Thursday, 30 September 2010

Willes Pool, Kentish Town.

Kentish Town Sports Centre finally reopened a couple of months ago and it is a stunner.
The Willes Pool is the most gorgeous indoor pool I've ever swum in. It's huge (five lanes, all marked out in perfect new tile!), the vaulted roof has been restored to utter perfection, the viewing gallery has been lovingly restored, even the walls are a gorgeous muted lilac. There are also two other pools, a 25m pool and a teaching pool, so the big pool is less busy.

Willes pool

The facilities are also absolutely mega; individual changing rooms each with a state of the art shower with one big soft button. (Although the hairdryers are pants. Those tubey things that barely breathe on your hair. Although they're free, so that's a bonus.)


There's also an amazing gym space, shown here before being filled with brilliant brand new machines. I tested it out a week ago; it was lovely to be able to stare out into the sky whilst torturing yourself. Again, it was probably the best equipped and prettiest gym I've ever used, with the restored wooden floors and huge attic feel. But the joining and membership fees are expensive, on a par with the premium private gyms. The pool ain't cheap either, at £4.05 for a non concessionary adult swim. If you're a Camden resident it's all a bit cheaper, though.

Top marks to Camden Council for not only preserving the building but turning it into an absolutely first class facility. I literally can't stop thinking about diving into that pool, I'm going later.

[Edited to add: I used to go to this pool before it was refurbed: the changing rooms were made out of brieze blocks, the roof was netted over to stop falling debris and pigeons lived in it.
I also had my worst ever public pool experience there once, I won't repeat it but my friends know the story. Horror! Which makes the transformation even more mega.]

Contact: Kentish Town Sports Centre, Prince Of Wales Rd, London NW5 3LE. Telephone: 020 7267 9341.

[Images with thanks to Camden Photos]

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Dior 'Oui' ring.

I found this Dior Oui ring yesterday whilst on my makebelieve shopping trip. Isn't it just parfait? There's a more blinged out pavé diamond version here. Even though I'm made of money, I prefer this version at £510. Quite bargainous, in the great scheme of diamond rings.

Monday, 27 September 2010

Fashion blog tag.

[Grace Coddington photographed by Patrick Lichfield, nicked from Fashion's Most Wanted.]

I got tagged to answer some fashion questions by the ever generous Christina from Fashion's Most Wanted at the weekend. Thank Christina! As ever, I hope you're all keeping up with her incredible in-depth fashion analysis. She is an absolute wealth of fashion knowledge, her references are always incredible. And has an amazing style of her own. I feel somewhat humbled now, but here goes.

What's your favourite fashion accessory?
Hmm, probably jewellery. I was handed down the sparkly magpie gene from my grandmother, so I’m always fiddling around with earrings, necklaces, bracelets and brooches.

Who's your fashion role model?
I don't really have a role model. To me, style is all tied up with personality, brains, sense of humour...I love what my friends wear, for instance. If pushed, I'd say that I love the style of Woody Allen's women, all tea dresses, bundled up coats, brooches. The rich and cosy textures and colours from his 1970s films. And Joan Didion always looks really chic.

[Dianne Wiest, from Hannah and Her Sisters, and Joan Didion.]

How would you describe your style?
Scruffy. I can never look polished, no matter how hard I try.

What's your favourite?  Jeans, sunglasses or heels?
I’m only 5’ 4” (and a half) so heels. People always tell me they think I’m taller when I tell them my height. It’s the heels. (Although I did grow an inch recently, which was pretty revolutionary. I think it was from doing yoga?)

What inspired you to blog about fashion?
I love fashion and fashion writing (I have the requisite Hadley Freeman crush, for instance, although I’ve also had a Sarah Mower and Harriet Quick crush in my time). So when fashion blogging came around it was like heaven for me, basically.

What is your favourite fashion store?
I’ve always been a bit obsessed with eras other than the one I’m in, like the Beach Boys song, ‘I Guess I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times.’ So I love finding treasures in charity, thrift and vintage shops. (I recently started blogging about my passion for chazzing over at Upstyler, a new mag about charity shopping. I’ve got a new post coming up later this week.) I could also happily wear nothing but Whistles  at the moment. Their dresses!

What is your favourite fabric in clothing?
Silk. It’s so comfortable and the way it hangs is always flattering.

Who are your favourite designers?
If I was suddenly showered with wealth, I’d probably jump on the Eurostar to Paris and go to Isabel Marant's atelier, then stop at Chanel for accessories, Dior for jewellery, Sonia Rykiel for stripes, knits and coats, then back to London for  a quick stop at Start boutique to clear them out of Acne and Erdem before retiring to my townhouse down Princelet Street. Hm, that was a nice daydream!

Who or what inspires your style?
Film, music, friends, people I see walking down the street, great fashion photography…there’s inspiration to be found everywhere.

Would you choose to buy something high quality or make it yourself if you could?
If I could, I’d definitely make it. Seeing how easy Mrs Jones made it look in Fashion’s Most Wanted profile of her really inspired me, and now she has her own blog,  for added inspiration. Of course, she makes it look easy because she's incredibly gifted; unfortunately there’s a rather large gap in my skillset but, y’know, I’d try!

I'm passing on the questions to IsabelleOC, The Enchanted Hunters, Vagabondiana, That's Not My Age and Privilege, some of my favourite places to read about fashion and life.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Sponsored Post: Olay Big British Beauty Poll.

Perfect skin.
I think most women would admit that as they get older they become more preoccupied with their skin. Watching Mad Men this week I was transfixed by Joan's perfect, glowing skin, surely the epitome of a peaches and cream complexion. (FYI, Christina Hendricks, who plays Joan, is 35. There is hope for us all. Unsisterly of me to do an age reveal but just saying.)

I've been a fan of the Olay Regenerist line for a while now, since seeing it recommended by New York power-dermatologist Dr Lisa Airan and trying it out for myself. To my mind, Olay offer extensively researched products at a good pricepoint and to support the launch of the latest serum in the Regenerist range (promising dramatically firmer skin – yup, sold), they're offering a free sample so that you can try before you buy – a nice way to see whether those promises on the packaging actually mean anything.

Plus there is the option to take part in their latest beauty poll. Sign up for a sample here and do take the poll. That way they can keep making even better products that we can all afford!

[Mad Men still used with thanks to AMC Television.]

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

The Louis Patisserie.

I've walked past the Louis Patisserie in Hampstead many times on my way elsewhere and made a mental note to go one day. Open since 1963, it really reminds me of the places The Beatles visited in their old films, being served cake in a tea room by a stern old granny in an apron. The interior certainly hasn't changed since the 1960s.

Louis Patisserie

Nor has the design of the boxes. I wonder how many plush Hampstead birthdays have featured a boxed cake from here? (That's me live blogging in the background.)

Louis Patisserie

But on to the cakes. There were flaky slices, choux buns and eclairs, all stuffed with cream, heavy glazed fruit tarts, sweet Hungarian specialities...


...the brown squiggles are creme de marrons, gooey sweet chestnut purée layered with cream and sponge.

Louis Patisserie

I played safe with a chocolate éclair, which was pretty perfect. My friend Des had a slice of bakewell tart but it was really sugary, she couldn't eat it. I did a safety check and it was pretty much a solid square of sugar. Disappointing. A proper old fashioned tea tray and a sugar fuelled gossip made up for it, though. Definitely worth a stop off as part of a Hampstead Heath day or a shopping day in Hampstead.

Louis Patisserie

Contact details for the Louis Patisserie here.

[First two images courtesy of Laura Nolte  and Su Lin. My photos were crap!]

Monday, 20 September 2010

Portobello market.


I always do a Portobello market trip at this time of the year. Sunny autumn days make me want to go and rifle through the stalls of really good value cashmere they always have there, perfect for stocking up for winter.


There were some absolute bargains, with prices as low as £8 for a perfectly lovely Aran jumper. I didn't buy it, I'm chunky enough without wearing chunky jumpers. Aran was everywhere though; I saw a girl looking very lovely in a bobbled number. My Grandma used to knit me and my brothers Aran jumpers that we refused to wear because they were too itchy.


I didn't find the fluffy jumper of my dreams either, sadly.


I liked these dresses, really well-made in thick African printed cottons. And only £15.


Who doesn't love a good button rummage?


As it was a girls day out, cupcakes were high on the menu. These were pretty tasty looking...


...but we saved ourselves for black bottom cupcakes at the Hummingbird Bakery. No pictures of those, they didn't last long enough.We nearly died when they described them: dark chocolate sponge with cheesecake baked in the centre. I am totally going to try making these at home, here is the recipe.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Nice bit of fluff.

I added 'super fluffy winter garms' to my mental shopping list the other day, after a woman sitting opposite me on the tube was wearing an extremely fluffy cardigan and looking extremely cosy, and slightly smug, as she nuzzled all up into it for her journey home.


My picks so far are (from left to right) stripy Topshop, pink as well as fluffy Acne and perfectly camel and cosy Stella McCartney. (I'll get this one if the lottery ticket I bought last week has come in, not it checked yet.) Or yes, the Isabel Marant number Freja is wearing above would do very nicely as well. Have you spotted any good fluff about?

(Image - backstage, Isabel Marant Winter 2010/2011]

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Betjeman does Hull.

I'm loving this footage of Sir John Betjeman interviewing Philip Larkin and reading his poetry against footage of 1960s Hull. My maternal grandmother was from Hull and I was born and grew up nearby in Beverley, a pretty little market town. So I've got a soft spot for the place. Although I do understand what Betjeman is saying. 'If anywhere’s the end of England and the end of land it’s Hull and beyond Hull'. It does have that feel about the place. And that's what I love about it. Here are parts two and three of the documentary.

[From Hullness, via my friend Ben.]

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

BFI London Film Festival.

Booking opens tomorrow for this year's BFI London Film Festival (for members, public booking opens the 27th September). I love how this always comes around just in time for cosy cinema weather. I'm really looking forward to seeing Blue Valentine, with Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams (pictured, from the film), mainly because it's got Ryan Gosling in it it looks like a mix between the schmaltz of The Notebook (guilty pleasure) and the grittier Half Nelson. But the catalogue says its intensity 'brings Cassavetes to mind', so obviously there's a lot more to it than that.

My other immediate picks are Howl, about the young Allen Ginsberg and also featuring Jon Hamm (will he be forever cast to that era, now?); and James Cagney in The Mayor of Hell. The selection of British, European, World and classic cinema is fantastic as always, browse here. (The festival runs between the 13 - 28 October.)

Monday, 13 September 2010

CW Stoneking.

I just can't get enough of balladeers in bow ties at the moment. This weekend was The Mayor's Thames Festival and I noticed CW Stoneking on the roster, so down I went.

I first saw CW Stoneking at an American folk concert at The Barbican, early last year. Amongst the bluegrassy fiddle and banjo acts he walked on enigmatically, in a sailor suit and bow tie, with a steel guitar under his arm. He started telling stories about gravediggers and hoodoo doctors in New Orleans, all in a bizarre accent that was a mix of heavy Australian and American. (He grew up in the Australian outback, then moved to New Orleans, and now apparently works at a funeral parlour in Melbourne, according to a friend of mine.) I was really struck by him. You can see some footage of that performance here.

CW Stoneking Thames Festival London

He got a great response yesterday at the festival, dressed in his usual all white with a bow tie and with a growing collection of sailor tattoos. Buy his album Jungle Blueswhich includes The Love Me or Die (introduced by him as a jungle calypso murder ballad) and Jungle Lullaby, which recalls lazy afternoons when you're shipwrecked in the jungle.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Dr. John, The Last Waltz.

Still dreaming of San Francisco, I'm loving this footage* of Dr John coming over all bawdy vaudevillian, playing Such a Night with The Band at their last ever gig at the Winterland Ballroom in San Fran on Thanksgiving, 1976. I can’t tell you how much I love the Dr’s look: silver shoes, velvet smoking jacket with sparkles and a pink silk bow tie. Boys: take note for an amazing date outfit.

I've had Such a Night stuck in my head since watching Colors last weekend. A young Sean Penn, Robert Duvall, set in 1980s LA, awesome soundtrack, directed by Dennis Hopper and a car chase scene that ends with a car exploding into the Watts Towers. What more could you possibly want from a film? Have a great weekend! x

*From Scorsese's The Last Waltz.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Caked in paint.

I'm loving Paul Ferney's sumptious little oil paintings of cakes this morning. A bargainous $325. I love Paul's American landscapes but these are easier on the pocket, plus a couple of these to gaze at would surely help to kill cake cravings, wouldn't it? And how cool do these pictures from the opening show look? It just seems like the kind of super cute event that could only happen in San Francisco. (I'm reading Jack Kerouac at the moment and the urge for a trip to San Fran to beatnik about is currently Very Strong!)

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Nitrogen ice-cream from Chin Chin Laboratorists.

Saying to the average Londoner, 'Let's meet in Camden', will usually produce a loud wail of despair. Camden is a pandemonium of goth shops, tourists and teenagers trying to buy drugs. However, follow it up with, 'We can try out the nitrogen ice-cream parlour!', and now you're talking.

Nitrogen ice-cream

Chin Chin Laboratories opened a couple of weeks ago in Camden Lock; the first nitrogen ice-cream parlour in Europe. Most people will be aware of this miracle of molecular gastronomy thanks to Heston Blumenthal. But for those who haven't made it to The Fat Duck yet, Chin Chin has taken it to the streets. For £4 you can buy a little pot of ice-cream, freshly frozen by a man in a white coat in a little shop kitted out as a science laboratory. Pretty awesome, really!

Nitrogen ice-cream

On the day we went the special flavour was victoria sponge with green tea. My friend Emilia adventurously agreed to try it whilst I stayed trad with vanilla. When asked if her ice-cream tasted like victoria sponge with green tea, I was given an emphatic, 'NO'. She said it tasted like rose, and it did look a bit pink.

Nitrogen ice-cream

My vanilla ice cream didn't particularly taste of vanilla, which you'd think would be fairly easy to achieve, but it was a lovely, dense, creamy ice-cream. (There is a good description of how nitrogen ice-cream differs in texture to the regular stuff here. It is a pleasingly non-scientific breakdown of the process.) The topping of salted caramel was a total winner, though, and I would happily go back just for a salted caramel fix.

Chin Chin Laboratorists

Not bad for £4 and a scientific adventure, but I would advise any ice-cream seeker in the environs of Camden Lock to instead continue north up Chalk Farm Road for five minutes to Marine Ices for some proper old school London ice-cream eating action.

EDITED TO ADD: Chin Chin emailed me to say the specials that day were earl grey & victoria sponge cake (not green tea), and lychee with rosewater. Obviously Emi was given the rose flavour by mistake, hence her tasting rose.

[Chin Chin Laboratories, 49-50 Camden Lock Place, 07885 604 2841. Marine Ices, 8 Haverstock Hill, 020 7482 9000.]

Monday, 6 September 2010

Knitted record player.

Knitted record player
A knitted record player that plays My Way: one of those things you don't know you need until you see it. I found it in Eeny Meeny, a local shop for tots, when browsing for a present for a friend's new addition. They have a great edit of pretty toys,  cool decorations, party bags with things you'd actually want to keep and, best of all, a nearly-new clothes exchange. Basically, thrifting but for kids! There were some really cute things on the racks at great prices. But yeah, I want the knitted record player, definitely one for the grown ups.

[£94 by Anne-Claire Petit, available at Eeny Meeny, 8 Campdale Road, Tufnell Park. Telephone 020 0011 4202.]

Friday, 3 September 2010

September music.

I must urge you to listen to this mix for September put together by my friend John, who is the god-daddy of mixing together dusty old rekkids. It's a bit mellow, a bit melancholy, a bit free your mind, and very, very awesome. Perfect for listening to at your desk and riding out the rest of Friday. (Scott Walker! What a voice.) Thanks JB.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Aerolatte – frothing in the real world.

As I was frothing my hot chocolate to perfection last night I had the horrible thought that maybe some people don't have an Aerolattein their lives. Seriously, they're amazing. They make perfect coffeshop froth for your coffee, I use mine every morning. And for winter hot chocolate, they froth the whole thing up and take out any lumps at the same time. I have done a lot of froth research in my time and have used one of these babies for a few years now. If you value your froth, order one right now – they're about £20 from Amazon. You're welcome!

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Telephone brooch.

Hot on the heels of yesterday's Mad Men post, more television fashion. Do excuse me, I don't usually go on about telly. I was a latecomer to Glee but am loving its cheesy all-singing, all-dancing American high school vibe. Kurt is the winner in the costume stakes with his fluffy jumper and bow-tie combos (you may have seen me jubilantly tweet this outfit).

However, I am loving the strangely alluring Miss Pillsbury's selection of costume jewellery, described by my new role model, Sue Sylvester as, '...the kind of jewellery my grandmother was buried in.' I particularly love the telephone brooch she's wearing above, which has now sparked an annoying obsession to find my own tiny telephone to pin onto my clothes. There are a few similar on eBay, including this cute vintage Avon brooch. And Tatty Devine did a telephone range. But it's just not the same. Ah, fashion's cruel lure.