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Life Edit in London

November 2015

By Martha Alexander, London

The past six months or so has been nothing short of a haul of good finds, either brand new, brand new to me or brand new to London – all of which have helped me edit my life down and learn about new things.  From a culinary adventure to a sleek new wardrobe, it’s out with throwaway clothes, unattainable fitness goals and crap food.

My top pick has to be Pidgin: celebrated cook James Ramsden's new eatery on Wilton Way in Hackney.  Having been to Ramsden's Secret Larder Supper Clubs plenty of times I got the heads up early about Pidgin (Ramsden’s a prolific tweeter) and was delighted that the cosy restaurant has built on such strong foundations rather than made a statement departure from them.  It offers a set menu – four courses, no choice - so you do get what you're given but when else would you choose (and subsequently enjoy) chicken heart popcorn, smoked yoghurt or pork fat and peas.  The drinks are as exciting as the munch but again, the choice is limited and ever changing.  This is exactly the sort of place you’d bring out-of-towners (or in towners for that matter) to show off, but equally it’s affordable enough to come for a cosy supper.  I love Pidgin because, as cheesy as it sounds, it’s a proper culinary education. 

After years of becoming obsessed with fitness fads for three weeks apiece before getting bored and sinking into my sofa I am so pleased to have found Frame (there’s one in Shoreditch but also, gleefully, one near my flat in Queen's Park and another opening as we speak in King’s Cross).  I’d seen the colourful and shouty “Be bad until you’re good...” mural on the railway arches just off Shoreditch High Street every day for weeks before realising that this was the home of Frame – a gym for hipster supermodels and no one else - or so I thought.  I’d heard whisperings about how cool it was in the office and stuck doggedly to my council-run gym until the day I lay down on a yoga mat and found my face inches away from a corn pad.  I needed to grow up and go to somewhere a little more special.  Too intimidated to go alone, I first went to Frame with a colleague for moral support and was pleasantly surprised.  I mean sure, there is a library of #gettheglow cookery books, a pre-order juice bar and signs advertising classes that teach you how to dance like Beyoncé as well as a shop selling hologram leggings and bralet sets - but there are also brilliant classes taken by people who look like they practise what they preach.  Personal favourites are Rebounding (dance routines on mini trampolines) and Reformer Pilates.  I am limbering up to try barre core.  Best of all, it's a gym that seems to understand Londoners, you can have a pay as you go membership card so if you miss a week (as I frequently do thanks to irregular working hours and lots of after-work drinks) you haven't lost money.  The classes are not extortionate (between £7 and £20) and start at the crack of dawn, perfect for early birds.  I'm obsessed.  And yes I'm going to do a Beyoncé dance workshop. 

In terms of clothing, I seem to have grown up and listened to my mother: buy fewer but more expensive pieces.  And so to APC - it's not new, certainly not to Parisians (how is it possible that it has been going since 1987?) but to this Londoner it's a wardrobe-changer and it feels like no one has caught onto it.  Up 'til now.  Suddenly, all my friends are name checking the French brand: wallets, gloves and boots.  And I didn’t want to miss out.  The Redchurch Street boutique is clean wooden cabinets and succulent plants and a sparse collection - nothing worse than clothes crammed and crumpled on hangers.  I started with a handbag - the Blanche.  It's small and subtle and I'm thrilled.  Then, a fortnight later I moved onto a navy cashmere jumper for winter.  I feel expensive and well-put together for the first time in my life.  My husband has shamelessly been sent details of a merlot-coloured half-moon messenger bag for my Christmas present.


Retail & Dining
Health & Fitness
Fashion & Style
Calling all supermodels, including you
APC has reached London
For Christmas please - I've been good!

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