charming, but it helps.

Dinner date extended to an overnight because there’s no such thing as too much of a good thing! Thanks for laughing at my bad jokes xxxxx

Drawings, Dogs, and Disappointments.

I don’t write blogs so much anymore so a quick reminder not to be offended by silly sense of humour.

 

6 years ago I started sponsoring 3 children through the charity Action Aid. It was mostly a selfish endeavour, as most charitable acts are – it made me feel good. I have continued the sponsorships to this day, but after receiving yet another drawing from one of the children, it has struck me as rather suspicious that the quality of the drawings haven’t improved over this 6 year period. Whilst I know access to crayons must be limited for my little CHILD ARMY darlings, I do wonder why, now aged 11-ish, they are still struggling to draw a house. You would think – given how many of these sponsorships exist – one of these kids… just one… might have some artistic talent. I’ve had the opportunity to meet one of them (I didn’t take this opportunity because I’m British, and therefore would find it excruciatingly embarrassing), so my hunch is that they are real children, but almost definitely not real drawings.

 

So how is Action Aid producing these drawings I wonder? My most plausible hunch is the kids that haven’t been sponsored are locked in illegal Drawing Camps, and forced to draw night and day. Once their skills start improving they are whacked over the knuckles with canes to keep the drawings consistently amateur. How better to satisfy the appetites of greedy westerners who must be bribed into giving their spare change to charity with the promise that a child in a war-torn country will periodically find time (when not dodging bombs) to draw them a pretty picture. You could just GIVE them the £10 a month of course, but no no no, we must barter with the starving child. They can have the 35p a day, but they must in return reward us with drawings so we can accidentally-on-purpose leave them on the coffee table in order to present ourselves as morally superior to anyone who visits. In any event, I’m sure by the time these kids reach age 20, the drawings will still look like a Jackson Pollock-Basquiat hybrid (perhaps I could sell them, or would that be unethical?). Selling the drawings in the current climate could be massively advantageous. Not only could the sale benefit society by virtue of Trickle Up Economics (it’s a new term I’ve just coined but I’m sure Kwasi Kwarteng will be using it soon), but also, the mini budget is offering a tax break for art sales because everyone knows that most poor people have a Banksy hidden in the garage. Just kidding! There’s a new name for garages. These days they’re calling them “studio apartments”. The benefits of these apartments are endless. I saw one on Zoopla where the shower cubicle was so near the kitchen you could take a hot shower and steam your vegetables at the same time #EnergySaving.

 

But alas, fuel prices are rising quicker than my overnight rates (and no, I won’t be price-matching my nearest competitor). The answer I have realised is that inner city men have ditched their fast cars in favour of small, irritating little dogs that are from an evolutionary perspective completely useless, but nevertheless totally irresistible to some women. The Pomeranian is the new Ferrari. Pubs in Chelsea look like the Crufts final on weekends. I’ve seen women run across roads and throw themselves to the ground to pet them. The irony is not lost on me that the majority of women who want a Pomeranian, look and behave a bit like one. I’m a greyhound girl myself – that dog is absolutely beautiful – it’s like a mini racecourse, but without the stable costs and bitter disappointment leading to resentment when it never wins anything. A few people I know have racehorses that never win anything and they’ve described what must be a similar thought process to that of a psychopathic serial killer: at first they are infatuated with the horse, then over time they become more and more disappointed and angry until finally they begin fantasising about killing and eating it (this is also what it’s like to be married, or so I’m told).

 

Anyway, winter is coming, which means your balls must be getting cold. RSVP should you wish to warm them up. We can pretend they’re a Pomeranian 😍

 

Love,

 

Bille x