SARAH French started her career in regional newspapers, including being Women’s and Travel Editor on The Northern Echo, before working as a media manager in Formula One, a role that took her around the world working with world champion Michael Schumacher and other drivers and F1 teams in the early 2000s.

She runs a PR business and lives in the Lake District.

She also has a lifestyle blog,, recommending places to visit, eat and shop.

Describe your style

THAT’S tricky. My friends came up with things like stylish, elegant and classic, but modern. One said “you don’t play it safe with just black and navy, often wearing nice colours”. I’m quite happy with those descriptions. I’d add that I always try to be well turned out, but also individual. I like a bit of the unexpected, something quirky, so Paul Smith, Love Moschino and Kate Spade, supplemented with occasional finds in Monsoon, Mint Velvet and Jigsaw fit the bill. If I had the money, it would be Chloe and Victoria Beckham.

Favourite foodie stop-offs?

I spend a lot of time out and about with work which inevitably sees me stopping at a lot of cafes. Betty’s has always been a favourite – I knew I was expecting our son at the Northallerton branch when I couldn’t face the mushrooms on toast I’d just ordered! Ian went for a celebration breakfast there on the morning our son was born, so we have a lot of affection for it. I love the nostalgia of the service and surroundings, but also the modern menu. As a family we’ve always gone to the Eastern Bamboo in Darlington, and I also like Middleton Lodge. Now I live in the Lake District we’re spoiled for choice. Favourites are Homeground Cafe in Windermere, Mathildes in Grasmere and Gilpin Spice.

Where do you like to chill out?

For my birthday, I went with three friends to Swinton Park, near Masham, for a day in the spa, dinner and overnight stay. I highly recommend it for a way to deal with turning 50! As well as the fine-dining Samuel’s restaurant, they now have The Terrace, with an open kitchen and blond wood and the cool Scandi vibe I like. Start an evening with one of their artistic and creative cocktails followed by either a tasting menu or excellent value a la carte dishes that are full of flavour and gently quirky.

The spa is only 18 months old. It’s lovely and modern with large, warmly-lit treatment rooms (a change from the usual gloom), an outdoor natural pool, hot tub and sauna, as well as a good-sized indoor pool, footbaths, steam room and sauna, gym, brasserie and shop. The highlight for me are the treatments, especially when delivered by Dalu, who is from Bolivia and has taken on legendary status amongst me and my friends. I’ve been to a lot of spas and had a lot of treatments and she is easily the best therapist I’ve had, especially when dealing with my knotty shoulders with a Bamford Body Signature Treatment. I also had an Elemis Pro-Collagen Age Defy Facial – I’ve always been a fan of Elemis skincare and this combines facial massage with marine-charged products. Post-facial I usually think I look worse, but even I could see marked improvement after this treatment.

Otherwise, for me, chilling out usually involves exercise. Living in the Lakes, we walk every weekend, and I also run, do aerobics at home and occasionally cycle and swim. I’ve always exercised – my weight has barely budged for 30 years – but it doesn’t get any easier! I have quite good stamina and like to push myself to feel strong and relatively athletic, but I do find you have to work even harder as you age. There are some bulges that just won’t shift!

How do you keep looking your best?

I’ve never eaten much meat and these days I eat hardly any, I’ve always preferred fish and seafood, and, depending on the dish, might choose vegetarian. Weeks go by when I don’t touch alcohol and my preference is a nice glass of New Zealand Sauvignon blanc, cocktails on holiday and a nice cold cider in summer.

I’ve always worn make-up, but it seems to last for ages so I spend very little on it – favourite makes are Nars, Charlotte Tilbury and Dior. I am a sucker for skincare and like trying out new things. Space NK is a favourite shop and it’s where I get Malin + Goetz Vitamin E Moisturiser; I also like Ren, Herbivore and Tata Harper. My latest must-have is Bath House Life Is Beauty Oil, a dry oil you can use on your face, body and hair. The fragrance takes me back to holidays in Devon with my son. I also recommend Dr Weil for Origins Mega Mushroom Skin Relief Face Lotion for redness.

My favourite hair products are Kérastase Nutritive and Sebastian Dark Oil, which smells amazing. However, when it comes to the amount I invest in beauty, I spend way more on books…

Are you bothered by being 50?

I’m still a bit bemused in a ‘how did that happen?’ kind of way and console myself with the idea of ‘with age comes wisdom’. I was truly spoiled by lovely family and friends on my birthday, but the best is yet to come with a trip to Venice, where we’re staying at the iconic Cipriani Hotel before returning home on the Orient-Express.

I am pretty comfortable in my skin and, as I’ve got older, am less bothered about how others see me. Age does make you a little more conscious about your legacy which, being a mum, means the values, self-confidence and ‘the world’s your oyster’ ambition I’ve tried to instil in my son, alongside making sure he appreciates the amazing opportunities he’s had and the fantastic education he enjoys at Barnard Castle Prep School.

Beyond that, as I am planning to live to 100, the other half of my life is just beginning…

  • Swinton Estate has a full calendar of events and offers for all the family to take you through the final weeks of winter.
  • During Half Term (February 25-March 1), there’s a Woodland Trail from 10am-3pm (£4 per child) and kids eat free at The Terrace throughout the holiday.
  • Valentine’s Day is £55 per person at The Terrace, and throughout March (excluding 30-31) you can treat your mum to afternoon tea (two for one offer). There’s a special Mother’s Day afternoon tea and Sunday lunch on the March 30-31 weekend.
  • Budding cooks will find plenty to appeal at Swinton Cookery School during March with courses including French Brasserie, Modern World Street Food, Baking, Deserts & Pastry and Fish & Seafood, all £160 per person. Email [email protected] or T: 01765-680900.

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