Monday, 28 November 2011

Gift giving

Buying presents can be a daunting task. At this time of year we are bombarded with advertisements in magazines and newspapers trying to tempt us into spending our money on treats for other people.

As we all know, there is nothing worse than getting an unwanted gift. I asked several men and women to tell me what presents they would like and those best avoided this Christmas. Here are my findings. I hope they help you to get the appropriate present.

Women don’t want to be bought underwear as it’s hard to buy the right size for somebody else and men, especially tend to get it wrong.

Another pet hate was grandparents who buy woolly jumpers for a Christmas gift as they tend to forget that children grow up and their tastes change. Clothing is personal, so unless you really know what somebody likes or have asked them what they want, don’t bother. That goes for both men and women.

Novelty and gimmicky gifts are another no-no for both men and women. Household stuff and cookbooks (unless somebody has specifically asked for these) didn’t go down well either as women said that they felt cheated that they hadn’t been given a real present.  Men didn’t want power tools, car cleaning kits or DIY stuff for the same reason.

When it comes to make-up and beauty products the consensus seems to be: we love expensive pampering products but don't buy us make-up or fragrance unless you know what we use.

Women said that expensive jewellery always goes down well. A beautiful orchid or a bouquet of flowers were always appreciated. A good bottle of champagne went down well with both men and women.

If a man has a hobby such as golf and you can buy him something that is connected that is fine, but you should always ask him what he wants before you make a purchase. Avoid novelty gadgets and gizmos as men will have bought the ones they want themselves.

Gift vouchers or cash may indicate that somebody has not given you much thought, but vouchers are better than a present that somebody will never use. Other presents that go down well are special outings like tickets for the theatre or a day trip on Eurostar to Paris or Brussels, a weekend break, an adventure day out or a visit to a spa, yes even for men!

By Daralyn Danns

Monday, 7 November 2011

Destination Mexico City

Mexico City, one of the world’s largest and most densely populated cities, may have a reputation as being dangerous and polluted, but the sprawling metropolis I discovered bubbled with energy and charm. 

The many tranquil parks and gardens help to mask Mexico City’s frenetic pace. The air was cleaner than I expected and kidnappers were not lurking on every corner. I felt no more threatened in Mexico City than I do in London (there are parts of London I won’t walk around even during the day). I took taxis and used the Metro and have lived to tell the tale.

Yes, at times, Mexico City, which is 2,240 metres (7,350ft) above sea level, can be chaotic and frustrating. Driving round the city can be time consuming as there is always seems to be a rush hour. Well, it is home to over 20 million people. 

Go with the flow and you will find Mexico City will get under your skin and win you over like no other city.

In common with other capitals, Mexico City has many faces. Old Atzec ruins blend with stunning modern architecture and wide boulevards – the Paseo de la Reforma, dotted with resplendent monuments, being the most beautiful.

Areas such as Polanco, home to some of the city’s smartest hotels and shops, and the boho-chic districts of Condesa and Roma, where great bars and restaurants fuse with cool boutiques and art galleries are where you can feel Mexico City’s sizzling energy.

San Ángel is a quaint colonial district, renowned for its Saturday bazaar. While Santa Fe, in the west, is the city’s newest upmarket suburb.  Here you will find the city’s largest shopping mall, Centro Santa Fe. This and its high-tech buildings contrast sharply with the nearby slums.

A highlight of my trip was spending Sunday afternoon at Xochimilco. Sailing along its canals, one of the last reminders of the Aztec era, in a traditional boat (trajinera), with traders and musicians passing by and touting their wares is definitely one for the memory books.

The Centro Historico is where I began unravelling the layers that comprise Mexico City. At its heart is the Zócalo, the main square surrounded by architectural wonders including the Metropolitan Cathedral, which has taken over 250 years to complete, and the National Palace, which holds some striking murals depicting Mexico’s history by Diego Rivera, one of the country’s most renowned artists.

Round the corner are the ruins of the Great Temple of the Aztecs, once the ceremonial centre of Tenochtitlan, their capital. It is also worth a trip to Teotihuacan, approximately 30 miles outside the capital, to see the pyramids.

Other gems are the beautiful Fine Arts Palace, Mexico’s main Opera House and the Central Post Office.

Mexico City has over 100 museums so it would be hard to see them all, but the Frida Kahlo Museum is a must as is the Mexican business tycoon, Carlo Slim’s dazzling new Soumaya Museum.

For a flavour of Mexico City’s traditional nightlife, head to Garibaldi Square and Tenampa, a lively cantina where the mariachis wait to be hired to serenade you. I'm still humming the chorus (Ay, ay, ay, ay, Canta y no llores) of the renowned Cielito Lindo.

By Daralyn Danns

Getting there

Iberia (

Camino Real (

The St. Regis Mexico City (

Visit Mexico (

Friday, 4 November 2011

Winterising my hair colour

Over the last six weeks, since I last saw my colourist, José Molino at Neville Hair and Beauty, my hair turned slightly brighter due to being in the sun. However, I’m pleased to report that the shade wasn’t brassy, just a tad too light for my liking and, as I had been travelling, I had to go longer than I normally would without visiting the salon. In all honesty, the roots weren’t really that bad which I put down to José’s skill at using a variation of colours throughout my hair.

As there is less sunlight in the winter and we tend to wear richer and warmer colours, José said I needed to tone down the brightness in my hair and make it slightly richer and darker to give it more dimension.
“We’ll put in a few highlights in biscuit beige and do the roots in a dark sandy blonde. We will also add in some darker chunky slices and a few thinner pieces to add lift and depth to the hair. This will warm up your complexion for the winter,” said José.

“Having a variation of colour throughout the hair will make it low maintenance.  Regrowth will be less noticeable and, overall, your hair will be in better condition as you are colouring less and not having as many highlights which can be drying on the hair.”   

Over the winter, José suggests going for more natural shades and giving the hair a rest from too many highlights which will improve the condition. “Darker shades make the hair look healthier and require less upkeep,” he said. José’s tip is to start using a deep conditioner from the next time you wash your hair: “Don’t wait until your hair is dry. Prevention is better than cure.”

My hair is the best José has done so far. Eventually, the reddy tones, which I so hate on me, are almost gone, and have been replaced with more flattering sandy golden shades.

The best compliment that a colourist can get is having his work praised by other hairdressers. I have recently been receiving a lot of good feedback. The god of colour is certainly deserving of his title.

By Daralyn Danns

Neville Hair and Beauty (