Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Ilse Jacobsen boots.

It has rained in London every day this week and is due to rain for the rest of the week. Unawesome. But to be expected from this time of year, I suppose.

What is awesome are these Ilse Jacobsen Amphibious boots. I'm sick to death of wellies: only ankle or over-the-knee boots feel like the right boot length at the moment, if you care about that kind of thing. Winter just past, Londoners were wearing their hiking boots with leggings and dresses on snow days.

So these boots are the perfect length, colour (très CÉLINE), fur-lined for warmth and made from natural rubber. Want, want, WANT!

(Available from, a website I have only just found and which frankly needs further investigation.)

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Belle & Bunty.

My boy came back from a trip to the post office on Saturday morning saying, 'I saw a dress shop that I think you'll like'. Seconds later, I was drooling over the Belle & Bunty website. Based in North London in a space formerly occupied by Vivienne Westwood's tailor, the label is designed by Alice Shreeve and Hannah Coniam, who met on their first day at London College of Fashion, and is favoured by London babes such as Fearne Cotton, Shingai from the Noisettes and Claudia Winkelman.

I mean LOOK at these dresses? Have you SEEN that silk playsuit? That print! (Print up-close on the trapeze dress with the camel coat.) I love the camel coat too. And hell, the trapeze dress as well. In fact it's all...calling to me.

I think I'll be doing the Saturday morning post office run next week. Some of these pieces are currently on sale, check out their online shop or pop into their shop at 45a Brecknock Road, London.

Monday, 29 March 2010


Hyde Park was the scene of my first 10k run, yesterday. I started running back in January and entered myself into a 10k race to have something to aim towards. The race is now in two weeks and as of yesterday I hadn't completed the distance. I'd get to 6.5k and feel an overwhelming desire to stop and CTFO. So, one psychotic, order-barking friend later, I decided to hit the park to get it sorted. Here is how it went down.

1. Meet POBF outside the Ritz. Wonder how I changed from being the kind of person who spent Sunday afternoon drinking at The Wolseley, just down the road, to somebody about to run pointlessly around the park for an hour. Start running.

2. Have to stop and fuss around with my anorak, bum bag, iPod and keys, all of which are annoying me. Risk feeling the wrath of the POBF, who stayed surprisingly calm. Keep running.

3. Onto Hyde Park. Happily remember times I used to come here and rollerskate. Wish I was on rollerskates. Run.

4. Things start getting tough. There's an uphill bit. Luckily Michael Jackson comes on and saves my life. Decide that Off The Wall is literally the best running music ever. Then Marvin comes on and I think about how much I love Marvin.

5. Nice to get to the Serpentine and run next to the water. Unfortunately my knee starts to really hurt and I start thinking I might have to stop. Which would be fatal.

6. Knee keeps giving way. Am very, very close to telling POBF that I need to stop but decide to keep going.

7. Made it through knee pain! Try to shake out my legs as I run, as they're completely locked into a running shape and I look like the Tin Man. Realise I'm losing the plot a bit. We still have 30 minutes running to do. ARGH. Minnie Riperton comes on the iPod and she gives me wings. A bit.

8. Am in the post 6.5k zone now. Never run this far or long before. The Pixies come on and give me wings.

9. Am basically now in survival mode. Keep asking POBF how far we have to run. Start suspecting that she is lying to me and making me run more than 10k. Descend into paranoid madness. We're running past Speakers' Corner and I wonder why the f*ck people still come to listen to the nutters. At least that takes my mind off the pain. Apparently someone cycles past me on a penny-farthing, but I don't even notice.

10. DONE. POBF insists on running a little bit further but my legs are locked with stiffness and my knees and ankles hurt. So I'm done. It took us 1hr and 10 mins. But I'm already looking forward to the next run. Sometimes I don't even recognise myself anymore. Luckily, I reverted straight back to old Caroline and went out dancing and drinking wine straight afterwards. On a Sunday. Feeling great today.

Anyone else get up to quixotic endeavours at the week? Oh, and any running recommendations to lessen the pain? Which songs give you wings?

Friday, 26 March 2010

California desk.

I'm absolutely in love with this. A desk shaped like California. Sitting at this, with my Marimekko teapot, I think I'd have a bit of a scene going on.

[Found on Oh Happy Day.]

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Paper Dress Vintage.

Here is another of my favourite London vintage shopping spots. Paper Dress Vintage is on Curtain Road in Shoreditch, East London. The stock is good quality vintage: I never leave without finding a few things I really want.

shop front

The shop is friendly and welcoming. They even added a coffee bar recently, making them the second shop in the area to add a coffee machine. Am I spying a coffee and shopping trend? If so, it's one I like. They also serve delicious looking cakes. The lounging area is really cosy, with free wifi.

shop interior

But back to the vintage. I never fail to find at least one dress I want, here. This Norman Linton dress was calling my name, today. I considered planning a Mad Men party to justify buying it. At £62, it was out of my budget. The pricing is keen but fair at Paper Dress. You don't really find bargains here. This dress was totally worth the price as it had great details, was very well made and in perfect condition. And was such a gorgeous colour.

dress front

The costume jewellery, bags and accessories are also top quality. I really liked this coral necklace. I'm loving shorter, chunkier necklaces at the moment and this was doing a good red/blue thing against my denim shirt.

coral necklace

This cotton smock dress was also fab. Floor length, with a beautiful muted colour print, it would've looked great chopped down to just above knee. Oh, fitting and alterations are offered instore. Which is handy when you're a mini teapot, like me!


STOP PRESS: There is a party in the shop next Wednesday, 31st March, from 6 - 9pm, if you fancy drinks, nibbles and pretty dresses!

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Detroit, Miami and Washington.

I watched three brilliant documentaries about North America's social and political history over the last few days.

The first, Julien Temple's Requiem for Detroit, shows the city tumbling from burgeoning industrial centre of the American Dream, with thousands queueing to work for Henry Ford, to landscapes of deserted factories and neighbourhoods that bored kids burn down for fun. Footage of deserted factories and once glorious hotels (such as the once lavish Lee Plaza Hotel, pictured above) that scrappers strip for metal like vultures is difficult to reconcile with glory days footage of Thanksgiving motor parades.

Second, and incredibly compelling viewing, was Billy Corben's Cocaine Cowboys, the story of Miami's bleak cocaine years, as told first person by the leading drug importers of the time and a deadly warlord's key hitman, direct from his jail cell. It is startling to hear the importers talk frankly about how they did business with Columbia and flooded the streets of Miami with drugs, and to witness the news footage and hear the first-hand accounts of the violence and incomprehendable bloodshed that ensued. As someone who visits Miami for pure pleasure and was dimly aware of the city's dark spell of the late seventies and eighties, it was an eye-opening dissection of the city's recent history. Some of the footage and recountings are horribly graphic, and I felt uncomfortable to be granting an audience to a mass murderer who was visibly enjoying re-telling his stories. But I do feel somehow more honest in  knowing the somewhat gruesome history of the Miami that I love to visit.

Finally, Oscar nominated The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers, about how Pentagon insider Daniel Ellsberg took the hugely risky personal decision to leak research papers that showed the Vietnam War to have been illegal and misrepresented to the American people over the course of three presidencies. His decision could have meant a lifetime spent in prison and the documentary tells the tale of his admirable personal courage and integrity, which eventually led to the resignation of Richard Nixon from office and the end of the war.

Each one of these documentaries was dense, well made and fascinating - highly recommended if you are a North American social history obsessive! Did any of you catch any of these? Any recommendations for similar documentaries that I need to check out?

[Photography of the abandoned ballroom at Detroit's Lee Plaza Hotel by March and Meffre.]

Monday, 22 March 2010

Spring clean.


I think I'm having a hippy moment. I was just typing out the sentence, 'Maybe it's the time of year, or maybe it's the time of life,' when I realised I was basically writing out the first line of Joni Mitchell's Woodstock. OK, I don't want to be that much of a cliché. But I've been unconsciously erring towards living life more simply recently.

First change came last week when, after a couple of seriously boozy weekends, I decided not to drink for a while. So far so good: I'm in the mindset where I don't even want to drink at the moment. And if I do, it's just a glass of cider. I told you. Hippy.

Then yesterday, after riding bikes and running around the park with James, we sat in the sun and decided to try and make it a permanent change of lifestyle: cutting back on indulgent meals, cooking and eating more simply at home, drinking as little alcohol as possible, exercising outside in the fresh air.

I've been influenced by the blogs I read: Alice at Quaint Living makes baking your own bread and cooking simple meals from scratch very appealing through her photography; same with The Cotton Wife, whose recipe for cinnamon rolls I can't wait to try. I haven't had the time or energy for home cooking recently, much as I love it, but as I'm finally giving up work in three weeks that'll change. And I'll have less money to fritter away on wine, anyway.

So, bring the spring and a cleaner way of life! Is anyone else feeling like going back to basics?

[Photo by German Paley]

Friday, 19 March 2010

Lovely London.


This is the view of the London skyline from the top of the Whittington hospital in Highgate, taken earlier this week. I can see St Paul's but I can't see the London Eye. Can you make it out? I'm extra-loving London at the moment. Possibly because the sun is coming out. And Wee Birdy's lovely (and sad!) goodbye list when she left to move back to Australia made me realise what I love (and hate!) about the place. See the full list here.

Goodbye riding in the front seat up the top of a double-decker bus
Goodbye 2am bagels on Brick Lane
Goodbye foxes crying like tortured banshees in the middle of the night
Goodbye eternal queues at Monmouth coffee
Goodbye Central Line, you served me well (most of the time)
Goodbye wild buttercups growing outside Greenwich park
Goodbye incredible museums and art galleries
Goodbye lazy Saturday mornings trawling the stalls at Broadway Market
Goodbye 'three for a fiver' bunches of flowers at Columbia Road
Goodbye dusty old bookshops (and rather odd owners) on Charing Cross Road
Goodbye glorious Knickerbocker Glory at Fortnum & Mason
Goodbye limescale sludge in my tea
Goodbye walking up Piccadilly in the rain
Goodbye having ice-creams in Hyde Park on green and white striped deckchairs
Goodbye getting lost again in Soho
Goodbye ring-necked parakeets in Greenwich park
Goodbye some of the shittiest customer service I’ve ever experienced in my life
Goodbye installations in the Turbine Hall
Goodbye crazy tile mosaics at Tottenham Court Road tube
Goodbye Selfridges’ Christmas windows
Goodbye people who don’t move down into the carriage
Goodbye geese and squirrels in St James’s Park
Goodbye London sales
Goodbye coots on Regent’s Canal
Goodbye cheese, coffee and cake at Borough Market

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Big Star.

I was sad to wake up to the news that Alex Chilton has passed away. One of the great American bands who never quite broke through to the big time, Big Star's laid-back but strangely dark country pop gave us bands such as Pavement and Teenage Fanclub. (Reading a Teenage Fanclub interview as a teenager was how I discovered Big Star!)

I saw him play in London ten years ago and it was electric. This was always my favourite of their songs. Kind've shambolic, but yearning. He's playing with a couple of members of The Posies and Big Star's Jody Stevens on drums.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Marimekko teapot.

Maybe it's the Yorkshire in me – I've already got about ten teapots gathered from all over the place – but I did think, 'Ooh, what a lovely teapot!' when I saw this Marimekko beauty. I don't buy ceramics and home bits and bobs much (fashion and socialising always come first!) but this has got me tempted. In fact this whole new Marimekko range Oiva - In Good Company is lovely. If I was getting married the whole lot would be on my wedding list!

(Spotted on Yeah..Ok..Bye.)

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

The Cambridge Satchel Company.


I've written before about how I prefer well-made, unique and reasonably priced bags over overpriced, faddy It Bags. So when I saw The Cambridge Satchel Company's satchels and batchels (which have a handle like the Mulberry Alexa) my little heart leapt. Made lovingly by a small Cambridge-based company, they are the classic satchel design, brilliant quality (really, they'll last a lifetime) AND in yummy colours. They've even featured in Italian Vogue. Check this selection out. Serious. Bag. Love. Look at the cute embossing on the pink bag!

I got the smallest 11" size as I am a midget and big bags look ridiculous on me. It's the perfect handbag size and I will use it to death for evenings down the pub or days out with just the basics. They ship worldwide, so it's the perfect chance to grab a little bit of England, if you're into that kind of thing. (Didn't we all use satchels like this for school at some point? I know I did!) I think I need to wear mine a bit lower, actually...


Monday, 15 March 2010

Ghost trains.

Parkland Walk is a disused tube line that runs across North London. You can walk or cycle along the path of the old track, through disused stations and under bridges. A friend told me about it last week and I couldn't wait to go. (Especially as I'm training for my first 10km run in four weeks! The plan is to run it, but I scoped it out on my bike first this weekend.)

I joined the path in Archway, about two miles away from where I live.

The path of the track then runs through Crouch End. This is the now disused Crouch End station.

This sculpture is of a ghost that is apparently seen down the path called the goat-man, and which apparently inspired a Stephen King short story. I didn't see the goat-man, but I did have a couple of weird senses of trains passing down the tracks. Spooky.

That part of the walk ends in Finsbury Park, which I didn't realise The New River runs through. The New River is a man-made river which pops up in random places in North London. And which is also totally ripe for a cycle, I reckon.

Friday, 12 March 2010

Friday funtimes.

Dunno about you, but I've had a dull week. So let's have some Friday funtimes, right here on Caroline, No!

First of all, here's a video that Jordan Ferney made to celebrate her husband leaving his day job to become a full time painter. She borrowed a bear suit, hired a breakdancer and sent him into her husband's office with balloons and a boombox. Quite simply one of the funniest things I've ever seen on the internets. (Inspired by a post on A Cup of Jo yesterday.)

You want your own bear suit? How about a Care Bear suit? Believe!

Next up! Check out party cat. 'If I party with you will you leave me alone?' 'Let's party and find out!' I've read it about four times this week. (Yes. Sad. Found via the ever inspirational Conversation Pieces.)

Finally, remember Katie Puckrik? Brits will remember her as presenter of The Word, fantastic Friday night TV music show. She's still gorgeous and kitsch and is now a fragrance expert. She has produced a film about her fragrance collection and it's mega! She's got a fragrance by Andy Warhol in a silver star shaped bottle, and Michael Jackson's favourite fragrance. Check it out here.

Have a fab weekend folks! I'm going dancing tonight at Gilles Peterson's belated Christmas party at Plastic People (which is still just about open!) then dinner on Saturday with friends who are bad-ass cooks and wine ponces. Win! What are your plans?

Thursday, 11 March 2010

It's a ring thing.

I'm loving all the oversized rings I'm spying at the moment. Karen over at Where Did U Get That? (top left)* has been wearing them for ages and now I'm noticing them all over the place. (Click to enlarge pictures.)

We've probably all got pots of costume jewellery at home to choose from but I couldn't resist a little scroll over at Astley Clarke. I'm seriously loving their cocktail rings, from the almost affordable Cherry Blossom Ring ivory enamel topaz and pearls (below left, £295) to the pretty much unattainable Orivesi Ring with cabochon rose quartz and diamond accents (bottom right, £3,695.)

*(I only discovered Karen's blog recently and it has quickly become one of my favourite fashion reads. She puts together high fashion looks from a mixture of thrift, high street and designer pieces. I am seriously in awe of some of the things she thrifts!)

[Pictures from Where Did U Get That?, The Sartorialist and Garance Doré.]

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Jarred in Japan.

My friend Jarred is travelling around Japan for five weeks and is keeping a blog. It's a very funny read as he finds his way around. He hasn't booked anything and is going with the flow, sleeping on the floors of a Buddhist temple and being scared when ordering food – he estimates he's lost a stone in seven days! He went to Koyoshi Sushi in Osaka, as featured on Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations (pictured below). A tiny place with seating for only 10 or so, I think I'd be too nervous to go in by myself but everyone was super friendly, watching to see his reaction every time he tried anything. See his Flickr photos here. I'm dying to go to Japan!

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Flat whites at Prufrock Coffee, Present.

Having the current world barista champion on the next street is A Very Good Thing if you're smacked out of your head on sleep deprivation. (See last post.) Gwilym Davies (world champ!) and Mattias Björklund (current barista champion of Sweden!) operate a beautiful Victoria Arduino espresso machine at Prufrock coffee counter in sleek menswear shop Present on Shoreditch High Street.

The shop is long and narrow, so the coffee bar as you walk in (almost) makes perfect sense. Mattias told me that they often have a queue right down the shop, their coffee is so popular. Everyone in the line was talking about the coffee and just so you know, if you're single, the clientele was 100% cute guy when I was there.

But, more importantly, the coffee. They are famous for their flat whites, a drink invented by our Antipodean friends: a shorter version of a latte using steamed milk from the bottom of the jug, no froth. It's the only drink to order in London at the moment if you are a true coffee ponce, which I am proud to say that I am.

Mattias made flat whites for myself and two workmates and we were enraptured. No trace of bitterness, robust but smooth, I tasted licorice, Natalie tasted walnut and my boss said he tasted berry-fed badger. But I think he was taking the piss.

[At this point in writing this post I had to actually get up and go and get another flat white, I was craving one so badly. Mattias made it again. Just so good. Sigh.]

The shop itself stocks boy essentials such as wallets, shoes, Aesop shaving products, socks and striped blazers by labels such as Raf by Raf Simons, Trickers, Vans, Eley Kishimoto. I love that they've kept the original signage.

Present, 140 Shoreditch High Street, open from 10:30am.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Oscars, the aftermath.

It was a vintage year for the Oscars. The Hurt Locker (statuesque, fabulous Kathryn Bigelow!) wiped the board, Meryl was gracious and fantastic, Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin were hilarious, Sandra Bullock sort of deserved to win (she was good in that role), Jeff Bridges finally got his Oscar. (So Dude-like! Even in real life!)

The frocks were not a disappointment. I loved the nude tulles and chiffons, Maggie Gyllenhal and Rachel McAdams did the best colour, but the best look for me had to go to Sandy Powell (winner of Best Costume Design for Young Victoria, pictured top) for chanelling Sally Bowles, even down to her green nail polish. Divine decadence, darling! (Even though her speech hit the wrong chord. 'I've already won two of these!')

I loved her armful of bangles. Sarah Jessica Parker had a similar armful, as well as a Chanel tattoo bracelet. I stayed up until 5am so am feeling a bit delicate now but I think I will bangle up in weak homage...

[Pictures: AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill / alt film guide]

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Oscar buzzin'.

I watched every single film nominated for Best Picture at this year's Academy Awards, like I said I would.

My favourite of the nominations was A Serious Man. It was pure Coen brothers gold, a stylish portrait of a man unravelling, as Coen brothers films often are. It's in turns hilarious – the kid getting stoned for his intense Bar Mitzvah was genius – and dismaying, but completely stylish and original throughout.

However, as I was forced to watch films I never usually would, my opinion as to who should get the Oscar changed. I don't like gory films or war films, so it was an effort to sit down to watch The Hurt Locker. But I'm glad I did. It was intense, suspenseful and brilliantly acted.

I was dreading Inglourious Basterds having read some terrible reviews. The opening scene is harrowing but gripping, but that didn't last. Brad Pitt should be banned from ever being allowed to appear in a film again: he wasn't wooden so much as downright rubbery. And the same goes for the sick bloodbath at the end. I'm no horror expert but seeing a rubber dummy of Hitler getting sprayed with machine gun bullets is a bit silly. I thought Diane Kruger was great though.

The Blind Side was a fun insight into soccer mom America. Wealthy blonde Texan interior designer takes a homeless young black student into her family. Despite the potential for mass cheesiness, it was actually quite touching and enjoyable and I really liked Sandra Bullock in it. Maybe she'll steal the Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading role... my opinion Bullock should definitely be front running Carey Mulligan, star of The Education, another Best Picture nomination. I found this film flat and dull, Peter Sarsgaard's accent was terrible, the plot wasn't believable (I know it's a true story, but still). And Carey Mulligan was okay but not amazing. Rosamund Pike was the star of the film, to me.

Up In the Air I didn't get at all. I found it charmless, flat, lacking in plot and basically a vehicle for Clooney to play Clooney. Snore.

Precious was both moving and depressing. I was left feeling a bit confused as to what its message or purpose was. Triumph of spirit over shocking adversity? It was certainly a powerful film but I didn't really understand what it was trying to tell us.

Avatar was a REAL effort for me to get to the cinema to watch. I was pleasantly surprised at first: it's visually stunning and who wouldn't enjoy a 3-D day trip to a lush space jungle? The plot is abysmal, though, and the film almost a third too long. I had to leave before the end. (Sorry, but enough was enough.) I was left with the overall feeling that we had been watching the product of a boy playing with his new toy. I really hope this doesn't win, if it does my shaky faith in the Oscars is gone for good.

Up was fabulous, funny, sweet, touching, perfect. It's not a film though, it's a cartoon. Hope it wins the Animated Feature Film award. I'm sure it will.

OK, I have to admit I didn't watch all of District 9. I'm not into alien films. What I did see seemed to be a novel approach to the genre. James (my co-viewer for all of these films) rated it highly.

Our joint scores (I took James' score for District 9) put A Serious Man and Up in joint first place. Apparently there is a new voting method this year, but we scored out of ten. But who can tell what the voting criteria for the panel are. Not me. I wanted to fully inform myself this year to try and understand it better. If they choose Avatar that's me and the Oscars through, forever! I want The Hurt Locker to take it.

I also really, REALLY want Armando Iannucci to win the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for In The Loop. I can't even fathom how brilliant his speech would be! Check out this interview documenting his Oscar experience here.

Obviously I can't wait to see the frocks, either. I love the glamour of the myth of the attendees holing up in LA hotels and prepping themselves to within an inch of their lives. And how amusing is the whole James Cameron / Kathryn Bigelow face-off. They're probably really good friends, who knows, but I loved scrutinising their reactions at the recent Baftas. This is going to be even BETTER fun!

I must say that I hope that amidst this circus of superficiality, someone will bring attention to Jafar Panahi, the Iranian film director currently being detained by authorities in Iran, seemingly for nothing more than being in opposition to the ruling regime.

But finally, on a lighter note, check out this hilarious gem from McSweeny's with their Oscar predictions. (My friend @jennalee tweeted this!) Roll on Sunday!

[Picture of Jack Lemmon (love his silly face!) taken from the LIFE photographic archive, which is full of fantastic photographs of the Oscars over the decades.]

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Musical letters.

I love this cute original letter that Jimi Hendrix wrote to a girlfriend. You can almost hear him singing it as you read it:

little girl.....
happiness is within unlock the chains from your heart and let yourself grow—
like the sweet flower you are.....
I know the answer—
Just spread your wings and set yourself
Love to you forever
Jimi Hendrix

I found it on Letters of Note, who publish original letters. There are some astonishing letters: a gorgeously sweet one from Iggy Pop to a fan, a letter from Murry Wilson to his son Brian explaining why the Beach Boys were no good (shortly before he went on to record Pet Sounds), and a crazy one from Mark Chapman to a memorabilia dealer, wondering how much the copy of Double Fantasy he got John Lennon to sign before he shot him was worth. Twat.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

London brings the sun.

Well done London! You did it. The sun's out. I took the scenic route to work this morning. Everyone's in a great mood this week because it feels as though Spring is here. I always feel jubilant, as a cyclist, to have made it through the cold dark months.

This Italian deli in Islington (used to be A. Ferrari) is a brilliant place to stop should you ever need a coffee, or a pot of homemade pesto or really delicious soup to take home. It has recently been taken over from the previous owner of seventy years. The new owner is a sweetheart who lets you taste everything, offered to let me pay next time I came and knocked a bit of money off a bottle of wine I said was too expensive for me.

Love how the railings in the churchyard have been shaped around the cattle trough. And look! Flowers! Yay! Sunshine!

Monday, 1 March 2010

Summer Babe.

I'm loving these portraits of Cat Power.* Loving the tan, the eyeliner and the brown hair that's gone golden in the sun. Roll on the summer...

*I don't love her music, though. In fact the only time I've seen her perform I thought she was awful. Is there anything I should be listening to that might change my mind?

(Photos by David Black, via A Continuous Lean.)