Sunday Papers Live

A Sunday with absolutely no plans is my idea of heaven. It is a day spent lounging, reading the papers, listening to Radio 4, eating a decadent lunch and if I can face it, a walk. So, imagine my absolute delight upon discovering that this perfect Sunday existed outside of my house. Even better than that, imagine it being within a three minute walk of my house! Last Sunday I no longer had to imagine but simply enjoy, thanks to the genius’ behind Sunday Papers Live.

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Held at the beautiful Cecil Sharp House, SPL (as I shall refer to it) is an all day event in which each section of the broadsheets is presented by a speaker, with the stunning hall decked out as an oversized living room filled with sofas, cushions and blankets. I would recommend coming early if you want to snag the perfect (and most comfortable) seat.

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The hilarious Steve Cross acted as compere for the day, ensuring all speakers were welcomed to stage with rapturous applause. Robert Rowland Smith  presented his psychoanalysis of ‘The Donald’, concluding that what he seems to lack is the super ego. Robert also led the philosophy walk, a gentle gander to Primrose Hill, where we stood and discussed everything from Socrates to gender equality, to stress, which I learnt is simply ‘the inability to adapt’.

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Bruce Parry covered the travel section, with a fascinating talk about his discoveries of other cultures, particularly egalitarian tribes. He admitted to everyones amusement that his first screen tests were terrible, informing the crowd that being told to ‘act natural’ produced the exact opposite.

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Interspersed between the speakers were the fantastic Sons and Sons, in charge of the crossword. This was no normal crossword, as on our papers there were no clues. Instead the clues are acted out on stage by the comedy pair. Upon completing the crossword, participants are encouraged to run directly to the stage, paper in hand, for the chance to win a prize. I can honestly say I haven’t moved that fast for a longtime. Sadly I was not victorious.

Naturally, this being my new perfect Sunday, it had to contain two of my favourite things, booze and food. These were both in generous supply from Bloodshot Vodka who make a mean Bloody Mary and award winning chef Tom Hunt serving plates of slow roasted lamb shoulder and vegetables spiced with dukkah, barberries and chermoula. There is a dining room at SPL, however we ate at our seats, not wanting to miss out on a minute of the action.

State of The Nation was described as ‘Question Time meets Cage Fighting’ and it did not disappoint. The audience yells out topics / current affairs questions and the selection of panellists each have a few minutes to stand on stage and talk. By far my highlight on the panel was John Sweeny (alongside his dog Bertie) admitting he was too pissed to be on stage whilst making very valid points about utilising the right to vote.

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After we had calmed down from all this excitement, there was a pub quiz hosted by Sons and Sons. We managed to cobble together a team, including a man my sister had met at the bar and a couple who happened to be sat at our chosen table for the quiz. We were absolutely disastrous. Coming in third place, we were offered redemption and extra points in a game of egg drop. I would like to add at this moment, five extra points were on offer, however our team managed to convince the host to make it ten. Stacy (my new best friend and team mate) ran to a table with all assortments of ‘pieces of crap’ and wrapped our egg in foam tubing with two balloons on either side. This egg drop was our only chance of victory. All the teams went outside and I stood with our precious egg on the balcony, hoping as I let it drop. To our amazement (and the irritation of the other teams) our egg survived the drop and we won the quiz, proving that street smarts really do trump intellect when it comes to the most ridiculous of quizzes.

Sadly, I will have to wait until September for my next perfect Sunday out but until then I guess my living room will have to.

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I met Gigi a few years ago at a particularly riotous birthday party of a mutual friend. I vaguely remember drinking a different shot for each letter of her name, but I couldn’t say much more than that as our friend is called Natalya.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago and I find an email asking if I was free at all to take some pictures of her. Gigi has been creating songs for her current album The Projectionist to raise money for Love Support Unite in Malawi. Each week, a new song appears on Soundcloud and she asked if I would shoot some images as part of the project. There was clearly no way I could refuse, especially when Gigi told me she wanted to shoot film and possibly play with double exposures. That sealed the deal for me.

We spent a wonderful day wandering Hampstead Heath, putting the world to rights and taking portraits. I love shooting film, it’s a completely different feeling to anything else. The noise of the shutter, winding on a shot and then waiting and hoping it all comes out as you see it in your head.

As it started to rain, I still had a few shots left in the Bronica, so I suggested we take refuge in my favourite pub, The Stag. I cheekily asked if we could use the upstairs room to finish our shoot, and was kindly obliged. I had almost forgotten how much I love taking portraits, and this shoot was a reminder to always say yes to something that interests me and to take time to play and experiment with the photographic process.

 

 

Lunch of a Freelancer 2.0

Apparently gluttony is a sin, however when it comes to The Cheese Bar I could not disagree more. From the founders of The Cheese Truck, the bar is a permanent home, situated in the heart of Camden Market. I am either extremely lucky (or not depending on how you look at it), to live a mere ten minute stroll from this new eatery. Until the main restaurant is fully ready, there is a very sweet and aptly named ‘Hatch’, where you can order a cheesy sandwich of dreams.

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My choice of companion for lunch had to be the biggest cheese lover I know, my oldest friend Anna. It was a beautiful, balmy spring day as we walked through the market, hungry and excited. I opted for the most classic sandwich on the menu, Keens Cheddar, Ogleshield, mixed onions and bacon. Anna couldn’t resist the prospect of mozzarella sticks with marinara dip.

Apart from writing Jane on the wonderfully puntastic ‘Say Cheese’ boxes, this was a perfect lunch. The sandwich was oozing with a river of cheese and rich with the flavours of onion and bacon. I would recommend asking for extra napkins to mop up greasy fingers! The highlight of the meal were the mozzarella sticks, so beautifully crunchy on the outside and stuffed full of high quality mozzarella on the inside, which you can really taste as opposed to the cheaper shop bought variety. The sauce is tangy and sweet and adds a third dimension to what is already incredibly delicious.

If you are looking for hands on lunch, that you can eat with a good friend, that definitely comes under the category of ‘naughty’ this is the place. I for one cannot wait to visit the restaurant and afterwards be rolled back home. The Cheese Bar opens in earnest at the end of March.

 

 

Craft Beer Rising

 

As the readers of this blog can probably tell, I regularly wax lyrical about how much I love a good drink and great company. Luckily, my career choice allows for both of these pastimes. I spent most of the last weekend at the Old Truman Brewery, photographing for Camden Town Brewery at Craft Beer Rising; a wonderful cornucopia land of beers, where guests wonder from stand to stand, sampling everything there is to offer from larger, to pale to dark ale (and even alcoholic ginger beer). The atmosphere is relaxed; everyone is friendly and a little bit tipsy.
I love shooting for Camden for so many reasons, they are a fantastic brand who make delicious beer and everytime I turn up to shoot somebody at the bar smiles and yells ‘hey photographer lady!’ which completely makes my day. In between photographing other people drinking beer, I had a chance to try some myself (naturally).
I usually opt for an Unfiltered Hells for it’s fresh full taste, however at CBR this year there was a new beer to try, Charlie Roper’s ‘Foolish’ Rhubard IPA. The first keg was tapped on Saturday, with the money raised from Charlie’s beer going to Medicines Sans Frontiers.
Sadly CBR is now over however do not despair! You can try Foolish at The Horseshoe or Camden’s Daughter and still raise money for charity. If you are a fan of a fresh, punchy and deliciously sour beer, this IPA is the one, and having tasted more than one at CBR, I definitely have the authority to say so.

Party at the Parlour

 

In 1999, aged ten, I received a fax whilst on a school trip to France. My sister had given birth to a baby girl, Ava. The letter was handwritten by my mother and I read it excitedly as my friends huddled around me. I was an auntie and for the first time in my life I had something that no one else had – and for perhaps the last time,  I was (for a moment) considered cool.
18 years later, we celebrated Ava’s birthday at the Parlour in Kensal Rise. I told the fax story over a crisp glass of Picpoul and salt baked chicken. Ava’s boyfriend asked me what a fax was and I suddenly felt ancient by comparison. We spent the entire afternoon sat in the main bar at a long table for 12 – laughing, drinking and reminiscing.
Everyone opted for a variety of roasts; venison, beef and of course the salt baked chicken. Each as scrumptious as the last, with lashings of gravy, huge fluffy Yorkshire puddings and of course buttery veg. Only one person broke the mould with chicken kiev with slaw. We finished our meal with cake (as one must) and espresso martinis – I highly recommend this combination.
The Parlour is a place for celebration. The space is light and airy, the staff are incredibly accommodating and made no objection when my sister covered the table with glitter and balloons, insisting her daughter was turning 12 and never 18! Every other table was filled with groups of families, all celebrating their own occasions, giving the whole place a contagious sense of joy.
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Lunch of a Freelancer

Freelancing has many perks, that I cannot deny. However, freelancing, for me, has one big downside: loneliness. Some days, when I am not shooting, will be spent at home, alone, staring vacantly at my computer whilst half heartedly watching ‘The Good Wife’. Now that I have painted this depressing tableau, let me tell you my remedy for it. Lunch. Lunch with another human, preferably a freelancer.

With this in mind, last week, my dining companion was one of my favourite freelance humans, Rosie Spinks. A hugely talented writer, self proclaimed Mouthy Woman (if you don’t know what that is then I strongly advise clicking the link) and a fantastic meal mate.

I suggested Polpetto for our lunch date, a small restaurant in the middle of Berwick St, and was overjoyed when Rosie told me she had always wanted to go there. I love Polpetto. Walking in through the heavy red velvet curtains feels like entering some secret place, chancing upon an intimate little world. Dimly lit, with candles on every table, it could easily be mistaken as a place just for dates. Do not be fooled, this restaurant is for everyone.

As it was National Pizza Day on our lunch trip, we of course chose the pizette; small delicious ovals of joy. Rosie’s choice won by a mile, the white pizzette with a beautiful combination of sweet caramelised onions and fresh, punchy thyme. To feel ever so slightly healthy we accompanied these with the Cavolo Nero Caesar and a broccoli, feta and pine nut salad. To feel ever so slightly naughty, I indulged in a cocktail; Rosie a glass of wine.

I am a huge fan of Polpetto because it embodies everything I desire from a meal. Simple, flavoursome food made for sharing, wonderful drinks and the feeling of being somewhere special (without spending a fortune).

 

Valentine’s Day

I am a hopeless romantic. I suffer from this affliction as a direct result of my father. He is one of the soppiest people I know. Since I moved out of home (which is nearing the ten year mark), he has sent me a blank Valentine’s Day card every single year without fail. I know it’s him because of the handwritten scrawl on the envelope and because he usually calls to ask if I have received it (I never said he made a great romantic).

Now the mantle has been well and truly passed to my (long suffering) S.O. Thankfully he too is a master of romantic gestures and I returned home today to find the most beautiful flowers from Bloom & Wild waiting for me. I love having flowers in the house, so for me this is the perfect V Day gift. To lessen the cheese element, there was a card which lets just say contained the words ‘booty’ and ‘Steven‘, which had me giggling to myself as well as feeling incredibly sorry for the person who had to type it out.

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They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, and in my case this statement could not be closer to the truth. The way to my S.O’s heart is through cake, specifically from the Primrose Bakery  (or should I say BAE-kery).  I purchased the two most embarrassingly romantic cupcakes on offer and I can say with certainty that there is no better gift for my beloved; and I know that we are meant to be because my card is equally as silly as his was to me.

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