I came across Chris Eckersley’s beautifully designed ‘byrdhouses’ when he was exhibiting, along with Ella Doran and Sharon Elphick, at the Chelsea Flower Show this year. His collection of geometric steel nesting boxes are zinc-coated to prevent rust and powder-coated in a delightfully vivid palette of pastels and bright oranges. All metalwork is handmade by metal craftsman Billy Jefferson.
He was originally inspired by the quirky birdhouse set created for The Byrds when they appeared on Amercian TV in 1965. (Which makes them doubly-awesome in my books.) Check out the clip below of Mr Tambourine Man… ahhhh.
Anyone who's spent a little time in my company knows that I fully appreciate the finer qualities of a well-made, full-bodied Bloody Mary. I won't linger on the makings of the perfect Bloody Mary, suffice to say that it usually comes down to good quality tomato juice (and vodka), as well as just the right balance of Worcester sauce, chilli sauce/Tabasco, salt and pepper. And a deft squeeze of lemon is crucial. Too much lemon can be a great Bloody Mary's undoing. Same goes for too much ice (watered-down spicy tomato juice is not very pleasing).
I've had quite a few excellent Bloody Marys in London (The Wolseley, The Narrow, and The Diner) but I love visiting Automat on a late Saturday morning, usually following a prolonged tour of Dover Street Market. May I suggest that the Bloody Mary goes down particularly well with the classic Automat burger, which comes complete with pickle and a side-serving of fries. Very pleasing, indeed.
A few weeks ago I was researching a story forTime Out magazine on the best shops in Barcelona, so I sought the advice of a few very clever, in-the-know crafty bloggers. One of them is Eva Monleón Cifo, (aka Misako Mimoko) a multimedia designer who also handcrafts rag dolls using vintage fabrics.
I really love her vintage-toy-inspired creations, which have are characterised by a rather joyful, free-spirited and unfinished quality. These are just come of her little people, which are all available to purchase from her Etsy shop. So lovely.
And if you like embroidering yourself, you might like to download one of Eva’s free patterns – go to her blog post here. (And thank you Eva for all your brilliant Barcelona shopping tips!) I'll be posting about a couple more Barcelona bloggers – and their wonderful Etsy shops – over the next couple of weeks, so stay tuned.
This wee wriggly worm is actually a limited edition, gold-plated pin, shaped like the river Thames. Designed by Kit Grover exclusively for the London Design Museum shop, it is also reflective of the folkloric bent pin, which has been used as votive offering in many cultures. Thousands of bent pins have been found on the Thames foreshore and down hundreds of London's holy wells, which were thrown into the water to grant wishes or to allow a safe crossing. Great value for a unique London souvenir.
I’m a real sucker for nostalgic sweet shops, and Suck and Chew on Columbia Road is no exception. Look out for the pillar-box red shopfront if you’re visiting on flower market Sundays and you’ll be treated to old-retro favourites like Rhubarb and Custards, Cola Cubes and Rosy Apples.
There’s also a delectable selection of handmade organic chocolate truffles from Norfolk (I love the champagne and strawberry) as well as some unique retro-inspired gifts, like Beano and Dandy tea-towels (£7.99) and blackboard mugs (£4.50).
Keep an eye out for the vintage cards, Ladybird books and chocolate tins (from £5), as well as the adorable Topsy and Tim badges (£1.50). Fans of the area should also seek out the ‘I heart Columbia Road’ badges (75p).