Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Pottering (and puttering) in the countryside

The end of summer is not a sad time for me. Don't get me wrong, I love the light days and sunshine, but I'm not a fan of OTT heat and, especially living in London, much prefer it when the days are less muggy. That said, in the country, the hazy end of summer can be an absolute dream.

I headed home to take advantage of a couple of days of fresh air and wholesomeness. Where my parents live, on the Worcestershire/Herefordshire border, everything changes so quickly with the seasons, there's always something new to see (and photograph) every time I'm home. This time, however, my camera died spectacularly so you'll have to excuse the slightly dodgy iPhone pics.

It always amazes me that this supposed backwater is such a hive of hipster-style industry. There's a tiny town called Bromyard which is made up of only independent shops, including the glorious Legges, and there are co-ops and pop ups galore. Put this farmers' market with its honesty box system in East London and it'd be on every 'must-do' listing on the net and tweeted about constantly. As it is, it's in a barn, up a hidden lane, and there was not a soul there except an ancient labrador. We filled our basket with piles of veg and some flowers for just £13.50. Take that, Columbia Road. 

While we were in the land of sensible prices, I wanted to do a little homewares shopping for our new flat, so we took a trip to Bringsty Vintage Living. It's a great little antiques treasure trove where they have both upcycled furniture and items you can do up yourself. 

I probably could have bought most of the shop but I restrained myself to a couple of little items – a mirror and an enamelware colander that everyone in my life seems to think was a crazy purchase.

Continuing on the vintage theme, we also went to watch the Shelsley Walsh Hill Climb. An annual celebration of vintage, new and strange cars, people take it in turns to rag their pride and joy up a hill in the middle of the countryside. It's the oldest motorsport venue (that's still used) in the world – you can keep Le Mans or Monza, we've got the Worcestershire grand prix right here. Eccentric, but pretty entertaining!

People also drive their 'babies' to the event so other people (like me and my dad) can walk around and admire them. 

We got to have a little sneak peek around the garages to see the cars all lined up after the race too. 

There were even some women drivers! Alice and I got VERY excited #feminism. 

I did a spot of dream car shopping. Hello, Jaguar E-Type, come to mama. 

And then it was home to snuggle with the dogs and pet the sheep. They come running as soon as they see you now, expecting food – I'm sure this is not a very typical way to farm sheep. My parents are never going to be able to let any of them go and will probably turn vegetarian. One of the lambs, Violetta, is so tame she'll come up to you for a cuddle. She looks gross because she has burrs all over her wool, but she's so sweet.

Not forgetting the main wolf in my life of course, who is also very sweet. Butter wouldn't melt, eh? 

(This is his favourite toy. They see him rollin', all day, err'day). 

The apples were out, too, so I got all Milly Molly Mandy and went out with a bowl to pick a few and make a pud. 

Summer, you've been great, but roll on autumn… 

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

A West-East London birthday

This is quite a ridiculously late post, since Alice's birthday is actually in May, but never mind. As I keep telling myself, I have been very busy. Anyway, could one imagine a more beautiful little sis? 

No. No, one could not. 25 years young, too. 

My fam came down to visit us in LDN and we mixed it up with a visit to Westminster Abbey (in which you are not allowed to take photos. So annoying. My favourite part were the graves of/monuments to the authors – be still my bookworm heart). 

There they all are! Posers. Sorry about my brother's nearly-swears, there.

Later, we headed over Alice's way (east) for some drinks and dinner at Smith's of Smithfield. 

The family all posed very nicely for my camera. 

I, on the other hand, dicked about like an idiot doing 'filmstar' poses. 

To be honest, the food was nothing much to write home about. Bit bland, bit overpriced, bit slow to arrive. I doubt I'd go back. 

But the cocktails were nice - I skipped pud in favour of an espresso martini (they did several variations too, with different liquers). 

The next day, however, the food outlook was much better. We headed to Brick Lane and ate street food from the vans at the Old Truman Brewery. I had pulled pork and baked beans from the cutest van called Caboose and it was properly gorgeous. I would definitely go back there! 

(Sorry for the slightly strangely composed pictures - they were not taken by me, since I was queuing to pay. My mum is not famous for her photography skills, but we love her dearly anyway). 

Then we poked around the Brick Lane markets and little vintagey shops. Dad very seriously considered these £7 shirts, but decided against. 

He looks good in hats though! 

Artisan coffee served from a black cab. So meta-hipster-London.

All in all, a sweet little weekend in London town! Happy birthday, Ale-ster, even if it is four months too late.