Cool Places To Buy Kitchenware & Kitchenalia In London

London is a hub for quirky, effervescent, unique shops, market stalls and charity outlets that sell a range of fantastic items for every room in the home.  One place that I like show my personality is in the kitchen, and for this reason I have become an expert of some of the more cool, and occasionally wacky, shops in which to find some fabulous kitchenware to really stamp originality on my home.

Palmers Green (North London) offers a superb selection of charity shops where, if you take your time and peruse carefully, you can pick up some unique items for your kitchen which are unlikely to be found in your friends’ kitchens! Likewise Portobello Rd has some marvellous second hand stores which can lead to amazing discoveries that can add character to your kitchen without breaking the bank.

An expert in this field, Vincent from leading design company Increation shares the fact that:

“One of my favourite’s stores is Divertimenti. It’s a pleasure to spend time browsing and cooks heaven.”

Check out the shop the next time you are in town and I am sure you won’t be disappointed.

If money is no object then luxury stores such as Harrods and Liberty might have what you’re looking, as they juxtapose the traditional beside the unusual, creating ideas and must haves for all types of people.  My favourite purchase of late was a moustache corkscrew from Liberty which always raises an eyebrow at dinner parties!

If you find yourself in Islington make sure to pay a visit to the Gill Wing Cook Shop – the proprietor used to run the Cookshop at Harrods.  This delightful store offers possibly one of the best kitchenware range in the city and caters for all types and tastes.  The reason I am drawn here time and time again is because of the vast knowledge that the stop manager and assistants possess – no question goes unanswered and they really can help with any and all of your kitchenalia needs.

Covent Garden market still holds a host if unusual finds for the kitchen and taking a stroll up Kensington High street or Oxford Street will lead you to Urban Outfitters – true, they’re mainly a clothing retail outlet but on occasion they stock some fab kitsch items that can really brighten up a kitchen.

If you want to give your dinner parties a Japanese twist, head along to the Japan Centre on Regents Street where a fascinating choice of Miso bowls, chopsticks and Sukiyaki pans await you. Once you have all the utensils that you need to cook Japanese food, they can also supply some of the key ingredients to help you make a fabulous meal.

Finally, to really put a piece of London next to your breadbin you may want to consider a trip to the one of London’s major museums. Once you have finished marvelling at the beautiful works of art you can investigate the shop – you’ll be surprised at the number of …

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TheLondoneer: ‘Set Sail’ Landing in Trafalgar Square On Thursday – ‘World Stage’ Tour

I’ve just heard about a rather fun new acoustic pop band, ‘Set Sail’. Consisting of 3 young Australians, this coming weekend they will be on the London leg of a 48 city, 5 continent trip which for obvious reasons they’ve dubbed the ‘World Stage’ tour.

[EDIT] I’ve been in touch with ‘Set Sail’ and they are now performing on Trafalgar Square at about 1pm on Thursday, and are hoping to do a complete set of material. If you pop over to their Facebook page or their YouTube channel you can see what they’ve been up to so far. There has been what looked like a great little impromptu performance in a Berlin park (which attracted some rather colourful dancers), they’ve had problems with overzealous police in Paris and they’ve even been entertaining other passengers on the flights they’ve been taking to reach all of the destinations on their tour…

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TheLondoneer: What’s In a Name?

Specifically Londonderry, which we visited on Tuesday. Republicans, some of whom who have scored out part of the name on many of the road signs heading out from Belfast, know it as “derry”.

As I’d only heard about the city as part of the history of the Troubles I had no concept of what this little place was going to present to us, and I have to say it was a total surprise, most of it pleasant.

I wasn’t aware, for example, that the city has an entirely intact city wall, completed in 1618 to protect the inhabitants from raiders, which is pierced by seven gates in all. Again, the influx of European money is clearly in evidence here as well, as the entire area around the old Guildhall is being refreshed to turn it into an Irish version of a traditional Italian piazza. Even without stepping inside, the Tower Museum is also a remarkable sight.

There’s also a small but perfectly formed Cathedral, dedicated to St Columb, which overlooks the part of the city that continues to show evidence of the Troubles, the Bogside. The problems in Northern Ireland are historically deemed to have stemmed from here after the ‘Battle of the Bogside’ which took place in the summer of 1969, and during which over 1000 people were injured – curb stones on the estate resolutely remain painted in red, white and blue to this day.

If you’re visiting Northern Ireland then the city really has to be on your itinerary but, given its tiny dimensions, an afternoon should give you enough time to see it all.…

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Dalston’s Secret Green Space – The Eastern Curve Garden

The garden is built over the route of the old railway line which used to link Dalston Junction with an old goods yard up until the 1960s, and this forgotten patch of land was then used for storage for many years. In 2009 architecture collective EXYZT acquired the site for the construction of the temporary ‘Dalston Mill’ (seen here on the Barbican’s page from that year) and in 2010 the garden appeared.

Today the Dalston Eastern Curve Garden features a popular open air cafe, raised beds for the growing of vegetables and flowers and lots of green space in which to relax – something that’s in short supply in the centre of Dalston. The most recent addition to the garden is the Pineapple House, a much-needed greenhouse to allow the green-fingered volunteers to propagate new plants before they’re introduced to the harsh Dalston climate! The garden plays host to lots of organised activities too, for both children and adults – see the events calendar for more details.

The garden is in a very unusual spot, hemmed in by buildings on two sides and a car park on the other – it’s a lovely little oasis of calm with a ‘secret garden’ quality to it, given that you enter via an anonymous door off the main road. In terms of its unique features, it can certainly lay claim to having the most unusual scarecrows in London and there’s also a rather unique take on the ‘firepit’ concept over on one side! The garden also features a couple of works by street art favourite, Stik, as well as some unusual stone heads that are dotted around here and there.

 
 

 
 

 
 

If you’re local, the voluntary group that runs the site is always looking for helpers, whether you’re comfortable pouring tea or handy with a trowel – you’ll find the sign-up form here.

In a rather troubling development, the Hackney Citizen reports that the future of the Eastern Curve Garden is currently in doubt, as there’s been a lot of new development in the immediate area in recent years and long-standing proposals call for the removal of the garden and its replacement by a shopping street. Let’s hope that local councillors see sense and leave it exactly as it is – this is a wonderful resource for locals and visitors alike. I imagine that it will be absolutely thronged with people this weekend if the warm weather arrives as promised…

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Londoneer: Pretty Flowers and Little Lambs, Urban Style

I went for a walk down to Brick Lane and over to Columbia Road flower market with a friend today. It gave me a chance to indulge in a bit of gratuitous photography, including some great examples of urban art:

We also wandered around Hackney City Farm for a while, which I’ve visited before, but this time the brand new lambs were tottering about- they must have been born in the last week or so – everyone say ah 🙂

We finished up at the Flea Pit coffee shop/bar/performance space on Columbia Road, and left very disappointed. We were served by an extremely sullen waitress and had a *ten minute* wait for two very mediocre coffees. If you happen to be down this way on a Sunday morning I’d patronise one of the many other venues around – not this place… being “organic” is no excuse for absolutely attrocious service.…

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Londoneer: The NME Small Venue Awards – Bush Hall for the London Prize

You might know that the NME have an annual award to celebrate live music venues across England. Several places in London are up for the award this year including the Bar Fly in Camden and the celebrated 100 Club on Oxford St. 

 
 

My vote will be going to Bush Hall however, the beautiful and intimate little venue on Uxbridge Road just down the street from Shepherds Bush Market tube station. It’s incredible inside – covered in elaborate plaster mouldings from floor to ceiling it’s like stepping back into the late 19th century. I’ve seen several bands there in the fairly recent past, most notably a manic performance by the wonderful Liam Finn in late 2009 which was breathtaking!

If you’re interested in supporting London’s smaller live music venues (and frankly there’s nothing like being up close and personal to your favourite artists in an intimate setting, compared to somewhere corporate and vast like the O2 for example) then please make your vote count. The competition closes on 10 June, so get online and pick your favourite venue on the NME website here.…

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South Place – A New Hotel For The City of London

New hotels don’t pop up in the City of London very often, so I was eager to see what D&D London, the celebrated restauraters, are bringing to the Square Mile from September with the opening of the South Place hotel.

A new boutique hotel, the South Place hotel will feature eighty rooms and two very special restaurants. On the ground floor the restaurant and bar, called 3 South Place, will be open to the public and continue the popular ‘British diner’ format – featuring dishes prepared with quality produce sourced from across the UK, the initial menu includes lobster, turkey and even longhorn burgers. Up on the 7th floor, and opening in late September is Angler – a seafood restaurant, Angler is the hotel’s jewel. It has floor to ceiling windows on three sides and a large outdoor area complete with barbecue where diners can eat al fresco – it’s an amazing space, really light and airy. Angler will be overseen by Tony Fleming, who most recently was the Executive Chef at One Aldwych.

South Place’s eighty rooms are furnished by Conran in a very sleek and contemporary style and have bathrooms to die for – corner suites in particular feature separate rainforest showers and tubs of truly gargantuan proportions. Every room also has an enormous Bang & Olufsen TV and, from what I saw, a rather generous mini-bar. At this point I should probably mention what I think separates the South Place hotel from its London contemporaries – they’ve decided that bold and quirky details are what will appeal to their guests. In reception the first thing that you see is a chandelier featuring silver spitfires for example, and throughout the building’s public spaces there are striking steel and mirror installations by Grace And Webb. The hotel’s rooms have 1960s-inspired chandeliers, paintings and illustrations by contemporary East End artists and rather fun resin blocks containing odd objects – the completed room that we saw had a display containing a 7″ single of Sweet Dreams Are Made Of This and an old Graham Greene paperback!

Would I stay at the new South Place hotel? Well to be honest with rooms at around £250 and upwards on weekdays and just below £200 on weekends my budget doesn’t allow it – my hotel stays always tend towards the more cheap and cheerful. I can certainly understand its appeal to the well-heeled traveller who wants something other than the bland corporate feel of a Marriott or Hilton however, and I would certainly consider Angler for a special occasion where I wanted to impress…

The South Place hotel is currently scheduled to open in early September – keep an eye on their Twitter feed and Facebook page for updates.…

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The “Eyes” Have It

Here are some photos taken on Boxing Day of Julie Mathias and Wolfgang Kaeppner’s art installation in Jubilee Park, Canary Wharf. It consists of 100 sets of animal eyes set around and about the park. At night, they’re illuminated by lighting designed by Admir Jukanovic, so that they look like animals caught in headlights…

Oh, and there’s a gratuitous shot of two reindeers and a sleigh in the album, just to keep in with the Crimbo theme  All photos in this set courtesy of SH and his new FujiFinepix A920 (thanks for Christmas dinner btw, it was lovely)

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In Germany – Grunewald Station Platform 17 Memorial

Earlier today we paid a visit to the area of Berlin that sits next to the Grunewald forest on the western edge of the city. This area is home to Germany’s movie stars, TV celebrities and bankers – there are lots of huge gated mansions around – you can think of it as being similar to the Bishops Avenue in Hampstead I suppose…

Ostensibly we were here to have a meal at Floh, the little restaurant and bar next to the Grunewald S-Bahn station run by Wolfgang and his staff, who is a family friend (it’s a nice little place for a meal by the way, and you could find yourself rubbing shoulders with the German glitterati if you visit) but we went just around the corner to pay a respectful visit to something else close by…

On Platform 17 of the Grunewald station you’ll find the memorial dedicated to the deported Jews who left this spot for the concentration camps before and during the Second World War. Along the platform edges there are 186 steel grills which indicate the numbers of people who were loaded onto cattle trucks here, and the dates on which they were sent to their deaths. It’s a very sobering sight indeed……

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Rhinegold @ The Yard Theatre – A Review

Rhinegold is the latest production to come to The Yard Theatre from new company Liveartshow – as the name suggests it is a very loose interpretation of the first section of Wagner’s Ring Cycle, ‘Das Rheingold’.

Played on a parse stage with only a few large wooden crates for a set, this 50-odd minute retelling is rather an odd beast. It broadly follows the plot of Wagner’s classic but due to the short running time is severely curtailed and, in a bizzare twist, severed tongues have replaced the magic rings of the original tale – supermarket bags full of offal and a blood-streaked stage feature throughout rather than glinting bands of gold. Musically and visually there is some interest – video production and electronica are used to great effect to augment the storytelling, particularly in the ominous first scene, and there’s even a genuine snippet from the opera by way of powerful soprano Heather Burns who plays Erda, although what they were thinking when they plotted the ‘karaoke number’ by Alberich (played by Nick Figgis) I can’t imagine – frankly a decent pub singer would have done a more convincing job…

To be brutally honest other than the brief aria the only real shining light in the show is classically trained dancer Virginia Scudeletti as Woglinda, who sweeps and swoons about the stage balletically from time to time – she was a delight to watch. I was quite disappointed with the play overall – a shame because it did start with such promise.

If you want to brave ‘Rhinegold’ it runs until this Saturday, 30 June. Tickets are only £9 so it’s no great loss if you don’t find yourself particularly inspired on your visit, although ardent fans of Wagner might want to give this one a rather wide berth! I hope shows with the quality of the lovely ‘If What I Hear Is True’ (which opened the 2012 season at the theatre) feature on The Yard’s bill again soon – now that was a night to remember, rather than one to forget……

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