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Ten happy things – July 2023

Gadír in Pantelleria

Each month I like to write about ten things that made me happy and brought me joy. Sometimes they are small things, such as a good book and other times they’re a bit bigger… like a holiday on an amazing Italian island. Here’s my ‘ten happy things’ for July!

Lunch with Nancy

I was delighted when my friend Nancy, who lives in Bath, said she was coming up to London and asked if I was free for lunch. The last time I’d seen her was in Hong Kong in 2019 so we were overdue a catch-up!

We had lunch aboard the Darcy & May Green in Paddington, which is a lovely spot to have lunch – especially when the weather is good. Even though it’s been four years since we last saw each other, it felt like it was only yesterday. It was so such a joy to see her and I hope it’s not four years before we meet up again!

Kirsty and Nancy enjoying lunch on a moored barge.

Hampstead with Dawn

I met up with my friend Dawn one Friday afternoon in Hampstead Heath. We had a wander around the Heath and then had lunch at the fabulous Burgh House. They are a museum in a Grade-1 listed building with a cafe. They have the most gorgeous outside tables, set amongst flowers and greenery, and as the weather was nice we were able to sit outside.

After lunch we walked around the museum, which is one of Hampstead’s oldest houses. Then we headed for some ice-cream and more walking. The weather was great so the perfect day to go for a stroll.

Lunch at Barrafina with Shelley

One Saturday my husband and I met up with my good friend Shelley for a delicious lunch at Barrafina near Charing Cross. We’ve been to many of the Barrafina branches but we love this one because the staff are so friendly.

As always we chose a number of dishes to share, all washed down with rose Cava. The food and service was great and it was so good to catch up with Shelley too!

Meat dish with mash and a sauce

A holiday in Pantelleria

For our Summer holiday we went to the amazing island of Sicily and explored an island off Sicily called Pantelleria. We had the most wonderful time! I absolutely loved Pantelleria as it has beautiful swimming spots (although there were a lot of jellyfish for half the time we were there), a stunning lake and gorgeous vineyards.

We visited during the heatwave in Europe but thankfully Pantelleria wasn’t too badly affected and it wasn’t too hot. Our hotel had an infinity pool so thankfully we could cool off there when we couldn’t swim in the sea.

One of my highlights was dinner at Coste Ghirlanda in the vineyards. It was magical!

Kirsty stands in Coste Ghirlanda vineyard in Pantelleria with a glass of white wine in her hand

Chilling in Cefalu

We visited Cefalu in 2019 and loved it so much we went back this year. I love returning to a place because you already have some restaurants you love and things to do, so it takes the pressure off a bit. One of the highlights was visiting the hillside town of Castelbuono and having a delicious lunch with one of our favourite Sicilian wines.

Pork ragu and mushroom pasta

Read two books

Normally I tend to read one book a month but in July I read two! The first book was The Vanishing of Margaret Small by Neil Alexander and the other was The Girls Who Disappeared by Claire Douglas. Both were pretty fast paced and really good. I thoroughly enjoyed both of them.

24 hours in Palermo

We’ve been to Palermo many times but usually it’s just for a night before we transfer to another part of Sicily. We have spent a long weekend in Palermo but it was many years ago so we decided on our last holiday to have a full day to explore this fascinating city.

Our hotel recommended lots of things to see, including the amazing Archive – which was free. They have volunteers who explain some of the history of the items.

Palermo Archive

We visited a number of churches, Palazzo dei Normanni (the Royal Palace) as well as all three markets – Vucciria, Ballarò and Capo. We fitted a lot in!

Floating my stress away

I experienced my first float in 2021 when my friend Shelley and I went for her birthday. I was invited by Float Hub, in Shoreditch, to try their float tanks so I booked it for when we got back from holiday. I usually find flying quite stressful so a float was just what I needed to relax!

If you’ve not been before, you basically float in a tank that’s filled with Epsom salts. There’s lights and music for the first and last 5 minutes, but for the rest of the time you float in darkness and stillness. It’s really good for mindfullness, as well as having other health benefits.

Lunch with Clare at Battersea Power Station

Clare and I met over Instagram and we met up in person a couple of years ago. We’d been planning to meet again for ages so I was glad we finally got a date that worked for us both. We met at the new Battersea Power Station for lunch and had a walk around trying to find somewhere to eat – settling on Leon. After lunch we walked along the river all the way to Vauxhall, which was really nice. It was great to catch up with Clare and hopefully it won’t be two years until we meet in person again!

Battersea Power Station

Afternoon Tea at Great Scotland Yard Hotel

I was lucky to be invited to experience the Great Scotland Yard x Floris Afternoon Tea on the last Saturday of the month, ahead of Afternoon Tea Week.

Afternoon Tea takes place in The Parlour at the luxury Great Scotland Yard hotel. It is a beautifully styled room with lots of natural light. For their latest menu, they’ve teamed up with the iconic perfumery Floris London, which has a Royal Warrant holder for their perfumery.

We thoroughly enjoyed the Afternoon Tea and particularly enjoyed the Summer berry choux with elderflower mousse and the Jasmine and bergamot mousse.

Three-tiered stand with various cakes

So that’s my ‘ten happy things’ for July. How did your month go? What moments brought you joy and happiness? Let me know in the comments.

Kirsty Marrins

Reader, writer, occasional runner, travel lover.



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