| What I Wore | Wooliest Time of Year

Hiro bought a pair of wool trousers from 2 X H Brothers in the January sales. They turned out to be a tad small for him and he was very disappointed about that. But they fit me comfortably well so, instead of returning them, he let me keep them. I am delighted with them. They are made of wool and are lined throughout and they are the warmest trousers I have ever worn. When I wear them, my legs feel like they are walking in a different season to the rest of my body.

I've always liked wearing mens clothes.  I think menswear is one of the most constant elements of my evolving sense of personal style. 

P.S. I must tell you about this curious section of East London we accidentally walked into soon. Rows and rows of neat looking red brick faced houses and of course, one stunner of a tower block. 

| Details |

Trousers from 2 X H Brothers
Fine knit Merino jumper from GAP 
Adidas Superstar trainers bought in 2008 

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| Shop | Botany

BOTANY is a little shop on Chatsworth Road, Hackney. It is also near the hospital where I have to visit for my dreaded regular check-ups. 

These days BOTANY has become more than just another shop to me, for passing through its doors inspires me to abandon my prickly mood outside and I feel right again. Its a nice place to reset my mind after each hospital visit. There is a good air here. It is a nice place to just breathe in the good vibes proliferated from Angela's creativity and the  thoughtfulness shown in her carefully selected and lovingly tended for plants. I think she's created a moment of magic here, and rather selfishly, I am so glad that it is where it is.

BOTANY is an independent lifestyle shop founded and run by Angela Maynard. In her own words BOTANY is;

"Inspired by nature & simple living.....Here you’ll find a carefully curated selection of ethically sourced hand-crafted homewares, organic skincare products, stationery, paper goods and other objects, alongside an ever-changing abundance of indoor plants life, from unusual succulents, cacti and other house plants to a weekly selection of cut and wild flowers." 


Visit the BOTANY website

Follow BOTANY's stunning Instagram account.

Explore Chatsworth Road

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| London Stories | River Bus

Pick a day. Any day, though a sunny day would be better. Top-up your trusty Oystercard, get yourself on the river bus (not to be confused with one of those tourist cruise boat thingies) and head out as far out as possible and then go back again.This kind of aimless meandering is good for you, and it is by far the most relaxing way to traverse London. 

Take the slow route down her major artery and as much as you think you already know the city, she will still chuck a few revelations your way. I know that we've mentally bookmarked a fair few destinations to explore when the time (and weather) is right.

We hopped onto the river bus from Canary Wharf and headed out beyond the Thames Barrier to Woolwich. We'd never seen the Thames barrier before and it was interesting to get close to the sentinels that keep London safe from flooding. 

P.S. There is a bar on board!

| For the curious |

Thames Clipper website has all the info you will need, timetables, route maps and prices

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| Oddities | The Lonely Doll

Tucked between the eclectic selection of books on our shelves is a curious and Lonely Doll. I cannot recall what strange reason I had to buy this book. It must have been quite a strong impulse as I actually find dolls creepy at the best of times. But buy it I did, and have since spent many moments leafing through the pages pondering, pondering, pondering on the tale narrated with photos and words before me.

Dare Wright, the creator of the curious world of The Lonely Doll, composes a compelling book that once you have ventured into it, cannot completely leave it. It stays with you. It haunts you. However if we push the creepy overtones to one side for a moment, there is beauty here, it may be tinged with sadness and strangeness but as the eloquent Poe said;

“There is no exquisite beauty… without some strangeness in the proportion.”

As with many tales that we encounter in life, behind each tale is a tale even more fascinating. Like a magic box, one hides within and around the other, and so it is the same with the story of the author and photographer herself. 

Dare Wright was a successful model before she took up her camera and went freelance. Her work appeared in Vogue, Harper's Bazaar and other well known publications. Then one day, Dare rediscovered 'Edith', the felt Lenci doll that her mother had given her when she was child. She restyled her with a blonde wig, gold hoop earrings and made her a pink and white gingham outfit. She begun to photograph the doll along with two teddy bears in an array of carefully arranged tableaus that she would accompany with brief narrative. The book was published in 1957 and it was hugely successful, bringing Dare much critical acclaim for her work. The doll is named Edith, after Dare's mum. Which hints at possible parallels between their stories. Dare's personal story is one of a broken family, abandonment, loneliness and tremendous sadness joined with emotional and mental struggle. Naturally, elements of all this meanders into her books. 

It is tempting to analyse her books in light of her biography but that is not something I feel comfortable doing.  Instead, I am pleased that I have a copy of The Lonely Doll with all its questionable moments in my collection. Depending on my mood, it can be an unsettling read but I cannot deny that it is as original as it is compelling and as mesmerising as its mysterious and very beautiful author.


Pursue photos of Dare Wright and read more about her HERE

"Close to forty years after its publication, the book was out of print but not forgotten. When the cover image inexplicably came to journalist Jean Nathan one afternoon, she went in search of the book-and ultimately its author. Nathan found Dare Wright living out her last days in a decrepit public hospital in Queens, New York" The resulting biography can be bought HERE

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| Tower Block Stories | Clare House

Is there something that your partner is quite fixated with, yet try as you might, you just can't really get that enthusiastic about? There MUST be something! 

For me, it's Hiro's obsession with tower blocks. Hiro has been really fascinated with them way before we met about a decade ago. Pick one, anyone and, he can probably name it in a snappy second. He's faster than Googling it! For years I've heard him enthuse about this tower or that tower. I've seen his eyes light up as he counts the number of floors a particularly impressive tower has. I've seen him lament the disappearance of pirate radio masts atop each one and more recently, I've begun to sympathise with  his disappointment each time another block is demolished.

| TOWER BLOCKS according to Hiro |
"The high-rise social housing that begun to arrive on London's skyline around the 50's as a response to a housing shortage in the wake of the war". 

I suppose that it was inevitable that I would begin to feel pangs of appreciation when faced with these urban monoliths. A combination of years of (semi) listening about them, being pretty much surrounded by them and finding myself seeing them through the heartfelt pleasure of seeing Hiro's constant admiration for them. 

Most of London's tower blocks were built as immediate housing solutions and so their lifespans are relatively short. We are coming towards the end of their time and many have and are being torn down. Those deemed to have architectural merit are being (controversially) transformed  from social to luxury homes. A few are being left to their own devices for now. But change is a coming folks and the tower blocks of London are at the forefront of it.

With the cusp of change in London on our mind and inspired by the work of The Domesday Book, we've embarked on a new challenge this year. We want to see, photograph, learn from and take in the vibe of as many tower blocks and connecting housing estates as we can. We'd like to have our own record of these places before they vanish/change forever. 

First up is one of our nearest and dearest. Clare House. Not regarded as architecturally significant but it's colourful and never fails to catch my eye. Hiro is less impressed with it architecturally but likes the fact that it is over 20 stories high.

I enjoy Clare House's lonesome yet colourful contradiction to the greyness of our local horizon. When she stood flanked by her sisters, she was grey and I imagine that the vibe was quite different back then. Today, the tower has a placid vibe and with the stark white homes of Eden Way in the foreground cast surreal candy coloured shapes in our sky on a clear day.

| Clare House Info |

- Part of the Monteith Estate (also known as the Old Ford Estate).
- There were originally 3 blocks. Clare House is the only one remaining. Her sisters were blown up in 2002.
- 21 Floors up. 
- 130 flats.
- Completed in 1967. 
- Once home to Wiley. B-b-b-b-Bow E3!!! 
- London Borough of Tower Hamlets

| More Links For The Curious | 

The Tower Blocks! Our Blocks, Domesday Book Project

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| Photo Diary | Feeling Ordinary

Japan is a country that poses an endless procession of sights for a visitor or vicarious onlooker to marvel at. Away from the travellers and tourists, is the evermore hushed everyday life and that I enjoy falling into (as much as I can) as much as possible. I like observing life in Japan from this perspective. 

It's while traipsing through these lulled streets that I learn a lot about the less clichéd Japan. There is a palpable stillness cushioning the residential areas of suburban Tokyo that I've wondered through. There is also an honest harmony here. The sort that comes from a mutual respect and consideration for each other. Things can be left unlocked, unhidden. Placidity is maintained and cleanliness carefully regarded.

Imagine taking a broom from your cupboard and then going out to sweep your street, or even the path in your local park. Sounds quite crazy doesn't it? But in Japan it is perfectly normal. Everyone seems so willing to do their bit. Not sure what it is like where you live but it's unimaginable where we are in London. 

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