Monday, 31 October 2011

Glamour in a Hangar

It was billed as 'The Ultimate Girls Day Out' - Yippee! I couldn't wait! And not just one Ultimate Girls Day Out, oh no, A WHOLE LONG WEEKEND of back to back Ultimate Girls Days Out
Ed had been asked to join Pineapple Dance School for a fantastic performance, right on the catwalk, at Britain and Ireland's Next Top Model Show at ExCel Docklands for the three day duration of the event. We couldn't contain our excitement. 
What to wear? The place would be full of beautiful 16 year old girls.... but I wasn't going to let  that thought dampen my enthusiasm and opted for my cocoon black dress and some nice jewellery. I got up early and made a special effort with hair and make-up. I ran the look past Ed. 
'High heels, you need high heels' he decreed so I scooted off upstairs to dig out a pair of black platforms and gingerly tottered back down stairs. I didn't bother with a coat; the weather was mild and those exhibition places are always boiling. 
ED always likes to arrive in plenty of time...

To be sure of bagging a good spot...
Due to 'Health and Safety' the children and their chaperones were not free to roam the fluffy, pink exhibition, trying out nail varnishes, sampling the chocolate fountain or having our eye-brows threaded. Instead we were escorted into this vast... holding bay and left there without food water or a toilet. After a couple of hours of standing around (there were no chairs) I tried to sit on the dirty concrete floor. After five minutes of sitting on the dirty and FROZEN concrete floor I tried to stand up. After a few more hours I busied myself fixing a bunch of broken umbrellas...

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Peter Andre In My Bedroom

Keith Lemon was on Celebrity Juice the other night waving around a copy of Peter Andre's book - My World: in pictures and words. 
'Heyy - there's our house!' shouts Ed pressing the pause button.

Lots of the pics for the book were shot here, including the front cover...
and here he is on the red velvet sofa...

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Tuesday Night Chocolate Cake

We had a day off today so Ed took full advantage, spending the day laid on the sofa, wrapped in his duvet looking up recipes. Brian and I left him in charge of the dogs while we went to Kings Cross to see a couple of art exhibitions.
Text from Ed: Get 197 chocolate cigarillos. I want to make cake. 
Tesco on Caledonian Road doesn't stock chocolate cigarillos (whatever they are) so I got a couple of boxes of Matchmakers which I thought might be a bit like cigarillos and headed home.
Ed played me the video of Lorraine Pascale's 'I Can't Believe You Made That Cake' in which she suggests that the cake is ideal for weddings and christenings but I noticed that she didn't especially advise it for after a microwave curry. Never mind, Ed was adamant, so we made it anyway. The Matchmakers are a bit long and twiggy and we regretted nibbling a few while we were waiting for it to cook - as you can see, we didn't have quite enough to go right round the edge but other than that it worked really well: I'd definitely make it again.  

Monday, 24 October 2011

High-Brow Art for Dark Weekend

The walls of the panelled room are hung with a rogue's gallery of family members. I don't want to give too much away before the unveiling of B's new work at Dark Weekend so here's a selection of eyes to make your mouth water :) 


Sunday, 23 October 2011

Filthy Weekend at Hackney Chateau

Where is all this dirt coming from? A trail of dusty paw prints run over the chaise-longue, across the floor and circle several times on a velvet cushion in front of the fire. Zig-zaggy patterns from the bottom of trainers flutter across the hall tiles. Hmmm... I run my finger over the white dining table: my fingertip's grey. 
'JOE!!' He's on the phone to Phoebe; his face is smeared with dirt. 
'Joe, what have you been doing?' He looks blanker  than usual. 
'And put the phone back in the holder when you've finished.' I nag, picking it up off the sofa where he's chucked it. 'Hang on, where's this phone been? It's all kind of... muddy.'
I'm wanted on the top floor. Ed is practising walk-overs. I've given him permission to lay out my two white, fur-fabric bed covers on the carpet so he has a soft landing.
'Ed! What are those grubby marks all-over those furry things?' He lifts up a foot and looks at it over his shoulder. The bottom of his white socks are black.
Off to the middle floor to stuff a whites wash into the machine. I grab the towel from the back of the bathroom door: it's filthy. The sink, the taps, the soap.... it's like a scene from Saw. What's going on? Heading back down the stairs to start the dinner I pass the closed door to Brian's studio. A gust of black soot has blasted from underneath the door and settled on the landing. Has there been a fire... an explosion of some sort, in the tiny room? All is quiet. I slowly turn the handle and enter the gloom. A shadowy figure turns to face me.
'Have you bought me a cuppa tea love?' it says. 
'Blimey! What have you been DOING in here?'
'Pastels. Pastels darling.' 

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Dogs on the Cat Walk

Yasmine Le Bon for Mungo and Maud 
I've been in a foul mood ever since this I opened my computer this morning and was greeted by Yasmine Le Bon all set for a stroll around Primrose Hill with her three pint-sized pooches. I'm still in the discarded black leggings that I picked up off the floor at 6.15 this morning, a matted fleece and a sleeveless, puffy Nike jacket of Joe's. Well it was cold and dark when I took Ed to the bus stop, then the front door was left open for ages while a stack of shelving was delivered for the Elle Decoration January Storage Special and by the time I'd made the delivery guys cups of tea the girls from Elle Deco had arrived and I would have looked daft disappearing upstairs and returning five minutes later in an alpaca poncho, white trousers and a pair of perfectly scuffed brown brogues. 
Emma called round at about midday for a dog walk. She looked elegant in a dark trench coat and sunglasses. I muttered something about looking a mess as I struggled to fold Capri's slender legs into her aubergine knitted coat and fastened her tasteful black-leather collar around her dainty neck. Hmmm.... think I'll get an overweight, scruffy dog to boost my self-esteem. 
Ed caught me browsing pictures of overweight, scruffy dogs on the internet this evening to use on the blog. 
'Are we getting another dog??!! Please can we get another dog?'
At that point Brian emerged from his studio, wearing paint spattered overalls and his face smeared in charcoal dust he spoke for the first time all day.
'We are not getting another dog. A man walking two dogs looks like a man walking two dogs. A man walking three dogs looks like a dog walker.'
Ed ignored him.

Here's Madame Pri Pri in her pashmina, posing with other whippets at Rachel's place.
    'mummy? daddy? what am I doing here with all these dogs? When are you coming to collect me?'

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Debbie Bliss Knits at Lordship Park

Debbie Bliss Luxury Collection photographed at Lordship Park

Debbie Bliss and the gang are here today photographing some of Debbie's gorgeous new knitwear designs. I watch as Debbie starts to unpack; delightful babies booties peek out from tissue paper; sparkling shrugs and gossamer dresses emerge from bags and are hung on rails; intricate cable-knit jumpers are laid over the back of the chaise-longue; exquisite pieces of jewel-coloured swatches, still on the knitting needles are casually placed on the mantle-piece. Everything is so tactile and beautiful. Sigh... And the yarns! Squishy skeins of silk and candy-floss balls of angora as soft as marshmallows tumble from bags onto the table. 
I'm itching to knit something.... I'll start with... a scarf maybe. I'm not very good at knitting. When I was seven I knitted my dad a tie. It was bright orange (well it was the 60s), had quite a few dropped stitches and was very, very long. I made him wear it to the advertising agency where he worked. 

Here's Ed when he was younger - ahhh - modelling a cosy Debbie Bliss jumper (knitted by Debbie, not me, needless to say).


Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Topshop Caked in Moss

Topshop Magazine's Autumn Winter story is online here. Photographed at Lordship Park a few weeks ago they've cleverly managed to conjure up the atmosphere of some romantic, semi-derelict mansion - abandoned to the ravages of time and the elements.
Brian! Get the jet-wash out the shed. 

Monday, 17 October 2011

Sunny Sunday

This is an untouched photo of the sky above Somerset House yesterday; it really was an unbelievably vibrant, Aegean blue. London looked amazing and is definitely the most beautiful city in the world - well it was yesterday - today under leaden skies it slipped into 3rd place. 
Tess Daly looks pretty, sat on one of our shabby French chairs for the cover of yesterday's S Magazine.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Welcome to Clissold Park

The refurbishment of Clissold Park is nearly complete! Hurrah! A great deal of time, thought and money (10 million quid) has been invested in the project with particular attention paid to sensitively restoring the lovely Clissold House and surrounding flower gardens.
Quote from Hackney Council's webiste -
The restoration project will return the Park and House to their former glory.  The project brings back original design features, some of which were changed over the years.
So, bearing in mind the above, WTF ARE THESE??
Freshly cemented in place at every entrance (beside the 15th Century St Mary's Church, at the approach to the stately Clissold House, next to the carefully planted flower gardens, alongside the fancy new Victorian gates.....) these signs are more motorway service station than historic house and gardens. 
Council workers erect the new signage at Clissold Park. 
B lets the mutts exercise their legs after the long journey while I fill up the Volvo.

Friday, 14 October 2011

A Right Old Pantomime

At this time of year, as the evenings draw in and there’s a chill in the air I like to make plans for, I don’t know… a package holiday - somewhere sunny, or….eating coq au vin in front of the fire, or… staying in and watching quite a lot of telly.  Brian’s thoughts, on the other hand, him being of a more cultural persuasion turn to… The Ballet. For some years it has been a tradition that we go to see a Mathew Bourne Production at Sadlers Wells. It's our Christmas outing. This year The Nutcracker is being performed (again), Brian's favourite and he is keen to book tickets.... 
We settle down in a positive frame of mind and go on the Sadlers Wells website. Then it all comes flooding back to me: choosing a performance, checking Arsenal’s fixture list to make sure they’re not on TV that night, clicking on the red dot, scrolling down the page, debating whereabouts in the theatre we would like to sit – stalls/circle etc, clicking a price, being presented with a seating plan of hundreds of tiny grey squares with a smattering of bright orange ones, consulting the colour-coded key. Grey=Sold. Starting all-over again. I leave Brian to it, go and make coffee, catch up on some paperwork and have a flick through Grazia.
‘Right, quick, there’s three seats here, on a Thursday. Get your credit card. They only hold them for 6 minutes.’
My heart sinks as I’m presented with the dreaded log-in or register here page. I bought tickets last Christmas so they’ll want me to log-in. Then the even more dreaded user-name and password screen pops up. I try my trusted old secret- word. It rejects it. I try a different one. No good. Hmm… Maybe my username is wrong. I know, it’ll be simpler to just register again. Dum dum dum diddle de dum. Click. ‘This email Address is already registered – please proceed to log-in.’ Groan. Oh no! 47 seconds before my session expires….

Thursday, 13 October 2011

An Italia Conti Star and Pixie Lott

Lovely Pixie Lott came here in September to have her picture taken for Bliss Magazine and the issue is in the shops today! Ed has avidly followed her rise to stardom, partly because she went to the same school as him and partly because she's so genuine, warm and seemingly unaffected by her success. She chatted to Ed and Ryan about Italia Conti and they shared a few amusing stories about the teachers - no names mentioned.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Celebrity Christmas Shoot

I have a new pet - the sweetest Robin  darted about beside me in the garden ALL afternoon while Enzo was sound asleep indoors. He would only have barked incessantly at it, outraged that a creature had dared trespass into his territory and shocked and disgusted that I actually spoke to the waste of space. It was a pleasant day. I raked up some leaves and had a general tidy up out there because the minute night falls the garden will be transformed into a winter wonderland. The plan is to string fairy lights around the gazebo and dredge the patio with fake snow ready for our Celebrity Christmas Cover shoot.  We are on high alert: a dress that is so exquisite and so expensive that it has it's own chauffeur driven car is being sent over from Knightsbridge. When it arrives we coo over it but don’t dare to touch it. When the sleb shows up there is no-one around to greet her because we’re all busy being bedazzled by the bejewelled dress. She makes her way down the side of the house, past the recycling bins and in through the basement door. Joe and Ed are sprawled on the sofa surrounded by crisp bags and half eaten toast snacks. They have headphones on and can’t hear her chirpy 'hello', so ignore her, not taking their eyes off the carnage on the TV screen. She clambers over the two whippets and picks her way through a sea of discarded shoes, school bags, PE kits and other crap that has accumulated on the floor.
‘Wasn’t that what’s her name off that programme?’ Ed says to me at bedtime.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

B Movie

Enzo and I went to have a look at how Brian is getting on with his new pastels (bought from a quant little art shop the size of an aircraft hanger in Islington - not the Marais).

Monday, 10 October 2011

Chien Interdit

B and I promised ourselves a bit of a lie in on Saturday morning: after last weekend with everyone arriving early for the Crown Paints shoot and a week of getting up at 6.30am to get the kids to school and the house ready for work I was really looking forward to it.. 
Saturday morning 6.35am.
Brian: I think I might try a portrait in pastels. A bit like those pictures we saw at that exhibition last night.  Dark, a lot of black, very loose and quite big.
Me: What?
B: I saw some programme with Waldemar Januszczak about this funny old shop in Paris that still makes pastels to the same recipe that they did in the 17th Century. All the impressionists went there: they use a much higher ratio of pigment to binder so the colours are really vibrant. It's hidden away somewhere in the Marais and hasn't changed in years. 
Me: Right.
B: We should probably go and have a look at the Degas in the Courtauld Institute at Somerset House too, except they'll have all been moved to the Royal Academy for that Degas Ballet show thing and you have to book tickets and they'll be coach loads of those people that go to that Country Living Fair. That's annoying.
Me. Okaaay.
B. Anyway, I fancy going to the shop in Paris.
Me. I'll get up then.

So, I went and fetched my coat; the 1950s one with the fur collar, the passports, the dog's passports and leads, poo bags, a few odd Euro notes and coins left-over from the summer and a flask of tea. We were all set. St Pancras International is only a 5 minute ride away. 
The dogs were impeccably behaved on the train (unlike an uncouth bunch of rugby fans) and got lots of attention. It was heavenly strolling around the Jardin du Palais Royal in the sunshine. 
We had lunch on Boulevard St Germain. So lovely that dogs are allowed right inside to sit next to us on the banquettes; Enzo had a fried egg. Then off in search of the Maison Du Pastels. Drawers and drawers of pastels of every hue. We chatted away in perfect French with the grand-daughter of the very shop-keeper that served Degas......

Course we didn't. We never went to Paris because dogs ARE NOT ALLOWED on the Eurostar; even though we can take them on buses, trains and tubes here in London. Dogs and cats can travel with you in your car through the tunnel to France, they can go on ferries, they are welcome on train networks covering the rest of Europe, they can even be flown all-over the world in the hold of planes without posing a danger to fellow passengers, SO WHY CAN'T THEY GO ON THE EUROSTAR?? 


Friday, 7 October 2011

Ed Knocks Spots off Nijinsky

Text from Ed: Goin Primark after school with Mimi to get outfit for Max's party.
Me: Fine. You got money then? xx
Ed: Yeah it's 7.99
Me: Great :) x

When I get home from Pilates at 8.30 Ed is snuggled up on the sofa wearing the cutest all-in-one cow costume. Made from soft white fleece printed with irregular pale grey splodges, it has a hood with ears and cosy little booties for feet. 
"Ed! you look adorable in that baby-gro!" 
"It's NOT a baby-gro, it's a onesie." he replies, not taking his eyes off Gears of War on the Xbox.
"Well its lovely! Did you get anything to wear to Max's party?"
"Yeah, this."
"What, you're wearing that baby-gro to the party?"
"ONESIE" The cute baby cow machine guns the head off one of the Locust Horde.
"You're wearing that onesie to the party?"
"Yeah, I'm going as Dopey. I told you I was going as Dopey. Don't you remember anything? Olivia is going as Snow White and I'm going as Dopey."
"But it's a cow costume."
"You've got to dye it mauve - by tomorrow."
"Ed, that fabric won't dye. It's the wrong kind of material. It has to be cotton and that's.... well, I don't know what that is but it won't work."
"Yes it will. Try it."
"It won't. I dyed loads of fabric when I was at college and that man-made stuff never dyes properly."
"Well that was about fifty years ago. They'll have invented something new by now." 
Brian wanders in with another glass of wine.
"I rather like it as it is. Reminds me of Nijinsky in Diaghilev's production of the ballet L'Apres-Midi d'un Faune by Debussy."
Ed's scowl deepens.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Acceptable in the 80s

My friend Emma has just landed herself the role of Lesley in Alan Bennett's Her Big Chance. Written in the 80s, the director is keen that she wears something from the era; not needing to be asked twice to browse for glad rags on eBay, Emma emailed me a piccie of a bikini that she thought would be perfect for Lesley's wardrobe...
... haha! it was only a print that B had designed in our London studio back in 1985!! Before Emma was even BORN!

That got me wondering how many more of our lovely creations were floating around on the internet. I switched off after several million - most of them on US vintage sites and Here are a few of the more tasteful ones -

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Mick Jagger Nicked our Candles

*$@%^&! Mick Jagger's only gone and catted our Dark Weekend idea. 
"Brian! you're gunna have to take that suit back."

Watch the whole video here....

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

The Kid Speaks

Another random screen shot from the School for Stars series on CBBC last night.

Watch the whole program here and listen to ED talking! It's what your Mac was made for!

Monday, 3 October 2011

A Colourful Weekend

Crown Paints have been here for the last three days so we've been tiptoeing around quite a few tins of paint....

Our 'all white' basement became the 'all lime-green' basement...

the English herb garden was transformed into a Corfu courtyard....

and our plans for a BBQ on the hottest day of the year had to be put on hold. All those tins look rather flammable....
No, pissing on them won't help - thank you Enzo.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Zombies in Stoke Newington

The dead of Stoke Newington were rising from their graves in horror yesterday at the proposal to build a whacking great Sainsburys slap bang next to their resting place - the magnificent Abney Park Cemetery.  This photo captures the spirit of the people that live here - independent, free thinking and inventive. Church Street has steadfastly resisted the encroachment of chain stores and their nullifying effect on the diminishing creative enclaves of London.
Take a look at these great photos too.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Hackney to Harley Street

… I’d put a ‘posh’ frock on because Ed and I had an appointment in town. (We had been referred to an Ear Nose and Throat specialist to get a second opinion on Ed’s enlarged tonsil.) However, I sometimes feel that the vintage 60s little black dress and grubby trainer combo gets a little lost in translation when heading West.
The doctor has a consulting room in a magnificent building right on Harley Street. Presenting ourselves to the predictably turned out receptionist - Ed in his disheveled, old-fashioned Italia Conti School uniform and me in what might be construed as some kind of mourning get-up we suddenly felt like a pair of Victorian orphans that had wandered in off the street. Politely turning down her offer to use the lift, we ran excitedly up the grand staircase to the top floor as if arriving at the London residence of our wealthy benefactor.
It’s the same with the Volvo. The poor thing is quite misunderstood in the West End. The battered old estate is perfectly at home here amid the hundreds of other battered old estates (the car of choice amongst the large Hasidic population in the neighbourhood). Drive it into the Congestion Zone and alongside the shiny Minis, cute Fiat 500s and swanky Porsches it takes on the menacing persona of a vehicle from Grand Theft Auto V. Gesticulating cyclists fall by the wayside and pedestrians stepping out to cross the road jump back onto the pavement in fright when they see us coming. Great fun.

BTW - Turns out Ed will grow into his giant tonsil.