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Archive for the ‘Day to Day’ Category

Storyteller

In Day to Day on January 27, 2013 at 11:07 am

Seeing as the wonderful exhibition Tim Walker: Storyteller finishes today, I thought it was a good time to publish my review of loads of reasons you should go, and just one why you shouldn’t.

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You don’t have to be an avid reader of Vogue, or any of the other huge fashion names associated with Walker’s photography to appreciate his brilliant approach, as it’s his creativity and boundless imagination which makes his work so captivating. As well as photographs, of course, the fairly small exhibition features a selection of the huge props he has used over the years, from an insect playing the cello, to a fairly creepy giant doll waving you off as you leave the last room.

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Drawing comparison to Annie Leibovitz, his talent lies in creating incredible sets and stories – the photograph merely captures this in a perfect image at the last moment.

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Tim Walker insect

In my opinion, it’s his take on Edward Scissorhands and the recurring theme of skeletons that really show how he manages to use some of the more sinister aspects of the world of fantasy to show off beautiful clothes.

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And the one reason you shouldn’t go? The Rizzoli gift shop is SO disappointing – for £3 a postcard, I expect at least more than one choice (the Humpty Dumpty image used in all the advertising for the exhibition). Same goes for the posters. With such an incredible range of work on display in the actual exhibition, it would be nice to see some of the same variety in the shop. But that’s it, my only complaint, you should definitely get up and go to the exhibition right now.

They might even reduce that postcard as it’s the last day…

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Get your skates off

In Day to Day on December 4, 2012 at 9:44 pm

COVENT GARDEN, SOMERSET HOUSE, THE STRAND

So, last weekend I managed get nail varnish remover spilt on my beloved MacBook Pro. Obviously in no way my own fault, it still meant a Sunday trip up to the Mac Store in Covent Garden and a very long wait seeing as their online booking system is totally shit.

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With 4 hours to kill between getting there and my vital 15 minute appointment with them geniuses at the Genius Bar, I guilt-tripped a couple of friends into spending the day in Covent Garden. Turns out ‘I’m so sad, I’ve potentially lost all of my photos of me larking around on a beach in Thailand’ tugs at the heartstrings in more ways than you would expect and they eagerly jumped on the train to meet me.

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First off, while waiting for my friends to spend a day waiting with me, I stopped off at Somerset House. It’s so pretty once they’ve put up the skating rink, I challenge anyone to go there and not start to feel a bit Christmassy. I watched everyone whizzing around (no falls) for a bit, but it’s not as fun as actually going on the ice so made my way towards the exhibitions. There’s loads on at the moment, and most of it’s free, so I’d massively recommend heading up there if you’re looking for something to do of a weekend while still saving up the pennies for important festive things like booze and Christmas presents and a sequinned dress for the office party.

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The first exhibition I went to is just to your left as you walk into the main reception. In the late 1940s black-and-white photographer Cartier-Bresson said that ‘colour photography is not up to the mark; prove me wrong’. Curator William Ewing has set about doing just that in ‘Cartier-Bresson: A Question of Colour‘, by showcasing a number of photographers working in colour who also adopt Cartier-Bressons hallmark ‘decisive moment’ style of photo.

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For the exhibition Ewing has chosen contemporary photographers including my favourites Karl Baden, Ernst Haas, Fred Herzog, Joel Meyerowitz, Alex Webb and Trent Parke. Each interprets the ethos in their own way but all display incredible talent for powerful capturing split-second moments.

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Next up, Night Paintings from Paul Benney. The curation and location of this exhibition make it a worthwhile visit as it’s situated underneath the ice rink in a series of hidden passageways and atmospheric chambers. The space, known as Deadhouse, has never been used for an exhibition before and actually contains the gravestones of 17th century courtiers within the vaults and set into the walls. To find out more, there are free organised tours every Thursday and Saturday. Also, if you were left dying to find out more after reading my blog post on how London is romanticised in films, Deadhouse plays Newgate prison in the 2009 Sherlock Holmes film.

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I squeezed in the Henri-Besson photo exhibition and Paul Benney’s Night Paintings exhibition but am heading back this weekend so that I can see the Valentino and Timothy Walker exhibitions – to be honest I want to give them more time as I’ve heard that both are brilliant.

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Seeing as I’ve tagged and led this with spilling nail varnish remover on a MacBook, here’s a link to what you should do straight away (which I didn’t). You’re welcome.

All aboard the Big Red Bus

In Day to Day on October 28, 2012 at 5:23 pm

DEPTFORD

And I’m not talking about one of those sightseeing tour buses. The Big Red pizza bus is the antithesis of a London bus: it’s fun, it’s relaxed, you have s-p-a-c-e and you don’t have to pay to get on it. Oh, and it doesn’t go anywhere.

Selling pizzas, beer and delicious mojitos this place is definitely one you should add to your list should you find yourself in the area. Too often, I get so bored with the chain restaurants in Blackheath and Greenwich and this is a good alternative, tucked away at the end of Creek Road next to The Bird’s Nest.

I’ve already written a post about the best pizzas in London, and I’m annoyed I hadn’t discovered these ones when I wrote it. They are delicious. Not too thick and they don’t skimp on toppings (although I’ve read reviews that say each time you go the toppings on the pizzas change – I think this is a good thing but I suppose if you order something once, you’d expect it to be the same the next time you order it).

It’s cheap, too – an average meal with a drink and side/starter comes in just over a tenner. Try the Flamenco, which has Italian chorizo and lumps of morcilla, which is like black pudding – they’ve also got Meantime beer, side salads and a selection of desserts. The one thing on the menu I wouldn’t recommend is the bread and dipping oil, simply because you don’t get enough.

I was pleased to see that there’s room for loads of people in the number 30, which is good now the weather’s turned colder, but their outdoor area is covered in awning with lots of comfy sofas and blankets for the braver among us.

The location is what does it for me. Although Deptford is enjoying a bit of a regeneration at the moment, there are still parts of it that belong on Derelict London and by being situated underneath the DLR, on a main road, the area occupied by Big Red feels random and totally out-of-the-way. Actually I tell a lie, the mojitos are what do it for me…

I’m even more likely to go back now I know there are plans to park a truck next to it and to create a cinema.

How to enjoy the Thames

In Day to Day on May 27, 2012 at 10:21 pm

SOUTHBANK AND FURTHER ALONG

Ah, the Thames… I’ve got a massive problem with it.

Featured in so many films as a romantic river, meandering innocently through London, it’s not what it seems. Cutting our city in half, it creates the North/South divide whilst at the same time makes getting from one side to the other at the end of any ‘I’ve-had-a-night-that-lasted-past-the-last-train’ nigh on impossible.

Films particularly guilty of making the one of the country’s dirtiest rivers look more exciting/dramatic/interesting/romantic than it is include Love Actually, James Bond and 28 Days Later. So… how to make the most it?

Here are some photos of what it is not like…


Go to the Southbank and visit the Festival Hall. While you’re there, stop off at Skylon and drink loads of their delicious cocktails. They’re expensive, but so worth it – when we go, we always forget the menu and ask the bar staff to recommend their own, but all the classics are all there if you don’t feel like going rogue (just be prepared for a disapproving look when you dare ask for a mojito).

I haven’t had the chance to eat there, but as the bar is located right in the middle of the restaurant, I would still recommend getting dinner. The atmosphere is great, there’s always a nice mix of work groups, families, couples, friends and all the food looks amazing. Also, despite the introduction to this post, the view is pretty spectacular, albeit grey.

The next stop isn’t far away. All through summer (even though it doesn’t feel like it will ever BE summer), there will be a Pimm’s stall outside the Festival Hall with plenty of tables for after-work drinks, dates and post-show chats. One of the best things for me about sitting out on the Southbank (weather permitting, of course) is watching all the runners slogging past as you sip on your fruit infused, ice-cold jug of cocktail. HA.

Pizza in London

In Day to Day on May 10, 2012 at 10:11 pm

GREENWICH/GOODGE STREET/LEICESTER SQUARE

Everyone is a bit burger mad at the moment. Every since The Meatwagon  (now MEATliquor) set up shop in New Cross with its (admittedly delicious) Meateasy pop-up, the craze to find the ‘best burger in London’ has grown into a city-wide obsession. Food critic Marina O’Loughlin nailed it when she said of the joint-de-jour: “If the word means nothing to you, you’re clearly not a burgerphile internet obsessive: it’s been everywhere, like a meaty rash.”

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Burgerphile internet obsessive I am not; however I do like the lure of seeking out ‘the best… something’. I can’t really remember what I was looking for when I discovered the Slice Harveseter, but whatever it was became moot once I started reading. Also known as Colin Hagendorf, the 28-year-old New Yorker  has tried a slice of pizza from each and every one of the 362 pizza joints in Manhattan. He told the Wall Street Journal online about the perfect slice:

For Mr. Hagendorf, the best slices display balance above all, cheese and sauce used in moderation upon a solid yet supple crust. He disdains many of the new wave of recession-friendly dollar-per-slice outlets. He also scorns purveyors of Texas-size slices.

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Two of my extra favourite things about him (apart from devoting two and a half years to eating pizza) are that he used to be a puppeteer and that he describes the start of his expedition as seeking out a project that meant he could “work as little as possible”… whattaguy!

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I digress. I’m not trying to try every pizza place in London. I don’t need to because I’ve already found two of the best, with a possible third on the way.

First up it’s Bianco43 in Greenwich, South East London. Fairly new, and taking over what used to be a pretty rubbish all-you-can-eat Indian restaurant, the pizzas are excellent and the service is faultless. There are a few good restaurants in Greenwich/Blackheath but as far as Italian food goes, this is the only place I would recommend.

Second, it’s Icco Pizza Restaurant on Goodge Street. Admittedly not the best pizza you will have in your life, it should always be praised on it’s merit of being amazing value for money, especially in a location when they could get away with charging far more. Serving most of their generously sized pizzas for £4, you’d be hard pushed to find anything as cheap that matched up to their standards. I went with a friend who had, for weeks, gone on and on about how mind blowingly good the pizzas were, so my expectations were very high. Much like a canteen, with the noise and chatter to match, they are quick, tasty and best of all, use a buzzer paging system to let you know when your pizza comes out of the oven.

The third is Sartori. I’ve recently discovered the Pizzandevelopment blog and this Italian restaurant just off Leicester Square is their top recommendation. Billed as the ‘best all-rounder… offering stunning antipasti (try the fried Smoked Scamorza), pasta and of course pizza’, I can’t wait to try it out.

Don’t get that in Pizza Express, now do you?

The Old Vic Tunnels

In Day to Day on April 21, 2012 at 10:39 pm

WATERLOO

The first night I went the Old Vic Tunnels was just incredible. I was lucky enough to be given a ticket to one of their Boom Boom club events at short notice and for once I was glad people know I’m likely not to have plans on a Saturday night.

From the minute you queue up opposite the violinist in full makeup and twiddly moustache, to when you stumble out at the end of the night, these events literally feel like entering a different world.

Any excuse to visit The Old Vic Tunnels should not be missed – even watching paint dry inside the labyrinth caves below Waterloo station would be a worthwhile endeavour. Since acquiring the vast and cavernous space in 2010, the venue has held everything from prohibition parties, to summer camp festivals and of course, the legendary Boom Boom.

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Mixing fantasy with reality to awe-inspiring effect, their next biggie is the 2nd Annual Goblin Masquerade Ball. The fantasy themed night of mischief and revelry is sure to be a good-un (just check out the photos from last year if you need convincing). Goblins, Ogres, Bad Faeries and so much more, it’s dress up time in London’s leading undergrounds arts venue. For this post, I’m going to let the photos do the talking.

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One last message we received after buying our tickets: Dearest Revellers, cast aside your thoughts of the next day and abandon yourselves to the mystical excesses and delirious cacophonies of The Goblin King’s Theatre of Trolls…

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Reach, Climb, Run

In Day to Day on March 27, 2012 at 7:57 am

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I’m not a typical ‘exercise person’. At school, being forced to play hockey, netball or tennis was my worst nightmare come true and I hated every minute spent running round an astro turf  wearing silly bright blue socks. One aspect of my school sporting calendar I did love, however, was the much loathed bleep test  – the competitiveness, the increasing pressure, the sole focus on running…

Sports day was the culmination of this weekly punishment and the ultimate in humiliating experiences. I went to an all girls school, where, unsurprisingly, there weren’t many takers for spending a whole day wearing uncomfortable kit and waiting in the Crystal Palace stalls to go and jump in a sandpit. The older we got, the less we went until…it was made mandatory. We all had to pick something. I got lumbered with the hurdle race and shocked myself when I came first.

Since then, running has been my favourite exercise and I try and go at least three times a week. Where I’ve found running a basic way to keep fit, I enjoy challenging myself more by entering races (Run to the Beat and the British 10k), and wanted to find another way in which to tone up other areas of my body.

Enter climbing.

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After trying rock climbing in Railay, Thailand, I came back last year full of promise to start doing it regularly and become a total pro. Some months later, I found The Reach and enrolled on the beginners course. Exhausting, challenging and exciting, it was exactly what I had been looking for and I honestly can’t recommend it enough for someone seeking something new.

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For £35 you get two three hour sessions of teaching, shoe and equipment hire. Our instructor, Kevin was brilliant, even better when he told us that teaching indoor climbing wasn’t his ‘day job’ and that he was in between tours of showing people how to climb ice caps. With an eight people maximum per beginners class, there is more than enough opportunity to make the most of having an experienced instructor at your disposal. Make the most of this. At the end of the class, so long as you know how to tie a knot, belay your partner and fasten your harness properly, you can become a member for £4.

I’ve been twice a week for three weeks since the course and my only regret is not going sooner. The one problem I’ve found is that when you get to the top of the walls, you can easily smell the delicious food cooking in the cafe and if you’re anything like me, get easily distracted.

The Boy with Salt Beef on His Face

In Day to Day on March 5, 2012 at 10:42 pm

SHOREDITCH

“You want to go for a night out in Shoreditch? To a Moroccan bar? And see a silent comedian?!”

Er…yes is the answer. It was actually a great night out, and despite being in scene-kid central, it was far from posey or up it’s own arse. Myself and 4 friends stopped off at a bar before the comedy night – even though I’ve worked and been out in Shoreditch before, I have limited knowledge of the good bars to go to so this was a suggestion from a friend.

Casa Blue, at the top of Brick Lane, was a good pick. Small, so small it looks a bit like a cafe, the decor looks like Car Booty exploded all over the walls and tables – rifles, lanterns, candles, fish bowls, posters, film memorabilia, records – it’s camped up Eastern chintz mixed with some good old fashioned market ‘antiques’. The look was so over the top that I liked it, especially the completely mismatched sofas, chairs and tables (all very worn). Bottles of beer and spirit/mixes were reasonably priced for the area but the fishbowls were £28, which is ridiculous.

And beware of the toilets, they are awful.

Next, we headed to Rich Mix to see my current favourite-comedian-of-all-time, The Boy with Tape on His Face. Ever since seeing him at the Old Vic Tunnels last year, I’ve been desperate to see him again, so when I saw he was headlining at Rich Mix for £10 a ticket, I couldn’t think of anything I’d rather do with a Friday night.

Using audience participation and hilarious facial (eye) expressions, he is excellent. Other comedians on the bill that impressed me included Tony Law and Cardinal Burns. Despite getting there late, I feel that we got the best seats in the house, rather than being cramped downstairs we were ushered up to the upstairs viewing gallery, which was almost completely empty and a much better vantage point. The event was well organised and the drinks were cheap – pretty much the perfect night, no?

No. Because, being in Brick Lane it was missing one thing and it wasn’t a curry…

The salt beef bagels from the Beigel Bake are NOT TO BE MISSED. Open 24 hours, I’ve never been here without having to queue, they must churn out hundreds of the damn things on Friday and Saturday nights. Come to think of it, I’ve never seen anyone order anything but a salt beef bagel, but that may be because I get slight tunnel vision when I walk in there and focus on the h-u-g-e pile of beef they cut from.

The portions are beyond generous, with the option of mustard sauce and a gherkin for 20p. Just thinking about it makes me want one and I cannot stress enough how much you should try one if you are visiting or living in London…

I would say that that was the end of the night, and that we all went home, bellies full, content. But that would be a lie.

We went to the Cactus Pit.

The less said about that the better.

Tatty Devine vs Claire’s Accessories

In Day to Day on February 26, 2012 at 5:21 pm

LONDON/A FACTORY

A double-edged sword, social media now has the power to escalate a bad situation to the point of no return. Last week, independent cult jeweller Tatty Devine, blogged about the copycat designs Claire’s Accessories were carrying as part of their 2012 range. It transpired that, shockingly, the high street chain had brazenly duplicated a number of their unique acrylic and Perspex jewellery pieces.

Within 24 hours, the Tatty Devine site had crashed due to the spike in visitors to the page, and #ClairesAccessories had begun to trend on Twitter. In the post, Tatty Devine added photos of their own original pieces; next to those that Claire’s Accessories were selling for a fraction of the price. You only need to glance at them to realise they had been completely matched; detail for detail and that a serious case of plagiarism had taken place.

Even more shocking to me was Claire’s Accessories response (or lack of). Despite trending on Twitter, their page featured no statement and no comment on the increasingly disastrous situation, until later the next day. Their Facebook page was worse. I looked at the page at 4.56pm on 23rd February and liked a comment someone had written about the scandal – by 4.59pm the comment had been deleted and I had been blocked from writing on the page. Below is an example of the sort of comments that were repeatedly deleted for 2 days…

I watched as the page refreshed with more negative comments…which were again deleted within minutes. Not only does this make people angry and upset, it also makes Claire’s Accessories look incredibly unprofessional and naive. Social media is a public forum and if they, as a company, are willing to enjoy the positive aspects of this (their page has over a million fans), then they also need to use it to respond to the negative.

Handily for this post, Social Media Week was only a week ago and is still fresh in my mind. During which, I went to a very insightful workshop led by social media management company, Tempero, on protecting your brand. They’d even brought in lawyer, Tim Pinto to answer the trickier questions. One of the main points raised by Tim and Tempero was that when faced with situations that have spilled into your brands social media presence, ‘don’t’ panic and react quickly’.

Claire’s Accessories take note – ignorance is NOT bliss. By ignoring the situation, and actually deleting criticism you open yourselves out for more of the same. As a result prolific bloggers including Liberty London Girl picked up the story, plus the Guardian, The Independent and Stylist Magazine ran their own articles online following how poorly it was handled from a PR perspective.

Stylist Magazine published this response from Hind Hadj, Head of European Marketing & PR for Claire’s, “Claire’s is aware of the blog post yesterday on the tattydevine.com blog and is currently investigating these comments.”

Claire’s Accessories have also released this statement on their Facebook page:

Claire’s Stores, Inc. is a responsible company that employs designers, product developers and buyers, and works with many suppliers to provide innovative collections that bring customers all the latest fashion trends. As such, we take any allegations of wrong doing seriously. We are looking into the matters raised.

A similar, shorter one is on their Twitter page. However, this all feels very much too little too late from Claire’s and I hope that Tatty Devine manage to resolve this with them, I’m sure that they will update their blog page with any developments. For more info, here is the original blog post, here is Liberty London Girl’s personal blog post about the scandal and here is the email you should use should you want to send anything to Claires Accessories: marketinguk@claires.co.uk

Pelton Pub Crawl

In Day to Day on January 10, 2012 at 11:29 pm

GREENWICH

January is pretty dull. Everyone has resolutions to drink less, spend nothing and generally moan their way through the month. My resolution is different, allowing me to drink AND not feel guilty spending a little bit of money. It’s not really a resolution as such, more a task I’ve set myself and it is this: STOP GOING OUT TO THE SAME PLACES ALL THE TIME AND NOT LET EVERY WEEEKEND OF THE YEAR ROLL INTO ONE.

I realise that this has always been the general premise of this blog, but although I have discovered many fantastic places in London since starting it, I’ve also revisited plenty of mediocre ones through sheer laziness.

One new place, which is local BUT I have never been to is The Pelton Arms. Tucked away in the less popular East side of Greenwich, it is the perfect starting point for a mini pub crawl, or somewhere to spend the whole night. Inside it’s cosy, friendly and reminds me a little of The Morden Arms but on a larger scale. The drink selection is good, for me, the wine list extends past red/white/dry/sweet and for beer drinkers there’s a nice selection of ales plus Greenwich Meantime brews on tap.

I didn’t eat when I went (on a Friday night) but I’ve heard repeatedly that the food is excellent with the expected pub gastropub dishes and a full roast on Sundays. They have an extensive events calendar which ranges from knitting to live band nights, which provide much needed (and inexpensive) ways to fill up your evenings during the week. Unfortunately when I visited the Pelton, it was within a much wider Greenwich pub crawl, but I wish I had spend more time there and will definitely be returning. Next up, the Cutty Sark Tavern…

…which was closed for refurbishment, so despite protests from me, the next stop was The Trafalgar Tavern. The Traf does boast some of the best views of the Thames and is one of the oldest pubs in London, but other than that, the food is awful, the service is worse and the whole place is poorly cared for and looked after. Next up…The Gypsy Moth…

A good one for the summer, it has a good garden but is a tourist trap owing to it’s convenient location just outside the Cutty Sark DLR and next to Greenwich Market. They’ve got a quiz night I think, an OK selection of lagers and lots of seating available – the only thing that pisses me off about the place is the service – go in any time, any day, any month, any weather and no matter how busy it is, it will still generally take 20 minutes to get served. It doesn’t help that they insist on permanently closing half of their bar so there’s a big blob of people waiting to get served in the most awkward part of the pub, right next to the toilets and around a massive pole.

Never order food here, I have been told this numerous times but thought I’d try it last month after traipsing round Greenwich and deciding against noodles, Pizza Express and McDonalds. I just wanted something quick and tasty – so myself and a friend both ordered burgers. We were the only people eating, and the kitchen hatch was in plain view. 40 minutes later, no food had arrived. When we went to the bar, there was an awkward conversation between the bar staff where it transpired that our order hadn’t even made it as far as the kitchen. They did apologise and give us a refund but still, NEVER order food in The Gypsy. We ended up in McDonalds and waited 2 minutes.