This Little Piggy Went to Market

Saturday morning, no rain and so I decided it was going to be market day.

I trotted off to Archie’s Antique Market in Lisson Grove and discovered an old department store filled with treasures. Vintage clothes, furniture, lighting, china and glass. It was good quality, no bargains but a pleasant time was had poking through the various concessions. Emerging on to Church Street, I discovered a plethora of boutique antique shops or perhaps I should say “antiques boutiques.” A meander was in order and so I strolled in and out of the little shops and enjoyed myself immensely.

I was close to Marylebone station so hopped on the tube to Waterloo in search of my next market. I walked along Southbank, along the side of the Thames enjoying a water view for the first time in a while. I am missing the Pacific ocean a little if I’m honest having lived near it for a very long time. The great, brown Thames while impressive isn’t quite the same. Still, London has a lot going on and I was heading to Borough Market.

A bit crowded inside

Borough Market is a food market which is open from Thursday to Saturday and is well worth a visit. ( It was my first time there and I’m glad I went when I was hungry because the food options were varied and plentiful. There’s something for everyone! I wandered around (slowly due to the crowds of people) and decided a falafel wrap was my lunch of choice. Good decision, I’m always a fan of falafel and this lived up to expectations. 

Continuing on I discovered a cider maker. I’m quite partial to the odd cider and the cider made in the Methode Champenoise was no exception. I haven’t been drinking lately for various reasons but decided it was worth trying “cider champagne.” It was lighter than normal cider, delightfully bubbly and dry without being overly so. In hindsight it would have been good to buy a bottle as a gift but I forgot. C’est la vie.

Better not tell the French
Wandering on I discovered a lovely patisserie and a cherry and almond tart called my name. Somehow it jumped into my bag and insisted on coming home for afternoon tea. 

I would say that if one is crowd-intolerant Borough Market is not the place to head to, it was hard going at times but patience is always good. When I began to get frustrated, it was time to leave.

Leaving Borough Market I had a couple of options. Hop on the tube at London Bridge and head back home up the Northern line (very convenient) or go for a wander. This intrepid explorer chose the latter option and so I walked across London Bridge and walked back along the Thames Path on the other side towards Embankment.

The Shard under the Millennium Bridge

Under the Millennium Bridge, past the Tate Modern (where I’m in no hurry to see the Damien Hirst exhibition) and then, in a moment of madness, I turned right and headed up to Covent Garden to the London Transport Museum. Crazy!

A rather dark view of the Tate Modern

At the LTM I discovered the work of printmaker, Paul Cathrall ( known for his graphic linocuts of London landmarks. I was quite taken with them and while not quite in the market for a limited edition print, I did buy a few greeting cards. I wouldn’t mind a print though as they’re quite stunning and as I started out as a printmaker, I am particularly fond of linocuts.

“Battersea Brick” 

By this time I could hear a little voice from my bag saying “Eat Me!” and so I headed to Trafalgar Square and jumped on the number 24 bus. I try and take buses when I can, they’re cheaper for one thing, but also it’s a fantastic view from the top of a double decker and it helps me to remember my way around. 

Off we went, past Leicester Square, up Tottenham Court Road and finally through Camden Market which was jammed with thousands of people buying Union Jack t-shirts. I’d done enough markets for the day and the idea of pushing through crowds again wasn’t the slightest bit appealing.

It was time to head up the hill, put the kettle on and enjoy a very delicious cherry and almond tart which sadly I don’t have a photo of because it didn’t last long. 

A very good day out!

Dating, Online and Not

As I’m currently between relationships, I’ve decided to take another leap of faith (in the leap year of leaps) and have embarked on my most dreaded thing, online dating. I’ve been lurking on a site for a couple of months and finally broke down the other day and paid for a month’s subscription. Granted, a month isn’t a long time but I think it will give me a sense of whether or not this is for me.

And so I have written what I think is quite a good profile, a little wit and a pretty interesting life story. I haven’t mentioned strolling hand-in-hand at sunset on a beach or cuddling by an open fire, two cliches which, while nice, are guaranteed to make me run for the hills. I’ve added a couple of photos which look like me so no false advertising and I’ve listed my real age. Yes, my real age!

The age thing is a bit tricky it would seem. I’m very happy at this age, I’m in pretty good shape (if I say so myself because, well, someone has to) and at 42 I feel emotionally balanced and happy. I’m not quite ready for a suitor over 55 but from what I can tell, many men are looking for a woman under 40.

So far I’ve been emailing with an Englishman living in the South of France who is pretty funny and I’m fighting off a number of unsuitables including a nudist who described his style as “natural” and another chap who used the line “You’ve Got Male.” Horrors!

I’m not loving the process, it seems quite unnatural but then again, it’s easier than sitting by myself in a pub looking desperate over half a cider. When it comes down to it, it’s all about chemistry and it doesn’t matter how you get there as long as there’s a spark.

So I’ll continue for the month and see what happens and then I might go to Barcelona…

Are You Being Served?

The Easter weekend saw me going on location to Agnes B at Fenwick. Fenwick (pronounced Fen-ick, Americans) is a department store on New Bond Street which has been there since 1891. The Fenwick chain was founded in 1882 and I think some of the original staff might still be there.

The building is a rabbit warren of old corridors, heating ducts, back stairs, slow creaky lifts and up on the fourth floor, the dreaded stockroom, dark and cold, which I am yet to encounter.

I made the mistake of sitting in the staff canteen for lunch and there, under cobwebs I think I might have seen Mrs Slocam. 

Mrs Slocam, Are You Being Served?

She was an old lady who looked about eighty (apologies if not) and from an era when you got a job at eighteen and stayed in that job for your entire working career. I can only admire her as I’m not sure either my legs or I would be able to stand for that length of time.

I have started to learn merchandising which is intriguing from the point of consumer behaviour as the display can clearly influence customer choice. My knowledge of colour and pattern is being put to good use!

As I’m now hearing the soundtrack to “Are You Being Served?” in my head, I can end this post by saying, “I’m free!” but suspect that might be referring to my hourly rate!

Me & Agnes B

After many years worshipping at the altar of Agnes B, I am now a part time associate. Sales, that is. Yes, I’m working in retail and here’s a big surprise, I’m very good at it.

It’s easy to sell something you love and while working in an Agnes B shop is actually a form of torture for me as I can look but I can’t touch, I know the brand so well, the fit of the clothes and the style, that I know what suits. I understand the customers (being one myself) and so far (after two days) my sales have reflected that!

Agnes B Marylebone High St

While I’m busy networking and planning global domination in the design world, I’m finding it fun (at least for the moment) to be working in retail and I may even be able to improve my French.

Now, where’s my staff discount?!

Oh, David

I had very mixed feelings after going to the Hockney exhibition at the Royal Academy of Art last week. Thankfully I had a fast track ticket which saved me two hours of standing in the queue because I would have been well pissed off had I waited that long.

Once inside, the crowd was immense and slowly shuffling from painting to painting. While not claustrophobic I can get frustrated when I can’t stand at the correct viewing distance without thirty people shuffling in front of me.

Hockney has returned to his Yorkshire roots after many years in Los Angeles (something we have in common) but I felt disconnected. His colours were jarring, his paintings felt strangely surreal and I felt the exhibition was far too big.

Yorkshire landscape… apparently

I do admire the fact that Hockney embraces new technology and I did enjoy his iPad Yosemite collection although the scale of the prints was too big for the room and couldn’t be viewed from a distance.

Arrival of Spring

I did particularly like the Arrival of Spring collection and another collection of landscapes as the colors were far more sympathetic but what on earth was Hockney thinking doing the Sermon on the Mount? 

Sermon on the Mount

It’s a fine line between a graphic designer and an artist and I think the line is blurred in Hockney’s case, the number of products in the shop seemed to reinforce that.

I did the Hockney express tour and was finished in forty five minutes. I didn’t hate it but I didn’t love it and I was extremely glad I hadn’t waited for two hours!