Wednesday, 15 December 2010

BBC London radio show 15th December

First of all, we chatted to Patrick Dillon about his book The Story of Britain. It seems, on good authority, to be the sort of book even "silly 14 year old boys addicted to computer games" (direct quote, from Mother of Silly 14 Year Old) enjoy. He took inspiration from the stories he used to tell his own children, and his own love of history. Nice to have a present that doesn't beep and whirr.


Then on to some very last minute Christmas shopping opportunities. Yes, because that's what today is all about. So, there's an Art, Craft and Design Market on Leather Lane this Thursday and Friday, from 10am to 4pm. They promise you can nip by on your lunch hour and finish off your shopping - true, or just tempting? You decide. There will be art, photography, clothes, ceramics, jewellery - usual fare for a fair (UFFAF). 

On Friday night, the Barbican are hosting a Barbican Lates event, from 6pm until late. They assure us it will be an extravaganza of bargain fun and there will be festive drinks. And music. So you may be tempted to buy more than you would during the day, but that's half the fun, surely.

On Saturday, there's another fair in Primrose Hill Community Centre, noon until 4pm. (UFFAF)

If you're closer to Hampstead, try their fair in the Interchange Studios, Hampstead Town Hall, from 10am-8pm 


I like this book which sets itself up as a design-lovers' illustrated football chant guide. Litho printed in two colours, it's in an edition of 1000, and is - ONLY - £3.50 (plus postage, £4.90). It's by London illustrator Mark Long, and is bright and clever, and - not being an expert in illustrated football chant books, but still - an unusual take on the subject. Here it is:

Obviously, I don't get many of the jokes, but plenty of people I know will, and that is good enough for me. Plus, if you order more than one copy, Mark Long will refund you postage. You can buy it here.


Then I thought people would like the limited edition posters that cycle shop PUSH (in Newington Green) is selling now. They launched on Saturday evening, so all the designs are still available - which is good news, because they look like this:

 At a limited edition of 30, and costing £30 each (and half the profits going to the Brain Tumour Trust), they make a pretty nifty present for cyclists. When a design runs out, a new one will take its place (and they accept submissions). All the shop details are here.


The Tate came next - they've got membership packs from £52, a very nice present for a year, which includes unlimited entry to all the exhibitions, use of the Members Rooms, the TATE ETC magazine, and - alluringly - fast track entry. I think Tate members would be too genteel to jump queues. 

If the budget is a bit less, I am a fan of these 'On the Wing' plates (£19.95), cups (£15.95) and bowls (£15.95) by the artist Mark Hearld:


Next, to Folksy - which I didn't know about until yesterday. It's an online crafty emporium - don't switch off, I know everything is crafty these days - which seems to be more thrifty than you'd expect. For instance, the London Clay Birds company sells little birds that fit in the palm of your hand, beautiful things, for £11.50. They're made from (go on, guess, guess) London clay ("a marine deposit from the Palaeogene period, 50/60 million years old" they say. It sounds true - that's as far as I'll go). What I like is that the clay comes from the ground in Islington, where a Victorian workhouse once stood. Feels like the very earth, and so that little bird, is steeped in history.

And how about this? For £5, a useful visual joke from Sixes and Sevens:

Hope that helps! Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

BBC London radio show 1st December

Hello everyone! I had no electricity last night, so couldn't write up today's show in advance - I'll be a bit later than usual sorry. Keep checking!

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

BBC London radio show 17th November

Sorry this is late everyone! I am going to whizz through it all this week, so you have the information, and attempt to be much better organized next time, so it's less speedy.


 First, it was Philip Wilkinson, who wrote The High Street, an exploration of everything the title suggests. He was a very nice man, knowledgeable and friendly. Which is how, we decided, shopkeeping should be. Shops need to have a niche, or at least know what they're doing, and they should be nice to customers. Simple, yet hard, especially for the man who was on his mobile phone the whole time I was in his shop recently. 


And then on to old favourites, E17 Designers. They're back! Well, they never went away, but they have been busy crafting away behind the scenes while I haven't been talking about them. The result will be the excellent E17 Designers Market, happening on 26th and 27th November. 


Then the amusing corner Christmas tree from M&S came along and I devoted quite a bit of time to it, because I just can't work out whether I think it's brilliant or terrible to have such a trick of optical illusion at Christmas time. 

 it's £39.50

But it's not just any trick, it's a Marks and Spencer trick. I'm out of the debate, really, because I will only have real trees (I grew up in a forest, artificial will never entice me), but hypothetically, would I go for the pretendy half a one, to make the corners easier? I probably would. All the spare decorations could then be fashioned into some kind of hip maxi-decoration that would show how creative I really am. As it is, I just hope that last year's debacle isn't repeated: as I discussed with Robert, the tree I brought home almost immediately became a dark pastiche of its cheery purpose, branches drooping, decorations hanging by a thread off a bare branch pointing floor-ward. Tim Burton's type of set dressing.


Keeping with the Christmas theme, charity cards were next on my list. It seems that not all high street 'charity' cards are necessarily what you might think. In fact, it's possible that only 1% goes to charity - and, as the Charities Advisory Trust says, you wouldn't be allowed to call something a meat pie if there was only 1% of meat in it. Read their SCROOGE AWARDS report to find out which high street stores to avoid this year. You can be guaranteed, though, that if you buy Christmas cards from Card Aid, all profits will go to charity. Buy online, or go to one of 30 temporary shops across London. I got mine from an ad-hoc stall in the BFI foyer (check here for other locations). They sell cards given to them by lots of different charities. Here's one pack I bought: extremely unsatisfactory image, thanks to me, because I can't work out how to turn it around. I will endeavour to, but in the meantime, you can see how lovely it is. £4.50 for 10, and all profits to deafness research uk


Then there was Outline Editions, the place to find excellent graphic artists and illustrators. It is, as usual, online, but there's a temporary gallery at 94 Berwick Street until 31st January, where you can go to see the Into The Forest show in person.

I risk sounding pretentious saying this but I probably am: it's a nice space.


Finally, I told everyone to go to Bust Craftacular, where you'll find the handmade revolution is still going strong. 

On Sunday 28th November, from 12-6pm, at York Hall (5-15 Old Ford Road, E2), 70 stalls will be laden with things to buy, made by the people serving you. Which is a nice circular way to finish, given that we started talking about the Victorians who were really into all that hard work ethic.


And that was the show! It was fun.

Keep in touch - I never get a comment, but I like to say that as a sign off, so it's staying.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Joined Twitter

...for work reasons. And am not so sure about it. But I'm on @claredwyerh
We'll see.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

What I would have said on the radio today...

Right, so, no tubes to get me to the BBC today, but I had plenty of things to discuss, so here they are:

First of all, I would have mentioned that the RCA are having their annual Secret Sale on 12th and 14th - 19th November. This is how it works: you go there and have a look at over a thousand pieces of original art, all postcard size. (Almost as small as the picture below that I'm using to illustrate - sorry, it's teeny but you get the idea)

Choose one you like, and buy it, for £45...then turn it over, and see what signature is on the back. Last year, Tracey Emin, Grayson Perry, Sir Paul Smith and Manolo Blahnik were among the artists who donated work. Even if you don't get a famous name, don't be disappointed; the current postgraduate students who have had a hand in the others may well be a 'name' some day too. And it can't all be about fame and fortune, this art business, anyway. If you like it, buy it. (You have to have a registration number to buy, though, so make sure to sign up here before the end of 16th November).


Next, it would have been a jaunt to super-chic furniture people SCP. They're having a warehouse sale this Saturday, which promises 90% off their stock. It's only open from 10am until 2pm, which gives you an idea of how popular it's going to be. Get there (80 Druid Street, SE1) early, and have a look at these examples of nice things you could buy:

I'm thinking about these on a purely aspirational basis, but some of you might be able to covert that aspiration into reality, which I vicariously support. Let me know if you do.

You could also take a scoot into their real shop to view the in store upholstery sale (20% off), and the lighting sale (10% off, in store and online) until 21st November. It's a good place to wander around imagining, too:


Then I'd have whisked you away to Old Finsbury Town Hall (a favourite with old George Formby in his day), for the Clerkenwell Vintage Fashion Fair. On Sunday 14th November, from 11am-4pm, they assure me there will be a treasure trove of vintage clothes, shoes and accessories from the 1800s - 1980s on offer. Have a look at their website for all the information. Excuse the brevity - this really is a speed shopping trip today!


It's November, so I'm afraid it's just not too early to mention Christmas any more. I haven't subscribed to the pre-December organization in years gone by, but this one is different, and you're on this journey with me now. I've found B&Q to be a surprising proponent of good Christmas decorations in the past, and this year they're unexpectedly delivering cute Christmas things (mini crackers, cards, 'letter to Santa' pack) WITH a charity angle. So 50p will go to NSPCC for every product bought in the dedicated range. I like this. I also like to be able to show PICTURES and find things I know about ONLINE but these products haven't appeared yet, even though they're definitely available. So I'll get in touch and find out what's happening, and update. Have a look in store though.


I would have quickly mentioned the Reiss Sample Sale. Quickly not because it's unimportant, just because there's not much information apart from PRICES START AT £10 which is quite a thing, given the hike of prices in Reiss shops. Go to Fashion Confidential to sign up and get an invite. When: 3rd - 6th November. Where: Music Rooms, South Molton Lane, as usual.


Then it would have been on to the Midcentury Modern show, happening in Dulwich on Sunday 14th November.

 With a big selection of international designers, the show has got a name for itself not least because its very nature cuts out the retail mark-up. Have a look on their site for all the details, but in short: £6 for tickets in advance, £7 on the day (children under 14 free); 10am-4pm; prices from £10-£5000.


And that would have been that. You got all the information distilled without the waffle this week - what a treat. As always, get in touch if you want me to search out something for you. Until next time.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

article in The Independent today

I went to Paris a couple of months ago and spent some time in the fantastical bookshop, Shakespeare & Company, which has been going since the Fifties - and is a literary bohemia. Aspiring writers stay there for free, they have since its inception, and it's right opposite the Notre Dame:

I wrote about it for The Independent - find the article in the magazine today.

Friday, 22 October 2010

BBC London radio show 20th October

OK! After a bit of an extended break, back on the show again to talk about frivolity and functionality as the dark cloud of recession persists. It all began with Laura, who is one of the masterminds behind 44 Frocks"Thrify thrills for expensive women" is her motto, and her words are not empty promises.

Register for an invitation, and you could be one of 30 people who gets to go to her flat at the regular events, and try on...wait for it...44 dresses. Forty-four designer dresses, all either new or worn but once or twice - so very nearly new. (Where from, you may wonder. Well, Laura seems to have an uncanny knack of getting to know people with vast wardrobes of barely worn clothes that they're happy for her to plunder. Lucky for her, and you). What makes this enterprise so good is not just the cups of tea and cake you get while trying on aforementioned garments, but the fact that the dresses are between £20 and £60. Which for Diane Von Furstenberg, Joseph, Marc Jacobs, DNKY et al, is pretty cheap. And pretty pretty. Which is the aim. This Sunday, it's sizes 10-12. The event after that, 14th November, has yet to be revealed. Cake and tea are a constant, though.


Next, some reading material. We took a jaunt to Woolfson & Tay, the new independent bookshop in Bermondsey.

Visit online here to have a look at the gamut of events they've got going - writing classes, author talks, open mics - and for a hint of what they're about (gallery hire, cafe, a creative space). You won't find BOOKS on there, because it's not an online shop, it's a real place. Visit in real time and space at the actual address for that.


Then straight on with no delay to the Affordable Art Fair, Battersea Park, from 21st to the 24th October.where everything is priced below £3000. Affordable is obviously a fluid concept. But that's OK because it's a rule that everything is labelled very clearly - no embarrassing questions about how much things are. Take a look at the website for all the details, and a taster of what the 120 galleries across Europe will be presenting. I like this one by Shlomi Nissim (Minotaure Contempop Gallery), even though it's clearly disturbing and maybe even the stuff of nightmares.

 Little Red Cup, £2,900

If you feel inspired, try out some of their workshops ("drypoint printmaking" is on offer; I don't know what the drypoint part is, but sounds good, as is "collaborate mural making"). It's not just painting and photography - plenty of sculpture and prints (good news for those on a more modest budget than £3000) and, they promise, a relaxed unstuffy environment. If you go, let me know what you think.


Sorry about this, but Christmas was mentioned. Yes, before Hallowe'en. But I had to, because the V&A are having a Christmas launch in their excellent shop, which means 10% off online shopping. When you come to pay, put XMAS2010 in the 'offer code box' and hocus pocus, things will be cheaper. 

set of 10 Christmas cards, taken from 1926 set design for The Firebird

Note, above, one of the set of Christmas cards on offer. I'm always going on about cards and stationary, and most especially the V&A's Christmas card selection, which I always hope in vain to find on sale in January. So this is close. Much more on offer than cards, though - jewels, clothes, toys, books (and reading glasses for £60: who knew?) Last delivery dates, if you're going to leave it to the last minute - my favourite trick - they'll deliver internationally to get there by Christmas up to 7th December, and to the UK by 18th December. Despite all this, I'm going to go on a mission over the next couple of months to find you the least expensive most delightful things for Christmas presents. So don't fear.


Just FYI, Liberty are in the throws of a mid-season sale. This means you can buy a Marc Jacobs wool military coat for £332.50, was £475. Or a dress by Vivienne Westwood for £185, was £265. We all know this information is no recession-buster. But sometimes, information is power. And it means that now you know that because you haven't spent any money at Liberty (yet) you've saved a LOT.


On that note, we then whizzed around an awful lot of sales. Here they are:

One day flash sale by DSUK on 28th October. From 10am - 8pm in The Music Rooms on South Molton Lane, most of the big name designers will be there at discounted prices (up to 90% off, actually).

Sample Hunters are holding their Autumn Designer Sale from 21st - 24th October. That's in the Old Truman Brewery (look online for the timings) and will include Vivienne Westwood, Chloe, D&G, Belstaff and others at 40-80% off retail prices.

For a sale on TSE cashmere, go to their sale in The Camden Centre 27th (11am-8pm), 28th (10am-8pm) and 29th October (10am - 8pm). There will be up to 80% off this lovely (usually prohibitively expensive) brand. 

Heal's is having a warehouse sale on 30th October from 9am-1pm. Lots of ex-display furniture at excellent prices, up to 70% off in some cases. Get there early. It's at 9 Ardra Road, N9 0DB (their distribution centre).

Melanie Potro Bridal Couture is having a sample sale on 27th, 28th and 30th October. Prices at this brand usually begin around £1600 but you'll get 75% off (and more, they promise). If you know any brides, tell them to check it out - prices start at £299 which is not bad... Dresses are sizes 10-12. No appointments required on Wednesday and Thursday (12-7pm), but you have to book on the Saturday (11am-3pm). Call 020-7490 8634 for more info.


Anything you want me to hunt out for you? Let me know. Until next time, Clare.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

BBC London radio show 22nd September

Well, for starters, I spoke to Lena Corner, who has just set up a company called Colour Flooring. It's a fledgling company - only two weeks old - but already it is drumming up good interest, not least in the studio today. We learned from the outset that, yes, vinyl flooring is - sort of - what you might have previously known as 'lino'. But expunge that four letter word from your mind. Lena and her business partner Bill sell beautiful block colour vinyl flooring - not, as Lena pointed out, the kind of vinyl flooring that typically is fashioned with images of stones (you know the type - pebbles upon pebbles, as if you're walking on the flattest of stony beaches) or fake wood. Up until two weeks ago, even if you wished you weren't, that's what you could have bought for your floor. Or very expensive rubber flooring. But now, aha! The niche in the market has been filled.

At £19 a square metre, it's less than half the price of what it would cost you to buy the rubber version. It's easy to lay - just glue it yourself (or if that makes you quake, it's something any builder could do with their eyes shut). You can order free samples. Plus, they have 'Brilliant White' which is something of a coup in the world of hip flooring. That's a phrase I've never used previous to this story, but I'm afraid I mean it. Hip flooring. There, I've said it again.


Then it was a super speedy jaunt through Paul Smith Junior, the new collection for children. 

 very nice, £81

Obviously, the clothes are great - colourful, pretty much non-gendered, and good quality. But you know from my lengthy chat that I'm not one for designer clothes for smallies, but I feel it's my duty to let you know what's out there. PLUS as soon as people start to buy such things, those things appear on eBay. Which is where people like me come in. 


 Next, a bit of independence with Out of Town, although it's very much in town. In Clerkenwell, it's a vintage shop AND cafe AND (soon) a bar too. Robert felt he'd utilize the bar while his wife shopped; I have the sense that I'd enjoy fueling my purchases with a dose of caffeine, always the giver of a dangerously cheery high, combined with a laissez-faire attitude towards money. 

For sale: old maps, vintage furniture and accessories, the finest of threads. The website is still under construction, so I'll write about them again, with pictures, when everything's up and running, but the vintage stock is worth looking at in real life anyway. And I'm not interested in virtual cake.

Vintage theme continued with the next sale from Kerry Taylor Auctions on 28th September. I'm always mentioning them; you can be assured of some serious pieces of vintage clothing, and all of fantastic quality. Have a look on their site for all the details if you're interested; the auction happens at Unit C21, 40 Martell Road, London SE21 - it'll be open on 26th September (12-4pm) and 27th (9.30am -5pm) for viewing, too.

As always, we like a sample sale: 
Margaret Howell happening in The Music Rooms on South Molton Lane on 23rd and 24th September, 9am-6pm

DSUK on Friday 1st October (12-9pm) and Saturday 2nd October (10am-7pm). I couldn't tell you where it was happening today - error, sorry. Chelsea Old Town Hall on the Kings Road is what I meant to say. For £5 entry fee, you can get up to 90% off major designers (Vivienne Westwood, Missoni et al)
If you listened to the show, you know there was more...that's going to come as a part II, not because I think it's any kind of a cliffhanger, just because the timing dictates (ie living in chaos).

Any thoughts or questions, let me know below!

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

BBC London radio show 11th August

So! Here are this week's offerings. A bit later than usual, sorry. First time meeting Simon Lederman, which proved to be very fun. After a brief discussion about my choice of iced coffee drink, we spoke to Helene from Little Paris, a gem of a shop in Crouch End, north London. 

 a few things that make the window display inviting...

 Helene started off as a designer, but, she told us, had a dream of opening her own shop. So against all the odds, last December she did exactly this - in the middle of a recession. 

 Chic French hair accessories - no research done on my part about what makes them chic; they're Parisian, so they must be

Counterintuitively, it has been going very well, not least because customers love listening to Helene speaking in her French accent. Her voice is definitely worth a hear, I'm sure you'll agree, but her products are worth the trip too.  French industrial furniture, beautiful Parisian accessories and - naturally - a 19th Century fridge, currently in stock.

Next stop, TOMS shoes. As I mentioned on air, I've tried to get an interview with the people who run it for a while now, but so far have been unsuccessful so I thought I'd just talk about them. TOMS operates a great enterprise selling shoes that directly benefits people in developing countries. Their motto is 'One for One' - for every pair of shoes you buy from TOMS, a pair of new shoes goes to a child in need.

from £32
Started in 2006 by Blake Mycoskie who, while travelling in Argentina, was astounded by the amount of children he met who didn't have shoes to protect their feet, TOMS has now donated over 400,000 pairs.

new wedges, £56

In developing countries, children often have to walk miles for food and water, and they often have to walk those miles in bare feet. But as well as protecting hundreds of thousands of little feet from cuts and sores which can then become infected (often in areas where medical help is in short supply) and lead to amputation, there are other, less obvious, consequences too. It's a fact that many children can't go to school because wearing shoes is often a mandatory part of the uniform. Having shoes can mean getting an education. Sobering, but the theory of using the purchasing power of individuals for the greater good looks like it's working. For more information on how to get involved, click here.


And then, because it's summer (although, obviously, I eat ice cream all through the winter) it was off to Gelupo, a newly opened ice cream store in Soho. Yum.

They claim it's the finest artisan gelupo this side of the Alps, and really, the only way to contest or confirm this is via a taste test. Run by the same people who set up the Italian deli Bocca di Lupo, the store serves up gelato, sorbets and granitas (slushy ices) in a wild assortment of flavours. FYI: gelato is different to regular ice cream because it rarely uses eggs or cream...and the ingredients that make up the granitas are only fresh fruit, nuts or coffee and cane sugar. Mmmm. Or maybe you prefer a frozen fruit (mango, pomegranate, pineapple, melon) stuffed with sorbet? Or little spheres of flavours that go nicely together rolled in bitter chocolate sound better? They're happy to oblige. 

Here's today's menu, just to give you an idea:

On your behalf, I sampled the pistachio gelato and also - not on the above menu for some reason - a blackberry sorbet. They defy expectation. What I like about it, too, is that it's open all hours of the day and night - until 11pm every night apart from Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, when it's open until 1am! But, really, it's a ridiculous thing to be told about such tantilizing deliciousness without being urged to discern it all for yourself. So think of this merely as a signpost towards a merry time. 

Next we hared on down to Crystal Palace, where Vintagehart are having a sale this month. Vintagehart is a super-cool little space within an actual pub. So you can have a white wine spritzer or sambuca shot pre, post, or during shop. 

 Here's Daphne, one of the shop's favourite models.

Run by Annette and Dawn, it's a treasure trove for vintage fashion, and this month, they're having a sale - a proper old-fashioned sale, where everything is going for £10 and under. I can't confirm that the pieces below haven't been snapped up already, but here are some of their recent acquisitions: 



 Nice, aren't they? You should probably take them up on their advice to "bring a friend, a picnic, and a few fivers" and have a blast. Find them on their Facebook page, or in person at 96 Church Road, SE19 9EZ. They're open Thursday - Sunday 12-6pm, and on Fridays you can shop until 8pm. The sale ends on 29th August, so don't tarry!


Next up, and Beyond The Valley came into our spotlight. Look out for this sign on Newburgh Street:

...for behind it, you'll find a crazy little gallery and shop that acts as a platform to about one hundred new designers, who use the space to showcase their work. They've just reinvigorated their online shop, which is worth a look. There is no theme - expect wallpaper, jewellery, furniture, fashion, and on some days maybe an amalgam of all of the above. What you will find is a revolving selection of new design; you might find something you like, too.

 Walnut bird necklace by Lost at Sea, £40

Some of the designs are more surreal than others. The necklace above, for instance, is cute and not unexpected. The ceramic custard cream box, however, which is the exact size to hold an actual custard cream biscuit, is less expected. I'm aware it's not the kind of gift that would be entirely welcome in some quarters, but there's bound to be a niche market for it somewhere, so here it is, if only as proof that it does exist.

designed by Robert Archard, £25

Disclaimer: actually quite cute in real life, as demonstrated above. My preference, though, is the umbrella that changes colour in the rain:

designed by Squid London, it's £35 

...and the laptop bag disguised as a folded up newspaper isn't bad either:

by Mitemite, £120 

Provided the potential thieves haven't been shopping in Beyond The Valley, our laptops will be safe enough.  

We raced onwards and upwards to the heights of established designers, namely those who do handbags. But because it's the age of austerity, we scoured the bargain ("bargain") options. At Koodos, it is possible at the moment to get such bags at up to half price. A Jimmy Choo patchwork bag, reduced from £810 to £405. An Etro patchwork bag, was £1,465 now £730. A Lanvin 'medium bag', reduced from £1,195 to £595. Chloe's small patchwork bag, was £900, now £450. Let me know if anyone actually found this information about expensive handbags helpful.


And then just about time to squeeze in an advance warning of a sample sale:
The London Accessory Sale is happening 2nd - 5th September in the Truman Brewery - 50% off all the major designer brands (Chloe, Dior, Marc Jacobs, Prada, Miu Miu, Burberry).

...and I didn't have time to mention these, but will remind you closer to the time:
Rupert Sanderson women's shoes will be on sale on 17th and 18th September in the Music Room.

The much anticipated Margaret Howell sale happens on 23rd and 24th September, also in the Music Room. There will be menswear, womenswear, and homewear.

And...finito. I'm not on the show in a fortnight, but will be back two weeks after that. Keep in touch with any questions, ideas, suggestions or hellos in the meantime!

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

BBC London radio show 28th July

It all began with Clara Francis. Under no circumstances are we to call her a 'bead weaver', because this gives entirely the wrong impression. Such a title might imply, she protests, that she is an old lady with a beard. She is not. Once this is established, we discover that Clara spends many hours of her days and nights threading the teeniest tiniest of little miniature beads together to make very beautiful things.

Reindeer necklace, £140

She regaled us with tales of her unlikely introduction to weaving beads - Clara was an actress who beaded in her downtime, and then realised she was having much more success in her downtime than her up time - and her times in Spitalfields Market, which speedily led to her jewellery being worn by A-listers and featured in the V&A.

 Hummingbird earrings, £130. There are cheaper things than the two pictures above, but I do like these ones.

All in all, a very charming customer. For more things of wonder, have a look at her beautifully constructed website. And I must at this point, on fear of death, say a thank you to my sister who pointed me in Clara's direction. (For more such interesting tips and thoughts, have a look at my sister's site Hawk & Fallow.) 


And then on to The Secret Arcade. It's a new enterprise, launching on 1st August, and promises to be just as good as The Shop Floor Project, which I've long been a fan of. Denise and Sam Allen, the creatives behind both, are a mother and daughter team (we've spoken to them on the show before) who sell wares from independent designer/makers. As well as their careful choices of designer, it was always the layout of the website that attracted me to The Shop Floor Project. It looks like a little shop! I'm afraid that sort of thing appeals to me.

Here it is, an online shop that looks like a shop. Satisfying.

They've branched out now, creating The Secret Arcade, which looks similarly pleasing. 


The design, they say, is taken from Parisian shopping arcades from the 19th century. So when you visit, there will be eight passages leading off from the main entrance, each enticing you to some sort of fabulous collection of uniqueness. The actual retailers are shrouded in secrecy until opening day, but we do know they will be independent, British, and will include hand printed wallpaper and textile designers, perfumeries, jewellers, and an antique children's furniture shop. 

I anticipate virtual queues of shoppers this weekend!

Speeding along, and we discarded all things technological (aside from a computer) so that we could embrace an Analogue Life. Or at least have an online peek at how life could be if we were all minimalist and able just to surround ourselves with beautiful accoutrements. The shop is Japanese, and stocks very beautifully crafted everyday objects. This sort of criteria, by the way, makes it mostly out of my financial reach, but I like to look at such things and imagine.

 Copper scissors start at $62.79

The scissors above are produced, for instance, by Tajiki Haruo Ironworks. Founded in the Showa Period, this company has been making them by hand for over four hundred yearsI think it would be quite a nice thing to cut with those instead of the virtually disposable ones emblazoned with my local supermarket's logo. But, again, I appreciate the whimsy this represents.

Crashing on, they also do a great selection of wooden items. These mugs - despite not being allowed in a dishwasher - would fit nicely into my idealised existence:

Kami Mug Cup, $37.67

 And so on. Just a selection of beautiful things from another country, worth googling at for their form and function.


We obviously couldn't go through a whole show without mentioning the words du jour, Pop Up Shop. So that's where I headed next, this time in Clerkenwell.

From 5th - 7th August, 97 Clerkenwell Road is hosting a temporary shop that will sell interesting goods from new talents. With the list of sellers the have, the organisers don't need to bribe us to come, but luckily they're bribing anyway, with the allure of free makeovers from The Chapel salon and make-up artist Anne-Marie Simak. (There's also going to be food from cordon-bleu trained Rachel Davies.) But cash in brown envelopes aside, it looks like a good place to rummage around, find interesting handmade products, and discover designers you didn't know about.

At the Christmas Bust Craftacular (we talked about the summer one a couple of weeks ago), for instance, I bought a great t-shirt from the independent designer Pureharte. Pureharte is actually Katie Harte, and - pleasingly - she'll be at Pop In. 

 'Mia' strapless summer dress, $55 from Etsy

The dress above, available in the Etsy store Pureharte, comes with a poem:

Mia is tiny
She floats like a bubble
but don't be deceived 
as she often brings trouble.

'Chloe' skirt $60. "Chloe loves parties / She throws one each night / Her outlook on life / Is eternally bright."

All of the clothes do, in fact. Which is a boon, in my opinion.

Other sellers to look out for include EaK design, who do a cute range of prints, cushions and bags:

Twit Twoo print, £15 unframed

Foxy Tote, £8

Many other talents will abound there - check the website for a list.


I then careered on to The Food Room and Library just round the corner from Victoria station, where a lady called Jane Lunzer Gifford has one of the most comprehensive cookery book libraries you could hope to find. If you're on the hunt for something, you can be assured she will have it, or find it for youJust a thought, in case you want the tactile experience of walking somewhere to hand purchase something, as opposed to click clicking online.

And if you're interested in cooking generally, Jane's Food Room is primarily designed to host cookery classes. What is novel about her business, though, is the nature of the courses. All short - they're only for an hour, maximum; some are only 45 minutes - and reasonably priced (£25), they're organised so that whatever your level of culinary skill, you should find something that interests you. From the howtoboilanegg sort to 'Advanced and Ambitious - you know what you're doing but perhaps don't experiment as much as you should'.

Oh! And the bookshop also sends cookery themed cards, which fits in nicely with my and Robert's obsession with stationary.


From Victoria to just off Brick Lane, and to Shelf. An old favourite haunt, I haven't spoken about them since I returned to the show, and since then, they've totally revitalised their website

Sheet of 12 printed tin bird badges, £9.50 

It used to be that you could only use the website to buy the plaster letters they're so famed for, but now yahooo there's a whole host of their products up there. I'd still urge you to go to the shop, but it's good to know they are in the ether as well. 

There's a little sale going on at the moment, which includes Moomin mugs reduced to £13 and - I hesitate to put this up here, because I really want it - this stationary set, only £5:

Shinzi Katoh Lion stationary set: 10 sheets, 5 envelopes, stickers.

I also like the bumper Vintage stationary gift set, which at £25, may seem a bit pricey for bits and pieces - but to one such as I, those bits and pieces are a source of joy. Must add that to the birthday list along with some Clara Francis jewellery, I feel (I wonder which one I'm more likely to get). 

 Includes a card of French brown darning wool, coffee bags from the Old Spitalfields Market, assorted tickets, a tiny wooden lucky black cat from Germany, and more completely odd delights.


And then... a summer sale from Goodone, a small ethical fashion business that has one awards for its recycled clothing. Starts on 1st August, and with 20% off, it would be a good introduction to the collection if you don't know about them. 

...Peter Jensen's sample sale this Saturday (10am-6pm) and Sunday (12-4pm), which promises 20% off menswear and womenswear, as well as bargain bins with £5 goods. It's at his studio, 18-24 Shacklewell Lane E8 2EZ; look on the website for more.

...private sale website Koodos is selling Ray Ban sunglasses at sale prices (25% off) from 9am today until midnight on Friday. Sign up for free, and buy from £85. clothes store by Liam Gallagher will be opening in Carnaby Street on 30th July. Pretty Green will be investigated, but given that the opening page of the website has said owner wearing a Union Jack, maybe that says it all...

So long until next time!