Sunday, 28 August 2011

Let the (Wedding) hoarding commence!

If I can teach you anything at all about the world based on my experience of life so far, it would be not to go to Brighton on a Bank Holiday weekend. To say it was hectic would be so much of an underestimation it would be a blatant lie. I don't know why we thought we would be the only people with the idea of seaside visit, but we soon realised our mistake as we boarded the train at London Bridge.

Nevertheless the day was salvaged slightly by the following things:

1. Whilst following The Wig around one of many record shops, I picked up a new CD. It was playing in the shop and sounded so awesome, that despite the fact I am trying to only spend money on things wedding related or 'old stuff', I bought the album. Mojo + Q both gave it five stars which is good enough for me. I think Beirut have been around for a while but I'd never heard of them before and I'm pretty sure some of their songs will now be making it onto the Wedding playslist. The music is a bit Mumford and Sonsy but the lead singer has a much nicer / better voice in my opinion. I'm crap at reviewing music and films, I just know what I like and I jolly well like this new album, I've listened to it 5 times already. The March hare scores it a high 9 accordians out of a possible 10.

2. The (kind and generous) Wig bought me a ring from a jewellery shop down one of the lanes. We saw it in the window of Silverado and it is a HARE! I tried it on and it was a perfect fit so it seemed mean to leave it in the window when it could come home with me to Hackney. It's made by a company called Zoe + Morgan and they have some really lovely pieces on their website, all very reasonably priced (particularly if someone buys you one of their items as a gift...).

3. The hoarding is well and truly underway for the wedding. One of the reasons I like going to Brighton for a day trip is that there are loads of antique/second hand/ bric-a-brac places to get stuck into. The best place of all is a huge shop filled to the brim with 'old stuff' called 'Snoopers Paradise'. If there was ever a prize for the most perfect description of a shop this would win. It would even beat 'Poundland'. Its AMAZING. Well, usually its amazing. When I've been in the past I've always returned home laden with booty I didn't know I needed, but the problem I currently have, is that I am looking for specific things for the wedding rather just 'any old shit' as my friend called it. To be precise I'm on the hunt for glass cake stands, Beswick Planters and old cake toppers.  However, I only found one small glass stand yesterday (£8) which I was very disappointed about, although The Wig was very relieved since I'd already bought 2 glass stands this week from Liberty's. God knows what our poor one bedroom flat is going to look like by the time the actual wedding occurs. It will most probably resemble a cross between Granny's boudoir and an Undertakers Florist's from the 1950's. Poor Wig.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Broken hearts and whole hearts

The week started with a trip to the Museum of Broken Relationships. This is a little exhibition spread across 2 venues in Covent Garden with an entry fee of £3.50. When my friend suggested we go, I was a little wary to be quite frank, since I thought it was going to be a sad way to spend a few hours. My fears were not particularly put aside when the chap selling the tickets remarked that we might need a break between the venues since its rather upsetting... However, apart from the obvious (it's an exhibition about people's broken relationships) there were also some quite funny elements to it to and I do recommend a little sniff around if you are in the area and at a loose end.

The exhibition contains items that people were given in relationships that have since broken down. You know what its like, you hold on to bits of old tat that some ex gave you and you don't know what to do with it. Well these people had the same problem until this exhibition popped up and gave the tat a new home. Each item is accompanied by a little story detailing the history behind it, some are funny stories but some are really sad. To name a few of the  artifacts donated, there is a 'His' hand towel (the 'Her' hand towel disappeared when the girlfriend moved out), a pair of white shoes (the male owner was given them by his ex and one plus side of the relationship break up is that he doesn't have to wear the white shoes again. He doesn't like white shoes), a small plastic bottle containing tears (REALLY sad) and then there was this:

The curator was right. We couldn't handle the two venues in one go.

But although the week started on a slight sad not, it has got happier and happier as the days have gone by. The day after the museum visit, The Wig and I sat down and designed our Wedding 'Branding', or Save The Date cards and Invites if you prefer. This is really exciting and I wish I could post a picture of it but I fear I may be peaking too soon. Without giving too much away (I hope) the design is based on a Victorian Valentines postcard I picked up at an Antiques place and a postcard that we picked up in Skiathos the day we got engaged at St Nicolas Church. Here is the church, oh happy days...:

But even more exciting than that, we have picked our venue! So we now have a venue and a date! Well almost. When we pay the deposit next week we'll have a venue and a date but its pretty much sorted. And I am literally over the moon about it. Again, I would love to post some pictures of it but think I may keep it as a bit of a surprise for the time being. I can honestly say, the way I feel at the moment is the happiest I have ever been in my life. I think I have spent most of my life walking on egg shells waiting for the next bad thing to happen but now I know (unless The Wig jilts me) that in a years time, something amazing WILL be happening and it will be something that we can share with with all the people who we love and who have supported The Wig and I throughout our lives.

I never imagined getting married as I think when you come from a family where your parents have a disastrous marriage it taints your view on the subject. Also, it always seemed like a huge expense to me but now I am down the road of cake toppers and button holes I am so looking forward to our wedding and our lives together that it makes me god damn well up just writing about it! 

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Under a Microscope.

There are some really great looking train stations in and around London, you just might have to go to the arse end of nowhere to see them. Yesterday I had to go to Uxbridge which felt like a long way away from anywhere, but I was rewarded at my destination by some stunning 30's architecture and design.

The station was opened in 1938 and has a rather beautiful stained glass window at the entrance and two "winged wheel" sculptures above the doorway. The rest of Uxbridge didn't look too good to be honest, but I wasn't there to have a good time. I went to do a 'camera test' for a job we are pitching on at work.  A camera test which involved filming an eye. Unfortunately due to the nature of the project I had to be the poor victim that the camera got tested on. I now completely understand why TV presenters and Actors alike were up in arms when HD cameras and TV's came out. It produces the most unforgiving images I have ever seen of myself. Being very short sighted, life is always viewed by me in a lovely flattering blur. With HD, however, the detail is terrifying. Every wrinkle, stray eyebrow, wonky eyelash, presented on screen in hideous high definition. Basically, the entire experience was excruciating, much worse than having a root canal or a Primary School Physical Examination.  My 36 year old chops, under what is effectively a very strong microscope is not what the world needs to see. How anyone wants to marry it (ie me) is something I don't think I'll ever fully understand after what I saw yesterday. We hadn't thought about a gift list for the Wedding but maybe if anyone did want to get us anything we could ask for plastic surgery vouchers.

Subsequently, after a rather unpleasant day at work I thought it would be a good idea to go to the Curzon Cinema and watch a documentary about Animal Cruelty...

'Project Nim' is a fascinating documentary by the chaps who made the amazing 'Man on a Wire'. The film is about an American chimp from the 70's who was brought up by humans in order to 'humanise' him and teach him how to use sign language. At times its funny but mostly its disturbing and gets progressively harder to watch as it plays out. There were definitely a few members of the audience shedding the odd tear while we were watching it. I'm sure there a few people in the film who wont be pleased with the way they are portrayed in it but then they have to take responsibility for their part in a very odd 'scientific' experiment. 'Project Nim' is hard to watch at times but its still a very fascinating documentary and I would rate it 9 bananas out of a possible 10. Maybe not one to take a first date to see.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

"Don't sweat the small stuff" Richard Carlson

I know that I am guilty of worrying about the minutiae a lot of the time, and sweating the small stuff. I believe that some people would refer me to me as 'anal'. But I'm not particularly keen on that phrase. Generally worrying about minor details is not conducive to a having a nice day, however I have discovered lately, that thinking about small details where a Wedding is concerned is BRILLIANT and makes for a very happy day indeed.

Despite so far, only having put down the deposit for my dress and having nothing else sorted for the wedding, I am really enjoying thinking about all the small details that I'd love to have on the day. Also despite the fact that we will (probably) be designing and making our own stationary, I got in touch with the guys at Austin Press about their beautiful Letterpress Designs. Some people are just too creative.

Yesterday I  also ordered a few things from the States via BHLDN yesterday, my new favorite website which is the Wedding Department of Anthropologie. It has some beautiful dresses, accessories and lots of interesting items for general chucking around the place (table numbers, vases, decorations etc etc). I absolutely could have gone bonkers ordering things from here but I am  having to be very mindful of the cash situation since my pathetic wedding budget projection doubled last week when I received some venue quotes.

Without giving too much away, one of the things I ordered was this biodegradable confetti. I had no idea how much I needed this small thing until I saw it.

Talking of small things, on Saturday night I ate the smallest scallops I've ever seen. Reflecting on them now, I'm not even sure that they were scallops. They could have been fishy broad beans for all I know. They certainly looked like fishy broad beans. The Wig, our two friend's and I visited a BYO 'Pop Up' restaurant in Chapel Market, Islington. I have read a lot about things popping up lately, bars, shops and restaurants but had never been to one. Also, I wasnt really sure what one was, until Saturday.

The 'pop up' restaurant we went to is called Bonnie + The Wild and it is based in a Grade II listed building that houses a Traditional Pie + Mash shop (M. Manze). The Pie and Mash shop is closed on Friday and Saturday nights so Bonnie + The Wild move in and use the premises. What a great idea! Bonnie + The Wild refer to them selves as a 'part time restaurant rather than a pop up' but I think they are just splitting hairs.

The setting was great, although the seats were a bit hard and narrow for my wide arse, and the company was excellent, the only thing that was a little disappointing was the food unfortunately. It cost £29 for 3 courses which would have been good value had the portions not been so mingey.

For starters we shared Crab on Toast (too much toast, not enough crab) and Wood Pigeon and Black Pudding on Rocket. The pigeon was delicious and probably the best option from the entire menu. The mains were a Gurnard with Scallops (I've seen bigger Guppies than the Gurnard and the Scallops, don't get me started on those) and Venison. Sides were £3.50 each and we shared Chunky Chips (rather pale and not chunky enough according to one of our party) and Courgette slices (fine).  Finally, the third course was very inconsistent. on the one hand the Chocolate Tart  with Raspberry Coulis was huge but on the other hand, the cheese board was almost invisible. I've seen bigger cheese portions on a Chiropadist's foot file. (Rather annoyingly it was too dark to take any photos of the food but I did manage to get a snap of the complimentary bread and oil).

In conclusion, it was a great night with great company, the venue was great, the staff were great but the food was a slight let down. Its definitely worth a visit, although you will probably need to book fairly far in advance and I am going to score Bonnie + The Wild 7 broad beans out of a possible 10.

Finally, as we were leaving Islington to go home we spotted this awesome car in the car park.  I'm not really into cars and I loathe Top Gear with a passion but even I can appreciate this is a pretty special set of wheels. I would love to know who it belonged to.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Enrique the confused Goldfish

On Sunday, The Wig and I took a little trip out to deepest Essex to see my little brother, my sister in law and my two tiny neices. We also met the newest addition to their family, Enrique. A boy goldfish who lives in a pink bowl with pink stones, named after Enrique Iglesias. He looks a bit confused and who can  blame him.

You can be my hero Enrique...

Even more exciting than meeting a goldfish who has been named by a 3 year old after a Latin Love God, is the fact that Betty the Banana Baby, born 6 weeks early on Christmas Eve, is on the move! She is desperately trying to crawl which consists of a lot of rolling around on the carpet but it's so amazing! Go Betty Go! Only around 12 months before you'll be accompanying me up the aisle as my flower girl so there's still time to get some rolling practice in.

Go Betty! 

Betty and big sister Harriet.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

From Cocktails to a Cemetery.

Thursday night, I went for some work drinks at Floridita on Wardour Street, W1. This used to be Mezzo which was a pretty well known and popular restaurant + bar when I first started working in Soho 15 years ago. I had never been there so was pretty excited to be going there in its new reincarnation as a 'Latin Inspired Supper Club'.

Its a huge place with a big bar area upstairs and then another bar and stage downstairs. On Thursday nights they have live music in the front part of the street level bar, which I wasn't sure about at first but was actually really good. It was an acoustic set of mostly pop songs, sort of a bit Nouvelle Vague-ish. A lot of the reviews I had seen on the web about Floridita had said that the drinks were expensive but I don't think they are more pricey than any other cocktail bars in London. Average prices for a drink are £8/£9 however if you get there before 7pm I think they cost about £6. So if you are going to go, get there before 7pm. Or go with people from work and hope that they will pay.

Yesterday I enjoyed one of the perks of being Freelance and had a day off. It felt a bit like bunking but I suppose that a feeling I'll get used to eventually. The Wig decided to work from home so after I spent a few hours in the garden lobbing things down and getting thorns stuck in my arms, we went to Stoke Newington for lunch. 

I lived in Stoke Newington when I first moved to London when I was 21 and then again when I was 25 when my first love dumped me for the bright lights of Sydney. I'd never heard of it before I moved there the first time and thought it sounded like somewhere up North (think that must be the 'Stoke' part), but its  just up the road from where I live now. It's quite a 'groovy' type of place, and has a bit of a reputation of being a great place to live if you like pulses, brown rice and lesbians. It has much more going for it now  than 15 years ago but its still a little bit dodgy for public transport.

The main appeal of Stoke Newington is one street, Church Street. This is the road with all the cafes, florists, independent shops and restaurants. It's nice for a few hours and a mooch but take some cash with you as its now a pretty pricey/over priced street. A few hours there will definitely end up costing you a lot more than a few 'work' cocktails at Floridita.

The Blue Legume cafe, specialising in healthy mediterranean style food. This has been here for years and I still don't know what a legume is. I think it must be a vegetable. I came here once when I was very hungover and was sick in their toilet. Sorry Legume.

Meat N16, lovely looking independent Butchers. We didn't buy anything this time but most likely will be back to pick up some meaty products soon.

Ribbons & Taylor, vintage clothing and accessories shop.

Tiny Independent record and book shop.

The Anglo Asian restaurant. This was the first Indian Restaurant I'd ever been to and a regular haunt with my college chums when we moved up to London. Many a Chicken Korma has been consumed by me within these walls and they used to give the ladies a red rose when you left. Smooth.

Whole Foods. Overpriced health food shop, part of a chain. A fiver for some muesli? Ha ha ha! 
Forget it.

The Parlour. One of many delis. Had a delicious looking Lasagna in the window which I dreamed about last night.

The Tea Rooms, big tea shop selling afternoon tea and cakes alongside vintage tea and coffee crockery. Was completely empty but it seems to have good reviews.

Flowers N16. One of several Independent Florists in a lovely building.

Homage, interiors shop selling predominantly wooden items. They had a few nice bits but nothing amazing, also the chap in the shop was either having a really bad day or could do with a lesson in customer liason skills.

Hub Clotheswear. Expensive clothes for people with too much money who like dressing like they work in Muji.

Fancy pants Nando's. I am in shock about this. Firstly, check out the chandeliers, secondly, my dear old Church Street has a Nandos? Amazing.

Abney Park Cemetery. Famous Cemetery and Nature Reserve, popular with Photography Students and low budget film makers.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Not so Super 8

If you might be going to see 'Super 8' at the cinema anytime soon you might want to look away. I'm about to write an honest, from the heart review after watching it last night at the Rich Mix in Bethnal Green.

After waiting ages for a ticket (they are definitely going to get marked down a point for this), The Wig and I went to our seats in an almost empty screen. 'Lovely', I thought. That was until two skinny jeaned, Ronnie Corbett glasses wearing, grey faced, roll up and beer smelling 'chap's sat directly behind me and preceded to kick the back of my chair pretty much all the way through the damn film. No amount of loud tutting and stink eye could deter these two irritants. Some people are plain annoying.

Anyway, the film itself I'm sad to say was also rather annoying. I really enjoyed the first half an hour or so but then it became totally ridiculous. I'd read a few reviews and a few people had said to me "Ooh, its great! You'll love it!  It's like a Spielberg film from when you were a kid". Well I'm afraid I have to disagree and I'm not sure if its because its not like a Spielberg film from when I was a kid or whether its because I am not a kid anymore but a cynical old adult.

My issues were thus:

1. The train crash: Went on for far too long. How many carriages were there exactly . . . ?
2. The Kids: Apart from the main boy and girl, the others were complete strereotypes. (ie tubby one, lippy one, wimpy one...).
3. The first scene: If it was one day since the last factory accident, how could the mum's funeral be so soon?
4. The locket: It was a round shape all the way through the film then at the end when it got sucked onto the spaceship it was an oval/egg shape.
5. Alien: The worst thing of the whole film! Far too scary and it looked like a massive spider made of licorice sticks. Just too unbelievable. How could it have dug that big hole all by itself? And why did he not eat the hero little boy towards the end? The thing with ET was that it could actually happen! There really could be a small, brown, long fingered, midget man wandering around the garden.
6. The best thing about it: The hot dad. The Policeman not the love child of Dennis Leary/Gerard Depardieu.

So unfortunately, I can only give 'Super 8'  5 shape shifters out of a possible 10. I'd wait till it comes out on video if I were you.

Sadly the night did not improve after we left the cinema. We popped into the Albion on Redchurch Street for a spot of dinner and my prawns all had poo lines in them which pretty much summed up the evening.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Kitten Loot

Apart from the constant stream of sirens along the road all night and the hovering of helicopters overhead, it was a pretty quiet night in Hackney Town. The sun even shone, which made going home slightly less daunting that's for sure.

The most worrying event of the evening seemed to be that the looting atmosphere rubbed off onto me. And I am ashamed to confess that I tried to loot a kitten last night. Or Kitnap it if you prefer. What is more peculiar than the fact that I, completely out of character I might add, tried to steal something, the thing is, I don't even like cats. Or kittens. I find them far too scratchy, arrogant, and generally not very nice. However, there was definitely something in the air which is my only explanation for my actions.

The Wig and I were sitting in the garden, sharing a Magners and putting the world to rights, when from out of the vegetable patch, a small fluffy kitten emerged. Normally when a cat appears in the garden we shoo it away to prevent it crapping on our courgettes, but this kitten was mesmerizing. It jumped about all over the place even jumping onto The Wigs shoulder like some sort of hairy parrott. It was VERY cute and I've never said that about a cat before. Ever. And then I thought, if everyone else is stealing things that doesn't belong to them, whey can't I? And it didn't have a collar on, so maybe it didn't belong to anyone anyway. . .?

So last night while the rioting and looting continued up and down the country, I attempted to loot a Kitten from the garden with a tin of John West sardines in tomato sauce. I managed to lure it to the bottom of the stairs, which took quite some time and considerable patience, but then it hopped off into the neigbours hydrangea. TEASE! This just proves my point. Cats are bad news.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

The Stick

We have a stick at home which we cut down from a tree in the garden 2 summers ago. It looks a bit like the rabbit from Donnie Darko and is imaginatively called 'The Stick'. We keep it behind the kitchen door and it's supposed to be used in times of dispute. For example, if the Wig and I were to have an argument, whoever needed to talk could only do so if they were holding the stick, like the Conch Shell in The Lord of the Flies. Luckily we have never required the services of the stick. Until last night when we slept with it next to the bed.

Being afraid to be at home is not a pleasant experience but sadly it is how I felt last night. I have never been violent ever, but I'm sorry to say that had anyone tried to smash into my flat last night I definitely would have used the stick. There was a lot of trouble at the end of our road, we can see the Pembury Estate from the front door and I had no idea what to expect when I got home.

After leaving work I was bombarded with texts and facebook messages by friends who had been watching the chaos live on the telly. Until I saw the footage myself I couldn't understand the concern but as I saw the repeats later on the news when I eventually got home I realised why there were worried. Vehicles set alight, looting, violent aggressive moronic gangs of people, all rampaging in the area I call home. I find it hard to express how I feel at the moment as I find it hard to talk about things I can't comprehend. And I just can't comprehend what is going on at the moment. I also have no idea how the Police/Government/Army/Whoever are going to straighten things out anytime soon. Life is shit sometimes, but a stolen pair of Reebok Classics and a Curry's plasma screen isn't the answer. Come and have a go if you want but mark my words, you'll get a gnarly old stick in the chops if you come anywhere near me.