The Wild and The Tame, Slow Luxury in the UK.


“You think.

You wink.

You do a double blink.

You close your eyes and …jump!”

Summer’s End, 2012.

“Mmm-aaa-gic,” I purred upon my recent float into the puffy cloud envelope of down comforter, dinner and the warm promise of my home’s hearth, the fire-red Netflix screen on my Ipad. My luxurious, “fluffy lamb” state was a 360 degree transform of the evening’s rainwashed return to NYC from a wild, bucolic romp in Scotland,UK.

Whilst I stared into the “fire,” the “The Video Valium” as a friend calls it, my gratefully-landed carpetbagged, journey-soaked-from-flying-about-Mary Poppins-self slid effortlessly into a Bert sidewalk chalk drawing, as a classic 1980’s era BBC’s Doctor Who episode whirlpooled itself into view. (familiar, funny-eerie time warp music up.)

T’was this, plus returning home at the finale of the London Olympics, which reminded me why we all so love the UK, Brits and Scots. Time-traveling, superhero, magic characters such as the ever-kitsch,royal and lovable Time Lord Doctor and Miss Poppins balance the Upstairs, Downstairs emotional dramas of LIFE. They are always saving the world, always re-incarnating, whilst pish-poshing themselves and our tiny ego-visions of either ourselves or our planet. “It’s bigger on the inside than the outside,” the Doc says of his own Time machine.


Royal pomp taming the wild universe IS absurd. This formula of “Officials,” Lords and Ladies in traveling ships, furry tall hats and dramatic long scarves may well represent the folly of trying to tame one’s ideas of WILD.  Whether we are trying to tame new empires or our own emotional waves. Our “day-to-day human” struggles reflected by silly walks of royal drama, such as “when in Las Vegas” Full Monty spillage, Kate Middleton deerstalking in a plumed “fascinator” or a Scot’s punch line to every joke: “At the Pub!” are a kind of Emperor’s New Clothes woven in a necessary transparent tartan, presented to alleviate Suffering, humanizing, taming and evolving us all on many levels.

We are now at the crossroads of a new weave. With a “warp” of our poetic, romanticism of UK and Celtic lore, landscapes and history we must address the un-bridled desire, procurement and effect of our “first-world” entitled demand for “elegant” modern luxuries with a new respect for time, tradition and materials. Factory farming, fois-gras or child-labor is much more than a few environmentalists crying “Wolf!” Hello? Anyone in there? It’s more like a wake-up call, a guard dog or wolf baying at the moon, “Woof!” woven with a “WTF?” Consideration for the unalienable rights of all nations, people, animals, plants and livelihoods must be transparent and in harmony. A global conversation on the idea of a “United Peaceable Kingdom.” All the while, this immense re-balancing of the planet is clearly just the universe…

giggling at itself.


Flashback. My earliest memory of the UK. With sassy style and respect for all creatures, the “arrived-from-the-heavens” governess, Mary Poppins, descended into my life through books handed down from my mother. While Mumsy was imaginative, surrogate Mother Mary’s curious ability to pop in and out of sidewalk drawings, Royal Doulton bowls or to gift her little lamb kids with visits from talking Stars was thrilling.

Flash-forward. Last night, Doctor Who, with a comely blond in 1980’s gear, saved the planet from the talking, universe-destroying goo in a big vat hidden behind a large carousel in London, who in turn was turning London’s store mannequins into robot terrorists. Be tame, my wildly beating nerdy heart.

Flashback. T’was age 16 when I first went to London with my Time Traveler Gods of that moment, Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood. What I saw then on my first journey, wide-eyed on the streets, Terry Jones’s invention, The Straight Up, capturing the real-time street theatre of tame bankers, queen Mum types, wild-style punks and the first Cosplayers of infinite variety…changed the way I looked at the world,

F O R E V E R.

Back in the mono-styling US, I kept the faith and lust going between long,repeated forays through treasured early issues of the Mother of Street style: i-D mag and Alexander McQueen. Thusly did my views on life became forever firmly rooted in this

free expression and celebration of life.

I’ve visited London many times since, but this summer was my first voyage to the UK countryside. This time I took my imagination filled with Burt’s sidewalk drawings, a time capsule memory of Doctor Who’s countryside ramblings, Danny Boyle’s Olympic carousel visions and my own vivid, vivid lucid dreams before the trip. You can imagine me happily packing my tartan mini-kilts, yards of lace for impromptu ruffs and MP’ish ankle boots in Fandom for these two colorfully-clad Time Travelers for my own crack at this land’s mystery this Summer. A few dust-offs and peel-backs of vintage i-D mags and the grey, granite treadmill of my hometown, New York City, let the Carousel rides began.


Walk the row of pictures and trip with me, dearies.


The trip: A delicious 3-way proposition:

Gather top journalists and tastemakers to experience Scottish Luxury now. First, a welcome stay at the legendary 5-star resort Gleneagles to taste slow luxury through The Fraser Balgowan Experience and Slow Luxury Round Table showcase sponsored by Textiles Scotland.

Second, the adventure included an all-day, deep-into-the-Highlands jaunt through endless lush hills and mountains with a 3rd generation deerstalker and the chance to design a bespoke Fraser Balgowan bag with the sustainably-harvested hide. Do think ecological balance, free-range quality of life, think no-wolves since 1700’s and discuss amongst yourselves factory-farmed meat. And leather.

Feel that “luxury” leather of your shoes and accessories…right now this minute.

Do think paradigm shift.

Third, as the happy and inspired group headed back to the airport, I then traveled on to spent four incredible, long days at the estate of Fraser Balgowan designer, Fiona, aka “M’Lady” and her husband, Ewan, deerstalker and shepherd to wild black-faced sheep. Ewan (tweeded lad above) aka “The Highland Treasure.”

Endless hills courting bubbling springs. Bright sun flashing.Tiny, tiny and bold smiling wildflowers and grasses of all kinds.

A stiff upper lip may be the extreme gift, the hardy UK’ers have given us, however, upon arrival in Scotland, I was deeply moved by the magical, changeable weather, where mist and dew shimmer in the sun as it breaks and peeks through clouds. This cycle of refreshed light opened a flow of emotions and delighted my heart in a very immediate way…each time. There is this same kind of Slow Luxury in the shared deep emotions which come from fine craft and objects made for each other with care and respect at all levels, whether Sunday breakfast in bed, a $30,000. bespoke suit, couture dress or custom-designed adventure.

This is Luxury. Slow Luxury.

That slip between worlds of rain and sun was the same as catching a 70’s or 80’s Doctor Who episode shot in endearing video, that homespun quality added to the kitsch factor of “otherworldliness.”

Water as a flow and continuum makes the lifeblood of emotions surface. Water is everywhere in its transitory forms in Scotland versus just a memory during sunny days. Water has just passed or imminent. It demands attention. Dew after rainstorms, misty air and rainbows all at once. Note the meeting of very wild+cultivated tame landscape inspired by Capability Brown...such a W O W!

A full rainbow appearing just as we arrived, landing on two “just-over-there” points on the Gleneagles’ gorgeousness, where you could run 100 feet and check to see if the pot of gold was sitting on the grass? We all “happened” to be on the rooftop and I wondered which Time Lord programmed THAT.

In contrast, get a little Slow Scotland on with this series of images hiking on the Fraser estate. Go ahead, Emote.

And if that didn’t get you, trust I felt like swooning and howling Kate Bush when the flock of the Fraser’s sheep scrambled and jogged in front of us, making patterns and baaa-ing music getting smaller in the distance in a way I will ne’er forget!

Drama alert. Here are Jade and Jaden, two Fraser estate lambs born in the Spring and “named” after me. News flash, my Summer visit happened to coincide with their planned “teenage” separation from their Mama, I was a city slicker witness and sacrificial lamb to their calling back and forth…all night long…interspersing with my own dreams. (counting endless “ba’a, ba’a, ba’a that night vs. leaping wool balls…trust) Of course, time-traveling Mummy and Poppins re-hash dreams resulted. A re-visit with my own feelings about this emotional, teary-eyed, water ritual which we humans must endure and celebrate as well was a lil’ gift from Jade and Jaden.

(thanks Kids.)

Wine, whisky, pearls, people, animals…slow luxury… takes time. There is work everyday, rituals of growth and transition for all things. Plants salute the sun everyday for harvest, ants milk aphids, bees serve a Queen working in honey factories, sheep exchange peaceful grazing for wool and warmth of their bodies, while farmers, businessmen and, let’s face it, all of us, work daily,in exchange for life. The value of our own lives are changing and so must our relationship to Nature.

I write this post on the “blue moon” of August, the second full moon this month. I am “feeling” the emotions of the moon, the energy and myths of wolves baying at the moon. Goddesses of the moon and the hunt kept wolves as familiars in many cultures. Wolf sings the moon into existence say Native American Seneca tribes. We were in Scotland to remind ourselves of and be touched by ancient and new relationships with animals and ourselves.

The absence of wolves in Scotland and other countries, has resulted in deer overpopulations and managed hunts to prevent disease and imbalance. I found it fascinating that wolves represent water and psychic energy. Their myth and presence is like a frozen or misty fractal, as humans and caretakers, we must now balance the emotional waves of animals and ourselves…

and the impact of our every thought and action upon our world.

How we approach all with sensitivity. How we orchestrate the borders of wild and tame. Purpose and desire.

And, on that note, the first landing, the watering hole at Gleneagles, The Bar.

This 1920’s era corral was filled with spiffy, hippy families, executive golfers and even a well-known US newscaster on vacation. Our gang included David Beahm, celebrity event planner aka “The Pres,” as he spent many hours on the phone with The White House on holiday decor; Cator Sparks, aka “The Style Colonel,” because he officially is; Clint Brownfield, aka “The Travel Manatee,” (in his own words) and Laurie Kahle, aka “The Malibu Miss,” eternally blond, wise and expert in all things luxury. M’Lady, Fiona Fraser, Kate Trussler of Gleneagles and myself welcomed the group.

From that introduction, the daily delights and details kept coming at Gleneagles. Beginning with the breakfast spread, seemingly miles of food choices, options and attention to Scotland’s best. (see a buffet of 25 feet!) Gleneagles procures 60% of its food supplies from local farmers, very impressive, very sustainable.

Delights such as hand-rolled salmon, with the sublime fresh taste…

to the staggering emporium where one can choose one’s meat, have it cut fresh, cooked and brought prepared to the table. (Rivaling only Eli’s or Eataly in New York City for the array) Still in my watery mode and anticipating dinners with multiple courses, I chose minestrone for the first lunch. Sensibility and decorum ended there.

Time leap forward to dinners at the 5-star dinner at Andrew Fairlie’s in Gleneagles. His watermelon dish made my eyes mist over, one of about 300 truly inspiring tiny delights we thrilled over.

Andrew Fairlie won his Roux scholarship aged just 20, then studied and concocted under French Basque country’s star-chef Michel Guérard in Gascony. Classic French influenced, but I loved the atmosphere, it was so warm and enveloping.

The room is all about comfort and cozy, deep baquettes plumped with pillows for lovers or groups of friends, as we were joined by Charlotte Kissack, our UK PR, aka “Anne Hathaway’s lost little sis” and Alison Bradley, Editor of Fusion Flowers magazine, aka “The Queen of Flowers.” My Queenship luxuriated in my all-time fave dark walls, mood lamps, massive silk drapes and a succession of intoxicating “waters” such as a Gobillard 1er cru bred grande reserve Hautvillers, from the same named village, considered the “Pearl of Champagne.” Like feasting in bed. Yum.

L O V E.

Slow Luxury.

And if you still wanted cozy after that…

Single malt whiskey and Cuban cigar tasting in the Blue Bar, an all-weather open and heated cave, had me in my mind’s eye wearing a 60’s cocktail sheath along with a James Bond type, swigging back a few. The proper tasting of both is actually a very refined Slow Luxury art, with rare ingredients, stages and procedures, just like the best “off” smelly cheeses or mind-altering perfume. I was fascinated that the real Johnnie Walker was the town grocer who flowed from tea blending to exotic concocting of whiskeys. The spray of salty sea air and the smoke of peat taste are just the start. I handled it. (see hand on right)

The tiny bites that arrived were so sublime in taste and ingredents, this is actually where I stopped handling it. We will have to wait for the film from Matt Brown, seen above, for details on these adult versions of “here comes the train” spoon-feeds. Thank God for filmmakers, for when writers and poets dive into rhapsodies.

I shared the cigar with Cator. Trust he looked Cuter smoking it. But honestly, it really tasted wonderful. Those bottles of Johnnie Walker Blue on the wall behind Cator? Individually reserved by patrons for their next visits. Incredibly more swank than NYC bottle service.

I am now intrigued by whiskey, especially discovering more women enjoying it. Some mixed-gender things and sensual outings are best tamed and so they separated the men and women for tours of the next watering hole. Gleneagles’ extensive spa.

The Gleneagles spa is award-winning. Taking the waters, with a full-range of nutritionists, specialists and every type of beauty and wellness support really could be an entire visit in of itself!

Speaking of getting royally drenched…the legendary UK brand Asprey’s Purple Water, graces the baths at Gleneagles. My first memory of Asprey was Jade Jagger’s mash-up with the brand and Garrard. Asprey was founded in 1781 as a silk printing business turned into a luxury emporium, the spot to stock up on crownscoronets and sceptres for royals from around the world. The Asprey Cut of diamonds is such that it can be done only by hand, unlike other stones cut by machine. I was reminded of the Heart of the Ocean, the blue diamond on the Titanic, which Asprey made for the movie. My water jewel was my own porthole window in my bath, just one beauty in my perfect slow luxury room. Everything was dark, beige and white and very high and very plump. Terrace wide open, fresh air.
Asprey’s Purple water is a citrus fragrance of lemon, mandarin and jacaranda fruits, which, please note, I ecstatically tasted right from the tree in Brazil, the same time last summer!  Spicy bits from basil and ginger along with vetiver root, pepper, and musk base notes bring on the earthy woods. Which reminds me of my favorite spot at Gleneagles…
…what I came to call “M’lady’s Water Closet,” a secluded, grander-than-my-whole-NYC-apartment (kidding) elegant suite with ante rooms, one each for mirrors, a dressing table, water closets and open glass doors looking out to lush pinky-purple hydrangeas, a plaza, a fountain and the changing state of water and mist.
Here is a bit more mood-altering, behind-the-scenes of the trip into the hills for our communion with Nature.

Of the deerstalking, blogger Gillian Brown, who was on the trip, wrote,“In many ways the Fraser Balgowan Experience is the ultimate in consumer honesty. It’s not only a look at the process, it’s becoming a genuine part of it and finding out exactly what goes into that gorgeous bag. It’s a gigantic leap further than buying free range meat and it’s all done in one of the most beautiful, historic surroundings on Earth.”

Cator Sparks in a sporran from Hamilton & Inches put it bluntly to the industry via his article in Huffington Post’s Stylist… “

“I look forward to running around town and country this winter with my new deer hide bag knowing exactly where it came from, the process it took to get it to its present state and the fact that that beautiful stag lived a serene life way up in the foggy, chilly, windy and romantic Scottish Highlands. That’s certainly more than I can guarantee for my Hermès leather belt. The game changer has arrived.”

Our “Arrival” in Glens of the Monarchs

Our car trip into the Highlands was a continuous unfolding of Beauty. Passing castles, 45,000 acres of land belonging to one family, noble light-splashed mountains and wild flowers which had me gasping. While Cator kept watch,” Castle on the left!,” I astonished even myself, moaning and gasping over cows, trees, sheep, etc. it was truly orgasmic. Guests of The Fraser Balgowan Experience travel by helicopter, I imagine that an even more stunning journey!

You really feel the value and time it takes to even find the deer in this majestic Land. Notice the horizontal tree line on the hills? That’s not clear-cutting. It’s a natural line left from the glaciers receeding.

T I M E       T R A V E L.

Destination: Bothy. Bothies are man-made rest places in the hills for picnic lunches. Relative size in landscape: ant-hill.

Just after our “beyond” 7-course lunch packed by Gleneagles…

…the boys traded Range Rover for Ewan’s 8-wheeler Argo “boy toy” and riders, Cator, David and Matt, ascended the mountain like a Phoenix rising to the sun’s peak, becoming just a mere speck as we watched it climb up to the top…for this view:

while we girls and “The Travel Manatee” Clint, hiked below in the foothills to get intimate with flowers, brooks and Peace.

Gillian and Fiona play water nymphs.

And now, a little time-lapse to our next watering hole.

Yes, Cator said a prayer of thanks and “….” his first deer. I cannot use our common words for this experience of relationship between two creatures. To further watch two stylish, spiritual, wise and reverent friends from New York City, Cator and David, after sharing such a primal and sacred act, touched me more than words can convey.

You really begin to understand how separated we are from essential sacred acts in communion with Nature. How honoring all life, process, commraderie, friends and passages is a bond rare. Cheers, to my brave friends.

Later when the guests met with Fiona to design their Fraser Balgowan custom bags, the displays of silverware from the renown Hamilton & Inches underscored this land of beauty, bravery and time-honored craft. A sporran is worn with a kilt as a bag to hold things, however, worn like a cod-piece, one cannot help but sense the pride of a warrior who honors all of Nature with his life.

On another evening, our Slow Luxury Round Table showcase and cocktail was sponsored by Textiles Scotland, and matched journalists and luxury experts with the offerings and dedicated representatives of Johnstons of Elgin, Begg and Hawick cashmere and Eribe. Do take a Slow Luxury moment to read about Fraser Balgowan’s bags, now in Saks Fifth Avenue NY and Read more on these exquisite brands, the event and other planned Round Tables on the new Slow Luxury site, which explains further about this New Standard for luxury fashion and design goods.

Watery bits on the Estate

Along with memories, I brought home both a Fraser Balgowan bag and a 10 pound weighted carpet bag…I will leave you to guess whether that is luggage or my body. What is that, about 600 stones or 50 pounds of British sterling? Felt like it. I was moved, I was emoting, I was eating. A lot. Here are some other Watery bits encountered from breakfast, dinner and dessert, this time on the estate of the Frasers’ nestled in a sweeping Highlands valley.

6 am. Purple Rain, Anyone? Via A Water Droplet Sky on Fire…shall we?

The hearth of the estate is truly the heart of the home.
That motorbike rug laid like a prayer in front of the “Aga” stove (more about that in a minute) is not just kitsch decor, oh no. When not deerstalking, Ewan suits up in full white, blue and black leather regalia and helmut and speeds on his James Bond-ish futuristic bike throughout the hills. To give you an idea of the scope of the land, I actually sat in the yard and could watch as the bike zig-zagged back and forth over roads and hills in the wide valley for miles around. Back inside, I fell more than a little in love with this classic, cast iron, workhorse Aga stove“beloved of housewives throughout Britain” a headline in the Telegraph proclaims.

Curiously invented in Sweden in 1922, by a Nobel-prize winning scientist, who became homebound due to a blinding experiment, it was this that actually opened his eyes to his wife drudging about with housework and cooking. Agas last more than 50 years, retain heat, save energy and they can heat the entire home. With differing areas suitable for warming, heating, boiling, etc. it made me realize what a pampered, useless one trick pony pet our typical stoves are.
And just so you FEEL how un-kitsch the Fraser’s kitchen was, see this hearty bread on their antique plates on their marble counter. Bread from town, dishes and custom counter work by Ewan and Highland pals.
The Highland Treasure and his prize-winning sheep. In addition to folks ringing his mobile and flying in from around the world to deerstalk with Ewan, he has a wall of awards for his sheep breeding. I actually was more awed by the range of calls and sounds he used to guide his two super smart dogs. Talk about “You Better Work!” The dedication of the dogs, Ewan’s efficiency, strength and passion with his animals is nothing short of amazing.
And yes, he does look good in a kilt. (Ewan and Fiona on their wedding day!)
Bags and bags of wool filled one of their barns. I am an Aries, so I get particularly wild about wool. 
Grand Discovery? Sticky Toffee Pudding. Hands down, face filled, the Best Dessert on the Planet. This was not in the 5 star resto, this was me “blindly” choosing it from the town grocery store shelf. I now think of it as an alien plot, as I am hooked.
Shortbread. The town grocer, with family in the US, was actually more like a Jewish deli kibitzer, challenging us to name all the Rat Packers by name. We didn’t fare so well at that game, but he did proffer this brand of shortbread, Chrystal’s shortbread cubes, which was not funny at all. I am also now hooked on these.
And then there is George, the Frasers’ Highland cow. Meant to be Christmas dinner, his curiousity about humans, sheep and farm goings-on, gave him a name, gave him fame and perhaps best for him, gave him the word “Tame.” (Not for eating, then.)
Oh Scotland. You are wild and tame and I love you. The time to depart The Motherland had come. This Time-traveling teen was called back to rocky, granite Gotham and all the Wildlife scurrying about there.
Unseen and Everywhere the pollen travels, like the tamed rose of time-traveling aviator, Little Prince, seeded itself on a planet. Ideas can seed in us, even when we’ve become rock-hardened by the city and life. Preserving nature is going to further ask for hard positions and the re-organizing of our hard-wired emotional paradigms. I’ve mentioned elsewhere on this blog, how this image of a Celtic warrioress of the Pict tribe, has been symbolic for me. Integration and protection of all that which is ephemeral in flowers and beauty is the Quest. We need the soft, fluid, psychic, dreamy and flowery to appreciate and balance with logic.
From Time Traveler, The Little Prince…
“My life is very monotonous,” the fox said. “I hunt chickens; men hunt me. All the chickens are just alike, and all the men are just alike. And, in consequence, I am a little bored. But if you tame me, it will be as if the sun came to shine on my life. I shall know the sound of a step that will be different from all the others. Other steps send me hurrying back underneath the ground. Yours will call me, like music, out of my burrow. And then look: you see the grain-fields down yonder? I do not eat bread. Wheat is of no use to me. The wheat fields have nothing to say to me. And that is sad. But you have hair that is the color of gold. Think how wonderful that will be when you have tamed me! The grain, which is also golden, will bring me back the thought of you. And I shall love to listen to the wind in the wheat . . .”

The fox gazed at the little prince, for a long time.

Back back in NYC, I saw in a fresh light my own tamed and wild little, slow luxury world, from my art to my cat, my comfy bed and to my hearth.

…to my meals on my Spode plates which are now more wonderful, because I now see Scotland and England in them…
…to the word on the sidewalks with new glowing media praise for Fraser Balgowan, via new articles in Wall Street Journal, and Forbes.
…to linear time again and new IPad occupations, such as PBS’ The Buddha, on the journeys of Siddhartha, with it’s beautifully animated illustrations telling the story of a man choosing to move from the lap of luxury to stillness under a tree for enlightenment and Buddha-consciousness. To the parable of wild lotuses rising through mud to sit serene on top of our watery emotional waves…
Back to my favorite NYC spots for “nature calls and water-closet refreshers” like Central Park or marveling at flowers in swanky marble lobbies, flowers on upolstery and hello to little green islands of wishing in water bowls in plush bathrooms, such as the one in the Crosby Street Hotel across from the office.
Goodbye to Scotland, goodbye to the UK for now and perhaps goodbye as well to our un-balanced, carelessly, emoting animal-nature? Or is that un-balanced, carelessly, emoting human-nature? Let’s just say it’s Hail to our planet’s move from human-centric childish and teen things …like angry, conquering boy stuff and angst-filled, teen-aged Mother-daughter silly dramas…to a wiser balance. From the rolling hills, from watching Volver (again) on the plane, to the Dalai Lama’s wise take on humor and desire, to my new urban Ipad amusement of 1960’s Italian sex comedies. Life. Drama. Upstairs. Downstairs. It’s all so silly.

“Goodbye,” the Little Prince said.

“Goodbye,” said the fox. “And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

“What is essential is invisible to the eye,” the little prince repeated, so that he would be sure to remember.

“It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important.”

“It is the time I have wasted for my rose–” said the little prince, so that he would be sure to remember.

“Men have forgotten this truth,” said the fox. “But you must not forget it. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed. You are responsible for your rose . . .”

“I am responsible for my rose. ” the Little Prince repeated,

so that he would be sure to remember.

written by Jade Dressler, images by Matt Brown, Gillian Brown, David Beahm and Jade Dressler


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