August 2014 Playlist

Spotify Playlist here416788b

To say I’ve been neglecting my blog a bit lately is something of an understatement. It’s been nearly a year since I last wrote anything here, and I have to confess, I haven’t felt any sort of need to do it. I stopped blogging because I no longer believed I had anything interesting to share. Why should I just be scribbling endless ‘lifestyle’ posts out without any sort of reasoning behind them? With ‘lifestyle’ blogging (yes, I’m keeping the inverted commas for full ridiculousness) you eventually become aware that all bloggers are writing the same sort of thing, with the same kind of carefully neutral commentary. 

In short, I stopped writing because I was shouting into the void, writing for the sake of it. I moved up to London in the Spring, and I’m now aware of the sort of thing I want to write. There are so many amazing things to do in the city, and I’m going to try and write about some of them, purely because they interest me, and not because I’ve been asked to write about them or paid for my services. I started my blog as a way of recording things that made me happy, no matter how small or silly, and I’m keen to find that passion again. 

For today though, I’ve got a different sort of post. I thought I’d share some of the tracks I’ve been listening to this month, along with a handy Spotify playlist for easy listening. I’m a big sbtrkt fan, and I’ve enjoyed the collaborative work Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig has been doing (e.g. with Major Lazer), so this song has been on repeat for me. I love the imagery of the ‘flags flapping in Manhattan, gargoyles gargling oil’. Chet Faker’s No Diggity cover is an oozy, enjoyable trek of an interpretation, and professional saddo Lana Del Rey benefits from a bit of a speed up by Cedric Gervais. 

The War on Drugs seem to be steadily creeping into public awareness, and Under the Pressure is a glorious 9 minute showcase of their latest album that has soundtracked my Summer. I’ve also popped in a bit of the ever-rousing Is Tropical, which never fails to perk me up. Glass Animals are a new discovery, an addition to my adored coterie of indie exports from Oxford (see also Foals & Trophy Wife). They’re a bit of a revelation, like having thick treacle course through you aurally – full of expansive vowel sounds and languid vocals. Finally, Juce are an exceptionally promising trio who recall girlbands of both the 60s and the 90s. Their band logo is even written in the same font as the film Clueless, and they’re a gorgeously fun slice of pop for the final remnants of Summer. 

Jack Wills and Wonsuponatime Parties

(Or, don’t drink and blog)

As you all know, I’ve been having a massive Jack Wills love-in lately, as evidenced here. I was delighted to be invited along to one of their ‘Unmissable Parties’, in the Covent Garden store. If you haven’t been in, it’s a gorgeous space set over three floors packed full of precisely folded clothes and charming staff. Obviously the first stop, though, was to the drinks table for elderflower presse and bubbly. Mostly bubbly.

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As with all Jack Wills stores, this one feels sort of homely and sort of like school, which I very much enjoy.

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DJing among the jumpers…

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The place was buzzing with activity – including face and nail painting, a lot of balloon-popping, and…more drinking. I’m not going to lie to you, readers. We went for cocktails at Cellar Door beforehand, and by this point in the evening I was somewhat spiffed at this point, and very much on the train to Drunkville.

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When did candy floss get so difficult to eat? My companion and I attempted it, got candy floss beards, and discarded it in fury.

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Ultimately, in the rather tricky area of ‘in store parties’, Jack Wills manage to pull it off. The staff were charming as always, and there was a fun, laid back vibe. A bit like a house party but where you could buy things. Heaps of discounts and freebies if you wanted to shop, but equally accommodating if you were there for the candy floss and the atmosphere. We headed on (me in a slight haze) towards The Penthouse, Leicester Square, for my friend Sarah Betty’s party for her jewellery brand Wonsuponatime. The Penthouse isn’t the most prepossessing building from the outside, but LOOK AT THE VIEWS.

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Here’s the awesome Zoe Hellewell, aka The London Lipgloss, doing an absolutely smashing DJ set.

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SBA is one of the very coolest people I know. She’s down to earth and yet whimsical, and she’s created a jewellery company with such cohesive vision. A very hard-working young lady, and always a source of inspiration to me.

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Honestly, readers. I realise this is a very scant blog post but by this stage in the evening I was completely lamped on gin & tonics. I didn’t manage to get a single decent photo of the jewellery, but I’ll write another post to amend that. Urgh. Maybe they should rename it ‘blogger’s ruin’ instead.

Awful behaviour. But look at these pretty flower arrangements!

Blog fail.

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St Ives Day Seven

The final days whizzed by in a flurry of confusing weather and…well, more food. The town started to hum and buzz with talk of the oncoming storm. Hatches were beginning to be battened down, town-dwellers told us how lucky we were to be heading home before it hit.

That said, Friday was one of the most glorious days of the week, and I set out to make the most of it with a walk around the headland, where I always like to pretend I’m a tragic Thomas Hardy heroine roaming the rugged countryside. A Thomas Hardy heroine with a DSLR and sunglasses, that is.

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Not far into my walk, however, I spotted one of the most terrifying scarecrows I’ve ever seen. I thought they were just supposed to scare birds, not people?

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By a stroke of luck, some of my lovely family were also down in the Wall of Corn for the week, and we all united for lunch at Porthminster.

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I wore a dress for the first time this week. It felt really weird.

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I started lunch with a cocktail and found myself dizzying somewhat after a single sip: whisky, cider with ginger, tonka bean and chilli syrup…

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I had the most incredible vegetable curry – savoury but aromatic, full of fresh veg and coconut milk.

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If you go for one thing at Porthminster, make it a dessert. While the language of the menu may put you off (all ‘deconstructions’, ‘foam’ and ‘naked brulee’), the puds are where the chefs display phenomenal skill. I had the aforementioned “naked brulee”, essentially a square of chocolate crème with the finest crispy brulee layer, plus peppermint honeycomb, vanilla milk sorbet and brownie dust.

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My uncle had caramelised bananas with a pistachio aero mousse, whisky cream and salted caramel, and Mummy Simmons had petit fours, displayed a la rock.

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Followed by a short stroll along the beach.

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And finally, I visited the Tate, who do free entry on Friday evenings. I’ve never had much success with the place as I’m not a huge modern art appreciator. The only exhibition I’ve enjoyed in the past was one by Simon Fujiwara. This time, however, the exhibition Aquatopia combines modern pieces with paintings by J.M.W Turner and Stanhope Forbes. It was immersive, atmospheric, and only made me roll my eyes once or twice – quite an achievement for the Tate.

Bye bye St Ives!

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St Ives Days Five and Six

One of the mainstays of any week in St Ives is a huge breakfast at Porthmeor cafe. Breakfast is probably my favourite meal of the day, and the bigger the better as far as I’m concerned.  Porthmeor offer a pick-and-mix fry up, where you can opt to keep it healthy with poached eggs, butternut squash and cherry tomatoes, or go to the dark side with hash browns and bacon.

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I can also heartily recommend the buttermilk pancakes with bananas, raspberries, whipped pecan butter and maple syrup…

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Fuelled for the day by extravagant brekkers, we strolled across town to take the train. Now, spending hours on a train forms a large part of my week, so you’d think I’d run screaming, right? This isn’t your average commute, though. This is one of the most beautiful  train journeys in the country (and I’m pretty sure that’s been verified by…someone, somewhere). Words don’t do it justice, so here are some photos instead.

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The weather was spectacular, turning everything around Porthminster into a potential Metronomy album cover.

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Taking a stroll through the town, I spotted some lovely chaps outside the Allotment Deli, and a rather unusual selling point for an umbrella.

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In the evening, we headed to The Loft to watch the town get dark over cocktails: an absolutely smashing espresso martini and a refreshing mimosa.

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St Ives Day Four

This post is devoted to one of my favourite places it St Ives.

Is it the Tate, packed to the rafters with beautiful art? No.

Is it Porthminster beach, a wonder of golden sand and proud palm trees? No.

It’s the Hub, a restaurant and bar in the harbour.

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I’ve been coming to St Ives for quite a long time, and I’ve seen the Hub transform from a bar which did a bit of food to a proper, family restaurant. The menu is a burgerfest (hot dogs if you’re feeling adventurous), bolstered by hale and hearty sides and a decent selection of craft beers.

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I’ve raged on here about a lack of decent veggie burgers before – a mushroom is not, and never will be, a burger! So I was delighted to see the Hub offering proper, well-conceived veggie burgers. I had a falafel burger, piled high with chilli jam, charred corn and guacamole, stacked in a plump brioche bun. Proper consideration has gone into making the vegetarian options as exciting and delicious as the rest of the menu.

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Because I’m greedy, a burger just didn’t seem enough. I ordered apple slaw and macaroni cheese, topped off with a gloriously zesty iced tea. I was soon backtracking on my decision, as I left the restaurant barely able to walk and couldn’t eat for the of the day. Well, not MUCH.

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The staff are great, the atmosphere is laidback, and the food beats any of the veggie burgers I’ve had in London so far. And it’s great value! Strongly recommend it if you’re down this way.

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Once I’d regained the use of my legs, I headed home, spotting some amazing graffiti on the way:

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And finally home to fire up the woodburner, and settled down with Douglas Coupland’s ‘Girlfriend in a Coma’. It started out nice and normal(ish) and ended up as a nighmarish post-apocalyptic vision of the future. So, um, that was a nice relaxing holiday read!

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St Ives Days Two and Three

Days are very fluid in Cornwall. Time becomes elastic, with some days seeming to whiz by, and others going on forever. My second and third days here already seem ages ago already. I’ve stopped wearing a watch and am finally stating to loosen my grip on my phone, meaning I tend to go hours without any idea of what time it is. I can highly recommend that!

More beach time and more wandering – you can’t get round the town without spotting at least one Hepworth sculpture!

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Less common, though is the sight of a fox in a tiara…

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Yo homes, to Bellair (Terrace)

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Making use of the fantastic kitchen in the property, I made some extremely lazy comfort food – pasta in red wine and tomato sauce, with Portobello mushrooms pan-fried with rosemary and garlic, and a super simple panzanella. Not worth recipising (that’s a word!) on here as it was very basic.

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I also made the cheesiest toasty known to man. The Bruce Forsyth of toasties.

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Porthmeor Cafe Despite the proliferation of grilled cheese at home, we did manage to eat out at an old favourite. The Porthmeor cafe is perched centrally on the beach, complete with a glass roof and little cubby holes outside. Great value for money, boasting some of the nicest staff in St Ives, and full of imaginative culinary creations, it’s somewhere I keep coming back to.

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Only open at lunchtimes during the Winter, lunch takes the form of a variety of tapas-style dishes. It’s a dream for vegetarians – veg dishes are seamlessly integrated into the menu without feeling a) tacked on, or b) like you’re missing out on all the decent stuff.

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It’s worth saving space for pudding though, which is consistently delicious. I opted for treacle tart with blood oranges and marmalade syrup…

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The dress code? More stripes, of course.

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