Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Luardos – Mexican Street Food.

For the best Mexican food I've tasted on these shores, head to Whitecross Street Market on Thursday or Friday. It is crammed with food stalls, including Luardos. The carnitas burrito is delicious. I haven't tried anything else yet because I keep having to order this. I'll report back when I do more research. In the meantime, I strongly suggest you go. There are lots of other really amazing looking stalls down there too, all of which are packed. Go, my children. Go!

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Retirement of a party girl.

Just before the sun came up on Sunday I got home after a very busy Saturday. Up early – I did the Great East Swim, my time was 40 minutes – I went for a Korean barbecue feast, and then on to a party for some friends who are going away for six months. It was a great party, lots of dancing, lots of great music, lots of wine. I then proceeded to wake up at midday on Sunday, nap in the garden, nap in bed and get up again at 6pm. I wasn't able to string a coherent thought together in my tiny brain, or do anything remotely taxing. We had Domino's pizza for tea.

Cycling to work yesterday in a dream-like state, the sad realisation hit: my days as a party girl are officially over. I danced my way through university and my twenties, and as I stared brainlessly at the sky on Sunday during the garden part of my nap, I thought hopelessly of the million things I wanted to do. (Paint my front door, a ton of personal admin, venture out into the beautifully sunny day and DO something.) In short, I can't go out all night dancing like I used to. I have used up all my party tokens.

I've been facing this reality for a couple of years now, as I slid into partying semi-retirement. I moved house, from party central (east London) to the more sedate north London. I had a bit of a difficult transition period, when I realised popping out for a few drinks and a dance here and there wasn't as easy now that I couldn't walk home. And owning a flat doesn't help. I have an ongoing list of things I want to do around the house.

I have to face facts that I am now fully retired from the party. Although I will still be making special appearances on the circuit. Please stay in touch with me party friends. Just because I am unable to dance all night any longer, do not forsake me.

Here's an amazing tune that was played by my friend Dayo on Saturday. Love the bored voice the guy who sings this has. Bored voices in songs are my favourite. And the photo above is of the customary balloons at legendary party The Loft. Read about it here. Mind you, I'm listening to Mainline now and getting the urge to go out dancing. Hopeless. Is there a Disco Dancers Anonymous?

Mainline – Black Ivory

Monday, 28 September 2009

Monday music.

Glug is a design industry networking event. They put on parties with design talks, demos, food, music and dancing. James played records at their event last week, and did a mix which they gave away in their goodie bags. You can downoad it here.

I absolutely LOVE the Love Unlimited song on here. Enjoy!

–ghostface ft raheem devaughn – baby
–the beatnuts – find that
–nancy wilson – sunshine
–diamond – confused
–stezo – its my turn
–love unlimited – high steppin hip dressin fella
–brentford alstars – greedy g
–nice and smooth – make it funky
–gang starr – just to get a rep
–common – I want you
–joe bataan – cycles of you
–john holt – i will
–quantic & his combo barbabo – the dreaming mind
–aquarian dream – you're a star
–james pants – we're through
–miz davis – sing a happy funky song
–chic – girl you cant do it alone
–grover washington jr – i cant help it
–don blackman – hearts desire
–walter strauss – a fifth of beethoven
–dynamos – we dont need no help
–the blackbyrds – time is movin on
–steely dan – time out of my mind
[Thanks to Romain Kedochim for the pictures.]

Saturday, 26 September 2009


I need to learn how to say WANT in a hundred different languages to express how much I want this bad boy. Spotted down Tufnell Park Road this morning. I mean, what is it though? A weird chunky campervan?

Friday, 25 September 2009

Young House Love.

If you can get past the cutesy way in which it is written, the Young House Love blog is a great source for inspiration if you have DIY block. (Which I always do.) Looking at what these two have achieved with their home makes it look easy. Look at their before and afters here. It makes the big things we need to do seem absolutely tiny in comparison. (New kitchen floor, extend and repave the seating area in the garden – I cannot use the word patio, I am afraid – paint the front door. And, from where I'm sitting, one of the lightbulbs in the living room needs changing. James, are you READING THIS?)

And if you've got time to kill, look at how they did their wedding all by themselves, in their back garden. Although I have to question how they did wine for 75 guests on $100 dollars. That just would not fly in the UK.
[Image taken from Young House Love, with thanks.]

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Thank goodness for Carole King.

Yesterday was one of those days at work. And the allure of the change of the season has gone now that the season has, well, changed. So I thanked my lucky starts when Carole King popped onto my Spotify yesterday to cheer me up. Listen and love. (Carole pictured with Paul Simon and Gerry Goffin. She reminds me of Peggy from Mad Men in this picture!)

Carole King – Sweet Seasons

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Hair. A serious business.

Let me tell you, as a Seinfeld fan, if your hairdresser casually mentions that he once did Elaine's's a  moment. And then, as a Donald Draper obsessive admirer, when your hairdresser's doing your hair and he's all like, 'yeah, I'll do it your way but I'd like to do it like the girl Don Draper went to LA with in Mad Men', you're like, this is unbelievable.

So yeah. I found a really good hairdresser. I put a plea on my Facebook status, that a friend might be able to guide me towards someone who won't give me a Rachel cut. Because my usual hairdresser kept giving me them. I haven't been for eight months, such has become my fear. Anyway, three friends said they went to the same place. And two of them go to Andy. And I, reader, heartily recommend you do the same. Like, straight away.

I mean check out these lovelies. You'd want to go to their hairdresser too, right? Check out this fringe!

This is a total wimp-out on my behalf, because I'm not even going to post a picture of my new do. Haha! Bloggers' rights.

Go to Andrew or Laura at Viva (Andrew did Elaine's hair and that fringe) – 47 Lexington Street, London. 020 7287 8708. They're reasonably priced, too.

[Thanks for letting me post your pics, gorgeous ladies. Check out The Fringe's amazing mosaic work. I used to work with Lucy and she seriously has the best hair ever. Never ask her about what she saw an alsation do to a sheep, though. And Kerry: DJ and soon-to-be traveller – read her blog about her travels.]

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Channelling Garance.

So, I've mentioned my girl crush on Garance Doré and I mentioned I did a little shopping trip to Beyond Retro yesterday lunchtime. Well, reading her blog made me jones a few things. Specifically:

Leather skirt
I've never really wanted to wear leather in garment form before. But Garance was obsessed with a certain leather skirt from Zara, and so then was I. I had a little look in Beyond Retro, but to be honest, I was getting a sex crime vibe from the second-hand leather skirts there. So I left it. Maybe I'll see if Zara has got any of Garance's favourite minis left.

Plaid shirts
I've been jonesing these for a while. G (as I will now call her, as I pretend she is my new BFF) loves the big shirt with little (or no) skirt look, with heels. And so, now, do I. Merci, G. (I've been wanting some plaid shirts to tie in with my nineties indie revival for a while now anyway.) I got a great one to wear with my American Apparel tube skirt. (Tube pronounced 'toob' in this usage.)

Camel coat
Again another one that has been on the list for a while. Preferably one like Ali McGraw's in Love Story. But this shit don't come cheap. And I have no money for now. Beyond Retro didn't sort me out with a classic Jaegar or MaxMara coat, funnily enough, so for now I'll hope it stays sunny for a while longer. Until I can save the necessary six hundred or so pounds.

This picture doesn't really show the coat at all. But it is just so cute.

[Beyond Retro is the best, best vintage shop in London. It's huge, the stock's good, and it is SO CHEAP. There are some really lovely vintage coats in good condition in there at the moment, from £35 – £45. I always check there first if I need to buy boots or coats or other big purchases because they have such seriously good stuff in great condition. 110 – 112 Cheshire St, London, E2 6EJ.]

Monday, 21 September 2009

Cute stools.

This cute table and stools was outside a café I walked past down Brick Lane at lunchtime. The Australian surf shop that now sells coffees and put bands and films on. It looked like a very chilled out scene, I wanted to stop, but was rushing back to the office after a quick lunch hour Beyond Retro binge. More on that later.

Anyway, there were a few stools and tables scattered outside and they looked really cute. They look handmade. Just a few pieces of wood bolted together and then finished. Pretty simple, really. Something like this would look nice in the little seated area in our garden, which needs filling up. James, are you reading this?

Garance Doré – girl crush alert.

Garance Doré has been fluttering around on my blog radar for a while now. She goes out with Scott Schuman, aka The Sartorialist and is a French stylist, photographer and illustrator. (Both of them pictured above.) For the last week or so I've been developing an increasingly strong girl crush on her. Her blog is super funny and total eye candy. Especially if you have a vague interest in fashion.

She's already had me coveting leather skirts, emailing my fabulous mother to tell her to bring me my Grandma's fur coat when she comes to visit and promising myself I'll get my hair cut. Soon. I promise. (It has been eight months. I just can't be bothered.)

But anyway, if you're reading this, stop wasting your time and go and read hers. It's lovely. Here's a great post she did about hanging out with Phoenix when they went on Saturday Night Live.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

In the swim.

I took myself down to Hampstead Ladies Pond for a swim today. I had to do a mile, and try to do it in a reasonable time. Next Saturday I'm doing the Great East Swim with a couple of buddies, which is a mile in open water. Timed. So, I need to do okay, just so I don't feel like a complete loser. (Oh, on that note: I came LAST in the singles bit of the table tennis tournament on Friday. FIRST in the doubles though. Shout out to Tyrone, my doubles partner.)

So anyway, yeah, to the pond I went today. Last Saturday I did the same swim and did it in 27 minutes. Today it appeared to take me 45 minutes. Which I couldn't really understand. I'm wondering whether it was the pain au chocolat I had for breakfast. I did feel a bit sick. And then there was the lady who stopped me to show me the kingfishers on the pond. I mean, that's nice love, but I'm timing mesen here...

Anyway, I was feeling lazy, but the pond was beautiful today. So hauling butt down there... it ain't no thing. If you're in London and haven't been – GO. If you have been, go again soon!

Wish me luck for the race next week!

Saturday, 19 September 2009

A Streetcar Named Desire, Brooklyn stylee.

Cate Blanchett is lined up to play Blanche DuBois in a Christmas run of A Streetcar Named Desire at the BAM. Directed by Liv Ullman. That'd be alright wouldn't it? I always find Cate Blanchett a bit hammy, so she's going to be great as Blanche. If you're doing a wintery trip to New York get tickets booked. (How Photoshopped is she in this picture btw?)
From November 27—December 20.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Wowee Zowee - Pavement reunion shows.

Massive New York jealousy is taking place in my head at the moment. Pavement have just announced reunion shows next week on the Central Park Summerstage.

This would've tied in nicely with me reverting to dressing like a late nineties indie kid. (Is this a clothing trending topic? A friend of mine – also slightly older than 29 – recently confessed to dressing like a member of Chapterhouse.)

Maybe they'll come over to England. Stephen Malkmus is a Hull City fan, you know. Anyway. Enjoy, my New York readers. Haha. *sulks*

'Can you see what it is yet?'

Here are a few snaps I took out and about this week. 

Reason number 8798 that I love to cycle: you get to see rainbows instead of suffer smelly people on the tube.

The sewing machine shop in Tufnell Park. It was throwing down rain when I took this. But doesn't it look cosy? I have no idea how it stays open. But the man who owns it is very nice, and fixed my leather bag for me once and refused payment.

Rolf Harris painting a billboard on Old Street. He didn't ask if we could see what it was yet. But he looks just the same as he did when I last paid attention to him. (c1987.) Thank god some things never change.

Have a good weekend – it's my table tennis tournament tonight and I've only done three hours practice. Fail to prepare, prepare to fail: I'm going to get spanked.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

A special supper in London?

I've been tasked with finding a venue for a small, informal supper in London. Maybe a private room somewhere interesting? So far I've come up with The Kensington Roofgardens and a private room at the V&A. Both a few thousand pounds out of the budget. A catered dinner somewhere like Dennis Severs' House would be good. But it would be a bit creepy to eat there.

Any ideas?

(Kensington Roofgardens and the V&A Dorothy & Michael Hintze Galleries pictured above.)

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Pretty pictures of a few of my favourite things.


I'm loving this illustrator dude's work today. Ben Kirchner. We've obviously got the same taste in music. Trawling through his blog I found hobby bits of work he'd done; Joni Mitchell and David Crosby playing by a pool in LA that he did after being inspired by Barney Hoskins' book Hotel California, and The Band playing at the Big Pink.

Also, a very cool cover for a Boston Globe magazine supplement.

The illustrations don't look as nice on the internet, but I was sent some printed on lovely, thick, uncoated cream paper by Heart, who represent him, and they look gorgeous.

Coren blimey.

I love, love, love Victoria Coren. Her column is the best thing about the Observer. Well, maybe tied with Armando Iannuci's column. But anyway, she is gorgeous, fabulous, clever and hilarious. And this week she has a book out, a memoir about when she won a million dollars in a poker tournament. Did I mention she is beyond cool as well?

(I'm pointedly ignoring the fact that her brother is writer and critic Giles Coren as I think he's a bit of a cock. Her father Alan Coren was a total dude though.)

Here is a link to some of her columns, if you haven't read them. This one in particular I remember reading and laughing out loud. The bit about Britney and the flu jab. I probably won't buy her book but the excerpt in the Observer this week was very good.

You can follow her on twitter @VictoriaCoren

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

When Smokey sings...

Smokey Robinson has announced a date at the Roundhouse in London on the 24th October, as part of the BBC Electric Proms 2009. I can't believe I spent a couple of seconds wondering whether to go. Er, yes?

From the BBC Electric Proms website. 'Soul legend Smokey Robinson is joined by the BBC Concert Orchestra performing classic soul and motown tracks from his legendary career, new material from his forthcoming album, plus the BBC has specially commissioned orchestral arrangements for this unique performance.' Tickets are £25 and go on sale tomorrow at 8am.

Spy on your neighbours at Open House.

This weekend is Open House in London. Perfectly placed in the calendar to ease us from summery weekends into more wrapped-up pursuits, it's a great chance to have a nose around London buildings large and small, famed and little-known. And all for free.

The brochure is a mere £3 to download from the Open House website and is handily arranged by area. So, you can stick to your own yard or venture to a part of town you don't know as well.

I'm going local this year, as a private house that I always try to spy on in the next street to mine is open: Cypher House. There are lots of private residences open actually, so it's a great way to nose around the houses in your neighbourhood you look at and think, 'I wish I lived there'.

[Having just seen the above pictures of Cypher House, the interior looks kind of bland and could do with some added texture. But I love the glass blocks and layout. It reminds me of the indoor outdoor mid-century modern homes that I love. If that pebbled courtyard area was a lap pool we we would be talking near-death envy.]

I might pop down to St Pancras for the Isambard Kingdom Brunel walk. And I wouldn't mind a nosy at the Foster+Partners Studio, either.

[Download the brochure for Open House events here. Cypher House pictures with thanks to Christopher Phillips.]

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Woke up, it was a Chelsea morning...

I saw The September Issue yesterday, from my five films for fall list. Anna Wintour did a great job at coming across as a deranged bitch who takes herself far too seriously. I found the way she speaks to the talent particularly odious: in one cringey scene with Stefano Pilati of YSL she stony-faces him for not using enough colour in his collections. Whatever, bitch! But when she's with advertisers she practically sits on their knee and licks their faces.

One thing that struck me about the film was how unhappy the editors looked. In particular, Sally Singer, the Features Director, looked as though she was in need of some serious pills and therapy. I've just found these amazing pictures of her home in the Chelsea Hotel, though. I'm suddenly not feeling sorry for her anymore.

And I didn't realise she was married to Joseph O'Neill. His novel of last year Netherland gives a great account of life in the Chelsea. But the last I heard was that new management were putting up rents and rates and pushing out the artists and characters that made the place what it is.

Read an interview with Joseph O'Neill about life in the Chelsea here. Pictures with thanks from The Selby.

Friday, 11 September 2009

Transformer Man...

Whenever I cycle home after a couple of drinks, this is the song that comes into my head.

I don't know why. I just cycle along singing this song. (And it is specifically this Unplugged version, to be precise.)

[Shout out to the big ginger cat I stopped to snuggle with just by the canal. I had just said, "I like you! We should hang out more often!', when some guy crept up behind my shoulder and said, 'You like the cat, huh?']

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Where have all the hipsters gone? East London, every one.

I moved away from East London nearly four years ago and despite working in the area, I guess I haven't explored it much recently. Yesterday evening I decided to walk through Shoreditch to my favourite old curry spot, Sweet & Spicy on Brick Lane. And I have to say: in the ten years since I moved to London, the changes in the area I saw last night were the most drastic I've seen in the city in such a short space of time.

Sweet & Spicy was always a very relaxed, unrefined canteen with vats of curry and rice behind the counter to choose from, lassi tins of water on the table and their speciality, the 95p kebabs. That price might sound foreboding but they really were good. When I say kebab, I believe the technical term is a shawarma. Strips of spiced meat, with shredded vegetables and a red sauce. I've enjoyed many of them in my time, as I used to live on the same street as Sweet & Spicy. They went especially well with a drink, sitting on the curb outside the excellent Pride of Spitalfields pub.

So, I set off in search of my kebab. I took a left turn onto Boundary Street and got my first surprise of the evening. Until recently, say six years ago, this was a fairly forgotten back street and home to scruffy Bangladeshi butchers and grocers and a great pub called Owl and Pussycat, which had a bar billiards table and served up huge Sunday carvery roasts. 

But the first thing we saw on Boundary Street was a smart-looking restaurant called The Albion that had popped up. It sells itself as a caff with a ridiculously overpriced shop and bakery: £3.45 for a bottle of apple juice, anyone? (Although there were some delicious looking cupcakes for 75p which I will definitely be making a return visit from my desk for.) Don't get me wrong: I have been more than guilty of visiting this kind of place in the past and will no doubt will go back to The Albion, it was just a bit of a shock as it had completely changed the face of the street.

Paul Newman. A fan of his work.

I spent all night writing a huge post. And Blogger just autosaved over it. I think it's on my laptop at home so worry not, you won't be deprived. To cheer myself up: some completely gratuitous pictures of Paul Newman. Playing table tennis, with a cute dog in Paris, and in the top one he looks like he's on a BlackBerry. I'm totally pretending he's my boyfriend. Enjoy.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Five films for fall. (Sorry, autumn doesn't start with F.)

Autumn is the perfect time for cosying up in the cinema. Today, the line-up for The Times BFI 53rd London Film Festival is being announced, to take place in October. Until then, there are so many new films that I want to watch. Here are my top five at the moment.

Whatever Works
I nearly fell to my knees and kissed the skanky sidewalk when I saw the New York magazine cover featuring this film (excellent article here). Larry David directed by Woody Allen. No release date for the UK yet. But I saw an ad for its Italian release whilst I was over there. Maybe they will show it at the festival. I will watch it soon by hook or by crook. Bloody hell. Can't wait.

Broken Embraces
Almodóvar never fails. I love his crazy women and how his films look. He's almost too good, now.

Julie & Julia

My fabulous mother and I read this book yonks ago. It was a bit pap. But I love Nora Ephron, I love Brooklyn and I love food. I can't wait to see it.

The September Issue
A film about putting together the giant September doorstop issue of US Vogue. For me, absolute porn. Like a real life The Devil Wears Prada. Ooh!

Synecdoche New York
Old news this one, really. I've wanted to see it for months but never got around to it. Written and directed by Charlie Kaufman and starring Philip Seymour Hoffman. What's not to love? I think it's still on in London somewhere...

All but one of them are New York based. And films set in NYC give me that cosy autumn feel. Yum. I'll report back when I've seen them all.

[Have you noticed how the date is 9/9/9 today? Blimey. I'm cycling everywhere and keeping my helmet on all day.]

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

The art of tea.

I've been ignoring the tea section of our hot drinks cupboard – this is how we grandly refer to a scruffy corner of one cupboard – in part due to a horrific accident which saw off my favourite teapot and its matching milk jug, and in part because it has been the season that we Brits still laughably refer to as summer.

But I'm back off the alcohol again. And the weather's horrible. So, I dug my second favourite teapot out, opened the hot drinks cupboard and surveyed my selection of teas. I have:

–White tea with pomegranate
–Some night-time sleepy tea thing
–Lemon & Ginger

I'm sure these are pretty unsophisticated choices in the grand scheme of tea. Any suggestions for where I should start to up my tea game? Preferably with as little caffeine as possible. And I don't like earl grey, it tastes of soap. Thanks.

Forest Fire – Led Bib [From their album Sizewell Tea. See what I did there? This lot are up for the Mercury Prize tonight. It would be nice if they get it, but it's highly unlikely.] 

Monday, 7 September 2009

Nu shooz.

Well, not strictly new. 'Old Skool Lo Pro' Vans. I had a pair of these in burgundy when I was seventeen and have been jonesing for another pair for a while. Luckily, eBay hath a fresh new pair delivered. Now, if only I could replace my Sonic Youth 'Dirty' baseball shirt...

Nu Shooz - I Can't Wait

Tune alert.

From Pooter to Scooter.

Despite my moaning last night, it was really nice to be back on my bike this morning. It had been torture watching all the scooters zipping around Sicily and not being able to have a go. I've always loved being on wheels, from the age of eight when I went to bed the afternoon before my birthday because I couldn't wait to get my rollerboots.

I was tempted at one point to hire one but realised it would mean almost certain death. I've never ridden a scooter before, but have always planned to get one when my knees wear out from all the cycling.

I need to wait for a while yet. If only because I need the exercise of cycling. Even though I have the perfect little parking spot in my front garden. And look at this lovely bike. I'm definitely thinking a coffee coloured scooter. With a vintage pale blue helmet.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Back to life, back to reality.

So, we are back from Sicily. Tomorrow, back to work. You know what, I'd rather be ordering an almond granita from the nice man in the café. That's him, second from the right in the bottom row of the football team.

Then, instead of cycling down Holloway Road to work, I wouldn't mind catching the boat with the pirate flag...

 ... maybe to the deserted pumice stone mine on the volcanic island.

Yes, thinking about it, that's really what I'd rather do.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Nobody told me there'd be days like these...

Annoyingly, we forgot to bring CDs to play in the hire car for the trip we're on, so we've been subjected to the terrors of Italian radio stations.

I was beating James 4-0 at Name That Tune when this came on and he called it first. As John Lennon's biggest ever fan (actual verified World Fact) I had to dock myself 50 points.

Absolute tune. From his Milk and Honey album.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009


Sicily is stunning. The perfect place to get away from London. Three hours on the plane and within an hour I was floating under the stars, surrounded by bushes covered in limes and frangipani blossoms. For somebody who usually relaxes by visiting cities this is all a bit a revelation. Next stop: the Aeolian Islands. Things might get even more chilled there.

[The old guy who rocked up to the café on this bike was wearing only tiny shorts that he didn't really have the figure for and a huge handlebar moustache. He took great pains to show me that his bike was Swiss. I wish I'd got a picture of him on it.]