Thursday, December 31, 2009

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


I know my posts on Sweden are coming in dribs and drabs, but it's that time of year. I've been to SO many imaginary parties lately. Anyway, in Stockholm we stayed in Sodermalm, which I'm reliably informed is a bit sort of bohemian and everyone we met up with lived there as well, which was handy. I really loved it and our hotel*, which was housed in an old brewery, backing onto Katarina Church. Our room overlooked the churchyard with a view of the church, which made it all lovely and Narnia like with old fashioned lanterns lit and a dusting of snow.

They also had this amazing breakfast included in the price, where you went down to a little kitchen area in the lobby and helped yourself to coffee, yogurt (why is Scandinavian yogurt so good?), muesli, boiled eggs, rye bread, kalles kaviar, cheese, basically all my favourite things.

The first night I arrived before my friend and decided to go for a little walk around the church at about 10pm. I saw a little hilly cobbled street that looked interesting so walked up it. There were these adorable old yellow houses, all with stars or candles in the windows of course. I couldn't see where the road went at the top because it was so dark. Eventually when I got there I saw a surprise expanse of water, the buildings on the other side all with their windows lit up and a boat coming in towards the shore. It was just one of those breathtaking moments you sometimes get when you explore somewhere you've never been before. I'd had no idea there was water there. Later someone told me that's THE view they always take visitors to see. Then I walked by the church and, as it seemed perfectly safe to do so, through the churchyard, not something I would do anywhere in London late at night. Each plot had its own little lantern lit - this was two days before Lucia and two weeks before Christmas. Every window I saw in Sweden had a light of some sort in it, be it an office or a boat or a home.

It was in Sodermalm I saw the Whyred booties. I shouldn't have tried them on, but oh they were so comfortable straight away but oh, they were so expensive and I was sure I'd seen some similar somewhere high street-y so I left them. (They did look really cute on me and I never say that.) I also adored Granit which can be succinctly described as Swedish Muji. I bought some fairy lights, which are completely superior to fairy lights you get in England. Oh, and a T shirt at Weekday just because.

On our way to Pelikan for dinner we passed the Grandpa shop, which looked really interesting, but was obviously closed. Over dinner, which was suitably candlelit, we started telling ghost stories and by the time we went back to the hotel and someone reminded me that we had read it was used as both a temporary prison and a hospital during a cholera outbreak at different times in history, the cute churchyard view became slightly less Narnia like. Then neither of us could walk down the long corridor alone, which suddenly looked exactly like the one in The Shining. Add to that the Swedish for room is rum, all the signs to this rum, that rum and redrum were terrifying. I won't even try to explain the little jail cell with a tiny stool and a bowl in it half way up the stairs, which we'd previously laughed at. We had to sleep with the TV on.

We never did make it back to Grandpa, but I see that they have the Whyred booties I love in the sale, but only in a size 36 - and Whyred only has them in a 41 so I'm a bit stumped and might have to get the Zara ones, which are only made in brown as far as I know.

*The photos on the hotel website are out of date - it's been redecorated since then and is much cuter.

Monday, December 28, 2009


"I think it’s about common sense. A lot of people don’t have that. The rules are made to be broken but you have to know them to do it right[.....]Anybody who’s really stylish breaks the rules."

"I’ve worn the Belgian shoes for twenty-something years. I’ve basically had the same taste in clothes since I was a teenager."

"They would hire me and I would go in and I would be wearing a suit and tie and the creative guys were wearing sweatpants and concert t-shirts and flip flops and they would stare and say ‘You’re a copywriter?’"

"By dressing expressively you figure out who you are and what works for you. By knowing what you like you find out more about yourself. That sounds pretentious but it’s true."

Superb interview with Glenn O'Brien on A Continuous Lean.

Thursday, December 24, 2009


Picture 1

On the first day of Lola my true love sent to me
A Poire Williams liqueur filled chocolate pear,

On the second day of Lola my true love sent to me
A pair of Lee Hale rose thorn earrings,
On the third day of Lola my true love sent to me
A Russian hat, an ice scraper and one of those Ipod plug in things for the car,

On the fourth day of Lola my true love sent to me
More than four hours of sleep,

On the fifth day of Lola my true love sent to me
Five pouches of Dreamies cat treats andehfasuf,lm' - wait, hang on my keyboard's been hijacked,

On the sixth day of Lola my true love sent to me
The Ann Demeulemeester boots I want half price in the sale and lalala, five other things,

On the seventh day of Lola my true love sent to me
A New Year's Eve that doesn't suck in any way,

On the eighth day of Lola my true love sent to me
Eight Bloody Marys for my hangover,

On the ninth day of Lola my true love sent to me
Nine handsome suitors,

On the tenth day of Lola my true love sent to me
This Macha ten strand ring,

On the eleventh day of Lola my true love sent to me
Eleven places to travel in 2010,

On the twelfth day of Lola my true love sent to me
Twelve reasons why this was a badly thought out and poorly executed idea and I really can't think of anything else, except to say thank you dear readers - for reading, for commenting and for coasting along with us in our corner of the Internet.

Merry Christmas x x

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Scandinavia presents the English speaker with a puerile sense of humour (me) with a smorgasbord of cracking up possibilities. I freely admit, I already have a half filled photo album with photos of Fartplans and Slutspurts from Denmark. I am therefore thrilled to have added to my collection in Sweden. Unfortunately the wonderful Farthinder eluded me. Next time...

Monday, December 21, 2009


You know when you've seen something 8 million times and apart from conceding that it looked ever so nice in white on Michelle Williams, are ambivalent about it? Then suddenly when you can't get it anywhere in time for all the imaginary parties you may or may not attend, you really, really want it?

Hello Phillip Lim dress of my dreams. While we're keeping things imaginary, I'd wear it with these Camilla Skovgaard boots. (You have no idea how icy my front steps are.)

{image source: dress, boots}

Saturday, December 19, 2009


As we walked into the Eurostar terminal at 6.45am the announcement said "all services are cancelled due to severe weather conditions in northern France."

Oh well! We are fine, caffeine fuelled and eating croissants anyway. I felt really sorry for all the people stranded, not able to get home for Christmas. We saw a few tears, but our trip will happen another day, another week...

Thursday, December 17, 2009


You'll have to forgive me, my heart has been performing a number of strange acrobatics this week - breaking open, swelling, exploding - that kind of thing. It's all most unusual. So this year has been crap in countless ways, but hello December. First there was Sweden, and Sweden would have been enough wonderment for a month. But then I had bought tickets to see Depeche Mode here in London and last night I was in the second row. Closer to the stage than people standing.

I could bore you for hours about how I geeked out when both Jonathan Kessler and Anton Corbijn stood a metre away from me, but I know 99.8% of you couldn't care less. I took along my new camera to be told as soon as I took it out of my bag that the lens was too big so I couldn't use it and they should confiscate it. (Having been told at the door it was ok as long as I didn't shoot video.) I was so gutted as I had such a great close up view of the stage and one seat in the first row in front of me was empty.

The support act, Soulsavers, was so boring everyone fell asleep. Then right before the real show know when you can sense very bad energy? Two girls: one looked like a budget porn actress, the other I really can't explain, but they stumbled from some gutter into the seats right in front of me reeking of alcohol and god knows what. The one immediately in front of me was completely off her face, her head lolling around, then she tried to climb over the barrier to fight with this guy who looked at her girlfriend. Throughout the whole gig it went: fight, shout, cry, make up, spill beer on everyone, security intervention, calm down for 3 minutes then it all starts again. Oh, she was vicious that one.

I think security took pity on me because I always had to have one eye on this Exorcist like creature in front of me and at some point in the night they told me it was ok to get my camera out. I actually have a few pictures where Dave is looking right into my camera, probably thinking, "Hello darling, that lens is clearly unauthorised." To be honest, what with the bitchfight being played out inches away, Dave taking his waistcoat off and the combination of World in My Eyes, Stripped, Never Let Me Down Again and Behind the Wheel, my hands were shaking so much I'm surprised I got any decent photos at all. I was still paranoid my camera might get confiscated by someone who didn't know I'd been given permission - even Anton Corbijn gave it a few funny looks. And the possessed one was swaying alarmingly in my direction, so during Personal Jesus I started to put my camera away. At that moment something made me look up and Dave was right in front of me, singing away. I very nearly had a heart attack - I like to think he enjoyed the look of shock/joy/awe on my face.

So that was that, me and my Nikon went home to prepare for our trip to Paris this weekend. Because yes, I only went and WON the bloody competition.

So you see, pieces of my heart all over the place...

{photo by me}

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


This time yesterday I was sitting on a boat travelling back from an island in the Stockholm Archipelago. We had watched the Santa Lucia service on TV in a hotel room in the middle of nowhere, laughing at the star boys' hats. We celebrated a birthday with princess torte and "contemplated nature and life"*. Earlier we had gone for a walk in a pristinely snow frosted pine forest. As the boat moved slowly, the sun began to set at about 1.45pm. Then I was on a bus, then a tube, then another bus, then a plane, then a train, then in a taxi and 12 hours later I arrived home in London. Another 12 hours on and I'm completely disorientated. I had some very exciting news this morning and I'll be packing my bags again very soon. But London is's just not...

I posted about a million more photos of Sweden to my Flickr as well.

{*Trademarked phrase of CJ}

Thursday, December 10, 2009


I won't be able to post for a few days because I'm going to Stockholm - blind, as it were. Never been there before, haven't done any research other than obsessively checking the weather forecast and worrying that my flimsy London threads and soles won't hold up. Oh yes, we're also spending one night on a remote island in the archipelago; so me and my thin soled ankle boots should be fine there yes?

Anyway, I have a theory that I over research my travels. It's something I love doing, but more often than not I land in a new place with reams of print outs and a list of places I want to go that would take three weeks longer than I'll be there to complete.

So this time we shall see how it goes with precisely zero research. I wonder if I'll find some gems to share when I get back. In fact I'm quite curious as to whether this non method will make me find more off the beaten track places, or if when I come back going hey I found this really cool place, everyone will tell me it's already in every guide book and blog mentioning Stockholm. Also, I will be there with Swedish friends, so better to go with the flow - when in Rome, etc...

Now I better go and buy some more woolly socks.

{*Only words I know in Swedish - ok I know two others but they're unprintable}

Wednesday, December 09, 2009


I watched a fantastic programme about Rudolf Nureyev the other night. (You can still see it on BBC iPlayer if you're in the UK.) And I love that he was apparently the first proper *star* to appear on the Muppet Show, opening the door to lots of others following suit. He definitely has a place at my fantasy dinner party.

Saturday, December 05, 2009


Ah, what would be my perfect day in Paris...This year I have managed a paltry two and a half days in my favourite city, so my perfect day would involve a healthy dose of all those things I always like to do in Paris, with a few new things thrown in. Actually, if you've been reading this blog long enough you could probably write a post about my perfect day in Paris yourselves, and I could just sit here dreaming about it.

The perfect winter's day in Paris would be cold, but dry and sunny. I would start with a filling breakfast at Cafe Charlot, which is a bit of a cliche perhaps. But I love how lively it is - how the term people watching will usually include marveling at how say, Clemence Poesy seems to be permanently backlit, glowing away unassumingly as she chats to a friend. The food's not bad either - a proper breakfast/brunch affair at weekends.

Then, out into rue de Bretagne, which wakes up earlier than the rest of the area. You can't not have a mooch around the Marche des Enfants Rouges, stopping for a coffee at L'Estaminet or the Italian and perhaps a crepe from one of the market stalls. By this time Photographie will be open, so a quick flick through thousands of old photos of other people's families.

quiet at marche des enfants rouges

Now follows the usual march through the boutiques of the Haut Marais. Except today, oh didn't I mention, I have a budget of 1000 euros; so instead of wistfully stroking the garments at Isabel Marant in rue Saintonge I may actually buy one. A fevered circuit of boutiques at breakneck speed will now include: The Ofr art bookshop and 213, Surface to Air, then all the usual suspects: APC and Vanessa Bruno in rue Vieille du Temple, AB33 in rue Charlot and Hoses shoe shop and La Galerie de l'Instant in rue du Poitou where I've been threatening to buy an original photograph of Jane Birkin for the past three years. A little detour to look at vintage magazines in Les Archives de la Presse, then a stroll towards the Place des Vosges, calling in on the charming M. Bernard Sylvain to see if he can make me a little rose gold ring, to wear with the other ring he made me.

Then, to Merci, where again I threaten to buy something instead of just admiring the merchandise. Phew. We'll stop for a coffee in the bookshop cafe here as well, to catch our breath.

It's almost lunchtime and we haven't even said hello to the Seine yet. Time to stroll down either of my favourite streets - rue St Paul or rue du Pont Louis Philippe and onto the Ile Saint Louis. Here I like to indulge in what I call river pootling. This is where you wander along, half wondering where Johnny Depp's house is, sit down by the water and generally have a breather, taking in the beauty all around you. Then a stroll along the river and back over it to Le Fumoir for lunch. {Update: Le Fumoir has gone horribly downhill since this was written - don't go there.} First though, there are some friends we need to visit at Vilmorin on the quai de la Megisserie. All cute, all adorable? Good.

kittens vilmorin

A nice relaxing lunch in the dark, cosy confines of Le Fumoir - the perfect place for a winter lunch. I have no idea if jerusalem artichokes are in season, but this is my perfect day so they have creme of artichoke soup on the menu.

All we've done so far is shop and eat and walk. Sounds about right, but after lunch we hit the Madeleine Vionnet exhibition at the Musee des Arts Decoratifs. After the exhibition and perusing the fantastic bookstore there, it's a quick stroll around the Jardin du Palais Royal, finally summoning the courage to try something on at Didier Ludot, perhaps buying a pair of shoes at Pierre Hardy. Now, perfume. I'm torn because at Shiseido you can get a scent in a huge flacon with your initials on, which is pretty amazing.

Palais Royal
didier ludot

But I am loyal to Frederic Malle perfumes, so maybe we'll just pop down there, before crossing the Jardin des Tuileries and meandering our way across the river onto the left bank. A nice stroll along certain streets looking in antique shop windows, taking in the atmosphere, until we arrive at Pierre Herme.


Now, we will attempt to recreate the perfect day when I bought a box of macarons there and went to eat them in the Jardins du Luxembourg. Writing this I realise that in Paris, it's not so much the destination as the journey itself. It's the walking between, taking the routes on favourite streets. Now, dusk is falling early and we have to get to the Musee Rodin before they close the garden at 5pm.

Now we're exhausted from all the walking. As money isn't an issue today we do something I never do in Paris: take a cab. We need to get ready for the evening. But first I'm going to have a massage at Les Bains du Marais. I change into my new Isabel Marant dress and Pierre Hardy heels and on the way out, passing a gallery, stumble on a vernissage which we politely gatecrash. Now we take an apero at...the Hemingway bar in the Ritz hotel. Continuing the old school theme, we'll have dinner at Le Voltaire, (whose windows I've only ever peered through) and then we'll have a cocktail or two at Curio Parlor. High on Paris and not wanting to end the night, we Velib it in heels back to our lodgings to sleep. Goodnight Paris. xxx

the seine at night la derniere nuit

(I made a wish with my previous post and hours later received an email inviting me to enter a competition held by the Regional Tourism Committee of Paris Ile-de-France for their new campaign “Toi, moi et Paris" - to show Le Nouveau Paris. The prize is either a return Eurostar ticket, or if one is very, very lucky a weekend in Paris. I had to write a post detailing what my perfect weekend in Paris would be. I chose to fit it all into one day - the Sunday would be spent recovering at Rose Bakery with some carrot cake and meandering round doing only spontaneous things. That is after all, the best way to enjoy Paris.)

(My English keyboard apologises to France for the lack of accents on many of the words in this post.)

{All photos are mine: Marche des Enfants Rouges, Bernard Sylvain, Palais Royal/Didier Ludot, kittens at Vilmorin, Pierre Herme macarons, Paris at night.}

Thursday, December 03, 2009


Make a wish...

{photos taken by me in December 2008}

Wednesday, December 02, 2009


I don't understand all this Christmas sparkle nonsense. I threw a newly purchased well known weekly fashion magazine in the bin yesterday, muttering something about, "outfit porn for P.A.s". All this demanding I become extremely excited at the prospect of wearing sequins, sparkles and glitter on every inch of my body. At what other time of year would normally sane fashion journalists be proposing we all wear stretch burgundy velvet? I don't know anyone who fits into the mould of having the kind of office Christmas party depicted in this Boots ad, for example (which is actually quite funny). It's as alien to me as eating sheep's eyeballs and I would probably prefer to do that. But where are the features for those of us in the minority; who aren't going to nip into the office loo, don a lycra sequined dress, a pair of New Look heels and slather ourselves in glitter before rocking up at All Bar One and gleefully downing a bottle of Cava before snogging Gareth from accounts? Does anyone actually do this, or is it just a suburban myth?

It's cold outside. Why are there women with nothing but fake tan and bruises on their legs? The only leg covering worth considering is either some Hansel from Basel tights or my personal choice, Falke Softmerino tights in charcoal. They're thin, but warm, but not itchy or boiling hot warm. And they're very soft, as the name suggests.

I'm not drinking Cava; my teeth will fall out. Far better to warm up with a nice Scotch. I favour Caol Ila but am not too fussy. In the morning you'll need an Hermes Pendulette travel clock by your side because the Scotch will have knocked you out cold and you'll be late otherwise.

Make up: loads of La Roche Posay moisturiser, Carmex lip balm and Laura Mercier eye pencil. Fingernails: NO glitter, shimmer or metallic. Opi Matte Russian Navy is as festive as I'm getting.
The only way I'll be getting away with any kind of flimsy party dress is by pairing it with a chunky cardigan and boots.