The Staves

Lovely, lovely, lovely.

In other news, Mama Fox is in LDN today, woo! She rarely comes down to see me as the Underground terrifies her (It took several phone calls before she felt sure of the route from Marylebone to Holborn – it’s four stops), and she is inexplicably more broke than I am. We have a fun day ahead of us getting free hair cuts and trying to find somewhere to eat in Central London that will accept Clubcard vouchers. We know how to live.

Hackney City Farm

Farmyard Friends! In the middle of Hackney!

I spent the entire time I was there intermittently squealing, and slapping Lady Fox whilst shouting “I WANT IT! GET IT FOR ME NOW!”

We saw pigs:

Miss Fox: “Silly Americans just asked whether the animals are for petting, or if they actually get EATEN! Ahahaha!”

Sister-in-law Fox: “Actually, I think they do get eaten. You can buy their bacon and sausages in the shop.”

NOO!

Some exciting breeds of chicken:

I’ve recently had a traumatic hair-dyeing experience which has left me with an unfortunate ginger halo. Lady Fox joked that this chicken “looks just like you!” I had forgotten to sulk about that, well reminded.

Some suave looking ducks:

 

Donkeys!:

And a goat friend that we weren’t supposed to touch but did:

Also, I tried to steal several dogs. And babies. I may be hormonal.

Tschuss!

Hackney City Farm
1a Goldsmiths Row
London E2 8QA

Telephone 020 7729 6381

The SkyMarket

Before we start, I should mention that the title is misleading. The SkyMarket isn’t exactly a market – well, not yet anyway: It’s actually a mini rooftop restaurant/bar with a little deli area at the back. Not quite what I was expecting when I suggested it as a friday night jolly to Lady Fox, but definitely a good find nonetheless. They say:

The SkyMarket will offer London its first rooftop market place where customers can drink, dine, shop and learn both night and day. A kitchen, bar, deli, art & craft gallery and performance space all under one roof- or should I say, on top of one roof!

We went early (a good idea if, like me, you rarely have the forethought to book ahead) and were seated straight away by one of the founders who, bless him, was a bit flustered and had to check with the waitress to see if he was doing it right (The other founder was busy saying hello to his Mum). The ordering system was slightly chaotic; however, they’d only been open three days by this point, so I’m sure that’ll be straightened out.  Our waiter was happy to talk through everything on the menu, and double-checked with the chef whether the dishes we ordered were suitable for vegetarians without me having to ask, which was a nice touch and elicited a larger tip.

So: the food. We went with the classic ‘can’t decide, we’ll have a bit of everything’ line of thought, and it worked out pretty well for us (well, better for me anyway. Lady Fox isn’t used to eating things with any kind of flavour, so I got to finish up anything that was deemed too spicy/salty/’pickle-y’). I’d give you the names of the dishes we ordered, but it was all in foodie-speak and, therefore, incomprehensible; also, the menu changes every week, so it wouldn’t be of that much use to you anyway. I will tell you that the green and orange boat in the middle was an ‘Acar Acar of pickled crudites’. Which is basically a veg medley. There you go; you’ve learnt something. Cue obligatory ‘Arsehole with a Smart Phone’ pic:

And an amusing shot of Lady Fox with some black-eyed pea stew, for luck:

And those cocktails? Who knew melon and pink peppercorns would go so well (them, obviously). The desserts – black rice pudding in coconut milk, and vanilla chocolate tart with grapefruit mascarpone – were so good that they were devoured, and then promptly ordered by the next table over before thoughts of taking pictures even entered our heads.

The SkyMarket:

The menu was small, but clearly very well thought through. The mains sounded good, and it would definitely be a seafood-lover’s delight, but vegetarians and picky-types should probably do as we did and stick to the sides. Or just order dessert. Worth going for them alone.

The Skyroom, Magdalen House, 136-148 Tooley Street, London, SE1.

Open daily (except Sundays) 12pm-10pm (Mondays 12pm-5pm), cooking and mixology workshops run on Tuesdays; Nearest tube: London Bridge.

V&A Victoria and Albert Museum

Probably my favourite of London’s many ‘must-see’ type museums, the V&A is a place I visit when I’m having a ‘why the fuck do I live in this over-priced, over-populated, misery-inducing shit weasel of a city that I don’t even like?’ moment (and, as regular readers will know, there are many of those to be had). The knowledge that I can jump on a bus and within the hour be surrounded by some of the world’s most precious artwork, for free, is a sure-fire way of reminding me of the benefits of big city life.

As a dual art and fashion obsessive, to me, the V&A is Mecca, the Promised Land, my ‘Happy Place’ (alongside Monkey World and Liberty’s fabric remnants corner). Endless rooms filled with more treasure than is possible for the human brain to adequately process should leave a person culturally drained, and yet I always leave excited, full of ideas for things to make and do and learn more about. And that seems to be the key to running a successful museum: plenty to inspire, but not so much as to overwhelm.

And that segues nicely into what I really want to talk about:

The Gift Shop.

A thing of such brilliance, it revives even this jaded pro-shopper.

As a professional buyer (or, at least, I would be if someone were to, you know, actually employ me), I am bored and disinterested in practically every shop I go into. The recession has spawned a stale homogeneity amongst the average UK shop that is equal parts frustrating and depressing; in short, everything looks the fucking same. Do not lie to me, retail giant: I know you made millions of pounds of profit for your shareholders this year; I read Retail Weekly. You can afford to push the boat out and try something different (you can also afford to hire more staff and treat the ones you do have better, but that’s another rant, for another time). You owe it to your brand and its customers to produce items that incite intrigue, joy, lust at a time when everyone is playing it safe lest they spook the already cautious shopper. In the wise words of Buffy the Vampire Slayer: “GIVE ME SOMETHING TO SING ABOUT!”

Or something to that effect.

Anyway, as I was saying before I distracted myself: The V&A gift shop. There are but a handful of items in there that I would not happily find house-room for. I mean, look at this:

Who wouldn’t want to eat their dinner while taking a perch on this chair (admittedly, your dinner will consist of 1 packet of Tesco Value 8p noodles, as you’ll be broke as fuck from spending £1500 on a chair, but still…)?

Or pop their little pudding in one of these pinnies?

And what sort of person wouldn’t appreciate an assortment of V&A print ceramic buttons?!

No-one worth knowing is who.

What’s more, they have recently launched their online sale. I feel an ‘it’s my money, and anyway it was half price so it doesn’t count’ moment coming along.