Adam & Albert

 

 

I’m currently writing this post from a wonderfully sunny St Ives in Cornwall, but before I go on to boast about the glorious weather, I’m going to rewind to last week, and a cold and faintly snowy London.

 

Last Thursday, India and I headed up to South Ken to see the event we’d been anticipating for months on end: Foals at the Albert Hall. We last saw them in the grubby, chilly, small Concorde 2 in Brighton, and were fascinated as to how they’d translate to such a different venue. If you’ve never seen the band live, I urge you to get tickets for whatever you can lay your hands on. Foals are phenomenal live, and I say that without the slightest bit of exaggeration.

 

After a rather pleasing support slot from Efterklang, the laser lighting kicked in, the smoke machine pumped up to full volume, and the band made their way on stage. Most of the set came from their new album, Holy Fire, interspersed with crowd-pleasers such as Total Life Forever and Spanish Sahara. When Foals play, something almost transcendental happens to the audience. I looked around the crowd, seeing people transported by the music, these huge guitar riffs and echoing vocals punching the walls of the Albert Hall.

 

After about half an hour, India and I grew frustrated at being in a seated area, and our attempts at chair dancing weren’t really cutting it, so we clambered down to the front of the tiered section in a haze of dance-driven urgency. We spent the rest of the gig waving about like idiots, watching the mosh pit from on high, and feeling the waves of sound on our faces. Due to our (over)enthusiasm, we got pulled aside at the end of the gig to give a short interview about Foals for the Albert Hall. After hoarsely repeating the word ‘epic’ several times, we were on our way to Soho.

 

In Soho, we picked up Frankie, who took us to a new discovery: The Soho Social Club. I almost don’t want to talk about it, because it was so ace that I don’t want anyone else to know it’s there, but what the heck. It’s essentially one room on the corner of a dark, tucked away Soho street, and contains a few small tables and one long banqueting table. The walls are stacked with books and framed black and white photos with a heavy S&M emphasis. The cocktail menu is brief but carefully curated, and the staff charming.

 

When we got there, Frankie was greeted heartily by an old dear in a fur hat and large earrings who perched, regally, at the very end of the long table. ‘Oh hello love’, she said, ‘it’s been ages since I saw you, hasn’t it?’ They chattered away for a little while, before Frankie turned to us and said she’d never seen the woman before in her life…But I’ve overlooked the very best part of TSSC: the dogs. Yes, dogs. Four squiggly balls of fluff scattered around the room, enjoying the attention of the delighted customers, and I took quite a shine to a sweet French bulldog called Modesty.

 

From there, we dashed to The Diner for stacked burgers, baskets of fries and Cherry Cokes before crossing the river to the BFI, just in time for my beloved Adam Buxton and the start of BUG. If you’ve never been, BUG is a bi-monthly (last time I checked) showcase for new and interesting music videos, which Adam hosts. Not only is it a fantastic way of discovering new bands, but Adam also reads out YouTube comments on the videos, and gives his own commentary, which is hugely entertaining.

 

Bit of a skim through Thursday, but I’ll be back soon with posts about Cornwall, and showing off about the sunshine. Ta ra for now.

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I have measured out my life with coffee spoons

I am SO SORRY for being atrocious at posting lately. I got tangled up around Fashion Week and haven’t quite regained my footing until now. Someone even contacted me the other day to check if I was dead, so I knew it was probably time to post. Also, this weather is making me feel totally miz. I’m looking outside and can see a fat grumpy pigeon perched on the bare branches of the tree at the end of the garden while it rains on him, and that sort of sums everything up. I’m desperately in need of sun.

So what have I been doing with my life, I hear you demand? (Correction: I like to think I hear you demand. You’re probably just thinking about pigeons right now. You philistine.) I’d say in the month since I last posted, I’ve mostly been eating. I went up to St Andrews in February to judge the Alfa Romeo Young Designer Award for Lady M Presents, write up coming shortly. That was an awful lot of aceness. Also, I love Scotland, and I managed to resist doing my famously awful Scottish accent for the entire weekend, AND I didn’t even refer to anyone as the ‘Scotch’, as Stewart Lee is always getting people to do. Or quote any of this video.

The weekend after that, I went to the London outpost of the St Andrews Fashion Show, including dinner at Circus with the winners of the award. Circus is a unique concept: Pan-Asian cuisine served alongside…well, circus acts. And of course, we saw the St Andrews show again. Eating sushi while watching fire-eaters was a pretty fascinating way to spend an evening… On the whole, the food was delicious, the entertainment very absorbing, and we were shown into the venue by a man in a top hat and much more eye makeup than me, which is the way any good night should start.

It was great to see the designs on the catwalk again, and I’m still bowled over at the huge amount of hard work that must have gone into the organising of the show. I skipped out earlyish to get some much needed sleep, and also to eat plum jelly in my hotel room. Yep. That’s how I roll on a Friday night. Jelly roll. The next day, nursing a jelly hangover, I got taken to one of the most delightful restaurants I’ve been to in a very long time, which was The Delaunay, a charming place tucked away just off the strand. Beware the photo of the waffles I had, which can be seen in the pictures below. It has been known to induce fits of jealousy.

Then I went to Sketch, and back to Canteen, and to the wonderful Brasserie Zedel, and I made brunch, and sausage and mash…In fact, I really have been more or less eating non-stop for the last month, and having a rather wonderful time, all sorts of adventures and smiling non-stop, but I’m going to catch up with posts a bit at a time to avoid any essay length blogs. In the meantime, take a look at some pictures, why don’t you? And if you’re wondering where the title of this post comes from, I say firstly to you: get sum edukashun, yeh? And secondly, this.

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The Apartment @ LFW

London Fashion Week is a bit of an assault on the senses. It’s a survival course, and only the best prepared thrive. You start the days feeling smugly perky, and then as time goes on, you find your laptop and DSLR getting heavier and heavier, your feet starting to hurt, your head pounding from the music and camera flashes in the show space, your hands starting to shake from the revolting amount of Vitamin Water and coffee you’ve consumed. Normal eating habits go out of the window. It isn’t that no one eats – more that when food does appear, it’s pounced on by a pack of ravenous press.

I love it, but it exhausts me. I often find myself wanting a haven where I can unwind a bit, have a nice chat with other bloggers, and…regroup a bit, really, to use a horrible American phrase. Enter the Apartment, stage left. Created by blogger Abi Marvel (and she really is a marvel), the Apartment rolls into town during LFW to provide a space for bloggers to learn more about a variety of brands, to network with each other, to sit on a sofa and watch Friends, and most importantly to EAT FOOD.

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The Apartment is a fantastic, creative concept that just happens to be a heaven for bloggers. I enjoyed getting an insight into different brands that I wouldn’t have otherwise had – for example, I got to grill a lovely chap called Ian about the exciting new Windows products on the market. I’m a bit fed up with Apple so it was great to actually get hands-on with the products in a completely unpressurised environment.

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Other things: I got to try on a beautiful Baume & Mercier watch, see Rimmel’s new product range, have my hair jooshed by the boys from John Frieda (we deliberated over how to spell joosh for hashtagging purposes). I munched on striped meringues and a deconstructed bannoffee pie from Leon, lusted after shoes from Russell & Bromley, learned about a great blogging service called Reward Style, and met some absolutely charming people, including Abi herself. I’m in awe of the girl – just 20, balancing studies with work with being a crazily busy entrepreneur, AND a lovely person to boot.

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Something that really captured the attention of guests was, perhaps surprisingly, the stack of jewellery from Claire’s. I haven’t stepped foot in Claire’s since I was about 15 and nursing a horrible little penchant for neo-gothic jewellery. Needless to say, it wasn’t my most sartorially brilliant hour. But seeing a collection of the jewels at The Apartment was brilliant – Claire’s have some great stuff! We were encouraged to pile on a stack of the jewellery, and the most overused phrase of the day was ‘I can’t BELIEVE this is from Claire’s’. I loaded up on spiked bracelets and statement chain necklaces, and I’ll definitely be heading in to a branch next time I pass one.

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Abi has created something fun, vibrant and welcoming to bloggers, and something especially perfect for newbies to fashion week, as it provides a cosy home for the week. It felt like popping around to a friend’s house and lazing about eating yummy pizza and while lolling on comfy sofas, a very welcome relief from the high pressure environment of the week. My congratulations go to Abi for a successful project and a great fun adventure for weary bloggers. Thanks Abi for letting me come along and get stuck in! It was my highlight of the week.

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Bellowhead & Oxford in the snow

Some places in the world have a particular draw, and you find yourself instantly feeling at home as your feet touch the tarmac. There’s something about Oxford that wraps me up and makes me feel…right. I got on the Oxford tube at Victoria and bagged myself a spectacular seat at the front of the bus, mainly because there were only about two other people on the thing. It was a bit like having a giant red double decker taxi to myself. After a dozy journey listening to Joni Mitchell (a huge gap in my musical knowledge that I’ve decided to remedy).

I arrived at 2pm to find a slate-skied Oxford, chilly and snowy. I’d intended to have a wander and find some new places, but it was just too cold. After some determined trudging, I decided to cut my losses and parked myself in Turl Street Kitchen for most of the afternoon. A cup of black vanilla tea and a sublime vanilla cupcake later, I was feeling much more human – the James Brown on the Turl Street playlist helped too. Around 5, I met my friend Lucy and headed to The Big Bang in the Castle Quarter for ginormous plates of bangers and mash, water in teapots and a very deadpan waiter. I mentioned before I was into British food at the moment, and I’d strongly recommend this place for any veggies looking for a decent savoury meal. For once, I felt like just as much thought had gone into the veggie options than on the meat, and I opted for one stilton & walnut and one vine tomato & basil sausage on grain mustard mash with red wine gravy. I followed it with an apple crumble, which was a bit on the ‘smooshy’ side and needed a little crisping up. But for the savoury part, it couldn’t be faulted.

After supper and some lethal Cotswolds cider, we practically had to stagger up to the New Theatre for Bellowhead. I first started listening to Bellowhead when they played Latitude in 2011, and I’ve been a firm fan ever since. Some bands sound identical to their recordings when playing live, and then there are other bands who bring something phenomenal to their live shows. I like feeling that the performers are creating something that only this particular audience will see, something that can’t be recaptured even with YouTube. Bellowhead do this, as do Foals, who I’m seeing (again!) next month.

I’m not going to go into too much detail and review the performance or their new album, Broadside, as there are many more eloquent reviews out there. All I’ll say is, give them a go even if you don’t think you like folk. It’s an outrageously brilliant, stomping, barnstorming album full of intriguing instruments and catchy melodies. For the live show, the band ran at it with full energy, jumping up and down while playing, hopping around, battling with each other. It was a frenetic show but unforgettable. Not an especially coherent post from me today as I’m pretty exhausted, and very aware of needing an early night prior to London Fashion Week tomorrow and St Andrews over the weekend…until then x Oxford 004Oxford 010Oxford 014Oxford 017Oxford 019Oxford 020Oxford 022Oxford 024Oxford 025Oxford 027Oxford 029Oxford 037 Oxford 032 Oxford 036

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First time up to London since New Year, which is strange, as I’m usually up a few times  a week. We needed a little time apart, London and I, but the separation did us the world of good. There’s something about the city in Winter, walking along Waterloo bridge with collar high and cheeks stinging in the wind, looking across the river at the tangerine lights and the bruised sky. I went up for a few meetings but took the time in between to wander the Southbank – and also to try on the most insane top in Topshop. I mean, what is it?!

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First up, I met the lovely Frankie at Foxcroft & Ginger in Soho for stacked sandwiches, cups of coffee in antique teacups and lashings of ginger beer. Topics of the day were: Adam & Joe (always), Blake Mycoskie’s brilliant book ‘Start Something That Matters‘ (EVERYONE needs to read this), food, Surrey, charitable initiatives, and Frankie’s amazing new project ‘Nice One Frankie‘, where she does something good/nice/generally beneficial to society every day. Oh, and a top notch Liam Neeson impression. We also talked about the fashion industry and a new project I’m working on, more to come on that soon.
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I had a couple more things to sort out, and then I had some blissful free time to mill about taking photos. It’s been ages since I just wandered for an hour with no purpose in mind. Then finally, when I was chilled to the bone and the sun had set, I huddled into Canteen to meet my friend Sophie. We had a lot of fun feeling like we were back at school thanks to the desk-like tables and the fact we were both wearing cable knit jumpers.

I’d heard mixed reviews of Canteen, but I loved it, largely because you can genuinely have breakfast all day. ALL DAY. Not like those places that say ‘all day’ but stop at noon. The novelty of evening porridge is not to be overlooked. Anyway, I settled for two perfectly poached eggs, fresh lemonade, and a big bowl of Christmassy tasting apple and blackberry crumble with vanilla custard. Good prices, fun atmosphere, and proper British grub, just like school.

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And finally home to watch the programme on Richard III, presented by lovely lovely Simon Farnaby. If you didn’t catch it last night, you MUST. The whole thing is bizarre, moving and very compelling.

Until next time x

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Bill’s

I’ve been over in Guildford for the past couple of days as had a workshop on apps (one of my favourite topics) and was also checking out locations for the next shoot for Sussex Style. Yesterday, I also took a couple of hours to do some sneaky shopping in Guildford itself, and to have lunch with my lovely friend India at Bill’s.

I know it sounds horribly indulgent to be taking hours out of a Wednesday to shop and eat, but this year I promised myself I’d try and take a proper break every week. I believe most people know it as a ‘weekend’, but as I tend to usually work right through those, I’m attempting to recreate them at other points during the week. It’s actually very nice – it feels much naughtier and more indulgent to be having a two hour brunch on a Wednesday!

Since discovering Bill’s in Lewes, I’ve been a massive fan of the place. Always a buzzy, cosy atmosphere, with walls stacked full of preserves and jams and absolutely delightful staff. As for the food….wow. It’s all big, bold, bright and healthy (apart from the glorious puddings, but who wants a healthy pudding?!) I opted for the vegetarian breakfast – two door wedges of rustic bread, one with guacamole, one with a kind of chunky hummus and spicy tomato sauce, two perfect poached eggs, sauteed mushrooms and roasted tomatoes, with a serving of sweet chili sauce for good measure. HEAVEN ON A PLATE.

India went for the fish finger sandwich, which I expected to be two sad squares of white bread filled with formerly frozen fingers. Not so – stacked home made bread, home made fish fingers, a little pot of skinny fries…Please, please, I implore you to try Bill’s. It reminds me of restaurants that Cornwall does so well but we don’t seem to really manage in the South East. India and I introduced a new custom which I think should catch on: brunch with pudding. She had a gooey, rich pecan pie with vanilla ice cream, I went for plump, warm mini cinnamon donuts with chocolate dipping sauce and fresh strawberries.

We chatted about the important things: Summer holidays, hideous workloads, agents (India is an actress), Breaking Bad, and of course food. The service was friendly and attentive without being ‘too much’, and we spent a very pleasant couple of hours there. I think they seem to be popping up everywhere, so definitely recommend you pop in if you spot one!

Happy eating x

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