Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Hackney Independents

Last week the wonderful Stoke Newington boutique Hub Shop published this little interview with me, alongside some photos of me wearing their gorgeous stuff. If ever there was proof that anyone can look good if you give them nice enough threads, this is it! I particularly loved the skirt I'm wearing, which is from Beth Graham, a label set up by Louise Power who also runs Hub. You can read an interview I did with her about her label and the Hackney Independents project here.
You can see what else I wore here.
Photographer Simon Wisbey shot me at the Run-Riot tube carriage-turned office above village Underground.
Now for something more informal- here's an instagram shot of me in a bear dress I borrowed from Lu Flux to DJ at the BUST Craftacular. That's right, A BEAR DRESS.
Here are some more pictures from Lu Flux's recent collection celebrating old fashioned techniques like patchwork and embroidery. I interviewed Lu for the BUST site- read it here.
In other news, I've posted the second half of my annual gift guide for Run-Riot- this one features singers Kate Nash, Josh Weller and Kim Boekbinder, performance artists Bryony Kimmings and Bourgeois & Maurice, model and Edible Bus Stop founder Mak Gilchrist and lots more fascinating folk. 

What are you hoping for this Christmas? I've asked my parents for a new camera which I'm excited about. Other than that I'd love a new handbag- the ones at Hub shop are made from divine, buttery soft leather, so Santa, if you're listening....

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

I know it's early to whip out the C word, but I need to alert you to some festive goings on that I'm involved in! Firstly, there's 'Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas'; a mini exhibition I'm curating celebrating the Victorian fascination with all things miniature. It opens tonight at Luna and Curious, there'll be festive treats plus carols from She Makes War- come along and join in! There'll be polaroids from the wonderful Wendy Bevan, miniature stationery from Alice Gabb, crystal worlds from Chantal Powell (pictured below), Victoriana from Jennie Sharman-Cox, tiny decorated animal skulls from Lauren Baker, vintage charms collected by me and Christmas tree decorations from Tinsel Edwards and Twinkle Troughton. Prices ranges from £10 to £295, so come and invest in some art for a really unique christmas present!
On Sunday I'll be DJing from midday at the BUST magazine Craftacular- which this year has a brilliant sustainable fashion area- I'm so looking forward to wearing one of Lu Flux's bear dresses for my set!
I also recently wrote a guest post for Nic of Archie and the Rug- which is about working with paper props and dresses for a shoot with Gabby Young- below. See the full post here.
Finally, I've started my annual gift guide series over on Run-Riot. Want to know what to buy the philosopher in your life? I've asked Alain de Botton. The model? I've asked Naomi Shimada. The sweet tooth? I've asked Angel Adoree. Plus many more! Part 2 is out next week and has some further recommendations and great photos of famous folk sitting on Santa's lap- e.g The Broken Hearts DJs below!

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Sister Act in Aix en Provence

It's hard to believe I only took these photos a month ago- it looks like the middle of summer! In late October, I popped over to visit my little sister who's studying in Aix en Provence for a year. It's such a gorgeous town and really easy to get to- I flew into Marseilles for only £70 with Easyjet, and from there it's just a short bus ride to Aix.
Because my sister is in university halls, I decided to rent a little room from AirBnB for us to stay in. I'm such a fan of AirBnB- the cheapest hotel room I could find in town was £70 a night and frankly, not very appealing, whereas this room was only £40 a night! It was situated above a couple's top floor flat in one of the old buildings just off the main street in town- so an absolutely ideal location- with lovely views over neighbouring roofs. The room had its own separate entrance so I didn't have to bother the couple who owned it in order to come and go- they just left me the key and voila! I had my own little pad in the south of France for a few days!

This is me in the room, enjoying the last of the balmy October weather!
My sister had organised some lovely things for us to do- we went to see an old black and white French film in the local library on the evening I arrived which made me feel very cultural ( I DEFINITELY didn't fall asleep). 
We also visited the local Natural History Museum. It's a bit more modest than the London version, but it's very sweet- the building it's housed in is stunning- here is my sister Phi and me (below) in front of some of the beautiful old doors inside the museum.

In one of the rooms downstairs there was also an 'art' exhibition of goldfish swimming in glass drops suspended from the ceiling. It was very pretty but I can't help feeling sorry for fish in such tiny spaces- though I know they're only meant to have a three second memory!

We also went out of town to climb a mountain! The Sainte-Victoire mountain is just a short bus ride from Aix-en-Provence which was once home to Cézanne - the mountain was one of his favourite subjects- he is known to have painted it over 60 times. You can understand why- the autumn colours in the trees were just begging to be painted!
It's actually quite tricky to find your way to the start of the mountain trail- you have to cross the reservoir, then take a tiny left almost immediately. Then you have to follow a series of tiny, blue horizontal lines that are painted on trees and rocks to mark the way up the mountain. Occasionally you'll come across a blue cross which means 'not this way or you'll fall of the mountain!' The refreshing lack of health and safety concerns is highly amusing. 

It's about a two hour climb to the top- where we tried to take a selfie, but it's hard to fit two people and a mountain in one selfie.

I'm jolly glad Phi did make me do the mountain climb, as I really needed to burn off the calories we'd scoffed via a number of nutella crepes, salted caramel macaroons, chocolate-orange ice-cream, stone-baked pizza, croissants and pastries like those above (we were particularly fond of what Phi called the 'boob' cake- which was actually meant to resemble a fig!).
We went to a really charming little underground cafe called Coco Boheme where I drank the best chai I've ever had. They have a gorgeous tiny library room that's only big enough for one armchair!

It was so lovely to spend a few days with my sister- I can't wait for her to be home for Christmas, and I'm sure I'll be back over there again in the new year.

Monday, 18 November 2013

London Villages: East Dulwich

I've been lucky enough to travel to a few exciting places in the last month or so- posts on those trips coming up- but it's always lovely to be back in London. We live in such a vibrant capital full of diversity and a huge variety of things to do and see- sometimes it can be a bit overwhelming. And when I go away to other cities, I sometimes feel guilty that I don't even know all the gems in my own town. So when I received a copy of London Villages by Zena Alkayat, I was thrilled- it was exactly what I didn't know I'd been looking for; a guide to some of the out-of-the-way areas of London that you always hear about, but that you can easily never actually visit if they're not in the vicinity of your normal work or home routes.

I decided to explore East Dulwich- an area the book dedicates a few pages too, as well as a lovely, illustrated map. I got off the bus on Lordship Lane at the start of the North Cross Road, where there are a few vintage market stalls. There were some lovely ceramics- the bird plate above caught my eye.

The market soon became mainly food-based, but first there was a lovely doggy stall- Dulwich Tales- the little fellow above seemed to be doing some window shopping!

I got one of the best homemade scotch eggs from a little truck that also sold sausage rolls- I hate supermarket scotch eggs and sausages, but these were the real deal.

There was a lovely cafe called Pretty's which had a fresh juice station outside its grocery- I got a great juice full of ginger- great for fending off colds in the winter.

Back on Lordship Lane I popped into Franklin's, as featured in the London Villages book- a lovely grocery store that was full of autumnal goodies.

             And some slightly less wholesome treats too- Tunnock's tea cakes and Caramel bars!

Roullier White is another Lordship Lane store worth exploring- their vintage style beauty products and household cleaning range are all packaged in gorgeous, retro, minimalist tubs and bottles. 

They make things like all natural moth spray and toilet cleaner seem so glamorous I could almost get excited about cleaning.

There's a little vintage marketplace hidden away on one of the backstreets too- it has a wonderful array of treasures but they're all a bit pricey in my opinion.

My final stop was The Blue Brick Cafe- also recommended in Zena's book. I had what may well be the best flapjack I've ever had- and that's saying something; I take my flapjacks very seriously.
This little book really helped me discover a lovely local area of London I'd never previously visited- I'm really looking forward to exploring more of London's old villages in the coming weekends.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Guest Post: Beetroot Brownies from Archie and the Rug

Hello, my name is Nicolette and I normally blog over at Archie and the Rug but today to celebrate my 3 year blogging birthday I have teamed up with a bunch of talented ladies to swap articles and meet one another's readers. Here is my blogging brief. When I first started my blog it was a hobby-in fact it was a distraction from my breast cancer. I created an online space to share all of the positive things in my life and celebrate creativity. I soon became excited by monitoring the reader stats and began to view my blog as a business, and that is what it became. It led me to write for various magazines, teach workshops and present on Channel 4.
My real homestead is the vibrant yet idyllic market town of Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire, my current adopted home is Paris- not bad, eh? Truth be known I really miss the countryside but there are far worse place in the world to miss the countryside from. Given my present abode, Katie asked me if I could provide something with a French feel to it when we discussed the posts we would swap. At first glance, you may think are brownies really French? Well no, no they are not. The recipe however is inspired by my difficult relationship with my sage femme (midwife). Here I am trapped in a world of pastry, tarts and all manner of rich buttery snacks and not able to partake. The rules here in France are quite strict about how much weight you gain during pregnancy. A combination of the direct nature that is adopted here and my increasing body consciousness as my pregnancy moves on means I am being incredibly strict when it comes to treats, that way I can still eat cheese. Yes, if it came to a choice between chocolate or cheese, cheese would win every time.

So now that I have painted a suitable tale of woe, a young(ish) woman trapped in a Parisian nightmare, nose pressed up against a patisserie window, I hope that you will understand how my kitchen mutiny began. I decided to develop a recipe that was low in fat and sugar but still had that naughty, chocolate satisfaction that we all need from time to time.
You will need;
1/2 cup canola/vegetable oil
225g cooked beetroot
1tsp baking powder
3 eggs
1 cup plain flour
1/3 cup honey
3tbsp dark cocoa powder
1/3 cup light brown sugar

  1. Line a brownie pan with baking parchment and preheat your oven to 180C
  2. Whisk the eggs, oil and sugar until creamy and fluffy.
  3. Sift in the cocoa powder, flour and baking powder.
  4. Puree the beetroot in a food processor and add this to the bowl along with the honey.
  5. Gently mix the batter with a metal spoon and pour into the pan.
  6. Bake in the centre of the oven for 20 - 25 mins
 I hope you enjoy this almost guilt-free treat as much as I did. I have really enjoyed being here today and hope to see you soon over at Archie and The Rug.  

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Life (and death) drawing with Art Macabre for Time Out

I've been meaning to post a link to my latest article for a few weeks- you can still read it if you download the Time Out issue July 30th- August 5th for the ipad.
I had such a great time posing as Cleopatra for Art Macabre- below is a sketch Kate Shields did of me. There was a slightly iffy period where the editor sent me the initial layout and it included my nipples and everything. I had to explain that I'd definitely considered nipples to fall into the 'nothing explicit' description I'd specified- I had no intention of becoming the new Time Out page 3 girl! 
In case you missed the recent re-release of Cleopatra at the cinema, it's currently on Netflix. There was also a great show on BBC about the making of the film, plus of course the Helena Bonham Carter and Dominic West 'Burton and Taylor' TV movie. Now we just have to wait for the much rumoured Angelina Jolie remake of Cleopatra...?
I'm going to try and get better at posting what I'm up to in a more timely fashion- here are some pics from the midsummer ball I produced for Kensington Palace back in July. 
I'm having quite a quiet month during August which is nice- we've been out of town for a couple of weddings and countryside breaks as we're not having a proper summer holiday this year. It's just so great having had some proper summer weather in the UK for the first time in ages!

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Cornwall Road Trip with Free People

A few years ago, I posted about Free People, an American brand I'd come across and fallen for. Good news! They now also have a dedicated UK site, and they're taking a road trip round Cornwall to celebrate the last of the summer sun in style. They'll be serving up morning yoga, hair-braiding, live music and more, all accompanied by the obligatory VW campervan. 

Here are some of my favourite looks from the site at the moment- I'm a huge fan of maxi skirts, especially for British summer weather. I usually just hitch mine up if it's sunny enough to get my legs out! In fact, I was at a lovely countryside wedding a couple of weekends ago where I wore a maxi dress. At one point in the evening a fellow guest said to me, ' Wow- your dress is amazing! Is it adjustable so it can be different lengths?' To which I simply replied- ' Er.. no, I've tucked it in my pants.' Oh, the glamour.
Sheer delight lace kaftan- some FP pieces can seem a bit pricey to me, until I consider that I would probably happily get married in this dress, which would make it a BARGAIN.
And finally, here are some pics I took of my family in Cornwall back in 2008. Please bear in mind I wasn't really snapping these with my blog in mind, so the quality isn't super. I also may get into serious trouble from the kids, who are obviously all much older now! We were determined to do the traditional, retro Cornwall trip and stayed in a VW Campervan. Let's just say, I would not recommend it for a family of 6.....! We still had a blast though, and the kids all still go every summer to surf.

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