Monday, 30 June 2014

Wines from Brazil

Every time I turn on the television to watch a World Cup match and see views of Rio de Janeiro that defy superlatives, I am catapulted back to the sun-filled days that I spent on Copacabana Beach. Standing by the Statue of Christ The Redeemer on top of the 2,300 feet-high Corcovado mountain looking down at the city below was more amazing than I dreamt it ever could be. 

Rio de Janeiro
Courtesy of the Brazilian Tourist Office

When I saw that Waitrose had launched a collection of Brazilian wines, I had to try them. Capturing the essence of Brazil in a bottle, for me, is adequate compensation for England being knocked out of the World Cup. 

The caipirinha, a refreshing cocktail, is what you usually associate with Brazil, but there are over 1,100 wineries in the country.   

 “We’ve been exploring Brazil in order to introduce our customers to the best wines the country has to offer,” says Waitrose’s Nick Room. “We have worked closely with three Brazilian wine producers over a number of months to craft these wines. All five new wines are made from international grape varieties widely known to customers, yet have a sense of place and feel uniquely Brazilian.”

Here are two that I have tried and enjoyed.

Waitrose Brazilian Chardonnay 2013, Serra Gaúcha, Brazil £8.99,Waitrose
From Serra Gaúcha, the country’s main wine region, this zingy number is bursting with citrus tangs tempered with peach. An extremely pleasant wine that goes down a treat, especially on a hot summer’s evening.

Miolo Riqueza Cellar Reserve Pinot Noir 2012, Campanha Gaúcha, Brazil, £11.99, Waitrose
Pinot noir can be a difficult wine to get right, so full marks to this light, vibrant red. Oozing flavours of plums and blackberries infused with a hint of chocolate and just the right amount of spice, this is a delicious wine that is gorgeously velvety on the palate. 

By Daralyn Danns

Friday, 27 June 2014

Essential make-up items

When applying make-up you are creating an image that you want to show to the world. Whether you like to wear a lot or a little is always a personal choice. 

Some people need more than others depending on hair colour and skin tone. I have always liked only a subtle look as I have strong features I tend to look strange when I am overdone. Even lipstick can age me dramatically.

While there has been a lot of talk recently about women going bare-faced in public, my attitude is if you feel comfortable and look good why not? It saves time in the morning and in the evening. Besides, you don’t have to worry about make-up meltdown.

However, most of us look better with a bit of help. Some days you need more than others. If I am sitting at my computer all day and just popping to the shops, I often wear the bare essentials. 

I never leave the house (maybe in the depth of winter) without wearing sunscreen. I use several depending on where I am going, the time of year and how long I will be out. 

A good one is Crème de la Mer The SPF 50 UV Protecting Fluid (£65). It is great for daily protection as it has all the benefits of its renowned Miracle Broth and has a light silky texture which quickly absorbs into the skin. This gem offers protection against both UVA and UVB rays (3:1 UVA / UVB ratio.) as well as helping to protect the skin from discolouration. It also contains anti-oxidant benefits as well as giving your complexion a radiant glow.

When I need a bit more help and am not going to spend too much time in the sun I turn to YSL’s  CC Crème Forever Light Creator in Rose (£30). It has SPF 35 as well as offering defence against UVA rays, (you don’t put this on as thickly as you would a sunscreen). It evens out skin tone and gives you a lovely natural rosy glow. It contains a high-tech complex which, the company says, can focus on colour correction in the long-term as well.

You can use this after your skincare and before make-up, but I tend to wear it just over moisturiser, buffing it into the skin and then apply a light sweeping of blusher.

I’ll vary the shade of blusher dependent on my skin tone. My go-to brands are Bobbi Brown, Mac and Chanel. I also have a couple of Clinque’s which I love. 

For a more polished look, I will sweep on a coat of mascara, always combed through with an old mascara brush so it looks natural. Presently, I am using Clinique Lash Power Feathering Mascara (£18). It gives me lovely thick natural-looking lashes without being gooey.

For speed, I quickly apply a eyeliner as close as possible along the upper lash line keeping it as thin as possible. It makes the lashes appear thicker so you don’t need to wear mascara.

My favourite is Bobbi Brown Perfectly Defined Gel Eyeliner in Violet Night (£18) which has a lovely, subtle shimmer.  This gel-based pencil stayed put after a long-haul flight!

Clarins Lip Balm Crayon in Delicious Plum (£18) looks like my natural lip colour. I mix this with its wonderful HydraQuench Moisture Replenishing Lip Balm (£19) as I have a lot of colour in my own lips and don’t like a notice-me mouth. 

The My Pink reacts with the PH of your lips to make your own special shade.

By Daralyn Danns

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Destination Madrid, Spain

Madrid is wonderfully seductive!  This international and high-octane city, where life moves to an upbeat rhythm, oozes a distinctly Spanish flavour.

Almudena Cathedral and the Royal Palace
© Agustín Martínez
Courtesy of Madrid Destino Cultura, Turismo y Negocio S.A.

Resonating with history, the home of amazing art and a foodie’s heaven, the Spanish capital has always been one of my favourite cities to visit. But since a programme of recent improvements, Madrid has morphed into a world-class player exploding with exciting shopping, exceptional restaurants and bars and its top-ranking museums have got bigger and better. 

Old world elegance melds together harmoniously with contemporary edginess. There is no doubt that Madrid is Spain’s pulsating heart, yet what makes the city stand out from the crowd is that it still manages to be incredibly intimate and welcoming. The Madrileños certainly know how to enjoy themselves. There is a spirit about the place which is infectious, despite the political and financial difficulties. 

Although said to have been inhabited since the Lower Palaeolithic era, it was only in 1561 that King Felipe ll made Madrid the capital of his empire. Carlos lll, nicknamed the "Mayor of Madrid", in the 18th century wanted a capital that matched the likes of Paris and Rome and had the centre built on a grand scale. His idea seems to live on. 

Plaza Mayor
© Paolo Giocoso
Courtesy of  Madrid Destino Cultura, Turismo y Negocio S.A.

The best way to get around the city is to walk. (The Metro, if you want to use it, is easy to navigate.) At every twist and turn, you will find a pleasant surprise. My guide, Lidia did a rather spectacular job of condensing the history of Madrid and pointing out the highlights in a few hours. It was clear from the outset that eating and drinking is of vital importance to the Madrileños.

A stroll through the Plaza Mayor, the city’s main square lined with colourful buildings, makes you feel as if you have stepped back in time. The 16th century cobbled streets and medieval squares of the surrounding area also boast a good selection of tapas bars offering plenty of tasty treats. And they are not just filled with tourists, you will find yourself socialising with locals as well. A bocata de calamares (calamari sandwich) is a traditional speciality.

Madrileños like to party. They eat late and think nothing of rambling around the streets until dawn. So you won’t be having early nights in this city! 

Lidia also ushered me into the world’s oldest restaurant, Botin, in Calle Cuchilleros. According to the Guinness Book of Records, it has been doing uninterrupted business since 1725. I can’t vouch for the food as I did not eat there, but I did see the old brick ovens and cellars.

© Courtesy of  Madrid Destino Cultura, Turismo y Negocio S.A.

Chocolate lovers should seek out Chocolateria San Ginés hidden away in an alley near the Plaza de Ópera. For over a hundred years, it has been renowned for its delicious, thick, hot chocolate and churros – the perfect pick-me-up after a night on the town. 

After taking in the Almudena Cathedral which took about 110 years to complete and the Royal Palace, which occupies the site of the old Alcázar fortress, a former Moorish castle, we took a gentle stroll through the pretty Sabatini and Campo del Moro Gardens.

Passing through stunning wide boulevards lined with resplendent buildings, we soon arrived at the iconic Cibeles Fountain which has watched over the Paseo del Prado since the 18th century. I could only guess at the tales it could tell!  It is also here that Real Madrid celebrates its victories. 

My tour finished, it was time for the Art Walk, a paradise for culture vultures. Within a kilometre or so you have Madrid’s three main museums.

If you only have time for one, make it the Prado. I was mesmerised at what has often been called the greatest painting in the world: Velázquez’s Las Meninas. There is free entry (6pm-8pm weekdays and 5pm-7pm Sundays for visitors) but if time is of the essence, pay and go early in the morning. 

Unfortunately, there was not time to visit the Reina Sofía and the Thyssen-Bornemisza, also free early evenings. Going to a city like Madrid, it is virtually impossible to see everything in a couple of days. Next time!

With most of the city’s key sights ticked off, it was time to unwind so I headed for El Parque de Retiro, once a recreation area for the royal family. Peppered with marble monuments and awash with perfectly manicured lawns and a gorgeous lake, this was the perfect way to recharge the batteries for an exhilarating night ahead.

By Daralyn Danns

Getting there

British Airways operates up to three flights per day from London City to Madrid in addition to services from Heathrow with connections also available from across the UK and Ireland. Fares and more information about British Airways services can be found at

Always a pleasure to fly with British Airways. This is a top-notch airline. Service is consistently good and I always feel as if I am in safe hands. I flew from London City Airport which means I could check-in 20 minutes prior to departure (15 minutes with hand luggage)

I stayed at the Hotel Auditorium, a member of Great Hotels of the World Luxury Collection. For more information or to book visit or call 020 7380 3658 

For more information about Madrid visit and

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Choosing sunscreen

What to look for

It can be confusing when going to buy sunscreen, so here are some useful tips.

More expensive does not always mean better. All sunscreens have to comply with EU regulations. It is fine to buy a cheaper cream as long as it has a high level of both UVB and UVA protection and you apply it thickly and frequently – every couple of hours. Remember to cover all exposed bits of skin including ears and toes. Ensure you first put it on about 20 minutes before going out into the sun.

The one you choose should also be photostable – in other words the filters do not break down in the sun.

Enjoying the shade

Checking a product’s protection level
Sun Protection Factor (SPF) indicates the product’s ability to protect the skin from UVB damage. The higher the number, the more protection you get.

UVA protection

UVA rays are said to penetrate the skin more deeply than UVB and are associated with ageing as well as now being regarded as a cause of skin cancer. Choosing protection can be baffling as there are two different systems in use by manufacturers

The British Association of Dermatologists (BAD) points out that according to the EU Recommendation, the UVA protection for each sunscreen should be at least a third of the labelled SPF. A product that achieves this requirement will be labelled with a UVA logo, the letters “UVA” printed in a circle. 

“The UVA in the circle is EU standard, meaning that the UVA protection meets the minimum standard advised by the EU recommendation,” says BAD. “Therefore the UVA in a circle should be used as a baseline to determine if a product offers UVA protection.”

You may see a UV star rating on the packaging. This measures the level of UVA protection in a product in relation to UVB. It was created in 1992. Boots was the first in the UK to adopt a system for measuring levels of UVA protection in suncreams.

Boots UK sun care expert Clare O’Connor explains  that a five-star UVA product offers approximately equal protection against UVA rays as well as UVB rays.

The UV circle was introduced more recently than the original “star system”. BAD advises people to look for a high SPF (30 or more) to show UVB protection and at least 4 UVA stars and / or the UVA circle.

A sunscreen with a low SPF may have a high star rating as the ratio between the UVA and UVB protection is roughly the same but not because it contains lots of UVA protection. 

Sunbathing and vitamin D

The current advice from BAD regarding vitamin D is: “You should not sunbathe to increase your vitamin D levels as you may increase your risk of skin cancer in doing so. Small amounts of incidental sunlight, as you might get through your daily activities, may help to boost your vitamin D levels; just exposing your face and forearms to the sun should be enough (these are areas of skin that are generally exposed to the sun during our everyday activities).”

It also points out that presently there is no definitive guide to how long you can spend in the sun. There are so many variables such as skin colour, strength of UV on a particular day, where you are geographically and other lifestyle factors that a one-size-fits-all approach is impossible.

How do sun screens work?

There are two types. “Absorbers” which are also known as chemical sunscreens and as the name suggests absorb harmful UV radiation and “physical” which act like a shield and reflect it from the skin.  

By Daralyn Danns