October 2013 archive

A Wharf Column About Sending a Retouched Photo of Myself to my School Alumni

| Journalism

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Today I got to do something that’ll tickle me forever. I sent a professionally taken, perfectly lit, expertly dressed, retouched photo of me to my school’s alumni officer.

My teenage self – spotty, terminally pale, enamoured with shapeless black jeans and lavender Adidas sweatshirts – is weeping with joy…

 

To read the rest  of the column please click on the link below (it includes a strange use of M&S fruit slices):

http://www.wharf.co.uk/2013/10/blondes-eye-view-my-adolescent.html

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Review: Coffee at the Town Hall Hotel, Bethnal Green

| Hotel and B&B Reviews

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I popped into the Town Hall Hotel for a ‘posh coffee’, after being tipped-off about this destination hotel from a number of fashion brands hosting events here. You always know you’re in for a visual treat if the fashion set favour a place.

IMG_5309The boutique hotel is a triumph of restoration design, reviving Bethnal Green’s old council offices. It’s smothered in marble foyers, Art Deco panelled corridors – complete with jelly mould Bakelite light fixtures, imposing stone staircases and modern art that holds your attention and captures your imagination. The original Edwardian and Art Deco interiors of the 1910 building are enhanced further by artfully chosen hip stylised vintage furniture. I had a thoroughly enjoyable nose around.

 

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The original council chamber is still in place, complete with its horseshoe of green leather chairs, fold down wooden desks and two entrances – one for the ayes, and one for the no’s. It would make a perfectly quirky setting for a private event.

Finding somewhere to actually have my coffee at 3.30pm on a Thursday (surely prime afternoon tea time?) proved comically hard. Each member of staff I spoke to was friendly and helpful, and yet it took four attempts and four different people questioned before I located the lounge on the first floor, and ascertained that, yes, a hot drink could be procured. Wandering through the old corridors and pushing through door after door, I did begin to feel like I was stuck in a bureaucratic Kafkaesque nightmare. Albeit a fabulously styled one. For the love of caffeine – I only want a hot chocolate! The hotel feels more geared up for residents, and lunch and dinner guests, but I’d still recommend popping in for tea just to see the building. A cappuccino costs £3,00, which is incredibly competitive when compared to hotels of a similar standing in the West End or North London.

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The lounge itself (first photo), which led onto the council chamber, was all dark wood and lead windows, studded leather sofas and reclaimed furniture – like hanging out in a Mad Men Gentleman’s club. When I go back, I’m wearing my best fifties frock.

 

 

 

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Ordering a snack again proved tricky. Cake wasn’t an option. Faced with a plate of meat and cheese (more suited to cocktails) I chose the only available alternative: spiced rice crackers. They came with a generous bowl of chicken mayo to dunk in. It all tasted delicious, though eating them was nibbles Russian Roulette: overloading the delicate crackers with dip risked them breaking en route to your mouth and splattering mayo over your legs like ‘cum’. I only managed to do this three times, which is fair testament to how delicious they were. Worth the risk, and the stain reminded me of an excellent afternoon.

IMG_5306 Decor: 5/5. Food & drinks 4/5 (when you could get some).

 

Further information on the Town Hall Hotel can be found here.

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Impulse Buy: Paperchase’s Giant Coin Purse Tote Bag

| Impulse Buy

 

photoI’m a sucker for undersized and oversized items. Tennis balls the size of footballs, hot water bottles that fit in the palm of your hand, pencils you could use as a rounders’ bat: I have to have them all. A clear case of Alice In Wonderland-itis. I’m so big! I’m so small! Curiouser and curiouser…

My Alice alarm sounded when I saw this giant coin purse tote bag in Paperchase. Yes, Paperchase, the shop you buy cards and wrapping paper from. At a bargain price of £25.00 and with a strap you can fit your arm through, this one’s definitely going to the Mad Hatter’s tea party with me. I’m wearing it now, and grinning like a Cheshire cat.

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With strap. Keys for scale.

Paperchase’s Secret Garden Tote costs £25.00 and is available to purchase here.

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Review: Gordon Ramsey’s Plane Food, Terminal 5, Heathrow

| Restaurant Reviews

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Tell me there’s a TV chef’s restaurant in Heathrow’s Terminal 5, and I’m going to check it out as soon as I’ve checked in. And tweet about it. Obvs. I’m that demographic. I also need to know if Gordon Ramsey’s Plane Food lives up to its wry wordplay name?

I imagine an interior designer would describe the decor as ‘futurescape 1950s airport IMG_5368glamour’, if they couldn’t think of the correct terminology. Plenty of curved golden beige seating, shiny reds, hints of propellers and sculptural light fittings. One side of the restaurant is dominated by a floor to ceiling window overlooking the runway, providing melatonin for the jetlagged. Though the space is a continuous open plan flow from shopping concourse, through the bar, through to the restaurant, it manages to afford you privacy enough to swear profusely if your flight’s been delayed. Which could prove vital to your positive dining experience. The furniture is funky and functional, while avoiding the outright plush luxury you may wish to recline in for one too many hours. As with most airport restaurants, there is an air of speed and efficiency: turnaround will be quick.

Having said that, it initially proved difficult to flag one down one of the frenetic staff. This may concern anyone with a tight window of time, or those, who like Mr Me, panic about being late. I’m well practised at being late – I’ve been called for a flight in the past, dashed to the gate and boarded a plane to sarcastic applause from my fellow passengers – I can wait five minutes for my grub.

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Once a helpful member of staff had been ensnared in our ‘you give us lunch/we give you money’ trap, I ordered the steamed seabass (£14.95). The restaurant amenably replaced the shrimp dressing (I’m allergic to shellfish), with a fine pesto and olive oil substitute. Served with roasted tomatoes and samphire, the fish was light, with a hint-of-crisp skin, well seasoned, and all gone within a few minutes. Sadly the side of chips I ordered got lost in transit. (This is the third side I’ve ordered recently, at different establishments, that has failed to arrive. I’m beginning to think people are giving me a subtle hint). Mr Me wolfed his spiced chicken and cashew curry with basmati rice (£14.95), before I could photograph it. He deemed it tasty and filling, without being too rich or heavy for before a flight.

 

I also partook of the artfully named ‘breakfast martini’ (£8.00) – a zesty orangey hit of alcohol that would launch any day with a bang. It’s hard to fault a place that’s got the balls to serve you alcohol at 8am. Missing carbs aside, I’d recommend Plane Food to those looking for a decent meal before they fly: pleasant atmosphere, good, well-cooked food, with balanced portion sizes that won’t overload you before take off.

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Those short on time, or travelling at the wrong time, can get a takeaway: Plane Picnics. These posh packed lunches have a choice of starters, mains and desserts, and come in a practical cool bag. At £12.95 for a freshly prepared three-course meal, they seem particularly attractive if you’re booked on a low coast airline that only serves peanuts. And infinitely better value, and better for you, that the £5 limp Panini you’ll get flogged on board. Just hide that branded cooler bag, so you don’t look like a twat.

 

More information and booking details for Gordon Ramsey’s Plane Food can be found here:  http://www.gordonramsay.com/planefood/

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Wharf column about butt monkeys who play misic loudly from their phone on public transport

| Journalism

logo“There I was, quietly erasing a day’s worth of work encounters from my mind on the DLR, when Satan’s ass trumpet shattered my reverie.

Since when did it become publicly acceptable to play your “music” out loud on the tinny speaker of your phone?”

For the whole column please click the link below:

http://www.wharf.co.uk/2013/10/blondes-eye-view-unwanted-comm.html

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Impulse Buy: Limited Edition Givenchy Eye Shadow Compact Ecrin Du Soir

| Impulse Buy

 

IMG_5491When I was seventeen I bought my first “investment” (i.e. more than I could reasonably afford to spend at the time) beauty product: a limited edition Lancôme nail polish the colour of insect wings. I scraped that nail polish bottle dry. I’ve spent the last sixteen years hunting for a similar shade. Now I’m wary of limited edition slap, if I fall in love with a product I want to know I can stockpile it for some perceived make up drought. I’m more likely to run out of food, before I do Chanel mascara. BUT there was something about the weighty luxury of this textured Givenchy eye shadow compact that I couldn’t resist at Duty Free: it had me at Heathrow.

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Inside are four shades that can be used separately, or in any combination (that’s how compacts work). The three matte shades will comfortably cover all your eye make up needs from a perky breakfast meeting (go for the fawn) to a candle lit dinner for two (smokey purple, you sexy minx, you). The final shimmery square of glitzy white delight will have you channelling Bianca Jagger at Studio 54 before you can say ‘hands up, this is a drugs bust!’.  According to Google translate the compact’s name, Ecrin Du Soir, translates to ‘bosky evening’. I have no idea what that means, but I’m in!

Givenchy’s Limited Edition Ecrin Du Soir costs £46.00 and is available to buy here.

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