yellowpinkblue 

Before the mist clears from my mind, let me share a few quick thoughts about the beautiful and brilliantly simple installation by Ann Veronica Janssens that I visited. 

Three coloured lights of yellow, pink and blue and mist; such a simple premise but one that was enticing for me and enough people for a 35 minute wait at the Wellcome Collection, on the Euston Road.

It passed in a haze (#sorrynotsorry for the mist puns) though – there are iPads with more on the States of Mind: Tracing the edges of consciousness exhibition that the installation is part of, and mercifully there’s seating that you shuffle along, sparing your aching backs.

Once we stepped inside it was like another world, one filled with pink that turns into yellow that turns into blue. As someone who adorrrres colour it was my idea of heaven! 

pure joy!

 

  

A few tips:

  • Do expect to be completely disoriented by the experience. Imagine being really short-sighted and not wearing your specs, that’s how I can best describe it!
  • You can hear other people around you but might not see them until you nearly bump into them – therefore walk slowly. Take your time to experience the colours. 
  • Make sure you have memory space on your phone/camera to take lots of pictures and videos. Play with the light and the shadows created by people moving. 
  • If you want to take a pause and just sit there absorbing it all and thinking about your own consciousness then do – but don’t sit in the middle of the floor like one particular twerp, unless of course you want squished fingers and someone’s crotch in your face. Move to one of the walls instead. 
  • Walk around more than once and approach the light from opposite ends. The in-between spaces are just as beautiful as the full colour spaces; the green is calming and walking towards the orange is like being in a sunset. Just gorgeous! I made hubby walk around three times with me just to experience it again.

   
 

Shadows in the mist

Happy in the glow!


 

I left feeling elated and planned that if I won the lottery I would buy a house with an extra room just to have a coloured mist like this to go in and recharge myself whenever the world got too much. I could go on and on about this installation but I don’t want to spoil it! 

My only teeny, weeny criticism which isn’t a criticism but just something I would have added to the experience – music or silence. I think silence would have made it brilliantly eerie, music (something like Sigur Ros or a chant or something ethereal) would have made it even more uplifting. 

Really, you have to experience the intensity of the immersion into colour for yourself – that’s the whole point of it after all!!

yellowpinkblue is on at the Wellcome Collection until January 3rd 2016 with further events to follow. Go see it now! 

Taste of London – Christmas 2015 

Here’s a super quick post on my trip to the Christmas edition of Taste of London at Tobacco Docks. In my post about the Summer festival I mentioned that we had bought tickets to this winter version to get us in the Christmas mood. But did it? Reader, it did!

Taste Christmas is held at Tobacco Dock, a short walk from Shadwell tube and overground stations. Approaching on a cold, dark November evening I thought this would be a brilliant location for something terrifyingly spooky. There’s a pirate ship and everything!

Although it was pretty quiet when we first stepped through, it soon started to fill up. I’m not a fan of large crowds but without a throng of people, the venue lacked a certain something. The huge rooms seemed to be too big for the smaller stalls and it felt a little disjointed, but pack in a few thousand hungry Londoners and it somehow works – go figure.

I thought it would be the best time to head over to Taste of HBO, a dedicated pop-up for the TV network that produces some of my absolute favourite TV shows of all time and had a major focus on Game of Thrones.  

There was a gingerbread Winterfell!

  

For I am Khaleesi, Mother of Cats…

I couldn’t resist a go in the Iron Throne – I am very comfortable in positions of power! – and had to contain myself from eating the beautiful gingerbread Winterfell. 

We had arrived with a huge rumble in our tummies and thought it was probably best to get our food first then wander about when our friends came along later. Crowns bought and menu perused, I decided I needed to head to Kurobuta STAT! 

Kurobuta’s steamed pork belly buns

Just six crowns bought me BBQ pork belly in a steamed bun and spicy peanut soy, with a sticky sauce that was determined to run down my chin and induce furious licking of fingers. Utterly delicious.

I needed something sweet to top it off and had espied a trio of doughnuts from Maze Grill. Four crowns later I was inhaling the delicious cinnamon covered doughnuts and dipping them in the tangily sweet clementine curd. I was so busy stuffing them in my face I nearly forgot to photograph them – a mark of a great bite!! 

Hot fried doughnuts with clementine curd

  

Wandering around, surrounded by Christmas trees and mulled everything, I felt quite bah-humbuggy because I felt like I was being force fed Christmas. When I heard the beautiful carol singers in the main atrium something slowly switched. There’s something about music soothing my savage and beastly side and voices in unison are so powerful. I was the Grinch no more!

Carol singers by the tree

 

 It was time to do some purchasing and sampling, and oh boy did I sample. Whiskies and vodkas and gins, oh my! And proseccos and more whiskies and ciders and I’m surprised I wasn’t squiffy.  

My shopping horde

I started off small and chose some delicious and fiery mini choriço from Somerset Charcuterie. £5 got us 5 little choriço, perfect for chopping into pasta sauces, soups or omelettes.

Salami and choriço galore from Somerset Charcuterie

  

We picked up some spicy choriço

  I’ll be protected from vampires forevermore with the pungent aroma coming from my pantry cupboard! I couldn’t help but notice The Garlic Farm at the show, my nose alerted me instantly. 3 huge heads of garlic for £5 and they’re not just your average garlic, oh no.

Amazing garlicky goodness from the Isle of Wight

  

Vampires be gone! Black, oak smoked and regular garlic.

  
Delicious and ginormous puffy marshmallows of joy from Campbell & Love – just £5 and worth every penny. Like Christmas in a sweet treat.

Deliciously huge mulled spice marshmallows

  
Another addition to our drinks shelf is this amazingly smooth vodka from 55 Above. Just £14 for the smaller size, which is a good thing because it really packs a strong kick. As I prefer to drink my spirits neat I’ll be v e r y careful with my measures!

56% proof vodka has a smooth but powerful kick

  
I’d sampled this at the Mokhado stand at the summer Taste festival and loved it but forgot to head back to purchase – I couldn’t make the same mistake and made sure I left with a bottle for £7. I personally love the taste of almonds and marzipan and this is it in an oil. I’ll happily mop it up with some great bread on its own. 

Tastes like marzipan which makes it a winner in my book


I also picked up some of these awesome jus from Just Jus. £10 for 4 super flavoursome jus (basically a gravy, right?!?) and perfect for meat dishes… Which brings me to my final purchase from the show: a meat box from Field & Flower who offer a delivery service for their grass fed meat. I’ll review them in a separate post as we don’t receive it until December, ready for Christmas. 

Just Jus are just delicious!

 
  All in all, I really enjoyed myself and would definitely recommend attending either the summer or Christmas shows. See you at the next one!

Chef Tom Kerridge cooks in front of an enraptured crowd

Maison+Objet

So you may have read about my adventures in Paris, (links here to part one and part deux if you’d like to catch up) and joining hubby who was there for a trade show. 

I was given the opportunity to tag along on the Saturday and headed to the Parc des Expositions de Villepinte, located outside Paris near CDG airport. It’s super easy to get to, just catch a RER train from Gare du Nord.
If you’ve ever been to a trade show you’ll know how big the venues are, but this was something else. Imagine the NEC, then double it, and double it again. Then multiply by EIGHT! There are eight different halls each with their own little theme.

  • Hall 1 – Eclectic
  • Hall 2 – Cosy
  • Hall 3 – Elegant
  • Hall 4 – Elegant
  • Hall 5a – Complements, Fragrances, Craft, Cook & Design
  • Hall 5b – Actuel
  • Hall 6 – Fresh, Fashion, Beloved, Kids
  • Hall 7 – Scenes d’interieur Gallery, Now! Design a Vivre
  • Hall 8 – Maison et Objet – Projets

Hall 6 stretches out before me, as far as the eye can see!

Thankfully some spaces are a little smaller than others, but most are filled with row after row of exhibitor stands. I’m not going to write about each and every hall though as that would leave me with a blog the size of War & Peace! The entire show was so huge and overwhelming at times that I think I ended up show blind; everything started to look the same so it had to be really special to warrant a glance – once you’ve seen five hundred throws/cushions/plates/candles/lights, you’ve seen them all, so I’ll just write about the things that caught my eye.

The view from outside the jardin

The Jardin Floral Flotant (Floating Floral Garden) was a collaboration between Team Lab (a Japanese digitech group, famed for their amazing interactive installations) and M+O. Featuring 2,300 flowers, including some very rare orchids, the flowers are suspended by their roots and lift up as a person approaches. The perfume of the flowers changes throughout the day so the experience is always unique. One or two people are allowed in at a time and you have two minutes to explore, but refrain from touching, the flowers. I saw this as an amazing chance to finally be surrounded by flowers without fear of bees or wasps – a major fear!

   
 

Another feature in Hall 7 was the stunning Precious installation. This was a collection of precious metals and other beautiful items used in interesting and unique ways. 

 

Dandelion seeds threaded onto clear line and displayed by Claire Morgan

  

Glassblowers from around the world created a bulb and then their breath was sealed within

    

I had heard of the Japanese art of Kintsugi before and love the idea that something is made more beautiful for having been broken; isn’t that an amazing philosophy? It was a real honour to see a master at work here. Showzi Tsukamoto repaired broken and cracked bowls with a special gold lacquer.

The master at work

   

In terms of actual suppliers and sellers at M+O that I liked, there were just so many stands there that I can’t list them all but here are a few of my favourites:

Elli Popp – gorgeous fine bone china with animals-I loved the Kingfisher!-and stunning 3D wall papers. Based in London and I found out when we were chatting that she knew my old workplace! 

BEdesign – their deer shelf is a stunning take on the stag head on the wall in metal. Want!

LineART – imagine you’re a megastar and you like taking your bathroom wash station with you on tour, or you like a sink you can pack away and not have to look at. The Cabine is a gorgeous oak cabinet containing a sink and storage. It makes me want a lovely new bathroom to fit it in!

Lenz & Leif – super soft cashmere scarves, throws, cushion and hot water bottle covers in bright colours, including neons and neutrals. So cosy!

Renaissance – embroidered tablecloths in high quality cottons that made me think of my grandparents and times gone by. 

Neó by Rosanna Contadini – cute storage bags and pots in a chunky knit made from lovely squishy neoprene.

Chisel & Mouse – super amazing 3D cityscapes, landmark frontages as well as bespoke commissions. I’d definitely get one of the Mill if we moved.

Haoshi Design Co – they say time flies but with these pretty bird clocks, it actually does! I love the Swallow wall clock with different wing positions acting as the hour markers.

Storytiles – these beautiful tiles make me want to tile all my walls. Available in both modern and old Dutch style, they’re like miniature paintings with whimsical designs of fairy tales and animals. My personal favourite might just be Jumping Fox

Masai Gallery – taxidermy isn’t my forte and I’m not so great with dead things, nor am I a fan of hunting, or killing animals that I wouldn’t eat. The animals used had all died from natural causes in zoos/sanctuaries or there were fibreglass replicas – I’d never realised how huge rhinos are! Plus I got to stroke a very haughty looking polar bear (although a I really wanted to give him a bear hug!)

Silk-ka – flowers are brilliant but they wilt, die and attract bees/wasps which is a no no for me. Enter Silk-Ka with the most amazing silk flowers that I have ever seen. These guys had almost every flower under the sun, with a plethora of colours. If I ever want to decorate my home with the equivalent of an orchard of cherry blossoms, then I’d go here.   

all the flowers, none of the bugs!

  

so pretty!

 

Maison & Objet is overwhelming through size and quantity but there’s tonnes of quality. I would recommend a visit if you need inspiration of any kind, especially if you’re renovating or redecorating your home. Shows are bi-annual, held in February and September with tickets costing about €70. 

My best advice would be to go over a few days; don’t do like I did and attempt it all in one! Take trainers – I didn’t think I’d beat 17km from the day before, but managed to do 22km, 18 of which were in the show! Oh and find the beach jungle cafe. Here’s a few more photos to whet your appetite…

   
  

these tiles were AMAZING! So ornate

  
  

loved the different copper tones on these leaves

  
  

parquet or parked?!

  
  

can’t see the wood for the tree screens!

 

Taste of London Food Festival 2015

Apologies for the lack of posts recently! It’s been a busy few weeks with lots of things happening, I just wanted to switch off and totally relax and encouraged hubby to do the same.

One of the fun things I was looking forward to was Taste of London. I had first visited two years ago when hubby was extremely lucky and won an Evening Standard competition that not only gave us VIP tickets to Taste, but also a meal out every month at some of the finest restaurants in London, truly an absolutely amazing experience!

Last year Taste fell when hubby was away for work, so I took one of my best friends along with me and we had such a blast. She was the perfect person to go with. I’m usually a reticent attendee and rarely go for samples, but my marvellous friend ensured we tried EVERYTHING! We left with ginormous bellies filled with delights from around the world!

Taste of London 2015 ran from 17th – 21st June and we visited on a Thursday after my friend, her boyfriend and hubby finished work, arriving just after 6 pm. You buy your tickets for either a lunch/afternoon or dinner/evening session. Luckily the sun was shining and we were treated to one of those balmy, warm London evenings. We walked right through, there were no queues and decided where we should start, but not before grabbing our crowns. 👑👑👑 No, not that kind. Crowns are the alternative currency at Taste. We purchased £20 worth, which meant we had 20 crowns. Not everyone accepts crowns, most will accept cash and some will accept card. Crowns are non refundable, so ensure you use them all up; with most dishes priced around 3 – 6 crowns that should be easy.

The sun sets on Taste of London

 We proceeded forth and started sampling some delicious wines. This was a terrible idea of course as I seem to have no tolerance to alcohol, having only really started drinking in the past two years. For the most part I still prefer to drink water and being someone who likes control I dislike the woozy, delayed-time feeling of being inebriated. I know my limits and have never drunk more than three alcoholic drinks in a sitting, EVER. This didn’t stop me paying a quick visit to the Sipsmith bar. They’re gin gurus, based relatively locally and have a beautiful distillery in Chiswick that you can book to visit. It’s definitely something I want to do. A word to the wise: if you like a Pimm’s you’ll LOVE Sipsmith’s Summer Cup. I tried a sample of it with lemonade and it tasted so much more flavorful than Pimm’s. Really fruity and refreshing. Definitely one to go on the shopping list. I’m gutted I didn’t get any there and then but didn’t want to walk around all evening with a bottle!

Thankfully the nibbles and samples were setting me to right within minutes and we continued our quest through the little corner of Regents Park. Now, I don’t know if it’s just me being weird, but it felt much smaller than in the previous two years. I’m sure some restaurants were missing, and some areas on the fringes felt sparse. The usual huge Thailand area was compressed into a small gathering of stalls and in it’s place were areas for food and wine theatres. Personally I felt this was a real shame as a lot of the suppliers that made our trip last year so delicious had disappeared.

The great draw to Taste, apart from all the samples, is that for a fraction of the price, you can eat food from Michelin starred restaurants and chefs for a fraction of the cost. Big names such as Roux at Parliament Square, Theo Randall at The Intercontinental, SushiSamba, Duck & Waffle and Roka all feature with mini versions of their famous dishes. I’d recommend braving the waiting lines for the big names if you’re a first time visitor.

There’s plenty of new wave burger options should you choose, but I reckon why use your limited time here for something you can get everyday? I’ve not been one of the people to embrace the burger trend, personally I think it’s bordering on ridiculous having so many layers to a burger than you can barely fit it in your mouth and have spill all over your plate. Plus I dislike most sauces and detest the smell of fried onions, so the plainer the better for me! As it was my third visit and I was craving seafood, we ended up getting two main dishes, both featuring octopus – I think I was getting in the holiday mood!

First dish from Jose Pizarro – Grilled octopus, creamy potato, pimentón and egg caviar for 5 crowns. Delicious and I’d never had egg caviar before. It’s basically the egg white boiled/poached, but I’d love to know how they actually make it. It added a lovely lightness to the dish to balance the warmth of the pimentón.

Grilled octopus, creamy potato, pimentón and egg caviar

Carving the Iberico ham

Second dish from Artusi – Octopus, potatoes, parsley for 6 crowns. This was special. It was homely and comforting and tasted like my mum’s best stew. Super simple, but nourishing, it took me to a happy place. I loved it, I really, seriously loved it.

Octopus, potatoes, parsley

I’d thought coconut water was pretty well established in London, but you would’ve thought it was brand new to the health drink market; it was EVERYWHERE! It became a running joke with our little group. There were also loads of weird tea drinks (which I’m not a great fan of) and quite honestly you can pour your foul matcha/soy/kombucha/not-worth-the-water-to-boil-it disgustingness down the drain. Give me a decent cuppa and I’ll be a happy bunny.

Thankfully I stumbled across the brilliant London Tea Company who had a refreshing pot of Peach & Rhubarb on the go – a lovely alternative to a juice drink on a summer’s day if left to brew overnight and kept in the fridge. They were ever so generous with their samples and I can’t wait to try the rest, especially the lemongrass!

selection of teas from The London Tea Company

I’d heard good things about beef jerky, but my interest was piqued when I saw a coconut meat alternative from Mighty Bee. I know, sounds really weird, but was absolutely delicious. Available in teriyaki and barbecue flavour, I picked up a teriyaki bag which made a perfect beach time snack. They also had some lovely coconut protein balls that were tasty rather than cloying like others available. Wish we had bought some of those too! I don’t like stepping on the health food bandwagon but when I finally tried some Chia and mango, I fell in love! It’s such a weird gelatinous consistency, but rather moreish. There were some brilliant offers at the Chia stand, and I’m truly sold.

Of course, it’s not all healthy stuff at Taste. Stopping by the Green & Blacks tent meant sampling a chocolate. OK, two chocolates. OK, totally honest, four chocolates. I mean five. Whoops. We observed someone making saltwater truffles, basically a glorious mess of melted chocolate and salinated water. The guy describing it made it sound super easy and complicated at the same time, but I’m sure there’s an easy way to do it. They were delicious, so I hope they’ll be worth it when I try!

making saltwater truffles

 Will we visit again? Most likely. It’s a fun evening out with friends and food and if the weather’s good then it’s great to sit by the bandstand and listen to the music as the sun sets over Regent’s Park. I’ve taken up the early bird ticket offer and looking forward to visiting the Winter version – info available here – which should help get me in the Christmas mood! (Oh god I said the C-word!!)

Sam Brookes performing at sunset

Just a small word of warning – if someone offers you beer ice cream JUST SAY NO. 😖

Clerkenwell Design Week 2015

As a Londoner who loves exploring new parts of the city, I was delighted to be invited to tag along to Clerkenwell Design Week. Now in its sixth year, the festival is running from 19 – 21 May across different locations in Clerkenwell with four main hubs supported by showrooms featuring exhibitions, events and product launches.


The pull for me was mainly to get out of the house for a few hours and see interesting things and places, especially as I had heard about the creepy prison, the not-so-creepy crypt and the factory building from last year’s show. I hadn’t explored around the Clerkenwell/Farringdon area much either and I’m always on the lookout for potential new work areas.

Alighting at Farringdon, we went straight to the first hub location – Design Factory – at the Farmiloe Building. The Grade II listed Victorian building is the most delightful, higgledy-piggledy trip of a building. I’m not ashamed to say that I think I fell in love with it. Is it offices? Is it a warehouse? Is it a film set? The answer is ALL OF THE THINGS.  It’s been used by Christopher Nolan for each of the recent Batman films and Inception and I walked around with a grin on my face at the kookiness of it!

You enter through the Shed area and walk through to the Courtyard off which you walk into the connecting spaces, with the front of the building having the offices and the back feeling more warehouse-y. Remember The Crystal Maze and the different zones? It felt like that, except less Aztec and Medieval and more Industrial and 40’s Noir. (If you don’t remember The Crystal Maze then, well, there’s no hope for you is there?)

Some favourite things spotted at Design Factory:

  

 Curves for days with this DeZir concept car by Renault

 A morbid mirror by Stellar Works

 Inspector Turpin’s terrariums by The Urban Botanist

 Wallpaper details and watches by Dezeen Watch Store (pic credit @futoncompany)

 Beards and bulbs by Dyke & Dean

 Faces and flowers in this beautiful Air Flake hanging screen by Abstracta

I want, basically. Gridlock at SCP Contracts

 #MyVerve by Johnson Tiles

  

 

Some interior shots of the Farmiloe.

Next stop, just as the heavens started to open, was Detail at The Order of St. John, another place I had no idea existed in London. This location featured luxury brands within the church, garden and cloisters. It provided wonderful shelter during a massive hail storm, as you can see in this picture, covering the outdoor furniture in ice and creating a new water feature in the garden! 

Whilst everything was gorgeous, nothing really grabbed my eye enough to warrant a picture…but that could have been because of the deluge pounding against the stained glass distracting me from pretty things!

Once the storm had abated, another hidden gem was to be found, literally! The subterranean House of Corrections showcased Platform. The dungeon-esque feel, coupled with the fresh rain and damp, dark rooms made this a great venue to visit, but I wouldn’t have liked to have been an exhibitor. The water found its way through the cracks and left walls and floors wet and puddle-y. Not great for wooden furniture!

 These lights by Louise Tucker must have done something terribly bad to be imprisoned.

Our final stop was an actual crypt, but I’d been told that it wasn’t going to be half as atmospheric as the prison/dungeon we’d just visited. Additions holds the smaller design pieces and interior accessories and felt homely, which was just as good as I was feeling so cold.

The very first stand as you walk in totally enchanted me, so much so that this section might just end up being an ode to Jimbobart and Zack Mclaughlin. You know me, you know I’m animal mad, so this seriously appealed to me. Lovingly illustrated plates and cups surrounded by a papier-mache bear, raccoon and lemur. WHAT’S NOT TO LOVE??!! I was so filled with warm and fuzzy feelings.

Oh yes they do!

As a lover of kingfishers (and occasional lucky spotter of our little dude on the mill pond) I immediately spotted the beautiful work by Zack Mclaughlin. Such intricate detail, such gorgeous colours, I was so enthralled I forgot to take a picture, so here is one from Zack’s Instagram (pic credit @paperandwood_)


I also loved this gorgeous owl, keeping an eye on proceedings.

There endeth my journey to Clerkenwell, as we didn’t visit the many showrooms also taking part. All in all, I really enjoyed my saunter to CDW2015.

Would I return? Yes, I thought the venues were stunning, (you’re getting entry into some otherwise restricted places) the products interesting and the atmosphere buzzy. It would definitely be a date on my calendar if I had a new home to furnish or some money to spend, or even if I just wanted inspiration. It’s always lovely to discover new things that you might not have seen before, and great to support British and London designers and brands. Displays were innovative and it was just to lovely to see some colour! Getting around is so easy, there are maps everywhere, A6 booklets with tonnes of information within as well as signage on the pavement guiding the way. They must have spent an absolute fortune on promotional materials!!

If you want to visit, registration is free, but be quick! It finishes tomorrow at 9pm.

www.clerkenwelldesignweek.com/visit/