Museum of Brands & Packaging

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

 The Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising is located just off Portobello Road, and is way more exciting than it sounds, promise.

Polaroid of Brands Museum, Notting HillHome to the past couple of centuries' most iconic designs in branding and packaging, it has been described by the Telegraph as a 'place of worship' (I can't say I had any kind of religious experience in there, but as museums go, yes, this one comes pretty close). As you walk through the museum's maze of dark displays, you witness the evolution of brands through time: from the Victorian era to the early 2000s. 

You just have to visit the place, really. Seeing the evolution of Kellogg's Cornflakes packaging, the miniscule wartime ration portions, and the dawn of the Milky Bar kid, takes you further back in time than a black and white photograph ever could. The museum is more than a consumerist shrine, but testament to the fact that the foods we once ate and the things we once bought - somehow - still matter.

I'd highly recommend this quirky little museum to anyone vaguely interested in design or typography, to any history-buff, to anyone older and wiser than myself who might fancy a trip down memory lane, and actually to just about any conscious mammal.

Photography isn't allowed inside the museum, so here's my attempt at giving you a glimpse inside the place. My pleasure.

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Columbia Road Flower Market

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Last Sunday, I got myself up nauseatingly early to go to Columbia Road Flower Market with my friend Celine. It’s located just off Brick Lane and is pretty damn well-established. It was, after all, opened in 1869, so it’s been around a while. And yet sadly, age does not necessarily bring respectability, as demonstrated by some of the silver-haired vendors who practised the age-old sport we love so dearly: leering at anything and everything with legs.

Columbia Road is lovely though. Especially if you go early and on a sunny day: try to get there before 10.30am (it starts at 8am) or the place will be flooded with tourists. It feels fresh, vibrant, and animated: expect live music and buskers. The street is lined with loads of little coffee shops and food stalls, so it's certainly not short of places to grab a bite to eat. And since it's just round the corner from Brick Lane, you need not fear: bagels are near.
If nothing else, the market will provide you with an infinite supply of flower photos - all, I'm sure, well worthy of Instagram.

The BEST primroses.
Hawaian shirt and gold bling. Like it or not, the guy's got swagger.
Quirky coffee shops and vintage clothes stores line the street.

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The Nordic Bakery

Friday, 4 April 2014

My obsession with all things Scandinavian has reached heights I never thought possible. Fuelled by the recent Channel 4 documentary ‘Scandimania’, I set off to find London’s pockets of Nordic charm.

My first stop was the Nordic Bakery. There are actually three of them, and all within a relatively small area of Central London: Soho, Dorset Street, and Marylebone (which I visited). Marylebone seems to be something of a Swedish hotspot, with even its own church!     

The Marylebone shop is dark, stark, and minimalist in appearance (much like the other two, I’m told). It’s certainly more functional-Scandinavian than cosy-curl-up-by-the-fire Scandinavian, but it’s satisfyingly Nordic-looking, which is - let’s be honest - all that really matters.

On offer are delicious cinnamon buns, rye bread sandwiches, tons of cakes, and excellent coffee. As with all things Nordic, the emphasis is on quality as opposed to quantity: the Bakery's selection of food is by no means endless, but this fits nicely in line with the Swedish notion of lagom, meaning 'in moderation' or 'just enough'. The idea of lagom (until yesterday unknown to me) supposedly seeps into all aspects of Swedes' lives.

Swedish Church, Marylebone

Your stomach now sated, you could just as well go home. But your thirst for all things Scandinavian can surely not be quenched. Am I right?

So, whether you dabble in flat-pack furniture or consider yourself a more hardcore Scandiphile, pop into ‘Totally Swedish’ on your way out - it’s just round the corner from the Nordic Bakery and provides a treasure-trove of Swedish staples: berry cordials, smoked salmon, pickled herring, and a myriad rye breads, indistinguishable one from the other to the untrained eye. Also, Daim chocolate bars. Lots and lots of Daim chocolate bars.

Oh, and one more thing! Do yourself a favour and listen to the latest in a string of recent Swedish folk acts, First Aid Kit. If their charming folk finally converts you to the undeniable Nordic charm, then my job here is done.

On the off chance that any real, living-and-breathing Scandinavians stumble upon this, I can only apologise. And I can only hope that I come across more as enthusiastic than as ‘creepy’.

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April Playlist ♪

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

    1.) 'Plage' by         CRYSTAL FIGHTERS

2.) ‘How Come You Never Go There’ by FEIST

 3.) ‘Toothpaste Kisses’ by THE MACCABEES 

 4.)‘World News’ by LOCAL NATIVES 

   5.) ‘The First Days of Spring’ by NOAH AND  THE WHALE 

 6.) ‘Raise Your Love’ by RHODES 

 7.) ‘Don’t Swallow The Cap’ by THE    NATIONAL 

 8.) ‘Crown of Love’ by ARCADE FIRE
9.) ‘Sweet Disposition’ by THE TEMPER TRAP                               

Hi! This marks the first in a series of monthly - and vaguely seasonal - music playlists. Very excited to share with you the songs I play and play again until totally exhausted and toxic to my ear drums. That's all I can promise you really. I'm not going to lie to you and claim that 'I love all music' or that 'I'll listen to literally anything' because I don't and I won't. But if my music taste happens to tickle your pickle, then by all means, go crazy! I've organised all nine songs into a handy Spotify playlist. And here's a YouTube one for those more technologically-challenged. You're welcome. No, really, you are. What's that? Oh, stop it.   

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