Thursday, 29 May 2014

Alexa Chung ‘It’

So after seeing the Arctic Monkeys on Saturday I decided what I really needed to do was look as much as possible like Alexa Chung. I don’t know why, but it seemed like a really necessary thing to do. I spent most of the day doing my nails (I’ve got one of those do-your-own-gel kits, and I’m obsessed - will do a review at some point...) and then I got a glass of wine and I read ‘It’.

I’ve read a tonne of reviews of ‘It'. It seemed to divide opinion, but when you look at the reviews more closely, they all pretty much criticise or adore it for the same reasons - because it isn’t much of anything, it doesn’t try to say anything or be anything and you either like or don’t like that. I like it because I don't think either it, or Alexa, pretended it was anything that it wasn't. (I feel like I can't stop using the word 'It' now). 

It’s just a book on cool, really. A book filled with cool imagery and cool people looking cool and Alexa Chung’s tips, not really on how to be cool, because that would be uncool, but on life, which means they are tips on how to be cool because Alexa Chung is cool.

I like her tips on how to get dressed in the morning because it’s basically the rules I already follow. (‘Is it clean? Is it though?’ as I dig through the washing basket because my black jeans are probably fine really). I love my wardrobe but I seem to mostly get dressed from a pile of clothes on the floor. I can never decide if I like fashion. I almost don’t get it, I think. But I like that whole Alexa Chung style of dress, that not quite tomboy thing…where you don’t show too much flesh or look too done up but you still look girly. I think I can probably be accused of dressing a bit too hippy for the occasion a lot of the time because I try quite hard not to dress overly sexy, or, to put it frankly, like a tart. I feel like Alexa somehow manages not to look like a mad hippy but she never looks like a chav or like she's off to the theatre. I want to try and bring a bit of that into my wardrobe.

I don’t currently have it, though, so I just put a stripy top on and curled my hair. Then we went to my friends’ house in Wapping, which you get to via a horrible council estate and a beautiful park, and we played board games and had far too much to drink, and I smoked a menthol cigarette when my boyfriend wasn’t looking. I like to think she’d have approved. 

I've just realised upon re-reading this that it is a terrible review, and doesn't actually say anything about what the book is about...but that's the point, maybe. It isn't really about anything, but it's oddly inspiring despite that. My overall review is that I like 'It' and you should read 'It.' Or at least buy it so it can make your Instagram photos look cooler. I will leave it there! 

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Arctic Monkeys at Finsbury Park

As Alex Turner goes, so goes my nation. I am obsessed with the Arctic Monkeys’ fifth album, AM, and their last gig at Earl’s Court (review here) was incredible, so I wasn’t going to pass up the chance to hear them play the album again.

I did a full review of that gig, here, so I’m not going to go into it all again. Instead, here are just some abstract thoughts of the night.

1 Alex Turner is the only man in the entire world who could pull off a smoking jacket that basically looks like a flowery kimono. Baby.

Arctic Monkeys Finsbury Park

2 I am obsessed with this top and this photo of me in it. I feel like because it’s a lyric its more subtle than a t shirt that just says ‘Arctic Monkeys’ on it, although don’t get me wrong, I have one of those too. I just like how this is a nod to other fans, like…yeah, we’re all there...Alex Band Guy. I swear my boyfriend could be an amazing photographer, I love this photo so much. He hates taking them though. I have about 10,000 photos on my phone and he has about 10.

Arctic Monkeys Finsbury Park

3  The set list was pretty similar to before, although they got rid of ‘Pretty Visitors,’ I guess because it doesn’t have the same cool, creepy effect when you’re not inside and you can’t see the silhouettes of everybody’s arms.

4 The acoustic version of ‘A Certain Romance’ gave me chills. I’ve watched some amateur recording of it on Youtube about 100 times even though whoever’s filming it puts their phone down in the middle and it’s just black…the sound is pretty decent though. I really want to know who Alex Turner flips off midway through…like is it someone off stage or in the front row? I can’t tell. But anyway it was one of those moments that tied the whole thing together, from the past to the present, and it was really nice.

Arctic Monkeys Finsbury Park

5 Why are gigs in parks never loud enough? I saw Blur in Hyde Park a year or so ago and had the same issue. We saw Dylan in Finsbury Park and the acoustics were awful but I couldn’t tell if that was just because it was Dylan (he was singing his songs but to the wrong tune…bless him). I get that there are noise controls but it was just too quiet, even down at the front…all I could hear during ‘Library Pictures’ was the girl behind me singing off key.

6 The Finsbury Park toilet situation is so bad, it made me wish I was a boy, or the kind of girl who can just squat behind her cardigan and not care that everyone is watching. We would’ve missed the entire show if we hadn’t seen some people we knew further forward in the queue. Mad. Drinks were pretty cheap, though.

Arctic Monkeys Finsbury Park

7 The whole band seem so perfectly rock and roll to me now. I don’t know how to put my finger on it. It’s like a theatrical performance but it’s still real so it’s cool. I wish I could emulate it but probably the whole point is that you can’t. Is it drugs? It’s probably drugs. But anyway at one point they didn’t have it and now they do.  

Arctic Monkeys Finsbury Park

8  Finsbury Park is so badly designed for people at gigs trying to get home. I felt sorry for all the teenage girls trying to fight their way to the tube. We just wandered off down some residential street until we found a horrible pub that was still open. There were seats at the bar though. They only took cash so we spent our last £10 on cheap wine. It felt like the right end to the night. Everyone in there was wasted and in their late 30s, I liked it. We had to walk back really late and we got in a drunk fight about something. Finsbury Park is so weird, it’s all horrible kebab shops next to beautiful Victorian houses. It’s a bit twisty. I wouldn’t want to live there.

9  I wanted to go back on Saturday and find a tout but somehow it got too late. We’re going next month though in Ireland. I want to get into the front pit somehow. God knows how though. Until then!

Arctic Monkeys Finsbury Park


Friday, 23 May 2014

Little things that made yesterday a good day

I want to try and do some more general catch ups – not just chatting about my big days out, but also just updating on the little things that I’ve been up to and what’s been going on in life. So these are the things that made me feel happy yesterday – nothing special, just the nice things that happen on an everyday basis…

1. I skipped out on my early meeting and spent the morning re-reading ‘Harry Potter and The Chamber Of Secrets’ in bed
2. On my walk to work I came across two ducks, who were quacking about for no reason at all…and normally staid, silent business people walking by were smiling at them too
2. Mid afternoon I had a hot chocolate for absolutely no reason and didn’t feel the need to justify it at all
3. The weather went from being all muggy and overcast to a huge thunderstorm to perfect sunshine and it made me feel like it cleared my head up too, and everything felt lovely and fresh
4. Ian was out in the evening so I cooked myself a mini stir fry with pak choi, breaded chicken, udon noodles and the sweet chilli sauce that I LOVE but he doesn’t like, and ate it whilst watching an old episode of Nigella with a glass of wine
5. Then I made chocolate cupcakes and ate three of them straight away
6. I cleaned out the gerbils and they were in really sociable moods and thoroughly entertained me with their antics  
7. And finally I had a really long and lovely phone conversation with a friend of mine, who is a bit heartbroken, and I think I managed to cheer her up, which was nice.

I suppose I have to mention that the plumber didn’t turn up so we still have no hot water and the door to our balcony has inexplicably jammed itself shut. But let’s brush off these little annoyances in light of the lovely Thursday it really was!

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Park Life & Pub Quizzes in Peckham

On Sunday I woke up tired and a bit hungover after my epic birthday night out. I wanted to delve back under the quilt for another 2 hours, but it was one of my best friends’ birthdays and I’d promised to go and meet her for a picnic in the park. I dragged myself out of bed and into printed trousers and dark sunglasses.

It was gorgeously hot outside and, discovering that TFL was wrong and  I could get the overground to Peckham, I soon cheered up. I arrived to find my friend in a great mood as her boyfriend had bought her an iPad for her birthday – so most of these photos are courtesy of her, and it!

When the boys had arrived, we headed to the park for birthday cake…

Cakes and brownies…

Scones with clotted cream and jam…

Prosecco in flasks for the girls, and beer for the boys.

It was such a gorgeous sunny day and we caught up and chatted until we decided it was time to break out the board games. I don’t care if it’s geeky – I love board games! We started with Pass the Bomb – an easy, hilarious one to start – before progressing to Articulate.

After a while, a bit tired of sitting on the floor, we made our way to a nearby pub garden. My boyfriend came to join us and we set up yet another board game – Cranium!

We were about to leave when the barman casually asked us if we were going to join in the pub quiz. Err…YES.

Oh – and we only went and won it!

We ate pub food, drank cider, sung Brit pop songs and laughed until the sun went down when we caught our overground train back into the city. London in the summer – I love you!


Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Burger Cake, Ping Pong & Pizza

Never one to miss an opportunity to drag out my own birthday, I had all my friends over on Saturday for a night of fun and food!

We started at my house, where my friends spoilt me with presents, Prosecco, and this incredible cake, home made by my best friend in the shape of a giant burger! What could be better?!

I blew out the candles happily before we headed out (late, as ever) to Bounce, where I’d booked us a ping pong table!

It was so much fun. We had waiter service and they set up a tab so we had a few drinks, which I would say didn’t improve my game as such!

I can get a bit competitive about these things!

It was a really good thing to do for a birthday – not too expensive (the table for an hour cost £26) and a bit different. We were a bit late, which was okay, but they don’t let you have any more time on the table (for obvious reasons) so we didn’t get very long, which was a bit of a shame. Apart from that it was brilliant.

We trekked across London (I was wearing platform shoes, and my feet hurt) to Fire & Stone for more food.

More Prosecco!

For starters we had calamari – gorgeous squid in crunchy batter…


A selection of breads, meats and hummus.

Followed by excellent pizza. The Fire & Stone pizzas are ingeniously themed by country. There's so much choice - it's a really good place for vegetarians or people who are bored of the standard Italian offerings! I went for the Peking – duck, hoi sin sauce, mozarrella, spring onion and cucumber.

My boyfriend went for the Trinidad & Tobego (the spicy one, basically).

And here are a selection of the others!

The whole team!

I was really happy that everyone came out to celebrate with me. A couple of us went to the pub afterwards, but in general it was just a really good evening. A birthday to remember! 


Monday, 19 May 2014

Birthday Dinner At Duck & Waffle

I’ve just had one of the best birthday weekends of my life! The weather has been incredible and I’ve had so much fun, all kicking off on Friday with dinner at Duck & Waffle. This ingenious restaurant is situated on the 40th floor of the Heron Tower, and I’ve wanted to go for ages, but my boyfriend wasn’t too keen! As it was my birthday he agreed we could go, and we were whisked up in the glass lift high into the sky, so quickly my ears popped.

If you’re scared of heights, you might not want to look down!

I’d heard the staff could be a little bit rude but they couldn’t have been more friendly to us, showing us to our table, talking us through the menu (which is a little confusing – basically, order as much as you want and share everything) and getting us drinks while we enjoyed the views.

First up we had bread – soft, warm and pillowy, with butter and oil for dipping. I love it when restaurants provide butter as well as oil!

Closely followed by smoked mozzarella tossed with granola, sage, honey and a lemon dressing. This was so good – I’m a massive fan of mozzarella, but my boyfriend isn’t particularly and he still loved it. The flavours and textures all just went so well together – it was really good.

We couldn’t come without ordering a bag of BBQ spiced crispy pigs ears, served in their sealed bag!

These tasted a bit like Frazzles, in a good way! They’re really good value for money – it’s £5 for a bag and you get loads, we couldn’t even finish them!

At the other end of the scale, the fillet of beef Carpaccio, served with foie gras, truffle and pecorino, was lovely, but probably not the best pound-for-mouthful value. It was excellent, though, so worth getting if you want a bit of luxury!

We had a little break before the spicy ox cheek doughnut with apricot jam.

This looks really good, doesn’t it? What I think of this meal is that if it was served up on Masterchef, they’d say something like ‘All these things are cooked really well, but they don’t belong together on the plate!’ It’s just…meat? And a doughnut? And jam? It didn’t work for me!

Unlike the duck and waffle itself, which also sounds unusual on paper but in reality was incredible. The combination of the duck egg, waffle, syrup and gorgeous, flaky duck was just so good, I could’ve eaten it all night! I was a very happy girl.

We ummed and aahed for ages about getting dessert. I’d been eating cake all day (oops) so wasn’t particularly hungry, but neither of us were ready to leave. Eventually we ordered baked Alaska to share – and I am so glad we did!

For me it was the dish of the night, and not just because it’s so pretty. Cold ice cream, perfect meringue, grenadine and rhubarb – it was one of the best desserts I’ve ever had!

I couldn’t recommend Duck & Waffle more – it’s unpretentious, it’s not overpriced, the food is great and the views are outstanding!

We decided to pop down two floors to Sushi Samba for drinks after dinner. This was a bit of a different story for me. We ordered wine, beer and cocktails… which were nice, but the barman was rude and arrogant and took ages to serve us.

We went out into the courtyard as it was such a gorgeous evening. It is pretty out there, despite being really crowded…but it’s not really worth it, as you don’t get the spectacular views!

We got a bit fed up of the rubbish service and pretentious attitudes of the staff, so headed back to the lift… in time to catch this glorious sunset.

I felt like we’d come back down to earth – Duck & Waffle really does give you a wonderful, heady experience! Go there, don't bother with Sushi Samba. We headed off to the pub to meet friends and had a great evening. A brilliant start to a fantastic weekend! 
© Cat Cruse. All rights reserved.