Destinations | Perfect Weekend

Lyn Harris’s London

Lyn Harris founded fragrance house Miller Harris in 2000. Her perfumes are sold across the globe and last year she added a range of notebooks, flower waters and olive oils.

April 01 2010
Alison Gunn

“Friday night is a good night to entertain, so we’ll have some friends round for dinner and Christophe, my partner, will cook. He’s from Brittany and is a great chef: he does a wonderful sea bass with a salt crust, served with potatoes and roasted vegetables. I’m afraid I don’t cook much because I can’t get food such as chopped onions on my hands; the smell means I can’t work the next day. Garlic is forbidden in our house! We’ll serve the fish with an organic white wine; at the moment we like one called Les Terres Salées.

I’m an early bird, so on Saturday I’ll quite probably be up before my son, Henri, who’s four. I’ll make a cup of tea and potter, notebook in hand; morning is my most creative time. I love to look out of the windows of my top-floor flat at the changing seasons; in spring you can smell the oak trees on Primrose Hill coming to life. When Henri wakes at about 7.30am he always asks, “Am I going to school today?” and is delighted when the answer is, “No, it’s Saturday.”

After breakfast I’ll pop over to my gym at Lord’s Cricket Ground and do an hour with Shane, my personal trainer. It might be boxing, which kills me, or floor exercises, or machines: I can’t stand routine. Afterwards I’ll go and meet Christophe and Henri at London Zoo, where we have an annual pass. Henri is really into the insects at the moment.

Lunch is at Melrose and Morgan (pictured), a deli-cum-café in Primrose Hill that I don’t seem able to keep out of. They serve delicious quiches, wild rice salads and the best decaff cappuccino I’ve ever tasted: coming from Yorkshire, I’m a big tea drinker but I gave up coffee when I was pregnant, and this is just lovely frothy milk, really. I’ll go home via Regent’s Park Road for more shopping: fruit and veg from Yeoman’s and I always need something from Mrs Welsh’s wonderful hardware store.

In the afternoon I often take Henri, with my sister Julie and her son, Finn, to the Miller Harris tea room in Bruton Street. The boys love the fairy cakes, which come from Primrose Bakery, and I’ll test the teas. It has proved quite difficult to get the fragrance right in some cases, taking months to sign off a blend, but I’m a perfectionist and won’t give up until it’s right – otherwise, what’s the point? Then Julie and I sneak next door into Maison Martin Margiela. I love his classic style and have a few pieces: a blue jacket with “ribbons” on the back seams and a new pair of shoes. Then Julie and Finn come round to the flat for supper and I’ll make a big pasta dish for all of us.

Sunday is a lazy day. I go up onto my roof terrace, Henri plays with his toy cars and Christophe sets off in search of croissants. I don’t know where he goes – different places – but he always comes back with delicious pastries and French bread; the best is from Daylesford.

Because I’m away so much with work, weekends are family time. My parents moved down here when they retired, so they come round, and Julie and Finn, and we all play football and hide-and-seek in the communal gardens behind my flat. They are beautifully kept, with lots of bushes and trees and places to hide, and they’re always deserted. In good weather we’ll eat out there, then sometimes we’ll go for a walk on Primrose Hill, or if the weather’s really rotten we’ll take the boys to the Science Museum.

Sunday evening is “our time”: Christophe cooks, which makes up for his having spent the afternoon at the football. He’s an Arsenal season-ticket holder, and is quite obsessed, I think. Later we’ll settle down to watch a DVD – I like drama and action films, anything with Matt Damon or Sean Penn; I could watch him for hours. Early to bed, early to rise is my way: I’m usually asleep by nine o’clock.”

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