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.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Nellie's.

My hometown, Beverley, is a medieval market town, renowned for its pubs, churches, horse racing, folk music, morris dancing... and did I mention pubs? Nellie's is the best pub in Beverley and, as long as we're on my blog, I'm calling it for the best pub in the entire world. Still lit by gas lamp, it's a Samuel Smith's pub, which means delicious beers all brewed in Yorkshire, sold at low prices that the brewery maintains, only increasing prices in line with tax and inflation. Nellie's is dirty, dark, all winding passages and lamp-lit rooms with only the sounds of the soft voices of happy Yorkshire drinkers: Sam Smith's don't play music or television in their pubs, to keep costs down.

That's me Mam in the first picture. The pub is called The White Horse Inn but everyone calls it Nellie's, after long-standing former landlady Nelly Collinson. I also heard it was haunted by her, if you turn the white horse above the door at midnight, you see her ghost...

Nellie's
Nellie's
Nellie's
Nellie's
Nellie's
Nellie's

Sunday, 24 October 2010

The English seaside.

I wanted to visit Scarborough whilst I'm home. I remembered it being the nicest of all the seaside towns we used to visit when I was young, all mist, cliffs and high quality fish and chips. The folks didn't seem too keen to go. Getting there and seeing this view from the car window, I understood why. None of us wanted to leave the car. Luckily the sun came out,
but I couldn't stop thinking about the little seaside town in Sicily I visited last year and comparing it to the bitter 7˚ with whipping cold winds in Scarborough. There were loads of surfers. Can you imagine surfing in that freezing cold water? I tried to empathise with them
by eating an icecream.

Scarborough
Scarborough
Scarborough
Scarborough
Scarborough
Scarborough
Scarborough
Scarborough
Scarborough
Scarborough
Scarborough

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Going home.


Seeing the Humber Bridge from the train window always signifies getting home, to me. It's always a grand sight, even during the day when you can see just how truly brown the shallow waters stretching across the mud flats of the Humber estuary are. The picture above is the same picture I take every time I come back.

I have to admit that whenever I come home I am spoiled. The fridge is always heaving with my favourite foods (thanks again Ma) and I'm allowed to lie in bed late and nap at will (today I was planning to go for a run but instead ate some quiche and fell asleep again). I have wine and whisky pressed on to me, a little den made in the spare room with blankets and dressing gowns, and the pick of the latest novels from overflowing bookshelves to slink upstairs with. Books are also pressed onto me to take home, along with hats, clothes, little bits of jewellery (mum is as much of a clothes hound and magpie as me) and usually, oddly, a selection of cheeses, to stink up the train as I go.

I haven't been here for 18 months because I don't like leaving my cats. Since I last visited, the house has been upgraded with a new garden room and bathroom, so it feels a bit like a luxury hotel. And Mia, the beloved but snooty Bengal, has even taken to sleeping on my lap and under the covers on my bed, a move that has caused some surprised drama in the household as she is a creature of routine who usually sits with my stepfather. So I'm still getting my kitty fix.

Anyway, I'm writing this with a finger of whisky in a tumbler next to me, under a blanket, in a soft cotton hoodie, with some fine books to read. (Currently Paul Auster's Brooklyn Follies: I read far too many of his books and not enough of other people's, but he is such a fine writer.) Cosiness is calling, ta ta for now.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Arrochar.

I've been drooling over these pictures of the Scottish Highlands that my friend Ash posted on Facebook. The nearest town is Arrochar, the hill is called The Cobbler and I'm totally putting it on my to-go list for the near future. If there's one thing I love it's a river. This river disappearing into the loch is so stunning.


Anyway I'm taking this attack of the hippy as a sign that I need some countryside, so I'm catching a train up to Yorkshire for a few days. I've just realised I've not been home since I started the blog 18 months ago. Lame. So I'm looking forward to it. Pictures of quaint cafés, cows and charity shop hauls: incoming.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

La Soirée.

I was never really interested in the whole burlesque thing when it became popular a couple
of years ago. Gigs are more my idea of a good night out. But when I was invited to go and preview the new La Soirée show on London's South Bank, I decided to give it a go.

The show is held in a huge and plushly furnished Big Top behind the National Theatre with mahogany bars, coloured stained glass windows and seats set intimately around a tiny circular stage. You're greeted by a ringmaster and the party atmosphere starts as soon as you step foot into the Big Top.

I went with a friend who'd seen La Clique, which shares a lot of the same performers as La Soiree, and as we sat and spied on our glamorous seatmates she promised me we were going to be in for a good time. And so we were! I won't spoil too much of the show but amongst the performers there was an incredible rubber man – loved him, he gave a little speech about following your dream, whilst sitting on top of a tower of tin cans with his legs tied behind his head! – a rollerskating hula-hoop diva, a 1980s German magic competition runner up, and much more. But best of all was Bath Boy. Bath Boy is basically a guy writhing about in a clawfoot bathtub, doing all kinds of acrobatics on straps whilst wearing only a pair of jeans that are soaked to his body. Put it this way, as we left the show EVERYBODY was talking about Bath Boy.

I felt as though I was at a 1930s Berlin cabaret. It was part-burlesque, part-vaudeville; a full-on, bawdy, carnival atmosphere, with the audience invited to sing and scream along and getting forced into participating. (If you're a good-looking dude sitting ringside, beware. You may be forced to take part in an act.) The show would be perfect for a date or just out with pals. Just remember to try and pick your jaw off the floor when watching Bath Boy. Drool is not cool.

[For more details about La Soirée click here.]

Friday, 15 October 2010

The Great Twitter Portrait Project.


I got photographed for Chris Floyd's Great Twitter Portrait Project earlier this week. I hate having my photograph taken but love the idea behind the project. Chris is a photographer
who wanted to explore how we use Twitter and how it has changed the way we live and communicate, spending so much time online chatting to faceless people we don't know. I guess the natural instinct for a photographer, especially one who takes ace portraits (he photographed Macca!), is to want to get behind the screenname, so here we all are.

I had my photo taken alongside a couple of my tweet buddies @IsabelleOC and @SarahDrinkwater (who both blog, at IsabelleOC and The Enchanted Hunters). We chat on twitter and hang out offline so thought it would be fun to get photographed together. It was completely awesome fun, we did some truly amazing poses, I guess the daisychain was Chris's favourite. I absolutely love it! That's me on the rollerskates, the one with the unusually short legs. Check out some more of the portraits here.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

UNIQLO +J coats.


I really like the UNIQLO +J winter coats. Ever so slightly offbeat shapes, classic camel tones and 100% wool (and some wool mixes), decently priced at around £130–£150. I particularly like the cocoon coat, top right, not yet available. (I'm also liking the feeling of getting good design at a good price. What is up with some high street pricing, recently?)

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Recent pictures.

Time for another photo download from my iPhone. These are from the last three or so months. The photos haven't been Hipstamatic'd, I find that kind of annoying. The bad colour balance is entirely accidental. I've listed at the bottom what they all are.

Manhattan

Approaching Vegas

Gram Parsons, Room 8 Joshua Tree Hotel

The Reel Inn

Regent's Canal

Regent's Canal

Parliament Hill Lido, end of summer

Tate Modern

Millenium Bridge

Freddie

Leroy Hutson

Oliver and Harper


1. Leaving NYC.

2. Arriving Vegas.

3. Bathroom at Room 8, Joshua Tree Motel.

4. Cajun grouper at The Reel Inn.

5. Regent's canal.

6. Regent's canal.

7. Last lido day of the summer.

8. Tate Modern - this lady's dress perfectly matched the painting she was standing in front of. I just missed the picture but caught her as she walked away.

9. Millennium Bridge view from the Tate Modern.

10. Little Freddie.

11. Leroy Hutson playing in London. He was the lead singer of the Impressions and a contemporary of Donny Hathaway, Roberta Flack, Herbie Hancock... He hadn't played in London for years and apparently gets really bad stage fright. I just found this footage from the show, I got a little goosebumps situation just watching it. Also, Finn Peters on sax wearing awesome shoes.

12. Man with Baby. CUTE!

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Happy Birthday John.



I worshipped The Beatles as I was growing up; I thought they were the absolute shit and I still do. John was always my favourite, so cocky and raw. I wish we’d seen him grow old. I was pondering what he would have grown into recently, then saw this Vanity Fair article which imagines it and was fun to read. I think he’d have grown into an even more radical old hippy, continuing to shock us all, campaign for his causes and generally just be extremely cool. Such a loss. Happy Birthday Johnny.

(I love this clip, it has such lovely footage of John from over the years. And the bit where he thanks Phil Spector at the end is hilarious.)

Friday, 8 October 2010

Let's Dance.

Beatrix Ong 'Bowie' shoes, perfect for dancing the blues. They're the perfect slightly platform high court shape, too. I'd like to put them in my overnight bag and whisk them away to Paris for the weekend. Available from farfetch.com.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Callooh Callay.

Sipping weird and wonderful concoctions in a Lewis Carroll inspired wonderland? Sounds like my perfect night out, so I was pleased as punch to be offered the chance to sample the acclaimed cocktail list at Callooh Callay. Named after Carroll's Jabberwocky poem, the bar and lounge is tucked away in Shoreditch among the Italian lunch places and coffee shops.  I invited Happiness Project London along for a blogdate after noticing she had the bar on her to-do wishlist. We snapped away like a pair of losers lunatics with our matching cameras.

Callooh Callay

Cocktails are taken seriously here. There are faithfully recreated classics alongside new mixes, including the award-winning Ale of Two Cities, created by bar manager Sean Ware. It's served in a half pint jar and looks just like ale but actually tastes like a wild forest tonic: an inspired mix of 42 Below vodka, Punt e Mes, angostura bitters, apple, lime, wild nettle cordial and malt syrup. Exactly the sort of drink that you might be surprised with in Narnia. (You have to step through Narnian wardrobe doors to get to the lounge, nice touch!)

These were wonderfully tasty Mai Tais, made as closely as possible to the original 1947 Trader Vic recipe. (El Dorado 12 year old rum, Wray & Nephew rum, orange curaçao, a dash of rock candy syrup and a dollop of French orgeat. Seriously tasty.)

Callooh Callay

I also enjoyed an All That Jazz, a mix of jasmine infused vodka, yellow chartreuse, lemon sugar and prosecco. Really subtle flavours and so refreshing. The individual food plates were perfect; generous enough to keep the tummy rumbles at bay and nibbly enough to munch whilst chatting.

Callooh Callay

The bar staff chatted away to the regulars at the bar whilst shaking it like a polaroid picture. Check the technique.

Callooh Callay

The ambience and decor of the place was perfectly quirky and cosy, it reminded me of the kind of the bar you find in Berlin, decked out with vintage pieces and lots of candles, but more lavishly done. The music was great, with the bar manager putting on his favourite tunes in between mixing cocktails and tending to his customers with great care. Even the loos were a talking point, the walls completely lined with old mixtapes set in resin.

Callooh Callay

With so much to see, try and talk about, Callooh Callay would be perfect for a first date or just a cosy catch-up with friends.  HPL and I felt quite at home, the last to leave having blown out our dinner plans in favour of staying in our cosy corner. I'll be seeing you again soon, that's for sure Callooh Callay!

Address: 65 Rivington Street, London, EC2A 3AY
Telephone: 020 7739 4781

Monday, 4 October 2010

London Vintage and Retro.

After years of cycling past on the way to work, I finally made it to London Vintage and Retro. It's just on the wrong part of Holloway Road for me; whenever I'm in that part of town I'm usually hurrying to get home or where I'm going, it's not really a place to stop. Anyway, yesterday I decided to check it out.

London Vintage and Retro

It's big. I knew I was going to be in there a while. I'm looking for long dresses and skirts, silk blouses, nice cashmere or wool for winter, perhaps a new coat and, as ever, that perfect leather bag, going for a song. (Well, might as well aim high.) This 1960s dress was lovely thick cotton crepe, really good quality and still vividly bright. I can't rock those colours, though. Shame.

London Vintage and Retro

This little wool jacket came home with me. It has an astrakhan collar, woven vintage buttons, is in perfect condition and was a mere £15. Yay!

London Vintage and Retro

I quite liked this really heavy cotton vintage German fisherman's shirt and thought maybe it'd look good with just tights? They had a whole rail of these. But I wasn't sure and thought maybe because I was wearing my fisherman's cagoule I'd got a bit confused.

London Vintage and Retro

I tried to capture my fisherman moment. Christina, I know you'll love my cagoule.

London Vintage and Retro

Crap photo, but this was a handmade, silk-lined, crushed black velvet bolero, all edged in sequins. Only £10! The shop has a strange pricing policy, you'd find bargains like this but then a quite tatty vintage dresses would be £40 or £50. It's definitely a place you have to rummage.

London Vintage and Retro

Loved the colours on this pink and grey knitted jacket, but thought I should only take one jacket home. This was £10, too. And behind it peeking out is a fantastic bright yellow chiffon shift dress, with big silver embroidered spots. It was amazing, but a huge size.

London Vintage and Retro

All in all I thought it was a great shop, not amazing stock but definitely worth a rummage because you might just find a bit of gold. And strangely inconsistent pricing. The shop is huge, so give yourself a good hour to get involved.

London Vintage and Retro. Address: 162 Holloway Road, London. Contact telephone: 020 700 2354.