Ageing not strictly neccessary

Today I wore leopard-print skinny jeans (Top Shop, to die for), leopard-print shoes and scarf. And a white shirt.

“You still have the courage to wear leopard print?” asked a male colleague of a similar age to me.

“He thinks I’m too old to wear leopard-print,” I told another colleague as he left the room.

“Just ignore him,” she said.

“Maybe I am too old to wear leopard print.”

“Too old? With those legs? Don’t be silly.”

Last week in London my friend Annika and I behaved like teenagers, getting drunk and giggling. This week Demi Moore, who is even older than I am, posted pictures of herself on Twitter in her bathroom wearing nothing but skimpy underwear.

I have decided that ageing is not compulsory and that I am going to ignore it for the moment. I will not be posting semi-naked pictures of myself on Twitter or even Facebook. But I will wear my leopard-print skinny jeans for a while to come….

Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2010

Better late than never…

I don’t know what it is about popular culture but I seem to get onto it about a year after everyone else. Take Lady Gaga for example. Our magazine had her as the cover story last year. I naturally thought my story should be on the cover as opposed to some pop star I had never heard of. Today I bought her album – brilliant.

It’s the same story with Twilight. Today Leo and I watched New Moon. Which is better than the first one because you have the sexy Jacob to drool over as well. My stepson just asked me which one I prefer; Jacob or Edward. Both I replied. I think it’s unfair to discriminate.

I don’t know what it is about Twilight but there seems to be no age limit to its followers. I was introduced to it through, first and foremost, my children. But also by quite a few friends, some similar in age to me, who told me all about the new love of their lives, one Edward Cullen. Is it the brooding Darcy-style looks? The long lingering stares? Or the fact that he holds the most potent anti-ageing tool there is between his jaws?

If someone can explain the phenomena then please do. But even if no one can, I am happy just to be carried along. Eclipse on Monday… I fall……

Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2010

Discovering yoga

It is said that women of a certain age discover either God or gardening. I have instead discovered yoga. I can’t imagine life without it. And in fact looking back, one of my earliest memories of my mother is of her with her arms under her legs in some impossible position with her chest and head flat on the floor.

I don’t quite know what took me so long. OK so I dabbled before, but now I really think it is something I need to do every day and something I will keep doing for as long as I can.

Here at Shreyas of course we do it twice a day. Yesterday was amazing. I even got my nose down onto one leg in a forward bend. Something I never thought I would be able to do.

“That’s the first time I’ve ever done that,” I told the teacher and Carla. We are the only guests here right now, total heaven.

“You’ve got to have a very big nose,” said Carla.

Between yoga sessions, massages and writing part two of my novel (12902 words done so far) I am reading up about yoga and what it means. The word itself means union; which makes sense. It is the only exercise I have ever done where your body and mind are united.

I suppose in some ways that makes it a bit like sex. But if I had the choise, right now I’d opt for yoga. I guess that makes me a woman of a certain age…..

Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2010

Party animals…

There are many things I would describe myself as; efficient, busy, prone to car-sickness, grumpy when tired to name a few, but not a party animal. In fact my ideal evening would normally include being in bed by 9.30 and often asleep before the children are.

Imagine my surprise then when I found myself dancing on my terrace at 5am New Year’s Day.

It is amazing how fast the hours between midnight and 5am go. One minute it’s 11.30 and you’re thinking; almost there, almost time to go to bed and then whooosh suddenly it’s 5am and you have danced to ‘I will survive’ and ‘Valerie’ 14 times each.

I have a theory that life is a little like this too. That the years after 40 accelerate and life just whizzes by.

So one of my New Year’s Resolutions is to have lots more parties.

It was great fun, but less fun when at 7am Leo came storming into our room. When I explained why I was so tired he looked very angry.

“Didn’t you think you would be tired for Rafa?”

Happily my interview had been and gone, but we were off to claim Bea’s raffle prize. When we got there, it was the Swedish player Robin Soderling and not Rafa, which Bea was fine with happily. And before you start complaining about the quality of the picture, I was probably still squiffy from the night before. At least they’re both in it, just.

Another one of my New Year’s resolutions is to speak more Swedish with them in case Soderling ever become the world number one (which is looking likely, he was great during the tournament).

All in all an amazing New Year; Rafa, parties, book deal, masses of tennis, our friends from France, lots of food and wine. Now it is time to get back to ‘normal’ life. Except for the odd party until 5 am that is….

Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2010

A perfect birthday

Apart from the fact that I didn’t get the Ferrari and Marat Safin didn’t call me and offer to become my personal tennis coach I had as brilliant a birthday as  a girl can hope for.

Being born close to Christmas is a bummer, but I think that at this ripe old age I have finally found a way round it. You have a birthday party. People come with presents instead of just bunging you a card and saying “I’ll get you a big present for Christmas instead”.

The children were as nicely behaved as I have ever seem them; Leo’s job was to greet people downstairs and send them up to the terrace where our friend Sandra had created a wonderfully candlelit louche setting with fabric awnings, beanbags and rugs. The girls manned the bar. It is hardly surprising we got through 20 bottles of champagne in a few short hours; once those two get on a mission there is no stopping them. But they were all charming, all evening. Leo eventually fell asleep around 11pm on one of the beanbags. When I said to him this morning that I was so touched they were all so well behaved he said: “It was your birthday mummy, we haded to.”


The guests were all great. I have a theory that a drinks party is only dull if you invite dull people. And as it was my birthday I didn’t see any need to invite anyone I would resent being stuck chatting to. We had an eclectic mix; two ambassadors and my seriously foxy yoga teacher among them. Rupert has vowed to re-think his attitude to the downward dog.

What surprised me I suppose is just how many really good friends I have made here in just over a year. I don’t think I could have had such a large soiree of people I really like in France after almost nine years. Although of course we have some great friends in France whom I miss terribly. And Norrie and Mary in the Savoie also added to the euphoria over my birthday by sending me a copy of the new ITV Wuthering Heights and singing ‘Happy Birthday to you’ on the phone. But my point is that I think here, because you are so removed from Europe, you make good friends very quickly and there is also a bigger pool of potential friends because there are so many more people in the same situation as you are in.

Whatever the reason, as I surveyed the presents this morning (not one duff one among them; Chanel handbag (almost real), Girl’s Night Out Five CD set, book on Yoga, Clarins bubble bath, Estee Lauder lip plumping gloss, several gift vouchers to spas, lots of bottles of wine, a gorgeous necklace and more) I realised that I may have a hangover from hell and be middle-aged (yuk) but there are a lot of great people living here who really seem to know what I want. Including my office who gave me a huge bunch of pink flowers. I have rarely felt so loved on a birthday as this year. Maybe next year someone will show up with the Ferrari and my birthday really will be totally perfect….

Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2009

The Durham reunion

This year it is 20 years ago since I left university. I cannot believe it is 20 years, that makes me feel ancient, wrinkly and generally depressed. But 20 years it is and there was only one way to get through the landmark, celebrate with some old university mates and a lot of South African Sauvignon Blanc.

There were four of us old Durhamites at the beach restaurant, three of us living here and the fourth who had jetted in for a World Economic Forum event.


So Paul, Phil, Katherine and I settled down to lunch. I knew immediately Katherine hadn’t changed in 20 years despite now being one of the most powerful women in the City when the first thing she spotted was a man in a red thong.

“It’s not a good look,” she chuckled. It really wasn’t.

Happily our luncheon companions were more conservatively attired. Paul and Phil (or Phildo as Katherine kept reminding him his nickname was) both became bankers. They are not often seen in public wearing red thongs. Or in private, as far as I know.

Like so many Durham lunches it went on rather a long time. Phildo, being more sensible than the rest of us (which he always was), left around 4pm. I think we left at around 7 but I am not sure.

One thing is for sure though; however many years go by people stay more or less the same. I could never remember leaving a lunch party and Katherine was always extremely amusing and prone to spotting thongs.

“Did you play that well-known intellectual Durham lunch-party game of pass the piece of spaghetti with your mouth?” Rupes asked when I got home. He has a great respect for my place of learning. No, we didn’t, we’re saving that for the 40 year reunion when we can swap dentures instead. That’s something to look forward to. And maybe by then we will all have invested in some red thongs as well.

Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2009

Eleven years ago today…

Today is out 11th wedding anniversary. Eleven years ago today we were married in a beautiful white church in Hedemora, deep in the Swedish countryside. It is the same church I was christened in, by my grandfather who was the vicar then. Sadly he was not around when we got married, he died quite young.

“What does it feel like to have been married so long?” Rupert asked me. I told him it feels like an achievement. Not that it has been hard work, in fact it has gone very quickly. And I can imagine staying married for another 11 years.

This week was also Olivia’s 10th birthday and today we had her party. partyparty.jpgThe party went on for three hours. But there were times when it felt like it had gone on for longer than our marriage. Now it is over and we are here with my best friend Iona who is visiting from India. Eleven years ago today she was at our wedding too. And twenty years ago we left university together.

Here’s hoping we will be sitting around together in another twenty years’ time. But possibly without the birthday party…..

Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2009

A great week

It has been a great week.

I went to see the cellist Mathew Barley perform Bach’s cello suites at the British School here. It was truly amazing, as he said, there isn’t a note out of place. We could practically touch him we were so close.

I have slept through the night three times.

We have booked our summer holiday to the Savoie.

I interviewed an old Etonian, former model, Leonardo di Caprio’s body double and England cricketer who is now a famous artist. It’s not a bad job.


My latest book, the Viva Mayr Diet, is going to be serialised in the Daily Mail.

I bought my first piece of new designer kit (the only other has been from my favourite London second-hand designer store), by a brilliant designer I interviewed called Maria Grachvogel. An investment for the future. I have decided that the older you become the more exquisite your clothes need to be. It was a bit of a ‘couture’ experience, in a private room at the Westin Hotel in Dubai, just me, the designer and her commercial director. Now Angelina Jolie and I have even more in common…

I interviewed an anti-ageing expert who is 58 but looks about 40. And now that I have all her tips I plan on doing the same. (You will get them too, I just need to write the article).

I went for a drink with some friends on the 64th floor of a Dubai building and we watched fountains dance in a light-show on the ground beneath us as we sipped wine and chatted.

I had my nails painted a deep plum colour – very Cruella de Ville.

Above-mentioned artist (who also worked on George Clooney’s latest film) says he will take my book Ciao Bella to Cannes with him because he thinks it will make a great film and that Penelope Cruz should play me.

And now it’s the weekend….what’s not to like?

Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2009

How is this possible?

On Thursday someone I have not seen since 1990 showed up in town. Like most of my friends he is an investment banker and much richer than me. So it was no surprise that he showed up in a chauffeur-driven car carrying well-worn Louis Vuitton luggage. What did surprise me though is that he looked EXACTLY THE SAME as he did when I last saw him circa 19 years ago at a dinner party in London.

When I saw my best friend Iona in India l realised she was practically identical too. And I first met her in 1986. Actually she looks better now. She attributes her youthful appearance to plenty of time off and no children.


I didn’t dare ask these friends how I look for fear they would wince and say ‘well actually, you do look a bit rough, but not bad considering you’ve had three children and worked like a dog for 20 years.’ But is it possible that there is some part of our brains that not only recognises old friends, but ages them in milliseconds so that actually once we register who they are they don’t look a day older than 19?

Does that make sense? Possibly not. But if you’re confused imagine how I feel? Soon my friends will be younger than my children.

Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2009

A trying week

Not that I am normally one to grumble but…

Due to my back still being sore, I have not been doing much exercise and so am getting fat

Work changed the whole mail system and all of our emails were down for two days, some lost forever

School Fees are going up by at least 25% from next year

I have had a horrible sore throat for three days

Someone sent me a picture of himself aiming a gun on Facebook (bye bye Facebook)

Next week will be better I’m sure. I am having lunch with the author Amitav Ghosh, as well as meeting the Swedish crime writer Henning Mankell. They are going to be here for the Abu Dhabi Book Fair. Tomorrow my working week starts with a facial. I am researching an article into how to stay young in the sun. As opposed to how to stay fat and grumpy, which is me right now.

End of rant.

Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2008