Friday, 28 January 2011

The Originals

Alice and Felix shopping
Alice and Felix. Now here is a couple that we all want to know. They live in Dartmouth Park, over in North London, close to the Heath, in an area that sits between Kentish Town and Highgate. It is a little gem of a patch in my view. Inhabited by artists and writers, many of the large Victorian/late Georgian houses are in need of some restorative attention but in that lies its charm. 

They have lived in this area for some forty years now and in their present house for thirty two. They are Dartmouth Park Originals. The real deal. He works as an artist, a painter who depicts landscapes using rich and bright oils and she is a set designer who has worked for The English National, The Royal Ballet and other big , prestigious stage companies. Now in their late sixties they're easing off a bit with their work by spending a few months of each year in their small, rustic but idyllic retreat in Umbria. 

They have found that glorious balance in life. They are at a time when they can potter in their garden which is rich and inviting in its organised chaos before wandering into their studio (an amazing light filled greenhouse type of thing) and paint or draw. Then maybe pick up a book, put it down, move to the colourful mish-mash of their kitchen, sample some of the delicious foods that are always in abundance before greeting their interesting and eclectic friends who have come round for their bi-monthly book club meetings that are interspersed with food, wine and peculiar characters who seem to come and go.
And style? Well, they don't even think about it. It's just...there. In everything they do. Their clothes. Their house. Their work. Their food. Their humour. Their warm and friendly manner.

Unfortunately though I don't know if they are really called Alice and Felix or if they live in Dartmouth Park although I bet the style thing is true. I followed them around the supermarket on my weekly shop, trying to go unnoticed with four rather loud children who don't really understand the need for subtle surveillance. They both looked so groovy, like two best friends 'hanging out' together whilst discussing their interesting dry goods purchases (because I bet they only buy meat and veg from a Farmers Market!).

I love them. I've stalked them. (Well, around a supermarket at least.) And I don't want to know them because I'd be sorry to find out that their really called Tina and Dave, who are a famously miserable old pair that particularly despise people who like green front doors (see knock knock post). But if you happen to know them and I'm anywhere near the truth, let's get them round, I think we'd get on.    

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

get down!

I'm feelin' those dancin' feet...!

I love a good wedding. My husband does not. And I can understand his point of view. Most weddings can be broken up into four sections:

1.)The arrival of the guests to the church, the polite hellos and then the slightly awkward hovering amongst the graves outside as the photographer catches those 'spontaneous' exit moments over and over again. 

2.)The reception arrival where you find yourself stuck talking to old Uncle George (Is he really an uncle?) for a great deal longer than charity requires whilst desperately trying to catch the eye of the drink tray waiter. 

3.)The lunch/dinner. Because quite frankly you haven't eaten since 8.30 this morning and with the consumption of four or five half drunk, put down and then lost, glasses of warm champagne, you are starting to feel the cravings for some substantial carbohydrate action. The food is then mediocre at best and the opportunity to focus on the body' desire to shovel it in are lost, amidst the wishy-washy chunterings of your never met before and hopefully not to meet again seating companion. Then the speeches (entertainment?!) are thrown in to break up the courses, where you find yourself showing your age by politely laughing at some laboured, nervous, drunken speeches before... 

4.) the music gets going! and hopefully you might get some disco moves in if the hired band don't forget that playing ALL of Dire Straits back catalogue is really not necessary.

So as I say, I get it. Weddings are often formulaic old things that can be easily refused with a simple hand written reply but...I love them! And I love to shimmy! 
Therefore this summer we will be crossing the country for another disco opportunity and as I crash around on the 6ft x 10ft dance floor, trying to avoid the desperate gaze of my husband (whose exiting strategy has become a swift and famously honed art), I will be hoping to hear some of my favourite tunes, both old and new, that have had my four merry men and me bustin' our moves in the chaos of a post-tea explosion most evenings over these last few years. I'm sorry boss-man but when a woman' gotta dance a wedding' what she needs.

Here are three of the teatime crews' favourite tunes this week:

Caspar' rendition of PJ Harvey' The Words That Maketh Murder
(sorry this might need some neck spazzing. hoping it might enhance your enjoyment though!)

Oscar' interpretation (?!) of Joan as Policewoman' The Magic

Leo and Oscar largin' it to Ronson and Boy George' Somebody To Love Me


NICE things

 Sorry Miss, but I have a poorly 3 year old, a topsy-turvy house and a husband who is very excited about his next film and wants to talk about it...a lot. (And so he should, it's going to be great!) 
Sometimes it is good to be reminded to stop, look and listen. So I did. 
The End.

NICE  door knob

NICE number plate

NICE house numbers

NICE 'colour me' cuckoo clock
olive loves alfie

...but above are four photos I took today of NICE things.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011


"Where's the Indian?"
Cowboys and Indians is the subject for today' discussion. The reason is, 'where are they now?'. 
Seven years I have been subjected to endless rounds of Toy Story movies. Thankfully each sequel has been quality fodder (unlike most kids films) and with the arrival of our own little cowboy, three and a half years ago, we began to learn the meaning of OBSESSION (and not that honky Calvin Klein perfumey thing). I'm not kidding when I tell you that the boy has perfected the art of quoting from those movies so well now that I'm beginning to jump at inappropriate moments. 
So, I start to think, okey, time to break out here and give my little Pacino some real cowboys to chew on but...there aren't any, or at least not much that is both kid friendly and going to sustain a three year olds attention span. (Apart from A Town Called Panic of course!) And I'm not talking Will Smith kind of cowboy acting either. I'm looking for an Indiana Jones style cowboy affair. A proper Western. A desert. A horse (...maybe more). A smooth talking, rough diamond geezer with revenge on his mind and some bad ass women, hiding guns under their skirts (loving those at the moment too, those big denim things, gathered tight at the top and really worn in - nice!) Kids would love it. Parents would love it. Anybody would love it. Why? Because, in my view, it is so current for what is happening now. 
We are living in a moment where everything is becoming focused on a products uniquenes. We want bespoke. Made to order. That whole cowboyey thing of working the land and living a simple existence is a bastion of that - the utility wear that has it's owners handprint, the handcrafted furniture that is made to last - look at the huge trend for kitchens fashioned out of individual items instead of the 'fitted unit' approach (I'm blowing your mind now aren't I?) and home cooked dishes - every smart restaurant is filling their menus with seasonal veg, picked by the very hands `(- oh,crikey, that's going to add another £100 to the bill then, love!) of the chef himself.
 And of course cowboys look good. 
So come on movie people, make us a film that doesn't involve talking cars, unimaginative aliens or vomiting meatball eating people, (I mean really, whoever green lit that idea?). It isn't much to ask. You have a cowboy and an indian and they don't like each other. I'm in - oh, and Caspar Cassidy too.
"There's right and there's wrong."

Monday, 24 January 2011

it's the little things

my favourite very 'little thing'. -birthday pressie from very patient lovely man.
The list could have been so long and it would have ended in a huge bill at various poncey ... but lovely, furniture shops. Fortunately, for all of us who are now living in My House (we've added three more since our first arrival here.), I was restrained by the one thing that admittedly usually inhibits creativity. Hard cash.
So in between babies I could usually be found up a ladder or on all fours painting floor boards, browsing in secondhand furniture shops or up early, driving to big antique fairs. We needed lights, chairs, oh and maybe some more lights and chairs. (Yes, I admit, I became slightly weird in my addiction to finding LIGHTS AND CHAIRS! - I'm still working on that.) Anyhow, over this period of time we have come to acquire some really great bits and pieces and few of them would cost more than twenty quid. Of course, my constant hovering around the shops twentytwentyone and atelier did also mean that we have lived without some bits of furniture for a while until...kerching, the coppers might add up and the boss man would, by then, almost happily let me make that longed for purchase in the hope I would stop wittering on about 'how wicked it is going to look, over there, when we fill it with the fluffy pink  giant poodle thing that hangs from a trapeeze.' (- not really by the way. Bit nervous you might start wondering about my taste here. Hopefully, in time, you'll just get that one.)
And now, seven years on, punctuated with intermittent lame attempts to jump ship and move us all to Bath (- went to a great wedding and saw big gardens!), Norfolk (- stayed with friends and didn't have to sit on a loo WHILST talking to a dreamy son about gremlins because they had SO MANY LOOS THAT THE LITTLE MUNCHKINS COULDN'T FIND ME) and oh, I don't know, other places that seemed well,finished, we are still here. And it is due to all the little bits of work we have done (often very late at night!), small purchases and that thing called time, which makes this place feel like home. 
And I love it. 
(Plus, I've become rather fond of our little gremlin chats.)
sparkly cheap secondhand shop lampshade thing
dirt cheap once expensive last one left sale clock
"feet up for a fiver?"  - "sold, to the overexcited lady with a fluffy poodle on a trapeze."

ps. Mave Rebecca Doherty, born last night to my brilliant sister Raccadackers and John. Yeeeeeeeeeehaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! She's a peach! Well done, you northeners. x      

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Who is this Lady?

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went to st.martins,graduated as a fashion designer, worked in italy, set up my own womenswear label, married a lovely man and then stopped everything (well, almost) to pop out four little boys. have plans. will do.