Wednesday, 6 August 2014

ArtAngel spectra London

Last night I was coming home from work late and decided to take a stop off to go see the beam of light which can be seen almost anywhere in London for the next few nights to mark the start of WW1 100 years ago. It's called spectra and Ryoji Ikeda from Japan is the artist behind it. The towering beam of light was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen and I implore everyone to GO NOW - I imagine it will be busy at the weekend when word gets out. This is once in a life-time, and I will remember it forever.

I went for a walk around the searchlights and had lie-down on the grass next to it so all I could see above me was the beautiful light, and I could hear the minimalist music which had been composed by the artist, and the vague bustle of people around me - lots of people were doing the same.

When I went into the middle of the searchlights and looked up there are lots of insects (and one or two birds) in the air which glint and dance around and make the whole thing feel very alive. It's very reflective - the tower of light, the beams all merging in to one, and the music - there are lots of people there but it feels meditative and relaxing, (apart from the crazy swirl of emotions which are screaming THIS IS AWESOME all over your insides).

Spectra won't be there for long, just a few nights, which is very much in keeping with that notion that 'nothing is more invisible than a war memorial' - somehow they lose meaning if they're always there, part of the furniture which we forget about - how many times do I recall noticing the Cenotaph? - Few I'm sorry to say. How many times have I been past it? Hundreds probably.

Friday, 4 July 2014

Tarantino Themed Party

This weekend we're hosting a little Tarantino themed house party - 'True Fiction: From Bill to Basterds'.

So here's a little inspiration to get into the mood..

Bridget von Hammersmark, German actress / spy, 1940s glamour. A nipped in brown suit, red lipstick, cigarette holder. For the twisted, add blood for post injury scenes.

Shosanna Dreyfus, the Jewish girl who runs the local cinema (awesome). She  dresses quite drab through most of the film - grey slacks, muted tee, flat cap, beige mac - war time utility chic. That is, until the end - that amazing red dress with red lipstick smeared on her face like war-paint (iconic) as she burns down the cinema and kills Hitler.

Monday, 30 June 2014

Two Architects; One name - Gilbert Scott

Giles vs George.

George Gilbert Scott (1811 - 1878)- St Pancras Hotel, Albert Memorial, loads of churches
Giles Gilbert Scott (1880 - 1960) - Bankside and Battersea power stations, telephone box

This has caused some confusion over the past week. So let's get this straight - one designed buildings that were gothic and romantic, the other designed buildings that were modern and imposing.

Take a trip to Camberwell and marvel at both architects' work - St Giles Church (confusing as it was designed by George), and William Booth Memoiral Training College, (one time Salvation army HQ - Giles).

St Giles, Camberwell

William Booth Memoiral Training College, Camberwell

Stairs at St Pancras - where the Spice Girls video 'Wannabe' was filmed.

Beautiful Albert Memorial at sunset.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

New York on a budget

This post is very over-due. I went to New York in February this year for work and had the best time. In between galleries and social media week there was eating, lots of eating. Here is my list of my favourite and most stylish (and cheap) places to eat in the big apple. Firstly though, stay - The Jane Hotel. This place is just so great and steeped in history - it used to be a YMCA for sailors on leave from the navy, the survivors of the Titanic stayed here, and the hotel is located on the Hudson River, very close to where the Titanic would have docked if it had made it to New York. The lounge bar has a bohemian vibe, where you can get a good cocktail (there's waiter service). Staying here is also cheap - unbelievably cheap for Manhattan. (also see my super top tip for breakfast below). Lovely comfortable room, free wifi, Ipod dock, tvs, vintage vibe - amazing. Right up my street. I am going to tell everyone I know to stay here!
The Butchers Daughter - amazing vegetable juice bar / REALLY good salads. I had the very good 'green godess' juice and a very nice spicy kale salad which I would highly recommend. (Nolita). I read about this in 'The SImple Things' magazine. The Fat Radish - another very healthy place - very relaxing and cool. They do the 'fat radish bowl' which is a healthy bowl of deliciousness and rice - very refreshing, good for digestion, gentle eating. (Nolita). Another Simple Things suggestion. Lovely Day (Nolita) - A VERY cute Thai place that has a bar downstairs with really good cocktails - quite cheap, very cute, nice crowd and and good food! This place was recommended by a very stylish New Yorker we met, I later came across it on Lingered Upon. Mothers Ruin (Nolita) - big old weather-worn wooden bar. Good cocktails, kind of rock-y Robertas Pizza - Brooklyn. Very cool place - a scene in Girls was shot here, and they have a book out - it's a little out of the way but very popular, proper Brooklyn hipster hang out. Really good soughdough pizza, we had to wait 2 hours but there's a nice bar! It was fun going that far into Brooklyn, so different from Manhattan with little wooden houses and patches of deserted land. Maison Premiere - Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn - prohibition era style bar - waiter service cocktails, awesome place! 
Mesa Coyoacan - The best Mexican food I've ever eaten is at this place in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, since leaving I have dreamt about their spicy margaritas and fish tacos. Also in Brooklyn, a ridiculous amount of amazing bars! I don't think you can go too far wrong - on Saturday afternoon we just walked around and found places with Happy Hours... East Village -  Tartine - we were staying just around the corner from here so it was kind of our local, but this place feels like a proper New York secret - it's a TINY french restaurant and all the tables are packed in really tight! It's BYOB and there's a really good liquor store just down the road. I had spicy chicken (REALLY spicy) with chips and guacamole and a really nice chocolate fondant thing. Recommended by Cup of Jo. Also nearby, Frankies Spuntino - very good Italian restaurant. Quite pricey but absolutely fabulous delicious Italian food! Breakfast: My super, super top tip - The Jane is one hell of a wonderful place to stay, but the breakfast ain't so good. So don't go there for breakfast, instead, walk about 10 mins up the road and go to the amazing... Standard Hotel - super visit for breakfast - free Wifi, GREAT service, beautiful decor, very well priced for a swanky place and excellent food. It's right by the Highline so you can take a nice stroll along there afterwards.
The Ace Hotel - We went here to hang out in the lobby with all the cool freelancers who come here to work - very cool, extremely busy and AMAZING coffee!
The amazing liquor store where we bought lovely wine to have in Tartine (it's BYOB)
Mid town after a trip to MoMA
Outside The Standard Grill, before one of many breakfast outings
View of the Hudson River from the High Line, the Titanic would have docked right... there.
Love that vintage world map in the Fat Radish
Love the Standard Grill for breakfast!
Gut-buster breakfast
Wonderful salad and green juice at The Butchers Daughter

Friday, 13 June 2014


Happy Birthday to a pair of my style icons for life - (SIFL).. Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen. I used to spend hours studying what they wore on blogs as a student, and depending on my mood sometimes I still think to myself, would MKA wear this? If so I'll go with it. Few people can really pull off socks and sandals, somehow it works for them.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Chef (2014)

This is the film I've been waiting for since Julie and Julia! Social media, cooking, ScarJo, Florida, FOOD TRUCKS. Just absolutely yes.

Food trucks are pretty big in Orlando which is what I discovered when I went there last year, pull up and tuck in! But my food truck tip for anyone in London (although I would go to the ends of the earth to get my hands on one of these) - Kimchinary - Korean inspired burritos made with either ox cheek or amazing slow cooked pork belly.. so delicious, I dream about these.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

The Wind Rises and Grave of the Fireflies

I love Studio Ghibli - the Japanese version of Disney.

I watched two Studio Ghibli films recently - Grave of the Fireflies and The Wind Rises (I saw the sub-titled version, shame I didn't get to hear dreamy Joseph Gordon-Levitt's voice in the dubbed version). Both are set in WW2 - one cripplingly sad and mournfully depressing, the other - melancholy and grown up. Both are beautiful - like all SG films.

Despite being made 20 years apart, these two films really chimed! One of the many reasons why I just loved The Wind Rises is because at the start of the film you see Jiro (the main character) and his sister as children, and the pair of them together reminded me of the brother and sister in Grave of the Fireflies. In fact there are scenes at the start of both films where the bro and sis are in their gardens - and the scenes in both films are incredibly similar! So, I thought that The Wind Rises kind of gives an alternative ending to Grave of the Fireflies - where you can see how the children's lives could have been different. In a way, it makes me feel better about the sad Grave of the Fireflies ending.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Girlfriends 1978

Despite being super rare (it's not been shown in London since it came out in 78) I have been lucky enough to see Girlfriends twice recently - once at the BFI, second time at the ICA. It's about two best friends in their 20s, Anne and Susan, getting on with their lives in New York.

The film is very much like an original 'Frances Ha', equally as awesome, it's even been described as 'Frances Ha directed by Woody Allen', it's said to be Stanley Kubrick's favourite film and have inspired Lena Dunham. It's a brilliant watch with a good heart - funny, introspective and gentle. The two main characters are great, and both equally identifiable - both are struggling with their place in the world after Anne leaves their flat share and figures out life with a husband and a baby whilst Susan learns how to be herself.

The arc of the film is getting to be yourself and making life work for you whilst getting over the grief of having your best friend get married and learning to be alone.  I love how as Susan grows more accustomed to living alone and become settled, she starts to take an interest in how her flat is decorated - cardboard boxes are replaced by pot plants and movie posters.

Part of why I love this film is that it deals with lots of different facets of life - men, careers, how we look and feel, family and especially female friendships. Female friendships are there in background of films, sure - but mostly they're built on the foundations of discussing relationships, or out of some kind of competition.. There's a scene in Girlfriends after Susan has argued with her best friend and her boyfriend and she is comforted by another supportive female friend, and there's a tender scene where they are hugging on the sofa, which is totally relatable, reassuring and lovely - you don' see this in many movies!

So why doesn't this film have the same cult standing as Annie Hall? Perhaps / probably because it was directed by a woman, and thank god it was, not least because we know Woody Allen will never
be a feminist icon. What's crazy is that the film is still relevant today, we're all just making sense of what our lives are about right now.

Claudia Weill, thank you so much for making this film. I Am Dora, thank you so much for screening it. It's made me think about a lot of things and feel less alone. X

Friday, 4 April 2014

David Letterman

Just heard that David Letterman will be retiring next year.

When I went to New York for the first time back in 2007 I remember getting back to my shared dorm in the funny ol' YMCA on the Upper West Side, being completely exhausted and watching a really grainy Dave on the tiny TV screen, I had this romantic notion that all New Yorkers would probably be doing the same thing...

I love this guy! What is Christmas without watching Darlene Love performing 'Baby Please Come Home' on the Dave Letterman show?

I just love this video of Julia Child making hamburgers with Letterman...
'Raw beef and cheese'? 'This is the kind of thing that would start riots in prisons'

Just so great!

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?

.. or better yet, a puppet?

As a child my Mum wrote 'Joe 90' a letter telling him that she loved him. ...Cool glasses, sharp dress sense - I can see where she's coming from.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Jackson and Rye

Jackson and Rye in Soho is well worth checking out. I had a buttermilk fried chicken sandwich and a Manhattan Rye - sometimes a girl just needs fried chicken and a stiff cocktail.

The vibe is very old school New York elegance - they even have 'Red Snappers' on the cocktail menu which I thought were a relic of old movies. There is a huge bar which is back-lit with gold lights and the uniformed bar-staff who busy themselves shaking up ice cold Old Fashioned(s). The ceilings are high, the music is jazzy and the floor tiles are chic. And the hallmark of any place worth its salt - wonderful Aesop soap in the bathrooms.

Well worth a visit. It made me think of Doris Day in 'Pillow Talk'

The image above is from amazing blog 'Love Music Wine and Revolution'.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Grayson Perry - Being a Man

Last night I went to an amazing talk by brilliant Grayson Perry at the Southbank Centre all about Being A Man. He provided lots of great insights, and I liked his funny drawings, especially the male brain diagram which gave me a good insight into the male brain - it included the 'baloney generator' section which was closely linked to the part of the brain which told them they always had to be right.

In a way, I have never really thought about the experience of man. But like modern women they too are under a lot of pressure, and work, money, fertility and family are stresses and strains of life which both sexes face - but men don't have the same kinds of outlets for their problems which women do. Me and my female friends cry to each other a lot and have a good support network but the same isn't true for men, which is a shame and can lead to problems.

Also the growing trend for 'heritage stuff' - (like Labour and Wait in East London, heavy duty wax jackets and beards) all herald from the start of the Industrial Revolution when men could do all of that hands on labour stuff which women were ill-equipped for, and as the world moves towards digitisation, rather than industrialisation, jobs which were once the realm of men are diminishing.

He ended with his manifesto which is centred on the fact middle class white men have always had the power, and now they were needing to adapt with the changing world... which means not always holding the power, and not always knowing best...

What are YOUR thoughts?

He also included this funny pic which I sure can relate too!


I was reading 'Good Housekeeping' magazine at the weekend and an article reminded me that soon one of my favourite things will be happening - wisteria will be in full bloom! It happens almost overnight sometime in May.

Last year I took a few detours a couple of evenings on my way home from work to tour around the pretty Georgian back-streets near where I live to marvel at, and smell, the beautiful wisteria. I excitedly thought about growing some on my own house; then I remembered that my landlord would never allow it and went home.

(Above - That's the William Morris society in Hammersmith - must make a pilgrimage there soon)

Friday, 7 March 2014

All Hail the Breton Stripe...

... so much more than a striped tee shirt - a cultural signifier and fashion icon.

Just think of:
Picasso hanging out in his studio on a balmy afternoon in Paris
Stylish French ladies reclining in deckchairs in Capri
Fisherman bobbing about on boats off the coast of Normandy
Smokin Godard couples
Edie Sedgewick looking stylish in the 60s
Oh, and Madonna in Papa Don't Preach. Of course.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

The Night of the Hunter (1955)

I watched this on Tuesday night at the BFI (part of their Gothic season) and it sure is well worth seeing.

There are some really great scenes, like the *spoiler* underwater corpse scene which is all mermaid-like and beautiful. There are creepy songs, especially the one sung by Pearl, the little girl, about a fly who had a wife.. AND, it's Brilliantly shot - I loved the scene where you see the hunter coming across the horizon on horseback, the film also has this southern-Gothic vibe thing going on with spider webs and Spanish moss aplenty.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Dreaming of Scandinavia

Last week I made cinnamon buns and at the weekend I (window) shopped in Cos whilst dreaming of Stockholm... or Copenhagen - but which? 

Of course I have already been to Stockholm and I adored it, the design, the beautiful people and the hot chocolate. Lonely Planet also makes Copenhagen sound appealing -

'The coolest, most cosmopolitan, most exciting, and the most wonderful city in Scandinavia (don’t argue Stockholm: welcome to Copenhagen (KĂžbenhavn).' 

A film called 'The Prize' (1963) is set in Stockholm, I look forward to watching that soon and fuelling my Scandinavia fantasies even more.