30 June 2009

Some Kind of Utopia

Barbican Apartments

The Barbican is a space-age kind of place. It was designed to be a kind of inner city oasis - a living centre with high-rise apartments that you get to on highwalks (a bit like a series of bridges) with a lake and an arts centre as its heart. Scenes from the latest James Bond movie were shot there. Lauch and I actually got engaged there exactly a year ago yesterday.

Dome at the Barbican

We turned up there yesterday to see a movie and found a dome! A dome which is actually an artwork.

Looking Out, Barbican Utopia...? Barbican, London
Hibiscus Tea, Barbican Utopia...? Barbican, London

It's a geodesic dome that is a teahouse. You can go in and get little cups of hibiscus tea from a waiter for free. You sit on triangular raw wooden tables and stools and drink this tea that is like blackcurrant herbal tea, deep hot pinkyred and STRONG.

And all the waiter will say to you is "I'm sorry. Goodbye."

Dome Window, Barbican

I think the concept of the dome to recreate some of the futuristic housing designs of the fifties. Why did the waiter say "I am so sorry. Goodbye?" Apparently they were alluding to the relationship between the built environment and nature. Yes, hello global warming. I am so sorry. Goodbye.

28 June 2009


London Monsoon

For the last few days it has been the kind of heat you get in tropical countries: the kind where the air buzzes with thunder while the sun is still shining. At about six o'clock last night we were walking to the station when the skies cracked open and down fell the rain in buckets. My jeans were soaked to the knees. My shoes became squidgy. It was beautiful.

21 June 2009

The Flusher

After, you know, the toilet locking episode... there was another incident.

The child who had a fascination with the toilet last time, he got a hold of the playdough. It was red this week. A big round ball of lovely red playdough.

From the corner of my eye, I noticed the playdough and it was all wet. Dripping.


A crowd of children came to tell me what was going on. "Miss Lexonline! He put the playdough.... in the toilet!"

But the part that made me laugh (but of course I had to keep a straight face since this was a Very Naughty thing to do) was when the story grew and the drama intensified. Five minutes later they were all sitting on the carpet, telling each other how the child had put the playdough in the toilet. And someone put their hand up.

"Miss Lexonline, he put the playdough in the toilet," the little girl's eyes widened and her voice was all drama "and he FLUSHED!"

Of course he didn't flush. But it was a great touch to add to the story.
It was all Very Naughty and This Must Never Happen Again.
And then it was over and they all went home and I had a good laugh.

20 June 2009

Like a Mirage

Optician, Near Portobello Road Antiques, Portobello Road
The Grain Shop Vintage Clothes, Portobello Road

There are five weeks to go before we vacate our West London flat.

There are five weeks to go before we leave this place and already it feels as though being here is hardly real. I've been taking photographs of all my favourite places, trying to somehow grab hold of it before I'm back at the other end of the earth and can't just pop down to Portobello Road for the morning.

Vintage Clothes, Portobello Road

I know I've mentioned this place a few times before but I love it. It's the closest market to our place and the one I've spent the most time at, wandering through the great vintage clothing section, eating at the Grain Bakery vegetarian place, visiting my favourite shops.

The Spice Shop, Near Portobello Road The Spice Shop, Near Portobello Road
The Spice Shop, Near Portobello Road The Spice Shop, Near Portobello Road

The Spice Shop is wonderful. It's this tiny closet-sized shop packed with little bags of spices and its smell is deep and rich and even though it is the smell of a million curries mixed together, the smell is not awful, it is like a dark corner of a forest.

My other favourite shops are down the road from the Spice Shop - Books for Cooks and the Travel Bookshop. Books for Cooks is entirely a shop for cook books and out the back they test recipes. There's a cafe where you can eat their latest testings. I had tea there with mum when she was visiting. The Travel Bookshop is the bookshop that Hugh Grant's shop in the film 'Notting Hill' was modelled on. It's a great bookshop, with creaky wooden floors and big high shelves of books and a very good section of London books.

Today I bought a 60s tin from an antique shop and wandered home to show it off to Lauchlin.

It might have been the last time I'll see Portobello Road for a very long time.

18 June 2009

Weird Art and the New Hendrix

When I was walking to the Columbia Road flower market on Sunday, I noticed an advertisement for a highrise apartment building and its tagline was "just minutes from vibrant Brick Lane."

Vibrant Brick Lane? It was only a few blocks away and I hadn't been there since last summer, and that time the winter before.

Beginning of the Shops, Brick Lane

Within a few blocks I was back in the mess and smell and noise and hipsters jostling for bargains laid out on the grotty ground along the laneway. Policemen bumped shoulders with fashionable young things and I wandered past great graffiti, broken glass, buskers drinking from wine bottles and the New Hendrix.

Police, Brick Lane The Lazy Ones, Brick Lane
AK Off Licence, Brick Lane Mr Coffee, He's So Frothy

The New Hendrix, Brick Lane

There's this little area at one end of Spitalfields market that's packed with vendors of food from around the world. The smells accost your nose. I went for the one with the biggest queue and got a japanese cheese and egg omlette called okonomi-yaki. And an onigiri (rice ball).

Onigiri, Brick Lane Okonomi-yaki, Brick Lane
Curry Houses, Brick Lane The Finger, Brick Lane

I went past the curry houses to see the Whitechapel gallery and looked at weird art. Bought a half dozen bagels from the bagel shop with grotty tiles, flourescent lighting and a queue that doubled up and went out the doorway. It was a great day out.

15 June 2009

Down Columbia Road

Store Holder, Columbia Road Flower Market

Columbia Road Flower Market was the last "famous" market in London I wanted to cross off my list. It was in this little cobbled street in the East end of London in what felt like the middle of nowhere. And then suddenly! This one tiny street appears, bursting with flowers and stall holders shouting "Three for a fiver" except it sounds more like "Free for a five-ah" and shouting "Orchids, orchids, Michael Jackson's favourite flower" and "Peonies, two for a five-ah, this is our last box for the day." Well-heeled shoppers politely jostling in the tiny space, gathering around the stall holders and lugging huge bags and boxes of flowers around. In this one street there are maybe ten super stylish shops selling screenprints and cupcakes (apparently cupcakes are the thing) and vintage stuff. It was worth the visit just to hear the hawkers.

Tiles, Columbia Road Flower Market Purchases, Columbia Road Flower Market
Vintage Clothes, Columbia Road Flower Market Columbia Road Flower Market

12 June 2009

Criminals, as Seen by Children

There was a problem in my class of 5-year-olds the other day. Some little critter was going into the toilets, locking the door and crawling out, leaving the toilets locked from the inside. The old classic.

Who could it be? Better yet, how best to encourage children to stop doing this? I sat the 30 of them down and we had a discussion about how many germs there are on the toilet floor and how leaving the toilets locked would make the other children wet themselves (which happens every now and then anyway).

They were intrigued.

One little boy told me that if we couldn't find out who it was, the police would have to come and find out.

No no, I said. The police only come to catch adults who are naughty. Teachers are in charge of catching naughty children.

Somebody else said that the police come to get "robbers."

And a little girl said that sometimes naughty adults steal children. Time to end this discussion.


The next day, a little boy noticed that the toilets were no longer being locked from the inside. He told me that the Head Teacher had caught the child who was doing it and sent them to another school.

Guess he hadn't noticed that there were still 30 children present.

8 June 2009

The View From Here

St Paul's Cathedral Through Tate Modern Window

You know how sometimes your life reads like a story? A fairytale, even? Then, other times it's tragicomedy... bit of light romance... At the moment my life is a to-do list. Seven weeks til we leave the UK! Here's what we need to do! Then we get back to Australia! Then here's what we need to do! Gah!

I won't bore you with my to-do lists. Hopefully life will turn back into a story soon. One with a happy ending.

5 June 2009


Les Deux Alpes
The french alps, photo taken from a plane window in January

A parent came up to me as I was dismissing the kids today. She told me her son had seen me walking home yesterday, but they were on the opposite side of the road from me. His dad had said "Oh look there's Miss Lexonline" and he'd said to his dad "Yep, she'll be going home to Australia now, that's where she lives."

Can you imagine the commute? West London to Tasmania and back again...