Tag Archives: culture

Exhibitions at Somerset House

Somerset House is a beautiful building located on the Northbank of the River Thames. Until 1775 it was a Tudor Palace but today it is a neo-classical building and ‘an inspiring space for art, culture and creative exchange’.

When a building is this beautiful on the outside it is a shame at times to be confined to the inside. This is why I love how they use the outdoor space in different seasons, with open-air cinema screenings and water fountains in the summer, and London’s most romantic ice rink in the winter.

Over the next few days I’m going to blog about the inside, specifically three different exhibitions I attended recently. On the hottest day of the year and between numerous breaks for iced coffee I explored: Nicholas Hawksmoor: Methodical Imaginings; Blumenfeld Studio: New York 1941 – 1960 and Miles Aldridge: I Only Want You to Love Me.

I’ll do my best to translate my mesmerised thoughts into articulate prose over the next couple of days. Please feel free to chip in with your comments too – I’ll update the blog with your thoughts.

My Twinterview with London Living

Last week I participated in a ‘Twinterview’ with London Living (not to be confused with London is Living, which is me). It was great fun and I got to talk about my favourite areas, pubs and places in London.

All the questions and answers are published on London Living but here is the bulk of the interview. Let me know if you agree / disagree with my suggestions!

Q1. Hello @londonisliving! First up – you live and work in North London but what do you love most about the area?

@EastVillageLDN good question – I think I have to say the numerous independent shops and restaurants that are a hub for the local community

Q2. We’ve seen you’re the lucky owner of a famous Blue Peter Badge! May we ask just how you acquired such a prized possession, londonisliving?

It’s classified information I’m afraid but sticky back plastic obviously played a part!

Q3. Ha ha! Okay, what’s on your London to-do list over the next few months, londonisliving?

I’m looking forward to the Lowry exhibition at the Tate and Murder in the Library at the British Library

Q4. Sounds good, londonisliving! Leaving London aside for a minute, where’s your favourite foreign city and why do you love it?

Istanbul – it’s hip and happening, has an incredible history and the architecture is beautiful. The food is great too!

Q5. Would love to go, londonisliving! You blog about cooking – which London restaurant is really floating your boat at the moment?

Ciao Bella (Bloomsbury) for Italian,Jose_Pizarro (Bermondsey) for tapas & I really need to try steak at HawksmoorLondon!

Q6. A fantastic range! Looks like you’re big on design too; know any good second hand furniture joints / design exhibitions on, londonisliving?

Local boot sales are great for bargain buys – they get your imagination going too.

Q7. On the subject of secret stuff, where’s your favourite secret London gem,londonisliving? It can be anything!

It’s probably the worst kept ‘secret’ London gem, but the Memorial to Heroic Self Sacrifice in Postman’s Park is lovely.

Q8. We’ve not been yet! The Faltering Fullback in Finsbury Park is a great North London pub, but where’s your favourite boozer, londonisliving?

Heading towards your way I like The Hemingway Pub in Hackney for post Victoria Park picnic drinks in the summer

Q9. Great shout! Where’s your favourite London venue for a live gig / boogie afterwards, londonisliving?

I’m cheating because I’ve never been, but I reckon UnionChapelUK would beat all mainstream venues easily.

Q10. And finally, tell us what your favourite London Is For Living blog post is and why, londonisliving?

My Japanese food feast as it took ages to make http://bit.ly/140CyET & this sign as it makes me giggle! http://bit.ly/Tg6wTn 

Twelfth Night Geffrye Museum

Twelfth Night at the Geffrye Museum

A quick apology for the lack of blogs recently. Life was a long and bumpy ride last month with lots of sad things happening. It feels nice to be writing again.

I had a brilliant London weekend walking around town and visiting a couple of attractions in the East End that I highly recommend. On Saturday I went to a rare opening of 19 Princelet Street – but more on that another time.

On Sunday I went to one of my favourite museums in London to attend their annual Twelfth Night celebrations. For the past 21 years the Geffrye Museum of the Home has hosted an afternoon of carols, stories about Epiphany, mulled wine and twelfth night cake to bid farewell to Christmas.

Twelfth Night Geffrye Museum

Twelfth Night ‘Farewell to Christmas’ celebrations at the Geffrye Museum

I got there early and waited on a bench for my friend to arrive. We then collected our free mulled wine and twelfth night cake and made our way towards the large fire to keep warm outside the museum. We grabbed a carol sheet and when the festivities kicked off proceeded to sing our little hearts out for 45 minutes.

Apparently record numbers made their way to Hoxton yesterday to bid farewell to Christmas, and I heartily suggest you pencil the event in your diary for next year. A big thank you to all the volunteers at the Geffrye Museum who handed out drinks, food and song sheets in the cold for all of us to have a fantastic time.

Mapping London’s Independent Bookshops

One of my favourite London blogs is from Diamond Geezer, and he recently attempted to map London’s independent bookshops.

Mapping is a great way to understand a city, and I think this map provides an interesting take on London. I’ve visited several of the stores on the list and they very much ‘fit’ their area of London.

You can find the map here and the list of my 5 favourite London bookshops here.


Sorry for the hiatus – I’ve been travelling to the exotic, exciting, cultural, incredible and beautiful city of Istanbul! Can you tell that I loved it?!

We were there for a week but still needed much more time to explore the historic city. There will be a post to come with pictures and I’m also thinking of putting together a travel guide blog post to Istanbul based on our time there.

There is so much to see and do in Istanbul; from the historic palaces, Ottoman influences and stunning mosques to the modern museums, independent shops and incredible restaurants, diversity and adventure is guaranteed.

I’ll be back on the blogging bandwagon in the next couple of days, but don’t forget to name your dream London location to win £200 to spend in London in the meantime. You can also check out a guest post from Hilary Osborne about her London life, guiding you through what Tottenham Borders can offer.

Guest post: Hilary Osborne – Tottenham Borders

Thanks to Hilary Osborne for writing a guest post about the patch of London she calls home. As the Editor of guardian.co.uk/money, you may know her from such stories as ‘House prices rise’ and ‘Shock fall in house prices’. I took that from her Twitter bio because it makes me laugh… follow Hilary on Twitter @hilaryosborne.

Tottenham borders is a phrase unlikely to be used by estate agents any time soon – they prefer to herald proximity to Turnpike Lane station and talk of tree-lined roads – but it’s the best way I have to describe the part of N22 I now call home. It’s just north of South Tottenham (or Soto as I’m led to believe it is known to some) and just south of Noel Park (Nopa anyone?); to the west of N17 and to the east of Turnpike Lane tube. The population spans the generations and seem to have made it here from all over the place. And once they get here, they seem to stay.

I had to think very carefully before upping sticks and making the move here from my old manor – a place that I had lived in and loved dearly for 10 years. I could make the walk from my flat to the train station with my eyes closed, I could trust the men who ran the local corner shop to watch my baby as I ran to the back of the shop to fetch a bottle of milk – I even knew some of my neighbours to speak to. Moving seemed a wrench but we wanted more space and the houses there cost upwards of £400,000. It was with a heavy heart that I waved off the removal van on its journey to my new property, some 1.2 miles away.

Anyone outside the capital would snort at the thought of that kind of distance making a difference, but you know how it is in London. When I swapped life in N8 for the other side of Green Lanes I was moving to an area with a completely different feeling and I was genuinely worried I would not like it nearly as much. Fortunately the past 10 months have shown me that life is beautiful in the Belmont CPZ.

Picture a place where terraces of late-1920s houses sweep down from roads of sturdy Victorian villas. Where all the homes have neat front gardens, and old men stand out in the sunshine painting their front gates. Where local shops (like Ordu-One) charge less than Tesco for chickpeas and Halloumi, a proper newsagent sells comics and the kind of old-fashioned greetings cards you actually do need to buy sometimes for elderly relatives, and there’s even a brand new Sainsbury’s Local in case you really do want to earn Nectar points on everything you buy. Where you don’t need parking permits on a Saturday so people can drive over to visit. Sounds like the stuff of dreams, doesn’t it? And I haven’t even mentioned the parks …

The sprawling Lordship Rec (technically just inside Tottenham) has just had £5m spent on it, a fact celebrated in September with a big festival. The makeover included the restoration of its Model Traffic Area – a faux-road system which children can use to practice riding bikes and scooters which apparently made the national papers when it first opened in 1938. It also brought some new bridges over the River Moselle which runs through the park and a new eco-building which will apparently one day be a cafe and environment centre.

The park is part of a route my friend Emily calls the ‘Three parks walk’. It’s not strenuous enough to earn you sponsorship, unless you are under five, but is great for pram-pushing mums and scootering toddlers. The walk takes in Downhills park, just across the road from Lordship Rec, then sweeps back to Belmont Rec.

This is the site of Belmont Junior School and nursery. The school, which was rated outstanding by Ofsted, has recently been a battleground for parents after the council decided it needed to expand to cater for Haringey’s recent baby boom. A campaign by parents seems to have brought a halt to the plans, but Haringey council says it will appeal. It’s seems unlikely that the fight is over yet.

So we have great shops, parks, and a great school, and some local controversy, but I will admit that we do have to travel a little way for culture. Not far though: Turnpike Lane now boasts art by creators of international renown – not many places can say they have a Shepard Fairey mural and that there’s the Banksy on the side of their Poundland. Moreover actual famous authors come to the local Big Green Bookshop (it’s even played host to the Gruffalo). And if you want local history you can head the other way to Bruce Castle Museum.

To be honest, there’s no great local pubs – you need to hike down to the Salisbury on Green Lanes or head up to Hornsey or Crouch End. For food it’s also a bit of a walk – either across the parks to The Banc on West Green Road or onto Turnpike Lane for the legendary Jashan. Unless of course you invest in a takeaway and a bottle of wine from the shop – why on earth leave Tottenham borders if you don’t have to?

Everyone says they would have fought against slavery 150 years ago. Now’s your chance.

Each day WordPress and their Freshly Pressed function brings at least one gem to the table. Last Sunday I noticed a post called ‘What choices do I have‘ which I found suitably intriguing.

I’m interested in consumerism and find the internet to be a great source of inspiration, and the blog in question is just another of those posts that remind me to think once again about my lifestyle choices. There are so many more things about my life that I could change, and posts like this provide a nudge and encourage me to take another step.

This blog post led me to Slavery Footprint, a site that evaluates your life choices and suggests the number of slaves that essentially work for you. There are lots of interesting stats dotted throughout and the site is beautifully made. At the very least, taking the short quiz will highlight habits that you probably wish you didn’t have, and it might spur you on to start making the changes you need to make in order to be the person you want to be.

fizzy drinks

Exotic Drinks

I know there are far more exciting things to discover in another country than branded fizzy drinks, but a favourite part of a beach holiday abroad is drinking new flavours of iced tea and the like that you can’t get in England. How sad is that?! What other flavours should I look out for when I go away?

fizzy drinks

Pinterest Finds: London 2012 Olympics

The 2012 Olympic Games have been more enjoyable than I could have imagined. I have lost so many hours watching incredible athletes fight for their dreams and it is has been a wonderful experience. So, in honour of the Games, here are some great Olympics pins I found on Pinterest this week.

japanese food feast

Japanese Food

A few weeks ago I briefly blogged about the night we made Japanese food. This was fairly new turf for us – apart from a small amount of sushi making my previous forays into this area have not been incredibly successful. Think soggy gyozas and wet tofu. I still can’t cook tofu decently, but we did make an incredibly tasty feast (tofu / pak choi disaster aside). Here are a few more instagram pictures.

japanese food feast

The feast!

homemade japanese food feast

Sesame miso soup

homemade japanese food feast

Vegetarian gyoza with sweet chili sauce

homemade japanese food feast

Salmon sashimi

homemade japanese food feast

Aubergine with spring onions and sesame dressing. My favourite dish of the night – incredible flavours!