Monthly Archives: May 2009

On Cheshire Street, and the nicest shop in East London


I think Shop is my favourite shop in London. Mostly because it reminds me of my grandmother’s house… full of bright aprons, and crocheted teatowels, and beautiful vintage dresses, and buttons and scarves and rugs. And piles and piles of fabrics from the thirties and eighties and every era in between.

The staff are always friendly and there is no sense of the piss being taken in terms of pricing. When I was in one time a girl basically upended a chest full of buttons all over the floor (accidentally), and the owner just came over and said don’t worry, I’ll sort it out. How often do you see that in London?


They’ll even let you take stuff outside to check the colour (that wasn’t me, it was my sister, she’s a canny shopper). It’s very cramped, but somehow the grandma’s house atmosphere permeates the very mood of customers, so everyone behaves themselves and moves out of the way for each other. None of that primal scrabbling you get on the high street, all very pleasant. The owner encourages you to open up drawers and pull out more fabric (again, that was my sister), and then just quietly cleans up afterwards. And this patient approach actually works. We ended up dropping a good eighty quid between us, god knows how.

If only more shops would display this very simple, old-fashioned customer service. 

The Shop, 3 Cheshire Street, London E26ED. Tel 020 7739 5631

Open: Wed-Sat 11-6pm & Sunday 9.30 – 5pm

exteir 2


Filed under Shopping

New Tayyabs. It’s all in the timing

tayyabs kitchen

The word is well and truly out with Tayyabs now. Scarlett Johansson has been spotted there, it’s on every London foodie’s blog and the Friday night queue snakes through the entire restaurant.

The last time I went on a Friday night I was lurking in such a queue for a good thirty minutes. My friends had wised up and arrived later. It was pure torture, standing there and watching a huge group of diners work their way through sizzling lamb chops and curries and a few bottles of Jack Daniels (despite not serving alcohol, Tayyabs will allow you to bring your own, although, sited as it is in the shadow of the East London mosque, some would argue that mixing up your own JD & Cokes at the table is possibly stretching the privilege). Continue reading

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Market Cars mini cab service


Nothing particular to say about this minicab company, just liked the picture. 

Market Cars

020 2758900

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What happened to books on the tube?

Have been catching the tube this week for work – for one reason or another it’s been about eight months since I did a regular tube commute and in that time it seems like the free papers have well and truly colonised the commuter brain. It used to be the Metro in the mornings. Now it’s the London Lite in the evening, plus the London Paper, and even the Evening Standard is shoving them down people’s throats now (seriously, some of those vendors are aggressive). 

This is the mental equivalent of eating pizza twice a day. You end up with dough for brains. Now I love pizza, and there’s nothing, nothing wrong with the odd free paper and a quick update on the likes of Peaches Geldof and Brangelina. But seriously, twice a day, every working day. It’s not healthy. It makes me sad to see it when there are so many brilliant books in the world. 

In fact, I would actually go so far as to blame the free papers and other mental pollution for the MP expenses scandal and the global  financial crisis. If we weren’t so busy trying to either process or tune out all the mindless garbage that gets flung at us day and night we might have noticed sooner that the coked-up bankers were going to town on our savings and the MPs had their snouts so deeply in the their troughs (and moats) that they’d clean forgotten that spreadsheets can be copied and sold.

Anyway, there’s no point complaining if you aren’t prepared to do something about it, right? Which is where my friend & I have been all night, dreaming up a reclaim your brain campaign.

Stay tuned.

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Space Studios, Mare Street


A few Saturdays ago I came across The Space gallery on Mare Street, which has an exhibition of embroidery work by women in Belgrade, on until May 22 2009. Led by an art activist group Skart, the women used their traditional skills to produce art about their experience of war-torn Belgrade.










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Should the army be recruiting in a Dalston shopfront?


The army has set up its first-ever showroom in the main shopping mall in Dalston Kingsland. There are frequently anti-war protesters out the front, as you can see from the picture (left) although when I went almost everyone was walking straight past.

The recruitment centre has been criticised for having a ‘battlefield simulator’ (see picture, below) set up in a small room out the back, where you can shoot at a video screen using a replica AF80. A spokeswoman from Mothers against Guns said that this was ‘grossly insensitive to house the showroom in a borough that has been plagued by gun violence.’ (Hackney Gazette) Continue reading

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Something special: Rosemary Lane restaurant, Tower Hill

rosemary laneSomehow I’ve never been to the Tower of London. However, when I do finally go (hopefully sometime this year if I get organised), at least I’ll know where to eat afterwards… maybe that’s what’s been stopping me? Anyway, it will be at a funny little restaurant called Rosemary Lane, which is in a strange location in the badlands between Tower Bridge and Whitechapel. This is one of those areas that keeps its charms well hidden  – I only found this place through reading the Time Out guide to the 50 Most Romantic Restaurants. Reviews were uniformly positive about the French-Californian style food but commented on its quietness. Continue reading

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