8 February 2016

Craftsman Café, Bermondsey.


One of my favourite places I've discovered since moving south of the river (the shock, the horror) is Craftsman Café. It moved into the neighbourhood at about the same time I did. To the extent that we saw them hand-painting the trim and stencilling the logo on the front window (below right photo via the geo-tagged Instagram page). And I think for those reasons, though I've gone less in the colder months, this has become of my favourite places in London.


Why do I love coming here? It's impeccably stylish without the intimidation. It's a little mini oasis for me for some reason. My mind clears, I feel calmer. Maybe because I know I'm about to eat something delicious and fresh. I feel like everyone has those places or environments where all their worries about ambition and money and survival and responsibility just melt into the background. And Craftsman is just happens to be that place for me.

Unless it's noon on a Saturday and the joint is so rammed you can't get a seat. Guess you gotta share your oasis sometimes ;)

My recommendation on what to order? Iced coffee with soy milk in the summer. And always always always the Bermondsey Frier which is that cheese slab number above. The cheese is similar to halloumi in taste but better and stringier and meltier and gets this orgasmic golden crust on the outside. Can you tell this is a very special dish to me and I was very sad that I didn't have it this weekend? It comes on a bed of rocket, balsamic marinated cherry tomatoes, and a generous slice of chewy, jaw-breaking-in-the-best-way sourdough. The green dollop on top is shredded capers and packs a punch.

They're only open Fridays and weekends and shut quite early. And it's compact inside so don't expect an outlet you can park next to. But that's not what this place is for. It's for cheese and coffee and a little slice of aesthetic heaven.

Craftsman Café
105 Abbey Street, London SE1 3NP

5 February 2016

Some books I'm excited to read.

*pears around corner* Ahem, erm, h-h-hello? Am I still allowed here? Yes? *whips white sheets off furniture*
This little guy is all over the shops this week. I was reading a proof copy last year and now have the luscious debossed hardback by my bedside. The writing of Goats and Sheep is so comforting without being at all dumbed down. It has a dreamy quality to it that at times reminds me of if The Virgin Suicides was set in middle England and concentrated on two ten-year-olds rather than pouting teenage daughters. I'm looking forward to starting it again–it's the kind of read with descriptions so good you want to roll them around in your mouth.

I stole my friend's advanced copy of this because it is so pretty. Look at it, goddammit. That typography. I had to take it home. I have no idea what's it about (that's how I like to go into my books) but I'm going to wager there are some horsies. I have to be honest, I did try to start reading it tonight and am finding it difficult to get past the first couple pages. But to be fair it's 9pm on a Friday after a full on week of work. Progress to be updated on Goodreads.

 SCARS ACROSS HUMANITY: Understanding and Overcoming Violence Against 
Women  by Elaine Storkey
This is a Rosianna read. Anything that Rosianna breaths about gets automatically added to my Goodreads. Just watch her video; it'll pitch it better than I can. I love that there's been such momentum lately around reading feminists texts. I've just joined Jean's book group and have already discovered loads more titles to put on my tbr. Now I just actually need to read some of these. *glares at appalling read to want-to-read ratio on Goodreads*

More YouTubers?! YouTubers everywhere. How many of the YouTube books have been fiction and not fiction that's basically autobiographical? I'm mega excited and proud of my friend Chelsea (aka Ophelia Dagger) for getting picked up by a publisher. She's smart and sharp (in every sense of the word) and brutally honest. I have high hopes for this baby. And Chels, even if it's shit, don't worry, I pre-ordered it anyway.

 MEN EXPLAIN THINGS TO ME and Other Essays  by Rebecca Solnit
Another book that I've seen everywhere, in the feminist vein, that I just want to be able to say I've read. Mansplained. Constellations on the cover. It's the book you want on display on your bookshelf. Have you read this one?

 COLLECTED STORIES  by Richard Yates
Speaking of men who speak for women, I miss reading Richard. Boy is one of my favourite authors. Screw plot, it's all about that w-r-i-t-i-n-g. Ever since I got a hold of Rosi's collected works volume when she and I lived together, I've been smitten. Need him back in my life. Him and Isherwood.

 MY LIFE ON THE ROAD  by Gloria Steinem
I meant to buy this when I was in the US and put it off until we got to the airport. Which we then had to run through because I am always late when I travel. So then I wasn't able to buy it in the US which now means I have to have the version with the Lena Dunham quote on it. To which I say BOO. Anyway. Can I just go all hipster for a second and say that I wanted to read this before Emma Watson's book club? Not that I'm against Our Shared Shelf. Hell, I'm a member. But I found out about My Life on the Road through Fresh Air. I grew up listening to public radio, another breeding ground for some seriously badass women. I'm looking at you Terry, Lynne, and Sarah.

Last but not least, I miss Mark Watney and I miss potatoes. So I need another space book in my life. This one had a good cover so I've allowed it to fill the void. Side note: whoever said that 'you can't judge a book by it's cover' thing had to be living in another century because I spend a lot of my time judging things and book covers are one of them. I can't remember how this came into my line of sight. Maybe I saw it on a display table in a shop, maybe it was recommended in a video? Can't remember. Just want.

Let me know what you're keen to read next. Or if you have read some of these and need to inform me I have terrible taste/book intuition. Just whatever you do, please don't buy these from Amazon. And yes, I know my love of Goodreads is therefore FRAUGHT.

11 September 2015

September 11th.

"What's today?"
An innocent, anodyne, purely date-seeking question was posed to me this morning. But when I flicked over to the sidebar to check,

"Oh. It's September 11th."

Like most Americans, especially those around my age, I have a September 11th story. And they usually all start with a variation on 'I remember...'

I remember not long after, people (my parents?) saying this would be our Robert Kennedy moment. Our moon landing. We would all remember this day. And have a picture burned in our minds of exactly what we were doing when we found out. There have certainly been more traumas in the world since. If I was a Londoner, maybe it would have been the 7/7 bombings, or if I lived in Indonesia, the 2004 tsunami. And there will never be enough words on the amount of hurt caused by and still happening due to the 'War or Terror.' Basically, what I'm trying to get at here is the fact that looking at the date and feeling a rush of sadness and dread in the pit of your stomach when you realise it's 9/11, is a largely American reaction. No matter how much I try to shrug off where I come from, my relationship with that date will always be a reminder to myself that part of me is unshakeably American.

Both of my parents worked in Manhattan when I was a kid. It's an anecdote I still pull out to this day as I think it makes me seem cool and cosmopolitan. Hi yes my parents worked in the city while I was in diapers. I never remember seeing their offices but I assume I had been once or twice. I would have been 6 or 7 but I am genuinely disappointed I don't have any memories of visiting New York City proper when we lived just outside it. My dad took meetings in the World Trade Center. I feel like I need to come out here and say that none of my family or friends were directly affected by that day. Just in case this felt like it was building towards something like that.

By 2001 my family had relocated to Tennessee. I couldn't have been away from my Jersey days for more than two or three years. A vague announcement came on over my elementary school intercom. Slowly, one by one, parents were plucking students out of class. Noontime we were all sent home. I don't remember what whispers travelled around the school but I just remember getting home and standing behind the massive green sectional sofa in our living room and gazing at the news replaying footage of two smoking giants. And my dad standing behind me perpetually tying and re-tying his tie. I'm suspicious that the previous sentence is something that my memory has fabricated, but nonetheless, it is there.

I remember frantically calling second grade school friends whose parents I believed still worked in the city. And getting no answer and panicking because there was no answer. In a childish way, I think I was less desperate to know that Cate's dad was okay, and rather seeking a way to be a part of it. A part of the place I was still quite distraught we had moved away from. A part of a tragedy that I could bring to school the next day. An excuse not to go to school the next day. I can't blame myself. It's just a way kids can react to things. And who am I kidding–a way adults sometimes react too.

6 September 2015

Lost at sea.

This feels kind of like walking into a meeting you've been skipping for the last couple months. Everyone lifts up their head to look as you come through the door. And then they go back to shuffling their papers, ignoring your casual sheepish wave.

Hey guys.

For months I've been ruminating about how to write here now that I am not freelance. How do non-freelance people blog?! Comment some examples. I don't want this to be a place where I talk about my job because I spend most of my waking hours doing and thinking about my job. I really want my blog to be a separate entity but I'm beginning to wonder if it can be. My job is a huge part of my life now. And I feel like if I ban myself from talking about it... well, what else will I have to say here?

You read it all the time on blogs (oh bloggers and their crises) but I'm gonna say it too. My life is not that eventful. Frankly I'm happy to keep it that way at the moment. Is this what it is like to get older? A month from tomorrow I will be turning 24 (very, very not best pleased about this). Making me that much further away from being able to unabashedly sing Taylor's 22.

Whenever the weekend rolls around and I have a reprise from the office, I find myself missing posting photos and scraps of thoughts here. But I can't think of things to say that isn't 'I'm tired' or 'Look, I'm adulting' or 'I should be reading right now' or 'Why can't I keep my flat tidy'. Also, I have to say, I quite enjoy doing absolutely nothing. Sue me.

So, of the little that has been going on, here is a life update:

A couple weeks back Ross finally got me to cave and watch the first episode of The Sopranos, and of course I got full-blown addicted. We're on season four now. And we're those horrifically hip people that don't have a television. Nope, we have a projector. I had Emily, Sanne, and Lex over to watch 10 Things I Hate About You. It was great. Rosi, we miss you.

Other ways I now occupy my time is by browsing for secondhand furniture on Gumtree and eBay. We've scored some pretty sweet finds, the most recent being this IKEA sofa in mint condition from a bloke who was moving to New York the next day.

Tiny tangent time: I think the other reason I feel quite lost at the blogging (and YouTube) game stems from not really enjoying makeup and fashion like I used to. I go through swings of not trusting brands. I can get overwhelmed by not wanting to buy items whose suppliers could sell tested-on ingredients or supporting companies that have sustainable fabrics but maybe haven't paid their workers well. The lack of transparency probably upsets me more than it should. Nevertheless it leaves me at a standstill. Of not wanting to buy anything (and feeling guilty when I do). I've created some kind of self-imposed rule that blogging has to be buybuybuy and newnewnew. Maybe this is a wake up call for me to focus on what I have already.


Have to admit my reluctancy about sharing how obsessed I currently am with Snapchat. Keeping my follower count low means I've been able to gloat about ex-lovers looking at two seconds of rats I am babysitting and other mundanities. On a semi-related note, I'm not ready for a pet.

These are my life blood lately. Sourdough bloomers. Tamales for breakfast. Handcrafted ice cream sandwiches. Junk shops and scotch eggs. I have two markets in easy walking distance of my flat and making that a routine of my Saturdays and Sundays is a good way of getting in some much needed vitamin D (#homebody) and a reminder that hey, you live in a world-class city. Get out there wit yo bad self.

Anyway. How are you doing? Are you still reading blogs and watching YouTube? I know I'm not the only person who's found that getting a job has taken over their life and are struggling to find a semblance of balance. If you've written about this, leave a link. And if you've experienced this and have tips, please for the love of god share them.

Until my next crisis,