Friday, June 30, 2006



This was the easiest, fastest 'This week...'(I'm really starting to wish I'd come up with a more succinct title) shot I've ever taken. This girl looked great. She didn't bat an eyelid when I asked to take her picture. Pose, click, thank you! And all while she was still talking on the phone. I guess I wasn't the first person to ask! Bags seem to be getting bigger and bigger. Can we call it a trend or do we just need to carry around more stuff? I love her patent sandals and clutch bag against the big slouchy bag.

Notice both these girls are wearing leggings and looking pretty damn sophisticated don't you think? I know we're supposed to be all anti leggings now and say they're so over. But isn't that only because people want to be the first to say a trend is dead?
If it looks good, I say wear it.
She also had a super ginormous bag but she put it down for the photo.
She is standing in front of a piece at Tate Modern by Joseph Grigely called 167 white conversations. The artist is profoundly deaf and collected all the pieces of paper people had written phrases on when they got stuck in conversations over the years.
My mum was also deaf - I recognised this so well; little drawings of things and scrawled random phrases. I wish we'd thought to keep them as well.

Everybody is wearing white rimmed aviator sunglasses. I did ask the model to put the sunglasses on her eyes, not propped on her head like some kind of Chelsea yummy mummy, but she refused. Girls these days just can't take direction.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


Ah, home sweet home. You knew that was coming didn't you?

Well yeah, after numerous (20?) trips to Paris over the years I finally felt the full force of the famous Parisian froideur directed at me. All the time! And I didn't like it one bit. So now I know it's not a myth. Hurrah! No more will I defend you Paris. No more will I swear blind I don't know what people are going on about when they tell me of alarming incidents with waiters. I now have my own tales of woe, which I think I may have made quite enough fuss about already so let's just leave it at that.

I'm also quite aware that whingeing about the nasty waiter at La Palette does not exactly inspire sympathy, since I went there at 4pm on a Tuesday for an apero' in between buying fabulous shoes. When 'you' readers were probably hunched over your desks at work eating a pot noodle or something.

Anyway, two good things have come out of this faintly 'ick-hmm' feeling I now have about Paris. It is SO nice to be back in London. I usually feel depressed. Not this time. I could have kissed the rail employee at London Bridge who chirped "been on yer 'olidays?" at me as I strode through the barrier. As my Granny always said; "It's nice to go away but it's nice to come home." I even sat down with a cuppa and watched Miss Marple on TV on Sunday night. (I hardly ever watch TV, especially very 'British' adaptations.)

The second good thing is that I can sit here in my new Princesse Tam Tam PJ's, drinking Mariage Freres Jasmin/Mandarin tea, inhaling the scent of the brand new A.P.C oranger candle I just lit. I have many little goodies from Paris.

Les Archives de la Presse, (51 Rue des Archives, 3rd) is stacked full of exactly what is says. Anything printed, going back to 1900 and well organized so you can find what you want easily. They have a huge selection of Vogue's -French, Italian, British - and all the special editions. The whole place is full of magazines (kind of reminded me of my living room). I quickly fell upon the issue of French Vogue edited by Sofia Coppola that I had missed.

My favourite haberdashery shop (mercerie) is Entree des Fournisseurs just off the rue des Francs Bourgeois at number 8 in a little courtyard. They have the most amazing ribbons and buttons like little works of art. I bought these buttons.

Finally, at 41 Rue de Poitou I found shoe heaven at Hoses, owned by fashion stylist Valery Duboucheron (who also happens to be very sweet and friendly). Ohhh, the shoes. She has the best shoes. Many of the styles are exclusive to her shop which is how I ended up buying a pair of (British designer) Rupert Sanderson shoes in Paris. I realised after I had e mailed his London shop 3 times to see if they had them I should jusy buy the bloody shoes because they were completely perfect.

I wont even start on all the beauty products. French pharmacies are a bit of an obsession. About a third of the U.K price for brands like Caudalie, Nuxe, Phyto and Cote Bastide. Guilt free indulgence. And the sales. Love the sales (though not the salespeople!). At 30% cheaper than London to start off with, and not just on French brands, the sales in Paris don't fanny about with 20 or 30% here and there. It's straight in with half price. It's practically FREE!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006


I spent my last day in Paris wandering blissfully - and blisterfully around Alesia. I almost feel I'm divulging a secret by telling you about it, as no guide books mention this area except as a place for cheap clothes outlets. Someone told me they'd heard it was lovely, so - keen to explore a new area I hopped on the M4 metro way down past Montparnasse to the 14th arrondissement.

Alesia is an architectural paradise. Streets of Art Nouveau houses - perfectly preserved with tiled doorways and details rub up against Art Deco and the first loft studios (1930's?). Giacometti's studio was here.

Every architectural style from 1895 - 1920 is represented, all somehow juxtaposed to create the perfect neighbourhood. After a while I got confused at just what style I was looking at - where's Kevin McCloud when you need him? There are even modern municipal council blocks in the mix, designed sympathetically with curved lines and similar materials. I realised that this is where the location of Juliette Binoche and Daniel Auteil's house in the film Cache (Hidden) was.

I wandered every street for hours, and as I passed lucky residents they gave me a knowing smile.
The road suddenly turns to cobblestones and you are in the most beautiful, charming little mews at Cite Bauer and Rue des Thermopyles. Sneaking a peek into windows I saw gorgeous interiors, my guess is that this place is full of architects and creative types. Every nook and cranny - even garages had been converted into cool living spaces. It would make a great photography book. Alesian Interiors - must tell Taschen.

I only saw one other tourist couple. As I was rounding a corner I heard an English voice saying "...absolutely amazing! I mean I never would have known." Kevin, is that you? But no, it was just another Art Nouveau addict.

Monday, June 26, 2006


As if I haven't accumulated enough beautiful clothes from my Paris trip, (how did that happen?!) along comes Le Train Bleu to tempt me online.

I love the design and aesthetic of this site, and almost everything on it, especially these two:

Clementine Flutter Sleeve Tunic Top from Ella Moss
MarieMarie Icon Dress

Friday, June 23, 2006


One thing guaranteed to put the kibosh on any flanerie is that my right leg is well and truly kaput. My poor legs, I have driven them in to the ground with my relentless crisscrossing of Paris on foot. This obsessive need to join the dots, to explore every nook and cranny of the city so far unknown to me means that I have been walking all day, every day. Do I have sensible walking shoes? In my world, ballet flats and sandals with paper thin soles are sensible walking shoes. I mean, they’re not heels are they?! I dream of my crusty old Birkenstocks and Havaina flip flops languishing in the cupboard at home.

For tired legs and feet I can highly recommend ‘Nuxe Spa Tonific Gel Jambes et Pieds’ to any foot weary traveller. You can buy it at any pharmacy and unlike in the U.K, Nuxe products do not cost an arm and a leg (boomboom).

No amount of soothing gel can put my leg back together again, so I read, curled up with Lulu (ironically I am reading ‘The Flaneur’) and once in a while I shuffle to the bakery, or to sit in the nearby park. Poooooor me.

Pssst! F.Y.I – I quickly discovered that although the Paris sales don’t officially start until next week most shops have already started theirs, it’s just all a bit hush hush as the government strictly regulates when the sales are allowed to take place. So no signs or mark downs, but you’ll know which stores have started because you see boxes of shoes stacked up and all the stock out. And if miracle of miracles you find a human working in one of these places instead of a lemon sucking vampire then they might tell you it's all 50% off.

But I am done with Paris sale shopping. I have some gorgeous things, but hanging around in expensive shoe shops and the like does nothing to dispel the burgeoning realisation that:


I could never understand when anyone said they hated Paris. As far as I was concerned how could you not like such a beautiful, interesting, magical place? Now I understand, what they meant was that they didn’t like Parisians. I suppose if you are a visitor and your only interaction with the locals is with shop assistants and waiters, then yes, you could be forgiven for not wanting to go back - EVER. I try to laugh at my constant humiliations; the shop assistant who hassles me into a shirt (the last one) that we both know is three sizes too big, then fusses around rolling up the cuffs, going on about how divine it looks, it’s supposed to be like that. Then there’s the woman in her late fifties who comments loudly to her colleague (pegging me as a non French speaking foreigner) that I look pregnant in my dress (yes that dress again!) I affect a slight waddle, holding my hand protectively over my non existent bump and stare at her directly for a good thirty seconds. She starts to fidget. Ha – a small triumph! The owner of a shop I wont name is initially shockingly, breathtakingly rude, but when I try on some shoes and she thinks she has a sale on her hands she becomes a fawning sycophant. “Magnifique!” “Oui, vraiment magnifique” purrs her colleague in agreement. I feel as if I’m in a badly scripted film full of stereotypes about French people. This vacuous, two faced world is one I can’t stay in for too long. All I wanted was a pair of Pierre Hardy shoes!

This experience is partly due to my very basic comprehension of French I’m sure. It is also to do with travelling alone. I always thought I travelled well on my own, but this evening when I bumped into a (Japanese) acquaintance from waaay back in London it was so nice to have a chat and pass the time of day, I wonder if I would even notice or care about all the hostility if I’d brought a friend along. One thing’s for sure – my half formed plans to move here are well and truly buried, unless I had a partner in crime to empathise with at the end of an exasperating day.

Belleville is about a million miles away from all that. I go on Tuesday, market day, ascending the Rue du Faubourg du Temple slowly as I note the changing surroundings. This is a real working neighbourhood, not a chichi quartier. I see yams and plantain on sale for the first time here. The further I get up the hill the more I seem to be leaving the Paris I know. When I reach the market and step under the covered central passage it’s as if I’ve literally dived in to another world as one would dive into a swimming pool. I am in Morocco, Algeria, China, Madagascar or….Deptford market! “Pasteque, pasteque, un’euro, un’euro” the traders’ shout, competing against and bantering amongst themselves. I am fully immersed in the scent of mint and peaches. My senses are overwhelmed, and I am so happy in this heightened state. I stick out like a sore thumb with my blue eyes and ipod headphones, but happily so. “N’ecoutez pas la musique mademoiselle, achetez des belles cerises!” (“Don’t listen to music, buy some lovely cherries!”) teases a stall holder. I see Tunisian almonds, those strange segmented tomatoes, crates of fresh sardines, stalls that only sell eggs, onions or spices. I want to sink my hand into a huge sack of lentils like Amelie Poulain. They shout “belles cerises, un’euro”, and as I make my way slowly through the crowd I am greeted by all with that sweet phrase, “Bonjour Mademoiselle!” Just clinging on to being addressed as Mademoiselle by my fingertips! I had resigned myself to being officially relegated – or promoted, depending on how you look at it to Madame. Madaaaame. Madame makes me feel old, as if I should behave respectably, wear 15 denier tights and sensible skirt suits.
Mademoiselle is how I feel, even if they’re only saying it to increase their chances of selling some onions.

I wish I could freeze the scene and take close up pictures of all the stall holders.
Their faces are so full of character and life. I wouldn’t dare, it feels disrespectful. In any case when I take out my camera to photograph the produce they all say, “Pas moi, pas moi” and move out of shot.
As I reach the end nearest Menilmontant I begin to see a few more European faces, the crowd thins out and I become aware that the man behind me is a little too close for comfort. He stops when I stop then continues to shuffle along behind me.
He is stalking me in a ridiculously obvious manner, probably interested in the contents of my bag. I shake him off easily, scurry down into the metro and hop on a train back to France.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


I want to live in Martin Grant’s showroom. I could sleep under the clothes rails and dress up in the clothes every morning. His lovely PR could bring me cups of coffee and I’d be just perfectly happy. I went to the showroom ostensibly on ‘Official Business’, but I somehow ended up with a carrier bag containing a tissue wrapped jacket from the summer collection (half price - justified!). I had admired this jacket in the show: black, boat necked, bracelet length sleeves that gather at the cuff – in short it’s an Audrey Hepburn jacket. And I love it as I loved that whole collection.
The winter collection is where I discovered The Perfect Trench. It’s leather. Not Gestapo leather, buttery soft ‘mouse grey’ leather. Here's a pic of it in beige. It's on my 'only if I win the lottery' wishlist.

There was also a gorgeous duffel jacket with cute leather buttons. ‘Look at the buttons!’ I exclaim to the PR who has er, no doubt seen them already.

At Café Marly overlooking the Louvre pyramid I witnessed an impeccable display of rejection from the waiter. A group of tourists asked in their best French where the toilet was. The waiter responded in rapid fire French, making them strain to catch his words. “Turn around, turn left, go down the passage, cross over the road and go into the metro.” Translation; “Fuck off! We don’t want your kind of riff raff round here, especially if you’re not even going to pay for a cup of coffee.”

I head on over to that most important of tourist destinations…Colette. As I climb the stairs to the first floor I’m just thinking how I’ve never seen anyone actually buy anything there, except a CD or book from the ground floor. I reach the top of the stairs: Except when it’s THE COLETTE HALF PRICE SALE.

Whoo hoo! The Lanvin, the Chloe, the Prouenza Schouler, the Marni, the Marc Jacobs etc etc. I join the rifling. I see the Lanvin bag I’d admired before. Ochre patent, brown and navy soft leather and black perspex clasp - sounds disgusting doesn’t it? It is lush. Unfortunately even with fifty percent off it’s still too big an investment.

I content myself with trying on armfuls of Lanvin and Chloe. A steel grey satin Lanvin dress with a back panel of tulle and exposed zip is amazing but the big elastic belt attached makes me want to cut it off, and you can’t do that to the Lanvin.

I was all set to buy a shell top (Lanvin again) in steel grey brushed cotton, with a massive obi ribbon type thing on the front. I thought it looked pretty good even though it was a size 34. The female assistant agreed. Then the male assistant minced along and pointedly informed me that ‘It’s supposed to be loose on the hips’. I gave the top to hip hater boy and carried on my search for Lanvin. The ridiculously heeled platform Japanesey shoes – yes they were there but would only ever be used as bookends. The satin ballet pumps in petrol blue I pounced upon – one pair left in size 35. Damn! After more trying on of Chloe linen button front skirts and Marc Jacobs tops reduced to 100 euros I tell myself to step away from the Lanvin, put the Chloe down, leave now, remembering the truth about sales.

1: If it’s in the sale it is either a size so small or large it fits no one.
2: It is a ‘difficult’ piece rather than an item of clothing.
3: It was overpriced in the first place. 2440 euros for a jersey T-shirt dress anyone?
4: All the best stuff will have already been snapped up by the Colette staff, their friends and selected customers invited to the sale preview.
5: All of the above.

At least I have a pile of invitations back in London for the sale previews next week.
I discovered that the rest of the sales in Paris begin on the 28th June – the same as in London. Colette’s is a bit before everyone else, mais bien sur.

Monday, June 19, 2006


** Any mistakes in this weeks post’s are due to the joys of using 'free' wi-fi (or, as its pronounced in French - whiffy) in café’s. This actually means that you rock up to a café and order a ridiculous amount of food so they don’t think you’re taking advantage. Then you wait half an hour for your free pass, during which time your battery dies. Having eaten all your food you are then obliged to order 3000 cups of coffee whereupon your free pass runs out - which no one bothered to tell you about, and you get disconnected just before you press ‘publish’.

“And that’s why I love Paris” lodged on the end of my previous post like a panacea for all my bitching. Why do I never remember that it takes precisely two days for me to acclimatise to this city?
Now I’ve remembered that if I raise my voice by a few octaves when I mangle the French language my accent stops sounding German. I’ve stopped looking in mirrors every time someone passes me and looks at me as if I have something disgusting – (perhaps a large turd?) on my face.
There is nothing on my face.

So many treats I don’t know where to start. The Canal Saint Martin was a lovely way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Tranquille is the word that comes to mind. I wandered all the way up the canal from the end nearest Republique. It’s a great place to relax, you can watch boats trying to negotiate the locks, dip your toes in the water or go for a drink at one of many little bars. I’d go for the Hotel du Nord especially if you’ve seen the film of the same name.

At the top of the canal and the beginning of the next I find the MK2 cinema at Quai de Loire. Although it’s a warm, sunny day the thought of an air conditioned cinema and Marie-Antoinette is too much to resist. Yes, it was amazing. Yes, I spotted the lilac Converse Chuck T’s nestled amongst the Blahniks in the Manolo/Laduree/Champagne fest. I loved this film from the beginning of the kick arse soundtrack, to the lavish costumes juxtaposed with subtle Sofia trademark shots of light filtering through trees or of wildflower meadows. The little moments; like when M.A signs the wedding register, splodges ink at the end of her signature and almost inaudibly goes ‘oop’. I loved Rose Byrne as the Duchesse de Polignac – I keep wanting to call her Pompougnac. Her role and his as Costes DJ are not that dissimilar after all - they both get the party started! Rose Byrne should win an award for her portrayal of the Duchesse as a 17th c version of a lovably scatty Notting Hill trustafarian. Lots of the film reminded me of my clubbing days. Debauchery! Staying up partying all night, watching the sun rise. Who would ever have thought I’d be able to relate to a film about Marie Antoinette? And Jamie Dornan as smouldering Count Fersten - the best casting of guy candy ever. And the part at Le Petit Trianon!
I’ll stop. I don’t want to spoil it.
I can see why The French weren’t so keen but I couldn’t really care less about being true to the story of M.A. I went in with no expectation. I left seeing things (visually) from a slightly different angle - actually framing things I saw as if through a lens.

As if that weren’t enough of a treat I got to hear Geoff Dyer read from my favourite book of his; ‘Yoga for People Who Can’t Be Bothered To Do It’. I’m sure I heard a collective female sigh from the audience when he mentioned his lovely wife –twice!
I’d love to be able to tell you how after the reading, Geoff – my new best friend/writing mentor and I whiled away the evening drinking Lillet and discussing life on the road. But I was happy to listen to him read his work and then scurry away clutching my signed book.
Some of the points raised in the travel writing weekend made me look differently at writing in general. I always feel bad when I portray an experience negatively.
I stopped buying travel guides for just this reason. “Don’t bother going to the church of such and such, it’s boring and ghastly”. Then you’d happen upon a charming little church and realise it’s the very one you’d not bothered to visit. So I suppose now I realise that it’s all down to personal experience and the very real need to be truthful to that. Ie: if I bitch about Paris, don't just take my word for it!


*It’s been wonderfully hot and everyone’s windows are flung open at night. Lulu (the Paris cat, not to be confused with Lola, my London cat) and I have our hands/paws over our ears because it’s either the woman with the improbable hour long orgasms we hear or the baby squealing’.
Or maybe it’s the other way round.

*The English translation on the cash machine says; “please key in your personal number has the shelter of inquisitive eyes”?!

*I see two transsexual laydees promenading in the Place des Vosges.
Both are dressed as middle aged housewives with sensibly heeled court shoes, suburban set wigs and rouged cheeks.

*It is early morning and the only people out are joggers and me.
I always presume that anyone jogging or rollerblading is American. That’s when I see him: Small and wiry, weathered tanned skin, teeny tiny red shorts, shrunken white vest, grey shock of hair. He is clutching two large baguettes. He is: The French Jogger.

Sunday, June 18, 2006


It always takes me a while to get acclimatised to being in Paris. I have to get my bearings. First I go and say hello to the Seine. On Friday night I got down there at 9.40pm. It looked like this:

I chased the sunset as far as the Pont du Carrousel. This was taken at 10.20pm. Unbelievable. If anything incredible had happened in the other direction, no one would have noticed. The whole of Paris had their necks craned towards the setting sun.

With all my sunset chasing I’d forgotten to eat. I thought of going to Vagenende, recommended by a friend and also by Jane Birkin (not personally!). I knew it was on Boulevard St Germain but since I didn’t know where, I could’ve been in for a long search. The first place I got to on Boulevard St Germain was Café de Flore. I was so hungry I thought why not, be a cliché. I was quite surprised that the clientele was mostly French, not tourists. I out huffed the huffy waiter who was taking his good old time to serve me. By that point I was so hungry I could have eaten the table, but I settled instead for a glass of Saint Emillion which tasted like thick vinegar, and crottin de chavignol on toasted Poilane bread. I don’t know what all the fuss is about with Poilane bread. I like their little raison buns but their classic loaf is dry and hard, but somehow chewy at the same time. My dish also came avec un cheveu noir gratuit. Ew.

Yesterday morning I continued my ritual. I picked up free listing rags En Ville and GOGO, and Pariscope (0.40c) so I know exactly what’s going on and where. I went to the Marche des Enfants Rouges at the end of the street for cherries (noticable darker and sweeter than English ones) and ate a delicious Portuguese custard tart.

Against my better judgement I had a quick browse in all the usual stores along Rue VieIlle du Temple. I know I shouldn’t do this until I’m used to being in Paris again, but ever the stylist I have to know what they have in stock. As usual I am unprepared for the frosty service, and the necessity of sharing a changing room mirror with a bevy of pouting, scowling size 0 Parisiennes. I just realised why Parisians never smile.
Try pouting and smiling at the same time - it’s impossible.

So what are they (fash-ettes) mostly wearing in Paris this week?
Slouchy, baggy long vest – maybe two or three layered in charcoal or black, baggy shorts or leggings – charcoal or grey, scuffed ballet shoes – black.
How to get the look: What you’re aiming for is to look as if you haven’t done anything other than roll out of bed, light a cigarette, pull on yesterday’s crumpled clothes, scrape your hair into a loose messy bun and stumble to the nearest café. Not washing your hair is a bonus, as is not removing old eye make up. Under no circumstances must you look as if any effort has been made. As with the ‘no make up look’ this takes hours in front of the mirror to perfect. You may add a pair of black A.P.C wedges for evening, but don’t push it. You don’t want to look like you’re trying.

It’s all a bit too reminiscent of grunge for me. The layering, the sludgy colours…maybe it’s just too easy to look beautiful in a city where beauty is par for the course, and sartorial elegance is easily accessible. I have a theory that the youth of Paris suffers from Paradise (Stendhal) syndrome. How else to explain their penchant for Café la Perle, (3eme) still going strong and as popular as ever, despite being a complete dump? I wouldn’t mind, except it’s a stones throw from here, so I am forced to ponder its allure every time I negotiate the hordes spilling on to the pavement outside.

Yesterday I popped in to book shop Shakespeare & Co to see if they had a copy of Edmund White’s ‘The Flaneur’. I overheard the Dylan Moran – esque cashier telling a woman about a discussion of travel writing going on at that very moment, with Tim Parks, Dervla Murphy and Geoff Dyer. Geoff Dyer. Where? Geoff Dyer my hero, whose articles and books often makes me weep with laughter? The programme notes of the ‘Travel in Words’ literary festival say it better than I ever could:
Geoff Dyer is a writer of fiction and non fiction, travel, philosophy, art and comedy…all at the same time.

I join the throng spilling out of the small marquee where the talk is being held, in the little park next to Shakespeare & Co. The sun is beating down on my back, Geoff doesn’t seem to be able to get much of a word in and when the Q&A begins critic types begin asking deliberately oblique questions and my longing for an ice cream overwhelms me. Geoff will be speaking at the festival again tomorrow. Three scoops of Berthillon’s best – cherry, blackcurrant and pistachio were worth the half hour queue and the lovely gentleman and his wife who barged in front of me, then stood behind me slagging me off in French when I didn’t let them. I get so frustrated in situations like that, my French nowhere near good enough to say what I want to. I blurted ‘There’s a queue, it’s behind you.’ The death stare is thankfully international so I made good use of that too.

Dinner at La Fee Verte, at the quieter end of Rue de la Roquette – away from the neon and happy hour signs was lovely. Described in GOGO as a gastro-zinc, it's not as poncy as that sounds. Tuna steak and asparagus risotto, followed by lavender creme brulee was scrumptious, but the real reason to go back was the service. Genuinely friendly, by the time I left I wanted to hug my waiter rather than scratch his eyes out as I usually do. Sod it, most Parisians make me want to scratch their eyes out.
So much so that when someone smiles with their eyes and treats me like a human being and - paying customer I am eternally grateful.

An itinerary of sorts:
Today: Canal St Martin
Monday: Alesia
Tuesday: Belleville

All areas I've never explored before. That's what I love about Paris.

Friday, June 16, 2006


I seem to have a lot of red in my life. If
you asked me I would say that I don't like
red. I never wear it except for accents of
cherry or burgundy. But there you go, my
photos are full of red - I must be
drawn to it. This week has been swings and
roundabouts, I don't know what a life like a
bowl of cherries would look like -
if it's bittersweet, like a cherry that hasn't been left to ripen in the sun for long enough, I could get that.

Later on today when I arrive in Paris I will go and buy some cherries, just to compare.

Thursday, June 15, 2006


Oh my god, this reads like a round robin newsletter...

I've been a bit light on the posting lately, I know. I have no excuse really. I don't seem to have much to rant about these days. Have I mellowed, surely not? I am going to Paris tomorrow and I think I'm going to take my clunky old laptop along so I can do a bit of posting.

The French lessons, ahem, are not going very well. I am on the advanced CDs now, which is hilarious since I can only speak about clothes, food or alcohol. I ask you, Michel Thomas, how am I supposed to trust you to teach me French when you say things in English like " It gives me much excitement to be assisting you the learning of French" or "if you don't know if it's masculine or feminine just say l' and run it into the word."

Paris will have to cope with my Franglais.

I can't wait to have a good look at Lovisa Burfitt's entire collection, and also to visit Martin Grant's showroom (the word 'sale' has been mentioned).
These two are the designers whose clothes I swoon over the most at the moment.
Martin Grant is just a hop and a skip accross the street from where I'm staying, which is dangerous. Basically I might as well throw my credit card out of the window of the apartment for it to land in A.P.C, Erotokritos, Vanessa Bruno or any number of new boutiques that have no doubt sprung up in the 2 months since I was last there.
What's a girl to do, walk around with blinkers on? Erotokritos will be the hardest to resist, since I have to walk past their shop every single time I leave the apartment.

I will miss little Lola who, ever since I suspected her of having wildcat genes, seems to have been waging a concentrated campaign to assure me of her adorable cuteness. She trundles along beside me, purring, sleeps snuggled up at my side and her only vocalising consists of a new miaow which sounds like "mam-ma". My only question is: WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH HER? She is like the kitten she never was. I hope she wont revert to type while I'm gone. My fabulous cat loving neighbour is feeding her, so she's in safe hands. I just hope Lola doesn't freak out that I've abandoned her (only for a week, little one!) and bite them off.

In other news: the dry cleaning saga has finally been put to rest. What we learn from this episode is: NEVER CROSS ME - ESPECIALLY WHEN IT COMES TO ACCESSORIES. *Cackles wildly*...With a little help from lovely Marni friends and a couple of strongly worded letters (I am too, too good at writing those) I got a chickety cheque yesterday. Expect numerous posts about which new bag I should buy as a replacement, until you cannot take any more, then plenty of gratuitous close ups of new bag.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


The Photographers' Gallery is one of my favourite places to stop off at on my travels, rather than a destination in itself. It's small enough to wander round in 20 minutes or so, and is a calming space amid the bustle of Covent Garden/Leicester Square. It also houses an excellent bookshop and a lovely quiet cafe.
They always have fantastic exhibitions of photography - the name kind of gives it away, eh? From Juergen Teller to Francesca Woodman and every photographer you can think of in between.

I wilted through the door in a cloud of dust and pollution during the recent heatwave (not that I'm complaining about the heat, keep it coming).

The current exhibition is of photographs by Rinko Kawauchi, who I confess I had never heard of before. Since then, and through the magic of Google I have read articles which describe her as the best photographer working in the world. A bold statement, but her photographs, with their recurring themes of light, water, simplicity and nature replaced the fuzzy heat in my head that day with something more like a cool, soothing pool of clear water. Having just read about ten reviews of her work it's difficult not to stray into contrived 'review speak' when trying to describe her work.
Contrived is the opposite of what she does; it is just the way she sees the world.

The exhibition is on until July 9. You can see a selection of her work here. She also has a photo diary online.

Saturday, June 10, 2006


Yesterday I played a little game of jotting down snippets of conversation I heard whilst out and about on the blisteringly hot streets of London.
Most were about the weather, so you know it's not just me who is obsessed with our climate...

"It's absolutely scorching!"

"Ah, it's a lovely day!"

"It's hot, I mean really hot!"

"...and I'm wearing a denim mini skirt!"
All these were expressed with exclamations of both joy and disbelief.

Then there were the randoms...
"Of course, London's in a state of perpetual change..."

"I love you, I really really love you. Bye."

"Has someone been stealing the peas? Heeheehee..."

"Yep, all the nutters are out tonight."

And THEN...

I overheard a lady saying;
"I mean what is the point of wearing a dress that makes you look pregnant when you're obviously not pregnant?"

I looked down at my cream ISI by Isabelle Fraysse empire line smocky, babydoll tunic dress that I was wearing for the first time. I was wafting about feeling you know, like volume is so a good look. After I heard the nice lady commenting on my attire I realised that the seam that's supposed to go under your bust had ridden up to where it comfortably sat, halfway down my bosom, from where the dress flared out. There was no indication that I had either a ribcage, or a waist. When the breeze caught the dress it created a nifty balloon effect.

I decided to look at the positive side. At least no one had actually thought I was up the duff. Although the Evening Standard seller did let me have the (free with the paper) ES magazine without paying for the paper which has never happened before. No one gave me their seat on the bus because I never take the bus. Even if I was eight and a half months gone with triplets,(ugghh) no one would give up their seat anyway.
So I walked into Petit Bateau (to look at adult vests, not babywear) and noticed my stomach being appraised by an assistant. I swiftly scarpered outta there before she could ask me when it's due.

Feeling daft and berating myself for trying to pull off a look that only the Mischa Bartons of this world can achieve, I trundled off to Topshop and bought a belt. It looked stupid. I also spent about three hours on the hottest day of the year in the Topshop basement changing rooms (or SB2 to Topshop aficionado's). This was a foolhardy endeavour as everyone knows, if there's sun you have to go out and grab it, because these few hot days might just be our summer. On Sunday the temperature will drop and it will start to rain again until autumn. I tried on many an empire line dress in Topshop, there were some great ones by Happie Loves It (whose website is down but you can find their clothes at Spitalfields and Greenwich markets as well). Groovy mismatched retro prints with a sash under the bust. I discovered that having the sash there is flattering because you can pull it tight. Also having a sheerish fabric helps to show that you still have a figure under there. I tried on every colourway of that dress until I couldn't choose one and I left empty handed. Judging from the armfuls of retro print summer dresses being taken in and out of the changing rooms, it's not just me who is having a print obsession.

Friday, June 09, 2006


This last week I have been more concerned with thorn proof gloves, scythes and secateurs than my usual shoes, magazines and espressos! Finally I am clearing the overgrown garden that I've looked out of my window and sighed at for years. It's miles away from my usual urban life, and the weather is fantastic. Hot, sunny - almost mediterranean. Being in the garden makes me feel I am not in the city at all. I'm starting to see the attraction of it, although it's bloody hard work.

Time to ease myself back into city life though. I will start today by donning an outfit that does not consist of a headscarf, paint splattered Old Navy T-shirt and battered army shorts.
And in a week I will be in my beloved Paris again. Doing lots of this:

window shopping and real shopping

breakfast at Le Pain Quotidien

strolling along the Seine

As always: I can't wait.

Thursday, June 01, 2006


Trenchcoats. I had to resist the urge to put: Trenchcoats! As if it's something really exciting. Classic, yes. Chic, hopefully. But exciting?

Even I'm already bored. But since I am bound to report what we in London are actually wearing and since we have had 'The Most Rain Since 1733'; it is trenchcoats that we are mostly wearing. Well technically it's they who are wearing them, since I have never had one. Being a pernickity detail obsessive I never found the right one during the trench craze of about five years ago. They are either too heavy (A.P.C), the collar is too big or worse, pointy,(anywhere on the high street) or it's too long, engulfs me and is too bloody expensive (Burberry). If I were to purchase a trenchcoat it would have to be very narrowly cut, lightweight with curved lapels, not too many epaulettes and doo dads and have a belt I could wrap high around my waist. There would be a kicky back pleat and it would flare gently from waist to knee. Oh, and be petrol blue, not beige. (I saw a vintage Burberry one in this colour once but it was too big.) Are you listening God of fleamarket serendipity?
Anyhoo, everyone's wearing them at the moment, mostly due to the weather, although Topshop has done just about every colour and variation of a trench you can think of - cropped, deconstructed, drop waisted, fifties, pretty much everything except The Perfect Trench. And don't even get me started on Gap.

The trenchcoat has become, or maybe always was a democratic item of clothing. Like jeans or aviator sunglasses. But let's face it, there are many trench wearers aiming for Charlotte Gainsbourg who land closer to Inspector Clouseau.

And most are just aiming to keep dry. Which is fine too.

But after a while it all gets a bit...beige. Carine Roitfeld suggests belting your trench with a printed silk scarf which no doubt looks chic and inventive on her, but on mere mortals it could just look like they lost their belt.

So, I have waded through the sea of beige with my little camera to bring you:
Trenchcoats, more Gainsbourg than Clouseau...

Illustrating that on an early summer day you need both sunglasses and a raincoat at all times.

Ok, not strictly speaking a trenchcoat but she looked so cute! Look at her little patent round peep toe shoes as well...

Left bank on the south bank.