Sunday, 23 December 2012

Calendar Girl

My photographer friend Alex Grace produced this fun advent calendar featuring all the local dogs. In at number 23 is Lotus.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Market Forces

Walking around Smithfield yesterday reminded me of all the things I love about London... 
... the mad juxtaposition of old and new,
sublime and mundane,
quirky and functional.
Miniature housing estates painted onto the concrete blocks that divert articulated trucks into the vast loading bays.
Tinsel decked meat packers caffs and down to earth boozers, licensed to sell liquor at dawn, nestle between elegant, Michelen-starred restaurants serving festive tasting menus at £80 a go. 
The meat market, built in the 1860s and designed by Sir Horace Jones, who also designed Tower Bridge, covers ten acres in the middle of the city. A large swathe of the market was burnt down on the 1950s creating space for the incredible poultry market to be built. With the largest curved concrete ceiling in Europe and funky 60s mullioned windows it stands in perfect contrast to the elaborate Victorian structure. The whole market has an enchanting but worrying sense of neglect about it. 

Buddleia bushes sprout from window ledges and some of the buildings are shut down and boarded up. Two workmen, guarding the entrance to a abandoned underground NCP (that appears to have a miniature chateau built above it) assured me that I won't recognise it round here soon. Well, that would be a real shame. London doesn't need another sanitised, touristy, fake, commercialised, boring, characterless, heartless, street- performing, depressing, family friendly market-turned-shopping-area. No names mentioned. 

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Fifty Shades of Black

Once upon a time there was a big, dark house. It was the middle of winter and the sun struggled to rise above the big dark houses on the other side of the street. In the big, dark house was a big, shadowy basement. In the shadowy basement the rooms were painted a murky grey and the floors were dark. In the murky rooms a collection of strange lamps, dating far back to the middle of the last century, are the only source of light. In each strange lamp an energy-saving lightbulb emits an eerie, humming glow. In the eerliy lit rooms boxes can be seen: boxes overflowing with dark objects. Shelves are lined with dark files and dark, glossy computer screens wink in the flicker of a candle. A dark dog with a black collar lays asleep in a dark corner. Black cameras, black lenses, black chargers, black cables, black hard-drives and black portfolios, are piled on black desks. Black beanies, black scarves, black gloves, black bags, and black dog-leads are thrown onto black chairs. Black perfume bottles, black headphones, black pens, black wallets, black iPods and black sunglasses are precariously arranged on the nearest black surface. And somewhere in this twilight world is Ed’s Blackberry and it’s run out of battery.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Left-field Shopping Center

The divinely dilapidated interior of St Paul's Church, almost as beautiful as a crumbling Venetian palazzo (although Essex Road doesn't quite conjure-up The Grand Canal), is hosting the most magical Advent event today. Browse the pretty, candle-lit stalls of hand made gifts, vintage cashmere and retro home-ware. Snuggle in the cozy cafe and nibble mince pies to the music of a heavenly harp. Breathe in the divine aroma of beeswax, Christmas spices and lavender...
Warning: Not a lot there for teenage boys - although Ed secretly enjoyed a few glugs of mulled wine behind the altar.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Curtain Call

So, after six months and 73 shows to a combined audience of 98,000 Ed will step onto the stage at the Palace Theatre for the last time tonight. It's been brilliant fun and we are sad to say goodbye.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Coco Canal

It was such a beautiful morning I decided to take my new accessory on a stroll beside the Regents Canal.
Needlepoint Handbag -  eBay USA
Regents Canal at Angel

Me in sunglasses with new bag, two whippets and a jug.
Hmmm... I am reminded of Coco Chanel's advice: " Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and remove one accessory." She's right. The jug will have to go. 

Sunday, 11 November 2012

A Memorable Sunday

It's a bit like Downton Abbey here on a Sunday morning. Me in the basement preparing Ed's breakfast  - cheese, ham and tomato toastie; hot chocolate with whipped cream and marshmallows ('if we don't have marshmallows then make some'); a croissant stuffed with raspberries; a mug of tea...
His bedroom door was still shut when I went up (he'd telephoned his order down earlier) and as I was carrying the tray I pushed the door open with my back and entered the room. Ed was in bed watching the TV.  I was expecting to be greeted with more than a hissed 'be quiet' after all my effort but had forgotten it was Remembrance Sunday and had to stop in my tracks until the Last Post sounded. I was then invited to sit on the edge of the bed and watch as the Queen, the Royal Family and everyone else laid their wreaths at the Cenotaph. London was at it's most beautiful and beguiling. A light November haze accentuated shafts of winter sunlight filtered through autumn trees. That bloke's voiceover on the BBC as one by one all the dignitaries solemnly step forward - it's just all so atmospheric and very moving. 
So, stuff Clissold Park for a dog walk - we headed into town, dropped Ed at Pineapple in Covent Garden and wandered through Trafalgar Square and down towards Westminster. Whitehall was closed to traffic and the legions of servicemen and women had dispersed and were standing in the sunshine outside pubs enjoying a drink and a reminisce. They admired whippets and we admired medals beside the sea of poppies.    

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Going Bananas

Got any bananas?
I fancy a banana.
We haven't got any bananas. Have a biscuit.
Nah, a banana's healthier.
Well there aren't any. I'll get some when I go shopping.

Is anyone going to eat those bananas going brown in the fruit bowl?
Nah, they're going brown.
Well that's a waste. I thought you liked bananas.
Not when they're going brown. 
They weren't going brown when I bought them. Honestly. I'll have to make a cake with them - I'm not throwing them away.

Got any bananas?
I fancy a banana.
We haven't got any bananas. Have a biscuit.
Nah, a banana's healthier.
Well there aren't any. I'll get some when I go shopping.

Is anyone going to eat those bananas going brown in the fruit bowl?
Nah, they're going brown.
Well that's a waste. I thought you liked bananas.
Not when they're going brown. 
They weren't going brown when I bought them. Honestly. I'll have to make a cake with them - I'm not throwing them away.

Got any bananas?
I fancy a ...

Banana cake.
Melt 4oz butter in the microwave until it turns to liquid.
Mash up 3 bananas and add to butter.
Beat 3 eggs with a fork and add to butter and banana mixture along with a splash of milk.
Measure 8oz flour, 4oz caster sugar and a teaspoon of baking powder into another bowl.
Pour the liquid mixture onto the dry ingredients and stir with a spatula, quickly combine the dry and wet ingredients with no more than 10 stirs.
Transfer to silicone baking mould, sprinkle with brown sugar and cook for half and hour in a medium oven.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

How To Save A Tenner

Black Cat firework pack suitable for small Hackney back garden - duration 70 seconds - £69.99
Bottle of Champagne, 5 glasses, 5 comfy chairs, this view of the wealthier boroughs' municipal displays - duration 1 hour -  £59.99
View from Champagne bar at Vertigo, Tower 42

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Halloween Swag

'Joe! Joe! Where are you going?'
'Yes, I know it's Halloween. Are you going trick or treating?'
'Where are you going then?'
'There's a bonfire party.'
'Where did you get those clothes?'
'What clothes?'
'Those clothes you're wearing.'
'Found them.'
'Found them where?'
'Where did you find the white shirt?'
'John's wardrobe.'
'The tie?'
'Daddy's tie box.'
'That's the Christian Dior one isn't it?'
Checks label. 'Yep.'
'The suit?'
'Daddy's wardrobe. It's Alexander McQueen.'
'The glasses?'
'Ed's drawer.'
'The coat?'
Twirls. 'Your room. It was in some tissue paper. Like it?'


Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Devilled Pumpkin

Now that I've lugged the pumpkin home we need to dream up a really scary face for it: something truly bloodcurdling; the embodiment of evil; a picture of wickedness, let me think....

Sunday, 28 October 2012

A Damn Disappointment

What! You've never been to Kenwood House? You'll love it. Come with us today. We're going to walk the dogs up there. Yes, I know it's absolutely freezing but it'll be worth it - I promise. It's fantastic, as you approach the front of the house through the trees and you get a glimpse of the neo-classic facade it's just gorgeous. Adam I think. Then as you walk round to the front, well it just takes your breath away. The orangery - absolutely stunning. I'm sure you'll recognise it: it's been in loads of films...

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Lost Youth

I no longer share the house with three teenagers: John turned twenty today.
At this point a cute picture of him blowing the candle out on his first birthday cake or some such thing would have been appropriate but that was before the days of digital photography and Brian CBA to go up into the attic and dust off the old albums - not with getting the telly warmed up for the footy so I'll just have a quick look in iPhoto and see if there's a more recent one of him...........

Oh. I'm sure I remember there being one or two of John on here somewhere. Oops. 
1,347 photos of - let me see - Lotus, Ed, Capri, Enzo, some hydrangeas, an unknown dog, the sky, the old Volvo, some ducks, a wall, three nuns, the Palace Theatre, a ginger cat, a bull, sweet peas, Nelson's Column, the BT Tower...

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Wednesday, 17 October 2012


Should I trade all my worldly goods (yes, including dogs) for this view...
 Oops, wrong pic. THIS view...

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Four Candles Please

When I went to Pilates last night I spotted something very familiar propped up in Kate’s hallway: a dirty rectangle of wood about the size of a kitchen-cupboard door and screwed onto it, in a haphazard arrangement, were a random selection of filthy door handles. We looked at each other, “General Woodwork” we said simultaneously. Kate had been to the closing down sale of our favourite shop of all time. (When I say ‘favourite’ I mean most visited. My favourite shop of all time is a vintage designer boutique in the cloisters of the Palais Royale Gardens – not having the guts to even enter the shop I have only respectfully admired the exquisite mannequins through the glass, expecting to be asked to move on at any moment.) 
The General Woodwork Stores on the High Street has been there forever and with stock from every decade of the last century gathering dust out the back it has been the most perfect place to find all the trimmings that we have ever needed to accessorise this outlandish place. A sturdy, beautifully carved piano leg, covered in cobwebs made the perfect newel post; funky, gilded door handles from the 70’s were just right for the Barry White bedroom; the biggest, brass, Victorian door knob for the front door; pretty, lemon-yellow, plastic handles for a 60’s kitchen; a whacking great big swathe of tree trunk came in handy for a shelf: they had everything you could dream of and more. Some years ago someone had painstakingly and unwittingly created works of art by taking one of every fixture or fitting in the shop and fixing it to the boards that lined the walls and it was one of these that Kate had procured and brought home.      
Unlike the Paris Boutique the staff at General Woodwork were not the least intimidating – three old boys, I think they were brothers owned the store and they never laughed at us once: smiled a little maybe when we explained some hair-brained scheme that we had in mind for, say, suspending a very heavy beaded curtain from the cornice or dismantling and reassembling an old cupola in the back garden. They’d listen patiently and then say
“I’m with you Brian... one of these might do the trick.”
GWS didn’t just sell fancy stuff: hundreds of tiny flat- headed, copper nails to fix the lead roof back onto the cupola; one extra large hook for the hanging chair; a yard and a half of medium-gage chain for said chair; plastic, recessed handles for sliding doors; hinges, nails, screws, bolts and brackets: anything and everything you could possibly need for any DIY project and the nice thing was nothing came in rigid plastic packaging and you didn’t have to buy ten of something if you only wanted one. Oh, and somewhere out the back they even had a box of dog biscuits to keep the whippets happy. We will really miss it.
Kate says “What are you going to do without it?”
“Move” I reply. “Sell up and move to a modern flat where everything’s already done.”
And I have just the place in mind…
Up at the reservoir they’ve built a 29 storey tower block with views all over London and beyond. Brian and I are going to have a look at an apartment there this afternoon up on the 23rd floor. It’s still a hard hat area as they haven’t been fully kitted out yet. Perhaps I can request a 70s style kitchen and an 80s dining room and I’d really like a 50s bedroom and a Mad Men lounge. Hmmm... maybe a new build isn’t for me after all.
Dog walking at the reservoir yesterday.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Mad Dog

When you're a very small dog this must seem like a very big house. Forty five, steep, scary, cold, hard stairs from Ed's bedroom down to the draughty hall, across the living room floor and then another fifteen steps to negotiate down to the basement where breakfast is served. Even for a very brave puppy that takes some guts and after weeks of teetering on the top step plucking up courage to set off Lotus finally made her first descent unaided. Once she's off, like a roller coaster there's no stopping to catch a breath, no pausing on the thirteenth step to admire the view, no slowing down to check out that croissant crumb that someone's dropped and with no carpet to cling onto or cushion her trip it really is some white paw ride. After a day or two she is quite the expert and manages to weave in and out of the whippets legs on the downhill run. 
THEN came the ghastly silicone spray incident - see last blog.
The vile, slithery molecules had wafted through the air onto every horizontal surface in the house and so when Lotus launched herself off the top step yesterday morning things didn't quite go according to plan.
Boy was she mad...

Thursday, 11 October 2012

James Bondage

My old friend James did a shoot here yesterday. He always photographs something…umm…interesting and I wasn’t surprised when two beautiful girls stepped out of his Hummer followed by a couple of stylists dragging Ikea bags full of stilettoes and some unrecognisable scraps of coloured neoprene.
While I made coffee, the stylists unpacked, the models went into hair and make-up and James took a load of pictures of the new dog.
“Latex” said James.
“Lotus” I replied.
“No, Latex. I’m shooting a load of Latex underwear today”
“Nice. What are all the aerosols for? I asked, glancing at an arsenal of canisters lined up on the mantelpiece.
“Lubrication. Makes it easier to slip the bits and pieces on and off. They don’t use talcum powder any more. They use this silicon spray stuff. Apparently it goes everywhere (smiles) but worry ye not, we’ll do all the spraying by the back door.”
“Fine. I’ll leave you to it. Give us a shout if you need anything.”
Brian and I stayed in the basement office most of the day until Joe came home from school and then we headed off to pick up Ed and take him to the theatre.
“Joe, stay down here with the dogs until James and that lot upstairs have gone. Understand? You stay down here. When you hear them leave, go up, let the dogs out into the garden and then check that they haven’t left any food around that they might eat. Got it?”
Brian, Ed and I got back at about 8.30. As we opened the front door a small fat dog came hurtling towards us, spinning across the hall floor like an ice puck. Frantic scratching noises came from the front room: two bewildered whippets were doing impressions of Bambi when he tries to walk on the frozen lake.
“Look, it’s sick!” cries Joe, gliding past in his socks.