London Lately

I'm wearing: Monki cream coat // Monki denim dress // Adidas Stans // Iris & Ink navy leather bucket bag, similar here // Tom Ford lipstick 

I travel to London every month, and I'm often asked for recommendations, so thought I'd put together a quick guide of my favourite places to eat, drink and sleep. Do you have any favourites? 

Eat: 

  • Beast - for giant Norwegian crab and beef 
  • Otto's  - lobster 
  • Padella - amazing pasta 
  • Shoryu Ramen
  • Granger & Co
  • Bao London - go for lunch and try to get there before 12 as there's always a queue 
  • Shotgun - great ribs 
  • Paradise Garage 
  • Lyle's 
  • Clove Club - also good for cocktails 
  • Wright Brothers - great oysters 
  • Barrafina 
  • Dishoom - great Indian 
  • Santo Remedio - great Mexican, some of the best I've had! 
  • The Pressery - fresh juice 
  • Honey & Co - good breakfast 
  • Duck & Waffle - for breakfast with a view 
  • Yam Cha - dim sum 
  • The Riding House Cafe - breakfast / lunch (great eggs & avocado)
  • Ceviche - Peruvian 
  • Berners Tavern 
  • Hawksmoor (go Sunday and have the roast)

Coffee: 

  • TAP
  • Allpress Coffee 
  • Monmouth Coffee
  • Prufrock Coffee
  • Kaffeine 
  • Workshop Coffee Co
  • Look Mum No Hands 

Drink: 

  • Hix
  • Blind Pig - try their Mexican Mexican't cocktail 
  • The Gun (East London) 
  • Ruby's Bar & Lounge 
  • Ridley Road Market Bar 
  • The Punch Room at Berners Tavern 

Stay: 

  • Ace Hotel (also place to work from and they do good coffee) 
  • Town Hall Hotel (also good cocktails and the Corner Room restaurant) 
  • Zetter Townhouse (also good cocktails)
  • Culpepper 
  • London Edition (same venue as Berners Tavern + The Punch Room)

If you freelance like I do, Hubbard & Bell in the Hoxton Hotel is a great place to work from, as is the Ace Hotel. 

Shop what I'm wearing: 

London Fashion Week

I'll admit, I was little apprehensive about attending London Fashion Week this season, as it was the first time going registered under my own blog. I used to cover the shows for a website I edited back when I lived in London, so having Rue Rodier on my badge was a big deal. According to the late, great Eleanor Roosevelt you should do one thing every day that scares you. I think I averaged five a day, which included wearing blue sandals over tights in the winter, hoping that it didn't rain, photographing shows and generally trying to own my presence there. To me, fashion week is (apart from the circus that surrounds it) about the art, the creativity and inspiration that has gone into each collection. I've always viewed watching a show as rather like watching a live art exhibition. It's not just about clothes and trends, but the experience of seeing them walk by live - in other words I was pretty happy (but a little overwhelmed) to be there. Anyway here are some shots from a few of my favourite presentations and shows. 

London Time

I've had a crazy couple of weeks, hence no time to blog. I do have a few upcoming blog projects in the works though so you'll be seeing more here soon. In the meantime I thought I'd share a few photos I took in London when I was last there and muse on a few things I've experienced and learnt over the last few weeks. It's probably been the most exhausting, yet the most exciting and fruitful weeks of my career. I've pushed myself, both creatively and business-wise. And I've learnt a lot about myself, my boundaries and capabilities. As a woman (and if you're woman reading this, you will probably agree) I often find it hard to promote myself and can struggle with self-doubt. It comes down to not always having confidence and belief in myself and what I'm capable of. Luckily I've managed to bury that doubt over the last few weeks in favour of just going for it! I definitely think moving country and hence out of my comfort zone has helped me there too.

I've also learnt to be stronger in the last few weeks, but that is what it takes if you want to build a successful freelance career in anything creative. You have to grow some

cojones.

So not worrying about where the next job is coming from, but being confident that it will. I've been reading books by strong, independent business women, to help get me through. If you ever have any doubts about the path you're forging I urge you to read

Girlboss by Sophia Amoroso

- not only is it inspiring, but it's a bit like having a good friend or mentor cheer you on from the sidelines. Read anything by Richard Branson. Ok, he's not a woman, but he's incredibly inspiring with his 'screw it, just do it' work ethic, especially coming from a man that didn't go to university or come from an overly-privileged family. (Perhaps elements that made him strive harder). He just thought why not? And maintained the confidence to get on with pursuing his dreams. I'm currently reading

Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

, which has been on my list for a while. She addresses many of the insecurities that I've felt and how to deal with them. 

Freelance life is tough, it's not for everyone, but I cannot imagine going back to a full time job (which I have had experience of in the past). So when I'm doubting myself I've started turning to other strong women who I admire to get me through the tough times. A great publication for anyone who isn't a big reader, but wants short inspiring stories about strong women following, or who have followed their dreams, is

Porter

magazine. I'd be pushed to say it's the best woman's magazine on the market at the moment - it's intelligent, well-written, inspiring and stylish! I'm also a big believer of surrounding yourself with friends who will champion you, call you out when you haven't done something you said you will and be there for you when the going gets rough. 

When I was thinking about writing today, I didn't think this post would turn into such a personal post, but I thought I'd share my two cents! I'd love to know your thoughts - what you struggle with, what you've learnt if you do freelance or are following a more creative, less trodden path and what you turn to when you need to maintain that inner strength to keep going and challenging yourself push your limits, to do better and live better!

Finally a few favourite things:

- I've been enjoying my friend Ylenia's

street style photos

from the fashion weeks

- I've have quite a few Jewish friends, so

this

popped up on my Facebook feed and moved me to tears

- This

COS coat

- I can't decide if I'll look stylish or like a giant marshmallow? But I'm preparing for a trip to Iceland and this just might keep me warm!

- Nicole Franzen's

gorgeous photos

of new Miami restaurant, Marion Miami

- I'm totally lusting after this

look

- I made it to

Cafe Oberkampf

on Saturday to get a slice of Frank's, aka

@cakeboyparis

 almond and fig honey cake! Yum.

J.Crew heels - every woman needs a great pair of heels, even if like me you're not really a heel-wearer... I've worn these to the last two weddings I've been to and danced the night away at both. 

London Happenings

Every time I go back to London, my experience of the city seems to get better and better, probably because now having lived away for two years, I enjoy the city with fresh eyes and can appreciate, as well as take full advantage of the city. Here are a few of the things I got up to during my week: 

+ I purchased a few spring wardrobe updates from

COS

, including these tees. It's by far my favourite brand for well-designed basics and wardrobe essentials. 

+ I breakfasted at new Spitalfields restaurant

Blixen

 which is guaranteed to become a summer hotspot, with its outside terrace. Try the smoked trout, pouched eggs and avocado and I went with

Clerkenwell Boy

- following him on Instagram for London culinary goings on is a must. 

+ I went to Hackney based shoe brand

Miista's

pop-up

shop

launch in Shoreditch with the talented designer

Brooke Roberts

and walked away with these beautiful powder blue sandals, which I'm sure will be making many an appearance over the summer. 

+ I enjoyed breakfast at the delicious

Honey and Co

with my friend

Ruth

from

Vintage Books

- go for the fig toast! 

+ Tried and tested tasty cocktails at new Shoreditch bar

Joyeux Bordel

, which opened just last week on Curtain Road - part of the Experimental Cocktail Group crew.

+ Ate pizzas from my favourite London pizza restaurant

Franca Manca

Better Living Interview: Miranda York, Editor of TOAST

I know Miranda from when I edited an arts and culture website back in London - she came to an event I was helping to organise and we clicked. After working as a freelance food journalist for various publications, she launched her magazine,

TOAST

, at the end of last year. What began as a conversation about food with a friend, quickly became a turning point and the start of a life changing project. First they launched TOAST food festival - inviting some of the UK's best food journalists, writers and chefs to talk. Off the back of that they continued to organise food events, but felt the need for something more tangible. A magazine was the best solution. It's a beautiful publication aesthetically, as well as beautifully-written, interesting, intriguing and inspiring. Instead of covering food trends, she (along with Assistant Editor,

Sophie Dening

), chose a carefully selected number of contributors to write what they wanted about food - there was no brief, it just had to be interesting. It's a celebration of food and ideas, and articles range from one in praise of crisps, a conversation about wine between Sager & Wilde owners, Michael and Charlotte Sager-Wilde, to a photo essay on the South West of England. It comes in the wake of a burgeoning British food revolution that is not only changing the face of food in Britain - putting fresh, locally-grown, organic products at the front of people's mind - but also altering its reputation on a global scale. I shot Miranda a couple of days after the magazine's launch, at a great French restaurant,

Casse-Croute

in Bermondsey, South London, just around the corner from where she lives and works. 

Scroll down to read the interview!

What inspired you to work with the food industry?

I stumbled upon the food world accidentally. After working at the BBC in current affairs I started writing for an indie food mag and became fascinated by the people I was interviewing and writing about. Everyone I met was so passionate about what they were doing, and so generous – I just wanted to be part of that world. I then worked for various travel and lifestyle magazines before going freelance and starting TOAST – which came about after of one of those crazy conversations with my good friend Sarah Chamberlain. We were longing for food events which delved deeper into food culture – and after speaking to a few people with encouraging words we decided to go for it and create our own!

How did the idea of a magazine come about?

The events we produce at TOAST are fun but fleeting. We wanted a way to gather our values, interests and ideas into something more permanent. With my background as an editor, a magazine seemed the obvious choice. Plus, after speaking to so many talented friends and colleagues frustrated with the industry, I wanted to create a space where people could write/photograph/talk about what really interested them – no restrictions, no subject off limits – if it’s a good story, we’ll print it.

They say Britain is going through a food revolution, how do you think the food landscape has changed in London in the last 5 years?

London is a really exciting city for food right now. There’s so much innovation, so many talented chefs opening restaurants and entrepreneurs starting new businesses. I’ve lost count of the number of restaurants opening each year (or each week!) but there’s no doubt London is a better city to dine out in. I love all the food markets popping up all over the city too – it’s an indication that people want to eat better at home as well as in restaurants.

The restaurant business is often fuelled by the next big trend, what made you steer away from the hype in favour of ideas?

For a long time I got caught up in the whirlwind of new openings and the latest up-and-coming chef, but after a while it became tiring. I stepped away from the hype and started to seek out genuine, talented, creative people who are striving to make something the best it can be – whether that’s a restaurant, bar, event, or a beautiful handmade ceramic bowl. Nowadays I’m much more likely to be looking around a tiny factory in Bermondsey where they’ve made stylish anodised metal trays since the 1930s, or searching for a railway arch in Peckham where they make fresh Mexican cheese, than trying to attend five launch parties in an evening. Though that’s still fun every now and then ;)

What piece of advice would you give someone wanting to start their own business or launch their own magazine?

Do it! It’s hard work and it’s a little bit crazy but if you have a great idea, then go for it. Surround yourself with people who support and believe in you and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.

What was the inspiration behind the magazine’s design/front cover?

We wanted to steer away from the perfect shots of food you see on most front covers – food is messy, fun, communal, everyday – so we asked illustrator, Lara Harwood to create something that represented a meal just eaten, a conversation shared: the leftovers. Also, as we publish independently we weren’t tied to current magazine conventions – so there are no taglines, not even a barcode or price (we hid them inside the back cover), to allow the beautiful illustration to shine. I also liked the idea of the main image being on the back cover, just creeping onto the front – a reason to pick up the magazine and feel the thick, tactile GF Smith paper and discover what’s inside.

Foodies, chefs etc.. who inspire you?

My friends. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting some truly talented people while creating this magazine and they have all encouraged and inspired me.

Last cookbook you cooked from?

Made in India by Meera Sodha. I’ve always been a little apprehensive about cooking Indian food at home (so many ingredients, such a long time cooking onions!) but Meera’s recipes are wonderful and never intimidating. The Keralan fish curry is my current favourite.

Last good book you read?

Ask the Dust

by John Fante. Brilliant. Read it.

What’s in your magazine pile at home?

So many! There are magazines EVERYWHERE in my flat. I’m a little obsessed. At the moment I’m loving Cherry Bombe, an American food mag focused on women. Also, Cereal, Noble Rot, Lucky Peach, Vogue, Elle Decoration, Ernest, Lagom, Alquimie…I could go on forever!

Evening drink of choice?

Champagne. Or anything with dark rum in it.

Bedside table essentials?

Kiehls Crème de Corps, Plush Balm from & Other Stories, a good book and a glass of water.

Favourite London places for coffee, lunch, dinner, drinks?

Where to start… I live in Bermondsey and my favourite locals are Jose for tapas, Casse Croute for divine French comfort food, 40 Maltby Street for wine and sharing plates, and Bar Tozino for jamon. I also love Lyle’s, Som Saa, Quo Vadis, Tonkotsu, Sager + Wilde, Gymkhana… I’m very much looking forward to Bao opening in Soho (I’m obsessed with Gua Bao) and I’ve just joined Blacks members club – the perfect place for cocktails by the fire.

And finally, what is your definition of living better?

Eating good food with the people you love.

Christmas on Columbia Road

One of the things I used to love doing when I lived in London was spending my Sunday mornings wandering (make that squeezing my way) up and down Columbia Road during the flower market, to peruse beautiful fresh blooms, foliage, cacti and a variety of potted plants and herbs. As I was back in the Big Smoke last week, I thought it was high time I paid an overdue visit. It being the second weekend before Christmas, the place had been transformed into a winter wonderland, with Christmas trees everywhere. I knew it might be festive, but not quite the explosion of forrest greens, berry reds and golds it was - luckily I brought my camera.

I haven't been in two years - so long that I arranged to meet a friend at a cafe that no longer existed. Luckily we managed to find each other in amongst the crowds. If you've been you'll know what I'm talking about, but for the uninitiated, it's quite an experience to find yourself pulled into the steadily moving traffic of bodies as they drift up the street, momentarily stopping to admire a flower or to purchase a bunch, in between the loud hawking noises of the stall vendors ("TULIPS!! - 2 BUNCHES FOR A FIVER!"). It's almost meditative to get swept along by the current, as the throng of locals, tourists, pets, children and buggies push you through the most congested part of the street and out the other side, where you can suddenly breath with ease again. I went through twice to try and capture what I could, after grabbing a tea and a warm pain au chocolat (as if I don't get enough of those..), with my friend in a makeshift cafe, which looked like it had been set up in an old garage. Despite the doors being open, the light was streaming in (hence I had to snap Gemma's sun-drenched hands clutching her warm mug), so we stayed wrapped in our coats, perched on a couple of stools and caught up, whilst watching the world, as well as purchased Christmas trees, go by. 

Margaret Howell



I just came back from another weekend in London to celebrate a friend's engagement party - so thought it apt to post a few photos of Margaret Howell's beautiful central London store that I took last time I was in the Big Smoke. I have a bit of a penchant for clean, modern clothing that supports a palette of grey, navy, white, black, and I particularly like wearing structured lines with minimal fuss that can be spiced up with a slick of bright lipstick. (And let's be honest, I neither have the inclination or time to spend faffing around trying to figure out what to wear in the mornings, so opt for a personal uniform of sorts). So I wandered off Wigmore Street and into the eponymous Margaret Howell shop to peruse a spectrum of greys, neutrals, browns and army greens, peppered with the odd pop of colour, checks and tartan. It's a lovely space flooded with light that streams in from the glass ceiling to showcase the collections, as well as the vintage furniture and homewares. It's more concept store, than clothes shop, creating a lifestyle rather than just offering apparel for the average clotheshorse. And boy, could I have happily bought everything in there. Or moved in. Luckily I had a meeting, otherwise I would have camped out for the rest of the day, in that grey armchair, asking the sales staff to bring me cups of tea in those pretty ceramics. 


London Calling

I lived in London for a long time before I moved to Paris (I used to be an East London girl and spent 4 years in Dalston & Hackney), so it's quite refreshing coming back as a tourist and staying in a different area to my old stomping ground. I didn't have much time to explore this trip and seek out new places, so I snapped a few shots near where I was staying, at a friend's in West London. I literally hot-footed it to Portobello Road in Notting Hill yesterday morning, to capture a few of the cute buildings and vintage teapots - apologies for the lack, but I'll be back next month (and quickly next weekend for said friend's engagement party), and will actually plan my stay properly next time. 

For more London, check out

Park & Cube

,

Liberty London Girl

 and 

What Katie Does

.

Cheeky new purchase - grey jumper from & Other Stories and previous blue clutch from COS

Paris to London


I've been in London, so it's been a little quiet on the Paris front. Whenever I go to London, Parisian life has to be put on hold as I'm usually running around London like a little headless chicken trying to see as many people as possible. Last Wednesday (fittingly) I attended Art Wednesday's Nice To Meet You, which consisted of two brilliant, but very emotional talks - one by music artist and composer, Robin Rimbaud, aka Scanner who talked about how sound and music have the ability to conjure up memories, and the other by the ever-inspiring, Professor John M Hull, all about his experience of going blind. I was also incredibly pleased to be invited to the launch of volume two (above) of my magazine du jour, Cereal at Albam in Spitelfields Market, by its editor Rosa. There I munched on tasty bread from Daylesford Organic and chatted all things food. Over the weekend I trained it down to Canterbury and Deal to see my family and on Tuesday I popped into Fashion East's Mens Collections space to see Meadham Kirchhoff's presentation. Needless to say, I'm looking forward to a weekend in Paris!

London to Paris

Every Day Beautiful by Anthony Burrill
I just had a very productive week in London, hence no posts all week as I was flat out running around, but in a good way.

+ Wednesday I popped into the Pick Me Up private view at Somerset House, which was brilliant - full of colour and energy - the Print Club London in particular is doing great things and it was good to see some more of Anthony Burrill's work. I've loved his work for a while now - need to get my mitts on the work above.
+ I met a stylist friend at Shoreditch House, Silvia Bergomi, who was over from Milan for a couple of shoots, along with founder of Not Just A Label, Stefan Siegel.
+ Thursday night I went to the launch of Uniqlo's UT Pop-up! Lon at Hoxton Gallery, here I am on the left.
+ And then on the weekend I went down to Canterbury to see my parents.

Back to Paris

Image credit: [here]
I just got back from spending a crazy, packed week in London where I:

+ Celebrated my friend's beautiful wedding
+ Stayed in the fabulous, well-designed Town Hall Hotel in Bethnal Green
+ Drank inventive cocktails in the Town Hall Hotel bar and then ate a delicious multiple course tasting menu in Nuno Mendes' restaurant, Viajante
+ Had a massive traditional English roast at the Hawksmoor on Sunday with my mum for Mother's Day
+ And ran the door at Art Wednesday's Nice To Meet You on Wednesday

Morning Monday

I'm finally back in Paris after a crazy week in London where I:

+ Celebrated my Dad's birthday at Lahore
+ Met my friend's (who runs The Cut London) two month old baby and her actor boyfriend
+ Had coffee at Fabrica on Kingsland Road and lunch at Look Mum no Hands
+ Celebrated the launch of issue #3 of DASH magazine with my friend Harry at the Oxo Tower then stuffed a massive slice of pizza in my mouth at Voodoo Ray's in Dalston
+ Spent Thursday in the Art Wednesday office then had dinner at The Colonel Fawcett 
+ Went to Somerset House on Friday to coordinate #LFW coverage and watch Zoe Jordan's AW13 show in the BFC show space
+ Ate dinner at Mien Tay, followed by drinks at Prague, Gary's Bar and then Manero's Friday night.
+ Had coffee at Le Pain Quotidien in St Pancras and then dragged myself onto the Eurostar.

It's great to be back in Paris, but I do need some words of encouragement this morning.

Image credit: [here]