Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Chateau Marmont.

I finally went to see Sofia Coppola's new film Somewhere tonight. I loved the feel of it. (Although what is up with that ending?) It has the same dreamy quality as Lost in Translation but is set in the Chateau Marmont in LA. Utter pornography to me, basically. Anyway, I've been kind of busy at work recently, so it set me off on a daydream of a few lost days at the Chateau Marmont, lounging around in that armchair reading or hanging out by the pool. And ordering lots of room service. These candid photos from tripadvisor fuelled my little reverie. (Yes, I did immediately go on to tripadvisor to price up a stay there!) And how cute is that kitchen?





Sunday, 12 December 2010

Music to cry by.

Chatting to a friend last night, we started talking about musical moments that had made us cry. My first thought was the first time I saw Stevie Wonder perform. Outside, under the stars at the Greek Theatre in LA, Stevie's voice that I had loved for years and an encore of Another Star. And then I remembered the time I saw Paul McCartney play at the Cavern in Liverpool, at a special millenium gig. He played I Saw Her Standing There* and despite myself – I worship The Beatles but kind've hate Paul McCartney** – the waterworks started. Music can just do that to you sometimes.

Have you had any tearjerking musical moments?

*I've just found the clip on Youtube. You can probably hear me screaming like a bitch in there somewhere.

**That whole campaign to change some song credits to McCartney/Lennon was the final straw for me. Ego gone insane.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Sufjan Stevens – Songs for Christmas.

I always want to listen to festive music in December, but not necessarily Christmas songs. Although I do love a bit of Elton's Step into Christmas. And I can never resist Happy Xmas (War is Over). OK, I love Christmas songs.

Sufjan Steven's music is so sweet and twinkly, it always makes me feel festive. Especially, obviously, his Songs for Christmas, with awesome song titles like Hey Guys! It's Christmas Time! and Did I Make You Cry On Christmas? (Well, You Deserved It!).

And isn't he just so cute and crazy looking? I've been lame and not heard his new album yet, what's it like?

Monday, 6 December 2010

Coach Originals.

Don't it always seem to go that you look for your new dream bag for ages, then you find it and it cannot be yours. I love this city bag from Coach Originals; it reminds me of the sort of bag a 1970s soccer mom from Minnesota might have carried, or maybe one of Laverne & Shirley. Only ships within the US though. Wah!

Thursday, 2 December 2010

The Underground Restaurant.

I finally made it to my first supper club at the weekend. I've read about small restaurants run from private homes in places like Italy and Cuba, but more and more have been popping up around London in the last couple of years. I like the fact that the focus is on great cooking in a warm and more personal environment: it feels perfect for these more austere times and, if all supper clubs are as cosy as The Underground Restaurant, they are the perfect night out on a freezing winter's evening.



I've long had my eye on The Underground Restaurant, run by an enthusiastic home cook and food writer. Her blog The English Can Cook is a fantastic read, chronicling an obsessive attention to detail and sense of humour, which she brings to the table in the beautiful, huge, cosy flat from which she runs her supper club. What finally got me to get my act together to book a place was the special Thanksgiving feast she was hosting. (I always try to have a Thanksgiving feast, to celebrate alongside my esteemed American friends and, erm, eat a huge feast.) Staying true to her quest for authenticity, we were treated to several unusual dishes, some recipes given by friends and some taken from the Little House on The Prairie cookbook. This was marshmellows cooked with yams. Before...


...and after. It actually tasted ok, like a sweet puree.



This was a really odd combination of textures and flavour. Vegetables suspended in jelly. Americans really do eat jelly with savoury meals (my friend who went to college there confirmed this insane behaviour). I was really interested to try it but I can report that it was disgusting. Disgusting!

This, on the other hand, was delicious. Succotash, an almost soup-like corn and vegetable dish. Served with cornbread. I love cornbread and this was the good shit.


Visiting The Underground Restaurant was a unique experience; you are in somebody's home, which is odd, but in this case it is a huge, elegant flat with high ceilings and a luxurious bathroom, so it felt perfectly comfortable. The tables are mixed, so you're likely to get involved in some unexpected conversations with complete strangers. It was a really fun night out and nice to do something a bit different. Check The English Can Cook for upcoming events at The Underground Restaurant. I highly recommend it.

[Images with thanks to @MsMarmiteLover.]

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Yumchaa.

As promised, a post about my new favourite teashop, Yumchaa. There are three branches in London, two in Camden and one in Soho; the one I visited was on Parkway in Camden. I noticed it because of its amazing shopfront. The building was opened as a pet shop by Florence Palmer in 1921 and is now listed, so retains all the features and character of the old shop. It is really cosy inside, with sofas and little tables for two.

Palmers – Yumchaa

After scurrying longingly past on my lunch hour a few times, I finally made it in one evening for a quick sandwich and cup of tea before going to a gig. I had already asked for a cup of builders before shamefully noticing the HUGE selection of tea sitting on the counter.

Yumchaa

Never mind, my tea was still delicious, I'll be more adventurous next time. And Natalie from Afternoon Tea Total (a tea afficionado who once tried to educate me on tea drinking whilst woefully watching me pour too much milk into my darjeeling) tells me their homemade toffee fruit cake is delicious, so return I must.

Yumchaa

I think Natalie would approve of these rules. Maybe the art of tea will finally rub off on me.

Yumchaa

[This branch of Yumchaa is at 35-37 Parkway. Find details of their other locations here.]

Friday, 26 November 2010

NW1.

I mentioned that I had started to really dig Camden in my last post. 'Tis true! I've been working there recently and on quiet mornings and weekday lunchtimes you get to see past the hordes of pink dreadlocked Italian cybergoths traipsing down the High Street. There's a stretch of Parkway that I'm particularly digging, just up past The Jazz Café. It's home to a brilliant Sue Ryder chazza, Whole Foods (slices of pumpkin pie for £1.99!) and my new favourite tea shop, Yumchaa, based in the old Palmers Pet Stores, which apparently used to sell monkeys and talking parrots. (I'm going to do a whole separate post on Yumchaa, just decided.) It's also nice to be able to go for a little stroll along the Regent's Canal at lunch. Well, on the one lunchtime I've managed to get away and do that.

Kentish Town Camden Town
The Blues Cafe
Yumchaa
Regents Canal
Regents Canal

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Results of The Big British Beauty Poll.


The results are in from the Big British Beauty Poll! (I wrote about it here back in September). My favourite snippet from the results: Audrey Hepburn was voted most iconic beauty of all time. Also interesting is that 50% of women count youthful looking skin as most important beauty attribute. If you are interested in hearing more of the results you can watch the Olay Wave Cast today at 4pm by clicking here.

(I just love, love, love this picture from the opening scene in Breakfast at Tiffany's. The morning after, Miss Golightly sipping on her takeaway coffee and nibbling on a pastry whilst gazing into Tiffany's window. A true beauty, indeed.)


[Sponsored post. The Big British Beauty Poll was conducted by Olay.]

Monday, 22 November 2010

Busy busy busy.

So my excuse for slacking at blogging recently is because I started a new job a few weeks ago. The job is hectic, but I've also had a perverse determination to make sure I still have lots of fun. Something had to give and it was the blog. I've missed you all! Fear not, your intrepid blogger has been busy taking notes and photos, to ensure that when a quiet moment was found I could share. I can hear you breathing a big sigh of relief. Here's what I've been up to.

Fog

It has been freezing and foggy in London over the last couple of weeks. I've done a lot of cycling around frosty streets, going to various gigs. The London Jazz Festival has been on and I managed to go a couple of times. Firstly, a double bill of The Robert Glasper Trio and Terence Blanchard at The Barbican. We had front row seats! Robert Glasper was very cool and funny, cracking jokes in between playing piano that sort of straddles hip hop and jazz. And on Sunday, randomly, a little bit of Nirvana.

Robert Glasper Trio plus Terence Blanchard and Chris Dave

The next night I went to see Warpaint, an LA girl group who you've probably heard of; they're just on the cusp of big success, on the cover of NME last week and their single Undertow is getting played all over the radio. They were as cool as you'd expect; dreamy girl chanting with an LA drawl put to ethereal guitar, all quite entrancing.

Warpaint @Bafly-2

More entrancing music, back to jazz at the gorgeous Vortex Jazz Club in Dalston. I love this place, it's got the old-school jazz club vibe; friendly host, cramped wooden tables with candles and a beautiful Steinway piano that they're still trying to pay for. We saw Zed-U, a British trio featuring visceral, raw tenor sax, followed by a Swedish band called Oddjob, who treated us to all kinds of jazz candy.

Oddjob at the Vortex

Other than that, I've been having a renewed love affair with Camden, which is where my job is based. Posts about my new work hood incoming over the next couple of days. I will try my best not to blog slack anymore!

[Warpaint image with thanks to clsampy]

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Must you go?

I read an excerpt from Must You Go?,Antonia Fraser's book about her and Harold Pinter's love affair and subsequent marriage of over 30 years, back in the summer. It was excerpted in US Vogue, and I read it up greedily in a sweltering hot room in the apartment I was staying in, in Park Slope. I've been meaning to buy the book ever since and finally got around to it today, from a cosy little bookshop in Notting Hill called Lutyens & Rubinstein. (They give gorgeous tote bags away with their books, so stop in if you're passing by!)

The book is a heart-swellingly glorious romantic read, about how they met and fell in love. Have you read it? I can't put it down. I've been meaning to do a post about what I've been up to since I last blogged (over a week ago!) but it's now late on Sunday and I need to carry on reading. In the bath. I'll be back tomorrow with the catch-up post! I hope you've all had a good weekend!

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

My dream home.

So I spotted my dream home for sale. It's in the building that is home to my church, aka Kentish Town Pool. Imagine walking up those steps, through that ornate door, sticking your head out of the window and chatting to one of the little masonry people? Then popping downstairs for a swim.

Ahh, if only I had £359,000 to spare. (Can I just have a moan about London property prices please? This flat is tiny. It only has one bedroom. The kitchen and living room are open plan. And it costs £359,000. You can't see me but I'm doing a wtf face. Still, if I had it I'd buy it.)

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Aviator jacket.

I forgot to mention on my last post that, not content with posting pictures of myself wearing a crazy cat jumper on my own blog, I also posted them on UpStyler, a new etail magazine focusing on charity and vintage fashion, who have asked me to contribute. Check them out, they offer amazing charity shop finds, having done the work for you. I love this aviator jacket, only £65, very Acne but minus the bajillion pound price tag. Honestly, I'm only posting it here so one of you buys it, I have so many coats already. Please. Someone. Buy it. (Quickly!)

Monday, 8 November 2010

Charity shop gold.

Cat jumper

I hit charity shop gold in York during my recent visit. Electric blue lambswool vintage jumper printed with black cats? In perfect condition? Only £3.49? Oh hale yes. It's definitely my new favourite jumper, I like to think it has echoes of Sonia Rykiel and is maybe something Joni from Mad Men might wear on a Saturday when she's home alone doing her nails. Definitely not crazy cat lady. OK? (Although it is perfect for wearing when tickling the little black cat in your life.)

Cat jumper

Friday, 5 November 2010

LennoNYC.

Photo from 'JOHN & YOKO: A New York Love Story'

The documentary LennoNYC was shown as part of the BFI London Film Festival. It details the time John Lennon spent in New York, most of the 1970s. We all know the story; Beatles split, John moves to New York with Yoko to enjoy an anonymity he couldn't in the UK (and which would ultimately lead to his downfall), gets sent on crazy 18 month 'lost weekend' to LA by Yoko with one of her girlfriends, reunites with Yoko, becomes house husband with baby Sean, starts recording again.

It goes into everything in glorious detail, the love story between John and Yoko the central thread of the tale. We hear about the treatment they receive at the hands of the press, their battle for US residency, the crazy behaviour that  leads Yoko to send him away, the complete despair they both feel at being separated and then the super sweet story of them reuniting.

(I especially loved that story: John played at an Elton John gig at Madison Square Gardens in 1974. He had been despairing at the state of his career but had a hit with Whatever Gets You Through The Night so Elton invited him to play. He received rapturous applause (you can hear the performance here), Yoko was in the crowd and they got back together in the dressing room after the show. There is a really intense photo of the moment it happened but I trawled the web and couldn't find it, sorry! Here's one of the show and Elton in rhinestone dungarees instead.)

John Lennon, Elton John, Madison Square Garden, Thanksgiving 1974

It also include great footage of the small flat in Greenwich Village that John and Yoko shared at 105 Bank Street before moving to The Dakota building. Tiny artist's quarters, quite unbelievable for a man who had spent the last decade as one of the biggest stars in the world.


The documentary is a must-see for Lennon fans, beautifully compiling the story of the years leading up to Lennon's death and his love affair with NYC and Yoko. I'm not sure what the distribution plans are for the documentary but given the warm reception at the screening I attended I'm sure we'll hear soon. Keep an eye out for it!


[Photos by Allan Tannenbaum.]

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Boardwalk Empire.

Have you been watching Boardwalk Empire? It's a recent HBO drama, set in Prohibition era Atlantic City. Martin Scorsese filmed the pilot and it features a cocky young Al Capone, handsome Italian and Irish American gangsters and their beautiful wives and mistresses, all costumed to perfection. Steve Buscemi plays the enigmatic treasurer of Atlantic City and Kelly Macdonald is understated and radiant as an Irish immigrant, struggling to find her way in a corrupt city. And again, the costumes are just so lush, you vintage mavens will love the hats, dresses, hair, makeup...


The men's costumes are impeccable too. Check out this interview with the costume designers from Esquire.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Desperately seeking: little black bag.

Desperately seeking: a cute little black bag for a long-term relationship. Must be leather,
with gold hardware, and up for fun nights of carrying my purse, hairbrush, phone, keys and camera.

Any suggestions dudes? I've looked everywhere but I cannot find this elusive bag. I love the heart-shaped Marc by Marc Jacobs bag above, but I don't think it's a £187 kind of love. Or is it? Help!

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Shu Uemura.

I've long been a fan of Shu Uemura cosmetics; their eyeshadows and face powder are my holy grail, cosmetically speaking. But their skincare is also doing the business for me as winter is closing in. The cleansing oils are perfect for using on cold winter days when skin is already feeling stripped (especially after cycling in icy winds, ow!). I'm also really liking the Stage Performer line, especially the Instant Glow Immediate Radiance Skin Perfecting Cream, which acts as a great barrier in this cold weather whilst leaving the faintest coverage to perfectly even out skin tone. Great winter treats for your skin.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Elton John and Leon Russell.

Elton John, The Roundhouse

Elton John opened up this year's BBC Electric Proms last night, playing live at The Roundhouse* in London. Starting with a few of his older ballads, he was pretty subdued, nothing at all like the Elton John showman machine you would expect. Playing Tiny Dancer provoked a near riot, with one man apparently going on bended knee to propose to his girlfriend. Totally awesome.

After an appearance from Plan B, who sang a decent version of I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues, Elton introduced Leon Russell, a songwriter and session musician who he collaborated with back in the early 1970s. Rumer Willis came on and sang This Masquerade, which Russell wrote, with all the stage presence of a dead pigeon. And then Elton and Russell proceeded to play the entire of their lengthy new album, song after song.

Elton John and Leon Russell, The Roundhouse

The crowd started getting itchy at this point, with the guy next to me tweeting several angry tweets that are too rude to repeat, along the lines of, 'I didn't pay my ticket money to come and see Elton do his entire new album'.

But Russell is clearly a master songwriter and despite the usual frustrating boredom that goes along with new album material, especially when the performer has a catalogue as exciting as Elton John's, it was enjoyable to watch two clearly top-class musician and songwriters perform.  Apparently in ill health, it was a privilege to see Russell perform songs such as the wonderful A Song For You. Check out this clip of him singing it. Utter dudism. An enjoyable evening for me, but I could see how hardcore Elton John fans might leave feeling shortchanged.



*Read on for my rant about The Roundhouse and their ticketing policy.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Betty's.

I usually manage to squeeze in a trip to Betty's whenever I go home. Betty's is a traditional old tearoom that was set up in the 1920s. There are two branches in York,  and I usually go to the smaller Little Betty's, as the queue for the main tearoom is always huge. I love visiting York when I'm home because a) it's pretty b) it reminds me of my teenage years, spent drinking cider in the park with my buddies c) amazing chazzas and d) Betty's. It was a beautiful sunny day when I went and the narrow little streets were packed.

Betty's

Betty's sell their own cakes, confectionery and tea downstairs, in a gorgeously fitted old shop, with staff suited like butlers and parlourmaids, the girls all in black with white pinnies and their hair pinned up.

Betty's

They have a great selection of teas, served in bone china from a heavy silver teapot, that you can enjoy whilst spying on shoppers down Stonegate.

Betty's

You can buy Betty's goodies online. I love their 1950s chocolate boxes, I can highly recommend the peppermint creams, which come in the prettiest box. Their Christmas puddings are delicious too, and come in a traditional old pudding bowl. I eat my porridge from my Betty's pudding pot every morning. Proper Yorkshire, me. Although I'm back in London now, so that's the Yorkshire posts over with for now.