Sunday, 27 November 2016

Vintage in Hammersmith

Once a month, there is a fantastic vintage clothing fair in Hammersmith Town Hall. I got free tickets courtesy of my generous friend Alison.
Hammersmith town hall is interesting as from the front it is a concrete brutalist horror, but this is grafted onto a lovely art deco building behind, with murals depicting the history of Hammersmith. I find Hamnersmith quite fascinating in its mix of old and new. 
The fair was amazing, two halls of really high end vintage, from rare Victorian survivors to 1980s designer items. Particular highlights included....

Many beaded 1920s flapper dresses, some fringed in tassels and fur, some Egyptian inspired
Evil but luxurious fur coats, coats and muffs.
Velvet opera capes from the 1910s.
1950s cocktail hats like little pancakes
Embroidered satin dressing gowns, some with dragons, ideal for an Agatha Christie murder
A 1940s black velvet and white satin jumpsuit, very Agent Carter
A 1910s primrose yellow velvet evening gown with puff sleeves
A 1950s cocktail dress in black fabric with giant black velvet polka dots
A Victorian silk coat with shoulder cape and braid buttons and embroidery
1940s satin dance shoes with diamante buckles
Handpainted chiffon dresses from the 1930s
1960s turquiose silk cocktail dress with giant bows (illustrated)

 Vintage fabrics from glazed floral chintz to pastel georgette. I bought three metres of black embroidered 1950s satin. Most vintage is too small for me but making your own....

I was in fashion heaven. Prices ranged from £5 for costume jewellery to over £1000 for designer vintage. I was restrained this time, but I will be back... 

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Hogarth's House

Another painting in my new ink and watercolour technique. This one did come out how I wanted with lots of autumn colour. We arrived in London in October so it always seems autumnal to me.  
This is Hogarth's House in Chiswick, beautifully restored as cool grey C18th rooms with an interesting exhibition about the artist.
I love the small walled farden with an ancient tree, sadly overshadowed by road noise and building.
Amusingly, Hogarth had a dog called Trump...

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Colours of London

This is part of the rooftop view from our flat. I like the shapes of the ceramic chimney pots, the spikyness of the aerial and the colours of the sootstained London brick.
Everyone keeps telling me I should do more pen drawing and I think they are right.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Shopping In London

I have been exploring London a lot over the last six weeks. One of the great things is that there are so many independent shops. And just really great shops. Some favourites I have discovered so far...

Where I live in Chiswick is great for bookshops and delis. We have five bookshops; a Waterstones, a second hand one, an antiquarian one, a remaindered one and one just small independent one.
Foodwise there are two amazing butchers, a mindboggling fish shop and many, many bakeries and delis. Heaven for foodies.

Shepherds Bush is a more varied area with Goldhawk Road home to about fifteen fabric shops, some of which feature Indian or African fabrics. Shepherds Bush Market Is good for cheap stuff and also sells lots of African food like yams and goat meat.

Oxford Street John Lewis is beautiful and massive and has a huge homewares department. I got very lost on  just one floor and never found haberdashery.

Wholefoods in Kensington is a very gorgeous, very expensive food shop with wonderful artisan loaves, a sealed room for pongy cheese and much much more.

For mainstream shopaholics the Westfield Shopping Centre near Shepherds Bush is enormous and has all the chains and department stores you expect in a glitzy building.

Forbidden Planet Covent Garden is a big comic, book and merchandise shop, fantastic if you like fantasy, scifi, superheroes and those things. Nearby is The Orcs Nest which stocks roleplaying, card and board games in a grungy futuristic interior.

I am sure there are many more shops to discover, my next target is Portobello Road.

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Hammersmith Riverside

Really pleased with this painting of the Thames by Hammersmith Bridge. I love the variety of buildings along the river, from small ancient ones on the left, through C18th in the middle and an Edwardian turreted one on the right. You get wonderful skies in London too as the weather sweeps over. 
This was a long walk along the south side of the river we did with friends yesterday, ending with a dramatic sunset and beer in a waterfront pub.

London Water

One of the things I was totally unprepared for when I moved to London was the water. Why were the kitchen and bathroom covered in white blobs and gritty deposits? Why did the tea taste terrible? Why was my hair lank and dull?
It's the water. In Scotland, our water is soft, that is there are very few minerals in it. Soap foams easily. In London the water is thick with minerals, which is healthy, but irritating. Nothing foams. I always assumed water was water....
Anyway, if you find yourself in London or anywhere with hard water...
For tea, a kettle with a filter works wonders if you do not want to filter all your water in a jug or invest in a water softening unit plumbed into your kitchen. 
For hair, use lots of a vigorously cleansing shampoo; I like Aussie Mega shampoo, and a moisturising hair product; I have Bumble and Bumble Invisible Oil primer. 
For the bath I like dead sea salts which seem to soften the water and nothing will foam anyway.
For the cleaning, I am still experimenting and scrubbling scurf out of the bath.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Slow Cooking

The oven doesn't work in our new flat. We are getting a new one but until then I was getting sick of cooking everything on the hob, with food smells and extractor fans.
Enter the slow cooker, which I bought for £20 from Robert Dyas. That shop sells everything, why are there none in Scotland?
I thought of slow cookers as being a bit depresssing 1950s housewifey but they have a fanatical following and I am starting to love mine. Incase you don't know them, it is basically an electric casserole. It is very cheap to power and can be left on all day while you go out. Plus as Autumn comes it's all about stews, hotpots and tagines for me. Facebook claims you can bake in it, make lasagne and everything so I am excited to experiment.
Things I have discovered so far: use scary horrible looking meat lumps, not nice little meat pieces.
You have to leave it on for an insanely long time, at least six hours. Try not to lift the lid too much. Use lots of liquid and get flavour in there with onion, garlic, carrots, herbs, spices, stock etc. You need lots of flavour. It's good to brown the meat first or it looks a bit peelywally (pale). You can warm your hands on it if you feel cold.