My New Kitchen

2015-11-10 11.13.48-2I’m so excited to finally share some photos of my new kitchen with you. It’s been a long time in the making. There is still some work to do – fun stuff like choosing art and getting some shelves built for my (many) cook books – but the heavy lifting is done. Hurrah!

Just in case you didn’t read my before post a few months ago, let me refresh your memory. This was not a simple kitchen refit. The project required the ground floor of our house being converted from a garage, utility room and bedroom into a kitchen. Here are the before pictures I posted in September.

Kitchen2It was remarkably hard finding a builder to actually do the work. I don’t know what this says about the London property market, but I must have had at least seven builders over to give me a quote but only heard back from two of them. Thankfully the builder I used was brilliant.

It was always my dream to have a pantry. I have a lot of kitchen equipment and I wanted to keep the kitchen itself as clear as possible. The pantry is brilliant for hiding all my crap away. I used a cheaper Ikea kitchen in here and a wooden worktop. There is lots of storage space and the door is painted with blackboard paint. It also meant I could be a bit more experimental with my subway tile design.

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DSC02109You may also remember that back in May I won £5k of kitchen appliances from AEG. I am finally able to use my fancy oven and hob. And the amount of space I now have in my fridge is life changing (never one to exaggerate).


Patterned tiles were also a must-have. I spent ages deciding and even made a purchase from Bert and May before the work actually begun. This proved to be a costly mistake as I just didn’t think the tiles went with the space. So if anyone wants to buy 4sqm of encaustic Bert and May tiles (at a discount price), get in touch. Although I may end up using them elsewhere in the house.

You can’t see it in these photos, but there is also space for a large table and eight chairs. I managed to find four Ercol chairs in a local charity shop, which I was rather chuffed with. Once I’ve got my shelving built, I’ll post some photos of this side of the kitchen.

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It’s so nice having a kitchen that I actually want to spend some in. My last kitchen was tiny, and cluttered so I am delighted to have some space to cook in. We’re hosting Christmas this year so I’ll be able to give it a good workout.

(I am also reminded at how hard it is to take decent interior photos. The lack of natural light at this time of year does not help!)

A Day Trip to Hastings

Staring out out the driving rain and blustery winds today, it’s hard to believe that these photos were taken just a few weeks ago. Autumn was golden then, now it’s grey and wet. Such is the nature of the British weather…


During half-term at the end of October, we decided to make the most of the extra hour we had in the day and drive down to the coast. Hastings is a favourite destination, it ticks a lot of the boxes for a day trip. Beach and sea are givens, but Hastings also has lots of interesting little shops and cafes to explore. And crazy golf too, if your kids are not so enthralled by the lure of mooching around antique shops.


AG Hendy is a must-visit shop. It’s like stepping back in time. Here you can buy treasures from a bygone age; and they must stock every type of brush known to humankind.

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There are so many interesting shops in Hastings. I was in my element.

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After reading Katy’s blog post about her day out to Hastings, we sought refreshment in The Crown Inn. We weren’t disappointed, it was a cosy spot for lunch and the food was really good.

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As the sun was shining, Fred had an ice cream. Perhaps the last one of the season? (Although I know he’d argue that it’s never too cold for ice cream).



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The beach was bathed in golden light. The perfect time for some rugby practice?

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We finished our day with a fish and chip supper. Ah autumn sun, where have you gone?

On the Radar: November

My poor neglected blog! How did we end up in November with nary a post since the last On the Radar? Life has been busy – birthdays, kitchen renovation (so very nearly finished), decisions, Ikea trips (so many Ikea trips), half-term, studying (more of which to follow)…  I’ve got totally out of the habit of blogging. My Instagram habit has taken a hit too. Oh well.


I quite like doing the In The Radar posts as they focus me for the month ahead. And let’s be honest, a linky post is an easy one. I am going to make the effort to post a bit more this month, not least because I bought a Blogtacular ticket and what’s the point of attending that if I’ve let my blog die a slow death. So expect more posts.

But while you’re waiting for those, here are my November links:

It’s Renegade Craft Fair this weekend. I always enjoy a wander – so much creative loveliness. This year I have the excuse that I am looking for things for my new kitchen. Always with the excuses…(the necklace above is from Apres Ski who will be selling at Renegade. I love it. Would look great in my kitchen ;-)

I picked this book up in a charity shop. I do love a bit of soup when it’s chilly outside and there are some cracking recipes in here.

If the #eatclean bandwagon is a little too much for you (enough with the yoga poses, coconut oil enemas and bright, shiny, insufferable healthiness), then Deliciously Stella is the Instagram account for you. Makes me laugh.

This hotel looks amazing. Perfect for hunkering down in front of a roaring fire with a glass of red wine. Winter has its moments.

One of my favourite bloggers, Jen from Little Birdie has started her My Vintage Life series again. I love seeing how people bring a bit of vintage into their homes. Speaking of homes – this book is a stunner.

And finally, a bit of culture – I’ve heard good things about this exhibition at the Wellcome Collection. Called States of Mind, it aims to ‘explore perception through light and colour.’ Lots of wandering through coloured mist. And it’s free. Hurrah.

Have a cosy November, people.

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’).

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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).

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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.

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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