On the Radar: October

‘Time, time, time, see what’s become of me…’ Well it might not be a ‘hazy shade of winter’ yet but we’re getting there. Look around, leaves are definitely brown. How can it be October? Well it is and October is my birthday month, so I will celebrate being one year older. I may be the wrong side of (ahem) forty but I’m not done with celebrating just yet.


  • This is kind of cheating as it’s something we’ve done already, but we had lunch at Chicken Shop in Tooting on Saturday (there a few Chicken Shops dotted around London). Yes the chicken was yummy, but the apple pie was off the scale. I’m now on the hunt for the perfect pie recipe. I’m going to make the perfect pie if it kills me. In my new kitchen, of course.
  • Speaking of the kitchen (sorry, can’t help it) I am loving the new pantry system Ikea are bringing out. When will it be available in the UK though?
  • I fancy doing brunch as part of my birthday celebrations. There’s a pretty good selection of brunches here. But I like the look of this new place in Notting Hill or Salon, just down the road from me in Brixton always showcases some tasty looking offerings on Instagram.
  • It’s Halloween! After doing it big style in New York last year, we’re hoping to get our spook on here at home. Buzzfeed have kindly done a round up of the best scary ‘treats’  on the internet. Number 5. Bleeeeeurghhhhh.
  • Speaking of scary things, The Walking Dead is back on October 12th. I love The Walking Dead. Zombies and Egg from This Life. Who knew he was so bad ass?

So where will you be kicking up some leaves this October?

London Open House 2015

This blog is becoming a little interiors obsessed at the minute. Probably because I’m becoming a little interiors obsessed. I even dreamt about kitchens the other night. It was a happy dream. Everything turned out OK in the end. I do believe that your surroundings have an effect on your inner psyche. I’m not a naturally tidy person (it’s a been a lifelong struggle) but I do feel calmer, more capable and generally happier if my surroundings are ordered. I just have to remind myself of this quite often. (See my last post for an idea of how the chaos of building work is effecting me at the moment: it’s stressful!)

Anyway, we did our annual pilgrimage to architecture and beautifully put together interiors this weekend. It was London Open House weekend. I’m going to share my two favourites as I was simply blown away by them (the first one in particular). Pear Tree House is basically my dream property; mixing concrete, wood and glass to create the most gorgeous residence.

The house is on the site of an old orchard in East Dulwich, surrounded by Victorian terraces. Apparently when the Victorian houses were originally built it was common for market gardens to be grown intermittently between the properties to supply the residents. I rather like this idea. However this orchard had been abandoned and the site was littered with construction rubbish. One tree was salvaged and remains in the middle of the courtyard.

Pear Tree House

The two parts of the house were connected by a glass walkway where the sun streamed in on a sunny day.

walkwayThe interior had a modernist feel to it; the main materials used being concrete, timber with flashes of gold aluminium. It was spacious and light-filled. I loved the sunken seating in the lounge area. In fact, the built in seating throughout the whole property is giving me food for thought. (I’m hoping to have some in my new kitchen.) Speaking of kitchens, look at this one. Wow.

Pear Tree House kitchen

Pear Tree House kitchen IIPear Tree seatingThere was copper detailing throughout and the piece-de-la-resistance was a chandelier that hung on the double height landing.

Pear Tree chandelier

I covet the office (oak veneer was used throughout). Who am I kidding? I covet the whole house. I will definitely be calling on Edgley Design to be my architects if I ever come into oodles of cash so I can afford to build my own house.

Pear Tree studyThe second property, located in Peckham, is an entirely different beast, but impressive nonetheless. The plot was much, much smaller. This brought its own problems which the architects (who also lived there) had used innovative solutions. The plot had once been used as a garage and storage but had become derelict in recent years.

Asylum Road

The corridor was long and thin and had a child’s bedroom off it. There was a large green sliding door. (I’m hoping to have a green sliding door in my kitchen and this was the perfect colour). At the back, there was enough room for a spacious double height living, cooking, dining space with a mezzanine floor. Make yourself at home, Fred. (This blogpost should be subtitled ‘Fred reading in architect designed homes’).

Asylum Road2

Asylum kitchen 2

Asylum green doorAgain copper detailing was in full force. Obviously architects love a bit of copper. I rather liked these perforated copper lampshades.

Asylum lightI also liked the desk which had been made out of a plank of wood. The office was on the mezzanine and was flooded with light.

Asylum officeThe courtyard garden was tiny, but I loved what they had done with it. Our garden is pretty shady so I was looking for inspiration. Love these ‘holes’ full of succulents.
Asylum garden 2So another year, another Open House. I do love a snoop around a beautifully designed home.

Where I’m at

I had big plans for September, it being the month of new starts and everything. I was going to post some pretty pictures of stationery and tell you all how organised I was planning to be. Ha! And ha again. Things have not quite panned out like that.

The building work on my new kitchen has finally begun. Of course this is exciting. How could it not be? But I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to a certain amount of anxiety too. It’s expensive. There’s a massive fucking hole in my house, currently propped up by giant metal poles (what if my house falls down? And my neighbours’ houses too? Argh! It doesn’t help that one of my elderly neighbours does seem to believe that this is genuinely going to happen. I have to reassure them that no, of course the loud banging won’t bring about the total collapse of all our (terraced) houses whilst silently screaming inside…and no, I’m not usually prone to anxiety.)

And the mess! Thankfully as we are converting our ground floor into a kitchen, we can use our current kitchen which is located on the first floor. So the building work is confined to the ground floor and we can continue to function fairly normally. But how much crap did we have downstairs? (Clue: quite a lot.) We’ve managed to rid ourselves of some of it. But I still seem to be surrounded by piles of stuff. Everywhere. This book is quietly calling to me. I need it. (Although once the build is finished. I can’t face making more mess whilst it’s going on.)

So plans of organisation, frequent blogging and general ‘getting my shit together’ have not materialised. If my house does remain in one piece, and I get to have my own little office too (squeal), there are going to be some changes round here. Obviously if my house does fall down, I’ll have bigger things on my mind than this blog. So that is where I am at.

Just so you get an idea of the space, I’m going to share a couple of ‘before’ pics with you.

Our house was built in the sixties, it’s a ‘townhouse’ and was built with a garage, a utility room and a bedroom on the ground floor. Times have changed and things like garages are no longer prized (well certainly not in London where space is at a premium). We have a parking space in front of our house anyway, so the garage had to go. We live on the Dulwich Estate; an archaic organisation which tells you what you can and can’t do on your own house (and takes money from you too…don’t get me started). So we’re not allowed to change the front of the house. We can change the back (with their permission after paying them a fee.)

In the picture below, a wall has already been knocked down. This was the ‘bedroom’ aka room full of crap and the utility. There is now a massive hole where these doors once were (there’s going to be a big sliding door).

kitchenbefore 3

And this is the other view; facing the garage door (which we can’t change). Big plans here. Watch this space.

kitchenbefore2I couldn’t leave your brains tainted with all this ugliness so here’s a picture from Bert and May. I have bought some of these tiles to incorporate into my kitchen design. But I keep changing my mind. They’ll be in there somewhere.

Bert and May


Kitchen Wishlist: Neon Light

In the world of interior design, neon seems to be having a moment. The Grind chain of coffee shops in London has a neon sign in each of its cafes. This is Holborn Grind, channeling a bit of Roxy Music. Love is the drug, indeed.

Paul Winch-Furness / Photographer

Getting a neon light is a bit like getting a tattoo; you have to be very sure that you like the design because it’s not something you can change easily. Of course disliking your neon creation, doesn’t end with expensive and painful laser treatment, but these things are not cheap. The pain would be purely financial. Ouch.

I do love a neon light. However I’m still unsure if a) I can afford such a frippery b) there’s a word or design I can live with until the end of days. Here are a few I’ve been toying with.

If I could afford it, I’d just get myself a Tracey Emin. She’s the queen of enigmatic statements lit up in neon lights.

Tracy emin

But my funds don’t stretch that far. Instead I will have to come up with something enigmatic myself..J Crew on Regent Street have a ‘Brilliant’ neon sign behind the cash register. Geddit? I like the play on words here. I also like that ‘brilliant’ is a very British word for something being good.

Brilliant neonThis would need to be commissioned and I have no idea how much it would cost.

I found this one online (although sadly sold out.) I would do anything for love (does Bryan Adams do it for you? No?) What did love make you do?

Neon love

Another option would be a symbol or picture instead of a word. After doing the requisite trawl of Pinterest, I found a few things I liked. Firstly the neon cloud. These lights were commissioned by an interior designer  for a New York home. I rather like them.

neon cloud1


Or this one? It looks striking alone on the wall:

neon cloud

Or a lightening bolt. With a Bowie song entwined into it. Perfection.

lets dance neon

Would you get a neon sign? If so, what would you have put in lights? Care to share…

On the Radar: September

It is feeling properly autumnal out there. I’m almost glad we can stop the pretense that we are in the last days of ‘summer’ and get on with the snuggling. I’ve certainly got my furry blanket out in the evening (and no, that is not a euphemism).

covent garden

There’s always lots going on in September. Not only do we have the back-to-school routine, with all the good intentions and shiny new stationery that this brings, but London always puts on some pretty good events to get involved in. Here are a few of my picks.

  • September brings Open House to London. There are loads of buildings to have a nose around. Last year, we didn’t bother with the big ticket buildings and had a look round some pretty special residences in Hackney and South-East London. I think we might do the same this year. (I love a good nose).
  • It’s also London Design Festival. I looooove this festival. So much going on.  Here’s a round up of the best bits.
  • There are a few ‘spin-off’ events from the London Design Festival – Maker Mile looks interesting – open studios, workshops and events in East London. Also nearer to home – there’s a design trail in Brixton. Worth an explore?
  • Have you heard Sufjan Stevens’ new(ish) album? It’s beautiful. We’re off to see him play live. Can’t wait.
  • September is also a good time to sign up to a class in something. There are some really lovely classes around at the moment, how about learning modern calligraphy (and having lunch in this gorgeous restaurant whilst you’re at it)? Think I might put this onto my birthday list. (Next month though).
  • Our building work finally starts next week (don’t ask). As well as a new kitchen, we’ll have space for an office. I’m loving the use of cork in this one.

I’m also planning a few changes around here. Lots to think about. Lots to do. Watch this space.

Holiday Snapshots

We’ve just returned from a sun-soaked ten days on the Iberian Peninsula. First stop was Seville – famous for tapas and tiles. My kind of town. It’s also rather hot and sunny. You can definitely see why the siesta is such a good idea in these parts. That summer sun is punishing. Stepping off the plane was like stepping into an oven – the heat hit us slap bang in the face. A low oven, mind you, we were frazzled but not fried. As you can see from the photo below, it was also rather cloudy when we first arrived. These were the only clouds we saw when we were in Spain. 2015-08-09 14.36.11-12015-08-09 16.31.42

We didn’t have long to sample the delights of Seville – so kept it brief – a visit to the Alcazar, a a stunning Moorish palace. If you’re a fan of geometric tiles (and I am), this was beautiful. I could have wafted around the palace and gardens for hours. Fred doesn’t share my love of tiles – he’s seven and is far more interested in Minecraft, sadly, so we didn’t linger for too long. 2015-08-10 12.30.44-1

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The builders of the Alcazar even designed it with an indoor pool. In the days before air conditioning, this would have been a very inviting place to spend some time.

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Next on our whistlestop tour of Andalucia was Jerez, well-known for sherry, of course. And there was lots of sherry to sample. (I managed to struggle through this task). No sweet Harvey’s Bristol Cream here – the Spanish have a range of sherries from dry Fino to thick and sweet Pedro Ximenez, which tastes like liquid raisins (yum). The sherry only cost one Euro a glass, so it would have been rude not to sample a few kinds. I’ve had sherry before in the UK, and I know a glass of the sweet PX with a chocolate dessert is a thing of beauty. This time it was all about the Fino with a plate of ham. How very Spanish. (Check out the tiles too. Tiles, tiles everywhere).

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We only had three days in Spain so in fact, we didn’t do a tour of Andalucia at all. We just sampled a couple of the highlights. It’s whetted my appetite for more. The Alhambra at Granada is supposed to be spectacular so that alone gives me a reason to return. We also have a friend who hales from Cadiz on the coast and spends the summer there with her three kids. We will be back, I’m sure of it.

But this time, after three lovely days in Seville and Jerez, we were on the road again to Portugal. A place I visited in my childhood, but never the Algarve. I was excited to see what the area had to offer…


Craft Beer in South London

Hop BurnsI’m a bit late to the party as yesterday was International Beer Day. You may have noticed that the world of beer has changed. Real Ale used to be confined to musty old pubs with bearded Camra members wearing sandals and socks, supping warm pints of cloudy liquid. Not really my scene. These days the drinkers may still be bearded and wearing sandals (well these things are deemed cool now) but the beer itself has changed – and there is so much choice. I’m no expert but I must say I’ve been enjoying the ‘Craft Beer Revolution.’ There are at least 5 breweries within a couple of miles from where I live…and a quick google reveals that there are loads (too many to count) in London as a whole. Check out a map of them here.

Here are a few of my South London favourites:

Brixton Brewery:

Apart from making a delicious pale ale named after the local underground river, the Effra, Brixton Brewery have a really fantastic graphic label. The one pictured below is a ‘special’ made only for the Brixton branch of Wahaca. It goes well with spicy Mexican food, obvs.

2015-03-08 14.22.16The Electric Pale Ale is pretty good too.


Brick Brewery

Located in the heart of Peckham, just off Rye Lane, Brick Brewery has a range of beers named after Peckham landmarks and local characters. I like the Sir Thomas Gardner (who was a prominent orchard owner in the 17 century) as it’s citrussy and light. The thing I like about the Brick Brewery is that they have a tap room where you can enjoy an al fresco beer and perhaps a bite to eat (they often have a street food vendor on their premises). It’s also a good place to start a Peckham pub crawl.

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Canopy Beer Co

This brewery is literally down the road from me so is pretty convenient as they also have a tap room to enjoy their wares in. It’s pretty basic but there’s something quite nice about sitting on some rickety tables, enjoying a beer a few metres from where is was made. My favourite Canopy beer is the Ruskin wheat beer.


Gypsy Hill Brewery

With a tagline of ‘drink it and talk to people’, you can’t help but like Gypsy Hill Brewery’s style. The bottles and cans also have a cute design. I like the Beatnik. It’s a light ale and you can buy it in a can or a bottle. They are also opening a tap room soon.

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Kernel Brewery

One of the granddaddies of the Craft Beer Revolution, my husband rates their Table Beer as the best in London. I like the Saison beers they brew; they are citrussy, fresh tasting beers. Is it because I am a lady? (Ladies like beer too. Although not many of us are good at growing beards, thankfully). Kernel also open up their doors although I note on their website that they are stopping this soon due to its popularity. You will still be able to buy bottles of their beer though. And combine it with a trip to Maltby Street Market (and the new Druid Street Market). Bermondsey is a fun place to hang out on a Saturday.

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Beavertown Brewery

I’m giving Beavertown a special mention as although they are not based in South London,  I absolutely love their labels. Decent beer and top notch graphic design featuring weird aliens; the cans certainly catch the eye. And when there is such a choice, you need to attract potential drinkers to your brand. I think they are pretty successful at this. Luckily the beer lives up to it; I had one of their Weissbeers (with lime and yuzu no less) last night and it certainly hit the spot. My husband rates the Neck Oil. They are based in Tottenham and also have a tap room if you find yourself in those parts.

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Where to buy the beer

Apart from tap rooms and pubs, there are nu-wave beer shops popping up all over the place. We’re lucky enough to have a few locally. My favourite has got to be Hop Burns and Black in East Dulwich. They have hit upon the winning formula of selling beer (of course), hot sauce and spinning tunes. I’ve always found them really helpful and now they are running a loyalty scheme (could be dangerous). And you are also able to have a drink in the shop if you want to kick back and listen to the music. Reasons to be cheerful indeed.

Hop Burns

August: On the Radar

August already?! Time really is whizzing by. July was a challenging month for me, hence the lack of posts. My Dad was pretty ill and spent three weeks in hospital; I find it hard to be upbeat on here when there’s an underlying anxiety going on in my life. Thankfully it looks like the problem has been discovered and dealt with so things are looking up again. But it was a reminder that my parents are getting older and not to take my (or their) health for granted…because health really is one of those things that you don’t appreciate until it’s not there any more.



Anyway August, what you got for me?

  • Holiday!!! We will be jetting off for a week in the sun. If I get any time to kick back and relax, I’m going to check out some of these podcasts recommended by Blogtacular.  Any other recommendations would be gratefully received…
  • Fred is absolutely desperate to go to Kidzania – he wants to find out what the world of work is like. I do hope they make it more exciting than the years of office-bound ‘fun’ I experienced. (The juries out on this one..I will report back. The fact he and a friend can go in on their own for four hours while I ‘wait’ for them in Westfield is a deciding factor here.)
  • I want to check out this new place in Brixton. A creative space for start-ups and a fine array of food and drink stalls, Pop Brixton looks like a winner.
  • Finally the work on our kitchen is due to start. I am EXCITED. I have a little kitchen inspiration board over on Pinterest if you like that kind of thing. I’ll share some ‘before pics’ soon. Hopefully the ‘after pics’ can also be shared in due time.
  • Despite the fact I haven’t even been on holiday yet, I’m thinking about the post-holiday fall-out. Catherine did a really good round up of various online diet and exercise regimes. I’m looking forward to focusing on my health and fitness.

The Sky Garden

London is not known for its bargains. Quite the opposite, it regularly features as one of the most expensive cities in the world. ‘How much for a pint of beer?’, you can hear the cries far and wide. So when there’s a bargain excursion to be had, I’m there with bells on. The Sky Garden costs absolutely nothing and it has the wow factor. If you live in London or are planning a trip, I would highly recommend booking yourself a ticket.



The Sky Garden is London’s highest public garden. It’s at the top of 20 Fenchurch Street, otherwise known as ‘The Walkie Talkie’ – 35 floors up. It’s impressive. The garden is lush and well planted. It even smells good; there are scents of thyme and rosemary which waft around the space.

Our tickets were for 10.30am, I was pleasantly surprised at how much space we had to roam around freely, taking in the views. It wasn’t overly busy. We probably spent about an hour up there and it did seem that there were more people by the time we left. So if I had any advice, it would be to book for the earliest part of the day you possibly can. Although I can imagine the views are stunning at sunset.

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If hunger strikes, you can treat yourself to a cake and a coffee whilst you’re up there. We didn’t so I can’t comment on how good they taste..but they did look pretty good. And I noted the prices. Not horrendously expensive.


It’s not somewhere you can just turn up to and expect to be let in. You have to book your ticket online (a couple of weeks in advance) and take some id with you when you arrive (a bank card will suffice). But with a bit of organisation, you can take in some pretty spectacular views. Not bad for nowt.

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July: On the Radar

Woah 2015 will you slow down? Time is just flying by.. The boy has two weeks left at school and there’s a lot to pack in. Summer holidays loom. I like to have a few things planned over the six weeks but I don’t want to over-schedule. It’s nice to just hang out and take things as they come. Here are a few things I do want to do over the next few months:

Carsten Holler slides

  • Weeeeeeeeeee. The Carsten Holler exhibition on at the Hayward Gallery looks like great fun.
  • If we have another heat wave, I’m definitely heading to Beach East. Sand, a bar called Pub Tropicana and live music events. Sounds fantastic!
  • Taking inspiration from Alexis over at Something I Made, I love the idea of doing some wild things during the holidays. It’s definitely a time for getting the hands dirty.
  • Have you been to Savage Beauty? I’ve got tickets to see it in July. I’ve heard it’s extraordinary.
  • We’re heading up to the Peak District at the end of the month. We’re camping with a group of friends – all the kids are boys and my husband has plans to take them climbing. Heights and hard hats are not my thing, so I’m thinking of having a little day trip to Sheffield. Jen’s blog post came at a good time. Sheffield, quite evidently, has some gorgeous cafes to hang in.

What have you got planned in July? Do tell…