Where to start? Well, let’s say that this is in no way AT ALL an unbiased review as I adore Marc Almond and would happily listen to him singing the phone book. Growing up slightly too late to have the seminal rite-of-passage-moment of watching David Bowie sing Starman on Top Of The Pops, perhaps mine was Mr. Almond as one half of Soft Cell singing ‘Tainted Love’.
Whippet-thin with eyeliner and with those bracelets, I was hooked.
Anyway. 32 years, a hedonistic lifestyle and a serious motorbike accident later and here is Marc on stage, alone apart from the brilliant Conor Mitchell on piano and singing his way through 10 songs, written by Mark Ravenhill especially with him in mind and based on Daniel Defoe’s tale of the Great Plague in London in 1665. Wilton’s is the perfect setting for this, intimate, grandly shabby and with an amazing history. If you can, go. Really, really, go, it’s not expensive and worth every penny and it’s on until the 18th. It is one of the best things I have ever been to. There are parts of it that made my spine tingle, especially at the end but I’m not going to say what as it would spoil it I think. It was SO good because it was so unexpected.
Just for fun – Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s banned video for ‘Relax’ was shot at Wilton’s. This is it, you can see bits of the amazing Wilton’s in the background as well as the young, lairy, beautiful Holly Johnson. It seems tame these days perhaps, but I say now – this IS the banned version, and there might possibly be things that might offend some sensibilities in there. There are certainly some things that we had to have explained to us as teenagers (by older teenagers, obviously. We didn’t really believe them, oh the naivety!). You have been warned:
Oh, and not only does Wilton’s have a fantastic cocktail bar (should you need any further encouragement), it’s also gone to the top of my list of ‘places to get married in if we ever bother’.
That’s Jim up near the start in Greenwich Park on Sunday morning. Bizarrely he’d declined my kind offer of holding out a TVR at the 22 mile mark in case he needed pepping up by then and opted for running gels instead. No accounting for taste, is there? There were a few other people there, too:
Whilst Neil delivered Jim to the start, Jen and I decamped to the Highway, as waiting there we had the chance of seeing Jim at the halfway point as well as around the 22-mile mark as he headed back into town towards the finish after running around the Isle of Dogs. The pics get a bit less reportage-like at this point as we were concentrating hard to start with on spotting Elite runners and then waiting to see Jim and hoping we didn’t miss him.
We’d also been given these at Excel on Saturday.
You can make an AWFUL lot of noise with laminated, concertina-d cardboard, it turns out. Especially if you’re yelling at the same time.
We saw the ‘WeirWolf‘, David Weir, swoosh past us in a very tight second place at the 22-mile mark, no pic as he was moving too fast and we were screaming ‘go on go on GO ON DAVID’ at him. Classy, me and Jen, you know.
We also saw Richard Whitehead, the astounding runner that we first saw when winning his 200m Gold (‘Gold! Always believe in your soul…’) medal in the Paralympics last summer. This is him going through the halfway mark:
Then we saw him again on the way back, at 22 miles. We were very excited at this, so much so that I might have shouted ‘David’ at him rather than ‘Richard’. Ahem. Still, he seemed to be enjoying himself, and unless I’m hallucinating he waved at us too (not caught on camera):
(he’s behind the chap in the orange, obvs.) Also spotted: Iwan Thomas, referred to as ‘Jen’s New Boyfriend’ all weekend as we’d seen him at Excel whilst we were fetching Jim’s number and Jen’d come over a bit all unecessary at seeing a person from the TV in the flesh (she doesn’t get out much, you know).
We also spent a lot of time shouting encouragement at other runners (whether they wanted it or not). If anyone reading this knows the chap who ran with ‘Stockport Dave’ written on his shirt then I shouted ‘Stockport Dave, Stockport Dave RUN’ at him both ways. He looked up and saw me both times, so if he wonders who the mad woman was shrieking at him at 13 and 22 miles that he’d never seen before, well. Wonder no longer. There was ‘Suit Boy’, who was running in a suit (obvs), a Captain Jack Sparrow (very close to the front and running well) and, sadly, several men in mankinis that we sort-of wished we’d not seen. Not a good look at the best of times, one can only hope that they were getting paid an AWFUL lot of money by friends and relatives to run in such outfits. There was also some chap who had supporters that had a sign saying ‘No Finish, No Vegas’. We liked that a lot. We hope he gets to Vegas.
But we were there for Jim, who finished in a super-swizzy fast 3 hours, 20 minutes and 11 seconds and raised more than £3000 for Refuge. So he gets the last pic:
(sadly we were all FAR too over-excited to think of making him move so that the background is not mainly taken up with a rubbish bin. Ooops.)
As some of you may know, the lovely Jen Arnall-Culliford has been a pal for a few years now, and we’ve met her husband, the just-as-lovely (and somewhat long-suffering, if you believe his alter-ego, @VeufTricot on Twitter) Jim Arnall-Culliford a few times too. So when we heard about Jim running the London Marathon for Refuge, we offered to put them up for the weekend and help in any way we could. Both Wendy and I are only just over the river from the start (well, in global terms) and both TBk households are seasoned Marathon spectators (this year was Wendy’s 15th consecutive marathon, I have chickened out on the years when the weather was bad…).
So, Jen and Jim arrived Friday evening. Saturday morning we set off to Excel for Jim to go through the final registration bits and pick up his number and microchip. Here is Jim in the queue for his number:
and here he is with his number:
no longer Jim, but Runner 45699! Have to say, the organisation at Excel was fantastic. Super speedy, teeny tiny queues. We did a bit of wandering around the associated exhibition, and then thought we’d pop over to Greenwich so that Jim could see where he’d be starting from. We thought we’d go the scenic route, so we popped onto this:
and ‘flew’ over the Thames. Here’s Neil (Mr. TBk) and Jen in the capsule:
and here’s the view just before we set off whilst waiting for our capsule:
looking back to the Olympic Stadium and The Orbit:
and back to the ‘flight’ once we’d landed:
We wandered along the Thames Path towards Greenwich, crossing from East to West along the way:
And when we got to the top of Greenwich Park, just outside the Observatory, we saw this little sweetie:
It was the coat that made me excited to start with (so cute!) but then we noticed the claws… Never seen a dog with painted claws before. Considered painting Iman’s, briefly, but decided that having functioning fingers was more important in the general scheme of things.
Anyway, wandered over to the Start, showed Jim where he’d be then set off home. Saw this sign at the bottom of the hill, which amused me.
Got home, Neil made fresh pasta for dinner to go with the ragu I’d made the day before (requested specially by Jim) – Jim ate rather a lot of it:
(ok, perhaps not quite all of that dish full), and then it was time for bed. I’ll tell you all about the actual Marathon day tomorrow, this post has been long enough I think. Just in case you’re wondering, that hoodie Jim is wearing is going to be a pattern available from Jen fairly soon… I think she should call it ‘In da E9 Hood’…
OK we may have wittered on before about food. We both like food. A lot. Belinda has become a bit obssessed recently with breadmaking. It began several years ago at a family lunch when an Ottolenghi salad was produced which had involved soaking wheat grains for a while before cooking them and these particular grains had been soaked for rather longer than strictly necessary (due entirely to laziness) and the joke was that they’d had to be cooked as they’d started fermenting. This led onto talk of sourdough bread and the fermented leaven ‘starter’ used for that.
At some point around this time the lovely MDK ladies were asking for favourite recipes in their comments and someone mentioned a book which gave instructions on 5-minute sourdough (ish). The book was purchased. Never quite got on with it. The book was given away. The idea was pushed to the back of the brain to ferment a while longer.
The Hairy Bikers did a baking tour of Europe on TV. They went to a bakery in Sweden that made sourdough. It looked not much different from the sourdough I’d made. I was off again. The River Cottage Bread book was bought. A starter was made. Said starter was christened ‘Henning’ – Henning Wehn had been on the radio and made me laugh, and I felt my sourdough should be vaguely Germanic (no real idea why, apart from it had rye flour in). Bread was baked. It was a bit better than the 5 minute book bread, but although it tasted nice it was a bit ‘slumpy’ and didn’t really look good. And it always stuck to the flour-dusted tea towel, no matter how much flour I used for dusting.
And as we all know, I am shallow and vain and like things to look good. Things I make anyway (she says hastily, in case you’ve ever seen me skulking round Broadway Market on a Saturday morning). Plus some fruit flies got into Henning’s container and he went from ‘fermenting’ to ‘mouldy’ and was disposed of down the toilet.
And then, for my birthday last year a fab friend bought me Dan Lepard’s bread book. The starter was different. Not as liquid. There were other recipes that used a combination of fresh yeast and leaven. A new Henning was born. Well, cultured. Hackney air must be full of goodness as standing by the back door whisking a starter is just about guaranteed to bring it to life within 24 hours. Dan Lepard has acquired ‘god-like genius’ status in our house.
So here’s the alchemy. Flour and water turn into this ‘blob-from-outer-space’ / ‘quatermass’ living thing (I love that the jar is so clarted up and scruffy looking):
Into dough (this one has a bit of fresh yeast in as well and cooked barley grains, barley flour and honey and is proving):
Cool, eh? Alchemy. The feeding and welfare of Henning is overtaking me. People are bored with me waving his jar (‘Man With Two Brains’-esq) in front of them and urging them to ‘look! No, LOOK! Sniff!’ (he does smell quite a bit, and it seems that only I love this). Everyone loves the bread, though. Tomorrow will be a sourdough day.
ps – I have no idea why the other books didn’t work for me as I know people who swear by them. Must be me. The only thing I have to alter from Mr. Lepard’s book is the cooking time, unusually it would seem my oven has no problem whatsoever getting hot enough to bake bread. It will never be cool enough for meringues, though, it doesn’t do cool. Just hot and hotter.
Ok, so one reason for getting so wet on the photoshoot at the weekend was to photograph our final (for the moment) beret pun, and also to get some pics of the Sca Fell Peak on a chap. Just to prove that a. it fits a chap and b.that it doesn’t look ridiculous on said chap.
So, we gathered our models, bags full of samples and assistants and set off. We were originally going to do this Saturday but had put it off because the weather was so bad so we absolutely had to do it Sunday regardless of the weather. Which was just about as bad as Saturday, so we still got wet and cold.
Our location managers (Wendy and her husband) had decided that Tredegar Square in Bow would be a suitable location. It was. Even better, after we’d got wet taking the pics there’s a fabulous pub, The Lord Tredegar (they don’t seem to have a website), in an adjacent road where we shuffled off to for a drink and a few indoor pics (the staff there were lovely and didn’t mind us faffing about in the least).
As I said, we were there primarily to photograph the latest (and for the moment, last) beret offering, the Newberet, a couple of jumpers that will be ready very soon and, as we have a chap available, a few pics of said chap in the largest Sca Fell Peak, just to prove that it looked good on a man. Here’s a closer look at the lovely Bryn in said hat:
Isn’t he fab? And he’s a very good cook, too. Anyway, onto the Newberet:
The Newberet is a chunky knit with twisted ribbing, moss stitch and stocking stitch. Wendy has finally stepped away from the pom-pom maker for a short while and resisted a pom-pom here, we just finished it off with a classic beret ‘stalk’ – basically a few rows of i-cord. It’s quite quick and perhaps easier than the Beret St. Edmunds as the moss stitch is gentler on the hands than the blackberry stitch with the chunky yarn. Still, we think that it’s really rather smart, proving that ease of knitting is in no way proportional to final stylishness of garment. We used Mondial Kross Chunky from Yeoman Yarns, but any fairly chunky yarn would work, Quince & Co’s Puffin might be a good substitute.
More details and pattern here (Ravelry link), TBk pattern page up later today. It’s going to snow again, knit yourself a beret, quick!
Well this is the last of our hat boards, we may add more later in the year.. this is a favourite or ours and Belinda has excelled herself with a very clever pattern of this bang on trend peaked cap.
It would be a great cycling hat, very apt in our part of London and a great accessory with an East London fixed gear bike. We have even added the lovely print to the board our Dutch friend Ton (cyclist extraordinaire) had of a vintage cycling cap which really looks like ours and Belinda spoke about last week… of course we had to add a small bobble. F.A.B!
The small picture of the edge of a coffee cup on a blue stripe cloth is from another favorite book of ours called ‘A Year of Mornings – 3191 Miles Apart’ which is a photographic collaboration by Maria Vettese and Stephanie Barnes who have taken some of the most beautiful photographs of their domestic lives each day over a year… take a look at the book, we find many of the photographs so inspiring and have many of them in our sketchbooks, especially good for colour and pattern ideas.
We really love the painting of this snow scene with pigeons, it’s the colours especially that inspire a great winter palette for knitwear. My friend Karl sent me this card a couple of years ago and I have kept it because I love the painting so much. It reminds me of frosty mornings in Hyde Park, London. (It also includes a black and white stripe which always hits the spot with us!) We then found a vintage cherry print which fits the story so well and makes for a strong set of colours, illustrated in these fabulous alpine yoke sweaters.
It’s still winter all the way for us but much brightened by a strong cherry red.
In the midst of Christmas celebrations here is our last 12 days of knitmas post. Days 10 to 12, and its getting trickier! Knew we should have stuck to 3 wise men!
10 shades of grey, it’s not that we love the 50 shades book, because we don’t! But we do love grey and have lots of grey yarn to hand, and we have more!!! Not very festive we know but its easier than shades of red
11 Ladies posing in lots of lovely knits. These are Wendy’s illustrations, watch for more of this work to come, she loves a doodle.
12 amazing handmade tweed British buttons.
Happy New Year.
With only just over a week to Christmas day here are days 4 to 6 of our 12 days with a knitting/TrueBritknit theme.
So lets explain…this week we have…
4 green silk threads
5 knitted rings (these of course are 5 different versions of our Hampstead Wreath, (How could we not put these on?)
6 ducks swimming on Victoria Park Lake last week, we know they are not knitted, but they are a very London Park thing.
Catch up with days 7 to 9 on Christmas Eve, then 10 to 12 on New Years Eve.
Yes, yes, I know, possibly the worst pun we’ve come up with so far! I’m sure we can do worse though, give us chance.
So, for those of you that weren’t punks in 1979 (or indeed like me, came late to punk) London Cowling owes much as a name to The Clash, although we’re not sure if the surviving members would wear one. Should anybody reading this know any of The Clash then please ask them if they’d wear a toasty cowl and if they would we’d be more than happy to pop over (if they’re still London-based, or close, LA might be beyond us) to take them a cowl each and take photos of them, dribble, witter inanely and be ridiculously shy in their prescence. But I digress. Here it is:
Even though we’ve only photographed it on the lovely Cara, it has been worn and fondled by real, blokish blokes who cycle who claim it is ‘perfect’ for cycling in. Sadly said cyclists have not been around during decent daylight hours to photograph them as proof, but give us chance.
London Cowling is knitted in John Arbon’s Knit By Numbers. It is amazing stuff that we cannot recommend enough and that we’ve used for The Titfer, the Simmonds Scarf, and two other designs still to come, a colour-blocked cardi for a chap in very manly colours and a sparkly cable sweater for women. It comes in 79 colours, so there should be a colour for everyone to wear their London Cowling in, plus this design only takes a single hank so at a RRP of £8.95 that’s a very reasonable price for a present. It should be knittable before Christmas as it’s on 6mm needles, but if you’re really pushed for time you could just buy the yarn and the pattern, print the pattern out and wrap them up with an IOU for the knitting (I may have done this before, hence my knowledge).
Just in case you are a. very young, b. have lived under a stone for a couple of decades or c. are not British and so might not know about The Clash, here is London Calling in all its greatness (and it is a truly great song).
Don’t they look smart?* They could have done with something warming around their necks whilst filming in all that rain on the river. More details and pattern links for London Cowling here.
*Yes, we know the popular image of Punk was ripped scruffy stuff and bin liner dresses etc. etc. blah blah but being well dressed never did anyone any harm. Quite a few Punks were very natty dressers indeed…