A global field guide to shopping, style and hidden gems
est. 2007

Archive: Aug 2009

  1. A week of Kent: Broadstairs

    15 Comments

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    After our morning in Whitstable, we headed over to Broadstairs for an afternoon by the seaside. Following the excellent advice of @circeplum, we headed to Oscar Road Café for the freshest and most enormous doorstop crab sandwich I’ve encountered. (It was actually a difficult choice between that and the bucket of prawns and lobster rolls.)

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    Set back on a side street away from the bustle of the seafront, the café itself was completely charming with bunting and vintage-style décor. They also offered a small selection of retro-inspired gifts. We found a perfectly sunny spot under a tree in the back garden, where we quietly sipped ginger beer and experienced a little Enid Blyton moment.

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    The homemade cakes (especially the moreish Victoria Sponge) looked particularly enticing under their vintage glass cloches, but I was particularly keen to check out the legendary Morelli’s, which @IndiaKnight had tweeted about earlier this year.

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    The icecream parlour and cappuccino bar opened for business in Broadstairs in 1932 and was the first in the UK to offer over 20 flavours of icecream. It was refurbished in 1959, and it’s still resplendent in all its original formica glory, with Lloyd Loom chairs and a soda fountain now stuffed with kitsch plastic flowers.

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    Having been advised that no visit to Morelli’s was complete without a Knickerbocker Glory, I duly ordered at the bar and was served what can only be described as a sundae spectacle, topped with whipped cream, cherry, Flake bar, a novel teddy bear wafer and a French flag – all in a wonderful old-fashioned hand-blown glass.

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    As if that (and the location) wasn’t enough, the icecream was pretty damn delicious, too. (Londoners can visit the Morelli’s outpost at Harrods, which offers an innovative bespoke icecream service.)

    Outside Morelli’s, the vibrant delights of the Broadstairs seaside awaited. All that was missing was a Punch and Judy show and a couple of donkeys. (And I wouldn’t have batted an eyelid if either showed up.)

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    O
    scar Road Café

    15 Oscar Road
    Broadstairs, Kent CT10 1QJ
    Tel. 01843 872442
    Opening hours:
    Thursday to Friday 10.30am-5pm
    Saturday 10.30am-5.30pm
    Sunday 11.30am-5.30pm

    Morelli’s
    14 Victoria Parade
    Broadstairs, Kent CT10 1Q

  2. A week of Kent: Sundae Sundae

    12 Comments

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    Just a couple of doors down from Frank on Harbour Street is the utterly irresistible Sundae Sundae, a retro seaside shop with a self-styled ‘'ice cream delicatessen’. It’s a delightfully kitsch celebration of nostalgic British summer-time, stocking a fanciful selection of brightly coloured buckets, spades and ‘proper’ seaside toys.

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    It’s the range of weird and wonderful icecream flavours that catch my eye, like raspberry cheesecake, crème brulle, lavender sorbet, stem ginger and cracked pepper. For an extra-special treat, your scoops can be served in plastic sailing boats, complete with a little sail.

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    The various flavours are all-natural and sourced from small British farms, some as far away as Yorkshire. But the more experimental flavours are made in-house, like the fresh basil icecream, which is apparently very refreshing on a hot summer’s day.

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    There’s also a tasty line-up of retro English sweets, including the ever-popular flying saucers, love hearts, Dip Dabs, Whitstable rock, sugar mice and (my favourite) Tunnock’s tea cakes.

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    Towards the back of the store you’ll find a charming collection of vintage crockery and ephemera, like old Beano mags, vintage annuals and retro sundae glasses. I couldn’t resist the vintage saucy postcards, the ultimate seaside souvenir.

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    Out the back garden, there's everything you could possibly need to kit out the beach hut of your dreams, right down to the vintage oars and old fair signs.

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    It’s a little bit Beach Blanket Bingo, British style.

    Sundae Sundae
    62 Harbour St
    Whitstable, Kent CT5 1AG
    Opening hours: Variable, but usually 11am to 6pm (and sometimes ‘til 8pm if it’s a scorcher)

  3. A week of Kent: Frank

    19 Comments

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    I’ve been meaning to post about the weekend I spent in Kent earlier
    this summer, when my parents were visiting the UK for a couple of
    weeks. It was by far one of the easiest breaks I’ve ever organised,
    mostly due to the fact that there was little to no organising on my
    part. My parents arrived with a well-researched itinerary, and I was
    also inundated with some extremely good tips when I called upon the UK
    Twitterati for advice and help (thanks to @circeplum, @cassandracastle, @indiaknight, @maggieA, @I_Like, @LibertyLndnGirl).

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    On Saturday morning we headed to Whitstable, a seaside village most
    famous for oysters. At just 80 minutes by car from London, it’s the
    perfect destination for a weekend break or day trip. The New York Times
    visited earlier this year, so if you’re thinking of doing the same, you may want to look up their  suggestions on where to eat,
    including the “obligatory” Wheelers Oyster Bar, as well as The
    Sportsman, which was awarded a Michelin star.

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    But I’m here primarily to check out Frank, a former oysterman’s cottage
    on Harbour Street housing all manner of gorgeous British-made crafts,
    design and homewares. I’d heard some exceptionally good things about
    the shop, which is the brainchild of illustrator Mary Claire Smith and
    photographer Rob Weiss.

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    It’s the type of place that crafty-peeps only dream about, and people
    on a gift-buying mission will not be disappointed. On my visit I was
    greeted by a (very appropriate) bird display in the window, featuring Hannah Turner’s retro-style ceramic birds (from £28), Hannah Waldron’s vibrant canary prints and Abigail Brown’s super-sweet Matchbox Tweeters.

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    There are goodies crammed into every corner and hanging from every
    nook, but it has an overall feeling of space and airiness, befitting
    its breezy harbour-side location. It’s hard to pick favourites, but you
    might like to keep an eye out for Becky Crow’s
    copper fox brooches, Claire Fletcher’s handpainted children’s
    tambourines, and Cornelia O’Donovan’s softies made from Whitney vintage blankets.

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    If you’re after some locally-made handcrafts, make a beeline
    for Kate Erbe’s handknitted angora dogs (£19.50), Keith Brymer-Jones’
    milky-toned hand-thrown ceramics (from £7.70 for a jug), and Heidi
    Butter’s laser-cut jewellery.

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    There are more surprises to be found in the garden out the back, where
    you’ll find potted succulents in teacups amongst a range of outdoor
    decorative items.

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    And upstairs there’s a very cute holiday flat for
    rent – ideal for a sunny weekend or mid-week getaway by the sea. But if
    you can’t make it to this lovely wee corner of the world, some of the
    loveliness can be found on their online shop.

    Frank
    65 Harbour Street
    Whitstable, Kent CT5 1AG
    Tel. +44 (0) 1227 262 500

    Opening hours:
    Monday-Friday 10.15am-5pm
    Saturday 10.15am-5.30pm
    Sunday 11am-5pm

  4. Shopping in London: V&A shop

    17 Comments

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    Over the past couple of years I’ve posted quite a lot about my favourite bits and pieces from various London museums and galleries, but I’ve never delved into any great detail about the actual shops themselves. So naturally, that’s about to change…

    It’s a given that any gallery-goer’s journey will end in the designated shop space – in fact their presence (and the promise of a toy dinosaur) has been used as the proverbial dangling carrot to get many a child through the tedium of an exhibition itself. But some of the world’s greatest and most-loved museums and galleries (New York’s MoMA, London’s Tate Modern, Design Museum and the V&A) have evolved in such a way that their shops are a retail (and tourist) destination in their own right.

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    I must confess that I’ve been guilty, on more than one occasion, of making a specific gift-buying dash to the V&A shop, without so much as a peep in at any of the permanent collection galleries (I know, shameful behaviour!). But that’s because the V&A, in particular, offers up an expertly-edited line-up of gifts, accessories, books and children’s toys – all perfect candidates for being packaged up and sent away to friends and family far away.

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    There's also a dedicated bookshop, with subjects spanning the worlds of design, art, fashion, textiles, jewellery, photography and architecture. And they always have an extensive range of the most gorgeous cards:

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    The website is also an excellent source for all manner of design-led products and accessories, and autumn/winter’s new collection has just arrived online. I’m loving the cherry brooch by Francoise Montague, squirrel ring box by Jonathan Adler, and chirpy cicada brooch.

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    There's also a really lovely selection of luxe hairbands and headpieces, like this little pleated beauty

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    The shop is also particularly good when it comes to accessing a clever range of kids’ toys, games and activities, starting at pocket-money prices. I’m particularly fond of the vintage-style wind-up tin toys, like this circus elephant, and these Clifford Richards cat and fairy notebooks.

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    The V&A also have a brilliant prints service, where you can order any print from their vast collection in the size, format and paper of your choice.

    Also keep an eye out for pieces from the Cherry on a Cake collection, a brilliant line of limited edition designer collaborations, making them perfect (read: non-crap) souvenirs for tourists and London newcomers alike. Inspired by the museum’s extensive collections, you can take your pick from a stunning Grayson Perry doll (at a super-cool £4000, wow) or a Concise Book of Patterns necklace by Comfort Station. Art and history has never been so wearable.

    The V&A Shop
    Victoria and Albert Museum
    Cromwell Road
    London SW7 2RL
    Tel. 020 7942 2687
    Nearest tube: South Kensington
    Click here for a Wee Birdy map.

    Opening hours:

    Monday to Sunday 10am-5.30pm

    Late night every Friday until 9.45pm