March 2011

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Today is Sunday, and today is SUMMER!

I left the house in just a playsuit and cardigan, and didn’t feel a prickle of cold once. Even once the sun had set and I was pottering home. I walked 6 miles today, on the hunt for blossom and green grass and  beers outside and London Fields. Everyone I came across had wide smiles and the sky was blue.

Do you follow any of your favourite clothes shops on Twitter? I follow quite a few, as I like to keep a beady eye out for discounts and sales and the like. A few months ago I started following Tesco Clothing on Twitter, and I think I can definitely vouch for keeping their Tweet-er employed, as last week they posted a link to this gorgeous floral print playsuit that was reduced to £12. Within two seconds of seeing the tweet, I was on the website, selecting my size and purchasing before I could literally take another breath! It was ridiculous! Luckily my haste paid off, as I absolutely adore everything about this playsuit. The frills, the print and the length. I can’t wait to the degrees to nudge up a bit and wear it bare legged all summer long.

Something about the summer makes me want to ditch all my stuffy, stiff handbags and just stick all my worldly belongings into a tote bag. I don’t know why! I guess they are a handy size to shove a picnic blanket into, books, sunglasses, bottles of toffee apple cider etc into! This is my favourite one, I bought it at an Erol Alkan show and it always makes me smile.

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Welcome to the March/April edition of Spotlight!

This month I had the unabounding joy of getting to query and question one of my all-time favourite blogs. If you haven’t yet added Louder Than Silence to your reader then your life is a slightly shadowy and dark place. This pair of lovebirds are insanely awesome, in that cool sort of way that you cannot fake or pretend, but just by being naturally stylish and sweet. Posting about their love of fashion, music, adventuring around London and of course, each other, their blog is a hazey heady combination of pretty pictures, his & hers outfit posts and stories of their explorations.

These guys are basically the blog version of watching episodes of F.R.I.E.N.D.S … where by after immersing yourself in their world for a while you then have to accept, with a  sinking feeling, that sadly you won’t be joining them on their next antic even if it feels like you are now part of their wonderful world.

But you can read about it!

Introducing Sally & Ross…

1. When did you start your blog & why?
We started Louder than Silence in August after months of deliberation. We both love photography, design and writing so it seemed like a good idea to start a joint blog – and since we’d not seen a blog written by a couple before, it seemed like a fairly original idea, too.

2. What inspires you in terms of content/theme/appearance?
So many things, we’re always finding inspiration in the strangest of places! Content-wise, we pretty much write about noteworthy places we’ve been, things that we’ve enjoyed and our favourite outfits which are usually vintage inspired – we’re both into the sixties at the moment, it must be all the old films we’re watching! We love blogs that give you an insight into the blogger’s life so we try to inject as much of our personalities as possible and make it a little more ‘real’. In terms of themes and appearance, we’re inspired by nostalgia, heritage and good, clean design. Ross likes for the pictures to speak for themselves, as we’re all too aware that many people will just skim through without reading the words.

3. How would you describe your blog in three words?
Louder than Silence?! Ha. ‘Fashion, culture, us’? It’s quite hard to be succinct as it’s a blog about lots of things.

4. What is the story behind the name Louder Than Silence?
Sally is a bit of a branding geek (blame the marketing degree!) so wanted something that had longevity, was original and wouldn’t restrict our content. We got the idea from the Florence and the Machine song where she sings “louder than sirens…” and thought we could change the word sirens to silence. We like the fact that Louder than Silence could be interpreted as “Something rather than nothing”, and surely it’s better to say something than nothing at all!

5. What makes you the most happy and most sad?
Ooh that’s a tough one – we hate to go all soppy on you but we’d have to say that we make each other happy. No matter how rubbish our day has been, knowing that we can come home for a big ol’ natter and a cuddle over a bottle of red wine makes us smile. In terms of what makes us sad, we cannot abide prejudiced people, it really angers us.

6. Who are Louder Than Silence?
We live with a housemate in a lovely Georgian flat in central London but we’re originally from the sunny West Midlands. Sally works in fashion PR at a little agency in the west end but is an old fashioned girl at heart, and loves nothing more than trawling charity shops and flea markets for vintage gems. She’s also rather partial to an ice cold G&T. Ross designs for print and web at a creative agency in Hoxton, and he’s most likely to be found in a pub watching a band with a beer in hand or at home reading Chuck Palahniuk (with a beer in hand). We have a lot of shared passions which is probably why we get on so well; art, film, photography and music to name but a few. And of course not forgetting food and drink – most of our social life is based around these two things!

7. Where are your favourite places to shop for your beautiful (I think quite often shared…?!) clothes?
We love vintage so a spot of charity shopping never fails to please; we tend to get our best bargains when we’re at ‘home home’ (Wolverhampton/Shropshire). In London we love shopping at Beyond Retro, Rokit and Portobello and Spitalfields markets for vintage. Urban Outfitters is our favourite High Street store thanks to the plethora of lustworthy brands they stock, including Sally’s favourite, tba.

8. Which others blogs do you feast on?
Sally reads so many blogs but her current favourites are She’s Got A Passion For Fashion, WishWishWish, Helmi Ostalla, Lulu Letty and Pretty Much Penniless. Ross likes photography blogs, his favourite being Viktor Vaulthier who he actually met at a gig last week through mutual friends, which was nice.

9. You two get up to a lot of exciting London adventures and antics. What are your top 3 Must do/Must see big smoke locations?
Ooh such a difficult question as we’ve so many – we deliberated over this answer for aaages but finally whittled it down. One would definitely be to spend a Sunday in Columbia Road flower market then head down Brick Lane/Spitalfields for vintage shopping. Another would be to catch a gig at the Roundhouse in Camden. It’s such a cool venue – we’d recommend heading to the Lock Tavern down the road for a pre-drink first too. Finally, we absolutely love Hampstead Heath to get away from it all, especially in the summer when everyone’s basking in the sunshine with picnics and cider. One of our favourite websites for checking what’s on in town is http://www.thevintageguidetolondon.com/ It’s wonderful for finding out about exhibitions, club nights and the like – a real must for fellow vintage lovers!

10. What is your blogging soundtrack?
It depends what mood we’re in to be perfectly honest, we don’t really have a soundtrack as such. Perennial favourites of ours include Belle and Sebastian, the Beatles, the Strokes, Mystery Jets, the Smiths and Gang of Four.

11. When do you next venture abroad & where will you be heading?
We’re hoping to go to Barcelona in the next few months as we’ve never been before. Red wine, culture, the beach and tapas you say? We’re there! We’d also like to visit Greece in the summer – we lived there for six months so would love to go back and see all of our friends (and have a Mythos or three!).

Ahhh, doesn’t it melt your heart! Thanks for putting your lovely life into blogland for all to share Sally & Ross. I’m sure you are just gasping for more so go make yourself a nice big weekend coffee and head over to Louder Than Silence.

If you want to check out previous Spotlight features you can find them here:

March: Spotlight on I Want You To Know
February: Spotlight on Make Do & Mend
January: Spotlight on Clear Your Heart
December: Spotlight on Rock n Roll Bride
November: Spotlight on French For Cupcake
October: Spotlight on Fur Coat, No Knickers
August: Spotlight on Blair On A Budget
April: Spotlight on Earth vs The Wildheart

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Normal service will resume shortly I promise. I went home, and had lots of adventures including seeing The Decemberists (definitely up there with one of the best gigs of my LIFE, and I hate audience participation!), saw my friends beautiful baby and didn’t make it cry once, sleepovers and sleeptalks with old friends, being faux French with Kerry, witnessing an 8 year old order a cappucino in Starbucks (!), dancing to Rhianna in 4 inch heels (something I do not do on any sort of regular basis), eating ice cream with a spoon in my friends car whilst spotting stars in the middle of a moor, pink wine and pink cupcakes and lots of fresh Yorkshire air.

I headed out on a countryside stroll with my mum, who ended up dragging me through tunnels, wading into rivers and teetering down cliff faces (ok, steep hills). She will now be forever known as action-mum…

Since I got back to London I’ve been feeling homesick. There’s something so soothing about walking walks you’ve done since you were a child and so many of my very best friends are there, that it’s hard not to do a bit of pining when I’m back hundreds of miles away from all that again. Then my grown up job exploded into chaos and I have worked so hard and so many hours this week I’ve burst a bloodvessel in my eye.

Hot stuff!

 

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Lately…

01-03: Camden crawling. Had to pick up a small treat so got this waist long camera on a chain from one of the stable stalls.

04-05. Thinking pink. So not impressed that after neatly packing all my winter woollens away (I know, so premature!) that I’ve had to dig them all back out.

06-09: Street art on the warren of roads behind Brick Lane. The Antiantiantianti piece goes on for an entire street!

9-10. I went to see Pains Of Being Pure At Heart at Kings College. I appreciate the stamp detailing. Don’t be put off by the name, this band are amazing!

11. I recreated the holy Counter Cafe french toast! at home this weekend. It was actually really simple and cheap. I just dunked some bread in egg, fried it and served up with raspberries (99p for a bag of frozen ones at Tesco) and two sliced bananas which I also fried until caramelly. CC use brioche in their version so might try that next time!

12. Agent Cooper posing. I haven’t featured her on here for ages. Monday was my ONE YEAR anniversary of having her. One whole year and I haven’t broken her, phewf… I must be a real grown up.

There may be a little blog lul now (expect for a super special scheduled Sunday announcement) as I am packing my bags and speeding up to the north to be northern for a bit and see my friends & family & The Decemberists.

It’s forecast to snow – great welcome home!

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Welcome to the March spotlight feature!

This month is very exciting. This month marks my blog’s ONE YEAR BIRTHDAY! One whole year of me ranting and rambling and rummaging for topics to talk about and photograph. More about that next weekend on the exact anniversary day (treats ahoy) but to mark a very special month I’ll be having two spotlight features on two of my absolute, all-time favourite blogs this month, which makes me a bit weak at the knees…

First up is the divine Kristabel from I Want You To Know. Forget celebrity style crushes, they have nothing on this fashionable femme! Kristabel not only has a wardrobe I’d probably donate vital organs for, but a real talent for photography and witty writing so her blog is a head first plunge into viewing the world through her eyes. Oh and she’s lived in New York (maximum jealous.) I love the amount of little life details Kb goes into and also how every outfit is so completely unique and inspirational, but varying in style and trends. Oh and for a fashion outsider/novice, her seasonal trends updates are accessable and dreamy. Added to that, she is just a real sweetheart. Prepare to want to be her! Or at least be her friend.

1. When did you start your blog & why?
It was a combination of factors. I’d started to read quite a few blogs over the Summer of 2008 like Style Bubble and Flying Saucer and gradually my subscriptions grew and I began to think that I could contribute in some way. After going to the Angels Sale, I was so overwhelmed by the event but couldn’t really get this across to offline friends. I decided to write a blog post to show off my wares and the rest was history!

2. What inspired you in terms of content/theme/appearence?
In the beginning I was really new to Blogger and HTML, so I just kind of made up my theme as I went along. I wanted my header to include my favourite things and I’ve managed to build upon it as time went on.

3. How would you describe your blog in three words?
A bit random?

4. What is the story behind your blog name; I Want You To Know?
I named it after my favourite song at the time by Charlotte Hatherley, of Ash fame. It doesn’t really have any particular meaning, I just wanted a slightly abstract and ambiguous name.

5. What makes you the most happy and most sad?
I am happiest when having a spontaneous and insightful day with friends and family. I’m saddest when bad things happen to people who in no way deserve them.

6. Who is I Want You To Know?
I’m a final year knitwear student living between London and Nottingham. I’m a bit eccentric and probably have about a million thoughts going around my head. I tend to listen to a collection of the same songs over and over again before I eventually find new songs that manage to make the grade.

7. Can you share with us your top New York Tips?
Wander around the backstreets of key areas like Soho, The Lower East Side and Greenwich village, sometimes you can stumble across the most interesting places tucked away. Also Flushing in Queens has amazingly cheap Chinese food and transports you to another world!

8. Which others blogs do you feast on?
There’s a fair few, but the ones I really like checking are Style Bubble, Kingdom of Style, The Clothes Horse, Flying Saucer, Wish Wish Wish, Dead Fleurette and Park and Cube. There’s plenty more on my blogroll too!

9. You recently did an awesome run down of Spring/Summer11 trends. What are you personally coveting for Spring; fashion and otherwise?
I really want to find some creative prints on skater dresses, shorts and even tights. I want to try and revisit a few places in Europe this summer, hopefully Berlin and Paris.

10. What is your blogging soundtrack?
I tend to stream tv shows in the background, so most likely the somewhat generic choices of Gossip Girl, Glee, Desperate Housewives and anything Top Model related. I’m unashamedly also a fan of TV that’s so ‘bad’ it’s good, so think Gypsy Weddings, The Only Way is Essex, Take Me Out and occasionally Hollyoaks!

11. Valentines Day – Yay/Nay?
Nay!

Thanks so much Kristabel for taking the time to answer my questions in the midst of uni-work hell and generally being a crazy busy jetsetter (fresh off the plane from Ohio!). I hope you enjoy discovering her world as much as me.

 

If you want to check out previous Spotlight features you can find them here:

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I will have been living in London for 4 years this Autumn. That’s the longest I’ve ever lived in a city other than the one I was born in and pretty good considering I was one of those “Oh I’ll just go to London for a year or two and then probably get sick of it and move back up north” people. I adore living here but sometimes I think simple things such as where to go for a nice cocktail, where for a good curry or where for a nice cup of coffee can be almost impossible to work out – as there is an overwhelming amount of choice!

You can basically only learn by trial and error I think. So I thought I would start to share some of my favourites as I have a whole list stacking up in my moleskin and they are better written in here than kept scribbled to myself. I figure they might be useful if you live here or ever visit (especially as they are all on the cheap, as one thing living in London does is swallow up any disposable income you have!) Here are my first 3 and there are many more where these came from…

01. The Best Place for a Coffee, Cake and Chat

– Ray’s Jazz Cafe @ Foyles Book Shop

When I first moved to London, for the first two years I think it is quite possible that I spent more time sitting in the Starbucks in Borders on Oxford Street, trying to make one £1.20 peppermint tea last a lifetime and pouring over a heaving stack of magazines, than I did in the bedroom I was paying rent for! When Borders closed down, I was literally devestated. I had always thought it would be a place I could visit and visit forever, filled with fond new-London living memories. It’s taken a long time to find a suitable replacement but the Jazz Cafe definitely rivals it.

Sitting within the lovely independent Charring Cross bookstore Foyles, which is worth a visit anyway, the Jazz Cafe has it’s own staircase from the street. It is filled with old oak tables, benches and pews and has tons of space. Which is lucky, as the secret is obviously out, and it’s always bustling and busy. I’ve never been unable to get a seat though, so it’s just on the right side of heaving.

It offers a heady selection of coffees and herbal teas. There is also always a vast selection of homemade cakes, homemade soup (that’s often on half price if you go in an evening!) and mostly vegetarian sandwiches.

Spot the difference between the book wallpaper and the real books! There isn’t endless access to free magazines (sadly) but there is a hefty book collection that they are pretty relaxed about you pilfering and taking back to your table, as long as you replace it on it’s rightful shelf after! The atmosphere is busy and social, I often park up at a table already occupied by a random stranger and end up having a bit of a natter before plunging into my reading or writing. There is always a really diverse crowd; tourists, business folk, students etc and the fact it’s in the heart of Soho means it’s an easy stop off on route to exciting places like Covent Garden, Leicester Square and Oxford Street.
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02. The Best Place for a Curry

– Tayyabs, Whitechapel

I grew up in Bradford where about 70% of meals ever eaten were curry! In my primary school, for hot school dinners we had keema every day, except for Fish Friday. I love curry, I love indian/pakistani cuisine and the spicier the better! But curry is so easy to get so wrong, or just meh. When in London it is sort of enforced on you that Brick Lane is the best place for curry. It’s definitely fun to wander around and chat to the hecklers outside, and get 10 popadoms, 2 for 1 beers and a free plate of bhajis thrown in, but I haven’t ever had a mind-blowing curry on Brick Lane.

Walk ten minutes away though, and rather than people heckling you to come in, at Tayyabs… they are heckling you to wait outside as the queue is so giant it snakes around the entire restaraunt. And this is for a very good reason; it’s the best curry in London! This leads me to my first point: BOOK A TABLE. Even when you make a reservation you might have to wait ten/fifteen minutes to be seated. If you turn up on a whim, you will be punished. Last week my beau and I got a Tayyabs craving and wandered in on a Thursday night (fools!) and we waited 1 hour and 35 minutes for a table. No seats, no polite waiters giving you freebies as you stand fainting with hunger. They don’t need to! There were at least 30 people who waited as long, if not longer, than us. The food is good enough that you are willing to put yourself that amount of torture. But unless you like your meal-out to include a very hefty test of your patience thrown in… then make sure you book.

The menu is very limited, sticking to only traditional Pakistani/Punjabi dishes – Karahi and Gosht, with various naan, bhaki and tikka starters. This is probably the key to why it is so amazing as they stick to what they do well and don’t complicate things. But don’t go expecting to see kormas or rogan josh, as that aint going to happen! They also do a different special each night. The tikka dishes come out sizzling and everything I’ve ever eaten there (alot) has been just insanely tender and beautiful. They also have a sweet centre counter where you can stock up on kulfi and jelabi to take home for dessert. Did I mention it’s Bring Your Own Booze? So you can pick up some nice cheap Cobras or wine on route, and save more pennies for food. The staff are effiicient, friendly and despite the chaos of the crowds, always seem to be having a good time with each other too.
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03. The Best Place for Happy Hour

– Franny’s Pop-Up, Frith Street

Sadly, pretty much as soon as I’ve recommended this serious London GEM, I will have to recommend another… as it’s a pop up and is only open until March 12th. Wah! I think I might go and chain myself to the door in protest as it’s my favourite London discovery for absolutely ages. I have to give it a mention because if you haven’t been to scope it out yet you need to cancel all future plans and hurry down. The downstairs is a restaurant and bar, and the upstairs is an amazing art exhibition space. Despite being a pop-up, a huge amount of effort has gone into the cool decor, the branding and the (hate this word!) ambiance. It feels unlike anywhere else I’ve been in Soho, there is a really laid back but buzzy, vibrant feeling.

Oh and did I mention, that during their happy hour that runs until 7pm, they have 50% off cocktails?! That means you can get a cocktail for £3 which is unheard of anywhere, particularly London! And they are serious business cocktails, not any old tat. I had far too many apple martinis and margharitas stacked up at 6pm and it made for a very fun night. I haven’t eaten there but my friend got the piri piri chicken pasta and said it was good, it was a big hefty portion too. Finally, the staff are all swell and super friendly and all in all, this is going to be a tragic loss to Frifth Street. I hope the team behind it open somewhere new, sharpish!
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