Category Archives: Shopping

MADE Bloomsbury Part 1

Another great craft show

We always enjoy Tutton and Young’s annual MADE craft fairs.

The show held in the Mary Ward House in Bloomsbury is the most convenient for us though we traipsed out to Canada Water for their excellent show in March. Perhaps one year we’ll go to Brighton for their show there and we look forward to their fair in Marylebone this October.

Set of generous sized mugs by Iris de la Torre


Now that Josh and I are 87 and 85 respectively, over the years we’ve accumulated so many ‘things’ that it’s hard to find something to buy. Our four children are near to their fifties too so they’re in a similar position.

Delicious Raspberry and Hazelnut cake

Our son Simon and his wife were coming for  tea before visiting the Hockney Exhibition at Tate Britain. Amy likes a generous cup ,so we were delighted to find these delightful mugs by Mexican-born Iris de la Torre.

I got up at dawn and made this delicious Raspberry and Hazelnut cake with a recipe from a John Lewis publication. This cake is  a family favourite. In there’s any left over it freezes well!!


Continue reading MADE Bloomsbury Part 1

Waitrose at Nine Elms, Battersea

Fresh Meat and Fish counter

I find the Little Waitrose shops unsatisfactory as they seem to specialise in sandwiches and ready meals – none of which I ever buy. And they always seem to be out of stock of the specialities I’m after.

Fruit and vegetables singly and in packets

The nearest big Waitrose for us is at Brunswick Square but it’s often difficult to find a parking space and the underground car park is cold and miserable. Traffic is often very difficult driving to the Kings Cross store.

Delicious-looking sushi

We were therefore delighted to find the new 18,000 sq ft Waitrose at Nine Elms which opened last November. It has a large easily accessible car park, a coffee bar – as well as free drinks if you have a My Waitrose card.

Situated in the rapidly developing new embassy district to which the US and Netherlands Embassies will be moving, once the rumoured 2000 homes are completed the store will no doubt be a mecca for foodies.

Sunshine and Showers and a Double Rainbow

Didn't realise thee was a double rainbow until I saw my photo
Didn’t realise thee was a double rainbow until I saw my photo. Just visible in the top right hand corner if you click on the image.

That’s what it’s like after you’ve had a heart attack, had stents inserted in two of your coronary arteries, needed an intra-aortic balloon pump and artificial ventilation – some sunshine, some showers and the occasional double rainbow. Good days and bad days and then the sun comes out and there’s a double rainbow.

Out of hospital a month now and trying hard to get back to a semblance of normality. Had to cancel my classes but still enjoy cooking even if I have to sit down during the preparation. Had a couple of trips to the supermarket with Josh but still get tired easily.


Gothenburg – a cook’s paradise

Our favourite cookshop
A cookshop a few metres from our hotel

Most of our favourite cookshops in London have vanished. John Lewis and Peter Jones still have respectable cooking departments, while those in most of the  other big stores have shrunk.

In contrast, not only were there large cookshops in the big stores within walking distance of our hotel in the centre of Gothenburg , but there were at least five independent cookshops full of ‘don’t need but must haves’!!

And even with the unfavourable rate of exchange the prices were quite reasonable . Perhaps in Sweden they don’t only sit glued to cookery programs on the TV but they actually cook!! Judging by the amount of space given to cake baking and decorating, the Swedes are into cakes and pastries in a big way.

Who’s for a curry?

Salad selection
Salad selection

Everyone seemed to have run out of my favourite mango pickle, so last Sunday we went to the wonderful Indian emporium in Drummond Street to get some. Didn’t have exactly the make I wanted but bought some Patak’s Hot Mango Pickle. I’ve tasted it and it seems fine,  but I haven’t yet  tried it with my own curry.

Hot food
Hot food

We don’t usually have a cooked lunch, preferring to have our main meal at night, but, since we would be in a street packed with Indian restaurants,  we decided to have a curry lunch.

Unfortunately none of our favourite curry houses had any clients – always a bad sign – so we went for a buffet lunch instead.

Scrumptious-looking fruit plate
Scrumptious-looking fruit plate

The salads were good, the hot food so-so but the fresh fruit not only looked great but each variety was special.

Now that so many street markets which had stalls which sold only  produce bought that day have gone, we’re reduced to buying fruit from supermarkets and it’s just not the same.

An enjoyable meal, and very reasonably priced, but I would have liked a hot curry! Time to make my own curry and try the Hot Mango Pickle with it!!


help yourself
Help yourself

Our local newsagent has decided to sell non-perishable groceries as well as newspapers, magazines, confectionery and soft drinks .

To make room, he moved the newspapers outside where any passer-by could take one and walk off. When I asked him he said ‘No. In this district it’s fine’, and I wondered about the petrol stations and other places where newspapers, barbeque stuff and flowers are on display out of site of the cashiers.

Are we getting more trustworthy?


Blue sky; blue sea
Blue sky; blue sea

Well the sun did shine some of the time, though it also rained some days – though it doesn’t matter if you’re staying with your lovely family, all busy getting on with work and school and Uni.

Made our usual pilgrimages to the Basque supermarket Eroski and across the border to Quiksilver and Carrefour. As usual had an excellent lunch at the Quiksilver café but for once didn’t buy any jackets there or bread flour in Carrefour.


Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

This year the MADE Design and Craft Fair was held in the Mary Ward House Grade 1 listed building in Tavistock Place. Founded by the Victorian novelist Mary Augustus Ward and financed by the wealthy philanthropist Passmore Edwards, it was built in 1898 as a settlement for the wealthy to improve the education of the urban poor. It is now a conference centre.

There was a wealth of different crafts on display – woodwork, wirework, pottery,  jewellery, clothing and more. Unfortunately by the time you get to your 80s you have so many ‘things’ there is little incentive to buy and we just admired the beauty and craftsmanship of much of the work.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

We loved the beauty and varied wood grains of the Shaker boxes by Murray Markovitch and have fond memories of the Shaker shop in Marylebone High Street we used to visit when we lived just round the corner – unfortunately long since gone, like so many of the craft shops in the area.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

An eye-catching display of wired figures was just inside the door with this leaping winged figure ‘Wishful thinking’ by Linda Lewin, whose website also shows off her silver jewellery.


Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

Amazing striped plates, bowls and jars by the ceramic artist Jin Eui Kim which he says are inspired by visual phenomena. We wished our cupboards weren’t already overfull of the ‘things’ we have collected in 60 years of marriage,

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

It was too early for us to have coffee and sandwiches or cake, but the food display in the café looked so elegant and appetising we were sorely tempted.


Delighted to find a Lakeland where it's convenient and easy to park
Delighted to find a Lakeland where it’s convenient and easy to park

Our son, Simon, says that we have too many kitchen gadgets but I don’t think that’s possible. For me it’s like not being able to be Too Rich or Too Thin!!

When I was cooking today, I realised just how many of the kitchen tools I use everyday came from Lakeland – including some they no longer stock like the little pyramidal plastic pots I use to freeze aliquots of lemon or lime juice or herbs. We were delighted when Lakeland opened a branch in Centre Court Mall in Wimbledon. Whatever we go there to buy we end up buying more.

Tempting Bowls and Plates
Tempting Bowls and Plates

Joshua didn’t really approve of the fact that though these bowls and plates look like Spanish pottery they’re made of Melamine – but who cares? We’ve had our recent share of breakages and I found the small bowls on the left irresistible!!


At Edmonton
At Edmonton

Josh decided he no longer liked the soup bowls we’d had for years and having four children there’s always someone to pass things on to.
We scoured the Oxford Street stores, found possible white embossed bowls in House of Fraser but weren’t sure.

Love it or hate it – ‘it’s only something we picked up in IKEA’ we say – but we rarely come out of IKEA empty handed.

Can you go wrong for 65p?
Can you go wrong for 65p?

We found some possible plain white bowls for £1.30p and some little glass dishes we’d been looking for at 80p each.
Then on the long, long walk to the checkout we saw some very similar bowls at 65p.
At £5.20 for eight they’ll do fine. After all, it’s the look and the taste of the soup that counts and we have soup and a cheese platter once a week. Shame the small cooked breakfasts we ordered were cold. Couldn’t be bothered to waste the time complaining.

When I lived in Petticoat Lane 1931-1956, during the week the stalls mainly sold food – fruit, vegetables, fish and poultry, but on Sundays you could buy a variety of small household goods.

Memoir extract from Chapter 2 Woman in a White Coat Part 1

On Sundays the character of Petticoat Lane changed. The market expanded to Middlesex Street, Bell Lane and the cross streets. There were stalls selling leather, clothes, crockery and linen, and there were always mock auctions. Continue reading IKEA RIDES AGAIN