Monday, 18 May 2009

Hackney Homemade

It is pretty embarrassing to be writing this, but I have just had a really fun evening playing in my bathroom. It gets worse: it was Kirstie Allsopp that got me going. I know this woman is a hideous combination of gushing Nigella Lawson and nauseating estate agent. But there is something about her TV programme that is downright enchanting and, actually, inspirational. I can't say that it was down to watching her this evening that made me re-collect some of my most mundane things and see them in a new and beautiful light, but it must have had something to do with it. My somewhat functional bathroom became a shining, colourful shrine to pink and turquoise. First, some glossy books in my living room grabbed me, including the gilt glad Erotica Universalis ('A banquet for the imagination and a feast for the eye'), and the shiny turquoise The Kitchen God's Wife by Amy Tam. which I placed on top of my steel bathroom cabinet. Inspired, I pounced on a collection of (empty) small bags – all pink and turquoise – I have amassed, which look lovely together above my bathroom window. Chinese silk bags in similar hues bought in New York hanging on the back of the door fitted the scheme perfectly. And then I realised I have two matching dresses... and, miraculously, my recycled, tin-worked lanterns from Morocco matched too.
Continuing on the cocktail theme, my clear blue bottle of Bombay Sapphire, the queen of gin, which my godmother always perfectly described as 'liquid anesthetic' sitting alongside twin Moroccan rose and green tea-lights filled with candles completed the picture. I thought I was done with this whole pink/turquoise trip until I stumbled on an exquisite painting done by my four-year-old god-daughter on top of our cocktail cabinet. In the style that any Expressionist would be proud of, it now takes pride of place above our toilet. As a result of all this, I have just signed up for a an 'Introduction to Colour' workshop at Walthamstow's divine shop, Beautiful Interiors (


Wednesday, 13 May 2009

In a Glaze

Saturday saw a trip to the much loved Ginger Pig ( – see my earlier blog for more details. We rather overdid it on the meat front, purchasing a whole chicken (as the butcher said to a girl asking for two breasts: 'we haven't got any, but we have a whole one, which includes legs and wings – much more economical'), a 3-kilo ham (apparently excessive for a household of two, but it did us for three dinners and two lunches) and four very meaty sausages (which we just scoffed with leeks and mash – delicious). I glazed the ham, which made me feel very Nigella Lawson, but actually the recipe was Oliver's: The marmalade goes very sugary and the ham just falls off the knife. I cant recommend it enough. We had it with coleslaw, also from Jamie  and new potatoes with mint.


The Shop

Now, I am not saying this is The Shop in my area (far left); that just happens to be its name. But this little treasure trove on a Brick Lane side street (just out of Hackney in Tower Hamlets) is pretty wonderful. Past purchases have included elbow length, tan leather '40s gloves (£8), a lilac mohair scarf (£10) and a cherry print vintage dress (£15). Have a rummage through the vintage linen tea towels (£3), beautifully printed with colourful, quintessential British subjects: birds, vegetables, squirrels and castles. There are neatly folded piles of brightly coloured bedspreads, curtains and tablecloths that you wish you'd nicked from your granny, and a pristine, lovingly chosen collection of shoes, clothes and handbags. The owner is a delightful woman (or you may get served by her equally affable son) who has a genuine love of vintage textiles and clothes, all sold for an incredibly reasonable price. You can't go wrong: no rip offs here.

The Shop: 3 Cheshire Street E2 6ED (off Brick Lane).
Tel: 0207 739 5631.
Open Tues–Sat 11am–6pm, Sun 9.30am–4.30pm.

Nearby are two of my other favourites. Labour and Wait (18 Cheshire St) and Vintage Heaven (on Colombia Road) both sell lovely things for the home.


Saturday, 9 May 2009

I love my milkman

Johnny Milko is my milkman (yes, I do believe that is his real name) and I love him for several reasons.  Did you even know it was possible to still get your milk delivered? I had no idea until a Hackney local told me. Now we never run out of milk (although if we have a midnight milk-binge, we live just a minute from a 24 hour shop). Milk delivery is the ultimate in recycling, as the bottles are actually re-used. It also means that our once fit-to-bursting recycling box now has room in it, instead of being full of those awful plastic bottles that take up so much room and are so bad for the environment. And, no, in case you are wondering, we have never had our milk stolen. Johnny Milko is a diamond geezer and a lovely man who really cares about his job. When we had the snow that brought London to a standstill earlier this year, Johnny was about the only delivery man who made it out. One of his customers made him a well deserved medal. Johnny is also very handsome, but unfortunately too modest to let me post his photograph here. I won't go on too much because my husband is always teasing me about my fondness for our milkman. If you live in Hackney, you may be lucky enough to get Johnny to deliver you full fat, skimmed or organic milk, as well as orange juice, free range eggs, and cat food. Give him a ring on 07946 281 889 or 0208 985 2021. Otherwise just type your postcode into


Sunday, 3 May 2009

Pure Poetry

thine codpiece on that poison boson
is wanton vehemence this sedulous winter

My fridge magnet poem appears on my old friend, Nicola Caroli's blog
Nicola runs a successful poetry festival in Berlin, where she launches her poetry space today.  
Add your own fridge magnet poem to her site. 
And if you find one of HackneyHome's clever magnetic flyers (they can be found in The Ginger Pig's Hackney Shop), take one home and put it on your fridge.