The House of Fong

market life

Spring crept up on London quietly last weekend; the sun was out, the sky was clear for the first time in months. I know that I shouldn’t get too excited, it being London…snowfall in April is not unusual! But still, I can’t help but feel that the worst is over.

So i took advantage of the good weather and went to my local street market with my camera. Recently there has been a debate going on about the revival at Brixton market – now renamed B-ville (Brixton Village), after the council successfully turned what was a slowly dying covered market into a hipster foodie meca – by letting the empty slots out rent-free and attracting tons of young people trying things out in this difficult environment. Inevitably, there are complaints that it has lost its local colours.

For those of you who don’t live in or know London, Brixton has always been a mixed neighbourhood with Afro-Carribean roots, although I dare say low rents, good transports and good music venues have meant that “gentrificiation” has been taking place while no one is looking too hard.  So whether B-Ville is driving the gentrification itself or part of the process itself is a moot point. The point is that the London food scene has found a new outlet and what was previously sad, empty space is now thriving – what’s not to like?

And here are the shots from Church Street market, where you’ll still be hard pushed to find any hipsters slummin’ it with the locals.

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instagram london

This is what I got up to last weekend. I hope you enjoy the one coming up!

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the creased trousers

My dad was in town this weekend after a work trip to Amsterdam, so we hung out for a bit,  checking out the toy department (my nephew is turning 1 in a few days) and the electrical appliances in John Lewis (don’t ask!).

It was when we were in the basement floor of John Lewis that I clocked that my dad’s grey chinos were creased down the front and back.

Now, this is a guy who had silk (silk!!!) shirts hand made for him by my mum before he decided to trade in ties and suits for the more casual combo of polos and chinos, so I shouldn’t sound too surprised, and no doubt my mum is behind the actual creation of those creases. But I am still quite taken by the insistence of such a small detail at his age, and what a big impact this small detail makes (at least on me).

In a sea of smart yet casually dressed, aspirational shoppers in the smartly aspirational John Lewis on a Saturday mid-morning, those creases made enough of a point for him to stand apart from the crowd, and it was for me a point totally worth making. That somehow really sorted out the men from the boys.

Hats off to you dad!

think pink

I want to reclaim pink, this girliest of colours, from those who are bent on pandering to the 3-year-old in us.

Or am I fighting a losing battle here?

image credit: pale shelter

image credit: pale shelter
image credit: artnau

image credit: artnau

bright sparks

Now that the snow has melted away, say hello to this trio of new tenants that have taken up residence at the house of fong. I love how pot plants bring a place to life and, unlike cut flowers, are still very low key while vital.

sam

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snow london

It is a rare day when London is all muffled up by a snow blanket, but the lack of the usual hustle bustle can be inspiring. I walked across a small park in Bloomsbury this afternoon, and deserted, the place exuded a deep silence that was almost out of this world (considering that it was central London). The restfulness was worth the chill to me.

snow london

Pompeii

Continuing the theme of looking south for some respite from the eternal greyness that is January, I found these pictures of the frescoes in Pompeii from a trip to the Sorrento peninsula a couple of years ago. What really drew me to these were the colours – so old and evidently time-worn, and yet still rich, deep and vivid.

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the sale buy

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In the UK, end-of-season sales are held in June and January, and they are the only times when I allow myself to look at “nice” things, things that are normally way out of my budget. This year, I got these bright orange Acne boots – so bright are they that they actually make me feel like I am walking around in some kind of super-charged vessels, and that makes me smile.

going south

Am I the only person whose thoughts are travelling south to warmer climes and longer days at this time of the year?

Daydreaming on an epic scale.

Here are some of the things I am missing from my summer holiday on Ventotene, a tiny island off the Roman/Neapolitan coast in Italy last September.

Off the Roman port

Sherbet colour architecture in blazing sunshine

Pink and cream

More pinks and creams

Cala Nave

The turquoise Med

The olive tree

The greenest olive tree

Room with a view

A room with a view

incremental improvements, part 2

The "blue" bathroom

The “blue” bathroom

More minor changes were afoot in my split-level flat this winter, and minor though they may be, somehow they make things just that bit more homely, comfortable and pleasing.

One thing I did was to swap a peacock blue habitat rug/matt in the bathroom with a piece of indigo blue woollen pinstripe fabric, found in Oxfam in Notting Hill Gate. It just feels less generic and more interesting – perhaps because the pinstripe is decorative but in a non-girly/ masculine way. A smaller length of the same fabric is also used in the loo to link things up. But before i sorted out the fabric, I actually bit the bullet and used drawing pins to nail down the always shifting piece of lino, which the landlord’s handyman added to the bathroom floor but didn’t quite bother to fix in position.  Both the boyfriend and I wondered why we haven’t done this sooner?

In the kitchen, I replaced the metal bar on which the pots and pans are hung with a longer wooden pole, which I found next to the boiler upstairs. This means that even more stuff can be hung across the window, and there is less clutter on the non-existent work surfaces and hobs. It never occurred to me to use that pole until I was checking out other interiors blog this break, and saw that someone has simply hung a wooden pole on two hooks on each side of the sink. A brief Eureka moment and some doubts about the strength of my pole later, the decision was made to take down the metal bar, which was put up in a haphazard way using chains and hooks, and a simpler, but more elegant, solution was adopted. (In my defence, I picked the metal bar up for a song at the Conran Shop during the sale, and have already made it much easier to access the pots and pans by having them hung up rather than put away in some hard-to-reach cupboards.)

Lastly, a reclaimed shelf which housed the TV in my room now sits on the landing outside the kitchen, and is home to the boyfriend’s slippers and day-to-day “stuff”. When I first broached this idea with him he was vehemently against it (reasons unknown – same is true for his dismissal of most of my home improvement ideas!), but he was actually the one who took it down when i wasn’t looking and stashed his stuff on it.  Now it looks as if it has always belonged there.

All in all, I am pleased with this year’s changes; minor tweaks such as these help make life just that little bit sweeter. Sadly, given the amount of time it takes for me to work these things out organically, it looks as if it will have to be a while before there is free space in my head to ponder the next steps. What is it like for you and your place? Do you tend to do things all year round or in bouts? Or not at all – do you rent and feel like it’s a waste of time and energy to try and make the place a home?

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