This week I was house sitting for my younger sister whilst she was sunning herself in Hawaii. I'm not bitter I promise...
The great thing about staying in London this week is that I got to visit some off the beaten track recommendations that I had never been to before and actually have a social life. My usual social life revolves around a three hour commute and saying hello to the girl who once asked if I was the "vintage girl" that works in North London, but engaging no further in conversation. It's a sad life.
One of my managers was lamenting over how mainstream cinema is taking over and how important it is to support smaller venues (all true) and said that Crouch End has a great venue that I might want to visit if I got the chance.
The Art House Cinema http://www.arthousecrouchend.co.uk
So much more than just a cinema this venue regularly has live comedy, music and theatre as well as films showing in their small but perfectly formed screens. There is a beautifully quirky bar for you to relax in whilst you wait for the film to start or for the inevitable film debrief with friends. A Wednesday evening showing cost us £10.00 each so it's not wildly expensive or excessive.
You won't get offered any kind of £20.00 cold hotdog and soggy popcorn combo by a surly teenager who would rather be anywhere doing anything else but working for minimum wage*, but you can get a merlot and some wasabi peas should you wish (they do also sell popcorn - for the removal of doubt)
All in all it was a lovely experience and if given the choice I would choose it over the more mainstream cinemas every time. In fact I could have just sat in there for a while soaking up the place.
*Until I came to write this I hadn't noticed the badge of honour on their website declaring them a "living wage employer" however this just proves my point :-)
Janis: Little Girl Blue http://www.janismovie.com
If you have the opportunity to see this film I would highly recommend it. It read initially like an all to familiar story - the harrowing rise to fame documentary. You know how they go - girl realises she can sing, rises to fame, meets deeply unsuitable partner, partner gets girl into drugs, girl meets eventual demise and the world mourns the talent that should have been appreciated whilst she was alive.
However this beautifully made documentary gave a wonderful and varied insight into a soul that people are seemingly unable to agree on. The live performances are as raw as you would expect from Joplin however the documentary is wonderfully balanced with her correspondence to loved ones scattered throughout like quiet emotional milestones. Giving a sense of a person who wanted to be all things to all people but didn't seem to know how to just "be"
The conflicting opinions of who she was, her mental state and how she fell down the rabbit hole of addiction are painfully similar to any documentary about Amy Winehouse released in the last few years and raise questions over the links between the paparazzi culture many salivate over today and addictions in the arts.
You wouldn't need to be a Joplin fan to appreciate this documentary but those who are will certainly come away tapping their toes in recognition of a great talent but with a profound sense of sadness in this inevitable story.
Earl Haig Hall http://earlhaighall.com
After the film my friends took me to a pub for dinner, well I call it a pub because that how it's described on their website, however its a lot more than that -
Earl Haig Hall is a delightfully vintage-esque venue without feeling too heavily "themed" in any way. It used to be a British Legion social club and now operates as a pub/eatery/music venue amongst other things. Every night is different and they also hold some alternative activities (baby and toddler groups for example) in a nod to the community spirited history of the building.
The interior is gorgeously old school from the beautiful battered retro armchairs to the 1940's posters in the toilets. It's unpretentious in it's appearance and reminded me of the social club in my own town which has sadly closed. Nostalgic - that's the word I am looking for.
The vintage football table proved a hit with a local family
The menu is brilliantly unfussy and caters very well to vegetarians, my friends tucked into the beetroot and cheese burger whilst I had the fish and chips. The food was luscious, that's the only word I can find to describe it, perhaps a better way of getting across how good it was is to tell you that I took a friend there a mere three days later for lunch (I very nearly ate the same thing but resisted and had something different but equally good).
I'm very much looking forward to coming back to this venue (which also has a function room for hire) as they have so many events that appeal, including one of my favourite local bands - Dana Immanuel & The Stolen Band on 24 March (http://earlhaighall.com/event/house-of-mercy-presents-dana-immanuel-her-stolen-band/ http://danaimmanuel.com/about.html )
Crouch End Shopping
With the aforementioned friend I travelled back to Crouch End on Saturday as I'd heard all about the fantastic vintage shop that I apparently just had to go to. A quick search on google proved this to be true so we decided to pay a visit.
Scarlet Rage Vintage http://scarletragevintage.com
*Sadly this shop is no longer in Crouch End, however the business still exists and i am awaiting news of it's location. They can be contacted via their website where they have a selection of items available. Also check out their youtube channel for great videos!
I don't think any description of this shop would do it justice but I'll try...to say it is an Aladdin's cave makes it sound messy and overcrowded, to call it a vintage equivalent of a designer store makes it sound pretentious, it's neither of those things.
With white wooden flooring and, essentially, two long wall rails groaning with high end vintage attire the shop is light and roomy and not overwhelming in the slightest. Basically if you are anything like me you can turn around in this place without knocking anything over with your arse!
This is not a place where you need to rummage as they do not have the Camden mentality of "just add stock and stir" for a successful vintage venture.
The clothes are excellent vintage quality, you aren't digging for a stained 1940's treasure under a sea of 1980's puffballs, this is targeted stock which makes a refreshing change, especially if you are looking for true vintage for an event.
Each item is labelled with not only the price (am I the only one who hates non priced vintage?) but also the measurements and the period the item is from - so handy!
The stock was majoritively dresses and skirts but with some beautiful unique swimwear and playsuit ensembles as well (with matching skirts!) - which can be very hard to come by. The dresses that I looked at ranged from £70-£200 and nothing seemed overpriced, it really depends on what you are looking for. They have a good mixture of day wear and evening gowns from the 40's and 50's.
Oh and the accessories, I swooned over all of the bags, hats and gloves on display, again at decent prices and all the items in this shop are wearable. I'd love to meet the buyer for this place, just to shake their hand and possibly bow down to them.
The other great thing about this shop is that it didn't have one of those awful assistants (she was lovely and chatty actually) who glare at you like a shoplifter if you touch anything, you can pick up a dress to look at it in more detail, or handle an accessory since nothing is locked in cabinets like a museum, this is shopping - not looking.
My absolute favourite thing about this shop that I am now positively gushing over is...sizes. My god I saw things over a 40 inch bust! The lovely shop assistant told us that they do make an effort and try very hard to find variety in their sizes and it really does show in their stock, this is not a shop solely for sizes 6-8.
All in all Crouch End is definitely worth visiting if you are a vintage lover in London as it's easy to fill a day with the variety of activities the area has to offer. As for me I cannot wait to move to North London and this fun filled week has only spurred me on.