From Desk Till Dawn

My mainly music & nerd bird blog

Archive for September 2012

Sunday Swoon. September 30th

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Salty beer, magicians, batshit ice skaters and dancing my socks off…

1. This has felt like one of this years eagerly anticipated albums for me personally. From the moment I heard the heartbreak in Scar “remember how lovely we were” sang like a sigh, choking back that lump in your throat when you’re trying to be brave. Lucy Rose, Like I Used To is another contender for album of the year.

2. Another book devoured in record-breaking reading time. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern was easy to get utterly lost in. What is a simple and magical fairytale is elevated to something wondrous and that’s all down to the authors intricate imagination and way with words.

3. Adore this video by Emily Kai Bock for Yet Again by Grizzly Bear released this week. Who doesn’t want to see an ice skater go batshit  to the soundtrack of a brilliant song.

4. I’m not sure why I’ve never put Wahaca on this blog before, I think I perhaps take them for granted as I probably eat here the most in London. Everything tastes like it’s been plucked fresh straight from the ground seconds before it reaches your plate, the chillies a good balance of smoky hot and Modelo Negra beer served chelada style (fresh lime juice with a salt rim on the glass) is a refreshing kick.

5. So last night I danced my socks off to Hot Chip at the Roundhouse with my friend Lucy and we ended up being responsible adults for two young girls down there who chanced it and didn’t know who Hot Chip were. I vaguely recall giving them a stern lecture about liking Chris Brown but having faith in their future when they burst into song during their nifty cover of Fleetwood Mac’s Everywhere. Anyway, in the words of one of the girls “I like the beats”

The Letter ‘P’ Mixtape.

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The Letter P Mixtape. Brought to you on a day I feel illogically positive.

Therefore I wanted to avoid maudlin and tragic songs where I could. Except that Perfume Genius sneaked in there because the album this is from is one of my recent favourites. Along with Polica it’s a contender for my album of the year. The video below is for the very special and beautiful friend that I sat with extremely drunk on cheap wine, holding hands, watching it on repeat. I want her to get married looking like the dancer in green next year.

There is no greater motivator in my life right now than Public Enemy’s Harder Than You Think, thanks to the Paralympics. This replaces Paul Weller’s Brand New Start which was a sadder song to make life changes too. You can’t double fist pump to Paul Weller, the mods would frown upon it.

You can play my letter O mixtape on Spotify or YouTube

  1. Pulp – Pink Glove
  2. Polica – Wandering Star
  3. Peaking Lights – Beautiful Son
  4. Perfume Genius – Dark Parts
  5. Prince – Strange Relationship
  6. Phoenix – Too Young
  7. The Psychedelic Furs – Into You Like A Train
  8. Patrick Wolf – The Magic Position
  9. Peaches – I’m The Kinda
  10. Public Enemy – Harder Thank You Think

Written by Anon PA

September 26, 2012 at 10:54 am

Lido Love No.9 Hampstead Ponds

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On Friday I was planning which of the remaining Lido’s I should visit over the weekend when I found out it was the last day the mixed pond on Hampstead Heath was open this year. It was also the day I found out that over 5,000 crayfish are nipping the swimmers, like a fishy version of The Warriors they are vicious and marking their territory.

Now my reaction to this surprised no one more than it did me. The news of the crayfish settled it for me. I was heading to Hampstead Heath this weekend. The reason is simple. I just wanted to prove to myself that I am braver now than I was a year ago. I know what I’d have spent my Sunday this time last year doing and this would never have even entered my brain. I’d have never been jumping in to swim amongst nasty critters in them waters my friend, I’d have been voted least likely to in a poll in fact.

Hampstead Ponds. Mixed Swimming

On Sunday I had a text from my friend saying “Please tell me you’re not in the pond you nutter?” I replied with mild hysteria after I had got out saying I AM BRAVE. All capitals.

I won’t lie to you, I was screaming inside and my imagination was in overdrive, picturing tons of little red angry crustaceans following the kick of my legs, the Jaws theme playing on a loop as fat raindrops plopped on my swimming cap. But I done it.

Both the men’s and ladies pools remain open all year so you can still swim there throughout the year, to swim in this specific pond you need to belong to Hampstead Heath Winter Swimming Club. It’s a bargain £2 and I like the machine you use to pay, like a parking meter for swimmers. The water was warm, best time of year for freshwater swimming. I felt drier and warmer in the water than out of it given the torrential rain that’s hit us. The thing is, if you can get over the critters, Hampstead Heath is fraying at the edges as we turn to Autumn, ragged and serene. It was a rather beautiful moment in my swimming quest.

Temperature:  Warm. Best time of year for freshwater swimming
People doing serious swimming: Just me
Men grabbing their danglebobbins a lot: 0
Women swimming in sunglasses: 0
Kids doing classic “bombing”: 0
People dipping their toes with iPhones in hand: 0
Cost: £2


But the five-star reward goes solely to me for doing it.

Written by Anon PA

September 24, 2012 at 2:11 pm

Sunday Swoon. September 23rd

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This week I need to talk to you about How To Dress Well and eating your five a day….

1. The second album from How To Dress Well was released this week and on first listen it was immediately cemented in my top albums this year.  It’s genius, excellent, I can’t heap enough praise on how intricate and clever it is. At times R&B smooth, at others arty and poetic. & It Was U is my standout track on the album. You can stream it on The Guardian’s site but then I insist you fall head over heels and trot out to buy a copy.

2. Sadly by the time you read this the Road to 2012 exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery will no longer be. Slowly and surely the remnants of the Olympics and Paralympics are disappearing. I am clinging to them as much as I can, digging my nails in and silently screaming “nnoooooo, don’t leave me”. This featured photographic portraits everyone from Martin Creed to Katherine Grainger. As the exhibition started before the events the gallery had kindly stickered the medallists in corresponding colours. Lovely stuff.

Riverford Field Kitchen

3. Tucked away in Totnes, Devon is Riverford Field Kitchen and it’s without doubt one of my favourite places to eat. The vegetables come from their farm surrounding the restaurant and recipes ensure you overdose on essential vitamins. You’re served on long tables, generous sized bowls are placed on the table for you to heap onto your plate. Griddled leeks with French Beans, lemon and olive oil. Pointed cabbage with garlic and parmesan. Yes, that is a huge tray of Pork scratching in the photo above. To top it all off the (handsome) chef’s talk you through a choice of five puddings to make sure you leave stuffed. The quality is outstanding, absurdly good. If you ever find yourself down south book in advance.

4. I know very well people fell out of love with The Killers after Hot Fuss and granted nothing has quite lived up to the synths and indie glitz of their debut album but they’re still in my heart. Remember, I loathe musical snobbery so don’t come moaning to me about them as I shan’t be swayed. Battle Born was released this week. The brilliant fairsharemusic have it for just £5 and 50% of profits go to charity so it’s a cheaper, more wholesome alternative to iTunes.

Dirty Burger

5. Swimming makes me utterly ravenous and Dirty Burger was worth walking across Hampstead Heath shivering in the rain for. Tucked away on Highgate Road you enter what looks like a no thrills shack but it’s warm, cosy and playing some seriously good music. The chips were crispy, the milkshake fruity and thick and the burger amazing quality (the juice dripping onto my hands, a curious yellow tinge to it from the mustard smeared on the pattie). Go visit. Believe the hype.

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The Letter ‘O’ Mixtape.

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The Letter O Mixtape to get over Wednesday (a.k.a Hump Day)

Certain songs on this list invoke such strong memories. Some of them visual, My sister getting ready to go out, dressed up like a Robert Palmer girl playing Orange Juice over and over. Proving I know the entire rap from Ol’ Dirty Bastard sat outside my tent with Al at Glastonbury in the morning sunshine. Some of them a feeling, a heartfelt sigh bubbling to the surface over OK Go’s End Love. That deep-rooted sense of needing to push on with life during the hard times from Otis Redding.

And yes, this being the internet I’m aware people have a penchant for animal videos so I’ve also posted the OK Go video with dogs that people went nuts for two years ago below.

You can play my letter O mixtape on Spotify or YouTube

  1. Orange Juice – Rip It Up
  2. Outkast – So Fresh, So Clean
  3. OK Go – End Love
  4. Of Montreal – Our Riotous Defects
  5. OMD – Enola Gay
  6. Ol’ Dirty Bastard – Got Your Money
  7. Olive – You’re Not Alone
  8. Ocean Colour Scene – Hundred Mile High City
  9. Outfit – Everything All The Time
  10. Otis Redding – A Change Is Gonna Come

Written by Anon PA

September 19, 2012 at 11:40 am

Sloe Gin Recipe

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I appreciate that by blogging my Sloe Gin recipe that I have now addressed practically every subject I could poke my beak into. But I am no chef so you won’t be seeing any baking tips from me. I just make a cracking moonshine (even if I do say so myself). I went home to Devon this weekend firstly to visit my family, secondly to pick Sloes. For Sloe Gin you will need the berries, sugar, gin and I add Vanilla pods. You will also need empty sterilised bottles.

The Sloes aren’t fantastic this year and the hedges were practically bare. If you go foraging for them yourself then my tip would be to take a walking stick or umbrella as all the best berries were out of reach, something hooked to pull branches down would have been perfect. As it was three generations of my family found themselves climbing into bushes, along cliffs and into ditches along Berry Head to fill our tubs. The perfect Sloe is slightly firm with a purple sheen over it. Discard any green or wrinkled ones.

Once you’ve heard your berry picking party say “I’m getting fucking bored of this now” (I’m looking at you Mum) then head home and rinse your sloes. One last sense check for rotten ones would be sensible now. Now, mundane and laborious as this is you need to prick each sloe a couple of times over with a needle. Fill your empty bottle with Sloes about a third of the way up, add a generous amount of caster sugar and a vanilla pod.

I never use exact measurements, it’s more about common sense. If the sugar and sloes take up a half of your bottle there’s too much in there. All you need to do now is fill the bottle up with Gin, and you really don’t need to go buy Tanqueray. I made one batch with Gordon’s and one with Lidl’s gin last year and couldn’t tell the difference, the flavour comes from the other ingredients.

Now you need to prove you’re not a snaffling alcoholic as it takes patience. In fact three months is the perfect time. You need to place the sealed bottles somewhere cool and dark and once a week give the bottles a little shake. Someone once told me they place theirs in the boot of the car as the bottles will get the movement needed for the brewing while you drive so you don’t need to check in on them.

Once your three months is up then strain through a sieve to get rid of the little bits that remain, place the liquid in the bottles and well… get drunk!

(Sloe Gin is lovely over roasted plums and it’s also the perfect late night festival drink, warms your bones)

Written by Anon PA

September 18, 2012 at 3:19 pm

Lido Love No.8 Shoalstone Pool

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I am home this weekend full of flu, snot and aching bones (my parents are convinced this is a reaction to London 2012 coming to an end, I’m beginning to actually believe them). In my not so sensible head I decided the first thing I should do on arriving yesterday would be a refreshing open air swim in a Lido fed by fresh seawater. Turns out salt water and the cold are not effective cures and I should have stuck to Lemsip and wearing thick jumpers.

I’ve never really though of Shoalstone as a Lido, it’s always referred to as a pool. But by definition a Lido is a public open air swimming pool and you can’t get more open than this. It sits right on the craggy rocks of Shoalstone beach in Brixham, unimpressed sea gulls look on as people take the plunge and your immediate view is the sea and the rest if Torbay stretching out around it.

Shoalstone Pool. Brixham

It appears children and yours truly were the only ones idiotic enough to risk the occasional clump of seaweed that’s washed over, the limpets clinging to its painted sides and the slightly slimy feel of the concrete. What is surprising is just how warm the water is. My dad tells me September and October are the warmest times of the year to swim in the sea (he didn’t explain the logic but I’ll take his word for it).

What felt odd was getting back into the stride of swimming in salt water as the buoyancy meant my bum kept bobbing up to the surface and I had to work hard to keep it down. Add that to the coastal wind that makes you feel like your swimming against the tide and you get a very tired me. Still, it was nice just floating on my back with no effort when I’d had enough, looking up at a cloudless bright sky.

Also, I can confirm that at the ripe old age of 33 you’re never to old for your mum to stand pool side taking embarrassing photos of you in your goggles and cap. But I did appreciate her holding out the towel ready for me when I got out the pool. With this being Devon I was then able to come home barefoot with said towel wrapped around me. Maybe I’ll try that on the tube on the next Lido I visit back in London, leave a big wet bum print on the Jubilee line and see if I can make it home without being sectioned.

What is sad about Shoalstone Pool is that it is in danger of disappearing. Lifeguards have to be present and Torbay Council will not fund this. At the moment it is looked after solely by volunteers. I believe the local community is fighting hard to set up a charity to save the pool. It is one of the few remaining freshwater pools in the UK, swimming in saltwater felt like I was exfoliating as well as exercising and what’s more it doesn’t cost a penny to use. It was a huge part of my *youth and I would be sad to see it go.

Temperature:  Warm and salty
People doing serious swimming: Just me. I felt Olympian
Men grabbing their danglebobbins a lot: 0
Women swimming in sunglasses: 0
Kids doing classic “bombing”: 1
People dipping their toes with iPhones in hand: 0
Cost: Free


*I snogged David Watts down there when I was a teenager. I fancied him for ages. I still think of him when I hear The Kinks song.

Written by Anon PA

September 16, 2012 at 12:04 pm