Friday 28 May 2010

When to spend

Even in these frugal times there are some things you spend money on. In a quest for quality not quantity my list of things to splash on would include:

Loo paper (or toilet roll if you like)- this has inspired the whole post really. The cleaners at work in an effort to economise have started providing us with what seems to be rice paper. This is not helpful. Especially as in an effort to economise we all use the loo paper for tissues. I have scratched half my hay fever-plagued skin off because I'm too thrifty to just go to the supermarche.

Tissues- see above. A big manly tissue is my favourite.

Chocolate (as in Green and Black's worth spending money, not as in silly gift boxes that cost more than a meal, I mean I like those if anyone wants to send me one but I wouldn't buy one for myself)


Chicken (although that's more for reasons of conscience than cash)

Shoes. Sort of. In that ones made of a breathable material (not necessarily leather) mean less blisters, bad smells, strange infections and happier feet!

Things I am very happy to economise on:

Books. Not that I don't spend lots on them I do- but I am more than happy to buy a second hand one or ten- because obviously I can have more and also I am happy about passing them on to people. Also if I buy paperbacks from a charity shop or second hand shop I can have more brand new ones.

Water. I like the tap stuff, it's not too cold and when I buy mineral water I seem to spend my life recycling.

Nail varnish. I have bought all kinds from the champagne to the white lightnings (if you are not British that is very, very cheap horrible alcohol) of nail varnish and honestly I think all that matters is that you like the colour, put two coats on and don't let it go gloopy. Good base and top coats do seem to matter though. Oh dear this is getting perilously into preachy beauty magazine territory isn't it.

Buses: I love the bus, you get to drive around London looking in shop windows, seeing people go by and you can listen to podcasts and music. The tube is often too loud to hear the spoken word and quite a lot of quiet songs. That said I don't like traffic jams, misty bus windows, seats facing backwards or bendy buses- or when the bus terminates for no reason and the driver doesn't know (which means can't be bothered) to do a transfer.
Walking: clearly the best way to get around and to see London, always my preferred mode of transport where possible!

Tuesday 25 May 2010


I love cordials with very cold, sparkling water that makes your nose tickle when you first drink it. I stand in the cordial section of the supermarket with the same kind of glee on my face as is evident when i walk into a perfume department. Cordial is versatile, aside from the fizzy bubbles, nose tickling refreshment you can use them in cocktails, or for the more sober sorbets and ice lollies.

My all time favourites are:

Tillman's of Sweden Rhubarb cordial.

Bottle green lemongrass and ginger cordial.

Belvoir elderflower cordial.

Friday 21 May 2010

Weekend homework: 21st of May 2010

This week six Penguin classics go (RED). The books in the set are: Dracula by Bram Stoker, Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, Notes from Underground by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton and The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad. Why not read a classic in a sunny park this weekend?

It's the final ever Ashes to Ashes *makes little squealing sound*

I want to go and see the birds playing guitar at the Barbican; doesn't this sound cool:

'Trained as a musician and composer, French artist CĂ©leste Boursier-Mougenot creates works by drawing on the rhythms of daily life to produce sound in unexpected ways. His installation for The Curve will take the form of a walk-though aviary for a flock of zebra finches, furnished with electric guitars and other instruments and objects. As the birds go about their routine activities, perching on or feeding from the various pieces of equipment, they create a captivating, live soundscape'. (finishes 23rd of May).

If you like Joni Mitchell, which I'm sure those of you with good taste do, catch up on For Folk's Sake's week of articles, reviews and Joni experiences. You could also read this piece on her album Clouds which I wrote for them.

I finally saw Four Lions, I was worried I might find it a bit tough but I laughed and then I cried- you can't ask for much more. It's definitely a very British comedy. They've managed to take extremely serious subject matter and build very real, touching characters- and then through some wonderful acting and astute use of funny runs created a really interesting two hours at the cinema. So I'd recommend it for after the sun goes down.

But while the sun is up and out I will be mostly wearing sandals and enjoying summer in London, when it's here there's nothing like it.

Thursday 20 May 2010

In five years time

Jayne from a A Novice Novelist has tagged me in a game of what a difference five years can make.

So the game would like to know:

Where were you five years ago? Here. Well a different desk but effectively here. I would like to tell you I was a jazz singer in Paris or with the Doctor in the tardis but it wouldn’t be true.

Where would you like to be five years from now? All I know about that is in London with a pen and paper- I’d like to find a healthy me with healthy loved ones

What is on your to-do list today? EVERYTHING- people to pay, things to book, stuff to write, stuff to listen to, rubbish to take out, washing to put in

What five snacks do you enjoy?
Cheese, Macaroons, Parma violets, rose and violet creams, prawn cocktail crisps- so mostly pink and purple food

What would you do if you were a Billionaire?
All that I could fit in, go to all the places I haven't been, see all the bands/ exhibitions/ films and plays I haven't, read all those books on the shelf- I would live the same life effectively but with the time and freedom money buys I suppose.

I would try to help others to do what they wanted to do too, if that doesn’t sound glib. Obviously after I’d bought everything on my Amazon wishlist, a cottage and a vintage sports car.

Pass it on...

So I'd like to hear how the following people would answer these questions- but only if they would like to play of course. Over to you:

Metropolitan Mum

Cassandra from Jacob Wrestling

Lewis William at Knightley or Elton (I thought it might get you out of the garden/ jam jar speak easy!)

Emily from London Zest

and Mr London Street when you're back from your holiday

Friday 14 May 2010

Weekend homework

Your weekend homework, should you choose to accept is:

If you don't already read Mr London Street then head over there for some really sharp, funny, poignant writing (especially for Monday's post which was introduced by me- my bits aren't the funny, sharp, poignant ones).

For relaxing why now download the free Jarvis Cocker National Trust sounds- what a cool idea (although their website doesn't seem to be working this morning so hopefully it will be fixed by the weekend!).

Or if you would prefer music to sounds then Pete Roe's new EP is available for pre- order here. His music is timeless, touching and just filled with goodness. I can't wait to have some new songs of his to listen to.

Show your suppport for Portobello by signing up to Portobello rocks if you would like.

Remember to watch Ashes to Ashes episode 7 tonight or on i-player if you are as crazy about the programme as me.

For some culture I really enjoyed the magnificent maps at the British Library- and again it is free. There is also a Peyton and Byrne cafe to revive yourself in afterwards. I'd actually never been to the library before (ducks, I went to University in London, there are lots of libraries to use at the colleges, I have seen Star Wars). I actually had a funny couple of minutes when I went in and realised how much treasure was there and how important it was. I felt a bit tearful and I wanted to hug it close to me. Then I got sidetracked in the shop and started behaving more normally- but it's pretty great it's there, we are very lucky.

Have fun!

Thursday 13 May 2010


There are lots of thing I am not fussy about. I am not a wheat free, dairy free, ear plug wearing, own pillow taking to hotels, I won't die if the milk is semi- skimmed or we don't walk the absolutely quickest route to somewhere.

I do fuss about laundry though. I follow the instructions exactly and have probably spent far more money on dry cleaning and time on hand washing than is strictly necessary.

I find hand washing quite therapeutic though. There's something about squeezing every last bit of water out of a garment that is satisfying.

I have recently upgraded my hand wash to Stella laundry delicate from Tocca. Tocca make beautiful fragrances and have somehow managed to transfer the scents perfectly to their laundry range which I can't imagine was easy for the perfumer in question.

Stella is a blood orange scent which is rare in itself; the candle is something of a cult product and I remember there being a great deal of excitement when the perfume of this, and the other popular candles fragrances, came out.

For me though it's being able to have my delicates smell of blood oranges, one of the best gifts in natures basket, that really makes my day. In the morning it gives my day a small lift being able to smell my landry as I put my clothes on.

Now when are Guerlain going to start making washing powder?

Monday 10 May 2010

Guerilla Gardening

Do you know about Guerilla gardening?

It is easily one of the best things I have heard about in ages. It was started by Richard Reynolds who has been a guerilla for six years- since he started nurturing neglected patches of land in Elephant and Castle (which for people who don't know it is itself a very neglected but character filled part of London), where he lives.

On the guerilla gardening website he says he was 'driven by a life long love of gardening, a lack of a garden, and the fun of doing it in public I found easy opportunities in the abandoned flower beds, neglected traffic islands and tree pits near me'.

Basically the guerilla gardening troops take something like this:

And, often overnight, make it look like this:

Isn't that great?

And it happens all over the world now. On May the 1st 2010 over six thousand guerilla gardeners from across the world planted sunflower seeds, so look out for the glorious sunflowers in unexpected places that will hopefully be blooming soon!

You can find out lots more about the guerilla gardening movement here; including lots of advice on how to get started pimping your pavement.

There is also a guerilla gardening book which you can find out about here. They also have a facebook page and Richard tweets here or there is a guerilla gardening twitter here.

Thursday 6 May 2010


So here we are: election day.

This blog isn't about politics, which is lucky really as I don't know where to start with how I feel about the current state of affairs.

So all I am going to say is go and vote.

Why? well you have the democratic right not to of course, which is wonderful, but for me it's important because:

People died so that I could put a cross in a box and quite recently in my case as a woman

I see people in other countries with even more rotten hopeless politicians than ours queuing up for days to do so

I still respect the idea of parliament and want to be part of democracy

If none of this matters to you then perhaps just go to enjoy the make do and mend polling stations, the way nothing has changed in them for probably eighty years, being harassed by the exit pollsters and messing with their minds- or telling them it's a secret ballot and to just wait twelve hours.