A London lifestyle blog full of food, fashion, culture, craft, design and fun, and frolics. The Founder Poppy makes her way around London, armed with a camera, reviewing cafes, boutiques, hotels and fun, hidden parts of London.
Having moved out of our house for 4 months (thank you mum, for having us!) while we smashed up the downstairs for our side return extension… and then returning a few weeks ago to more dust than I have ever seen in my life (it gets everywhere)… then cleaning and cleaning and midwife visits and cleaning… our beautiful, bright, calm and peaceful nursery is finally starting to take shape.
Coco Mat by Naturalmat – it is the most breathable of their child natural fibre mattresses, made with organic coir (coconut fibre) for support and breathability, organic lambswool for softness and insulation, and the cotton mattress cover is treated with an OEKO-TEX® certified hypoallergenic treatment to protect against bed bugs, dust mites, mosquitos and moths. It’s hypoallergenic and anti-microbial – perfect for asthma and eczema sufferers…and chemical free, non-toxic and naturally fire retardant. IT IS A MAGIC MATTRESS
This is LM’s baby blanket from when he was a nipper. It’s so lovely that his mum kept it for him.
I always had in my mind the kind of room I wanted to create if I were ever lucky enough to have a small person come into my life. And when I knew for certain that my bump was REAL and not just doughnuts, I called my favourite baby sleep and nursery experts, Naturalmat.
If you haven’t heard of Naturalmat, and natural, handmade and organic products are important to you, then now is the time to hop over to their website or one of their showrooms, and fall in love with everything they do.
They have been handmaking the finest organic and natural mattresses in Devon for nearly 18 years. The natural fibres they use are breathable and cleverly self ventilating, which helps babies regulate their body temperature (meaning a more comfortable baby… so hopefully, more sleep).
I’ve always had an oven. But I’ve never had this oven. And this Miele oven became my bestie overnight.
The sort of bestie you’d give your last Rolo to. Give your door key to. A proper let-you-proof-read-your-texts-before-you-send-them kinda pal.
The thing I love best about this oven, which is from their Exclusive Collection, is that it’s simple. It’s not covered with knobs and buttons and fancy pants displays… it’s stylish, slick and instinctive. I have the manual, but I haven’t needed to look in it yet. (But I do know where it is. It’s neatly filed away in my new filing system, which fills me with joy every time I see all my files lined up like soldiers in the cupboard). (Is that just me?)
A couple of weeks ago I had the Poppy Loves Book Club team over for dins, to chat about upcoming books, authors, and how everything was going to work while I go on blogging maternity leave. Which apparently doesn’t exist. (It does now).
I made fish pie, which I’ve always loved and always goes down well… but THIS fish pie was a Miele fish pie… and it tasted…well, better.
Being pregnant is pretty great in so many ways, but it can also be a bit of a bummer when it comes to food you can’t guzzle for the duration. Luckily, I’m not much of a drinker so I haven’t missed that cheeky glass of wine or G&T… but what I HAVE missed are things like paté and brie. Ahhhh brie. I’ve missed brie so much I’m considering putting a slab of it into my hospital bag. I’d eat a wedge of it like an apple.
BUT, it really is not all doom and gloom at all, for there are plenty of cheeses I can still eat, and I have been taking full advantage!
Luckily for me there is an outstanding fromagerie down the road from me in Walthamstow. You may remember me singing their praises back at Christmas, when they helped me curate the ULTIMATE cheeseboard for our Crimbo shindig…
Not only do they have an exceptional selection of mouth watering cheeses and a cheese club (YES YOU READ THAT CORRECTLY – A CHEESE CLUB. LET’S ALL JOIN) but they also make the best cheese toasties I have ever had. And I have had a LOT of cheese toasties.
Before I go on anymore about the wonder of cheese, I’d like to address my passion for dairy. For it is a great passion and one that has always been there. I drink glasses of iced cold milk in the morning and smother my granola in yogurt. I am a cheese lover (you got that bit) and I WILL put cream on everything if you let me.
And I am not the only soul who goes weak at the knees for scones with clotted cream and hot toast with thickly spread salted butter, no siree. And because of this, a new department was formed last year to celebrate the wonderful world of dairy… and they named it, ever so fabulously, the Department of Dairy Related Scrumptious Affairs (it’s too good).*
In ‘official’ department style, the Department has launched a ‘whitecream paper’, (badaboom) which includes a range of proposals that aims to settle the debate around some of the nation’s best-loved dairy products. It is all very official and I rather fancy joining myself. I wonder if you get a badge…
What this very official department has uncovered, is that the humble cheese toastie is actually up there in the ultimate food porn list. People dream of them. And dribble when they think of them. And it’s no wonder. (See photos).
Interestingly, Wednesday is the most popular day for cheese toasties to be mentioned on social media (I’m certain this has something to do with hump day celebrations. “We’re half way through the week! Let’s celebrate with the ooziest yummiest thing we can find!”) and the optimum time to eat it is midday, followed by around 8 – 9pm. (Or both. *Looks at feet.*)
There are also over three times the amount of conversations about cheese toasties on social media, than there are about avocado on toast, so it is well ahead in the #foodporn league table, which is not surprising at all. (Again, see photos. There’s nothing else to be said. They’re ridiculously delicious).
So there you have it. Cheese toasties are blimmin amazing! It’s the combo of fresh crusty bread, exceptional cheese and sensational chutneys and seasoning…
My hat goes off to the wonderful dairy farmers who make cheese toasties possible, and if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to guzzle a toastie while I listen to The Archers – it’s the closest I can get to feeling like I’m on a dairy farm, while I sit in this gorgeous café in Walthamstow Village, watching the merry world go by…
MY NOT SO SECRET TOASTIE RECIPE
The BEST bread you can find
Slabs of mature, strong cheddar
Lashings of your favourite chutney (mine’s sweet onion)
ASSEMBLE INTO A SANDWICH
Put in toastie maker.
*Between the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) and Dairy UK
N.B All photos taken at cheese toastie mecca Froth & Rind
This post is sponsored by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) and Dairy UK. All thoughts & opinions are my own
You’ll have seen on my insta stories, that our renovations are now complete! But I really want to keep showing you the stages it took to get there… so this will be part 3 of 5 in total.
In the final instalment I will be linking back to everyone who’s worked on the project and of course to all the products as well.
This was the stage when it all started to become real for me and excitement levels really notched up. Floor tiles were down, brickwork was painted and we could really start to see how the room was going to look and how we might live in it…
The boiler was now fitted, underfloor heating was now in and WORKING (big exciting news this – no more freezing visits to the house in the middle of January!) and the fireplace was ready and waiting for our beautiful new Charnwood eco wood burning stove from Stoake… (and you’ll have seen plenty about this on my stories too!)
Extractor fan from Westin
We did so, so, SO much research on extractor fans. Trying to find one that didn’t feel like a massive lump of metal dominating the room was really hard, until we found this one from Westin, which sits flush against the ceiling and is operated by remote control!
It’s not a cheap option, but we felt that investing our money here, rather than on the kitchen itself (which was from IKEA) was a sensible thing to do. I am aware that people can spend thousands on kitchen cabinets, however because we knew we wanted plain, matt white cupboards, IKEA was perfect and saved us money that we invested back into our extractor fan and worktop… which is a whole other story…
Spotting new patterns and shapes of light around the room was exciting… I’ve loved learning all the new ways that our home would speak to us…
We were originally going to paint this wall grey… but then we changed our mind ;)
We love how the brickwork echoes the ply structure above…
Here are our wonderful architects and builder… more on them in part 5. I’ll be sharing all their details/websites etc.. Oh, and that’s Henry the hoover. He was always very busy.
As part of our building works we also put in a downstairs toilet. This was something I’d long been campaigning for, what with a small person on the way.. and also for us and our guests – and it’s not nearly as tight as we thought it was going to be! Choosing tiles for the downstairs loo was extremely fun – we went to Domus Tiles in Clerkenwell and found these beauties…
The main framework of the room was now complete, the concrete had been poured, the plumbing and electrics all done and the kitchen could now start to be fitted… which filled me with unadulterated joy. At this point I was really starting to feel heavier with my pregnancy and the urge to nest was kicking in… but I had to wait!
No nesting yet, Poppy… just a couple more months… ;)
Get your diary out NOW and put this exhibition in it NOW.
Oh you want the dates? It’s April 23rd – 28th. Yes, that’s next Monday until the following Saturday.
I’ve been long awaiting this exhibition and I’m very excited to tell you about it.
‘CLASS’ by London-based photographer Ben Katzler is a series of very special candid images taken during one day at the Bigando School in Masindi, north western Uganda where he spent time working with the NGO, Redearth Education to document their work in primary schools.
The photos included in this exhibition capture how these children spend their days at school, their moods, their routines and how they interact with one another in and out of the classroom…
“Having lived my whole life in the UK where we constantly hear about the shortcomings of state run education, it was remarkable to see how eager the kids were and the fulfilment they showed by being in a learning environment, even though funding may not even cover the barest of essentials like books and pencils. There was a collective desire and determination to learn. They clearly understood the difference that an education will make in their lives; an understanding which, sadly, most of their parents never had the opportunity to realise and one which so many kids here in the UK still have a hard time grasping.”
Not only is this exhibition by one of my favourite photographers, in one of my favourite London galleries on one of my favourite London streets, but it’s also supporting one of my favourite charities – Redearth Education… but more about them below.
A&D Gallery is an independent and innovative gallery on Chiltern Street in Marylebone. In its eighteen years, the gallery has offered works by major international artists including Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Tracey Emin, Jasper Johns, Jeff Koons and the photographer Man Ray… and now, the brilliant Ben Katzler.
“We are thrilled and excited to host Ben Katzler’s emotive debut show, ‘CLASS’ and are delighted to lend our support to the invaluable work being undertaken by Redearth Education.” – Helen Clarkson, Owner, A&D Gallery.
Redearth Education was set up to train primary school teachers in Uganda and the wider continent in active techniques and methodologies otherwise unknown in the region.
In the 132 schools where their programmes are currently implemented, literacy levels have risen from as low as 0% up to 80%. The drop-out rate of school children before they reach high school (nationally as high as 80%) has seen significant reductions in the schools supported by Redearth and this has been attributed largely to the new levels of and engagement shown by both the students and teachers. So you can see why I love it… and why I’d love for you all to trundle down to Chiltern Street next week and see Ben Katzler’s amazing work.
Just by coming you are showing support for this important charity. And if you were to actually purchase one of Ben’s beautiful photos, you’d be doing an amazing thing.
Also, Chiltern Street is one of the loveliest streets in Marylebone, so while you’re in the area, why not pop into Chiltern Firehouse for lunch or dinner? Or maybe grab a coffee at The Monocle Cafe… ?
I’ll most probably see you there – I’ll be popping into the gallery serval times during the week… and I’ve heard that The Monocle Cafe’s cakes go rather well with photography swooning…
St John’s Wood is such a pretty part of London. It’s calm and gentle and some of the houses make exceptional insta fodder…
For years, Panzer’s Deli has been the foodie & grocery hub of St John’s Wood, with customers as loyal as they come, and see more elderly shoppers who’ve frequented it for much of their lives. It had stayed the same for years and years… until recently, when it had an almighty (and extremely beautiful) facelift.
I popped in after hearing rumours that their smoked salmon was On Another Level… and I can report that the rumours were absolutely true. They now have a proper smoked salmon CARVE-TO-ORDER station, where you can choose how smokey you want your salmon to be.
I was heading to my mum’s for a special celebratory brunch, so made up a special Panzer’s Deli hamper, with lots of their amazing smoked salmon, cream cheese, enormous fragrant lemons, freshly baked bagels (yep, the real deal bagels) and lots of other delicious bits and pieces I couldn’t help but lift from their shelves…
(You may have seen my insta stories at Crimbo, when I filled a Panzer’s hamper full of the most unbelievably delicious festive treats… hampers aren’t just for Christmas, folks).
Amongst my family and friends, it’s not often that something , as well-loved as smoked salmon, gets the same reaction from everyone around the table:
“This is the best smoked salmon
I have ever had.”
And it really really is. I haven’t found one I like better and I keep going back for more. It’s addictive. I can’t get enough. It’s like crack. But legal. And not like crack at all because I obviously don’t do crack. (I don’t actually know what crack is).
But you get the picture.
For something as simple as a smoked salmon and cream cheese bagel to be THIS spectacular, means that the team at Panzer’s Deli really know what they’re doing when it comes to sourcing, storing and preparing. Hats off to them. All the hats. OFF.
Now if I could just arrange it for the Victoria Line from Walthamstow to go directly to St John’s Wood, I think that would be my life made.
p.s. THEY DELIVER!!
Panzer’s deliver daily to St Johns Wood, Hampstead, Highgate, Maida Vale, Belsize Park, Regents Park, Notting Hill, Paddington, Mayfair, Belgravia, Chelsea and Kensington.
What can I say, it’s been a busy year and it’s only April.
We have very very very nearly finished the building work in our house, we got married in January and decided to throw growing a new human into the mix, to keep us on our toes.
For the rest of our lives.
Last month, we realised that we were fast approaching the era when extended time alone – just the two of us – would change forever. We also hadn’t managed to get away properly to celebrate our nuptials (although we did have a mini one day London honeymoon the following day, involving salt beef bagels on Brick Lane) so we decided to treat ourselves and take ourselves away for a Babymoon AND Honeymoon at the glorious Scarlet Hotel in Cornwall.
The view from reception at The Scarlet
We hopped on the train at Paddington and picked up a hire car at Bodmin Parkway station, from www.cornwallcarhire.co.uk. They were there to meet us, handed us the keys to our snazzy sparkly car, and off we zoomed…
Our carriage awaits…
The Scarlet is a luxury eco hotel and spa, just for grown ups, on the edge of the ocean in Mawgan Porth. And it is unlike any other hotel I have ever been to, or ever likely to go to in the future.
As soon as we arrived, we were taken care of and looked after in the most lovely way. Sometimes I find that you can feel when people are bending over backwards to accommodate you, or perhaps in some countries staff are angling for tips… but at The Scarlet, it was as if you were being welcomed into someone’s home and all they wanted was for you to feel as calm and relaxed as possible.
Our suitcases were whisked away to our room, we were brought tea and biscuits (win!) and a member of The Scarlet team took us through our itinerary. I’d been booked onto their amazing Pregnancy Journey, which included a massage, a facial, a full body scrub, a guided meditation amongst other wonderful things… we also had a clifftop hot tub booked (they lowered the temperature so it was suitable for pregnancy), and I had a one-to-one pregnancy yoga session to look forward to.
Aside from all of these amazing elements, we still had hours of spa relaxation to look forward to in their Ayurvedic inspired spa, and we couldn’t wait to shimmy into our ropes and slippers and delve into our books and podcasts in the relaxation room.
With that in mind, we were shown to our room to properly begin our mooning… and it was absolutely spectacular.
You may remember that I’ve been working alongside the very clever Tea Advisory Panel, to learn more about my favourite beverage. And it really is my favourite. However, up until recently I thought tea was just something simple and delicious that sat in my kitchen cupboard…. Little did I know that this humble drink is actually a fully fledged MAGIC POTION with proper actual super powers.
I had no idea. Did you?
I’ve been finding out about how tea can actually contribute to our health. And not in a fluffy put your feet up kind of way, but in a Tea Can Change Your Life way.
The first (and one of the most exciting) health benefits of tea I’ve discovered, is the link between drinking tea and lowering the risk of alzheimer’s and dementia. There is new meta-analysis, published in the journal, Oncotarget, which has revealed a strong link between regular tea drinking and a lower risk of cognitive disorders. This is GREAT NEWS,
In fact, Dr Carrie Ruxton at the Tea Advisory Panel, said: “Tea, both black and green, contains plant flavonoid compounds that boost the health of blood vessels and help manage blood pressure. This helps the heart but also the brain which is the organ that consumes most of our oxygen and nutrients. Tea also contains some caffeine which boosts mental alertness and concentration, and L-theanine which is linked with calmness. All of these natural compounds in tea could help cognitive health.”
Importantly, the way you brew your tea is essential to whether or not the magical powers of the tea are released. And when I say magical powers, I mean flavonoids. (Impressed? You should be).
A new laboratory study has found that 2 minutes is the ideal brewing time. So be patient! It’s worth it. [TJB1] By waiting for these two minutes for your tea to brew, you are giving the black tea time to maximize the natural antioxidants. In superhero terms, this is like giving Batman enough time to iron his cape, warm up the Batmobile and brief Robin.
The study, conducted in Poland, tested different brewing times up to four minutes (I’m in the wrong job – I’d LOVE to do this!) and examined the antioxidant effects of black teas. At two minutes, most of the flavonoids – powerful plant antioxidants – had been extracted and the teas were displaying their strongest effects against FREE RADICALS (harmful toxins that attack body cells).
The magical powers don’t stop there – no no no. Another new study on tea suggest that top athletes should turn to a cuppa to help protect themselves from fatigue, inflammation and muscle damage. And although I’m not a top athlete (snort) I am definitely taking this on board for the next time I’ve hit the gym or done a pilates class – knowing tea can help banish fatigue and also my (very) tired muscles to recover is all the incentive I need.
The amazing world of science continues to show that my true love – tea – is super duper for our hearts, bones, vascular system and skin, no matter how old we are… and now, those clever researchers have also discovered that the fluoride in tea can also keep our pearly whites healthy by strengthening our tooth enamel and helping our toothypegs recover after eating.
Tea really is not to be sniffed at. It’s not just a delightful beverage to enjoy with cake and biccies. It has actual magical powers, amazing abilities and can keep us fit, healthy and ready for anything.
You have a superhero in your cupboard – don’t you forget it.
This post is sponsored by the Tea Advisory Panel and all thoughts & opinions are my own.
Singing has always been a huge part of my life. When I was small we sang as a family all the time – in the back of the car, on the way to school, in the bath (it’s how I learnt my times tables) around the piano or trudging through the woods… “we’re going on a bear hunt…” It all sounds a bit Von Trapp, but it really wasn’t. It was fun and silly and a way of learning how to express myself that worked, before I had a greater power of language.
At school I joined the choir and actually looked FORWARD to the big assemblies, which everyone else (I’m pretty sure, without fail) dreaded. I got to stand on stage and sing my heart out, accompanied by a slightly grumpy teacher on the piano, surrounded by friends all singing along with me… it lifted me up in a way nothing else ever did, which is how I ultimately came to study music at university in Liverpool, fall in love with Handel’s Messiah and Ray Charles, in equal measure and throw myself into community carol singing, whenever the opportunity presents itself.
Singing in a choir has always been my escape. My meditation. And has always been a way to meet other musically inclined people and feel part of something special, all while we charge towards the same destination – to get the song RIGHT, drink tea, eat cake (if you’re lucky) and forget about the rest of the world and its niggles.
The Choir With No Name is a charity that runs choirs for homeless and marginalised people. The choirs themselves are full of the most diverse bunch of folk; all genders, all colours, all cultures, all creeds, all ages… absolutely everyone is welcome.
The charity was founded on the premise that singing makes you feel good; it distracts you from the troubles and tribulations within your own life and also helps you to build up your confidence and abilities. It’s a way for people from disadvantaged backgrounds to come together and support each other, through music, through standing side by side and through creating something wonderful together.
About Choir with No Name - YouTube
They sing every genre you can think of – pop, rock, soul, gospel, reggae, musicals… you name it, they’ll give it a go… They have choirs in London, Liverpool and Birmingham – each choir gets together to rehearse every week and all come together at the end of the rehearsal for a decent dinner that’s provided.
They also perform regularly – see their gigs listings for more details on this! But for anyone that’s ever been part of a choir, you’ll know that performing is an integral part of the process. Having something to aim for, to strive for, to work towards as a team and feel excited about is so, so special. And the feeling after you have performed… “I did that. We did it together”… is indescribable.
The charity’s vision is that all people in our society will have a group of good friends with whom they can sing their hearts out. They aim to enable marginalised people to make friends, build their confidence and skills and find their place in society, and it is THIS that I believe is the crux of happiness and self worth.
“For many of our choir members the support of family and friends is absent. At the Choir with No Name everyone is welcomed and made a fuss of, regardless to their background or life story. Our staff, volunteers and members support each other’s endeavours, musical or otherwise. We also strive to retain our family feel with our supporters and friends.”
You can support this amazing charity in a number of ways, but did you know that you can support it (and hundreds of other charities) simply by shopping at Amazon?
If you’ve not heard of AmazonSmile, please allow me to introduce. Simply by heading to smile.amazon.co.uk, instead of what you’d usually type into your search bar, you will be met with exactly the same prices, but with the added and most brilliant bonus that Amazon will donate 0.5% of the net purchase price of eligible products (excluding VAT, shipping fees, and returns) to whichever charity you have chosen to support – and there are currently over 2000 UK charities!
The more customers that use smile.amazon.co.uk, the more charities will receive in donations from Amazon, all at no additional cost to the customer or the charity.
0.5% may sound like a small amount, but to put in perspective, AmazonSmile charities in the U.S have received donations of more than $69 million as of November 2017. *Chin on floor.* So, it really does all add up.
Importantly, if there is a charity you want to support, or you represent a charity yourself, charities can learn more about this and register to accept donations at org.amazon.co.uk.
I think this is fabulous initiative and I intend to toot about it far and wide! Please help me spread the word by using the hashtag #justsmile on any social posts you write, and I’ll keep my eyes peeled for them – can’t wait to see.
So I’m off to do a spot of shopping now and will be selecting The Choir With No Name as my chosen charity. And fittingly, I’m in the market for a new piano book… ;)
Which charity will you be supporting?
This is a sponsored post with Amazon and all thoughts & opinions are my own
Something happens when a group of girls get together. Especially a group of pals who have known each other for years… it’s inexplicable. There’s an energy, a total acceptance of each other, and that kind of relaxedness (is that a word? I’m going with it) that you only feel when you know that you are in no way being monitored, challenged or judged.
Even in my teens I was much more inclined to have an ‘evening in’ with my friends, rather than attempt to get into the latest club or search out the coolest gigs. I was always about the calm, the silly and the conversation.
Last night, I, and a bunch of my favourites escaped the snow (the weather is CRAZY!) and holed up at Danya’s in her beautiful house.
I brought food – she provided games… and there may also have been wine, prosecco (for the non- pregnant among us) and chocolates. Because obvs.
So often, when the girls get together for dinner, there’s a dash for the various takeaway pamphlets, and then follows several minutes of umming and ahhing and ‘what do you want to order?’ and ‘I really don’t’ mind. But I’d prefer it if we didn’t order that…’ and before you know it, it’s 10pm and your cold pizza has just been delivered, 2 hours late, by Mr Grump. Especially in London when it’s snowing, because it’s as if the world has ended. NOTHING WORKS.