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Latest Loves: 18.7.14

Last year, I was at the Real Food Market on the South Bank and ate from a stall called Doukan. Now, it turns out that Doukan has a restaurant in Wandsworth and ever since that day I've been meaning to pay them a visit to try more of their delicious Moroccan food. Earlier this week was that day, and I was impressed once again. The service was lovely and friendly, and the food was incredibly tasty. We took advantage of their mid-week offer and had canapes, a glass of champagne, three yummy courses and a bottle of house white wine for £30. Yes, £30!! We'll definitely be back!

In under two weeks time, I'll be heading to a secret location in London to take part in Secret Cinema's Back to the Future experience, which obviously means I need a suitable outfit for the occasion! I love these 50's dresses from Lindy Bop and will be wearing their Yvette Parisian style dress, with petticoat, on the night. What do you think?

Jack is back! Well, he was - earlier this week the final episode of 24: Live Another Day aired. Set in London, it's not always been the most faithful to London life - as if you could honestly drive from Waterloo to Charring Cross in under four minutes and make it on to the Tube - but it's still been quite the ride.

Ever since I worked at UNICEF and discovered Pho, it has been a firm favourite of mine. I'm in Farringdon at the moment, doing some social media consulting work, which means I'm making a trip to Pho once a week for Vietnamese tastiness, collecting my loyalty stamps so I can get my second bowl and ladle... Upon finding out that they no longer offer this, Pho very kindly sorted me one out anyway. Thank you Pho!

What are your latest loves? x

Urban Art Fair 2014

Art is something we buy to fill our walls and brighten up our homes, but it's not something you can just go out and buy. It shouldn't be forced - if you like a piece, you like it - which might mean you'll be waiting quite a while to fill a space on a wall!

This weekend the South London annual art fair came to our neighbourhood, and we decided to go along to see if we could find something we liked.

This is the fifteenth year the fair has been running, but was our first time - we were away last year when it was on, and we weren't quite sure what to expect!

Paintings and prints are hung up all over Jospehine Avenue, and off the side streets. I love the art made from stamps (top left) by Gary Hogben, and the vibrant colours in the paintings (top right).

My favourite painting was the colourful acrylic (far left, above) by Stephanie Wilkinson - at £760 in the sale though, it sadly didn't make it home with me. Maybe one day!

I absolutely loved these simple colourful paintings by ONYN. We picked up three hand-painted pieces for £30, and from the stall next door we got three signed prints by Luiz Penze (this one, this one and this one) for £10.

We also picked up limited edition prints by Lewis Campbell - his Lost Monkey art is awesome, and these two prints cost £20 each. The top one depicts Brixton (Olly's favourite), whilst the bottom one (my favourite) shows London landmarks taken over by robots, UFOs and monsters. 

Graffiti artists were there, working on a train and canvases - these will be displayed in Brixton Square next week. There was definitely an atmosphere on Josephine Avenue yesterday, and I imagine it will also be like that today!

We'll definitely be back next year, but if you're free this afternoon and want to see (and maybe buy) some great art, the Urban Art Fair is on until 6pm at Brixton's Jospehine Avenue [Map]. x

Fashion: Shopping spree

Call it research (you've read Kept and know of Arielle's love of fashion, right?) but last week I went on a bit of a shopping spree. I was also very good and cleared out my wardrobe - no one actually needs thirty cardigans, do they?

I've bought too much to share, but here are some of my favourite purchases:



 
 

 


What do you think? Have you picked up any bargains in the summer sales? x

The best (and worst) opticians out there

I was thirteen years old when I was first told I needed to wear glasses so I could see the board at school. So, off I went to SpecSavers, and then continued to sit at the back of the classroom not being able to see the board. (I used to copy the notes from whoever I was sat next to rather than wear my specs!) Fast forward a year or two later and suddenly half my class were wearing glasses so it didn't seem as bad and I reluctantly began to wear them. (Ah, to be a teenage girl again!)

When I turned sixteen, that meant contact lenses, and it was back to SpecSavers to get sorted out. There was something lacking with the service I got there - they were pretty crap, to be honest - so I switched to Boots. Boots was fantastic service-wise, but bloody pricey... so I switched to ASDA.

Yes, ASDA have an opticians service, and I've been with them for many years now. I get a three month supply of my Bausch + Lomb PureVision lenses for the same price Boots used to charge me for one month's worth, plus the last time I needed new glasses I picked up two pairs of Missoni frames for £99 from ASDA. A-mazing! (Those glasses above are pretend by the way - I don't like wearing my glasses out in public because I have an irrational fear of somehow losing them and then being completely blind - eek! Contact lenses FTW, and maybe one day eye laser surgery!)

Every year I've headed back to Yorkshire to visit my opticians because, quite frankly, I like the service I get. But, this year I decided that I would get the sight test and contact lens check-up done in London and then order my lenses from ASDA online. However, when I phoned up Vision Express I was told it would cost £63 for my tests - ouch! To put that ouch into context, the brilliant thing about ASDA is that the contact lens check-up is free if you purchase lenses from them, and my sight test has never cost more than a tenner. You can also order the lenses online, so you don't even have to head back to the store to pick them up.

After checking the trains and finding a return journey to Yorkshire for £36.40, I've decided to stick with who I know. They know my eye history, £36.40 is cheaper than £63, I can visit my family at the same time, plus I'm getting a service that I know will be brilliant. I don't know why I ever decided to look elsewhere.

Who do you use for your eye healthcare? x 

Monty Python Live (Mostly)

Last week we went to the opening night of Monty Python Live (Mostly). Now, Monty Python haven't performed live in 40 years, so the announcement that they were doing one show, and one show only, caused a bit of excitement - tickets sold out in 42 seconds.

We were obviously super duper thrilled to snag tickets, only for the Pythons to then announce that they were doing more dates. In fact, the last show on July 20th will be broadcast live in cinemas and on Gold - typical, but not unexpected if we'd have thought about it and not got caught up in the mania!


Now, I have to confess, whilst I do know Monty Python and the Holy Grail extremely well, and Life of Brian a little bit, I don't really know the TV sketches at all, which is what the show centres around.


Some people sat near us clearly knew the sketches inside out as they were giggling and tittering as soon as the Pythons walked on stage in their various costumes, without a single word leaving their mouths or a facial expression being pulled.


Others avid fans rocked up in costumes in tribute to their icons, and their excitement in the air was palpable.


The O2 is a big venue, and with one Python down (five to go) as they declared themselves, it meant that they couldn't do their comeback/farewell show alone.


There's a musical feel to the production with the supporting cast, and it's a bit Love Never Dies at times with the use of video throughout. 


Old sketch clips and animations from Terry Gilliam make up at least 50% of the show, if not a little bit more, and some of the "new" material did feel dated in 2014.


But, a lot of the old material rehashed was simply superb. The "Four Yorkshiremen" was definitely my favourite sketch of the show, and it was lovely to see John Cleese cracking up at times when trying to deliver some of his lines. In a way, this added a personal touch to a show which quite easily could have felt impersonal because of the vast venue it was performed in.


Stephen Hawking and Brian Cox featured in one of the videos, whilst Stephen Fry made an appearance in person, though I'm not sure if that was a one-off for the opening show, or whether other guests are involved each night.


The show ended with, what else, a good old sing along to Always Look on the Bright Side of Life. I'm pleased we went to see it, though I suspect it was always going to be a show for the die-hard fans rather than the likes of me.

I'd have loved it more if a few of their film sketches had been worked into the show and the price had been a bit cheaper (our tickets were £95 each) but, regardless, it was enjoyable to see a British institution that is, rightly so, revered.

Are you a fan of Monty Python? x

SimplyCook: Cod and chorizo broth

You may remember back in 2012 that one of my resolutions for the year was to cook more and I've definitely come a long way since then. So much so that nowadays it feels like I'm repeating my repertoire a bit.

After spying a sponsored post for SimplyCook on Facebook, I decided to give them a go. (See, social media advertising works sometimes!) The premise of SimplyCook is that every month they send you a box which contains four recipe cards and four ingredient kits - no recipe takes longer than 25 minutes to cook.


Each recipe serves two people, and it should cost between £3-£6 per person to buy the other ingredients. It sounds like a great way to cook some new recipes during the week when we don't have time to spend a few hours cooking, although the value is something I will be questioning.

I decided to make their cod and chorizo broth first. It cost about £6 for the other ingredients, though Sainsbury's had offers on at the time on the cod and chorizo. I never consider the cost of the meals we cook but this is one of the selling points of SimplyCook. The kit costs £10 per month, which is £2.50 per recipe, but the first box is half price. This discount made the cost of the meal around £3.60 each.


The recipe was very easy to follow, though I would have made a few tweaks to the running order. For example, they tell you to cook your chorizo right at the beginning but I would do that last. I would also check cooking times on the food you buy - the recipe suggested putting the cod in the oven for ten minutes whereas the packaging said it needed cooking for fifteen minutes. Since it was fish I was dealing with, which I rarely cook, I decided to follow the packaging and not the recipe.

The result was a dish that I probably wouldn't have done off the top of my head, and a tasty dish at that. I loved the cod and chorizo combo, and there was a real warmth to the dish. The broth was very rich, but very delicious, and it got me to use cannellini beans, an ingredient I wouldn't usually have in my kitchen cupboard.


One of the ingredient pots sent was chicken stock to make the broth, and I'm curious to see how this dish would compare if I made it again and used my own chicken stock, herbs and spice mixes. Until I do that and make the other recipes, my verdict is still out.

SimplyCook looks promising based on my first impression. If I order a second box though, I'm glad I'll be able to pick which recipes I want them to send me as I'm not looking forward to trying out one of the recipes they sent me!

What do you think to the idea? x

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