Wednesday, 12 December 2012


The New Yorker

I won't finish that sentence...  However I thought you should know more about that the adorable little cat from my last post. In the last week he has:
  • tried to escape up the chimney
  • disappeared under the floorboards
  • hid in the washing machine
  • hid behind the washing machine
  • hid behind the fridge
  • climbed the curtains
  • knocked over the washing
  • drank from the toilet
  • drank from the washing up bowl
  • drank in fact from anywhere apart from his three water bowls
  • attempted to bring down the Christmas tree. Twice.

Looks so innocent.  Still appears to have his 9 lives intact. Respect!

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Clover our beautiful little cat, who joined the family last weekend. 

He has the sweetest personality. We are in love.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012


Bahia Palace

Marjorelle Gardens

Marjorelle Gardens

Cafe Arabe

El Baddi Palace

El Baddi Palace

Ben Youssef Madrasa

Marjorelle Gardens

Marjorelle Gardens

Ben Youssef Madrasa

Bahia Palace

Vegetable Tagine, at Le Foundouk

Coffee at Le Foundouk

Carts near the Jemma El Fnaa

Dar Si Said, secret concubine courtyard

Dar Rocmarra

Bahia Palace

So we spent our honeymoon (or mini-moon if things go to plan in 2013...) in Marrakesh.  I think there is a well worn track in Marrakesh, but it was our first time and we enjoyed exploring. We mainly stayed in and around the medina mooching about during the day and eating fabulous food and drink at night. Here is our top ten in no particular order. 

The guide books tended to down play El Badi Palace but we loved it. It's a vast terracotta 16th century palace. Four sunken gardens, with orange and fig trees and you could imagine how opulent it would have been. It reminded me a bit of the Alhambra and I read later that it had been built in the same style and was influenced by the same Andalusian architecture. There are also around 50 storks that sit on huge nests in the old battlements. You can get really elegant views of them flying past from the roof terrace at Kosybar.

Al Fassia A women's collective that serves the best quality food we had in Marrakesh in fact some of the best food we've had anywhere. Chicken with olives and preserved lemons was caramelised savoury and delicious. Pancakes with butter and honey for dessert were generous and hearty. People were being turned away when we were there so worth booking.

Islamic Architecture and Art.  You can be wandering around a street and see an intricately carved archway or door handle. More specifically you can visit Ben Youssef Madrassa with cedar and marble inscriptions and geometric inscriptions, the Bahia Palace inlaid gilded ceilings and stucco carving or the Katoubia Minbar at the El Badia Palace.             

Dar Si Said is an arts museum with historic and some contemporary Moroccan art full of intricate Byzantine designs and colours.  The building itself is stunning with the kind of decoration you hope to see in Marrakesh.  Best of all the attendant took us through to a closed of bit of the museum to see the exquisite courtyard that was kept for the concubines! 

Pepe Nero Delicious, beautifully presented Italian and Moroccan food served in a pretty romantic garden.  Kind, attentive service and they spoilt us because we were on honeymoon, with a delicious chocolate and hazelnut cake.

The Photography Museum - is as much a museum about the social history of Morocco as a gallery of photographic styles.  The riad itself is beautiful and calm with a very simple cafe on the roof with fantastic views of the city.  Well worth switching to hibiscus tea from mint tea.

Majorelle Gardens. As a young girl obsessed with Elle Decoration I can remember reading about the Majorelle Gardens established by french artist Jacque Majorelle in the 1920s and the bought and restored by Yves St Laurent in the 1980's who's ashes were scattered here after his death.  The garden is landscaped and largely full of cactus and succulents with fountains and little pools of water with turtles and species of brightly coloured birds.   Stunning blocks of blue, yellow, green and terracotta.  The Husband's favourite place in Marrakesh.

Medallion wine.  Surprisingly good and they sell by the mini bottle which is good as booze isn't that cheap in Marrakesh.

Getting Lost. Streets aren't well sign posted in the old town and they are a bit "blocky" and higgldey piggldey, and to the unfamiliar eye look quite similar - more so than other places I've travelled to.  However getting lost is part of the fun and you'll find things you never expected that way.  If worse comes to work you give someone 5 dirhams they'll put you back on the right track. We also ended up with a friendly taxi driver based around Dar el Bacha who was happy to pick us where ever we were in the city if we called and did not over charge us - very lucky as we inadvertently hustled him on price the first time we met!

Dar Rocmarra is in the nicest part of the Medina a 10 minute walk from Jemaa El Fnaa but not in the middle of the bustle and chaos.  Jamila the manageress is always on hand, friendly but without ever being intrusive.  Nothing is ever too much trouble and her cooking is sensational.  We stayed in the suite and it was so pretty, welcoming and romantic. Highly recommended (and far far nicer than another riad we stayed in on the same road which has a better Tripadvisor rating but unquestionably a much worse everything else).

Oh lets make it 11. The colour Majorelle Blue. I love Majorelle Blue.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

We got married

And it was the best day ever.

...More later...


Sunday, 16 September 2012

Black Vintage Beauty

Alek Wek, ID Magazine 2009
I read this thoughtful article in Stylist on the tube to work earlier in the year. Make-up and identity. The depiction of race and beauty. Never seeing people who look like you on TV, or magazines and never feeling pretty.

I could relate to the evolution of black makeup. In my early teens I had a makeover at Clinique (which I think were the first major high street brand to stock black foundation). The assistant insisted on making me up in what she claimed was Naomi Campbell's signature style with lips that looked like off-white tipex. I also won a gaudy set of pink eye shadows, blushers and lipsticks from one of the specialist black makeup brands that simply looked awful. 

Not that it bothered me too much.   We were the only black family in a little village in Essex. I genuinely thought my mother was the most beautiful woman in the world for great swathes of my childhood. [I am biased but she's still quite a fox now that she's in her sixties - but that's an aside].  In my teens I didn't want to look the same as anyone else. I thought it would look cool if I put eyeliner on before I went to bed so it would be messy in the morning - I ended up with an eye infection. I owned black and blue lipsticks and considered Beatrice Dalle and Robert Smith style icons. 

Its fair to say that I don't wear much make up day to day now but I've migrated to MAC and bare minerals when I do want to look a bit more polished. So what to do about wedding make up and hair?

As I've mentioned before I love old Hollywood glamour and the wedding blogs are full of elegant glamorous brides with vintagey vibes. However there are very few black women amongst them. I want to see colours against different skin tones and to find out if my hair can really hold those shapes. I want to see whether a makeup artist is experienced at styling people that look like me before I book an expensive trial... Hmmmm... The lovely Annabel from Love My Dress explained the reason that there aren't many black brides on wedding blogs is because typically there aren't many submissions from black brides. I'd never thought of that - although I should add that she's definitely keen to recieve more submissions.

I had my makeup trial yesterday with Amanda (recommended by Annabel by the way)who impressively gave me exactly the soft vintage inspired look I was after and was very calm and patient.  Once you start to look there are lots of amazing images of impossibly beautiful early 20th century black glamour. Actresses, singers, models, cotton club dancers, pinup girls, Motown girl groups.  Modern vintage interpretations too - look at the images of Alek, Joan and Naomi.  There's a whole world of sources to search through but some of my favourite sites and images are below.  Enjoy.

Black Vintage Glamour: One of the most comprehensive sites, often with interesting social commentary. 
Natural Belle: Fantastic tumblr site of the English fashion and beauty blogger with an extensive catalogue of images - lots of contemporary images and a fetish for Solange Knowles in particular.
Le Pinup Noir: Pintrest and styling tutorials from 1950's style pin up model Angelique 
Black Heritage and Waheedpix:Flicker site with hundreds of images of ordinary black Americans.  I like this as I'm actually quite interested in images of "real" people and the stories underneath them. There are amazing pictures of my mum (not to mention my dad, great uncle and aunt) from the 1960's looking incredibly sharp.
Veiled Haven: Nice overview of style icons up to the 1950s.   

Madeline "Sahji" Jackson

Dorothy Dandridge
Dorothea Church

Aretha Franklin
Shingai Shoniwa

Dorothy Cox
The Ronettes
Naomie Harris

Joan Smalls
Joan Smalls (again)



Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Places we aren't getting married

The Boyfriend and I sent out our wedding invitations last week. Now that all our friends and family know where we are getting married I thought I'd write about places that we aren't - but did consider -getting married.  I always liked stumbling across these kinds of posts when we first started looking for venues.

Eltham Palace

Entrance Hall Eltham Palace
Before we lived together, The Boyfriend and I used to spend alternate weekend's at each others flats.  One sunny Sunday afternoon I grumpily agreed to tear myself away from the Eastenders omnibus to go some English Heritage place a long bus ride away somewhere in an insalubrious part south London.   It started to rain. 

Eltham Palace, however, won me over in seconds. It is the childhood home of Henry VIII extended and rebuilt in the 1930's by the wealthy Courtauld family. The history of the building and the family is genuinely interesting - the family's pet lemur had its own quarters - and the art deco detail and rooms are stunning. Mrs Courtauld's bathroom with gilded tiles is my favourite. The gardens are also beautifully maintained.  Oh dear, I'm getting distracted. 

Before we even got engaged, The Boyfriend and I both secretly looked up the Eltham Palace as a wedding venue.  I looked it up the details on my way back to north London that weekend!  You can get married under the beautiful glass dome in the entrance hall with you friends and family in a circle around you.  There's a drawing room for smaller weddings or a vast medieval hall for the reception. This pretty wedding shows Eltham palace nicely.  In the end it wasn't for us - a combination of location and cost but it is beautiful. I've noticed there's a discount for weddings next year too.

Kenwood House

We also thought about getting married in the Orangery at Kenwood House.  It's not far from where we live, it had the sense of occasion that we were after and backs onto Hampstead Heath. We thought about renting out our local pub for dinner and then all back to ours for a late party. This would have been a lead option however Kenwood House is being refurbished and won't reopen until next year. This put paid to the idea early on and there are no detail's on the English Heritage website about the reopening at the moment- the photo's come from the old website.  Probably just as well as I don't think our little flat could have coped! 


Marylebone Town hall- Purple Room
The dining room at the Orrey

The Bar at the Orrery
In the end we went to see a handful of venues across London.  Guildhalls, National Trust property, other historical buildings, and hotels like this one and this one.  None of which were quite right for us.

Our reserve option was Marylebone Town hall with our reception at The Orrery, which is one of my favourite restaurants in London.  Personally I think Marylebone is the prettiest of all the town halls in London, with beautiful marble staircases and art deco glass. The photo from their website doesn't really do it justice, but it definitely has wow factor.  You can see it better in this wedding, which I absolutely love. It really seems to capture everything we want in a wedding. Elegant, beautiful, modern, happy and fun. 

The Orrey would also make a fabulous reception venue. It is around the corner from Maylebone town hall and has 1930s styling, a beautiful light filled dining room overlooking a little church yard, separate bar and a pretty roof terrace.  The food is sensational and the service polite and warm.  Every time we go I think the portions are small but I always leave with a very full tummy and The Boyfriend can never manage cheese, which is unusual for him. 

Our Venue 

The original brief for venue hunting was somewhere in London with a sense of occasion, amazing food and outside space, easily accessible for our friends and family. 

There was one standout place.  We only made the appointment as we were going to be in the area anyway and we thought we might as well.  But were impressed from the start. It just has a really lovely feeling.  It doesn't even have outside space but it doesn't feel like a compromise.  I'm so so excited about getting married to The Boyfriend!Can't believe we're getting married there.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

I ♥ the Olympics

"Look mate, this is my country. This is where I grew up, this is where I started life. This is my country and when I put on my Great Britain vest I'm proud. I'm very proud. The support I got today was unbelievable. I couldn't believe it. It was the best moment of my life".   Mo Farah

The Olympics.  Nuff said really.

Oh, alright if you push me. 

It has been so great.  London has felt so positive and vibrant since the Olympics started. I initially thought it was all the wine we had drunk that night, but the joy from The Olympics Opening Ceremony seemed to be universal. An articulation and celebration of being British recognisable to everyone (almost).  It drew a close to the pre-Olympics cynicism.

It's just been glorious.  We waited for the torch by Ally Pally, we saw France v Russia in the semi finals of the womens' basketball, paused on the mall to catch a bit of road-race cycling and marathon, watched television in the canteen at work and when we got home.

Physical and mental endurance. Charisma and charm.  Focus and hard work. Extra-ordinary, ordinary people. Shared national experience. Mo Farah, Laura Trott, Victoria Pendleton, woman's sport, Bradley Wiggins, public transport, Lewis Smith, Jessica Ennis, Usain Bolt, Andy Murray, Yohan Blake, Greg Rutherford, The Brownlee brothers, Tirunesh Dibaba, Jamaica, Chris Hoy, Nicola Adams, London. All winners.

The Boyfriend is a bit sad that its all over. He cheers up when I remind him we've got tickets for the para-Olympics. Even more when I remind him its 10 weeks until the wedding.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Wedding bloom!

Despite appearances not all my posts are going to be about flowers (or indeed my wedding) however Rock My Wedding had this fabulous post today!

These are from their "less is more" flowers - which is just what I have in mind. I particularly like the sweetie coloured flowers in the shallow vases (third down on the right). And the white hydrangeas.
Despite appearances not all my posts are going to be about flowers (or indeed my wedding) however Rock My Wedding had this fabulous post today!

These are from their "less is more" flowers - which is just what I have in mind.  I particularly like the sweetie coloured flowers in the shallow vases (third down on the right).  And the white hydrangeas.


Monday, 9 July 2012

Wild Bloom

The Boyfriend and I spent a few days in Suffolk last week by the coast.  I love wild flowers and absolutely everywhere was blooming.