The tail end of the Indian Summer

The Bay Area is probably my favourite place in the world. The smell of the ocean and the pine trees subtly pervades, even in the heart of downtown San Francisco, brought in by fresh breezes that give an edge to the warm, early autumn sun. The sky is an almost wintry, cobalt blue, and the ocean an indigo that blurs into the browner shades of the bay. The quality of the light elucidates every colour of the immaculately painted wooden Victorian houses of the city, and every shade of green in the parks and surrounding hills. A hundred Mexican kitchens in the Mission add their alluring scents to the city's heady mix of aromas, whilst the gasoline streaming from the traffic reminds you that the city is a real, throbbing, imperfect place, where urban sprawl, in its beauty and ugliness has covered the spectacular setting that nature gifted to this slice of California. I couldn't be more in love.


Reasons why I love East London

1. Brick Lane Bagels at ridiculous hours of the morning
2. Sunbathing in London Fields
3. Basements on Kingsland Road/Kingsland High Street
4. Random nights out at DJ parties in strip clubs
5. Broadway Market
6. Brick Lane Market
7. The amazing, creative outfits people wear
8. Bars in Shoreditch
9. Café 1001 and its amazing food
10. Finding amazing things to wear in Beyond Retro and cheap things to eat at Ridley Road Market


Reasons why I love London

1. The cool air in the morning with that faint city smell
2. All walks of life sat together on the bus
3. Independent cafés at lunchtime in Shoreditch
4. The purposeful walking of people after work: we work hard, now we're going to enjoy ourselves
5. Random moments of architectural grandeur and history between the soulless offices of the city remind me of just how much this city has seen
6. The river at sunset
7. The fresh air from the river at sunset
8. People spilling onto the streets from bars and pubs, flirting, flaunting or just happy to get the chance to relax
9. East London at night
10. How almost all of this is free, and that's before counting the countless museums, parks, neighbourhoods, free london festival... none of which you have to spend a penny on... except to top up your oystercard, of course.
Some day I should grow up.


Big questions about Art.

One of the best new arts events in London is Showcase London, a fortnightly exhibition of new and up-coming talent in the multi-faceted wonder-bar that is Café 1001, in the Truman Brewery, Brick Lane. There's none of the pretentiouness and snobbery that you get at many exhibitions, and instead of champagne-quaffing poseurs wondering around with permanently raised eyebrows demonstrating their tasteful disdain, there's a relaxed atmosphere, great music and a mixed bag of people, some of whom have just popped through from the bar, some who have come to support new talent, and some who are genuinely interested in art. Normally, the display is pretty impressive, but this week's offering was notably weaker... I can't be the only one who gets incredibly irritated by empty, sledgehammer symbolism and trendy news subjects obviously shoe-horned into mediocre works? Oh well, I guess democracy, beauty in the eye and all that...

But everyone should check it out next time anyway, it's completely free. What else are you doing after work on Wednesdays?


This was one of the best days of my life.

Sometimes an ending has its own quiet content, peace and satisfaction.

Or maybe I'm just a sucker for a spectacular sunset.

And the leaves fell from the trees.

When I think back over the last couple of years, we didn't really get off too badly this year when it came to summer weather. No, it's not been a summer of endless blue skies, where the heat hits you every morning as you open the window like. But I don't think it really ever felt like opening an oven door, in the UK at least. But even this Saturday the mercury, if not quite soaring, at least bubbled a little bit. After strolling around Broadway Market, my friend and I lay on the parched grass of London Fields and contemplated a life of luxury, with beautiful houses and plentiful holidays, and let the sunshine beat down on us like Midsummer. I tried not to notice that the golden blades of grass matched the golden leaves rustling on the ground.

On Sunday it was cold.

So this is autumn. And my dreams of sunshine become dreams again. I wonder how much longer I'll wish my life away waiting for the next June.

I miss my clean white linen and fancy french cologne

Sometimes I wonder if I would have been happier living in California in the '70s or whether it's just the seduction of Joni Mitchell's timeless music evoking some kind of false nostalgia. This is the age of fetishisation of the past after all.


I want to kiss you but your lips are venemous poison

My kind of retro

I'm not necessarily always a fan, but you have to get slightly excited about such beautiful, theatrical clothes that hark back centuries, not just to 1989. I can't wait to see how/if this theme translates through to S/S 2010. Winter would be so much more fun if I could afford just one little D&G jacket... all donations welcome...

Swift fingers and firey sunsets

When your first real experience of an act is set against the drama of the last rays of sunset over the fens, with a burning tower in the middle of a lake, and thousands of chinese lanterns being released into the sky, it'd be hard not to impress. But since seeing the amazingly talented Rodrigo y Gabriela at Secret Garden Party, I've become vaguely obsessed. Their beautiful rhythmic classical guitar playing fuses folk and rock in an entirely unique way, and there's this energy like a warm gust of wind behind the accelerating melodies that they play so dextrously that just enamours me.

If you have never heard, listen to Tamacun, the duo's most famous track.

Then buy their new album 11:11. You won't regret it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a0YDlL2fa9w Doesn't give a fair impression of the experience at all, but...




Ran this town: A late summer night's trek

Is it just me or is every single basement on Kingsland High Street some kind of bar or club of questionable legitimacy? During the day, it could almost pass for any East London high road, but come weekend nights, the streets are thronged with the beautiful and the well-dressed, lining up to squeeze into bars that range from industrial chic to sleaze-and-shab, playing host to some of the capital's best nights. Yet somehow on Saturday we ended up in the one empty club in Dalston (Barden's) and spent hours trailing all over East London with plastic cups full of overpriced, low grade red wine.

It all started off so well, I cooked not entirely rubbery calamari, we quaffed a few bottles of serviceable liquids, and we headed out for the bright lights of Dalston. After deciding against a dimly lit doorway with a six foot man dressed in a Lady Gaga-esque sequined body standing inside, and an aversion to paying entry to Dalston Superstore, we hit up the mean streets of Bethnal Green, before returning once more to the land of Kings (I take the shame for the unimaginative play on words). After a brief aforementioned daliance at Barden's we somehow ended up imbibing dubious drink back on the bus to Shoreditch, where, finally, my aesthetically gifted friend managed to charm our way into a random guestlist-only party in a gallery space. It all gets a bit blurry after the five (yes, five) storey climb to a large, empty, white space, devoid of art, or life intelligent enough to see that there's more to a night out than trying to like you're not having fun.

I think we attempted to ballroom dance.


East London's best coffee?

Last week, alongside my overdiscussed passionate affair with Burberry, I fell into a more symbiotic (well, they need custom!) relationship with Brick Lane Coffee. It has to be one of the best places to chill out during the day in Shoreditch, with a fantastic music policy (no lounge jazz - not that you'd expect it in the East End), really comfy sofas that you sink into just the right amount, without feeling like your derriere is going to be entirely swallowed, friendly staff and some seriously fine coffee. I'm pretty sure those of you lucky enough to have lived in East London a while have known about it forever, but I've so far tried three types of coffee and each was superlative. And managed to keep me alert all afternoon, which is always good. Take note, Whole Foods - coffee should keep you alert, not make you shake like a crack addict. So, much love and credit where it is deserved.

I Heart Burberry

Just as a little follow on from my post on snoods... I think I've totally fallen in love with Burberry. Maybe it's the approaching autumn (though - 27 degrees today in London = amazing), but...wow, I just want pretty much every item in their menswear lines. Particularly a gorgeous blue velvet dinner suit in the pre-Fall Prosum collection. If only I had money, hey.


Carnival Time

Okay, so the Carnival was on Monday... but punctuality is overrated as a virtue. It's always fun to have an excuse to drink before midday, but the Carnival is definitely not just a binge-drinking experience. Walking around, you turn a corner and there's something different... Sound systems, food stalls, and of course the amazing parade, with floats, feathers, music and, erm, nudity. I know that everyone worries about violent crime at Notting Hill, but it really does have this amazing buzz, everyone wants to enjoy themselves, there's happiness and love in the air... Well, there's something in the air anyway. It seems Monday was the last day of summer, but the benevolent Gods blessed the debauchery with blazing sunshine to keep the party alive. Personal highlight: dancing to drum and bass whilst a dandy with an umbrella walked a tightrope, much to the amusement of local kids watching it all from a fourth-floor balcony. It comes but once a year, people...


Escape to the country

I love London, but sometimes, true to the cliché, it does get a bit busy and stressful, so - arguing that the money spent on a train ticket would be made up for in money not spent just existing in the city - I visited my friend in Suffolk for her post-birthday weekend. It was wonderful: delicious home cooked food in a cosy, beautiful house with old oak beams and sea views, what's not to like? And the company of course. Even despite the slightly chilly winds blowing off the sea (compounded by the fact I clearly was half asleep when I packed and had no form of jacket, knitwear or other protective vestment), there was something relaxing and liberating about being in the open air and open fields of East Anglia. Though I now have a pretty unpleasant ex-blister on an uncomfortable nook on my thumb as a result of my over-vigorous rowing on Sunday Morning. But I guess there's always something to complain about.

Love on the number 73 bus

Sometimes I think that the most romantic scenes you'll ever see aren't heart-wrenching displays of unbridled passion and love that transcends death (or a space-time continuum, depending on the film), but the little glances in every day life. Sat on the bus last night, I saw a couple that weren't even touching, let alone indulging in some vulgar display of affection, but from the vaguely yearning, uncertain edge to his adoring look, and the way she slightly tilted her head and smiled contendedly when he was looking the other way, you could just tell that they loved eachother. And for some reason, it made my day.



Immense. The video could be a lot better considering the song actually has really interesting lyrics ("This is lycanthropy"/"I'm starting to feel just a little abused, like a coffee machine in an office") and the potential for full on werewolf special effects just hasn't been mined. But still, despite the full on porn star blonde hair and sexy dancing, she's looking hot. And the song is great. I wish the last chorus lasted longer though... I can't wait to see what the rest of her album has in store, now she's gone down the predictable-yet-still-amaze electro pop route.

It's already doing big things in the US, I've been loving it all summer long and I'm hearing it more over here, so I imagine this will be the soundtrack to a lot of people's autumns.