Wednesday 30 September 2009


As a child I was old beyond my years, able to sit up until the wee hours holding my own at dinner table conversations (well I thought I was holding my own, I suspect I was being indulged). As an adult I'm more of a Peter Pan figure. I still love children's books and films; I do believe in Santa Claus and unicorns; I hate going to bed at bed time and I think I'm going to end up with my Prince Charming. Okay so my toys might be shoes, jewellery, cds and books and my over indulging might be on wine rather than penny sweets (actually scrap that I had a dib dab the other day and it was great!) but the principle is the same. I have a child like approach and have always thought that to keep young was to keep fresh and alive.

I'm not Peter Pan though am I and there is a danger in not wanting to grow up, which Peter of all people knows. Not everyone wants to live in Neverland and by choosing to stay there you might not be able to see the ones you love as much.

I'm getting older and I am fine with that actually. Really. I don't want to be older in the sense of wrinkles and aching knees but it's life. I always wanted to be one of those middle aged and later older people who still seemed young though and who kept their dreams and silly fantasies.

Lately I'm afraid I've seen the odd face look down on me for that. Not for being excited about Christmas or a birthday cake but for not being more pragmatic, for not making do and accepting- whether that's a man, the state of the country I'm living in or other people's actions or work. I don't understand this at all. So I'm a bit of a dreamer, so what. My dreams keep me sane. I'm not really away with the fairies or I wouldn't manage all the things I manage in the course of a day. So there.

I believe in fairies. You have to say it really loudly. I believe in fairies.

Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens picture courtesy of:

Tuesday 29 September 2009

500 Days of Summer

500 Days of Summer begins by telling us that this isn't a normal love story and that is doesn't end with the boy and girl living happily ever after, or even together ever after. In the same way I am going to begin this review by saying that I really enjoyed this film. I know my film reviewer of choiceMark Kermode didn't enjoy this, I know some people might find it twee or glib or whatever but I kind of loved it.

What did I enjoy about it?

Well I found Joseph Gordon-Levitt totally charming- and disarming. I empathised with his character from the beginning of the film. The character is obviously semi, if not wholly (anyone who has seen the opening credits will get that), autobiographical and I guess it's just a sweet performance because his willingness to pummelled and shamed by this girl , the Sid to his Nancy, never became annoying to me.

It's also so nice to empathise so completely with a youngish male character, it felt like his angst was exactly the angst I reguarly have when I am around new men.

I, unlike Mr. Kermode, find Zooey Deschanel's kookiness appealing- and I always love what she's wearing- like every other girl. Actually though I liked her character Summer, I didn't necessarily like the way she treated Tom- but it was quite realistic because we don't always treat everyone we meet as we should.

The soundtrack is brilliant- particularly if you like depressing British pop music as they say in the film.

The ending certainly isn't unhappy- it's just not the standard ending for a romantic film. I went in to the film happy and came out happier- which can't be bad.

500 Days of Summer picture from

Monday 28 September 2009

Masterchef: The Professionals

It's a cliche but staying in really is the new going out for me when Masterchef: The Professionals is on. I keep missing loads of it and an i-player catch up, while good, is not quite the same as the real, live programme- with other sofa buddies to criticise the chefs (as if any of us could gut a squid in ten minutes).

The scheduling of this guilty pleasure lovely is maddening though. Tonight I am staying in so- whoop whoop- I can watch Masterchef. However tonight is just a thirty minute episode. Now when I am out on Wednesday it is a one hour thirty minute episode- how is this fair? Why can't we have forty- five minutes every evening?

Still I shouldn't complain, thirty minutes will still be good- and apparently the skills test is hollandaise, yum! Even when the cooks aren't very good there is always the joy of Gregg's pudding faces (I have never seen a man enjoy dessert so much!) and Michel Roux Jr's eyes- the deepest, most chocolaty eyes on television.

Soon it will be Autumn...

... and we will need to wrap in coats. I don't know which of these colour ways I prefer- I would really like both...

Coats from Boden

Friday 25 September 2009

To Dry for

I have just found To Dry For (clearly purveyors of some of the finest tea towels I've seen this many a year) via Rob Ryan's blog.

My favourites include Rob's own Heaven design (I think he's right):

The bottles- they are cheery:

Tea Revives you- it does!:

And the Albert Bridge- because you've got to have a London one:

Thursday 24 September 2009

Pharmacy Bliss/ Bliss Pharmacy

No doubt I have mentioned my love of French pharmacies before- but I actually love British ones too- I love them all!

I was always fond of a tiny place, what I called a pharmacy but actually I’m not sure if they dispensed medicine or not, at the opening of the Royal Arcade on Piccadily. I walked past recently and it was gone- I stood staring into the window with sadness.

Where could I go for real sponges, hairbrushes with different thicknesses of bristle and 4711 now that this place was closed? It was so perfectly Edwardian looking, it could have featured in a Poirot or any number of costume dramas. A little bit of London is gone. I suspect the problem is that no shop can survive on the sales of sponges and Marvis toothpaste alone- and that although I loved looking at this place I only ever went in once a year- always at Christmas, always to buy little stocking fillers.

Thankfully my favourite pharmacy of all, Bliss Pharmacy at the very bottom of the Marble Arch end of Oxford street, is still going strong. I went in for a visit earlier this week and it’s still fantastic. Not only does it have all the weird and wonderful things pharmacies should sell, corn plasters, 4711 (again), things from Bronley/ Yardley and so on but it also has loads of hip brands- it was the first place I ever found Essie nail polish in this country. They also sell a beloved shade of Dior lipstick that seems to have been discontinued everywhere else, Rosebud salve, all kinds of manicure and pedicure equipment and of course medicine!

If you need a pharmacy in the Marble Arch area give Bliss a try- we need to save our strange and eccentric pharmacies.

Tuesday 22 September 2009

Maybe I don't say I love you enough

I said earlier this week that I find it very hard to say I have a favourite anything- I couldn’t tell you my most beloved film or song and I’m not even sure what my favourite colour is.

Given my love for perfume and wearing or trying different fragrances it is not surprising that I don’t have one scent I only wear. Perhaps surprisingly, given my refusal to be tied down by films or even a colour, I do see the appeal of having one scent that is eternally your fragrance, as much a part of you as the particular shade of your eyes or the way your hair parts.

I don’t write about my most adored fragrances nearly enough here- we got all caught up in trying what is new, or what is hard to find, or special editions and perhaps don’t write enough about what we love and have continued to love. So for the record, in no particular order, my favourite ten perfumes (at the moment!); the ones I think should live forever are:

Guerlain L’heure Bleue,
Guerlain Apres L’Ondee,
Guerlain Mitsouko,
Guerlain Nahema pure parfum,
Chanel 19,
The Different company Sel de vetiver,
Caron Nuit de Noel,
Monsieur Balmain,
Diptyque Philosykos
and Ormonde Woman.

There are more loves but these ten scents are in the so wonderful I don’t quite know what to say category. I would like to find a jasmine for this list but the search continues.

Picture courtesy of

Monday 21 September 2009

Yasmin le Bon for Wallis

Wandering past Wallis on Oxford Street earlier this week I saw this bright, peridot green dress and had to stop. It's part of the Yasmin le Bon for Wallis collection and is stunning. I saw a picture of Yasmin wearing this recently and assumed it was a designer number.

She obviously looking stunning in it- but actually I think this colour is beautiful on many people- Chartruese is such an interesting colour, I don't know why it isn't used more- it works brilliantly with everyone's favourite black but also with purples and deep pinks- both colours that lots of people enjoy wearing.

The dress inspired me to wander in to Wallis- which I would have passed by otherwise- and I have to say the whole YLB collection is really very good- it's small but I think that means the pieces included have been really thought about. My favourites are 'the' dress and this quite Ossie Clarke shorter one.

I have always though Yasmin le Bon was a great dresser, she mixes vintage and modern and always looks like herself in clothes- you notice her before you notice the clothes although they are often beautiful and intricate styles. I also like the way she mixed things and especially her jewellery. I am not a big fan of celebrity ranges but I really wanted quite a few pieces of this one and I liked the mood of it- good pieces designed by someone who has been in the industry a very long time and probably doesn't need to be working but, it would seem, has put time and thought into the clothes with her name on them.

Now I just need somewhere I could wear the heavenly peridot dress. There are not enough black tie functions in my life!

All pictures from the Wallis website except the picture of Yasmin le Bon in the dress, courtesy of here

Friday 18 September 2009


I was thrilled to be given the honest scrap award by the delightful Daily Connoisseur whose blog I always enjoy and who has always been very kind to me here at a Rose Beyond the Thames.

So here are ten bits of scrap about me.

1) I am an only child (no I'm not spoilt and yes I do sometimes wish I had siblings- but sometimes I'm glad I don't have them!)

2) I couldn't say yellow until I was six years old- at least

3) I can never decide on favourite things- I can't tell you my one favourite film, song or even colour I don't think. I don't know if this makes me indecisive or just someone who wants it all!

4) I re- read The Pursuit of Love every year, it's like pulling on a cashmere blanket (actually I've never had a cashmere blanket but I've had a scarf and I can imagine what a blanket would be like)

5) My favourite pizza is with parma ham, artichokes and a soft egg

6) I don't wear foundation

7) I hate long nails

8) I think my signature is rather boring but I can't really change it now can I?

9) I literally adore being in the cinema- I love the peace of not being able to talk and being able to concentrate on just one thing. I regularly go to the cinema in the height of summer and sit in the dark very happily, knowing the sun is blazing outside.

10) I can sleep virtually anywhere- and in the full daylight. I think I am part English, part Irish, part door mouse.

Monday 14 September 2009


I know I am hardly unusual in being utterly in love with my i-pod, in fact a post about how I don't like my i-pod would probably be far more interesting than a post about how much I do love it.

I don't read enough reviews or articles about Podcasts though- and for me they have become of the most important ways of getting information.

In no particular order I am addicted to the woman's hour podcast; Simon Mayo's book and film review programmes (particularly because I am a little bit in love with Mark Kermode); the today programme (although I wish the podcast was longer) and the Radio 4 review platforms Saturday Review and Front Row.

Of course the beauty is not having to worry about missing a programme you love (for me the film review show) but also being able to enjoy it at just the right time. I can relax on a bus and listen to Andrew Marr starting the week, or David Attenborough recounting interesting episodes from his life.

Podcasts make me feel like I am carrying a little friend with me all the time in a way that having my music with me doesn't. Of course I love the music too but the reason radio has endured for so long is because of it's very personal connection with the audience- and I think podcasts have the same intimate relationship. I look forward to the new series of Start the week in the way I look forward to new Spooks- podcasts I love are a signpost in the week and little treats for the bus on the way home. Podcasts: lovely little audio nuggets of bliss.

Book lust: Taschen London

And so I'm back, from outer space (weddings and christenings in England's green and pleasant land). I cannot seem to go on any journey without loading up on gifts for everyone (including me) and so it was that I did a whistle stop dash of Selfridges on Friday morning. I needed bath oils and candles for brides and birthday girls, I needed wrapping baby and booties for a baby Princess and I needed stilettos and a bag for myself. Of course I also needed books- because I seem to think books enhance all occasions- so I needed books for children, books for adults- travel guides for honeymooners, cookbooks, little books and larger ones too.

Time was ticking and I was sticking to the list and not getting distracted when I came across the Taschen table. I had seen the small Taschen guides before but there are now much larger, gloriously hard- backed guides to London, Paris and New York. Were I not emptying my bank account for babies, birthdayers and brides I would have bought them all. A beautiful book is virtually irresistible isn't it? but I had to resist. Next month, next month.

Picture courtesy of Amazon.

Tuesday 8 September 2009

Louboutin and Laduree

How did I miss these?

Friday 4 September 2009

Journey to the centre of the earth

For various reasons I am not working in central London at the moment- still in London and it's still lovely but not in the centre.

The move back might be soon and it's got me thinking about the good and bad things about that.

Bad things- getting up earlier and getting home later, public transport issues, the other people on the public transport, the cost- both for travel and inevitable increase in spending on food and sundries I am tempted by at the shops- and especially the station (a magazine here, a whole new wardrobe there)

Good things- proper coffee roasting and ready at early o’clock in huge cups that don’t spill all over my hands, that feeling you get as you cross the Thames however many times you do it, shopping at lunchtime, spending less on the internet, being able to justify those magazine purchases

I dream of jewellery

Delicious jewellery available from Bimonia on Etsy

Thursday 3 September 2009

Video: A forgotten love

I can still remember how excited I was about Gemma's birthday the year we were going to watch Robin Hood Prince of Thieves. The video had come out that week and Gemma's party was to be a sleep over with take away pizza and Kevin Costner in tights- as a ten year old (?) this party seemed the absolute height of cool. The video had such an amazing picture and it was in those years when videos had only just started coming out so quickly after a theatrical release- prior to this I'm sure it took nearly a year for a film to be available at home.

A couple of weekends ago I was part of an eighties video fest- and the videos were watched on genuine VHS with those large boxes that seem to have gone out of fashion in the mid nighties.

We all now the bad things about videos, they wear out and develop strange snowy lines; the sound can perish over time and leave a strange whirring at integral moments; fast forwarding through trailers, messages telling us not to make pirate videos and adverts for Milk tray and Tia Maria takes an exceedingly long time and rewinding them takes forever (videos are almost almost at the end when you go to watch them).

What I think I'd forgotten is that there are some very good things about video- and what I hadn't realised is how watching videos would take me back to a certain childhood innocence and excitement. It's actually great fun watching the old trailers and adverts and the fact that you can't fast forward through anything makes you watch a film properly, from the opening credits (when did opening credits stop having music and a list of about a hundred names just accompanied by music?)to the very end. The fact that pausing is a bit of a pain and that you can't just skip back if you miss some dialogue makes you really pay attention and even the gentle hum of the video machine is quite relaxing.

The video fest has made me see that there will be a time when a certain kind of technology enthusiast will start to collect videos. It's also made me realise that I am going to treasure the videos I still have in a more loving way, rather than just looking at them as old clutter I really ought to sort out. Video's might be a bit big and clunky but they served us very well for a long time and now I look at them lined up, unloved and often unwanted in charity shops and feel a bit sad. Sorry videos I have forsaken, I hope you found a good and loving home and I did love you and in a way I do miss you.

Wednesday 2 September 2009

Period drama drama

You have two choices with bank holidays I think- get out and mingle with the crowds or stay local and enjoy some food, drinks and seeing friends. I went for a mixture and by Monday I was ready to do not very much at all.

It being a bank holiday the TV wanted to serve me up some period dramas- and I wanted to watch them, because I always want to watch them.

Yesterday was like Bronte-vision with the whole of the recent Jane Eyre being shown back to back during the day and the second part of ITV’s new Wuthering Heights on in the evening.

I think the Jane Eyre is absolutely wonderful and I enjoyed Wuthering Heights but never having read the book (I know, terrible isn’t it?) I don’t feel I can judge so well. Certain things about Wuthering Heights cannot be denied, that the Yorkshire moors looked as bewitching and beguiling as they possibly could and that Tom Hardy looked the same- and is a wonderful actor. The story felt rushed to me and there didn’t seem to be time to just let the characters be but that is something I would say about a lot of television and is probably the reason I should read the book.

Anyway the reason for my post is the watching of the dramas and the discussions of books we had and hadn’t read through up a difference of opinion in my friends and I. On my side there was the hopeless romantic who thought it didn’t matter that Mr. Rochester was disfigured and blinded when he and Jane Eyre were reunited because they had each other. On the other side of the room I found the question why do you like something so depressing? Something where people can only find love after terrible things have happened to them or where life is such a struggle.

It’s certainly true that the Brontes are different to Jane Austen who is the other bank holiday stalwart. However for all that Austen can seem lighter and the stories end happily for most of her characters they are stories about people being disinherited, shunned for being too poor or bearing seemingly unrequited love.

It’s also true that these great love stories are written by spinsters, should that matter? It doesn’t matter to me, in fact sometimes those who go without something can feel it more keenly when it’s found, or lost, or unreturned and perhaps have the time or inclination to articulate how that feels.

Ultimately it’s about if we want a story to be happy or sad, but I think also realistic. Life isn’t always happy and I like to see that in some of the books I read and films or TV I watch. That doesn’t mean I am seeking misery- I enjoy a Sandra Bullock film more it’s cool to admit too but they aren’t like real life- neither is Wuthering Heights I suppose though. Perhaps in the end whether you love something or not just depends on whether the story resonates with you or not.

Wuthering Heights picture courtesy of The Guardian.

Tuesday 1 September 2009


Like the heroine of a period novel I like to walk... a lot. I walk all over London and always have done. In my opinion it's the only way to get to know the city better- I know I will be walking for the rest of my days to get to know it all thoroughly but part of me quite looks forward to that.

So on Saturday I took a long walk into central London. On arrival, which for me was Regent Street, I was hot, dusty and perspiring (a lady never sweats, she perspires). I wandered into L'Occitane and spritzed some of their Green Tea and Mint perfume and suddenly I felt as fresh and clean showered as I had first thing in the morning (first thing for me being about eleven).

I admit that I can be very guilty of not fully appreciating clean, citrusy, fresh smells. I know they are lovely and vibrant and all those things but in the back of my mind when I think of them I can't help but think... boring! Now green tea and mint is fresh and clean and can out do citrus at being upbeat but it also manages to be unusual, interesting and feel a bit eclectic when I wear it.

I had rather forgotten this perfume and rediscovering was like re finding a little bit of myself I suppose. So this is just to say Green Tea and Mint, I love you, I should not have forsaken you and I won't forget you again. You make me feel fresh but delicious and you are so reasonably priced. You leave me feeling minted.