There are three types of people who go to the annual Tatty Devine sample sale in East London:
The early-starters – the ones who get there at goodness knows what time in the morning (or even the night before) and seemingly never leave the hall…
The late-morning queuers – the ones who get there just before the doors open and lose all feeling in their legs as the morning goes on
The afternoon browsers – the (sane) ones who don’t want to spend the whole morning in a queue so get there in the afternoon when everyone else has collapsed, and somehow manage to pick up dream pieces regardless
If you’re in the top two groups of people, you need to show serious commitment. This not for the faint-hearted – there’s rain, sun, and everything in between. If you want the good stuff, you need to get there early and be prepared to queue.
I’m firmly in the second group. Whilst I admire those who get there before the sun rises, I could never spend hours camped out on the floor outside St Hilda’s East Community Centre – I love Tatty Devine, but just not enough for sleeping bags and camping chairs.
I got to St Hilda’s East at about 9.15am and there was already a healthy number of people in the queue. I put my headphones in (Editors – The Blanck Mass Sessions) and prepared myself for a long wait. Over the course of the three hour queue (yes, three hours), we shuffled and shivered along slowly. I survived the freezing cold wait by thinking about the Dum Dum doughnuts I’d reward myself with when I was done, and also by wondering if my knees would ever allow me to sit down again.
At 12.30, I was inside the hall and greeted with half a dozen tables stacked full of acrylic jewellery goodness. We’d heard that there had been bags for sale as well, but they had long gone. I then don’t know what happened to me – I think I must have fallen into some kind of fugue state as I didn’t emerge from the hall until 2pm.
I do remember saying to myself on a number of occasions that I had finished my selections, only to go around the room for one last lap and find more stuff. Both a curse and a blessing – there are frequent drops of new stuff from staff and customers who are putting back unwanted items. At one stage, I was literally in the queue to pay when I saw someone put a pink lobster down, so I went around the room again to see what else had been given up. You can understand why people don’t want to leave – there is a huge element of fomo and thinking that your dream piece might be just about to arrive in the room.
But when I did eventually leave/escape/come to my senses, I was very happy with my purchases – I spent way more than I had planned to, but I really couldn’t bring myself to put anything back. Really looking forward to my June payslip though.
I’ve only been a Mr Jones Watches collector since 2014, so I have missed out on a lot of their history. The release of The 100th has given me some indication on what I’ve missed out on, and it confirms that I have approximately 16% of their releases in my collection. Always good to have some solid data.
My sixteenth watch was the 100th – it was released on a Thursday which is fortunately the day I work from home and I was able to buy as soon as it went on sale. I pretty much had the pick of any number, and I chose my lucky number 4.
The 100th is composed of elements from some of their iconic pieces including The Accurate, Sun and Moon, The Last Laugh, the Decider, and King. I love the blues in watch, and the eyes are a beautifully reflective silver.
I’ve worn it pretty much every day since it arrived.
The watch also came with a two-sided poster listing all of their releases, which honestly feels a bit like they’re challenging me.
Back in November, I noticed that the prices in the Virgin Atlantic Black Friday sale were good. Crazy good. So good that I found myself unable to say no, so booked a little trip to New York for the bit between Christmas and New Year. We initially wanted to go from the 27th to 30th December, allowing us to be back home in plenty of time to go back to work, but we left booking just a smidge too long so the dates we wanted sold out. Always a good lesson – if you see flights you like, snap them up.
We ended up with 28th to 31st December instead, which meant we’d be flying back home on New Year’s Eve. It also meant that the return flight was with Delta – not ideal, but we were still able to use the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse at JFK so it wasn’t all bad. Both planes were A330s.
We flew out on VS3, departing Heathrow at 8.50. We don’t live that far from the airport but I still made Husband get up stupidly early so we could get to the Clubhouse as it opened. I’d be damned if I wasn’t going to get myself a spa appointment this time (like last time where I was left sorely disappointed). I manoeuvred a sleepy Husband through an empty Upper Class security lane (praise the lord!) and we made it to the lounge about 10 minutes after it opened. It was so peaceful and empty – I could only see 8 passengers including us – so that spa appointment was mine. Husband managed to get himself booked in for a haircut as well. I paid for a manicure which actually wasn’t that great because the product they use is appalling but to their credit, they have now refunded me. Still enjoyable even if it did start to chip the following day.
We sauntered down to the gate at about 8am – gate 22 again, which is a pain in the neck to get to as it’s pretty much 15 miles away from everything. I always seem to get gate 22. Upper had just started boarding, so we walked straight onto the plane and got settled in. We had the usual reverse herringbone seats with 1-1-1 configuration, and we had picked 3A and 4A so were facing the back of the middle row. I’ve read a lot about how people hate the reverse herringbone, but I still enjoy the seat. This one seemed fairly well maintained, with all the buttons still shiny and new. I got a purple Herschel amenity kit this time which pleased me greatly (I love purple).
We were served lunch at about 10.30 which felt way too early to be eating a three course meal. I had the soup which was delicious, followed by the chicken but I skipped dessert as I wanted to get some sleep.
The last time I few Upper Class and tried to sleep, I could not get comfortable. This time was much better and I slept for hours, only waking up when we hit a lot of turbulence and just in time for afternoon tea.
I was a little confused as I thought this was supposed to be the big fancy afternoon tea by Eric Lanlard, so was a little underwhelmed when this arrived on my tray. This wasn’t quite what I was expecting, tasty though.
We landed at JFK at little earlier than schedule, but were then stuck on the plane for 30 minutes as they couldn’t get the air bridge to work. The ground crew moved it to the front, moved it to the middle, moved it back to the front repeatedly for about half an hour. The captain asked all the passengers to sit back down as he had no idea how long it would take, and at one stage, they were talking about getting old fashioned steps up to the door. They managed to get it working eventually, and once again having Global Entry got us through immigration quick as a flash.
On the way back, we left Manhattan a little earlier than planned as it had just started raining so we thought we’d head to the Clubhouse rather than find something to do. We checked in at the Delta One check in area with a classic grumpy Delta member of staff (all Delta staff seem grumpy), and she advised us where the Sky Club was. Ha, as if we’d go there when the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse was available to us.
I love the JFK lounge. It’s so quiet, the showers are amazing, and the staff are generally excellent. The ability to have a shower and get changed into clean clothes is my favourite thing about using the lounges. They still have Bumble and Bumble hair products in the showers even though they seem to have got rid of the hair salon from the spa. I had been looking forward to a hair treatment this time round, but had a wonderful 15 minute facial instead. I wish I’d paid for a longer one.
There was one bit of irritation – they’ve put in this god-awful “B8ta” pop-up, and the staff seemed more interested in chatting with the B8ta staff than checking on customers. We weren’t as looked after as we were in London.
The Delta flight itself was pretty much the same as our Atlanta experience. The seats were a little old but still comfortable, the staff were welcoming, and I got hammered on two cocktails (I really should know my limits). It did get incredibly and uncomfortably hot in the middle of the trip, but other than that, fairly uneventful. Well, after the fun of take-off
This was our New Year’s Eve flight and we were greeted by flight attendants wearing 2019 glasses. I thought that might be the limit of their celebrations – we were leaving at 7pm EST so I couldn’t figure out when our midnight would be. One of the staff explained that they shift to London time as soon as the flight starts, so we would be leaving New York directly at midnight GMT. We started taxiing at about 6.55, and five minutes later, the flight attendants ran through the aisles with party blowers screaming “Happy New Year!” before running back to their seat for take-off. It was actually wonderful – I had a tear in my eye. That might have been down to the cocktails however.
We landed in Heathrow earlier than scheduled, managed to get through immigration really quickly, and our bags were the first off the plane so we decided to visit the Virgin Atlantic Revivals Lounge for the first time. It’s a small lounge but there was plenty of free seats when we got there, with a spa and showers. If I was going directly to work, this would have been a godsend. As it was, we were only half an hour from home so we just had a bit of breakfast which was served in no time at all – we only spent about 45 minutes in the lounge in total but it was just what I needed as I hadn’t had any breakfast on the plane. The spa was tempting, but my bed was calling.
London has a lot of excellent exhibitions going on in various museums at the moment. I’ve recently had two trips in to the city, and saw a couple of very different shows, enjoyable for very different reasons.
A couple of weekends ago, I met up with a friend to go to the Museum of London. I’ve been passed it a few times and a) didn’t appreciate what it was; and b) could never figure out how to get into it as it’s seemingly in the middle of a roundabout. I’m so glad I’ve finally visited as it’s now possibly one of my favourite museums.
We had gone specifically to see the London Nights show – beautiful photographs of London at night from late 19th century to more modern images. The photos were stunning and as I wandered around the exhibition, I wished that I could take better night time photography. I loved the photos where you can’t place when they were taken – the ones which look like they could have been taken yesterday. The exhibition is on for the next couple of weeks, so go see it if you can.
We then went on to explore the rest of the museum, which is where I quickly fell in love. There is such a huge range of items on display, all related to London through the ages. One of the most wonderful permanent exhibitions is the Victorian Walk – a parade of beautiful shop fronts set out like a winding street. And the shop – oh my goodness, the shop. What a fitting way to end our visit; I could have spent a great deal of money in there.
After our trip, we walked through the quiet City of London and found ourselves in the vicinity of the insane Doughnut Time. Their creations are out of this world – the doughnut I had was covered in glitter, and the one I bought for Husband was a white chocolate cheesecake flavour with Oreos. Truly epic.
Museums and baked goods was the theme of this weekend as well. There were three exhibitions Husband wanted to see at the V&A all with a nerdy theme – one on videogames, one on computer art, and one vaguely futuristic.
This trip wasn’t for me, so I allowed him to geek out whilst having a quick look at the displays. Husband was amused that he found me reading about feminism in video games after temporarily losing me – where else would I be? It was also fun to see the computer art exhibition as it was in an area of the museum I hadn’t been in before – every time I go to the V&A I find something new.
I loved the arcade games at the end of Design/Play/Disrupt. I was pretty good at the three Line Wobbler LED games by Robin Baumgarten, and desperately wanted to play a game called Breakup Squad but some kid wouldn’t get off the machine. I also got to play Queers in Love at the End of the World – a beautifully poetic game by Anna Anthropy. It was a crowded gallery though, and the rest of the games all had queues of people waiting to play.
And the baked goods? Well you can’t visit South Kensington without a trip to the Hummingbird Bakery, especially because they had their halloween cupcakes in at the moment. HOW CUTE?!?!
Museums and cakes – the two best things about London.
A quick summary for those new to my obsession – London based Mr Jones creates the most beautiful watches, and is always coming up with new designs that I just have to own. I’m pretty sure I’m now up to 14 in total, although to be honest, I can’t be certain.
Which brings us up to number twelve, with thirteen & fourteen from this year’s sample sale.
A couple of months ago, Husband was in a very happy mood so treated me to The Hidden City, a beautifully serene design featuring London’s green parrots. I got number 44 which pleased me immensely – 4 is my lucky number. Such a gorgeous watch.
Onto the sample sale.
I’ve been lucky enough to visit the store on two occasions for their sample sales in the past. It’s a good opportunity to get a rare watch, or a variation on their current stock. Personally, I love the chance to find old watches that I haven’t seen before. For 2018, it was online only – no queuing outside the store, no complaints from those who couldn’t even get to the store. I was going to be in the middle of a hair salon appointment, so I had visions of me scrolling through the website whilst my poor stylist tried to cut my hair. Fortunately at the time the sale went live, I was waiting for the bleach to develop so had stress free shopping – phew!
I feel very bad for MJW as unfortunately there were a few stroppy and mean spirited people posting on social media about the sale. I personally didn’t have a problem with the technical snafu on the website as I just used my common sense plus I also accept that the nature of online sales means that you shouldn’t get too fixated on a specific item because that is when you’re going to be disappointed. It’s unfortunate to miss out on the watch you want, but there is zero point bitching and moaning about it – some people were saying they would never shop there ever again, or that their whole day was ruined. Oh please, how ridiculous.
Anyway, my purchases. The first one I saw sadly got yoinked out of my basket before I was able to purchase it (the black colourways of the Cyclops, and I didn’t whinge about losing it) but I quickly saw two others that I was more than happy with.
The super cute Late Again – there was a choice of two, either one with exclamation marks or one that had “oh no” on the dial. I preferred the exclamation marks. It reminds me of The Accurate (but significantly less intense). It’s just so bright and happy, and I smile every time I look down at my wrist.
I absolutely adore my second purchase – Good Things. It’s so simple, so clean, and it has unusual blue stitching on it which I love. And unless you’re looking at the right time, it’s completely nonsensical.
Isn’t it gorgeous?
This watch is a little more beaten up than the other- you can tell it’s been worn or wrapped around something as the leather strap is curved and a little cracked. The back is also a little scratched up – I’m not so fussed about that as it’s the price you pay for having a sample. They make it very clear that there may be signs of wear or tear.
By the way, I’m assuming the dial is 24 hours, however I’m not 100% sure. As I’ve said before, who wants to use their watch to do something as prosaic as tell the time. That’s just so very boring.
I’ll take you back to October 2017. Flight of the Conchords had just announced a UK tour – their first since we saw them in 2010. The day the tickets went on sale, Ticketmaster revealed itself to be the truly awful garbage company it is, and we very nearly didn’t get tickets but thank goodness for random internet clicking and an extra date being announced. A gif party ensued in the group chat.
About two weeks before the gig, it was postponed – poor Bret McKenzie had fallen down some stairs and broken his hand. They rescheduled to June, which unfortunately ruled out two people from our group of 5 – boo!
June came around, bones were still in tact, new people were added to our party – all seemed fine. Well, except the fairly major crisis that happened at work which meant I couldn’t get the day off, I had a stressful train ride into London, an even more stressful tube ride over to the O2, and then a tense wait outside the venue for the 5th person to arrive (late). I genuinely wasn’t looking forward to the gig. At all.
Thank god I didn’t give up because the gig was AMAZING (sorry Ryan).
As I sat with Husband, Tim, and two of Husband’s people waiting for Bret and Jermaine to come on stage, I really couldn’t imagine how this gig would work in the objectively too big O2 Arena. How could New Zealand’s fourth most popular duo possibly fill the stage without losing their down to earth, self-deprecating vibe?
Quite brilliantly as it turns out. There were no flashy sets, no costume changes – just two guys with their instruments (sometimes with a third guy – Nigel, the “New Zealand Symphony Orchestra”), and fantastic camera work which picked up on every subtlety that happened between the two of them, like Jermaine’s blank face during the middle of Foux Du Fafa.
Terrible photo as my phone isn’t that great, but we had good seats. Would have been nicer to have been closer, but we were lucky to get tickets at all so I can’t complain too much!
Surprisingly, there were a lot of new songs, including a song about Deana from HR and Ian from Accounting which made me howl with laughter. Some people were disappointed that classics like Business Time were left out, but the new stuff was just as catchy. One of the songs had a truly insane recorder solo and I would have hated to have missed out on that. Even the old classics seemed better, like the mash-up of Mother Uckers and Hurt Feelings where I suddenly realised that Bret’s voice is phenomenal.
Towards the end of the show, Jermaine started to get frustrated with someone who kept yelling for them to play Jenny, a song I don’t really remember (and apparently, the band don’t remember it well either). I don’t know if this was part of the act or if he genuinely was getting irritated, but I laughed so much as Bret chastised him for his anger. The badinage between the two of them was as hilarious as ever, with conversations about how Jermaine is Captain Fun, the time they both got stuck in a lift, and how their cushions kept falling of their seats. There was even a good old Brexit reference (Bret-xit and Jermainers) and a bit of sarcasm on the Millennium Dome which made me lol as that’s what I still call The O2.
I can’t say I’d be keen to go back to The O2 again, but I am so happy to have seen FOTC again. I really need a live album now – I think a HBO special is on its way – and I’ve had the whole set list stuck in my head since the gig. As we battled through the tube crowds to get to our hotel in the City of London, I realised with joy that I had captured my favourite song moment from The Humans Are dead on my phone:
I have learnt that if Tim offers me a spare ticket to a theatre show, I should say always say yes. Back in April, he text me to ask if I was interested in seeing Fun Home, and I hadn’t actually heard of it before but when I realised it was at the Young Vic, I was super excited. The only other play I have seen at the Young Vic was Yerma which was phenomenal, so if Fun Home was even 10% as good, then I was guaranteed a good evening.
Fortunately, it was fantastic (just ever so slightly less gut wrenching than Yerma).
Of course, I know who Alison Bechdel is, but I didn’t know much more about her than the basics – the comic book artist who has a very iconic test named after her. Fun Home is a musical adaptation of Alison’s memoir, and if you had described to me the subject of her memoir, I would have told you that I couldn’t see how this could possibly make a good musical (spoiler alert – that is wrong).
In the present day, Alison is drawing her memoirs and thinking back to two periods of her life – as a little girl living in Pennsylvania with her parents and two brothers, and as a freshman at college when she comes out amidst the shocking revelation that her Father is also gay.
I fell in love with every Alison – they all played her so perfectly and it’s hard to pick my favourite. I loved watching the older Alison watch the action on stage – picking apart her own memories with the benefit of hindsight, realising that her Dad wasn’t going out to get a newspaper or that he wasn’t just driving that boy home. Kaisa Hammarlund is captivating.
Eleanor Kane plays Medium Alison with just the right amount of awkwardness and naivety, falling in love with her first girlfriend and coming to terms with her Father’s sexuality at the same time as figuring out her own. Her first night with Joan was so beautiful, and my heart was right there with her as she sung about wanting to change her major to Joan.
Our Small Alison was played by Harriet Turnbull who absolutely slayed me with one line in particular – “Do you feel my heart saying hi” from Ring of Keys sung with such sweetness and yearning. Oh my gosh, I felt physically winded when I heard it!
There was a classic set trick which I won’t spoil as I think it’s more fun for the entire audience to gasp with delight when it’s revealed. The crew should be very proud with what they have created. The music was understated, but very in your face when it needed to be. Everything just worked. OK, so there wasn’t a happy ending, but sometimes you’re at a point in your life where a little sadness provides a bit of catharsis.
Over the first May Bank Holiday, I managed to fit in a good amount of fun (I’ll be getting over jet lag for the second May Bank Holiday so I’m pleased I made the most of the first).
My weekend started on the Friday night with a classic date night – theatre followed by dinner. Husband bought some last minute tickets to Mood Music at the Old Vic and he managed to get us pretty good seats. All the better for me as the play featured one of my teenage crushes, Ben Chaplin. I was obsessed with the sitcom Game On at the age of 15, and Ben was quite a large part of my obsession. I lost track of him over the years, so was great to catch up with him in one of my favourite theatre venues.
The play itself was interesting, although it did leave me wanting more. For a story about music, there was surprisingly minimal actual music. It did feel very ‘placed’ and choreographed – everyone had to stick to set movements around the stage so at times, it came across as a little forced.
Very much enjoyed it though, and it was nice to do something different on a Friday night. We then had a late dinner and checked into a the Hilton Bankside so we didn’t have to rush for the last train home. We’ll definitely be doing that again.
Saturday morning came – we checked out of the hotel, had a leisurely coffee, and I made my way over to the Mercato Metropolitano for my third Crafty Fox (Husband spent the day shopping for a new holiday outfit). I love this venue and I wish I had more of a reason to visit!
I met up with a fellow Crafty Fox aficionado (my friend Alana) and we wandered the stalls whilst gossiping and analysing our shared love of Matthew Rhys. I didn’t spend a great deal of money this time, but managed to get myself some more Rosa Pietsch necklaces, and a very cute glittery bow from Pup Tart. I have no idea what I’m going to do with it, but I couldn’t leave it behind.
I then collected Husband from his shopping spree to meet up with Tim for some Saturday afternoon art appreciation. We went to the House of Illustration in Kings Cross – a small but perfectly formed space which was showing three exhibitions. We were there to see Made in North Korea which was fascinating (but we had a quick look at the other exhibitions too, including Quentin Blake). We were there to see the North Korean ‘found objects’ though, and it’s honestly something I have never seen before. I just don’t understand how he manages to have so much of this stuff!
A catch-up over Ruby Violet ice cream followed (although it was more me grilling Tim on the exact details of his recent trip to New York) and then dinner at Caravan. Kings Cross has changed a lot since I was there last!
And we were home in time for an episode of Riverdale. What a perfect start to my Bank Holiday.
My second hotel visit of the month – the non-refundable stay.
A few months ago, my Mum and I discovered the Hilton London Bankside – it was perfectly located for our impromptu shopping trip, exceptionally well appointed, and not stupidly expensive. So when Husband and I decided to stay overnight after the Flight of the Conchords gig at the O2, I figured the Hilton would be perfect as it’s just a couple of stops down the Jubilee Line. Sure, it was non-refundable but of course there wouldn’t be any problems
And then the Flight of the Conchords gig got cancelled. Sigh.
Rather than waste the room, we went up to London anyway and had a touristy afternoon. A grey, very rainy, touristy afternoon – classic London.
We managed to check in early which was a relief as we got soaked in the short 15 minute walk from Waterloo. Once again, the service we received was fantastic – I’ve never come across anything like it in the UK before. Hilton allows you to select a room online the day before, but I wasn’t quick enough to get a good one so we did end up with a view of a wall. I still loved the room though – the decor is so minimalist and understated, the bathroom has beautiful tiles and concrete floor, and the Peter Thomas Roth toiletries are great.
Husband had never been to the Switch House at the Tate Modern (which is apparently now called the Blavatnik Building) so we spent most of the afternoon in there. Although a tip for tourists – never visit on a bank holiday because it was hellish. It was especially bad in the Turbine Hall with the Superflex exhibition which is basically just free childcare. We did manage to get to the viewing platform without losing our minds, and because of the weather, it was very peaceful up there. We also saw part of the Joan Jonas exhibition which was most enjoyable.
After the Tate Modern, we wandered down the South Bank, visited Mr Jones Watches (I suspect another watch post is needed), and a few more of the shops alongside the river. It was still very wet, but this meant there were less people around. After the scrum at the Tate, a bit of peace and quiet was needed.
After a quick drying-off back at the hotel, we went for a very sophisticated dinner at Sea Containers House in the Mondrian hotel. We decided to go in through the hotel entrance rather than the entrance on the Thames – it is a very beautiful hotel and I have this noted for any future stays. Dinner itself was really lovely, although we ate three courses so by the time I got to my caramelised banana dessert, I was so full. We were lucky enough to sit by the window, so we people watched as we ate. It was a great meal.
After a little bit of a restless night – the bed wasn’t particularly comfortable this time round – we met up with Tim for brunch at the Refinery where we all had excellent eggs, before we headed back home and Tim visited a significantly quieter Tate Modern.
As we fiddled about with our bags and coats after checking out, I took the opportunity to take in the Hilton’s lovely Easter display. They really make such an effort here, and we’ll definitely be back. It’s such a great hotel.
It was fun to be a London tourist for the day, and did mitigate somewhat against the disappointment of not seeing Flight of the Conchords. Fingers crossed the re-scheduled gigs go ahead as planned.
Four years ago, I sat in an very Off-Broadway theatre, crying with laughter at the most ridiculous show I have ever seen – Bayside the Musical. Whilst the play was extended on a number of occasions, I didn’t think I’d ever get to see it again but miracle of miracles – it came to London! Specifically, at The Other Palace which is a lovely little theatre just behind Buckingham Palace.
A couple of weeks ago, I dragged Tim to see it (I couldn’t persuade Husband to come with us – not being as familiar with Saved by the Bell as I am, he got totally confused the first time we saw it). I spent the morning shopping with my Mum over on Regent Street and walked from there to the theatre through freezing snow – good lord, it was cold and I was relieved to get comfy down in their Studio theatre.
It was a slightly smaller theatre than the New York production, and I was a little worried when the actors first came on stage as the audience wasn’t quite warmed up – there wasn’t the levels of hysteria that the Americans had. But the cast soon had everyone in the palm of their hands (and despite being a matinee, there were still catcalls from the Prosecco-drinking audience as the play went on).
It was difficult not to compare the Brits to the original cast but they definitely held their own and there was one thing that they did so well – a brilliantly sarcastic breaking of the fourth wall. The first time it happened – which I think was during the song “Let’s go to the Max” – made me laugh so much. They entirely came out of their cheesy American characters, spoke in their regular British voices and added a genius extra level to this absurd story.
The second act started in the same way as the American with a quick trip to Malibu Sands, but deviated sharply into a self-deprecating scene between The Extras played by William Hazell and Roann McCloskey. They just ripped into the staging, the direction, the token American in the cast (Ben Campbell as Zack) – no one can put the Brits down better than ourselves.
It was stupid, stupid fun, and I absolutely loved it again. Here’s hoping for another reprisal so I can see it a third time.
“We can’t wrap this up in just one show,
We need another episode,
Got to work things out, and resolve the plot, To be continued, dot, dot, dot”