Friday, 30 September 2011

Flat: Post

So The Boyfriend and I decided to withdraw our offer on the flat.  We had a summit in our favourite pub and both agreed that
the cons outweighed the pros.  We wanted to carry on so that we could get going and book the wedding; and we didn't want to let people down.  We knew we should stop because the estate agents were bullying and unreasonable; the flat had subsidence, damp and we just didn't love it enough. 

We were disappointed but it was definitely the right thing to do. After some terse emails with the estate agents we just feel relieved.  Always right to go with your gut at times like this I think.


Wednesday, 28 September 2011


A bit of a sad day. The survey on our flat doesn't look good. We spotted some damp the first time we looked around but it seems like its more extensive than we thought and there's subsidance and some historical damage.  The vendors estate agents are trully horrible, putting a lot of pressure on us to complete to an unrealistic timescale and annoying our solicitor and The Boyfriend's estate agent. 

It is starting to feel like it may not be worth it. I think we may have to walk away.  It is sad because The Boyfriend and I had planned so much around buying this flat.  Growing vegetables in our little garden. Styling all the nooks and crannies. Creating our new home. We have also been waiting for the sale to go through before booking our wedding venue.

Obviously I know that not buying the flat you want is not sad compared to lots of other things. We have a very lucky life. The disappointment won't last.  If this doesn't work out there will be somewhere better for us.  But I still can't help feeling a little sad.  We will sleep on it.


Monday, 26 September 2011

What would Louise (Brooks) do?

Now I normally wouldn't include this but, oh my my my this is all so pretty.  

I really like the pretty vintage-style scanties courtsey of Playful Promises.  What would Louise do? Or Marilyn? Or Elisabeth? Or Rita?

Sunday, 25 September 2011

The Boyfriend Loves Me More Than Queens Park Rangers...

... and he's at Loftus Road watching QPR play Aston Villa this afternoon. But he did like reading about the pretty unfootbally wedding of QPR sub Rob Hulse earlier in the week.

Oh dear I just checked the score and it looks like Villa have scored in extra time...  A good job I love him so much x

Postscript: Ended up 1 - 1.  The Boyfriend is cursing the referee.

American Graffiti on Chelsea Bridge

When The Boyfriend was 7 his parents took him to the Chelsea Cruise to watch the classic cars drive along Chelsea bridge as a birthday treat.  Watching cars was followed up by a vanilla ice cream sundae with chocolate sauce - the kind of chocolate sauce that goes hard after you pour it so you have to crack it with your spoon to get to the ice cream.  The height of sophistication when you are 7. And one of The Boyfriend's most treasured childhood memories. 

All the wedding planning has got The Boyfriend thinking about cars again.  A 1950's Ford Anglia as a wedding car maybe? An Alfa Romeo Giulietta? What about a Mustang?

After a bit of googling we discovered the Chelsea Cruise is still going, every last Saturday of the month. It stopped for a few years in the 1990's when it got take over by boy racers and got broken up by the police but it is now very much a scene for old car enthusiasts.  So last night we went down. 

Chelsea Bridge was all lit up and looked fantastic as we walked up from the Kings Road.  There were around a hundred cars, mostly for the 50s and 60s.  All amazing shapes and colours and in some cases with spoilers and lights.  My car knowledge isn't very good but The Boyfriend was very excited and knowledgeable about rare cars. The crowds really mixed too. Some staunch enthusiasts who have come every month since the 1970's; families with (mainly) little boys on shoulders, students practicing with their DSLR's, rockabilly types and excitable tourists like us. We may not need a wedding car, but if we do then I think we've found a great place to find advice. 

If you like old cars then I recommend American Graffiti for some inspiration.  Set in 1962 the film is about 2 boys scheduled to leave for college in the morning spending their evening cruising the strip in their cars. There is a young Richard Dreyfuss, Ron Howard and Harrison Ford too. I've only seen this clip so far but looks good and we're watching the DVD tonight.

American Graffiti: George Lucas: 1974

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Thank You Mr Ottolenghi

I couldn't think what to make for dinner tonight.  Then I remembered this recipe from the Guardian magazine from Saturday.  I give you my take on sweet potatoes with figs, goats cheese, chili and shallots (because I didn't have any spring onions as the recipe suggested). It was very nice - thank you Mr Ottolenghi! 

The Boyfriend and I also discovered the Great British Bake Off tonight.  I think we're getting into it a bit late in the series but plenty of cake making inspiration I think. 


Sunday, 18 September 2011

Open House Part 2: Green Lanes (and not so green lanes, streets and buildings)

For the second day of open house we went to a disused Edwardian butchers in Holloway. This is its original tiled floor and a frieze of cows and sheep on Hampstead Heath from one of the counters.

 The butchers is very well preserved with a mahogany serving kiosk and even some of the original machinery and meat hooks. It is clearly a labour of love for the owner who lives in the basement below which used to be the butchers ice-cellar. He said he is planning to turn the butchers into a coffee shop in a few years time. 

I love these art deco tiles.

Next we met the lovely ladies of the Hornsey historical society who were extremely knowledgeable about local history. We then wenton to a contemporary conversion on the other side of Harringay Station. 

The flat we're hoping to buy is quite modern so we're always looking for style ideas.  The flat was more The Boyfriend's taste than mine but I liked the concertina doors to the garden and the glass paneling everywhere which kept it light and bright even on a cloudy day like today. I also liked the bright pops of colour which made it seem homely.

The last stop off of the day was the Green Lanes festival for some fantastic Turkish food, swing dancing to jazz bands in the rain and a few drinks in the beautiful and friendly Salisbury Hotel. A good day.

Open House Part 1: You Spin me Right Round Baby

Open House weekend has been fantastic this year.  It didn't start well.  The Boyfriend and I were tired and bickering so grumpily rode the lift up the BT Tower. The lights in the lift flashed and it was announced that we were travelling at 1400 feet per second as our ears popped.

As the doors opened the view was instantly amazing.  There are 360 degree views of London through huge floor to ceiling windows. You can just about feel a slight pulse as the whole space slowly rotates. Occasionally the pulse becomes a jerk that would make you fall over it you walked in the opposite direction.
One of the guides said that when the top of the BT Tower was a restaurant the waiters and waitresses would find it difficult to give customers the right meals as they would be in a different part of the restaurant when the meal was served from where they placed their order!

From the tower you can see every iconic building in London.  The Gherkin, The Lloyd's Building, and the big beasts of Canary Wharf. Parliament. Big Ben. The London Eye. Tate Modern. Tower Bridge. The Phillishave. Alexandra Palace. The Olympic Stadium. Kings Cross St Pancreas Station. Senate House. The dome of the British Museum. Central St Giles. The Crucible. The Shard. Battersea Power Station. University College London.  Crystal Palace transmitter. Regents Park, Green Park, Hyde Park.

Even without the architecture the BT Tower is fabulous for watching the world go by. There are secret roof gardens,  London buses, workman on building sites.  I watched Tower Bridge open to let through a boat and then slowly collapse again as if nothing had happened.

The Boyfriend and I are, of course, long made up with each other. But we both regret not experiencing the such amazing views together properly. We will definitely put our names down for next years ballot. By then we may even be married...

Wedding Caking

I knew from the start that I wanted to make something for our wedding. A few people tell me I'm insane for even considering it, but I would really like to make our wedding cake. I love cooking and it doesn't feel like its too big a job.  After all my mum did most of the cooking for her wedding herself.  She and my dad even cleared up the church hall with friends after their reception.

I've found some very yummy-looking recipes.  I really like the look of this chocolate cherry cake.  There is also this fantastic video tutorial on decorating wedding cakes.  

I'm quite tubby at the moment, having spent most of our holiday eating, so I've not practiced anything yet.  But will post up some results once I do start baking. 

Is anyone else thinking about making their own wedding cake? Let me know how it goes, or if you have any advice, links or good ideas!

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Pinkie Brown and Nim Chimpsky.

So The Boyfriend and I went to see Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy tonight. It has had really good reviews so I was looking forward to seeing it and pleased that it lived up to the billing.  Gary Oldman plays George Smiley, an MI6 agent who has been prematurely retired as part of an internal coup. Out of sight, he's tasked by ministers, who are twitchy about their relationship with the Americans, to find a mole at the top of the organisation who is leaking state secrets to the Russians.  

It works as a psychological thriller with Smiley working in the shadows to unpick the loyalties, allegiances and rivalries of the four suspected elite agents. It also works as  a 1970's period piece, from the cars, to the styling, to the office Christmas party.  This also comes through the muted and understated tension through-out the film. There is no sense of contentment or pleasure in the lives the spies lead;  there was a collective laugh in the cinema when one of the younger spies says "I want out. I don't want to end up like you guys".  I missed a couple of bits in the middle - but get the feeling you're supposed to -but by the end the drama wraps together nicely. One of the best films of the year?

Films of the Year

Now the Boyfriend and I often have long discussions on tube and bus journeys about how to rank the films we watch over the course of the year. There is a pretty reasonable chance that my list will change as it very often does.  There are also some films that I'm really looking forward to seeing later in the year like Deep Blue Sea,  We need to talk about Kevin, and Wuthering Heights.  But I thought I'd share my favourites with you now anyway.

Brighton Rock An intelligent, complex film with many emotional layers. Beautifully shot with a score and aesthetic that mimic the screen play. Andrea Riesborough is amazing and luminous.  The film got a panning from the critics and cineastes, principally because it isn't the 1947 version with Richard Attenborough. The Boyfriend and I saw this at a screening with the director, Rowan Joffe, and he looked like he might cry. I have not seen the original and I think this film is sublime.

Project Nim is an incredibly moving documentary about a chimp that was taken from its mother as a baby and raised within a family as part of an experiment into language.  The film is structured like a biography and it includes original footage and interviews.  Although fact based there is a really strong narrative and the unexpected turns in the later parts of the film are dramatic and engaging. 

The cliche with films about animals is that they hold up a mirror to human nature. So in the knowledge that it is cliched I'll say that a lot of the emotion of the film comes from the people responsible for Nim. There is self interest, vanity and cruelty and an identifiable villain.  There are also some unlikely and charming heroes.  Oh and I'm not sure how to say this- the little chimp is unbelievably sweet!

The Kings Speech What can I say? Like everybody else I loved this!

Animal Kingdom I really enjoyed this film.  After his mother dies of a drugs overdose, the lead character, Joshua, moves in with her estranged family of low level gangsters in Melbourne who are involved in armed robberies and drugs running. But rather than a slick glamorous portrayal, the family are grotesque dysfunctionals including a psychotic uncle who has gone underground and a matriarch with an unhealthy relationship with all her sons. The family are fraying at the edges and fraught as the police bear down on them kicking off nervy irrational behaviour.  

The drama comes from Joshua's growing awareness that he's in over his head and his attempts to extricate himself from the family.  James Frecheville who plays Joshua (I had to look that up!) is very natural and gives the character a real naivety.  Guy Pearce is also in it as the chief of police.  It doesn't feel like an obvious role and I like that. 


Rise of the Planet of the Apes I watched this not that long after watching Project Nim.  There are quite a lot of parallels which I think may have influenced why I liked it so much.  I love the scene on the bridge. The CGI is terrific.  I'm definitely cheering for the primates.

A Separation is a great Iranian film. It starts with a married couple who are stubbornly splitting up. She wants to move to give her daughter a better life while he wants to stay to care for his elderly father.  Unable to get a divorce or custody of her daughter through the religious courts the wife moves out, hoping that her husband will change his mind.  He employs a housekeeper to take care of his father while he's at work.

However after finding that the housekeeper left his father alone and believing she has stolen from him they have an altercation following which she loses her unborn baby. The film then teases out the differing perspectives on the same event. The separation is literal between the estranged couple but there multiple divides between the experience of rich and poor, men and women, devout and religious liberals. 

I'm not counting any classic films in the list. The Boyfriend and I have previously agreed that this is against the rules of making-lists-of-the-best-films-of-the-year. However if this were not the rule then I'd have included Jaws which we saw at the Roof Top Cinema on a night that it poured down with rain. And we also watched The Big Sleep at the BFI on New Years Day.

Now that I've pinned my colours to the mast I can sense a heated bus journey with The Boyfriend tomorrow.  What do you think is missing from the list?

Friday, 16 September 2011

Long Lazy Days: Post

So Tuesday was the last day of our holiday and it went out with a satisfyingly silent bang.  The Boyfriend and I had a pub lunch and then a long ramble around the nature reserve near us searching for blackberries which I cooked up when we got home with pears and a little sugar and nutmeg.  Long lazy days made the first day back at work a bit of a struggle.   Which is why I've been quiet for a few days.  Will be back soon.

Good night x

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

A Tenuous Link... Between the British Museum and Elisabeth Taylor

... Now I apologise for such a very tenuous link but an afternoon at the British museum looking at Egyptology made me think of Elisabeth Taylor in Cleopatra... 

... Which is where she met Richard Burton. Who she married (for the first time) in 1964. I love the daffodil yellow chiffon dress, the emerald brooch and the tiny white flowers in her hair. I'm not sure I could pull this off, but doesn't she look incredibly wonderful?

Another beautiful image and fabulous hair. Definitely one for the wedding inspiration folder.

PS. I think I read somewhere that this photo was part of the same wedding as the one above (although there is every chance that I have got this wrong so please correct me if you know better). 

"Let Thy Feet, Millenniums Hence, be Set In Midst of Knowledge"

Day 6 and the penultimate day of our holiday. The Boyfriend and I wandered over to the British Museum. I'd never been before, although I've lived in London for years.

In case you've not been either, you instantly walk into a white marble courtyard hall filled with light from the delicate glass domed roof. The central core of the courtyard is a huge wide canister which used to house the British Library reading room*.  It's just the most amazing space. 

As you enter the museum The Tennyson quote is carved into the floor.  I didn't know the poem so looked it up and it's called The Two Voices about Tennyson's internal dialogue after the death of a friend.

After walking around the main room we spent most time in the Egyptology rooms which span over 11'000 years of ancient Egyptian history. Predictably the rooms I liked most were the rooms about mummys, myths and the afterlife. Really easy to feel drawn in, genuinely fascinating and even (weirdly) a bit spooky.

Anyway we were the last but 3 people to be turfed out when the museum closed and so I'll definitely go back.  But there are nearly a hundred rooms. Any advice on where to start?

See you soon. 

* By the way, The Boyfriend is the most knowledgeable enthusiastic geek on the planet and he informs me that Karl Marx wrote the majority of Das Kapital in the reading room.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Know Your Onions

When I spoke to my mum last Saturday, she told me that her garden had had a particularly good crop this summer and she'd ask my brother to drop off a few things when he came back to London.  Now my parents have a fabulous garden: my mum grows flowers; my dad grows vegetables. We're hoping to get lots of tips when we get a garden of our own.

But I was still very surprised to receive a huge box of vegetables including a sack of big fat carrots, lots of juicy conference pears, potatoes in soil, runner beans and this huge plait of onions which is over a meter long.  My lovely mum also gave us 2 huge slabs of banana cake and almond cake, but that's a different story.

So I decided to make onion marmalade using this recipe (adapted from things I found on the internet based on things I had in my cupboard):

  • 6 large onions
  • 2 Tbsp Mustard seeds
  • 4 Bay leaves
  • 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp muscovado brown sugar
  • Knob of butter
  • Black Peppercorns
  • Salt
Peel and chop the onions into small thin slices and cook slowly in a little butter and the seasoning on a medium heat until the onions start to become translucent. (This will probably take around 30 minutes).

Then add the mustard seeds and bay leaves and continue to cook until any liquid is reduced and the onions start to "catch" on the bottom of the pan.

While the onions are cooking whisk together the vinegar and sugar.  Add the mixture to the onions and stir frequently, until the sugar caramelises and becomes thick and syrupy. The onions should turn a rich dark brown colour when this is done (probably another 10-15 minutes).

 Ladle into a sterilised jar or eat it up hot. Went down a treat with The Boyfriend served on sourdough with some goats cheese. I had the same with the addition of some prosciutto. Dee-lish-ous!

But what to do with the rest?  Its a real treat to have fresh vegetables from the garden and a shame to waste anything. Let me know if you've got any great recipe ideas.

See you soon

Friday, 9 September 2011

Chocolate Fondant at The Albion

The Boyfriend and I spent day 5 of the holiday in Shoreditch looking at a couple of wedding venues. Ordinarily we might have done a bit of shopping too - particularly The Boyfriend who is the most fiendishly stylish man I've ever met. However we're trying hard not to spend too much money at the moment.  Buying our new flat means taking on a bigger mortgage and up until now we've found new and unexpected legal things that we've have to spend money on.

Although we didn't go shopping we had lunch at the Albion which serves the most delicious chocolate fondant.  The last time I was there, I thought it was the most amazing thing I'd eat all year.  Having eaten it again today I can confirm that I was right.  Mmmmmmm.

Any other nominations for the most delicious food of the year?

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Glamour of the Gods

The third day of our holiday and The Boyfriend and I went to the Glamour of the Gods exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery.  It's quite a small exhibition but utterly beautiful and there are some well researched anecdotes.  The grainy images and the overall aesthetic really appeal.

I couldn't help myself and bought the catalogue.  Here are some sneaky pictures.

Old Hollywood is a motif we've been toying with for the wedding next year.  It's more of an inspiration, I think, rather than a direct theme.  I know it didn't end well but I've always loved this picture of Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller on their wedding day in 1956.  Don't they look happy?

I'll say more about the wedding as our plans develop.  For now good night and god bless.