Neill Strain Floral Couture

10 Questions with Jules Maury, Head of Programme at Scott Dunn Private


Where is your favourite travel destination and why? 

Everyone asks me where my favourite travel destination is all the time and I usually say, ' The place I have not yet been to!' Having spent years growing up in the States and Europe, living in Australia, Vietnam and then Africa, I would say my favourite destination would have to be Africa where I endeavour to return to year after year. Partly due to the wonderful friends that still live there, my love of wildlife and the feeling of being away from the rest of the world under those huge open skies. I don't think I ever sleep as well anywhere else in the world. 


What is your most memorable holiday?

My most memorable holiday was perhaps the extended time I spent on board a yacht in the South Pacific. We sailed many years ago from Honolulu to a tiny island atoll called Palmyra in the middle of the South Pacific, slowly onto Tonga, then Samoa and then Fiji where I flew back to Australia where I was living at the time. I will never forget the wonder of discovering extraordinary people in the middle of nowhere, lunches with people on deserted beaches who took payment in polo shirts and books, the pale blue uniforms with white gloves of the Samoan police and the sweet voices of the people singing in Church on Sundays. I do not think I will ever be on an adventure again that was so brimming with uncertainty, first time experiences and total wonderment at every turn!


What is your favourite season?

When anyone asks that question, I always think of My Fair Lady and flowers. Every season means flowers to me but that perhaps it is Spring, where apart from the wonderful Bluebells that carpet our woods, the Snowdrops, crocuses, Daffodils and spectacular Rhododendrons and Azaleas that bloom, it is the Tulips that arrive from Holland in all their guises. The Magnolias and Camellias bursting after the endless winter and above all the trees take on their green cloaks again. I lived in the Southern Hemisphere for too long and hate our winter where everything disappears into grey and brown twigs!


Where in London do you go to let your hair down?

It used to be Tramp late into the night, but one is a little more sedate these days and I work very long days! I think it would be to either Soho or Covent Garden to have cocktails, a great night out at the theatre and then a late dinner (or early dinner if you reverse the order). My husband loves Brasserie Zedel and I love cocktails in Rosewood Scarves bar.


Describe your perfect day in London?

Perfect day in London is definitely a lazy Sunday.  My husband and I both lie in as we have usually partied into Saturday night. Sundays are about Sunday lunch and papers, so we always book Sunday lunch with our friends either in one of our homes or in our favourite restaurant at the time. Petersham Nurseries with a walk in Richmond Park afterwards is a must as the weather improves! The full Sunday lunch is so English or Welsh, Scottish or Irish depending on where you live! It is one we have mastered as a nation for very many years! Then it is home to sit devouring all the papers and news we have missed throughout our busy week be it in the papers, The Week or all my travel magazines that pile up regularly in front of my chair.  Some kind of walk is involved where I dream of having a dog and then a lazy Sunday night preparing for the week ahead - so a harmless film on the tv, a minute scan of emails and a vague list for the week ahead.


Where in London do you recommend for a first date?

I think a first date is so dependent on the person you are hoping to impress. And how much money you have! And where you live! Josephine's is my new favourite in the Fulham Road, just the right amount of Francophile love with a sensible menu which is guaranteed not to frighten.  Scott’s has always been my favourite and if the wallet allows, a great all-rounder following cocktails at The Connaught or Claridge's, along with the newly refurbished Caprice now known as The Arlington. If I had all the money in the world and wanted to impress, I think I would send the invitation wrapped into a wonderful bouquet of Neill Strain flowers which someone did for me once. It read along the lines of be at The Battersea Heliport, I was taken to lunch in Paris to Le Grand Vefour and it was one of the most magical dates that I will never forget. No, I did not marry him!


What is your favourite flower?

Twofold. Or three! I love Peonies with a passion and Gardenias which remind me of when I lived in Sydney. And Frangipani from Vietnam days!


If you could send flowers to only one person each week, who would that be and why?

My darling friend Caroline who I try and take flowers to every week when I am in London. She has been battling with a cruel medical condition so bravely and flowers light up her home and her life.


What is your favourite film of all time? 

Hmm - it is a close run between Dr Zhivago and My Fair Lady.  I will never forget the thousands of Daffodils at Varykino after the winter wonderland turns into Spring and the endless flowers from the opening moments in Covent Garden to the flower scenes present throughout the London Season. Cherry Trees, Freddie, and all! And Peonies!


Do you have a favourite book or author?

That is a difficult one as books were always part of my life since I was very little. Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis was a favourite set of books for me to escape into as a child and I truly love Out of Africa by Isek Dinesen.