By Aislinn De'Ath

By Aislinn De'Ath
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Thursday, 22 September 2011

Falling in love again...

Oh Reader, today I fell in love so many times my head is spinning. I've got that hot flush of excitement that only comes when you've got a massive crush and I'm pretty sure it's the start of a beautiful relationship. It's going to be an expensive one though.

It all started when I was supposed to be writing another blog on cakes with the wonderful SJ *see the last blog*. I turned up to the station, just in time to get 3 texts and a voice-mail warning me that she was on the train back to visit her parents because she'd thought I'd meant next Thursday (bloody technology eh?). So I decided to spend my newly free morning doing a spot of shopping. I got a disastrous swimming costume from Primark (got home to discover a) it was so tummy controlled that it took half an hour to get over my thighs, b) the colour makes me look like an 80s exercise loon and c) the shape gets rid of my waist and boobs so I just look like a weeble's wobble) and then went to have a look round Selfridge's. And that's where it really began. First I went to have a little look round the underwear section. It was like seeing what I could be if I starved myself long enough and exfoliated more often. Agent Provocateur was amazing (can I have some of their silk stockings please?) but some of the leather contraptions were a bit scary. I even saw a pair of pants by Stella McCartney for £300. Who spends that much on something you put on your bum? Foolish foolish people. Then (feeling slightly less excited about my £5 Primark lingerie)  I went down to the clothes level and came across the Viv Westwood bit. The tailoring was sensational. I think the people working there started to get a bit worried that I was a bit wrong in the head, I kept moaning in vaguely erotic ecstasy over the gathering on the dresses and in particular one red tartan jacket (very Clueless). In the end I had to leave because I had a tear in my eye (mainly due to the prices, yikes!). So off I went to the food hall. Oh the food hall. It was like being in an even better version of Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory. There were so many options for veggies, sushi, proper cupcakes with real buttercream, massive meringues and Italian style deli's. There were so many kinds of cheese I nearly had a seizure. At one point I caught myself cooing at some asparagus salad. They even had a special american aisle where they sold kraft mac n cheese (which I so so nearly got) and the most amazing veggies you've ever seen. By the time I went to meet Kate at The Museum of Everything on the bottom floor, I was drooling. They had to mop the floor after I left.

Kate was unimpressed with how gobsmacked I was by Selfridge's (probably because she gets to see it every day) and promised me that if I liked Selfridge's then I'd LOVE Liberty. So we met up with Katy (confusingly similar names, very different people, both fabulous friends) and we went for an inspection. Reader, we got to the jewellery section and that's as far as we went. We spent 45 minutes looking round most of the room, then discovered an amazing concession by a woman names Annina Vogel. She takes antique and vintage jewelery (usually gold, hurrah!) and turns it into some of the most gorgeous jewellery I've ever seen. We literally stood there, alternating between gasping at the gorgeous charms and gossiping with the lovely lovely concession attendant for about an hour. It flew by. There was even a little penisandballs charm in gold! *I particularly wanted that one. You could say I had penis envy! Hohoho* If you want a look at how fab Annina's work is, you can check out her stuff here but I would recommend actually going to Liberty to see it, as the girl who runs the concession has a great eye and really knows her stuff. Plus, the range is a lot wider and there are some fantastic pieces not displayed on the site. Pretty much everything there is either a one off or severely limited edition, so much nicer than something off the high street like H.Samuels or Links!

Anyway, I shall be going to sleep and dreaming of a future where I'm rich and skinny enough to wear Stella McCartney pants under my Viv Westwood dress, eating some Selfridge's food and dripping with Annina's jewellery!
Night Reader!

Friday, 16 September 2011

The tour de cake avec SJ and Ash

Reader, today, one of my favourite make up artist friends and I decided to confront a problem that has far too long been the bane of those in need of a sweet treat in the London streets....Where is the best place to get a cupcake?

In recent years, cupcakes have become as trendy as knitting did for that brief period when Sienna Miller took it up, and so cupcake vendors have been popping up all over the place. Some are so expensive it's like buying something designer, others you have to queue up outside to get even a wiff of. High street coffee chains have got involved, it seems like everyone's jumping on the bandwagon and producing pretty little pastel coloured cakes. The question is, who does it best?

SJ and I agreed that a cupcake is one of those treats that is a break-the-diet, spend-your-last-pound sort of thing, which is why it's so important that when you decide to dedicate precious calories and pennies to them, you enjoy them thoroughly. So, we did a tour of 4 of Covent Garden's cupcake hotspots to find the best of the best...


1) Ok, so we thought we'd be fair and include the high street in this. After all , we're not exactly food snobs, most of what we eat is chosen by price rather than anything else. So a coffee shop like Cafe Nero that prides itself on it's fresh food had to be high on the list. We were initially drawn by the fact that it was raspberry flavoured, so were hoping for some kind of interesting sponge, but this one was destined to go wrong from the beginning. The staff ignored the fact that it was a cream topped cake entirely, shoving it into a small bag and slamming it down on the counter top so hard that we had to stage an intervention and request a special bag so we could carry it back to HQ. Despite the very impersonal service, we were initially quite positive about this one. After all, Cafe Nero is a great place to grab a bite to eat, their cakes should be pretty grand too shouldn't they? Unfortunately not. The first issue was that the base was so dry that it actually broke the knife we tried to cut it with. It tasted like a Madeira cake rather than a traditional sponge, and one that had been left out a while at that. They tried to lift matters with an unexpected layer of jam between cake and icing, which was a lovely novelty but sadly underwhelming as the entire thing tasted completely artificial and machine made.
Obviously, the fact that it was one of the cheapest of the bunch has to be taken into consideration, but lower price should not always mean lower quality, especially when from a well established brand like Nero. The unappealing cake got a pathetic 7/30 from us. For shame Nero, you have let us down.But worse, you've let yourself down. Go sit on the naughty step.

2) Next up was a shop that most of you will have seen if you've been in North London much, Candy Cakes. Anyone who has seen the shops will know that the cakes look gorgeous. Tempting and colourful, they make you think a bit of the scene in Hook where the lost boys imagine eating play-dough coloured feasts and it looks AWESOME. The shop was great. The service was lovely. The décor made us want to come back time and time again. It was so cheerful in there that we left with smiles (even though the shop assistant yet again smothered the cake in plastic...why do these places treat their cakes so rough? It's ABUSE TO SWEET TREATS!) When we got back to the house, we were amazed. How had the cake managed to stay in shape throughout the whole journey, wrapped up claustrophobicly in plastic, without even a dent? On attempting to cut the cake, we worked it out. The frosting was rock solid. I don't think it was butter cream, nor fondant icing, in fact, neither of us could work out what it was. The base was dry and chewy, it tasted like it had been left out all day and frozen the night before. What a disappointment. It felt like a real waste of calories, and as SJ said 'If I'm going to get fat, I want to get fat happy'. This was not a happy cupcake. This was a cupcake that had been through the wars, lost a leg in 'Nam, lost it's partner to it's best friend and was left with no money or family to live in a badly decorated bedsit. If we'd been eating it at the cafe, we would have taken it back. And we're English, we hate confrontation. There was a bit of chocolate cream in the middle but it was a bit pathetic, like a really past it prostitute putting on a pair of Victoria Secret knickers. And along with the terrible quality was the fact that at £2.45, it was the most expensive of all the cupcakes we tried! It was actually worse than the Nero cupcake, the only reason it has a higher score was the staff, who were very cheerful and inviting.

3. Two awful cupcakes in and we were feeling glum. What we had to face next was the cupcake that had got boshed up the most in transit, mainly because the staff had failed the customer service element of the test and instead of giving us a box when we asked for it, shoved it into a bag that was much too small. We even said 'no, we need it to look good for the pictures' and the woman manning the shop completely ignored us, smearing the icing everywhere. We were not impressed. We sat down and looked at the cupcake ruefully. Ok, so it had glitter, but it was all mashed up! The first two had looked really pretty, but tasted crap, it didn't bode well for the ugly cake of the bunch. But then, as we cut it, the smell began to infuse the room. Glorious banana and butter rose from the cake. As it fell perfectly in two, we couldn't help but notice that it had an almost heavenly ratio of icing to sponge. And then we tried it. Oh. My. Giddy. Aunt. Reader, I don't mean to be crude, but it was like an orgasm in a muffin case. The sponge had been baked with puréed banana, the icing was fresh and moreish. If Candy Cakes product had tasted like it was made a week before, with Ella's it was like it had just finished cooling from the oven. It melted in your mouth, and at only £2, we were highly impressed. The only things we would have changed were that it could have done with more toffee, given that it was a banoffee cake, and the service could have been more customer orientated. 
4) Finding Primrose Bakery was a bit like finding Eden. The staff were lovely, the cafe was like somewhere you'd take your gran and your agent, there were little things on sale and the selection of cakes was astonishing. We found it so hard to choose that we had to get two, the grown up's version and the children's version of the same cake. The adult version (malt and marshmallow) used Fluff instead of butter cream which was a lovely touch. The consistency was gorgeous, the flavour very subtle, although, if we're honest, a little dull. This could be because you're supposed to drink it with something grown up like coffee, instead of the squash that accompanied it for us. It tasted like it was good for you, high in fibre or something, and it wasn't sickly, which of course would be important for parents running around after small kids, as so many of the people in the cafe were. Now the children's version was a whole different kettle of fish. It was so gloriously chocolately that it gave SJ goosebumps. It was so rich that it almost tasted eggless. It was so sweet that it verged on sickly but didn't quite tip over the edge. We imagined that kids would start it but never be allowed to finish because the parents would keep stealing bits off their plates. And incredibly, it was at the same price as Nero, showing that you really don't need to pay a fortune to get good sweet snacks! Importantly, the staff also gave us a box for it, which is why, although technically Ella's cake was of a higher quality, Primrose Bakery defo wins it for us. Great cake, lovely staff and a wonderful atmosphere at a very reasonable price...We'll be back!

But don't stop reading Reader! That's only one part of the blog ended! The other thing I wanted to mention is that I went to visit the gorgeous Kate today, who is working at The Museum of Everything pop up exhibit in Selfridge's! It was pretty cool, lots of fabulous art work from all over the world, and of course the chance to hang out with Kate and get a free sticker was delightful. It's free entry (they ask for a £2 donation but they won't refuse you entry if you don't have any change) and it's a lovely experience so do give it a visit. The link is here. However, be warned, it is right next to the Christmas display. Yes, I know I said a couple of entries ago that I was looking forward to the season of cheer and pressies, but anywhere that has life size Santa statues and fern tree smells while playing 'I'm dreaming of a white christmas' in SEPTEMBER is surely a bit sick in the head? I had to rush past it with my fingers in my ears. 

On that note Reader,
p.s. Oh, did I forget to mention? SJ and I were modelling for Charles Fox before we did the cake extravaganza, hence her looking like a mermaid and me like a very glam giraffe!

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Hair today, gone tomorrow

Hey Reader! So today is a great day. Why is it a great day you ask? Because Reader, I just got my hair dyed and cut by someone that wasn't me, and wasn't done with kitchen scissors. As such, I feel seriously groove-tastic. I've got a bit of a swagger on, my hair is A-lister glossy and best of all, I smell of that really expensive coconut conditioner that they always use on you to tempt you into buying it *I never do, it may smell good but £25 for conditioner is uber crazy*. I also had a fantastically camp new cardie to wear to work. It's green and woollen and has a brown stag knitted on the back! The Lad can't stand it, he says I look a bit like the slow kid in the class, but I think it's gorgeous and very jazzy. I've had loads of compliments on it too!

Both of these lovely things are compliments of my wonderful mother, who paid for the hair and surprised me with the cardie last night. I am very lucky to have one of those mothers who likes to see me looking all glossy *she herself is a very glossy lady so I have been trained well* and knows that it takes a bit more moolah than I can afford to be glossy to her standards. As such, on occasion (usually when she notices I've been cutting my hair with the kitchen scissors and leaving my dye job so long I'm back to my natural mousey brown colour) she treats me to lovely things like hair cuts in proper salons and clothes that aren't second hand. In return, I won a bottle of wine for her and my dad tonight at work, and I'll do my nails properly *do all mothers hate chipped nail varnish like it's the reincarnation of Hitler or is it just mine?*. I'm currently actually having a bit of fun at work. Why is that? Because we have a competition at the moment to see who can sell the most add on mystery cases of wine at work. Whoever wins, wins a lovely case of wine, and I'm one of the top candidates for it. It tends to be a constant competition between me and my colleague Ryan, a very good salesperson who's just as competitive as I am, so we're bantering all the time and sneakily checking out each other's scores on the commission pages. It makes the day go a bit faster. Quite sad really that it takes a bit of competition to make me actually not die of boredom at work! In other news, I'm going in to record my advertising voice reel this Monday with my new voice agent, very exciting!

Hope you're well reader!

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Self discovery, liquid cheese and comics

Reader, I've had a delightful day. After a lovely lay in, after which me and The Lad chilled for ages reading webcomics and chatting in bed, we went for lunch at Ed's Diner with our wonderful friends from uni, Homeslice, Vicki and  Laura (a fantastic fellow blogger and comedian who you can read here). There we ate what can only described as liquid cheese. It was so liquid that even when cold, it didn't really solidify, it just turned into a neon yellow gazpacho. I'm sure I don't need to tell you Reader, that it was fabulous, and Homeslice even took his milkshake back to work with him to keep the awesomeness going. A little while later, our bellies stretched like pregnancy bulges, we went to the local comic book shops, where The Lad picked up a couple of comics from 'The New 52' Range.

 For those that don't know what that is (a group I fell into till he told me), those are a special group of comics for those who are new to it and confused by the many many complex story lines (like me. Spider man is black now but only in an alternate universe? What the friggins?). They sort of pick up at the beginning of a story arch and are simple enough for people to go 'aaahhh ok, I get it'. And Reader, I would seriously recommend them. You see, I love comic books. But I came into it a bit late. So while I have read entire series' of some comics (Like 'Y the last man' ohmygodsobloodyamazingitmakesmeweeabit and 'The Runaways') there are others that I'd love to read but I'm just too out of the loop. Like Batman for example. Now, I was brought up on the Batman films. I used to have a really creepy batman mask, complete with the chin with the dimple in it that I used to run around in naked apart from a towel-cape singing NANANANANANANANABATMAAAAAN!' (but that's a story for another day). I used to watch the cartoons. I dressed up as Poison Ivy for my first Halloween at uni and for my first Halloween out of Drama School I'm considering dressing as Harley Quinn. I've read all the mini comics based on the women of batman. But when I tried to pick up the batman comics, it was mid-storyline and trying to work out all the in jokes was just exhausting. Which is why reading the first of 'The New 52' series was a relief. It meant I could pick up at the beginning (and it was about the Joker, so safe ground!) but was a brilliant story, one that kept me really interested and excited about the next in the series. The Superman one (Called 'Action Comics') was pretty good, as was one I hadn't heard much about 'Animal Man', which had a particularly gripping cliffhanger ending. I'm also going to be picking up the Wonderwoman version when it comes out, so hopefully it will be as great as the others.

At the comic book shop, The Lad found something that thrilled me. A Fizzgig plushie (from the Dark Crystal film) complete with fully opening mouth! I've been told that giving that along with the DVD to my one year old Godson could scar him for life, but I'm still pretty tempted.

After that, The Lad and the lovely Vicki both had to dash, so Laura and I went and looked around some awesome old bookshops and the most gorgeous costume jewellery shop ever (Christopher St James in Cecil Court, Leicester Square, I will be going there for all my jewellery needs from now on) then on to coffee and gossiping. The great thing about Laura is that she's one of those friends that reminds me of when I'm at my best, quirky and fun and spontaneous, and it also reminded me of how it felt to be that person. It also made me realise that Drama School (although it was an experience that I would never ever take back because it was incredible) seriously knocked my confidence. I was constantly told to conform and stop standing out. I was told off because I wore kooky clothes and crazy shoes because it was too much of a statement about who I was, and in order for them to teach me, I needed to be a blank slate. I get that. I really do. But I think, now that education is over, I need to find myself again a bit. Because being a blank slate doesn't make me happy. I miss being the girl in the hooker heels and fifties skirt that rocked out to Abba on her way to work. So I'm going to find my style again and rediscover me a bit. I've booked an appointment to get my hair done for next week, I'm going to dress up for work tomorrow, and you know what? On the train in, I might even listen to 'Does your mama know that you're out'.

Anyway Reader, I'm off to sleep, won't be able to walk in those heels if I'm too tired!
Byesie bye