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64 posts categorized "London calling"

02 December 2012

Advent Calendar Day 1: Jacquie Lawson Advent Calendar


Still suffering with back pain (looks like I have something called piriformis syndrome), but I’m going to try a short, sweet Christmassy blog post every day as a little Advent Calendar for you all.




First up you must get your kids (and yourselves) a Jacquie Lawson Advent Calendar.  These magically beautiful online calendars feature gorgeous animations, and lovely music, with a new little interactive Christmassy game or a charming little story or scenario every day.  As you open more windows the scene becomes more detailed and beautiful, and it changes through the day to reflect the time and the phases of the moon.  The Minx loves the little games such as decorating the Christmas tree and cutting out snowflakes online and spotting how the scene changes from day to day.  (I’d say this was perfect for 5-10 year olds).




The Minx is now excite to be working on this year’s beautiful Alpine village, but we retain a soft spot in our hearts for last year’s gorgeous London calendar which is still available.


14 September 2012

WTF Friday: Wenlock and Mandeville, A Retraction


And so the Paralympics have drawn to a close - though you’d never have noticed if you were relying on the shameful lack of coverage by NBC in the US – and Britain can go back to being its normal curmudgeonly self.

But in the meantime I have an apology to make.  Do you remember this recent WTF Friday featuring Olympic and Paralympic Mascots Wenlock and Mandeville? And how scathing I was about their godawful ugliness (an opinion shared here by the Guardian)? And how no one in their right minds would possibly buy them?

Designer Grant Hunter has always defended them against the most scathing criticism by saying that children love them.




And guess who has pride of place amongst the very special stuffies who get the honour of sleeping with the Minx?

And who did we spent hours chasing after in London? (Though unfortunately we didn’t make it to Regent’s Park to find Sherlock Wenlock).





The Minx adores him. We have four in total, in various sizes and colours.  The kids we were staying with in London adored him too.

Grant Hunter, Wenlock, Mandeville. I apologise.


29 August 2012

Anglomania: Google’s London HQ


One thing that really struck me when I went back to London was the sheer number of Union Jacks (or Union Flags for the pedants amongst us) everywhere.




Not surprisingly with the Jubilee being followed by the Olympics, the place was awash with red, white and blue bunting and you couldn’t move for Union Jack merchandise.  Mostly fabulously of all most of it wasn’t done in a tacky way.  It seems the Union Jack has finally been reclaimed even by top end designers as a bit of a style icon.  There really was some good stuff out there.

So it seems that Google have hit the nail right on the head with their new London HQ, designed by award-winning British architects Penson Group.  Not only have they taken the Union Jack, but they’ve mixed in a huge number of dated British design clichés – chintz, lampshades, swirly carpets, Chesterfield sofas, wood panelling etc.  - and made them fun, witty and contemporary again.












I generally loathe that very trad English maiden auntish style of décor but this is fabulous. (Though I’d never get a stroke of work done here).

But what do you guys think? Do you love these offices, or should chintz, lampshades and swirly carpets be consigned forever to the dustbin of history, never to emerge?


22 August 2012

London 2012: The Olympic River Part 2


Here are some more photos from our trip up the River Thames during the Olympics.  I’m assuming that the whole light show will stay in place now, minus the Olympic Rings of course, in which case I can’t recommend a night time visit to the river highly enough if you happen to be in London.

Magical is not a good enough word.

Here’s what we had all come to see.




But in every direction the river looked amazingly beautiful (that’s the home of the French Olympic delegation).




London Bridge has got itself a groovy new lighting scheme.






The Mayor’s Office had a laser light show featuring cyclists and tube trains amongst others.


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Remember I blogged about the incredible new light show they’d installed on Tower Bridge?  Well for some they flipped up the rings and then put the light show through its motions.  HMS Belfast to the right also changed colour too.






And then the rings flipped back on and the Bridge turned gold to celebrate Mo Farah’s win in the 5,000 meters.




Here’s the view from the restaurant we dined at in Hay’s Galleria.




Finally, at midnight, we stopped off at the London Eye.






Slightly awesome n’est-ce pas?

Here are some more shots from my boat trip along the river.


15 August 2012

London 2012: The Olympic River


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Hey honeys, I’m home!

It’s rather a long time since I blogged here isn’t it?  Apologies for the radio silence but we’re just back from three weeks in Europe – two in London for the Olympics and one in the South of France for some sun.

I had all sorts of good intentions of blogging gently along the way but a) always much trickier blogging from an iPad and b) I was having too much fun (such a bad, bad blogueuse).  I hope you were following along on Instagram instead.

I was so glad we went back.  I was worried that the weather would be crap, it would be impossible to get around, the opening ceremony would be embarrassing and there would be all manner of chaos and craziness. 

Instead, and I hope this made its way through your TV screens, London was beautiful as I have never seen it before, festive and glorious with everyone in a jolly, celebratory mood.  It was, quite simply, magical.

Let’s go for a little trip upriver and you’ll see what I mean.

We’re starting at Greenwich.  Home of the erstwhile Millenium Dome, which has now been reinvented as a massive concert arena, and one of the main Olympic venues. Here’s the view from the new Thames cable car. See that boat at bottom right? We’ll be going on that to wend our way up to the centre of town. Can you see the Gherkin in the distance?




While we’re waiting for the boat we have the perfect opportunity to look more closely at the Dome, and watch the people climbing the new walkway. Wish we’d had time to do this. It looked very fun.




There’s also the chance to watch a parade of tall ships going past – it must have been amazing when all river traffic looked like this.




And we’re off. Spot the tiny Gherkin to the left of the picture.




Getting closer.




This is what we came for. Also loving the newly-opened ‘Shard’.




This was quite literally breathtaking. So beautiful.




Going under the bridge. One of the most wonderful things I’ve ever done in my entire life.


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More pics of magical Olympic London tomorrow.

BTW my fancy pants new camera with all its fabulous ISOs and low light photography capabilities died an ignominious death the day before we were due to leave. So all pics are taken on my little Canon Rebel XSi (450D). You could almost hear it straining.


26 June 2012

Hanging on the Telephone


Hot on the heels of London’s Faberge’ Easter Egg Hunt comes Artbox. 

You know the drill by now. 85 iconic telephone boxes are decorated by local artists, placed around London and then auctioned off for charity. Yadda, yadda, yadda.

They sure look pretty though.


Telephone Boxes1


My faves are the Clash one above and the Twitter one full of birds below.  Which is yours? Anyone in London seen these?




And not to be out done, here’s a view of Canoe Island, here in Washington. 




Here’s the full Artbox phone box gallery.


06 June 2012

Queen of Diamonds


It’s been a long and gruelling Jubilee weekend here on the West Coast, with 5.30 am starts on Sunday and Tuesday, and the consumption of rather too much champagne, Pimms and Prince William’s favourite chocolate fridge cake.




Early yesterday morning I was sitting bleary-eyed on the sofa with the Minx and my friend and fellow monarchist Lilian, being lulled gently back to sleep by one of commentator Huw Edwards’ monotonous monologues when the Queen finally appeared looking radiant and very, very sparkly.  Immediately the sofa contingent jerked awake.  What was that utterly stunning brooch the Queen was wearing?

It turns out that, when deciding what to wear for the last day of her Diamond Jubilee celebrations, the Queen recalled that she is the proud owner of the nine major diamonds cut from the Cullinan diamond, the world’s largest diamond discovered in South Africa at the turn of the 20th century and presented as a birthday gift to Edward VII (at the risk of sounding churlish, why don’t *I* get gifts like that?)

Inexplicably she declined to wear either the Imperial State Crown, which contains the Cullinan II diamond or sit in her carriage waving her sceptre which contains Cullinan I, the Star of Africa, the second largest cut diamond in the world. 

Instead, and obviously as some sort of austerity measure, she made do with wearing the brooch made from the Cullinan III and Cullinan IV diamonds, a mere 94.4 carats and 63.3 carats respectively and conservatively valued at some $120 million.




Wouldn’t you be just terrified parading round the streets of London wearing that? Fortunately we were spared the sight of her Majesty crawling around the floor of St Paul’s on her hands and knees looking for the brooch she’d just dropped under her seat, which is undoubtedly what would have happened if I were Queen.

It is an utterly amazing brooch though, with an almost contemporary appeal in its stark simplicity - these diamonds don’t need any fussy curlicues or smaller stones to enhance them, unlike many of the Queen’s other diamond pieces.



You’d be smiling too if you had that brooch




And I loved how the Queen’s beautiful outfit of palest mint green was designed to show it and her off to the max – the heavy embroidery, crystal beading and contrasting soft chiffon drapery were exquisite and it was so refreshing to see an eighty six year old looking every one of her eighty six years and yet still be stunningly beautiful. The shoes were of course dreadful, but we can’t have everything.




For future reference, just in case you find something similar in your back garden, this is what the uncut Cullinan diamond looked like before it was divided into the 9 smaller cut stones. Apparently it was initially tossed out of the window at the mining company where it was found, because no one believed it was possible to have a gem quality stone of this size.




Buckingham Palace is putting on a display of the Queen’s personal diamond jewellery this summer, including all seven smaller cuts from the Cullinan diamond, and some spectacular tiaras. Full details here


02 June 2012

Red White Blue




A world-class energy-efficient illumination system has been installed on Tower Bridge to celebrate the Jubilee and the Olympics and designed to highlight the crazy architecture. All sorts of different colour schemes are planned for the future.

Can’t wait to see this when we get to London this summer!

Tell us what the Jubilee means to you (if anything) below. I’m so excited for this summer in London.


Happy and Glorious


I am so very sad not to be in London this weekend to take part in the festivities for Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee, as she celebrates 60 years on the throne.



Until recently I’d never seen a colour picture of the Queen’s absolutely exquisite coronation gown, embellished all over with symbols of the four British home nations. Designer Sir Norman Hartnell’s sketch is below. Fan Bing Bing eat your heart out!


Few of us Brits can even remember a time when she wasn’t our Head of State - she’s been a fixture in all our lives since we were babies -  and I’m sure no British person can even begin to envisage the country without her.

It’s going to be a huge four-day party in the UK, starting tomorrow; partly because we don’t have an annual equivalent of the Fourth of July or Bastille Day and therefore have to grab any opportunity we can to show our national pride and patriotism, and partly I think because most British people are, deep down, very fond of the old girl.

I find it amusing that someone chosen entirely through an accident of birth, (in many ways hereditary monarchy is one of the fairest and most truly random ways of choosing a head of state) so perfectly embodies many of the qualities that British people like to imagine they possess. 

Neither flamboyant, showy nor remotely glamorous, like us she can seem reserved, diffident and bit shy on first acquaintance, but underneath seems genuinely warm, honest and friendly and is apparently very witty.  We make her do some of the most boring things imaginable but appreciate that she does them stoically, without fuss or grumbling and without seeming to enjoy her enormous wealth and privilege too much.  We like that she prefers to spend her vacations under the rains of Scotland rather than cavorting on the nudist beaches of the Mediterranean (I just boggled my own mind there) and feel that it is entirely right, natural and proper that she clearly prefers dogs and horses to people.




Funnily enough, in many ways since moving to America I have come to appreciate the monarchy even more than when I lived back in the UK. 

Seems to me that an elected presidency can sometimes be a tricky conundrum for Americans, who have to reconcile their personal feelings for the man (always a man) currently in office with their respect for the office he holds and their belief in the country he represents.

In the UK we have carte blanche to loathe, criticise and disrespect all our politicians equally and without reservation (surely healthy in a democracy) while saving all our patriotism, respect and pride for the little old lady, who with immense good grace and not a whiff of personal scandal, has done everything we’ve asked of her over the last sixty years.  I personally wouldn’t have it any other way. 

Thank you ma’am and have a fun weekend.

It’s going to be all Jubilee here on the blog over the next four days, in between baking for Jubilee parties and getting up at 5.30 am to watch the festivities.

Brits lucky enough to be on the scene please comment and tell us how things are going and what you’re doing; expat Brits and Commonwealth kids, tell us if and how you’re celebrating; I’m fascinated to hear from everyone what the Queen and this weekend means to you (if anything).  Americans, will you be getting up to watch?


10 May 2012

Go Fug Your Kitchen: Sophie Conran’s Bayswater Flat


Sophie Conran is yet another child of British design royalty Sir Terence and his second wife cookery writer Caroline Conran.  Sophie is maybe not quite as famous as her brothers Jasper and Sebastian (whose Notting Hill house has already had the honour of featuring in GFYR) but still has serious design chops as the designer behind the Sophie Conran for Portmeirion dinnerware and a newish range of wallpapers for Arthouse among many other food and product collaborations.

Her Bayswater flat is not really interesting enough for a whole Go Fug Your Room, as most of it is blandly inoffensive and seems to have come straight out of the pages of Fuck Your Noguchi Coffee Table’.




Collection of mis-matched white jugs. CHECK.


Sophie Conran


Collection of mismatched white vases. CHECK.




Saarinen Tulip Chair. CHECK




Arco Lamp AND Arne Jacobsen Series 7 Chairs. CHECK and CHECK.




Saarinen Tulip Chairs and Tulip Table. CHECK and CHECK.

Utterly hideous pink walls. CHECK. 

Er, excuse me?

Apparently Ms Conran let her daughter chose the wall colour, an evil which has been compounded by picking out the ornate mouldings in stark white, making the whole thing look like a particularly tasteless wedding cake.

So, in the run up to Mother’s Day, I’d like to ask the delightful mirrormirror commentariat two simple questions.  Is this kitchen fugly and should kids ever be allowed to make décor decision not immediately pertaining to their own bedrooms?


In previous Go Fug Your Room news, around 30% of you liked Adam Levine’s house (and weren’t influenced in any way, shape or form by his cute smile. No sirree). Around 30% of you thought it was fugly and 40% of you were meh on the whole thing.


21 February 2012

Mary Katrantzou for TOPSHOP


Well I tried but all that was left on the website was a scarf and a pair of floral leggings and I think floral leggings are a bit too mutton-dressed-as-lamb even for me. 


I’ve blogged about my love for Greek designer Mary Katrantzou before, so I was thrilled to learn that she was producing a limited edition capsule collection of nine pieces for TopShop.  And my goodness they’re beautiful and so surprisingly WEARABLE, particularly the figure-skimming silk tunic and blouse. 

I’ve started stalking eBay, but the prices are absolutely cray-cray. Please TopShop make some more!

Did anyone out there get any pieces?  Are they as lovely as they look?


02 May 2011

Separated at Birth - Princess Beatrice



A reindeer



Princess Beatrice of York

I’ve seen this hat compared to a beribboned toilet bowl and Gaga’s lobster, but this separated at birth comes courtesy of the Minx, who really couldn’t believe her eyes.  I love the way that the people in both pictures of Beatrice are having a good old smirk (though Princess Eugenie looked no less ridiculous).


LaplandReindeer_wideweb__470x305,0 beatrice hat


And seriously, I know Philip Treacy is supposed to be some sort of millinery genius, but honestly most of his many, many hats on the day were awful. Somebody really should have tweaked his meds.

29 April 2011

Separated At Birth – Zara Phillips’ Hat


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                                Zara Phillips’ Hat                                                                                          Satellite Dish

It’s the obvious comparison of course, and in fact this was one of my favourite hats of the day, but this is just in case anyone in the Abbey couldn’t work out why the service was being constantly interrupted by garbled Chinese porn films and messages from outer space.

I also love how the Queen’s next grandson-in-law-to-be looks like such a thug, albeit a very jovial one.

Separated At Birth – Chelsy Davy


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                       Next royal bride Chelsy Davy                                                        Busty barmaid Bet Lynch


Prince Harry’s date and the potential next royal bride Chelsy Davy is a dead ringer for Bet Lynch. That’ll mean beans to any American readers, but suffice it to say that she was the busty ‘tart with a heart’ barmaid in Britain’s long running soap opera Coronation Street.

Random Wedding Thoughts – Victoria Beckham


It seems that poor dear not-particularly-especially-in-this-company-Posh Spice is so deranged by pregnancy hormones that she forgot to remove her gown after going to the hair salon to have her pony tail clipped on.




Luckily for us, that means we can copy what she wore to the wedding for a mere £14.99 from Amazon. She’s also clearly of the opinion that if she slapped on enough eyeliner, fake tan and ridiculous shoes, we’d forget she was in her third trimester.

Nope, didn’t work for me either.

Hat was one of Philip Treacy’s better efforts on the day. But what’s with the hew-fangled ‘unicorn’ style of hat wearing nowadays? The Minx and I thought it was hilarious.

Royal Wedding Random Thoughts – The Cake


I’m super tired and still childishly excited – the family had a ton of fun watching the festivities in bed last night – but I’ll be posting up a few random thoughts throughout the day today. All in all I thought the whole thing was a stunning success, made me proud to be British and more homesick than I can possibly describe.  It’s London I miss, God love that huge, dirty, smelly, GLORIOUS city. 

I’ll get to the dress later on, but first up I wanted to share some pictures of the cake – one of the most stunning examples of the cakemaker’s art I’ve ever seen.





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Just look at that exquisite craftsmanship and incredible attention to detail. I have no idea how they could bear to cut into it.



“The wedding cake, designed by Fiona Cairns, is made from 17 individual fruit cakes (12 of which form the base) and has eight tiers. The cake has been decorated with cream and white icing using the Joseph Lambeth technique. There are up to 900 individually iced flowers and leaves of 17 different varieties decorated on the cake. A garland design around the middle of the cake matches the architectural garlands decorated around the top of the Picture Gallery in Buckingham Palace, the room in which the cake will be displayed.


And yes, it was a fruit cake which can, contrary to most American opinion it seems, be utterly delicious.


They’re Getting Married in the Morning




On the night of Charles and Diana’s wedding I had gone with a bunch of teenage friends to see the fireworks in Hyde Park.  It was a warm July night and London was en fete. 

I’d promised my mother faithfully that we’d get the last bus back, but after the fireworks were over and we’d squashed through the gates of the park with thousands of other people, it became obvious that there was no hope of making it home. I remember having to queue for ages outside an old-fashioned red phone box to give her the news that no, I wouldn’t be coming home, and yes, we’d be spending the night out on the street.

We found a space with a pretty good view on the Strand near St Clement Danes (the Oranges and Lemons church) and sat down on the pavement to wait out the night. My overriding memory is of how happy and good- humoured people were – everyone, even the police officers, laughing and joking, cheering every little incident, letting small kids get to the front, sharing food with people (ie. us) who had brought none. 

What we saw was nothing like what you see on telly -  just the procession trotting past us in one direction and back again the other way. There were no screens and the ceremony itself was relayed over speakers. Diana’s dress was crammed into the carriages and we hardly knew what it was like until we saw it later on TV. And yet it was one of the best nights and days of my life.

I so wanted to be in London for this day, but couldn’t make it work.  If you’re there give London a kiss and a hug from me, I’ve been so terribly homesick this week and watching the beginnings of the coverage is making my heart ache.. I’ll be staying up all night watching the coverage in bed with the Minx, wearing pyjamas and my big wedding hat.  The Minx has her favourite princess costume and tiara all picked out. There’s champagne, the fixings for a full English breakfast and and Prince William’s favourite chocolate biscuit cake in the fridge and I’ll be Tweeting up a storm, come and  find me on @mirrormirrorxx

But it won’t be the same. Sniff.

11 April 2011

Sweet View


These Sweet View prints by artist Jack Noel are really resonating with me this morning.  Over the last couple of years I’ve been gently researching my family tree on my father’s side and it seems I’m a Londoner as far back as I can trace – at least seven generations to silkweavers in Spitalfields and Bethnal Green; chairmakers and cabinetmakers in Brentford and bookbinders and stationers near the Strand.

This series of prints shows London as it’s lived by Londoner -  not the hackneyed tourist images but ‘views of the crossroads, markets and hidden squares that provide the true backdrop to a life in London”. So far he’s done six of the inner London boroughs, with another six to come later this year.



Hackney  The view shows St Leonard’s Church in Shoreditch (the famous ‘Oranges & Lemons’ church) – generations of my family were christened and married here.



Tower Hamlets (Columbia Road Market)



Westminster (I love how this is a corner of Trafalgar Square without a view of Nelson’s Column)



Southwark (Borough Market)








Really hoping he does a view of Notting Hill for Kensington & Chelsea.

04 April 2011

KK Outlet Wedding Plates


There’s twenty four days to go until the Royal Wedding, so I’m continuing our round up of rather brilliant souvenirs. In fact you’ve all been sending through such fabulous links I’ll put together a proper round up post in the next day or two.

In the meantime, these plates are extremely special and deserve a post of their own. London-based communications and creative agency/gallery KK Outlet commissioned up and coming designers to create a collection of unofficial commemorative china for the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.  They’re available online here and they’ll ship all over the world.



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16 March 2011

Royal Wedding Watch - Knit Your Own Royal Wedding


Are you looking forward to the Royal Wedding?

Even hard-bitten and cynical little me is getting very excited.  What’s not to love - London and dresses and kisses and big hats.  I was even thinking of going back for it until they inconsiderately decided to hold it in April, which meant we couldn’t really combine it with a summer vacation.  Instead I’m going to have to get up at 3 am to watch coverage here on the West Coast.

Or else I may just knit these and replay the Royal Wedding for myself at a more civilised time of the morning.



Here’s the happy couple. Personally I’m a little disappointed in Kate’s dress.


Captttqure Captqtqure


The Queen and Prince Harry will be the other stars of the show and there will no doubt be a lot of royal corgis running round and tripping up the footmen. Though you could’ve worn a rather more spectacular hat, ma’am.


Capfaafature tqtq



Here’s that poignant moment when William sees his beautiful bride for the first time – just loving Wills’ and Harry’s hair here. Note you can even knit yourself a mini Archbishop of Canterbury, though I’m not sure why you’d want to.




And here’s the kiss we’ll all be waiting for – with accompanying Prince Charles, Camilla (boo!) and Prince Philip figures.

The book Knit Your Own Royal Wedding is by Fiona Gable, and if I weren’t suffering from Carmen Banana fatigue I would be seriously tempted to buy it.




Lots more Royal Wedding coverage coming up. I can’t wait to do ‘Separated At Birth’ on the wedding guests.


22 October 2010

Go Love Your Shop – Kate Spade Pop-Up Shop


The Kate Spade brand is not well known in the UK, but that should all change with their new month long pop-up shop in London’s Covent Garden.

If ‘mirrormirror’ were ever to turn into a physical bricks and mortar shop then this is exactly how I envisaged it in my mind.  In fact forget about shopping, I just want to move in and live there.

Of course the stunning Georgian house with a its gracious staircase and light, bright rooms provides the perfect backdrop to all the pretty – does anyone fancy lending me £10 million?


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More pics here and fab vid below.

Have any of you Londoners been yet?

26 July 2010

Go Fug Your Room – Sebastian Conran


Or, when designers don’t decorate.

I opened my new copy of Livingetc with some excitement as the front cover promised me an ‘at home with Sebastian Conran’.  I knew he had one of those huge Victorian wedding cake houses in Notting Hill and this would surely provide some great material for a ‘Go Love Your Room’ post.

For those of you in the US who may be unaware of them, the Conrans are pretty much design royalty in the UK.  Designer Sir Terence Conran founded the Habitat chain and the Conran Shop, has published a series of seminal works on interior design and owns a string of beautifully-designed, fabulous food-serving restaurants in London. He almost single-handedly dragged Britain out of the chintzy Fifties into the fab Sixties interiors-wise and has been a giant on the UK design scene ever since.

His children from various marriages are also successful designers and foodies in their own right – fashion designer Jasper, Notting Hill restaurateur Tom, interior designer and foodie Sophie and product designer Sebastian.

Sebastian is well-known as a product designer, probably most famously as the design brains behind Nigella Lawson’s Living Kitchen range, though as you can see from his website he has a number of great products to his credit.






And there’s no denying that he’s got some great STUFF.  Wink chairs, Le Corbusier lounger, antique rugs, Arco lamp, interesting art, iconic Sex Pistols  and the Clash poster artwork (designed by Conran as a student).




Top-6.BMP Top 

Top1 Top-4


AND there’s no denying that he has, as you’d expect, paid a lot of attention to detail. The units, for example,  are painted in a colour Sebastian created from a gouache of stainless steel, “I wanted a shade that had the same tonal value as the metal to give cohesion to the mix of materials”.  A lot of remodelling has been done – hallways widened, door frames raised, huge French doors installed at the back and the sightlines adjusted to make sure the vistas through the house were perfectly aligned.




And yet, and yet, I can’t help feeling that this looks a bit like a student bedsit, with white walls, mismatched chairs, posters on the walls and rumpled rugs (albeit a student with access to a phenomenal amount of money).

Everything seems somewhat haphazard and studiously UNdecorated – no interesting curtains or cushions (except in the bedroom and you can bet they belong to the stylist), no unifying colour scheme or much colour of any description, no flashes of wit, no striking arrangements, no interesting light fixtures. It’s the home of someone who celebrates form and function over everything and as such seems both curiously sterile, strangely uncohesive and not particularly comfortable.

What do you guys think?


{All images and Sebastian Conran quotes from Livingetc August 2010}

20 January 2010

Small But Perfectly Formed

As you may have noticed I’ve become slightly obsessed by all things tiny and dollshousy recently, so I was thrilled and delighted to see a dolls house, would you believe, get a full editorial spread in last month’s Elle Deco UK.

Of course in order to hold its own against the fabulous full size apartments on show, this was of course no ordinary dolls house.  It’s a pretty vintage 1960s house full of lovingly collected vintage furniture and showcasing miniature versions of designer Deborah Bowness’s handprinted trompe l’oeil wallpapers, put together by Bowness and her friend Emily Chalmers of East London vintage store Caravan

I sort of want to move in immediately.







12 October 2009

Pearly Kings and Queens

One of the main things that really drew my eye to the Lulu Guinness spread was the magnificent Pearly Queen of Dalston  wallhanging above the banquette. I love everything about it – its wit, the fact that it’s made of buttons, its quintessential Englishness, the colours – and it seemed like just that sort of thing an expat Londoner would hang over her Seattle sofa.

I even vaguely thought about commissioning one, but it soon became clear from sculptor Ann Carrington’s website that it would be way out of my league – it’s apparently a fairly important piece, purchased by the Rothschild collection in honour of the Queen’s 80th birthday, and doesn’t belong to Lulu Guinness at all, it merely served as the inspiration for her limited edition ‘Stamp Jayne’ handbag (shown to the left of the banquette picture and seemingly no longer available through her shop).

Here it is in more detail



And here are some other works by the artist, both made using thousands of tiny pearl buttons.



I wonder, though, if American readers are getting the cultural reference?

Pearly Kings and Queens are the heads of certain families in London’s East End, descended I think from Victorian costermongers (street sellers?) who decorate their black clothes with thousands of tiny buttons and do tons of work for charity.



Pearlykingandqueen   postcard21

If you like the look then these cushions here are pretty special.


07 October 2009

Go Love Your Room? – Lulu Guinness

I’m a little bit on the fence about this one, as it’s a little too romantically girly for my taste, but there’s still a lot to love in Lulu Guinness’ Notting Hill house.


Love the refreshing colours, but there’s too much spindly furniture – which never looks comfortable and wallow-y


My least favourite room in the house.  I love her bags, but I’m not a fan of LG’s bedding (it’s from her homewares range) and the mural commissioned from an art student doesn’t redeem things much. And I do wonder who dusts that collection of powder compacts.

First up the bones of the house are superb – the Victorian houses built in Notting Hill are larger and grander than in other parts of London, so the proportions are generally, as in this case, more splendid.

And there’s something about the quality of the light there, I lived in Notting Hill for twelve years and even on gloomy days it always seemed brighter and lighter than the rest of London – something to do with the white coloured houses and the sunset views to the west.  But maybe it was just because I loved living there so much.

But I digress.

I love the eclecticism of the decor, the bold use of colour, the collections of objects which are clearly much loved and personal and the way the whole thing reflects LG’s own quirky feminine but slightly kitsch style. (Is she well known in the US? I haven’t come across her here.  In the UK she is renowned as a handbag designer, but she also designs homewares.)


I ADORE the pearly queen wallhanging and her tchotchkes (one of my favourite American words) are mostly fab though wonder how practical it is to have everything lined up behind the banquette like that.


The other interesting aspect is how the house has evolved since it was last photographed in 2001 (seen here on Hidden in France) – LG has kept many of the same pieces but the style is a little more pared down and the colour palette more restrained, with much more use of white.  It’s so refreshing to see a wealthy person who doesn’t throw everything out and start again every few years, but who keeps their house full of familiar, much-loved  treasures.



Kitchen 2009


Kitchen 2001


Just loving all the perspex and the black and white



I’ve always loved her trademark perfume bottles

What do you think? {All images, by the way, from Living etc}

06 October 2009

Seeing Things – the Surreal Line

What I like about art is that sometimes it teaches you to look at things with a different perspective.

In my life I must have spent thousands upon thousands  of hours commuting backwards and forwards on the Tube in London, but never once did I think to look for these surreal juxtapositions of Tube trains/passengers and the huge ad posters which are posted on the other side of tunnels from the platforms.

Genius stuff. By Yusuf Ozkizil.







And now these pictures have got me all nostalgic for the Tube.  Who knew that I would think of those days of being crammed in like sardines with one’s nose stuck in someone’s smelly armpit with such fondness?

25 September 2009

Dead Good

We’ve talked about British furniture company Deadgood before and I’m completely smitten by the cute little ‘Capsule’ sofa and chair they unveiled at 100% Design.





Who are the good independent furniture designers in the US?  I’d love to find stuff like this here, but don’t seem to be able to track it down. (Check out more from 100% Design – oh how I miss it – here)

Update: Just editing to show the comments that have been appearing on my Facebook page….maybe I’m liking this chair a little less now…


18 September 2009

Plates with Holes – Andrew Tanner

Not terribly practical if you’re chasing your peas round your plate, but I do like the way these wall plates with holes subvert the whole plate as practical item concept.  And look nice too.


All details of British designer Andrew Tanner’s Silhouette plates are here.

17 September 2009

Scribbler on the Wall – Charlotte Mann

Feeling down because you can’t afford the latest must-have chair, your partner is allergic to the cats you love, or the view from your window is less than stellar?

Why not just grab a black marker and paint the things you crave on your white walls instead? That’s what London artist Charlotte Mann does, which has garnered her a spot on the shortlist for the British Design Awards 2009 in the Surface Design of the Year category.


Image of journalist India Knight’s house from October’s Elle Deco





All other images from

10 September 2009


Isn’t this rather gorge? It doesn’t quite fit into our house decor, and it costs an absolute fortune, but je l’adore, oh yes I do.

To me it sort of sums up Britain in a way - different and edgy, fun and funky, a mish-mash of styles, slightly uncomfortable-looking and with a heart of pure unadulterated old-fashioned chintz.




Available at the Rug Company, { via Countryside Wedding}

07 August 2009

Alexander McQueen’s (Ex) East London Home

As you know around here we’re rather partial to a peek at fashion designers’ houses (we’re looking at you Matthew Williamson, Betsey Johnson and Vanessa Bruno), so here for your delectation and delight are pictures of Alexander McQueen’s East London townhouse. {From the Real Estalker via the HolyMoly mailout – yes I do read it}

I don’t think it’s fair to make this a ‘Go Fug Your Room’ candidate as these photos are only estate agent’s photos and don’t fully reflect McQueen’s personal style, but it’s still interesting to snoop.

Personally I’m finding this rather boring.  As you may have guessed I’m not hugely into minimalism at the best of times, but this strikes me as rather boring minimalism. My main gripe is with all the square and boxy built-ins – I prefer a few elegant curves in my rooms.  And that house looks as if it dates from the 1850s? so it probably had quite a few nice original features – ceiling mouldings, fireplaces etc -  which have all been summarily destroyed.

I also have to say that this house could benefit hugely from a bit of American-style home staging – some pictures, maybe a rug and a funky chair here and there would make all the difference.


I am loving the roof deck (though for me the glass skylight directly above the bed is not exactly a selling point), the pond thingy (pool?) and what we can see of the outside spaces though. Here the minimalist lines are softened by the plants, though a few flowers wouldn’t go amiss.


Anyway, if this house is for you it will only set you back 1.7 million pounds (I’ve just got a new computer and now have no idea how to find a pound sign) or around $2.8 million.  Please bear in mind though, that this house is in Hackney, one of the, shall we say, edgiest areas of inner London.

11 March 2009

Light Up My Life

Jona Hoad is a UK-based lighting designer, who specialises in wallpaper-like lighting panels and lighting installations for hotel bars, restaurants and your house if you've got enough money.


Here are some pictures from the DeVigne Bar in Marylebone and the Vanilla Bar in Soho. Sometimes I do like a bit of spangly overthetopness.








I also liked these pictures from his website, which reveal that things are not always as they seem in the world of interiors photoshoots.




03 March 2009

Go Love Your Room - Victorian House in London

I was awash with nostalgia after seeing these pictures on Crooked Shmooked of the quintessential London Victorian house. Most of our friends with kids in London live in houses like this and if we had stayed in London I'm sure it's the sort of family house we would have ended up buying.  (This particular house is not far from where we lived in Notting Hill in London and in an area we were definitely considering moving to).

Vast swathes of houses like these were put up in the 19th century all over London, and while this is certainly not on the cutting edge decor-wise it's a very well done example of the genre, is quintessentially London and the sort of decor I love. If you want to use it for a photoshoot all details are here.


Come in! The encaustic tiiles inside and out are very Victorian and very typical, but the colour of the front door is fresh and modern and the beautiful stained glass is again a very Victorian idea, though I'm not sure if the glass in this particular door has been restored and modernised.



I've sat in so many rooms like this, with beautifully ornate fireplaces, a large bay window and an ugly telly tucked in the corner, because no one knows quite where to put it. Not sure about the sofa though.



104   92


Got to love the that Paul Smith 'Love' needlepoint from the Rug Company.  It's the companion piece to the one hanging in Carrie Bradshaw's redecorated apartment and something I'd love to have here in Seattle, if only George Bush and Gordon Brown hadn't stolen all our money.


I wish twinkly interior light strings were more prevalent in the US.  We had them all over the flat in London and you can generally find good examples at Habitat and Graham & Green.  Unfortunately the voltage is all wrong for the States (which we forgot about when we shipped some twinkly lights back for the Minx's room last year).


Pretty much everyone in London has extended into the loft to get a bit more space.

28 February 2009

Happy Clouds

 Happy Clouds by Stuart Semple


Oh please, London readers, tell me you saw these. What were they like? How did they make you feel? Did you kidnap one and take it home with you? (Despite the grey skies and general doom and gloom coming out of the UK, they made me very nostalgic for London today).

London artist Stuart Semple wanted to cheer people up, so he released 2057 pink smiley faced clouds made of helium, biodegradable soap and vegetable dye into the sky. After 30 minutes they dissolved in the air. More deets here.

21 January 2009

Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day - Set Decor

Last Saturday evening, I lit the scented candles, cracked open a bottle of Baileys, got out my knitting and settled down to watch Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day.  We like to live fast and die young round these parts.

The film itself is slighter than slight, though perfect Saturday night fodder, and utterly redeemed by Frances McDormand's perfectly judged comic performance, the incredible Art Deco costumes and interiors and lots of lovely shots of Art Deco London.

It's not really my taste, but there's something about the sophisticated colour palette; the handpainted wallpaper; the sheen and glamour; the fur and the padding; the satin and chandeliers which makes you want to spend all day lying in bed eating oysters, drinking champagne and receiving gentlemen callers.





Here's the trailer so you can see the sets in action.


17 January 2009

Life is for Sharing

When I first started working in the City I used to commute into Liverpool Street Station every day.  I miss London SO much. Best TV advert EVAH.

09 December 2008

Go Fug Your Room? Matthew Williamson's London House

I've put a question mark here as I actually rather like the very funky, very London, house belonging to British fashion designer Matthew Williamson, which has been featured in both September's Domino and now in January's Elle Deco UK.  However I can understand if it's not exactly other people's cup of tea and would love to know what you think.

Personally I love the way he mixes old and new, ethnic sensibilities, colours and patterns and the whole seems very much a reflection of his personality.

I'm not saying I would choose to live here - I'm not convinced I could cope with mirrored armchairs, spinal cord wallpaper, that bright a colour scheme and all the Indian stuff doesn't do much for me - but in the end this is a very personal space, doesn't feel 'try hard' unlike the Miles Redd space below and contains quite a lot of stuff I absolutely adore. It's probably closest in feel to the Betsey Johson apartment we critiqued pulled apart earlier this year, though it seems much less cluttered and the colour scheme isn't so execrable.

First up the two covers of the magazines provide an interesting Britain v America moment as both publications use exactly the same corner of the dining area on their covers. 

image0-12 image0-13

Elle Deco's styling of the room is much less cluttered - no cushion on the chair, nothing on the tulip table, no globe in the corner and less junk on the console under the mirror. The chandelier also seems to have 'disappeared'. I like the pretty boxes they've added on the console and the Fornasetti plate over the mirror is inspired.    Interestingly though, Elle Deco has put Williamson on the cover, which they hardly ever do, whereas Domino, which is usually no stranger to cheesey celeb shots for once doesn't have a person at all.  Note that Elle Deco has made the room seem far less 'white' by punching up the colour, having the coloured wall reflect in the mirror, cropping away from the white window and er, 'painting' the ceiling. Which cover do you prefer?

image0-4 image0-3

{Images from Elle Deco} 

Funnily enough the globe and the table dolly return when Elle Deco shows some interior shots, suggesting that Domino stuck with the original styling. I quite like that Designer's Guild wallpaper and am a sucker for white vinyl floors. And I love the mix of the Eames chairs, the tulip table and that fabulous peacock chair. The mirror is a bit baroque for my taste, but has a nostalgia factor for me as it was apparently bought on the Golborne Road, just round the corner from where I used to live in Notting Hill.

image0-6   image0-7

I love what he's done with this sofa. That is all. Curtain treatment is strangely boring though.

{Above images from Domino}


Mirrored armchair does NOT look cosy.  Still loving the white vinyl floor.  Love the windows and orange paint, not sure about the mirror mosaic fireplace, don't like the mirror, though I see what he's trying to do. Those books sure move around a lot.


Light installation in the stairwell.  Best thing in the house.  As Rachel Zoe would say, I die.


Fuchsia pink kitchen bar area.  Personally wouldn't have done it quite such a girly colour. But still rather fabulous.


Ha ha!  You can tell we're in London from the pokey bathroom. Thought Venetian mirrors with modern had been done to death by now, but like the collage on the wall. I used to do things like that in my teens.  Haven't we see these vases before?


image0-9Lovely floral wallpaper in bedroom.  Except it's not a floral.  Wallpaper design is made up of spinal cords and ribs.  I love the effect, but am far too squeamish to have this in a bedroom.

18 November 2008


Oh, Muji, Muji, Muji how I love and miss you! 

Oh Muji, Muji, Muji how I hate that when I try shopping at your online store you say it will cost me £19.99 (approx $30) to have your nicely made, affordable stuff shipped to the US.  When on earth are you going to open a US online store? Thank goodness I have accommodating in-laws.

Here are some of my favourite Muji things.

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5055198258189_l  5055198258288_l

5055198258516_l 5055198258455_l

cookie cutter  5055198258882_l

All available here if you're in Europe or you're prepared to pay the shipping. Lottie writes a beautiful eulogy to Muji here. Here's a description with photos of Muji's new flagship store in Tokyo.

04 November 2008

Barack the Vote


This was the genuine front page of the UK's Daily Mirror after the last debacle.  Guys, you know what you have to do.  Please don't let the world down again.

15 October 2008

La Tour Trellick

We're going to be back in the UK for Christmas.  The day itself will be spent with friends in Bath, we'll be visiting family and friends in and around London and then hopefully back to Notting Hill for a few days (though sadly not to the flat - we still have it, but it's rented out at the moment).

You know how there are places in the world that just suit your personality? Well Notting Hill is one of my places.  We lived there for twelve years before coming to Seattle and I still miss it horribly.

022If the Eiffel Tower is the enduring symbol of Paris, then the Trellick Tower, which looms over the north end of the Portobello Road market is the enduring symbol of Notting Hill.

It's not a pretty building.  Built at the tail-end of the sixties, this Brutalist tower block by Erno Goldfinger (such a great name) soon became a byword for the sort of social problems that plagued tower blocks (and Notting Hill) at the time. But as the tower has cleaned up its act and Notting Hill has become gentrified, it has become a London icon and flats in the tower now command a huge premium, with top-floor flats, which have some of the best views in London, being almost impossible to come by. (I found this photo of the tower in my files - I've never been able to take very good pictures of it though).

It's also become a sort of ironic design icon.  Here it is on ceramics and teatowels from People Will Always Need Plates.  I'm going to put a couple of plates on my Christmas list. 




04 February 2008

Go Fug Your Room - Kelly Hoppen

With apologies to the Fug girls.

I have been discussing with Elaine from my new BFF blog Decorno the importance of having opinions, of which she has many very forthright ones.

As a cynical Brit I do find the 'hearts and puppies' stuff you find on some other blogs a bit difficult to cope with, so I've been thinking for some time of doing a 'rooms I hate' series on here.  Though I was gutted to find that Elaine already does this (and much better), if you want more snark.

But I digress. Today's room is from the doyenne of British interior design Kelly Hoppen.  Ms Hoppen has built an empire on designing rooms for people with so little personality that even colour is considered to be freakishly avant garde.  She has even produced a range of beige paint. Her rooms shriek 'good taste' so loudly that they end up having not much taste at all.


This example from Homes and Gardens is apparently part of a new London house built for an American client.

I have to say that I do like how she plays with different textures within the neutral palette, and her signature black wenge floors and the subtle pleated pelmets at the top of the curtains which work in a room this big and imposing.

But everything, from the immense table, to the huge black armoire and the heavily bevelled mirror is just so stolid; and a room without colour would drive me me mad in about thirty seconds (just one little hot pink flower arrangement somewhere PLEASE); and I hate that this is a brand new house but filled with repro details; and the way the knick knacks have clearly been bought in by the yard and there's not a single thing in here that is treasured or has history. And most of all I hate that the chairs are wearing dresses.

Didn't chair dresses go out in the 80s?  Weren't they just things in 'Ideas for Soft Furnishings' books that no one ever made?  Or if you did make them it was to disguise the fact that your chairs were all mismatched and rickety and came from a junk shop?  Which I hardly think is the problem here, since the table apparently costs upwards of £50,000. And the wonky seam on that chair with its back to us is driving me nuts.

What do you all think?  Get dissing discussing in the comments.

24 September 2007

United Colors of Notting Hill

Click to enlarge. The picture at top left is Sienna Miller's new boutique.

20 September 2007

Happy Birthday to Me

I got a piece of Brie.

It was my birthday on our last day in London and my husband's gift was a very smelly piece of unpasteurised Brie.  Never let it be said that that man is not a romantic. God it was good though.

We of course had a phenomenally lovely time. The sun shone (even on my birthday, which absolutely NEVER happens); we met friends and family seemingly at every hour of the day and night; the Minx was beside herself with excitement and kept exclaiming ' I LOVE England'; we went to a very glamorous and lovely party; and mirrormirror was successfully transferred to its new base in Cambridge. 

And the Minx only woke up twice last night and managed to sleep through to 6 am which is a new jetlag record. So life is charmed indeed. 

05 January 2007

And a time for making new friends

Father Christmas made a special visit on Christmas Day, courtesy of our friend's father.

So we're off back to Seattle tomorrow. 

We have had a magical Christmas.  There's nothing like being in the country for only a limited amount of time to make all your friends eager to meet up, so we've been having the most incredibly social time and meeting up with different people morning and evening, for lunch and dinner. I'm twice the size I was when I arrived, utterly exhausted and my liver is screaming for mercy.

The Minx has had the most fabulous time.  It's amazing to see how much she remembers - she has been thrilled to see all her little friends and her favourite animals, playgrounds and parks.  Every day has brought a new treat, and it's been gorgeous to see her literally dancing and clapping her hands with excitement. 

Which is all making me feel like the world's worst mother taking her back to Seattle. We haven't made that many friends there yet - certainly none to rival the group of babies that the Minx has known since very soon after she was born - and life is rather more sedate and much more mummy-centric than it is here.

I think we're going to have to come back very soon.

I'm absolutely dreading tomorrow's ten hour flight and the subsequent jetlag - though for me the journey will finally mark the end of the old year and the beginning of a new one. 

We've had a pretty tough time for a variety of reasons over the past few years, but 2007 is currently seeming pregnant with potential.  I can't wait to see what the next few months bring.

04 January 2007

Christmas is...

... good food and wine

15 November 2006

Notting Hill

One of the reasons I'm feeling so homesick is that our last week in Notting Hill was such as lovely one.

The weather was spectacularly good - amazingly warm for the beginning of November, with cloudless crisp blue skies.  It seemed impossible that it could ever rain in London.

After we moved out of our flat, we stayed at Guesthouse West  on Westbourne Grove, the hotel where we'd held our leaving party a couple of weeks previously (which I just didn't have time to blog about).

It's a lovely little hotel, though it must be admitted that our room was rather cramped, what with a baby and a cot and the fact that we were maxing out our inflight baggage allowance and had a ludicrous number of suitcases. 

But the staff were friendliness personified - as they had been at our party - the public rooms inordinately comfortable, and the location to die for.

So I spent the last few days lunching at 202, lounging with friends in the hotel bar, popping out to Tavola and playing with the make-up in Space NK

Some girlfriends and I dined in the labyrinthine gothic cosiness of Julie's - a Notting Hill institution if ever there was one - renowned for its incredibly sexy ambience (it's the nooks and crannies that do it) and dreadful food, though even that rose to the occasion by being really quite edible. 

I also finally found the time to use the gift voucher for the uber-hip Cowshed in Clarendon Cross which I'd been given for Mother's Day and treated myself to a 'Cowgroom' - two therapists working together to give a facial and a manicure, with all sorts of extra head, shoulder and feet massages thrown in.  I think it was utterly blissful, but can't be quite sure as I fell asleep half way through.  My skin and nails sure looked fabulous afterwards though.

All in all, and for a brief few days, I got to experience what Notting Hill must be like if you've got unlimited money and unlimited free time, or indeed if you're the woman in the therapy cubicle next to mine, who could be heard declaiming loudly, 'yes, darling, I've got a premiere tonight and I can't possibly go with hairy armpits'.

Yes, I was DYING to see who it was, but at the time was half-naked and pinned down by two beauticians, so couldn't go and peek through the curtains.

30 October 2006

Moving On

I am writing this surrounded by packed up boxes, trying to steel myself for yet another evening of sorting and packing.

Tonight is our last night in the flat.  In every direction all I can see are boxes and memories.


This is the flat I bought eleven years ago as a single girl, though my boyfriend at the time I was buying it soon became my fiance and then my husband.

This is the flat where I spent the night before my wedding and to which I came back as a new bride.

This is the flat which has seen me return late and leave early for four different jobs and it was at this desk overlooking the street that I decided to start mirrormirror.

This is the flat which has been stuffed full of cushions, candles and packing boxes for the best part of the last two years.

This is the flat where I suffered through four miscarriages and where I discovered I was pregnant with the Minx.

This is the flat where I had a terrible bleeding episode while pregnant and was convinced I was miscarrying, only to find that the baby was still safe and sound.

This is the flat which we brought our baby home to after a worrying week in the Special Baby Unit, where we tiptoed around introducing her to every room.

This is the flat where I sat breastfeeding for hours at a time feeling depressed and miserable.

This is the flat where my baby learned to walk and learned to talk.

This is the flat where we decided to go to Seattle. 

This is the flat where I've spent the happiest years of my life so far.

The photos are not very good, being quickly taken one evening to send to a journalist.  You must also remember that normally the flat is covered with a thick layer of bright plastic toys.

15 October 2006

Origin-ality (silver and ceramics)

Better late than never, I thought I'd post up my thoughts on Origin, the fabulous new London craft fair, which has been taking place over the last two weeks in a superb new venue in the courtyard at Somerset House.

The purpose-built pavilion was wonderful - spacious and full of natural light - and the show itself was the perfect size -  loads to see, but ending before that point when your eyes glaze over and you never want to see another hand-knitted teapot ever again.  And we were lucky enough to go on two occasions when it was warm enough to have lunch afterwards outside on the terrace overlooking th Thames, such a fab thing to be doing in October in London.

Anyway, highlights for me included Sian Matthews' amazing bendy pewter doilies (which looked great bent round a coffee table)


and etched silver bowls on matching acrylic mats.

and Lynn Miller's funky silver and acrylic salad servers and ice cream paddles (which would make a great Christening gift - fancy being 'born with a silver ice cream paddle in one's mouth').  I'm clearly going through a silver and acrylic moment.

In ceramics I loved the handpainted vases and platters from Alexandra Mitchell and Annette Bugansky's wonderful 'knitted' vases (also some fabulous 'knitted' ceramic buttons).  I'm going to be exploring whether we can get some of their products onto mirrormirror.

I also treated myself to a 'ceramic butter dish that looks like Tupperware' from the lovely Johanna at YoYo Ceramics and am also investigating getting her apples and Pears kitchen tidies into the shop.

The absolute ceramics highlights for me though were finally meeting up with one of our favourite suppliers and blogging superstar Karin Eriksson and seeing the work of the amazing Kate McBride, who makes incredible rococo-style porcelain, which at first glance looks like it should be in Buckingham Palace, but which reveals all sort of witty modern references when you examine it more closely.

I'm not entirely sure her work would fit into my house (just imagine the dusting!), and it really is too kitsch for school, but the absolute highlight of the whole two weeks for me was the sublime madness of her enormous and literally awe-inspiring rococo porcelain lovers' chess set, complete with large porcelain figurines representing the chess pieces and a standalone porcelain double bed and wedding chapel that the pieces could retire to half way through the game (don't ask) .  Apparently Selfridges have commissioned a couple (which will retail for £750) and I would have got one in for mirrormirror, but it's not exactly mail-order friendly.  Unfortunately Kate doesn't yet have a picture of it available on her website.


I've just realised that I've got loads more people to mention so I think there's scope for another post tomorrow

14 September 2006

Legacy of 9/11

Off to the US Embassy in Grosvenor Square today to finalize our visa application.

Grosvenor Square in the heart of Mayfair is one of London's largest and most beautiful squares. But now the area round the embassy is surrounded by a cordon of heavy concrete blocks, the embassy itself is surrounded by temporary and ugly metal fencing, and heavily armed police are patrolling in all directions. British police aren't usually armed, so it still comes as a shock to see policemen brandishing the latest in automatic weaponry. 

Armed with dozens of forms in triplicate, and photographs that made us look like the Baader-Meinhof gang (the Minx looks particularly evil), we presented ourselves at the end of the first queue outside the building. And were then led to another queue.  And then another queue. Only then were we allowed into the building via airport-like security, checking in laptops and mobile phones along the way.  No liquids or cosmetics are allowed.  

Once inside, the process was actually more efficient than we'd feared - a couple of hours waiting in a cavernous waiting room, fingerprints taken and re-taken, forms and photographs double and triple checked, followed by a rather cursory interview (am I being cynical in thinking that our skin colour might have had something to do with this?)

As we left the building we were directed for the first time past the imposing front staircase, and marvelled that once upon an innocent time, passers-by must have been able to walk up and down these stairs as they pleased.  Now no passer-by can get within 30 yards of the building, brooding behind its concrete and steel cordon. 

Isn't it sad to think that - according to this very interesting article -  the building was initially conceived as an embassy and cultural centre - with people popping into the library to learn more about American culture, attend a jazz concert or visit an art exhibition?

12 September 2006

Shopping Notting Hill - Part 2

So you've just been dragged kicking and screaming out of Diptyque and need some sort of addictive substance to calm your nerves. Your best bet is to turn the corner into Ledbury Road and pop into melt  - London's coolest chocolatier according to Time Out

The shop itself is white and cool, with shelves and tables groaning with handmade chocolates.  At the back is a shiny stainless steel kitchen where the chocolates are actually made.

The flavours can be exotic - truffles filled with passionfruit, raspberry or mango coulis or flavoured with green tea or coconut - or traditional with caramel, mint, nuts or marzipan.  By way of research I found myself buying an assortment for the Husband's birthday and can confirm that they are some of the most delicious chocolates I've ever tasted (and believe me that's saying something).



After you've staggered out of melt, the next thing to do is cross the road to Ottolenghi, yet another newish deli - which specialises in the most delicious pre-prepared food, breads and cakes to take away.  There are also a couple of tables at the back where you can eat in, but they are almost impossible to get hold of. 



A bit of retail therapy will soothe your disappointment at not getting a table, so pop round the corner to Brissi on the north side of Westbourne Grove - for very  chic and very French interiors accessories.  It's the sort of shop I'd love mirrormirror to be when it grows up and I'm a bit dismayed to see that it's going online too.  Don't make a note of the URL!

After pausing briefly to gaze at the gorgeous window display

in jewellers Dinny Hall the perfect choice for lunch is 202, designer Nicole Fahri's concept store which houses a chic cafe, and still has plenty of room to show off her elegant clothing and homewares collections.  It's also a great place for brunch, or just tea and cake, and has a very pretty little garden at the back which is a gorgeous place for a glass of rose on drowsy summer days.  Yet another inspirational shop for when mirrormirror grows up.