Saturday, 25 June 2011

Dengue Fever and The Kensal Flea

The Wig very kindly bought me the new album by Dengue Fever so we have spent the afternoon doing boring chores (unblocking the sink, dusting a million 'old things' that are displayed around my flat like its a museum etc etc) whilst listening to it. He first introduced me to them a while back one evening during a Kitchen Disco, and being a Cambodian Psychedelic rock band they are a very acquired taste but I really like them.

I highly recommend giving them a listen and I will give their new album, 'Cannibal Courtship' , 8 body parts out of a possible 10.

The morning however, was much more spectacular as we took a trip out to Kensal Rise for the Kensal Flea! It was a market selling old stuff (woop woop!), home made cakes, vintage clothing and all that sort of jazz. I think it happens once a year with the entry fee going to a women's refuge, so even though I brought back home loads more old stuff/junk that will no doubt clutter up my flat until we move, it was sort of for a good cause. The other VERY exciting thing about our trip out West is that we saw somewhere that looked pretty damn sweet as a wedding reception venue. West London was not really our first thought for a venue since we wanted to be East London, but this place is pretty amazing.  I wont say too much yet as knowing our luck it will be too expensive or not practical, but fingers crossed...

Another little suitcase for the collection. I couldn't leave it behind for £3! You don't get hardly anything for £3 these days.

Nice old 60's Triang toy. Needs a little spruce up but definitely worth the £15 that Wiggy paid for it. It's a classic!

Two funny little Polish wooden dolls from the 50's. Bit pricey but couldn't leave them behind either....£20 for both of the pair. Ouch.

Old French metal drink holder. I know you can buy reproduction ones of these quite easily, but who wants a new one when you can buy one for £15 with a woodworm riddled handle? Not me boss.

A pair of white china doves for a 'lady godiva'. I don't think these are old at all but I have a plan for them. I'm going to make one a tiny black tie (and possibly a beard) and one a veil and use them as cake toppers for our wedding. 

Nice Vase, I think its Crown Derby but cant read the markings properly. Nevertheless a bargain at 
£7 I think.

Final part of the booty, a vase which The Wig doesn't like one bit. But thats too bad. Now its home I'm not sure what I think about it either but I reckon in the right room with the right blooms it will look a delight and at £10 quite reasonable I thought.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Guest Blog Number 1

For a while I have been discussing the idea of a guest blog, whereby, if I am too busy to write anything or if someone goes somewhere they want to write about, they can send it to me and be a guest! Up until today quite a few people had said they would be my 'guest' but have never delivered the goods. Until today. So may I present to you, without any photos whatsoever....(??!), Twitty McPhee (not her real name) and her tale of 'The Living Room'.

"Dear March Hare

I hope you will consider a submission for a guest spot on your marvellous blog.  Perhaps tagged under ‘Places to eat with Mice’.  Regrettably I didn’t have a camera with me so use your imagination."


Mice; I like ‘em. In fact over the last 15 years I have probably saved a good dozen or so of them from the jaws of my rabid cats. Not enough for a Knighthood, granted, but enough to warrant a knowing wink from Mickey, and maybe even a free ice cream next time I visit DisneyWorld, for I am one of the rodent lovers.

That said, I do not like mice in places where I eat. Which brings me neatly on to The Living Room. Heddon Street, W1

It’s fair to say that my education is less than Oxbridge so I don’t know the correct etiquette for dealing with a small mouse scuttling across the floor in a restaurant.

I’m not too keen on creating a scene so I opted away from the Tom & Jerry reaction of scream/leap on chair/hit wildly at the floor with a broom.  Instead, I called over the waiter to discreetly inform him of the rodent problem.  Mainly because I didn’t have a broom with me.

Note to waiter:

1)  Do not use the word ‘Madam’ at me with a face that, in the world of the internet, would be transcribed as ‘Colon, hyphen, forward slash’. For those of us in the real world, his face said “You are clearly a demented, lying old fraudster who is trying to scam money off your bill and I am disgusted at your cheek and will possibly spit in your coffee” 
Madaaaaaaam indeed.
Remember I said that bit about not wanting to make a scene? I lied. I spent the next 10 minutes crouched down on the floor, looking like Gollum having dropped the ring.

And then, with impeccable timing, mousy returned. With arms faster than a fat kid at the front of a buffet queue, I grabbed the waiter and maturely shouted “HA! SEE??? IN YOUR FACE!!”  The look on his face as he uttered the words “Oh. My. God” was nearly enough to erase the thought of the vermin infestation. But not quite.

In true MarchHare style, I would therefore like to award The Living Room 10 mouse droppings out of a possible 10.

What’s that? The food??? Oh, you mean this blog is supposed to be about the food? I had the salad with beef and currants…….

Monday, 20 June 2011

The other end of the street

Last night I defied The Wig and went to the other end of the street. Alone. In the evening. The reason I was alone is that The Wig has left me for a couple of days to film a 'pop video' or promo as I think young people call them. This is very exciting for him but very dull for me since I hate to be left behind (I have abandonment issues) particularly during the Wig-end. So craving excitement, I took a stroll last night to Hackney Downs Park.

I have lived in my little flat for 4.5 years and think I have been to the park at other end of the street once. I can't decide if its because I am scared of the unknown or just lazy but nevertheless its not somewhere I am familiar with. The thing about the East End is that it has a lot of huge parks that people don't really know about. Its actually a very green borough which you will see if you look at an aerial view of the area. Or a map. Most people are familiar with London Fields (lots of BBQ rubbish, status dogs and try hards) and Victoria Park (joggers and baby buggies) but there is also Haggerston Park, Springfield Park and Hackney Downs Park.

So after too many episodes of 'Four in a Bed' I thought I would brave the evening air and was pleasantly surprised about the other end of the street in many ways. Not only was the park incredibly clean, it had new tennis courts, a new basketball court, a bowling green and a mother flippin' FUNFAIR!

So there is a lesson here I think. Always check out the other end of the street, literally and metaphorically, as you never know what you might find. 

Thursday, 16 June 2011

The Wolseley

The day did not begin terribly well yesterday. I woke up feeling sad about my dad, then I remembered I had had a terrible haircut the night before on my way home from work, and then I poured a Starbucks Tall Skinny (ha! bit late for that!) Mocha down my dress on my way to work. But it was good to get the 3 bad things out of the way before 9:30am as it meant the day could only get better.

And get better it did! I was extremely lucky and got taken out to lunch at The Wolseley in Piccadilly.

The Wolseley had been on my wish list of restaurants since The Wig bought a book about it last year. It was built in the 1920’s as a Car Show room for Wolseley cars, but unfortunately was not very successful. Barclay’s bank acquired the building in 1927 when the car company went bankrupt and up until 1999 it was used as a branch of Barclays. Then it was sold again and became the restaurant that it is today.

Amazingly it’s pretty much unchanged since it was built and its like stepping back in time to the olden art deco days.  It retains many original features like the flooring and light fittings and even a specially commissioned post box and stamp machine that was designed by the architect William Curtis Green. It’s a beautiful building and the food was amazing. I had a white bait starter followed by the most amazing fillet steak I have ever eaten. Unfortunately I was a bit too full for pudding but the desserts looked delicious too and by the time we left the restaurant it was filling up with people having afternoon tea. The staff were also exceptional, having different staff for taking the order, bringing the food, clearing the table, they even had a special condiments waiter!  If it all goes tits up in advertising I think that would be my ideal job.

It was a real treat and I had a lovely time despite my getting told off for taking photographs and all of us getting told off in the bar after lunch for singing the Wham Rap. I blame the gin and tonics, Chablis, dessert wine and Champagne cocktails. Did someone say binge drinkers? The Wolseley is a really amazing place and I am going to give it 10 flappers out of a possible 10. Anywhere that puts a hairnet on a lemon to catch the pips when you squeeze it gets top marks in my book.

In other news I noticed that Satsuma on Wardour Street has closed down. Probably due to my scathing review about it a couple of months ago. Who knew The March Hare had such a powerful influence. Crap restaurants of the world, beware.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

June 15th

Tomorrow has become one of two days of the year that I dread immeasurably. June 15th and October 20th. My Dad's birthday and the date he passed away. I know its coming but still 5 years on, it feels no easier to deal with even though each year I hope it will. The birthday is a hard one since it always falls around the time of Fathers Day. Clinton Cards/Paperchase/Scribbler/WHSmith's everywhere you bloody well look!

I had a very complicated relationship with my dad, one where I never really knew from one day to the next where I stood with him. At times he was hilarious, caring and thoughtful but at other times he was not. For a long time I blamed his inconsistency on the stars (he was a Gemini, the twins, split personality) but maybe I just rubbed him up the wrong way sometimes. Even now though, I tend to be very wary of Gemini's and try to steer clear of them as much as possible.

Just because you are related to somebody doesn't mean you are destined to get along, which was a real tragedy for both of us. I know that I am not the same person that I was when he was alive because of everything I went through when he died. And I don't know if he would have liked this me any better than the other me but as time passes my good memories of him far outweigh the difficult ones. You can't change the past so it does no good to look back and wish things were different. Unless you are Marty McFly, it ain't gonna happen I'm afraid. So even though I still miss him like crazy I will try not to get too sad tomorrow and even though he is gone, he is most definitely not forgotten.

My dad on the left with his brother Tom, possibly around the time they were evacuated during WWII.

At school.

Taken around the time he was doing his National Service I think.

On a date with a girl that, despite her slightly eggy pose, probably would have been a lot less hassle for my dad had he married her rather than my mother.


Sunday, 12 June 2011

Ploughmans and poppies

Big (sarcastic) thanks to the moron who smashed our car window last night in order to steal The Wig's pac-a-mac from the back seat. We will have our revenge if you wear it next time it rains as you will realise that although it is a fancy make its not in the least bit waterproof. Its a fashion pac-a-mac so completely useless in wet weather. Ha! The jokes on you moron!

Regardless of this crummy start to the day today, we did have a lovely day out yesterday in the car, prior to its traumatic assault. The Wig did some research and discovered an antique centre that I'd never heard of in Herfordshire. So, we packed up our 6 CD set of 101 Power Ballard's and drove out to Sawbridgeworth. After a significantly longer time that the iPhone had predicted we reached our destination which is a a very small village in Hertfordshire. Parts of it are a bit run down, but other parts are very pretty, for example, I think this could be my dream house.

Before we tackled the antique centre we thought we would have a spot of lunch, so after quizzing a few locals we went to The Queens head pub in the centre of the village. However, we were slightly terrified when our poughmans arrived. It was the largest I have EVER seen. Completely over the top  (a whole apple, half a beefsteak tomato, 3 different cheeses, half a pig of ham, immense pickled onion, a whole baguette). I'm not sure I'll ever recover. Just for the record, I did not even get close to eating it all. I'm sure this wont be the last ploughmans of the year but it will definitely be the most ridiculous.

By the time we waddled back to the antiques we only had 2 hours before it closed but this was just enough time to sniff out a few treasures. This antique place is more about smaller items than furniture so if its furniture you are after down bother, but for curios, kitchenware and ornaments its pretty good.

We could have bought more than we did but were quite restrained since we have zero space left at home until we move. However, we did come back with an Edwardian Letter box and a little silver French pot with a poppies on. Poppies have nice memories for me of my dad. When I was little he took some photos of me in a field of poppies and won (2nd place) in a Kodak Photography competition. When I was older I would look out for cards with poppies on to send him and he would do the same, sometimes including new photos of poppy fields that he had seen. So the new Poppy pot, which the lady who sold to me thought might have belonged to a maid and would have hung from a chain on her skirt, now belongs to me and I shall wear it as a necklace and think of my dad. Nice.

A ripper of a night out

The work to life balance has been a bit unbalanced lately hence I have been struggling to write much over the last few weeks. With this in mind, The Wig and I have booked a holiday to Turkey so that we can have a nice relax in the sun. I think one of the bonuses of being freelance is that you can have more control over things like holidays but it is very difficult, particularly when you are enjoying where you are working, to take a break. But I have found during the last couple of weeks that my tolerance levels have decreased so I know that I should take some time off if I want to have any friends left by the end of the month.

Even though work has been pretty full on (I've also had to turn down 3 freelance job's this month which has done wonders for my self esteem), I have still managed to squeeze in a few nice dinners under the disguise of 'client entertaining'...

First up is Cafe Boheme on Old Compton Street, or Old Condom Street as a gay friend once called it.

Cafe Boheme is a French Restaurant, which I thought was an unusual choice to take some Americans we were working with on their first night out in London. I thought they would much prefer going to a Traditional English restaurant such as a Berni Inn or The Little Chef in Ripley but sadly those suggestions were not convenient or even acknowledged. Anyway, it was a very pleasant evening although the food was not great. My starter of scallops presented on a puree of pea and broad bean was quite tasty but the main course of fish cakes were a real let down. They were so dry that I couldn't eat them, which is unheard of for such a gastronome / greedy pig as moi. It was also very dark (none of my photos really came out) and the music was very loud which was quite a distraction when you are trying to schmooze clients with suave, wit and wisdom. Therefore, I would rate Cafe Boheme 5 onions out of a possible 10 and suggest that if its French food you are after, try Cafe Rouge.

The second 'client dinner' on the Americans last night in London, was however much more successful (and my idea...). We started off our evening walking past the Spittalfields goat (still no idea why its there) with a swift lubricator in The Ten Bells on Commercial Street, EC1.

I love this pub, not only because its old and I love all old things, but because of its association with Jack The Ripper. I obviously don't love Jack the Ripper (that would be extremely odd) but I do love history and particularly creepy history. Apparently it was at this pub that The Ripper's victims used to drink so it is a widely held belief that this is the pub where he met them and lured them off down dark alleys. CREEPY!

Anyway, its recently had a bit of a refurb whereby the bar has been moved from the back wall to the centre of the pub which makes getting a drink, much easier than it used to be. Even though, its had a little revamp they have kept all the old fittings which is part of what makes this pub special. Definitely worth a sniff if you are in the area.

After a drink, we then headed over the road to The Luxe, which I was very excited about. Firstly, I was excited because I've never been before and I like trying out new places, but more importantly, its because  John Torode from Masterchef owns it and I have a huge crush on him. The enormity of my crush on  him far exceeds the crush I used to have on Anthony Worrell-Thomson.

Our table was on the 1st floor restaurant opposite the open kitchen which always reassures me that the food is going to be good. There's no where for the chefs to hide and if anything gets dropped on the floor you know it wont end up on your plate. Not only was the food delicious (salt and pepper squid followed by a fillet steak) the decor is very good too. Its a sort of mixture of loft apartment and grannies boudoir. Lots of exposed bricks but also a smattering of stuffed hummingbirds and embroidered wallpaper. Seriously, embroidered wallpaper, what attention to detail! I bet that was John Torodes idea.

The other bonus of the night was seeing this bag, up close.

Its an Alexander McQueen clutch bag which costs £1500.00. Obviously it wasn't mine but belonged to someone at the dinner who had bought it for his wife. Lucky wife!

So my night at The Luxe was great. Super food, patient staff, excellent company and the chance to see up close the most amazing and impractical bag I've ever seen. The Luxe also has a bar downstairs which opens late but sadly I am not permitted to reveal the events that took place down there. I would highly recommend The Luxe and score it 9 embroidered birds out of 10.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Sussex Road Trip

The Wig and I had a most excellent road trip adventure last weekend but due to me being on my third shoot in 3 weeks, I have not had time to write about it. Who knew retirement would be so damn hectic!

So here, in a nutshell is our trip from last weekend, a Sussex adventure is highly recommended!

Little Chef at Ripley Services

No road trip is complete without a pit stop, and this was no exception. We were lucky enough to stumble across one of Heston Blumenthal's newly refurbished Little Chef's and what a treat it was. A clean restaurant, friendly staff and a delightful ceiling. Bravo Heston!


Petworth is a small chocolate box looking village, well known for its antique shops. Unfortunately for my small purse the antique shops here were slightly out of our price range but definitely worth a sniff around none the less. What was most extraordinary about visiting this tiny village is that someone I know spotted me whilst they were driving though on their way to Brighton. Small world.

Petworth House + Gardens

Probably the happiest moment of my life. I joined the National Trust here, and got the car sticker! Yippeee! Oh happy day! 

Petworth House is a huge stately home set amongst 700 acres of parkland with deers trotting around. The house is stunning and has one of the largest collections of artworks around. Paintings, sculptures, carvings, bee's, amazing. There was loads to see, so much so that it closed before we had seen everything. A definite must for stately homes enthusiasts.


Would not recommend staying in Midhurst for the night. Nothing really to see or do and we stayed in a very over priced hotel which suffered the wrath of The March Hare on check out on its 'Customer Feedback' form. Rip off. Midhurst's only redeeming feature was a tiny junk shop where we purchased an old dressing table mirror for £10 and a spirit level for £6.50. Essential items for all road trip's.


As you can see from the pictures, another fine, sunny day . . . , Chichester is a fairly big town with a beautiful cathedral and a rather good boot fair! Sadly I didn't find anything to purchase but The Wig bought a lovely old wooden box for £9.

Bartholemew's Barn, Nr Fittelworth - Matt + Nat's wedding.

The catalyst for the roadtrip, my dear friend Natalie's wedding to Matt. They had a blessing in the woods with a reception and barn dancing in a barn. It was such a great day, it didn't rain, and my friend has never looked happier than she looked on this day. It was a privilege to be invited to this wedding and I wish them both much love for the future. Ahh, young love, it fair warms the heart. I think I have something in  my eye . . . is someone chopping onions....? sniff . . . 

The Swan, Fittleworth

Super little hotel with a great post wedding breakfast. Thank god for fry ups.


One last area before our return to Londinium, we stopped off at Arundel for a quick sniff around. Unfortunately there was an enormous queue to get into the castle but luckily we found some nice antique shops to mooch around instead. There was loads of stuff I wanted to buy however, I remembered I live in a one bedroom flat, not Petworth House, so only brought back an old coat hook for £12. All in all though, a super 3 days with The Wig and Auntie Ignis. It was a shame it wasn't sunny but at least it didn't rain.