Category Archives: London, UK

Brick Lane and Spitalfields

spittalfields market 002This is where Jane and I started the day. I’d never been to Leon before.

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The food was nice and I love the graphics and illustrations they use,

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but this is what impressed me most. A lovely postcard with this printed on the back. I think every eatery  should have them.

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Lovely original shop front over the Ben Sherman shop.

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I asked a very handsome man if I could stroke his Chiwawa. Not really my kind of dog but it was so sweet I’m sure I could be converted.

spittalfields market 007We had a wander round Rokit  vintage clothes shop

spittalfields market 011went to a little vintage market….

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saw this gorgeous street art under a bridge….

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and went to one of our favourite shops call The Shop which is full to the brim with old table cloths, silk scarves etc all very neatly folded but not in an intimidating way where you’re afraid to touch.

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Beautiful old shop drawers in The shop.

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Lovely old cinema seats….

spittalfields market 019I Can’t remember what this shop’s called but it’s on a corner and it’s worth a visit.

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This shop really did rock ! It was lovely weather like today and they were playing records on an old turntable outside.

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Downstairs were hundreds of old books nicely stacked on shelves all very cosy,

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We then stumbled upon an amazing looking huge cake shop called Kahaila and had tea and cake.

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It has gorgeous yellow walls with beautiful prints hanging.

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We went in to the famous Beigel Bakery

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where we allowed a quick look in the back room to see them making the beigels.

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They were so friendly. This is the owner who started the shop about 40 years ago.

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It was a privilege to be able to see them at work and it was so busy as usual.

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The owner of this shop told me that these photos were from the sixties magazine “Queen”, later to become Harpers and Queen.

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A street artist was painting a wall in Bacon street

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and then a bright orange neon fronted shop caught my eye.

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It was a lovely shop selling all sorts of interesting stuff and there were 4 shop cats in there ! This one just sat looking in the mirror the whole time.

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The ceiling is hundreds of plastic milk cartons upside down with light bulbs inside.

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This is their card.

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I love these little bollard lights they sell.

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Cat on the counter.

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We started walking back to the station after a lovely warm day in London,

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I was very restrained that day and didn’t buy anything much but Jane bought some lovely vintage fabric.

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I love this little flower stall on the front of the apron.

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A lot of the area in Spitalfields has been modernized and I love the trees. I’m not sure if they’re the original trees or whether new mature ones have been planted.

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The buses were on diversion when I arrived back from town so I walked home which I never do, and spotted this lilac.

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I love this old police lamp outside our partially closed old police station which I think is now run by volunteers.

spittalfields market 065This is the local pub. It’s massive and is now a gastropub  with fantastic food and a huge outside area covered with fairy lights. It’s run by George who pretends it’s a ship and he’s the captain. He’s very funny on twitter. This pub is famous because it’s where the kinks used to come and write their songs when it was a bit of a dive years ago. I saw Ray Davies in Highgate the other day.

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This is a lovely tea room and shop round the corner to me.

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Edwardian tiles outside the butchers.

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There is a house round the corner called “Fairport”. The band Fairport Convention used to rehearse there and they named their band  after the house.

That was a long blog post !!

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Golders Green Crematorium in Spring

Photo 06-05-2013 11 43 51I’m sitting here thinking, and drinking tea and wondering. I can’t decide how candid to be on here. It was initially supposed to be about vintage fabric and what I make etc but I don’t seem to be able to stick to just that at all.

Photo 06-05-2013 11 44 24I love taking photos of flowers ( I was a florist for 10 years) and all sorts of things and I want to be able to blog about slightly more personal things too but I need to be careful, very careful.

Photo 06-05-2013 11 56 10I’m a very open person and could easily let this blog become a den of intrigue, love, hate, death, divorce, depression, betrayal and debauchery !! (no debauchery really, I made that up). But I won’t. I mustn’t.  I’d regret it. Maybe I should have another blog too but it would need to be under a made up name.  It’s tempting I tell you.

Photo 06-05-2013 12 01 28That still doesn’t help me to decide what to do about this post. I’ve nothing to hide but……right, I’ve decided to keep it very vague, for now. It feels right…..I couldn’t choose between these two duck pics as I liked them both.

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Suffice to say that for the past 9 years at the beginning of every May,  we go with friends to Golders Green Crematorium in North London to ‘see’ two very close relatives, one of whom died very prematurely  of breast cancer.

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It’s an amazing place. A sort of  huge well kept park full of trees and plants with thousands of little name plaques in the ground by the trees and shrubs that have been planted/paid for by the relatives. I’ve never been to another crem so I don’t know what others are like in comparison.

Photo 06-05-2013 12 02 56It’s a beautiful place with lots of history, my grandfather’s somewhere there as are lots of famous people such as Spike Milligan, Marc Bolan and so many more. I went there the day after Marc Bolan was cremated to see the flowers and there was a huge white swan (after his album) all made of flowers and lots of Gothy fans. I was a fan too. Loved him.

Photo 06-05-2013 12 02 46I wanted to stay longer and take more photos of the more poignant plaques etc but it didn’t seem appropriate and would have meant the others waiting for me. Maybe I’ll go by myself sometime and do it. Maybe in the Summer, I never go in the Summer.

Photo 06-05-2013 12 10 39We amble along slowly, chatting, laughing. Although it’s sad it’s far from morbid and the trees and flowers are so breathtaking that our sad/bad memories are readily distracted.  My friend remarked how it’s now quite a long time since we lost our “person”. For me that makes it much worse. While her passing was still quite recent I felt she was still close, still near, could hear us chatting and I sometimes imagined her uncouth and irreverent   responses to us which made me smile. Now that eight years have unbelievably gone by she seems much further away, left far behind, truly gone. I’ve got to stop this now as I’m shedding quiet tears and my kids have just come in. I’d love to go on though. S**t. Oh well.

Photo 06-05-2013 12 16 12At the far end is a little pond where we sit on benches or on the grass and eat biscuits and strawberries and feed the birds and squirrels which are very tame. It’s paradise actually like a secret garden. I love ponds so I’m in my element. There are MASSIVE fish which we feed too.

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The gold and white ones are fine but the huge brown ones which lurk in the shadows are quite eerie, (there’s one underneath this gold one) and I automatically get the creepy “Jaws” music in my head. They normally fight for our food but they weren’t impressed with my hastily grabbed stale rice crackers this year. Don’t blame them.

Photo 06-05-2013 12 07 20It’s the sort of place where you could happily spend hours on a nice day, sitting, reading, thinking thoughts you wouldn’t normally make time to think, with your face in the sun and ducks at your feet. There’s a tiny cafe in the car park which hasn’t changed since time began and is very dated. It has kit kats and iced buns I think.  Should have gone there, don’t know why we didn’t.  Photo 06-05-2013 12 06 40So after a while we start heading back and we always say we should go more often to see the trees and flowers at different times of year, but we never do.

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My next blog post will be chirpy as chirpy can be :):):) xxx

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Filed under London, UK, Miscellaneous

Pitfield Cafe London

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Last weekend I went with a friend to Pitfield Cafe and shop in Shoreditch.

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We had the most delicious lunch in the lovely cafe

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I didn’t take any pics of the cafe because it was full and it didn’t feel right pointing my camera at strangers.

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It’s a very large space and about three quarters  is the shop.

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Blury pic of a bit of the food counter.

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Lovely old watering cans

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Nice isn’t it.

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They also sell gorgeous tea towels by Barbara Chandler

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Cabinets full of vintage glass

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Beautiful huge old prints

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Cosy corner and lots of fifties crockery exactly the same as my grandma used to have.

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The waitresses were very friendly and actually wiped the crumbs from the tables into their hands and not onto the floor like some places (drives me insane).

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What I loved most of all though was the wonderful frontage which I think is outstandingly amazingly beautiful. Just Ahhhhhh

Old Street Tube London.

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The old pet shop in Camden Town

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Every few weeks I meet a friend in Parkway,  Camden for a quick lunch and a catch up.  Parkway holds tons of memories for me as I worked at the pet shop which was called ‘Regent Pet Stores’ there in the seventies. I’d left school at 15 and went straight there to work full time as animals and reptiles were my thing.

Copy of laura ashley. white cat. Palmers 003It was the most amazing year of my life and an experience I wouldn’t have missed for the world. It was owned by John Palmer who was a sort of David Jason like character, firm but fair with a wicked sense of humour.  He opened it before the second world war and some of the staff had been there almost since the beginning.  It was like a dynasty and the customers came from far and wide. I  served Alex Harvey,  Jonathan Miller, Beryl Bainbridge, and Sir Ralph Richardson  as well as a whole host of interesting people a lot of whom were quite eccentric.

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We sold monkeys,  giant snakes, tarantulas,  scorpions, tree frogs, iguanas, rats, parrots,  as well as all the more usual types of animals. I remember so many things from my year there, I could write a book  and it gave me more than I could ever have hoped.

I loved Parkway and all the interesting shops there where I’d go at lunchtimes. I was sometimes wary  of the drunks and the shenanigans  between them, especially on the station platform,  but it wasn’t sinister and then like now you needed  your wits about you.

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On my Saturday lunch hour I’d go to Camden Market which was at that time a lovely antique market with second hand clothes stalls and I’d buy grand dad shirts for 50 p each. I loved working there, it was hard work, dirty, smelly and fantastic. A man called Guy Stocker was my boss, he was only about 24 but he exuded fun and enthusiasm and knowledge. I heard a couple of years ago that Pam who was literally larger than life and ran the whole place for most of her life had died. I felt so sad when I heard. She used to sit at the counter eating boxes of chocolates and ruled with a rod of iron but was lovely too.  I could go on and on, the memories are so strong and I sometimes dream about the shop too.

I remember that we got 20 hamsters delivered every Tuesday morning at 11am. (It was a busy shop) We lost a lot though because every night they’d pick on one and kill it and we’d find the skin in the morning. Horrific. I never liked hamsters after that. The rats on the other hand were lovely and would sit on our shoulders while we were working.

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It was sad when the shop closed though in latter years it wasn’t the same. We had a macaw called Jimmy who stood on a perch and guarded the reptile area. There was no ‘health and safety’ then ! He was stolen one night during a break in and we all hoped the blood on the floor was due to him attacking the robbers.

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Palmers thankfully now seems to be listed and has turned into a huge light and airy cafe. The raised floor in the window is where all the finches and canaries used to be. I walk past there on the way to my friend and remember how I used to wash that tiled floor every day. I’m so glad it’s still there.

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When I went in to take these photos the other week, I noticed that on one wall there was this wall paper with monkeys on it. I think these are either squirrel monkeys or capuchin monkeys, both of which we sold. It must surely be a coincidence.

Copy of laura ashley. white cat. Palmers 009 I’m feeling quite emotional and have been sitting on these pics for a while as I haven’t felt like sharing them I suppose. That place meant so much to me, more than I ever realised. It was a time gone, another world, another life, with the kind of people you don’t much get to meet these days, and I’m so very lucky to have experienced  a small part of it. It was easy for teenagers to get jobs in interesting shops in those days. I only wish my children could have the same grounding that being there gave me.

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This blog is supposed to be for my vintage fabrics business but I don’t seem to be able to just stick to that. It’s too tempting to veer into other areas and subjects. Like the  diary I never did.

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Hampstead Heath on New Years Day 2013

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Pop up vintage fair in Hampstead, London NW3

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Last Sunday I went to the Vintage pop up fair in St Stephens church hall in Hampstead. Many years ago the place fell into disrepair and became home to a few squatters and their barking dogs. I walked past it to and from work every day and was so intrigued and curious, I’d have given anything to have a peak inside. They were lucky to be residing in such an amazing, huge and stunning church, quite medieval and haunting at night, all dark as there  was no electricity. The dogs barked, heavily tattooed   shadowy figures came and went and I imagined the place to be candle lit.  It must have been freezing. Roll on a couple of decades and it’s been repaired at great cost and is now a most beautiful church.

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It’s a huge, imposing place with tons of atmosphere and there are always lovely stalls. I never come away empty handed.

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I bought some gorgeous notebooks from www.retrofromscratch.co.uk who use the front covers of vintage books to make into note books and diaries.

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There was a lovely vintage china stall called MadAboutPots  by Jane Murphy who also had a plate stand full of very delicious tiny cakes for free.

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I fell in love with this beautiful little jacket and it took all my will power not to buy it. If I had I would have hung it on the wall as it’s not something I’d get away with wearing but it was just so gorgeous.

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If it’s still there next time I know it’s meant for me.

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A wonderful Day in Brixton

So yesterday I met my lovely friend outside Brixton tube to go to the

Crafty Fox Market   in the Dog Star pub which is an amazing place in itself. Just emerging from the station I was struck by the beautiful Victorian buildings and how a lot of them are only one or two stories high  so that there’s lots of sky and light and even with a lot of police around and sirens it still felt magical, to me anyway. It was lovely to be away from suburbia for a day and Brixton is so vibrant and different and exiting. The market was very good with lots of stalls selling high end crafts and a lovely tea & cake area.

cakes with flakes !!

cakes with flakes !!

It got very busy and we headed to Brixton Village two minutes away which I’d very recently heard about.

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It’s the most amazing place. Huge and all under cover with beautiful vintage shops alongside butchers shops…………

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beautiful cafes and restaurants which are all quite small but with lots of seating  outside and piles of blankets for people to put on their laps if you’re chilly.

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It has the most amazing atmosphere, like a huge commune or family. Very friendly and somehow tolerant and co operative. It’s hard to explain……..

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Un fancy   fabric shops, eye opening fish mongers, a stunning enamel kitchenware shop. There seemed to be no hierarchy in any way and the friendliness was palpable, probably because it’s just such a wonderful place to eat, shop, work……

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It was a mixture of Mediterranean, Amsterdam, Europe and of course Jamaica. Calm, relaxed laid back and lovely. No pretensions,  no rush…

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We spent some time in a lovely vintage shop called ‘2&6’ owned by Mark who’s a sort of Rolling Stone character of the vintage scene, very friendly, helpful & good company……..

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We bought vintage fabric and Christmas cards from him…..

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My friend and I both agreed that it was like being abroad, somewhere lovely. different sights, wonderful smells, lovely people, very relaxing……..and look what I found in the Jamaican grocers…

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and what with my name being Nicky Grace..well of course I had to buy it 🙂

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Filed under London, UK, Vintage Fabric